Ah, Vnukovo; where do I even begin? Moscow Vnukovo is one of four major international airports serving Moscow and is currently the third-busiest airport in Russia. Starting its life on July 1st, 1941, it served as a Soviet airbase during the Second World War, with passenger service starting after the war had ended. April 20th, 1956 marked the first passenger flight to Vnukovo, and the airport was later expanded in 1980 to accommodate the 22nd Summer Olympic Games taking place in Moscow. Between 2003 and 2005, Vnukovo underwent a huge reconstruction, including the opening of the new terminal B, which currently handles international flights and a new Aeroexpress rail link. Expansion continued into 2010, when the new terminal A was opened. Today, Vnukovo is Europe’s busiest airport for international flights by large private aircraft and finds itself home to the Tupolev airliner rework facility as well as the Russian government’s VIP transport wing.
Vnukovo is available as a download from SimMarket, coming in at 1.96 GB in three separate files. Two of those files are .bin format, and the third is the installer .exe itself. The installer requires the two .bin files to be present in order to run and will certainly let you know if one is missing. Upon running the installer and inputting your email address and order number, an authentication code is required from SimMarket itself. This isn’t my favorite way of authenticating products, I’d much rather have a key saved to my drive rather than having to go through a process to get a specific code each time, but the process is straightforward enough where I’d say most people won’t have any trouble with it. The installer does ask if you’d like to install SODE, but as of the time of writing, SODE jetways haven’t been added yet (but are promised to be coming in the next few weeks). One thing I did notice was how long the installer took to run, presumably due to the large, nearly 2 GB file size – but the progress bar kept me updated on the progress and finished in a reasonable timeframe.
The files were installed in the P3D root folder, which was something I wish could’ve been done via addon.xml (or at least an option for it). Inside the sim folder, we find a new folder titled ‘SimMarket’. If you have any previous scenery installed in this structure, like Grand Island Sim’s Banjul for example, you’ll be familiar with this structure. Within the SimMarket folder we have 3 subfolders, titled ‘bin’, ‘data’, and ‘doc’, respectively and the latest SODE installer can also be found here in case you accidentally skipped it during the initial install. The bin folder contains, as you’ve probably already guessed it, an uninstaller while the data folder contains all of the actual scenery files, rather than installing directly into the sim’s scenery and texture folders to keep things nice and consolidated. The last folder is the doc folder, and I found myself, frankly, wholeheartedly confused beyond belief at what was inside (you may not be if you’ve owned any previous sceneries from JustSim but Vnukovo is my first product from them personally).
We have a subfolder titled ‘JustSim Autogen lib’ as well as a PDF titled ‘Tutorial JustSim Autogen install eng’. Upon closer inspection, the PDF appears to be detailing how to download and add JustSim’s own autogen library to the sim, presumably to replace the default autogen surrounding Vnukovo. First, you have to download the autogen library from a link within the PDF, then add it to your scenery library, then download another file titled ‘Autogen Configuration Merger’, run a command prompt within Windows to install it, then you’ll finally have the new autogen installed (provided you did all of this correctly). Needless to say, I found this to be incredibly confusing and halted the install when I got to the command prompt step. I, personally, don’t like running command prompts to install a piece of software that will be messing with sim files, so I didn’t advance any further with this. A non-tech savvy person would find this incredibly intimidating, and they have every reason to in my opinion. A standard configurator, like some other scenery developers include, would have been nice to see and would have made this process much, much simpler.
The airport itself consists of 2 runways with one main terminal building. As you load into the sim and look around, you realize just how much you feel like you’re really at the real airport. Part of what makes this airport seem so immersive, at least for me, is the high-quality modelling and texturing of everything in sight, combined with the static objects like ILS antennas as well as custom building models that surround the airport. As I’ve stated before, I did not install JustSim’s custom autogen library which, I suspect, would’ve made the surroundings look even better – but they still look quite good even without the custom autogen. The surroundings just feel…Russian, and not just like a drab, generic, non-identifiable country that is so common in our sims. In my exploration around the airport, I was able to see a couple of static aircraft, though a few more, especially around the terminal area, would have been nice to see along with a plethora of various static objects such as airstairs, vans, baggage trains randomly placed around the gate areas as you’d see in real life. There are not only static vehicles, oh no, there are animated airport vehicle as well; all the types you’d expect to see at an airport such as busses, baggage trains, pickup trucks, vans and more. This really gave the feeling that Vnukovo was alive and was an excellent choice to add, from an immersion perspective. Another thing I noticed was how smooth the vehicle animations were. Each animation looked to be extremely fluid rather than a stuttering animation like I’ve seen in some other scenery. All of these points may seem small individually, but when you combine them, they create a true, genuine feeling of being in Moscow at Vnukovo, and I find that to be simply incredible.
