IndiaFoxtEcho MB-339 Review
The MB-339 jet developed by IndiaFoxtEcho is one of the first third-party military jets for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. In real life, the Aermacchi MB-339 is a military jet trainer that took its maiden flight in 1976. Currently, around 230 MB-339s have been produced, half of them are still active in the Italian Air Force today.
Installation & Instructions
Since the MB-339 can be found on the ORBX website, it can easily be installed using ORBX Central. Using ORBX Central, you are able to easily install the aircraft as well as view the 66-page user guide provided. If you'd prefer to use something else, the MB-339 can also be found on simMarket and should become available in the in-game marketplace this week. As of 07/01/2021 the MB-339 is now also available in the in-game marketplace!
The user guide is very detailed and is also partially based on the real-life variant. The guide includes everything from detailed layouts of the various cockpit instrument panels as well as detailed explanations of all the systems included in the aircraft. The guide also includes a lot of procedures to get you fully immersed in the experience. While some procedures obviously cannot be executed in game (like entering the cockpit), it is still a very nice addition to have.
The plane model is extremely meticulous. The textures are very high resolution and the tiny metal bumps on the model are visible. The jet comes with 7 additional liveries all of which have just as much detail as the “Factory” livery (seen in image). There are also some amazing third-party liveries that can be found on our website.
From inside the cockpit the view is incredible, aside from the ring that is used in real life for opening the canopy and the gunsight (which you can turn off), your entire field of view is just glass which means you can see all around you (except below and behind you of course).
The cockpit instruments themselves are also very comprehensive. All of the instruments are described in the user guide and they work in-game as well. The flight director is easy to use (if you know how), however, keep in mind that this jet was first manufactured around the 1980s and thus doesn’t have the fancy digital screens for navigating unlike the 787 which might be a downside if you are more of a casual simmer. It also doesn’t come with an auto pilot which is to be expected.
While no shared cockpit feature for the game is officially planned as of writing this review, since this jet is designed for 2 people in real-life, a shared cockpit would also be a great addition to the game to allow for even more immersion with this aircraft. Cruising around the skies with a speed of 480 knots is even more fun with a friend.
While the first few versions of this aircraft had some issues with sounds and the flight model, most of these issues have now been fixed (as of v1.13). The developer included a community-made sound mod to improve the sounds of the aircraft and there have been changes to the flight model as well to make it feel more like the real-life counterpart. There is also a mod for better cameras in case you don’t like the default ones. While I can’t comment on any similarities of the flight model to the real-life counterpart, the aircraft feels extremely smooth and responsive and also quite fast. During my flights I did not notice any performance issues, however, keep in mind that the model itself is quite complex and very detailed which means you could run into some performance issues if you are running on lower hardware.
If you are looking for a (military) jet to fly, this addon is for you. While it’s no F-16, the MB-339 is a very polished aircraft and feels great to fly. If you are expecting an autopilot and a fancy heads-up display like the 787 however, you might want to stick to the 787 or wait for a more modern military jet, since this jet does not have an autopilot to guide you. Overall, the asking price of $33AUD is very reasonable and the quality of the addon is on-par with what I would expect to get for this price. The addon is still receiving regular updates and should also be launching on the in-game marketplace soon (some time this week). Make sure to follow the developer's Facebook page for any updates. As of 07/01/2021 the MB-339 is now also available in the in-game marketplace!
Overall, as one of the first military jets for Microsoft Flight Simulator, it is great. The jet is easy enough to fly for beginners and detailed and complex enough for more experienced simmers. While the lack of modern instruments and autopilot might turn some people off, the instruments and view from the cockpit greatly improve the immersiveness of the plane.