Flying the TBM Kronos in Second Life

Flying the TBM Kronos over Isla Pey

Every time I promise myself, “no more planes!”, something happens to change my mind. Most recently, I’ve been throwing the CLSA Stampe SV.4 around the sky a lot of late (you can read a review of this ‘plane – now costing L$15 – here). This, plus a couple of suggestions led me to try – and buy – the TBM  Kronos V6.

Resembling the Pitt Special S1 / S2, the Kronos is a partial mesh build weighing-in at a default 51 LI, with a display cost of just under 42K and a quite enviable physics cost of 1.5. All of which makes for a very nibble aeroplane with some of the best close-to-real handling I’ve experienced in Second Life – not that I’m necessarily an expert in such things.

The Kronos variants: the full-size version (centre rear); version for smaller avatars (l); version for Tinies (right) and the Petite version (centre front)

A single-seater the Kronos eschews any menu system, and instead offers all commands and options directly through chat or a simple HUD. By default the latter attaches to the top right of the screen, and is nicely shaped to fit the corner without taking up too much space. The controls provided comprise an airspeed indicator, compass, altimeter, and four pre-set camera options.

This is a plane that packs in a lot in many respects. Delivered in a neat suitcase, which opens to reveal a (non-functioning) radio controlled model, together with control handset and a little fuel supply, the ‘plane unpacks to revels not one, but five models. These are: the Default sized ‘plane (51 LI), a slightly smaller version for smaller avatars (43 LI, together with a 0.9 physics cost), a version for Tinies (35 LI), a really dinky version for Petites (32 LI). Also supplied is a non-flying static model. Also supplied is an engine test stand and engine, documentation (basic but sufficient) and a poster.

Inverted climb over Blake Sea

The plane itself is a good-looking little machine, by default presented in an eye-catching and logo-emblazoned finish suitable for the aerobatics / airshow circuit, although perhaps a little too loud for my taste with all the flame motifs.  The engine hood is presented semi-transparent, and the design of the ‘plane can make getting to it a little difficult if you’d prefer it to be opaque, as I did.

Flight controls are the usual for an aircraft: WASD / arrow keys for elevators / rudder and ailerons; E and C / PAGE keys for throttle. For those not used to such a responsive aircraft, remember use of the SHIFT key with the LEFT / RIGHT keys will allow rudder-only turns (unless in Mouselook). Lights are absent the ‘plane, but as it is intended for aerobatics, white smoke can be toggled by typing “i” once the engine is started.   Throttle-wise, 5%-10% provides suitable ground movement speed, and when steering, the plane is both responsive and positive – one of the best ground-handlers I’ve been in.

A low pass over Isla Pey

As a STOL plane, the Kronos will lift-off at anything over 35% of throttle once the airspeed is high enough, and it’ll place itself in “landing mode” with a fairly fast rate of descent at 25% throttle. 30-40% throttle is ideal for cruising, and anything above 45% suitable for aerobatics.

In terms of the latter, the Kronos is a delight, although those used to flying more sedentary ‘planes many find it an initial handful. Light and responsive, it will loop and roll t a touch, and with a little practice it is possible to throw this ‘plane around quite and lot and keep it inside the boundaries of a single region.

The plane is nippy enough in “standard” mode. However, it has two further modes: H for “hardcore” and HH for “hyper hardcore.” I confess, I didn’t feel a lot of difference between H and HH, but the Kronos did respond faster in “hardcore” mode.

The smoke system in action – be sure to have your viewer’s particle system turned up

A template is provided for painting, and there are also some commercial kits available. Custom work can be a little bit of a pain when applying manually: there are a number of transparent elements overlaying some of the ‘plane’s surfaces (notably the engine cover and the wing surfaces), so a little care and patience is required, but nothing that is particularly taxing. For my part, I opted to use the supplied paint scheme as a base – largely due to the presence of the tigers on the tailplane 🙂 .

Good-looking, manoeuvrable, fun-to-fly, the Kronos is a great little single-seater by Rafaell Sorbet and Tania Bouvier, with a nice little HUD by Bunnys Fride. At L$ 1,799, it’s a recommended buy – but if you’re new to flying in SL, try the demo at TBM’s in-world airfield first.