No Money Mondays: KarlL OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

August 23, 2021

For all of our military and heli pundits, you will be excited to know that there is a fascinating freeware Vietnam-era bird in the works for X-Plane 11.

KarlL, the developer of the Bell heli, has been providing regular progress updates on the X-Plane.Org forums for close to 4 months at the time of writing. Although only being in development for such a short time, the total time spent on the project has totaled a hefty 2,700 hours already.

The Kiowa Warrior is an innovation of the Vietnam era rush, as a light ground attack helicopter - Used from the Vietnam War up until the Afghanistan war, the Kiowa Warrior was a crucial attack helicopter to troops and the advancement of territory in all conflicts.

The aircraft had over 2,200 built, alongside 4 variants, the Kiowa Warrior served with twelve countries. The OH-58D was a powerful attack chopper, eventually being replaced by the well-known AH-64 Apache.

Screenshots: KarlL - Threshold Exclusive

In a mini-interview, Karl opened up on the project’s development, explaining and answering the various questions that we’ve asked. Karl noted that the visuals of the bird is made through Blender, using technical documentation from Bell. The texturing is done through Substance Painter with references from historical materials, for this project in particular - it is Karl’s first major foray into using a dedicated software like Substance to texture the 3d model, taking a few months of self-onboarding to grasp the software. “it more than made up for my limited artistic skills.” Karl joked.

Like most modern aircraft for X-Plane, the Kiowa Warrior’s sounds were assembled together with FMOD, with most audio materials sourced from former Kiowa pilots for the most accurate and faithful audio mix to the real helicopter.

Custom functionality and systems uses LUA with SASL. Karl noted that the systems were replicated as closely as possible to the best of his abilities, (electrical, fuel, data, displays, etc) “while simplifying the most complex military systems for the home user.”

One of those examples of complex systems are the encrypted communications in the helicopter, but the flight-modelling (fuel consumption and performance) would closely match what you would get from the real Kiowa Warrior under similar conditions.

Karl also demonstrated how faithful the simulated Kiowa Warrior is to the real thing by revealing that the testers utilized the actual Kiowa Warrior manual as a guide to fly the heli, a testament to the team’s willingness to go to that length to validate the aircraft.

Screenshots: KarlL - Threshold Exclusive

It is worth noting that Karl is the sole developer working on the Kiowa Warrior, but has around 12 testers ranging from actual pilots to teens who enjoy flying around in sim. Karl finalized his summary providing that he plans on ending the beta testing phase near the end of the summer and plans a release near the end of next week, this is all variable due to bugs, fixes etc.

Ending with a mention that he is making this freeware as a way to give back to a community that he has enjoyed over the years.

You can follow the Kiowa Warrior’s development and eventual release on the Forums.

Threshold encourages informed discussion and debate - though this can only happen if all commenters remain civil when voicing their opinions.