AVSIM Commercial FSX Aircraft Review

Douglas DC-2

Product Information

Publishers: Flight 1

Description: Historical aircraft add-on.

Download Size:

Format:
DVD
Simulation Type:
FS9 / FSX
Reviewed by: Mike Cameron AVSIM Staff Reviewer - May 22, 2011

Introduction

The Douglas DC-2 was inspired by the success of the DC-1 and was introduced less than a year after the DC-1’s first flight.   The DC-2 had a similar shape as the DC-1 but had more powerful engines that allowed the DC-2 to be faster and have a longer range than the DC-1.   This aircraft was also two feet longer than the DC-1, allowing it to seat two more passengers.

The DC-2 established 19 American speed and distance records in its first six months of service.   Trans World Airlines put DC-2’s on overnight flights from New York to Los Angeles, California in 1934 with stops in Chicago Illinois, Kansas City Missouri and Albuquerque New Mexico.   A passenger could board the flight at 4PM and arrive in Los Angeles at 7AM the next day.   It was also the first Douglas airliner to enter service outside of the United States.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines entered one of its DC-2’s in the London – to – Melbourne Australia Air Race in 1934.  The airline made every scheduled passenger stop in KLM’s regular 9000 mile route (which was 1000 miles longer than the race route), carried mail and even turned back once to pick up a stranded passenger.  Despite all of this, KLM’s DC-2 managed to finish second in the air race, behind a racing aircraft specifically made for the race.   The DC-2 also received the Collier Trophy for outstanding achievements in flight in 1935.   This was also a first for a Douglas aircraft.

Douglas Aircraft built 156 DC-2’s between 1934 and 1937 at its Santa Monica, California plant.    Modified DC-2’s were built for the US Army Air Corps and had several military designations.

Specifications:
First flight: May 11th 1934, entered service May 18th 1934
Wingspan: 62 feet
Length: 61 feet 11.75 inches
Height: 16 feet 3.75 inches
Ceiling: 22,450 feet
Range: 1000 miles
Weight: 18,560 pounds
Power plant: Two 875-horsepower Wright Cyclone engines
Speed: 200 miles per hour
Seating capacity: 3 crew and 14 passengers
Cargo capacity: 3600 pounds

There are currently only three DC-2 aircraft still around.    The last flying DC-2 is owned by the Aviodrome Museum in Lelystad, Netherlands.   This aircraft was originally a US Navy aircraft and now has the UIVER’s KLM paint scheme and can sometimes be seen at air shows in Europe.  The flight model for this product is based on this aircraft.

A former Pan AM Airways DC-2 that was used by the Douglas Historical Foundation, until the merger with Boeing in 1997, is currently in storage at Long Beach, California.  The last surviving DC-2, a former Eastern Airlines aircraft is owned by the Dutch Dakota Association in the Netherlands.   This aircraft will require a lot of restoration before it will become airworthy.

The Flight1 DC-2 product was developed by the UIVER Team, distributed by Flight1 Software and all profits from this product is being paid directly to the Aviodrome Dutch National Aviation Theme Park to keep the real airplane flying.

Test System

Asus G72GX Laptop
Intel Core2 Duo 2.53GHz
6GB DD2 Memory
500 GB Serial ATA HD(5400RPM)
Nvidia GeForce 260M Video Card with 1GB GDDR3 Memory
17.3” LED-Backlit LCD Screen
FSX with Acceleration
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick.
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel & Multi Panel
CH Throttle Quadrant

Flying Time:
30 hours

Installation and Documentation

Installation is very easy; after placing the CD in a drive, the setup program should start automatically.   Windows Vista and Windows 7 users will need to give Windows User Account Control permission to run the installation program.   The CD contains both the FSX and FS2004 versions of the aircraft in both English and German.

I am going to be reviewing the FSX English Language version of the aircraft for this review so FS2004 owners may see slightly different things than what I describe in this review.   After agreeing to the License Agreement the program should automatically find the correct FSX install location, if this is incorrect, click the browse button to find the correct location.  After this, click Start and the DC-2 will be installed on your system.

