The Hawk T1, built by BAE Systems, is a single-engine fast jet, designed by Hawker Siddeley in 1974. This marvel of engineering is part of the Hawk family, with over 1,000 being built, and was first introduced in 1976 by the Royal Air Force as an interceptor aircraft. The Hawk also played an important role as a fast jet trainer for many Air Forces around the world, serving as far away as Australia. Nowadays, the Hawk T1 is more recognisable as the bird of choice for the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows display team.
With a maximum flat-out speed of 560 knots and a service ceiling of 48,000ft, the BAE Systems Hawk is certainly a capable jet and a beauty to behold. In this review, I’ll be looking into the details behind Just Flight’s latest Hawk addon for X-Plane 11 (Developed in conjunction with Thranda Design) and exploring all of the joy this plane has to offer.
Given that the real Hawk T1 is such a beautiful aircraft and one of my favourite jets, Just Flight had some serious expectations to meet when it came to how they represented it. So, I’ll begin by saying that they certainly met those expectations.
This product comes with 4k textures throughout along with excellent, high-polygon, modelling. The exterior of the aircraft certainly gives it a high calibre feel, as the aircraft is mostly well cared for owing to their relative cleanliness. The exterior is not without its wounds though; one can find many dirt streaks from oil and smoke, which allow a well-used feel. I do however believe that the PBR work on some of the liveries, namely the RAF 100 Squadron, could be improved, and I find that specific livery to be a tad too reflective in comparison to its real-life counterpart. The overall work from the PBR, in tandem with the excellent modelling, truly gives the Hawk character, as one can see every rivet and even peer into some internal components of the jet, like the landing gear bays, and a compartment forward of the cockpit.
The sounds are certainly another strong point for this plane. Both inside and outside the characteristic sound of the Rolls Royce Adour Mk151 engine is brilliantly replicated. From start-up to full power, right to the famous whine as the pilot cuts the throttle for landing, the sounds shine.
In addition to the engine sounds, Just Flight has also added the intense breathing technique that pilots use for high-G manoeuvres, along with structural stress sounds when the aircraft is put in over-G situations. The immersion is amplified tenfold when you’re sat on a mountaintop watching the jet rip by and the Doppler Effect rattles your ears.
As we move onto the interior, the cockpit is a big giveaway as to the age of this 70s interceptor. From the stick, the unique throttle, to the metallic switches, everything has wear and tear with scratches and chips. Consistent with the outside, this is all made with fantastic high-resolution textures and modelling. Visuals are the first thing that a user encounters with any product, so the presentation is always important, and it’s clear that Just Flight understands this because they have kept to their impressive standard and wowed me with how beautiful this model is.
What’s the first thing that enters your mind when you see something like the Hawk? My guess would be that almost every one of you would say ‘fast and nimble’; the Hawk is just that. Both in real life and in-sim, this jet is capable of some extreme low-level flying at 400+ knots pulling 4G turns.
Not having been in a Hawk myself, my feelings towards the flying dynamics had to come from hearsay from Hawk pilots and from watching videos. I must say that, regardless of my inexperience, it certainly lived up to standard. The aircraft was easy to fly and had a huge flight envelope, being easily able to fly anywhere between 130 to 550+ knots. The difficulty, however, comes when needing to put it down; Crossing the threshold at ~130, then idling the throttle and pulling back on the stick is like nothing I’ve experienced in a sim, and has been described as a ‘controlled crash’ by some. The fact that the aircraft doesn’t really flare, isn’t helped by the fact that the landing itself happens so quickly, and after that, it only gets more difficult. The Hawk has a castering nose wheel, so steering is achieved by differential braking, which makes the roll-out the most difficult part of flying the Hawk.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Hawk since first hearing about it several years ago, and my interest only increased when I found videos demonstrating the low-level flying the RAF conducts to train pilots. I would like to thank Mr Tim Davies, a pilot in the RAF who runs the Fast Jet Performance Youtube channel, for being the inspiration for my first flight in this plane. The video in question features a Hawk T2 departing RAF Valley, on the Welsh Island of Anglesey, and proceeding to fly a low-level route through the Lake District and Southern Scotland. I found myself able to almost perfectly replicate the low-level route, hitting the nail on the head for every turn whilst still being able to maintain the extreme speeds that the real-world Hawk did. I think that this scenario alone will give you an idea of just how much respect and work Just Flight put into the flying characteristics of this model, which has now quickly become one of my all-time favourites.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of features included in the Hawk and how accessible the aircraft was.
As is Just Flight standard, the Hawk comes with a 2D menu that can be accessed via the arrow on the left side of the screen. This menu allows users to select between the T1 or T1a variant, open the canopy, pull up chock and stairs, enable pitot and engine covers, and even add the external diesel tank and nozzles, which display teams use for the smoke system. In addition to this, there is an interactive checklist which I found very useful in learning to start up the aircraft, as it’s a bit quirky. If, however, you do not wish to go through the startup procedure, there is an autostart button for getting the aircraft ready to taxi and a second button for getting it ready to fly.
Secondly, Just Flight has allowed us to experience this jet from the command of 5 different countries. Included as default are 12 amazing liveries with 4k resolution. Examples include Swiss Air Force, RAF 100 Squadron, RAF 99 Squadron and even the 2011 Red Arrows livery.
One of my favourite features, though, has to be the weapons. Just Flight has successfully coded the default weapon system into the aircraft – which works in tandem with its HUD – allowing for all sorts of loadouts including the standard Aim-9L ‘Sidewinder’ Air-to-air missiles and the Mk-82 bombs, giving this jet some destructive capabilities. Not only is the weapon system intuitive and just plain amazing, but it’s also very easy to use. See a glider that’s getting in your way when flying low-level? Simply switch to your Aim-9s, fire and they’ll find their way straight up its tail.
Finally, this add-on comes with a 93-page document detailing every aspect of flying this jet and getting to grips with all that may not seem obvious at first. Towards the end of the document, which I found to be an interesting read, you are even taken through a tutorial flight from RAF Scampton to RAF Fairford.
As you’ve probably noticed, by now, the Hawk is small and the avionics are not complex. Given this information, it’s clear that I wouldn’t have expected much of an issue running this glorious jet on my system, but some aircraft can be have some negative surprises when it comes to performance. Fortunately, this is not one of them.
In my experience with X-Plane, I’ve often found that performance decreases significantly with speeds past a certain threshold. For example, when operating the Concorde or Typhoon, my frames would sometimes be cut in half due to the scenery loading so quickly. So, I decided to test this with the Hawk and proceed flat out, reaching about Mach 0.90, and I seldom found drops in my frame rate. Another pro to add to the list for Just Flight.
In my opinion, the price of Just Flight’s Hawk is certainly justified, if not generous. We’re given 3 completely different experiences in 1 package: general flying, aerobatics, and interceptor flying. In addition to this, we’re given 12 amazing liveries, all of which are expertly made, a fantastic flight model, and comprehensive documentation for newcomers to the jet.
All things considered, the Hawk is extremely fun and I completely stand by Just Flight for the pricing.