A-4K Skyhawk Simpit  NZ6202
Last update 1/04/2003


Whats New!
1/05/2003  HUD structure is complete and even painted!  For the photos:  [Photo Page 8]
1/04/2003  Well I got the HUD frame made.... [HUD Photo]
1/03/2003  A whole new year... and only 3 weeks till show time. More photos of more bits  [Photo Page 7]
8/04/2002  Squirted some paint around, mainly on the seat....by popular request ;-) [Photo Page 6]
7/31/2002  First stage of the canopy frame... lots of MDF dust and swearing..not a lot else :(  [Photo Page 5]
7/28/2002  WooHoo!  Finally got a digital camera, so brace yourself for LOTS more photos ;-) [Photo Page 4]
7/27/2002  Started messing around writing some software for the first Display Unit.
7/10/2002  Been a bit slack... had these pics for ages, and *just* got around to posting them! [Photo Page 3]
7/9/2002    More test pilots for the pit, James Eden and Jon Murchison Read Jon's Article on the visit
7/3/2002    Finally completed the front screen! Something like 32 fasteners, nearly 100 holes and a lot of work, but it's done!


Photos
Digital pictures taken during the building of the cockpit

[Page 1] Early seat shots
[Page 2] 2/18/02 Canopy bow and panel mk1
[Page 3] 4/25/02 In it's new home
[Page 4] 7/28/02 Completed front screen
[Page 5] 7/31/02 Canopy frame vs1 mod0
[Page 6] 8/04/02 Some paint at last.
[Page 7] 1/03/03 Mostly panel bits



Research Photos

Ohakea Trip, March 1st 2002



A-4 Links

Gekko Graphics
The ultimate site for A-4k Decals, check out this site!
Airliners.net
Some A-4 photos, and some really GOOD A-4k's
The A-4 Archive
Some nice USN/USMC Scooters
Skyhawk.org
The Skyhawk Association, a must visit.
Weapons Display for RNZAF A-4k
Skyhawkstudygroup
A-4 Chat group at Yahoogroups
Kiwi Aircraft Images
A great site for A-4k photos
A-4 Alley
Some good RNZAF A-4 stuff

History
Ever since I got into flightsims in the early 80's I have wanted to build a cockpit to fly my sims in.  Over the years I have built a number of cockpits, from the simple desk-pit style (with mounts for controls and that's about it) to a more complex F-16 style cockpit with reclined seat, side consoles front panel etc.  Through all of these pits there has been a missing element; None of these were accurate portrayals of a real airframe, and none had any link to a New Zealand aircraft.
A couple of years ago I decided to seriously build a SimPit, and started thinking of *What* I wanted to build. I am a HUGE F-4 Phantom phan, so started working on the idea of building an RF-4C pit, then it occurred to me that I had always liked the A-4 Skyhawk, after all it is (err WAS!) New Zealand's premier strike aircraft!  So, I started doing the research and out of the clear blue sky I was offered a cockpit mock-up built for the RNZAF Museum at Ohakea (Thanks Scott!).  That was the spur I needed to kick the project into action!  Picked up the 'pit and carted it back to my house... where it sat for many months while I did more research.  A change of address meant the cockpit was uprooted and dragged into storage at work, which sounds bad, but was actually very good!  With all the tools and space on hand I got a heap of work done, (check out the photo pages)
During the development and research the concept for my cockpit has changed somewhat!  Initially I was planning on doing a Skyhawk-like representation, with the right shape and size, but the internals were going to be of my own design. Next it changed to an A-4k on the outside, and a US Marine Corps A-4m cockpit on the inside, which gave me the opportunity to have a few more wizzo bits, but still have good old "steam-driven" gauges. Now I am working towards a much more accurate representation of a "post-Kahu" A-4k Skyhawk, as they were at the disbanding of the Air Combat Force :(

Concept
There are a few things which I wanted to include in my cockpit which I felt were important:

  • A working HUD
  • Working MFD's (or cockpit displays, or whatever you want to call them)
  • projected visuals
  • Accurate control and instrument placement
  • A glareshield to stick my charts on top of.. call me crazy, but that is important to me :)


Hardware

  • The cockpit is constructed from a range of materials including MDF (mostly cheap/free cover sheets), aluminium and steel.
  • The entire cockpit is mounted on a steel sub-frame with castors to allow easy movement.
  • My ESCAPAC replica seat is built from MDF and stainless steel (if anyone wants to build one I have plenty of photos and sketches!)
  • External visuals are projected with a 800x600 data projector onto a white screen in front of the 'pit.
  • Cockpit displays are small LCD TV units out of imported cars, driven by (one day) custom written software.
  • HUD is in development, but will be driven by a 14" monitor under the glareshield and a complex of mirrors and lenses.


Software

  • Primary sim for my cockpit is FS2002, with Combat Flight Sim 2 as a possibility (CFS3 will be out before I get the thing finished!)
  • MFD software will be (I hope) custom written to simulate at least some of the real-world functions.
  • Wide FS, for sharing data from FSUIPC across the network is essential to any project like this! (Thank you Mr. Peter Dowson!)