After the installation is completed you will be prompted to run the DC-2 Configuration Utility.   This utility alters the aircraft.cfg for this aircraft to allow the power cart to work in FSX with Service Pack 2.   If you have Acceleration installed this file has already been changed so according to the Cockpit Handbook, you do not need to run this utility.   Oddly this utility has an option for people with Acceleration installed.   I have Acceleration installed so I followed the advice of the Cockpit Handbook and did not use this utility.   If you are unsure of which FSX version you have installed, the Configuration Utility is available on the Windows Start Menu, so you can run this program at a later time.

The first time that you select the DC-2 from the Aircraft selection screen you will prompted to “allow” and “trust” the gauge files.   Click “Run” and then click “Yes” in the next popup window to allow the gauges to always be trusted and allowed.   The above mentioned 31 page printed Cockpit Handbook for the FSX English language version is included in the box.  If you installed one of the other versions, documentation is included in the appropriate start menu folder.   A more detailed PDF User Guide, PDF Checklist, DC-2 Operations Manual, DC-2 Type Certificate and Simflyers  GNS-SX manual are also included as part of the installation.

Illuminated No Smoking and Fasten Seat Belt sign

Interior Model

Rather than having a cabin view and sub-views, the UIVER Team has done things a little differently.  You need to open the cabin door in the cockpit, then walk into the cabin using the eye point forward and backward keys.    On my system this was like literally taking baby steps and it took forever to walk to the back of the cabin.   Personally, I would have preferred the regular view and alternate views for the cabin.

The textures of the cabin seating sometimes change depending on the exterior livery being used, which is nice.   A couple examples of this; the US Navy livery has the words US Navy on the seats and the Pan Am Airways aircraft has interior color textures that match the exterior colors.   Other interior details that make this DC-2 a wonderfully modeled aircraft include the No Smoking/Fasten Seat Belts sign that illuminates when that switch is turned on in the cockpit; the cabin lighting effect looks very good, and the cabin toilet area has also been created.

The cockpit was produced based on photos taken from the real aircraft.   All of the cockpit details look authentic and have an aged look which is great because this is a very old aircraft.   The only small issue that I have with the cockpit is that some of the textures in the rear of the cockpit are blurry looking.   This is more a personal preference than a flaw and does not take away from a wonderful looking interior.

Uiver Aviodrome passenger cabin
Passenger cabin looking forward
Pan American Airway’s passenger cabin
Rear cockpit area
Great interior lighting effects
The cabin toilet area

Exterior Model

The exterior textures are also photo-realistic and features full bump-mapping and specular effects.   Thirty eight liveries are included with the FSX boxed edition.   What I like about the exterior textures is that you can zoom in close and all of the textures remain in focus without becoming blurry.  Exterior wording, no matter what size is clear and easy to read.   Also when zoomed in, you can see the engine details and even the individual rivets on the fuselage, very cool!  The external power cart is also included and is viewable when turned on by a cockpit switch and the parking brake is on. Everything about the exterior looks wonderful and realistic.
Wonderful details even when zoomed in
Johnson Flying Service
Luftwaffe livery
Royal Air Force
External power cart
KLM PH-ALE “Edelvalk”

Panel

Two different 3D Virtual Cockpits are included as part of the package.  The aircraft based on the Aviodrome DC-2 has a panel with modern avionics.   This panel includes Garmin VOR1 & VOR2, Garmin GMA 340 Audio Panel, Garmin GTX 330 Transponder, Garmin GNS 430 GPS and a Bendix King KX 165A TSO navigation & communication radio.   All of the Garmin avionics are supplied by Simflyer Avionics.

The rest of the aircraft in the package feature historical 1950’s instrumentation.    The historical panel avionics include NAV1/NAV2, COM1/ADF radios and a Transponder.   Both panels have instruments that are very detailed, are easy to read and remain in focus, even when zoomed in close.   I needed to move the eye-point view forward a little bit in order to make reading the smaller instruments easier for my eyes.   If you still need help and you have tooltips enabled, a tooltip will display the instrument data and the control panel popup also displays the relevant information.

