Beechcraft’s venerable Bonanza first started life back in 1947 as the model 35 Beechcraft. The Bonanza was one of the first all metal general aviation aircraft at the time. It brought in some features that until that time were only found on WWII fighter aircraft; these included retractable nose wheel undercarriage (up until that time all GA aircraft were tail draggers), a horizontally opposed six cylinder engine, rakish streamlined shape and low wing configuration. The prototype 35 first flew on 22 December 1945. Another unique feature of the model 35 was the V-tail. This configuration was different to almost all other aircraft of the time.
There was one problem identified in that the V-tail was suspected of causing a series of fatal accidents. It was found that the problems stemmed from the fact the most Bonanzas were used for long distance flight through all conditions, and that most accidents happened in severe turbulence. The FAA issued directives to cover more stringent maintenance checks to help alleviate the problem. The V-Tail production was stopped in 1982.
The more conventional Model 33 was introduced in 1959 and was called the Debonair. The Debonair was a no frills version of the Model 35, and was designed to compete with the Piper Comanche and the Cessna 210. But buyers didn’t take to the aircraft and Beechcraft kept updating the specs of the aircraft until in 1968 it was so close in spec to the Bonanza that the Debonair title was dropped.
The F33 was built from 1970. It had a 255HP engine. The F33A had a 285hp engine and was produced with two layouts, one had a long cabin with room for two full seats in the rear and a larger cargo door, with the other version being the bog standard no frills version. The F33 model was in continuous production until 1994. The Bonanza is one of the very few aircraft that can lay claim to being in continuous production since 1947 and Beechcraft have proven that quality sells even in the tough times.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is, as always, simple. If you purchase directly from Carenado, all you do is click on the installer to run the program. Enter the required details that are emailed to you and you are away.
Included in the package are a comprehensive flight manual, details of the flight characteristics and performance of the F33A. Also included is a user’s guide for the Garmin GSN430 GPS and AVSS (Altitude and Vertical Speed Selector). To find the documentation you need to go to the simobjects/airplanes/Carenado Bonanza F33A folder, there you will find the pilot’s manual and the user guides.
The manuals are written in an easy to follow and understandable format and the pilot’s handbook covers everything you need to know in regards to speeds, take off and landing weights and engine management.
Carenado are experts at building flight sim visual models that look just right, this aircraft is no exception. It looks like a Beechcraft Bonanza. Up close and personal with the aircraft you will notice that rivets are where they should be and look like the real thing, everything is in its place, things like the creep marks on the tires to the fuel cap orientation (when you put the fuel cap on, the locking lever was always on an angle, normally inboard). Behind the elevators and flaps there are lightening holes and the correct color primer is shown. The dimensions look spot on, and visually it looks exactly like the Bonanza should.
In the lighting area, the wing tip lights are modeled very well indeed, looking exactly like the real thing, even if the lights themselves are too dim. The rotating beacon does more of a flash than a rotation, but these lighting issues can be fixed with the Shockwave lights package available from A2A. Having said that, the lighting does not detract from the aircraft and are minor points (I just prefer the shockwave lights myself as they look more realistic to my eyes).
There are four paint jobs included with the package, all representing the F33A Bonanza. There is a plain white version as well for all you budding repainters out there and I am sure that there will be more user created paint packages out there in no time.
All the paint schemes are well weathered and look like a well maintained, if slightly dirty, aircraft would. Items like the underside has been weathered slightly more heavily as you would expect since this side gets dirtier quicker.
Animations are well covered with this aircraft, from the aerial moving in the breeze to the exhaust vibrating while then engine is running, this is tied to the engine revs, the faster the engine is running, the less vibration is shown and vice versa. Flaps and landing gear all retract and extend smoothly. If you apply the brakes hard, the rear of the aircraft will rise up on the suspension as you apply full power, and will squat down when you release the brakes, it all looks very realistic. Also there is a control panel in the 2D cockpit screen that allows you to put on the pitot covers, chocks and engine covers. As soon as you start the engine these are removed.
Interior Cockpit and Details
First up there is no 2D cockpit per se, there is an option to display the instruments but this is in no way anything like the real aircraft, it is more so you can fly the aircraft. Having said that, the VC is stunning with the attention to detail being seen everywhere you look. The instruments are smooth and fluid, and most importantly easy to read. The textures are crisp and look just right.
Interior lighting is well done with subtle light and shadows around the cockpit. This helps immerse yourself into the ambience while flying and also helps to highlight the instruments.
Doors can be opened from the inside by clicking on the handles, and the small window on the pilot’s side is the same. The autopilot works as expected and makes the aircraft a good choice for long flights giving you the ability to enjoy the scenery as it flies past. The GPS system included is well modeled and works within the limitations of FSX. The GPS can be used for all your navigation needs, or you can use the old method of VOR navigation. This aircraft is perfect for longer VFR navigation flights.
This aircraft package sounds like the real thing too. From start up to shut down the sounds are spot on. While I cannot vouch for the sounds from inside the cockpit, but from what I have heard at airports where I used to work, from the outside you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
This is always a difficult part of the review, as having never flown most of the aircraft I have reviewed; I can only go on reports from other people and what you can find on the web. Having said that, you can tell how the aircraft should perform even if you have never flown one, obviously a 747 should not be able to do barrel rolls and zip around like a fighter and the opposite is true for a GA aircraft, it shouldn’t feel like a 747 on takeoff but it shouldn’t respond like a Pitts Special either.
Going from published flight data I could find, the F33A handled slightly different with the different models. But there were no major differences in flight characteristics. The F33A flew by the numbers and felt like an aircraft this size should.
Stalling was as published, with a stall preceded by the warning buzzer and the nose pitching down. With this aircraft if you fight it and hold the nose up you drop out of the sky, but I have found that if you release the controls the aircraft nose drops and the speed picks up rapidly and you can fly right out of the stall with minimal altitude lose.
Getting the aircraft totally out of coordinated flight is possible, and again to correct it you let go of the controls, and the aircraft will fly right out. Now I cannot say if the stall characteristics are correct or not, as I found different reports of how the F33 stalls.
As far as the rest of the flight envelope goes it seems to be pretty much correct with a lot of drag on the airframe when you drop the flaps and gear. Again it is hard to know what is correct as there is a lot of differing reports of how the aircraft handles, I guess it is how each person perceives it.
To me the aircraft feels like it should and it is an easy to fly aircraft that will reward you on long flights.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Carenado have got another successful aircraft here, it is a popular aircraft in the real world, and is well sought after. With a good cruise range and easy flight characteristics this makes it perfect for almost anyone. If you want something a bit different from the usual Cessna offering, this could very well be the aircraft for you.
What I Like About The Bonanza
What I Don't Like About The Bonanza
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