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After a lot of hard work and constraints on my free time, I have finally released the EA-6B Prowler Superpack for the Strike Fighters 2 series. The EA-6B superpack includes six prowler variants, from the original EA-6B that flew in the late Vietnam War all the way to the ICAP III model, which is the most current variant. The EA-6B Superpack is an add-on to the A-6 Superpack, and requires that version 1.51 of the A-6 Superpack (also just released) be installed. Here are some screenshots to tie you over: Here's an original EA-6B (circa 1971) from the VAQ-132 Scorpions. VAQ-131 and VAQ-132 were the first squadrons to get the Prowler, and both squadrons participated in Linebacker II near the end of the Vietnam War. The EXpanded CAPability (EXCAP) Prowler followed in 1973. Here are a couple of shots of EXCAP birds from VAQ-133: You'll notice the cross on the radome on the picture above. The prowlers were marked on the nose so that the Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) on the carrier could visually differentiate the Prowler from its lighter Intruder cousin. People are most familiar with the radiation logo on the radome of the Prowler. The radar isn't any more dangerous than the Intruder radar; this is just the same type of visual marking. The above pic is also an EXCAP bird, albeit one that remained operational in 1981 when the Navy switched over to low visibility color schemes. The following pic is another example of the original LV paint scheme, which was replaced in 1983 by the Ghost Grey schemes we have today. And of course, a ghost grey scheme. This is another Prowler from VAQ-132, although much more modern (ICAP II Block 86/89) than the previous pics. Notably, the Improved CAPability (ICAP) was the first time the U.S. Marine Corps started flying the prowler (the EA-6A Electric Intruder was their EW platform of choice until then). Here's an ICAP bird from the VMAQ-2 Playboys (renamed the Death Jesters in the 90s when the Playboy Bunny was considered too politically incorrect for people whose job it is to kill other people and break their things). The ICAP I was followed in 1984 by the ICAP II Block 82, which was a major upgrade in the EW suite and also allowed the Prowler to carry the AGM-88 HARM series of missiles. The ICAP II Block 86/89 further increased the jamming capability of the Prowler. Here's a pic of a Prowler from VAQ-139. Finally, the ICAP III was put out to the Fleet in 2003, and I saved the CAG and Show birds for last. All of the following pics are of ICAP III birds (though to clarify, not all ICAP IIIs are CAG birds, and CAG birds also exist for earlier variants as well). VAQ-135 VAQ-140 (my old favorite) VMAQ-1 (my new favorite) The EA-6B Superpack requires Strike Fighters 2: North Atlantic. The A-6 Superpack and the EA-6B Superpack are both available for download at Combat Ace.
After losing power for most of the week, I finally got back into the game and finished up the low visibility schemes for the A-6. I will be revamping the data structure (i.e. locations of decals) for the A-6 Superpack to make it more friendly to people who use the manual install, which means that I will only use the main decal folder for files that directly replace 3W default decals. Quite honestly, the superpack has grown and evolved so much since version 1.0 that maintaining the existing folder structure was becoming unwieldy. The new folder structure will be designed with modularity and expansion in mind, particularly for integration with the upcoming EA-6B add on. The biggest visual update with the superpack is the complete revamp of the low visibility skins. Rather than going with a standard grey and making minor adjustments to logo placement, the new LV schemes use combinations of the five Federal Standard (FS) colors, including 2 and 3 color combinations. Likewise, separate color schemes are available for USN and USMC aircraft, with fundamental differences in colors and placement. Finally, wherever possible I have changed the standard blur-lines with actual words in small fonts, and I have added similar details to the wings and fuselage wherever necessary. But you're reading this for the pictures, so I'll get right to it. Here's a screenshot of two A-6Es in very early low visibility paint schemes. These were really more of a hybrid LV scheme, with full color markings and white underneath and ghost grey with light markings on top. (Slightly) later variants of the ghost grey scheme used a low visibility roundel under the wing. Both versions can be seen here. The version with the white nose also has the full color roundel on the underside of the wing. Also notice that you can now see the insides of the wings when they are folded. The scheme as seen from the underside: Finally, you'll notice the two amber lights in back of the inner pylons. These were added to the A-6E so that LSOs could differentiate between the Intruder and Prowler on approach to the boat at night (prowlers have red and green lights instead of amber). The USMC schemes were already represented with the Gunship Grey patterns. I have added two weathered patterns and updated the existing Gunship Grey pattern to use FS colors. Likewise, I updated the USN Gunship Grey patterns to FS colors as well. No screenies, though. Now we can move on to the established LV patterns as we know them today. I have done both 2 color and 3 color patterns with various degrees of weathering, as well as separate USN and USMC patterns. Here is the standard low visibility paint scheme for USN aircraft, with light ghost grey on the underside, dark ghost grey on the upper surfaces, and medium grey covering the forward edge of the wings, wingroots, and dorsal area. Here's the corresponding USMC pattern, which in this case uses a darker, bluer grey as the darkest of the 3 colors, and doesn't cover the entire dorsal area with the darkest color, but rather covers the canopy area, wing root, and rudder. Here's another look at the Marine bird from VMA-533: and again, for comparison, the Navy bird from VA-75: Here's a more heavily weathered Marine bird: and a heavily weathered 2-color pattern from VA-85: Some of the details I mentioned earlier. You can see markings for jacking points, tie-downs, and the exhaust for the ram air scoop on the TRAM birds and the details on the SWIP birds. You can tell a SWIP bird apart from your standard TRAM when the wings are folded. The white cylinder is part of the wing-folding mechanism for the SWIP's composite wings. Last but not least, since the superpack includes custom skins and decals for VA-42, VA-52, VA-75, and VMA-533 (other than what was shown above), I did new LV skins specific to those custom aircraft. They take on a much more weathered look as befits the decals. You can see these pics, as well as some of the new prowlers, on my Photobucket site.
Lately, I've been putting Wrench's EA-6B templates to good use in creating Prowler skins, but the lion's share of my work has been creating the logos for each of the EA-6B squadrons (USN and USMC). I have created Hi-color as well as low visibility (dark and light) insignia, along with CAG markings that differ from the standard Hi-color markings. All of the squadrons have been added to SquadronList.ini, with EA-6B entries starting at 455. This leaves plenty of room for other add-on squadrons or TK patches. All of the following birds use the same skin; any variation is in decals only. This keeps with the modular nature of the A-6 Superpack. You will also notice the use of canopy decals in a number of cases as well. Here are the squadrons in order, from VAQ-129 through VAQ-142, and VAQ-209. The USMC squadrons have been completed, but are not displayed here because the skins are still in the works. I'm particularly proud of this one (VAQ-140) Finally, you may notice the implementation of Russouk's lights via Fakepilot, allowing for additional nav lights. The white tail light has also been added to the rudder, with the A-6 retrofitted with this light as well. Now if somebody can hook me up with some working slimers, I'll really be in business. That, and if anybody can provide assistance with adjusting the ALQ-99 in the data.ini files to account for each variant then release of the EA-6B pack should be within a couple of weeks. The EA-6B pack will require that the A-6 Superpack be installed.