Historical instrumentation panel

Modern avionics panel

Flight Dynamics and Systems Operation

If you are going to start and operate the DC-2 in the most realistic way, you need to read the Cockpit Handbook from the box and the more detailed PDF User Guide.    The first time I tried starting the engines using the checklist in the Cockpit Handbook, the right engine failed to start.   By studying the User Guide, I discovered that the engine was flooded.

The right engine throttle was partially open, along with the right fuel pump turned on and the right primer switch being used.   After closing the throttle and waiting some time, I was able to successfully start both engines.   A wonderful tool that is included with the DC-2 is the Trimsheet & Control Panel Popup.   I will explain more about this later in the review but want to explain here how this utility can help with the startup procedures.

When an engine fails to start, bring up the Control Panel and look at the starter table area.   The starter table will display all of the relevant information.   When you bring the mouse pointer over the start buttons, useful tool tips are displayed showing what is wrong or what needs to be done before an engine start can be performed.   If there is an error message that you do not understand, the User Guide explains all of the error messages in detail.

The Control Panel displays all important engine and other systems information and if any of these items are displayed in yellow or red, action needs to be taken.   I highly recommend using the control panel until you are comfortable starting and operating the DC-2.

To taxi the DC-2 requires a combination of brake & throttle in order to turn.   This takes some practice but once you get used to it, taxiing the aircraft is very easy.   Just remember that this is a large aircraft and requires a large space to turn.

After performing pattern operations to get acclimated with the aircraft, I decided to try a cross country flight that I am familiar with.   I will depart Sanderson Field located in Shelton Washington and fly to Felts Field in Spokane Washington via the Olympia, Ellensburg, Moses Lake & Spokane VOR’s.   I will be using an aircraft with the historical avionics for this flight.

I was able to start the engines and depart Sanderson without issue but about half way to Olympia both engines quit on me and I was unable to restart them.   Rather than pressing escape and starting over, I decided to find a suitable area and perform an emergency landing.   Good thing I did not have any passengers aboard for this trip.   I was able to land without any more problems and did a complete shutdown.

With this aircraft you really do need to follow the checklists precisely or you are just asking for problems.  After looking at the “final items before takeoff” checklist I discovered that the boost pumps & pitot heat need to be on for takeoff and climb.   I also learned that you need to monitor manifold pressure and RPM during all phases of flight.   This is where the Control Panel is very useful.   Monitor the settings on the Control Panel while following the checklists and you should avoid most problems.

This is one of the things that I love about this product; you can fly the aircraft in the most realistic way possible but still have a tool to help monitor the various systems and spot problems before they happen.   It is like having a co-pilot with you to help with the workload.

After starting the engines again and following the checklists more closely, I was able to complete this flight without further problems.   Several flights later I thought I would try starting the engines from memory and guess what, another engine failure but this time only the right engine.   I brought up the Control Panel and the oil temperature and oil pressure were both in the red.  I had not properly warmed up and monitored the right engine and had another system failure.

The DC-2 does not have an autopilot but the developers have included a very nice alternative, a virtual co-pilot.   By pushing a button on the panel, the co-pilot will become active (with a voice sound effect from the pilot), and will try to maintain the current heading and altitude.   By pushing this same button again, you regain the controls (along with another pilot voice sound effect).   The co-pilot is very useful when you need to take your hands off the controls to perform another function or to look at a map.   Just like the modern autopilot you still need to monitor the various aircraft systems, instruments, outside terrain, etc. in order to avoid problems in the air.    The modern avionics instrument panel will allow the co-pilot to follow a FSX flight plan and I was also able to change altitude and vertical speed using my Saitek Autopilot Panel.

The other aircraft systems are also realistically modeled.    On some of the other retractable gear aircraft that I own, you deploy flaps at a higher speed before lowering the gear.   The DC-2 is the opposite, lower the gear first to slow the plane down, then when you reach the proper speed, and then lower the flaps.    If you lower the flaps at too high of speed, you will experience a Hydraulic Pump failure and will not be able to lower the flaps and the landing gear.   The User Guide provides the procedure for recovering from a hydraulic system failure but refers to a picture of the hydraulic shut-off valve which was missing from the User Guide.


