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Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson
20 Years of Military Flight Simulations on the PC by Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson.

Flight sim guru Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson chronicles the first 30 years of computer flight sims, the software, hardware, people and the culture.

The Growth Years: 1990-1996

Chuck Yeager's Air Combat

Chuck Yeager's Air Combathad one of the first "gun camera" features and pop-up windows that helped you keep track of the target. This feature would later be refined and show up again in USAF, US Navy Fighters, Advanced Tactical Fighters and World War 2 Fighters. Developed by Brent Iverson, the game loaded with an 8 bit voice sample from Chuck Yeager, "Itís a great day for flying!" This was Iverson and Electronic Artís first entry in the combat flight simulation genre.

Brent Iverson

Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, was another 256 color game, and it allowed the player to fly seven different Luftwaffe aircraft, including three experimental jets like the Gotha 229 flying wing. Following on the heels of Their Finest Hour (Battle of Britain), this Lawrence Holland game used a refined dynamic campaign engine and included the same features as the earlier effort.

The detail in Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, was amazing for its time. Tour of Duty mode allowed the player to select from three different careers: as a fighter pilot, a bomber pilot, or as bomber crew. The average tour was from 25 to 35 missions in length. Full records were kept of all flights, weapons could be selected and loaded, and the flight roster could be managed by the player.

Players could choose from the Flight School, Historical Missions, Custom Missions or the Tour of Duty mode. The fifth choice was the dynamic Campaign mode, which allowed the player to command various large-scale campaigns and even alter the outcome of history.


The campaign mode in SWOTL didnít involve only flying, but also economic management. On the German side, in addition to directing fighter defense, the player controlled the production of war material, choosing what was produced at aircraft assembly plans, engine factories, oil refineries, and even research and development factories. These decisions affected later availability of aircraft and parts in the campaign.

On the US side, the main concern was to select strategic targets to cripple German production. The player created and selected flight groups and then planned the raid and then flew in it. Sounds a little like the later B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty Eighthdoesnít it?

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This article is ©2001 Leonard Hjalmarson and Thrustmaster ® and hosted with permission in the Flight Sim Museum. Unauthorised reproduction is forbidden.