Darkstar is amazing - just did my first performance test of it

I want to emphasize that when you play the Darkstar like I will illustrate here - it begins to feel like a fast paced, fighter jet that takes 2,000 miles to do a 180 degree return to runway in just 55 minutes. I can’t wait to start a slalom course to practice more complex turns.

I been watching a lot of YouTube videos/tutorials on the Darkstar and started to work on something else. I get the impression that however decent the sim-piloting there are flying the Darkstar, that none of the videos I can find actually does more than the “mission” and a few simple flights.

I want to craft a whole genre of flying around the Darkstar and it’s already proving amazing to fly; far exceeding the ordinary “reach mach 10” which is rather simple to do. Here’s the first training I came up with.

First: the visuals are spectacular. Here are a few I caught during maneuvers.




This is my favorite, the Sun and the Moon together while I performed a turn.

I believe too many people who try the Darkstar just get overwhelmed by aspects that are too complex, or don’t see them at all because the general concept of the Darkstar is so easy. I’ve seen a lot of the threads with people talking about how they just can’t land. Or how they can’t manage the speed, etc. I’ll cover all those basics when I rewrite this when I have more time.

For now here’s the track I ran.

The above course is about 2,100miles long. I completed it in just under an hour. ~55 minutes. I completed it with 58% fuel remaining:

The actual Flight Plan (which I saved)

This track was built based on my understanding of the SR-71, which I recall a pilot telling me that it took 3 states to turn. So I crafted a “first training mission” out of that concept and oh boy, is it a tight fit.

I love complexity and this track turned out to keep me busy the whole time. There’s almost no down time and when there is there’s some quirks that actually require manual attention which I love.

The Darkstar for some reason probably triggered by stress on the aircraft which can actually be a fail (more on that in a second); the autopilot will engage the gas turbines while running the scramjet. To remain fuel optimized I just go into the 2nd page and turn off the pumps and also manually shut down the engines.

This means having to manually turn them back on when shutting down the Scramjet.

I’ve had the aircraft just come apart in a turn. That was awesome, the game failed to the “your aircraft was destroyed by stress” error. I’ve also had my character die from G-force, which was a pretty exhilarating scene actually. Fades out to dark blood red with an ominous heart beat and heavy tight breath control sounds.

If you start pushing the Darkstar to its limits you’ll get to come to the edge of all of these.

The course was surprisingly busy and taught. I ran it at about an average 5.3+mach; which I don’t know if there can be a record of that but that was my cruising speed.

Making the turns required some actual skill to my surprise. All of them are executed in the fullest bank:
Note the indicated bank here:

But it isn’t straight forward as to just bank and you turn. In fact - you don’t turn by banking alone. You have to be at max pitch up into the turn.

Even at max pitch and max bank you’re going to find it difficult to maintain the turn, maintain any altitude at all, and maintain your Gs.

Because you sacrifice 100,000feet of altitude approximately in an unpowered turn, I would alternate strategically between powered and unpowered turns and each had their own tactics.

The principle reason for unpowered (near idle) flight was that you could still keep approximately 5.3Mach while conserving tremendous amounts of fuel.

I saved fuel on the stratospheric injection also by efficiently climbing at 90% power on the engines. Do not use the afterburner until ~FL0330 and then when you’re at altitude at 90% power you’ll be at approximately .70 Mach.

You dip nose down under 10deg and then afterburn when you have positive vertical speed.

You begin to climb further and gain to .98mach and you should have up-pitch into 20deg near ~1.4G.

This is the correct trim.

You simply roll at 20deg near (bled down) .92Mach and 1.4G and when you do that correctly you’ll basically keep course and you’ll slip down to minus-20deg pitch and begin to accelerate.

Hold this inversion until you reach 1.5Mach - it’s just easier that way. Then roll again and you’ll automatically pull out because the previous setup correctly trims the Darkstar.

There’s a lot that goes into promptly bleeding speed from an altitude of 220,000feet (FL2200).

The Darkstar does have spoilers, use them. Keep the powerplants about at 86% thrust. Maintain a flight speed of ~225kts+ or you’ll stall.

Nose down and hold on for dear life. If you don’t exit mach fast enough your target will pass you before you know it even when you think you’re on a great glide slope from 100kts away.

You probably do need about 200kts to bleed off altitude and speed; but I wanted to start the decent more aggressively.

I had to make a pass and re-approach which I did hyper-aggressively (full bank turn at 30,000 feet doing a 180 in a few miles). Then I reacquired the landing vector about 30nm out.

Anyway I’ll pick this up later.

When you fly like this with the Darkstar you go places, get amazing views, you can outrun the sun by 3x cruising quite literally, and you have a full work load to manage the aircraft.

I love it.

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Great post. It’s a far more interesting plane in the sim than people give it credit for. Too many people just write off as a marketing gimmick.

But it’s well thought out enough to be interesting to fly and Lockheed Martin did design it. So at least at a conceptual level it’s a bit more than a mere novelty or a toy I think.

Also, it’s amazing in VR.

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Thanks Mobias7, I intend to bring to life the Darkstar through suggested missions on this forum; this being the first training mission. Keep in touch!

Mobias7
Great post. It’s a far more interesting plane in the sim than people give it credit for. Too many people just write off as a marketing gimmick.

But it’s well thought out enough to be interesting to fly and Lockheed Martin did design it. So at least at a conceptual level it’s a bit more than a mere novelty or a toy I think.

Also, it’s amazing in VR.

God I wish I was playing on not a mid-grade computer built in 2014 with original ~740s Nvidia graphics card lol.

I heard somewhere but haven’t tested it; that the “platform” for Darkstar is the Concord, meaning Asopo may have just lifted some old Concord sim-design for it. However it would make more sense to have used DCS’s SR-71 (I think they have one) physics.

But in some ways the Darkstar behaves a little like the F-18 if it were a brick; which also makes some sense because it was likely developed with the F-18 which was released for Maverick DLC as well.

I fully agree that most people write off the Darkstar as a gimmick. I fully believe this is for two reasons.

  1. It’s incredibly easy to use to complete the Maverick Mission - even though technically that is really hard or challenging until you learn some basic flight characteristics of the Darkstar. Not just follow the mission but learn why it works that way. Once you figure out how to do the mission it becomes challenging to figure out what else to do with it (see the world: duh!) because…
  2. It’s incredibly hard to fly! Which I love. It’s basically a VFR/GPS aircraft that has limited navigation abilities - no in flight reprogramming which we can chock up to it being a military aircraft (role-play it) and handles like a brick. Even though compared to claims about the SR-71 it handles like a fighter plane. Landing it is like landing the Space Shuttle unless you put-put around like a normal commoner (that’s what I think of you sub-80,000feet folk now).

How many other planes in MSFS can you be at 30,000 feet for an approach at Mach 3 trying to get lined up to your approach from 100nm out and still blow past your landing in a few minutes lol.

Darkstar provides a great challenge for free fliers who want to try and manage a plane that goes:

  • 100nm every 2 minutes 48 seconds in your glide slope.

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