I decided to land without the gear being down and even though I was able to do an emergency landing without problems and the propellers were bent in a realistic manor from contact with the ground.   I just love the extra things that the UIVER Team has included with this aircraft to make it a realistic and satisfying experience. I want to say that the Flight 1 customer support is excellent.  I emailed Flight 1 about the missing picture and received a reply within 24 hours with a copy of the missing picture.  The picture of the hydraulic shut-off valve is included in the Cockpit handbook but does not include the mouse controls that are included with the picture in the User Guide. One system that is modeled but I did not get a chance to try is the fire extinguisher system.   If you have an engine fire, this system is animated.

For a large aircraft, the DC-2 is a pretty easy plane to fly.   I did not have any problems trimming the aircraft or manually flying a heading.   As long as I followed the checklists, I did not have any problems with any aspects of flight.  Again, all of this realism makes for a wonderful experience and I recommend reading the included documentation in order to get the most out of this excellent product.

Canadian Colonial Airways

Finnish Air Lines

Landing gear failure

Control Panel Popup

Sounds, Animations & Extras

The UIVER Team has included several animations and sound effects with this DC-2 product.   Along with the usual animations that you would expect from an aircraft (doors, control surfaces & cockpit controls), they have included some other interesting animations.   These included the previously mentioned fire extinguisher, windshield wipers, startup smoke effects, exhaust flames at night (changes color depending on how rich or lean that you are flying the aircraft) and a flag & ‘Remove Before Flight’ tags that are animated based on current wind direction and speed.

The flag is handy at an airport without ATIS because it is helps me decide wind direction and which runway to use based on which way the flag is pointing.  Another reason that I like the animated flag is that rather than just having a generic flag for all of the aircraft, the flag changes depending on the nationality of the selected aircraft.

The sound effects are also excellent and for me have the appropriate loudness levels.   I like the fact that you can still hear the flaps and gear controls being used above the engine sounds.    I love the sounds that the aircraft makes when you are taxiing.   I do not know how to describe these sounds other than to say they are probably what you would expect to hear from an older metal fuselage aircraft.

The virtual co-pilot is considered an extra feature, but for me the best extra feature is the Trimsheet & Control Panel popup.  I have already discussed the Control Panel page, so I will comment about the Trimsheet page here.   The primary function of this page is the weight & balance settings for the selected aircraft but this page has some other very useful tools.   The tool that I used the most was the take-off trim setting; this allows you to accurately trim the aircraft for takeoff with the current aircraft load.

Other buttons on the Trimsheet page include open ATC window, a clock/timer button and a button to rewind the flight (if saved), back to the beginning.

Startup smoke effects

Animated windshield wipers

Animated Canadian flag

Trimsheet popup window

Summary / Closing Remarks

If you are interested in flying an airliner from the past or just like to fly aircraft with realistic systems and flight model, I highly recommend this DC-2 aircraft distributed by Flight 1 Software.    The UIVER Team has produced an authentic reproduction of the aircraft with an incredible amount of detail.    Plus, all profits from the sale of the product go to a worthy cause, the museum that owns the DC-2 that this package was based in order to keep this aircraft flying.

I did not comment about performance in the review, but on my system I did not have any performance related issues.   The couple of issues that I did have with this aircraft are very minor and do not take away from this excellent product.

 

What I Like About The DC2

  • Profits donated to keep real world aircraft in flying condition.
  • Trimsheet/Control Panel popup window.
  • Virtual Co-pilot.
  • Great looking interior & exterior textures.
  • Sound effects that the aircraft makes while taxiing.
  • Animated flag that matches the aircrafts nationality.
  • Great customer support from Flight1.

 

What I Don't Like About The DC2

  • Some blurry textures in the back of the cockpit.
  • Would have preferred traditional views of the passenger cabin instead of the simulated walking.

 

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Douglas DC 2

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