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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


1993 also brought Tornado (1993), the classic from Digital Integration. With a 330 page manual, the game allowed detailed mission planning and sported a dynamic campaign system. It quickly became a huge success as virtual squadrons formed to plan tactics and fly together via modem or LAN.

1994 roared into life with Microprose 1942 The Pacific Air War, the best WWII simulation at the time. Flight models and the AI held great challenge; almost too much since the AI pilots pulled superhuman maneuvers. Graphics were limited to 320x200 but looked good.

I spent many hours in 1942 The Pacific Air War, and it was an atmospheric game. The manual was a spiral bound collection of history and anecdotes, including color plates for each of the key aircraft in the conflict.

In the same year Domark released Flying Nightmares, an AV8B Harrier simulation. Origin released Pacific Strike in 1994, and EA released US Navy Fighters. Meanwhile, Empire released Rowan’s Dawn Patrol.

Two Page Ad from May/June 1994 PC Gamer

ThrustMaster ad from 1994

These last two titles both pushed the envelope for raw beauty, with US Navy Fighters allowing up to 1024x768 resolution. US Navy Fighterswas great fun and combat action was intense, with powerful wingman control and good voice interaction. Meanwhile, Dawn Patrol set a new standard for flight modeling. Sometimes challenging to configure, it came to life on the new Pentium 90 systems introduced in the latter part of the year and modeled a large variety of WWI aeroplanes.

Read on

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