Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog: A Simulation Beast

The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog is often heard of when looking for flight sticks, but most people are quickly turned away by it’s high price tag.  On the other hand it’s praised by many and seems to be a high quality product. Is it worth it? Here’s my review after owning it for over two years.

Introduction

Thrustmaster’s HOTAS Warthog – hands-on throttle and stick – is a replica of the A-10C’s, well, throttle and stick. It’s basically the Cougar’s successor and shares the same stick layout. That’s of course due to the A-10 borrowing the design from the F-16.

Throttle and stick can function independently, as they both feature their own USB connection. So you could for example use two Warthog sticks or – maybe a little more reasonable – a different throttle lever if you wish.

Part 1: The Warthog Throttle

Unlike the heavy metal throttle base, the two levers consist of plastic and feature aluminum plates where your palm rests. They’re precise but feel less sturdy than for example the X52’s throttle lever. Friction is adjustable on the fly – literally – using a wheel located behind the levers. The real world friction lever is also modeled and usable as an axis. I found it to be a good trim lever, others use it for zooming. My lever is a little jittery, so I personally don’t like the latter. Not sure if it’s a hardware fault, configuration issue or simply my USB hub.

Picture of the Warthog throttle
The Warthog throttle

On the throttles you can set up an indent for afterburners. This is done with a little plastic piece which you have to unscrew, flip, and screw back in. Other features are fuel cutoff indents below idle and a locking mechanism for making the levers stick together as one, which is helpful when flying single engine planes or gliders.

The writings on the base light up in green, like the real A-10 cockpit. Writings next to the buttons and switches are the same as it’s real life counterpart. Talking about switches: They consist of metal and feel sturdy. Mine definitely took a beating over the years and still work like a charm. Same goes for the plastic buttons; some of them could sit a bit tighter and wiggle a little, but they’re still very good.

Despite the Warthog throttle’s great overall quality the slew knob is a big letdown. One of this knob’s functions for example is the FLIR camera adjustment in the real plane . It’s way too touchy for my liking and only a little knob instead of the full hat it should be. With a big deadzone and heavy sensitivity curves applied it’s usable though, so it doesn’t degrade the great overall feeling too much.

Slew knob close-up
A close-up of the slew knob

Other than this small detail however the throttle is a sturdy, well done piece of hardware. It certainly lives up to the expectations that come with such a price tag.

Part 2: The Warthog Stick

The Warthog’s stick is probably the more iconic part of the package, and the one you’ll be more excited about. First things first: If you don’t own rudder pedals, this one is not for you: Just like in a real airplane  it doesn’t twist. You would have perfect pitch and roll control, but no yaw.

Warthog stick
The stick mounted on my setup

Thrustmaster made absolutely sure they didn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

The Warthog features three POV hats, a metal two-stage trigger, a five-way countermeasures toggle (4 directions + depress), a paddle switch and three buttons. It’s an exact replica of the real thing. All buttons feel great and sturdier than those on the throttle. The heavy, cold metal gives the stick a very “serious” feeling. I haven’t set up any deadzones or curves on it as it felt absolutely natural out of the box.

Close-up shot of the Warthog
Close-up of the buttons

The heavy stick is precise and well balanced with just the right amount of resistance, yet moves easily enough for long sessions of flying. Some people say it’s too heavy for them after a while, but I flew several hours with the Warthog and never experienced fatigue. It’s very comfortable to hold. And pulling that two stage trigger really makes you feel that BRRRRRRRRRT.

My Conclusion Regarding the Warthog

The Warthog isn’t something a weekend simmer should get. If you enjoy flight sim “every now and then” but don’t want to spend too much, you should probably invest in a good addon or sim (like the VRS F/A-18E) instead. Then get a more affordable flight stick, for example the very good Logitech Extreme 3D Pro.

For someone who considers flight sim a serious hobby, this HOTAS is a great addition to the setup, especially when flying the DCS A-10C or other military plane simulations.

It’s design and quality make the Warthog less of a desktop stick but one you would put in some kind of home cockpit, like I did. But it does come with large and heavy metal bases for both stick and throttle if you wish to do the former.

HOTAS Warthog Setup
My setup with the HOTAS Warthog

You certainly get an amazing product for your money. Just seriously consider if it’s really worth it for you before throwing your cash at it!

10/10 broke my toes when I dropped it, but it still works.
8/10 for the throttle, fix the slew knob!!11!1 :( – Mazzn

Oh yeah, it is compatible with the Thrustmaster T.A.R.G.E.T. software, which allows you to map buttons, keys, etc. It’s a powerful tool, but I didn’t need to use it yet, so it’s not part of the review.

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