To start off with the detailed breakdown of Vnukovo, I’ll begin with the textures around the terminal, taxiways, and runways. Throughout the airport, the textures are extremely gorgeous and high-resolution with an obvious sense of wear and tear being present. The runways have heavy rubber markings near the touchdown zone from the arriving jets and cracks are clearly visible. The taxiways are perhaps one of my favorite parts from a visuals perspective, as every stretch feels and looks different with different signs of aging. Some sceneries try to represent this by randomly placing splotches of worn-down texture over the taxiway, and the end result looks pretty bad and obvious, but I’m happy to say this isn’t the case with Vnukovo. It all looks natural. I love the look of the intersecting textures from the asphalt of the runway to the concrete of the taxiway, and the point where the concrete-topped runway 24 meets the asphalt paved runway 01 looks fantastic. The varying degree of textures also has to be noted here. The tarmac of the airport is a variety of textures such as concrete and asphalt, with some sections being exclusively concrete while others are a mix of the two. The apron textures around the terminal are no different, and I personally love how JustSim has made them look, with there being more wear around the taxiway centerlines the nose wheel of passing aircrat. There are also a lot of scuff marks as well as dirt and grime around the gates that just looks fantastic, in my opinion. Not overdone, but also not underdone; just right. Another thing I loved when I first saw it was the wet ground effect. when it rains, little puddles appear on the taxiways and runways that makes it feel like it’s actually raining at the airport. That was a really nice touch and just makes the experience, especially in inclement weather, a true treat.
Night lighting is one area that can really make or break scenery. It doesn’t matter how good your terminals look in the daytime if they look like little boxes with a light bulb in the center at night. I’m pleased to say that JustSim knocks it out of the part in this department. Taxiway and runway centerline and edge lights all look fantastic and much like the real deal. The various light poles scattered around the terminal area do a great job at lighting up the apron and look like actual lights without the sometimes-ugly halo I’ve seen at other airports. The night lighting of the terminal itself had me at a loss for words. I’ve seen great night lighting before, and some that were even better than JustSim’s, but the way the lights gently illuminate the gate and terminal area with a soft glow made the airport feel like it was sleeping and gave a feeling much like arriving past midnight at your local airport; calm and quiet with an overarching sense of peace and tranquility. The JustSim team really knocked it out of the park in this department and the end result is stunningly beautiful in my opinion.
Modelling and environmental textures are up to snuff as well, with each looking gorgeous. The real terminal itself is quite a unique shape and JustSim captured that perfectly with no noticeable blocky edges around the curve. The grass surrounding the airport looks phenomenal as well, with it looking extremely varied and 3D from a distance and it really compliments the beautiful taxiways it surrounds. The one thing I did notice was the stark lack of autogen and vegetation around the field. It looks like someone took a bulldozer to the entire area surrounding the airport and it looks awkward where there is imagery depicting a forest yet there’s no forest present. This might be due to the custom autogen not being installed, but it still isn’t all that nice to see.
Being situated near one of Europe’s largest cities and in close proximity to three major airports in the area, performance is much better than expected. Now I only have UUEE Moscow installed in this area, and I’m not using Drzewiecki Design’s Moscow City, but all in all Moscow is still a large and heavy hitting city, so performance is admirable. After having found a new love for freight hauling and charter airline ops, my steed of choice when I was flying in and out of Vnukovo was the fabulous PMDG 747 Freighter. Using Dynamic Lighting, I noticed a bit of a performance impact when parked under the light towers but that was to be expected. (Do note that this was on P3D V4.2 and some improvements were made to the lighting system in P3D V4.3 that I did not have installed when testing for this review).
Value is often one of the hardest things to judge when it comes to scenery that isn’t some mega airport in the US or the heart of Europe that every airline imaginable flies to.. JustSim Vnukovo sells for a cool 20.90 euros over on SimMarket and is, in my opinion, priced just right. For that price you get a fairly large airfield that has multiple runway situated near the heart of Moscow, a nice little cargo apron, and a unique terminal (along with a Russian VIP suite if flying for the Kremlin VIP division is your thing). It would have been nice to see more autogen and vegetation around the field, and not have to go through the involved and unintuitive process of adding custom autogen to your sim just you can see the airport surroundings as was intended by JustSim, but those are relatively minor things that I can overlook considering the quality you get for the price