AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Cessna 172 1958 (FSX)

Product Information

Publishers:  SimFlight 3D

Description: Replica of the Cessna 172 from the year 1958.

Download Size:
118 MB (Basic Package)

1.78 MB (Update File)

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX SP2 or FSX Acceleration
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - September 23, 2009

Introduction

Finding something to write about this old-fashioned looking Cessna 172 from 1958 wasn’t that easy. It needs more researching than expected because it’s very difficult to get the necessary information. When there’s a need to write about a new Cessna 172 model like the recent released Carenado models, it’s not difficult but this one was very difficult to be honest.

Then there was another issue; the FS9 and FSX models are split across two reviewers. Personally, I preferred writing about both MSFS versions. At the same moment, I think that it could be a good way to give our readers two objective reviews of the same developer/vendor and for the same aircraft where the only difference is “the MSFS version”.

Thus, find here the review of a brand new developer who likes airplanes, who has a lot of 3D modeling experience within the games world. If this 3D modeling experience turns out that this Cessna 172 1958 is really something unique, that’s what we will see. It took a little longer to write about the ins and outs of this model but I luckily succeeded and the outcome is surprising. If the outcome is the same as the FS9 model, that’s something I don’t know but what I do know is that when this FSX review is published, the FS9 counterpart review of the same aircraft model will have already been published.

Time to move on and time to start with the small Cessna model!

Background Information

Let’s offer you some Cessna history information and – as far as possible – some background data.

The Cessna Aircraft Company is an airplane manufacturing corporation headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, USA. Their main products are general aviation aircraft. Although they are the most well-known for their small, piston-powered aircraft, they also produce business jets. The company is a subsidiary of the U.S. conglomerate Textron. The company traces its history to June 1911, when Clyde Cessna, a farmer in Rago, Kansas, built a wood-and-fabric plane and became the first person to build and fly an aircraft between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.

Clyde Cessna started his aircraft ventures in Enid, Oklahoma, testing many of his early planes on the salt flats. When bankers in Enid refused to lend him more money to build his planes, he moved to Wichita. In 1924, Cessna partnered with Lloyd C. Stearman and Walter H. Beech to form the Travel Air, Inc., a biplane manufacturing firm. This company was based in Wichita. In 1927, Clyde Cessna left Travel Air and formed his own company, the Cessna Aircraft Company. Instead of producing biplanes, he instead decided to focus on building monoplanes. The first flew on August 13, 1927.

Cessna Aircraft Company closed its doors from 1932 until 1934 due to the state of the economy. In 1934, Dwane Wallace, with the help of his brother Dwight, took control of the company and began the process of building it into what would become a global success.

After World War II, Cessna created the 170, which, along with later models (notably the 172), became the most widely produced light aircraft in history. Cessna's advertising boasts that it has delivered more aircraft than any other company, over 190,000 by the end of 2008.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft. First flown in 1955 and still in production, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft. Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful mass produced light aircraft in history. The first production models were delivered in 1956 and they are still in production. As of 2008, more than 43,000 had been built.

The Skyhawk's main competitors have been the Beechcraft Musketeer and Grumman AA-5 series (neither in production), the Piper Cherokee and, more recently, the Diamond DA40. The Cessna 172 started life as a tricycle landing gear variant of the tail dragger Cessna 170, with a basic level of standard equipment. The first flight of the prototype was in November 1955. The 172 became an overnight sales success and over 1,400 were built in 1956, its first full year of production. Early 172s were similar in appearance to the 170, with the same straight aft fuselage and tall gear legs, although the 172 had a straight vertical tail while the 170 had a rounded fin and rudder. Later 172 versions incorporated revised landing gear and the sweptback tail which is still in use today.

The final aesthetic development in the mid-1960s was a lowered rear deck that allowed an aft window. Cessna advertised this added rear visibility as "Omni-Vision”. This airframe configuration has remained almost unchanged since then, except for updates in avionics and engines, including the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit in 2005. Production had been halted in the mid-1980s, but was resumed in 1996 with the 160 hp (120 kW) Cessna 172R Skyhawk and was supplemented in 1998 by the 180 hp (135 kW) Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP.

Find here some real aircraft, interior and cockpit panel pictures of different Cessna 172 1958 models. As you can see at the lower row, the cockpit panels differ dramatic from owner by owner. Not strange since the aircraft is very old, not always every is available and some owners prefer to give it their own identity.

Let’s stick to our Cessna 172; the basic 172 appeared in November 1955 as the 1956 model and remained in production until replaced by the 172A in early 1960. It was equipped with a Continental O-300 145 hp (108 kW) six-cylinder, air-cooled engine and had a maximum gross weight of 2,200 lb (998 kg). Introductory base price was USD$8995 and a total of 4195 were constructed over the five years. There’s a reason to stick only to this model number – there’s not yet any model number introduced but anyway – since Cessna build too many different types, ranging from the C172A, C172B, C172C, C172D, C172E, C172F, C172G and many more. In other words, Cessna is still alive and stronger than ever.

Installation and documentation

Test System

Intel Core Extreme i7-965 3.2Ghz
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 1600Mhz
EVGA GTX-285 For the Winner
Quad WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD
Single WD 1TB HDD
Windows Vista Ultimate x64
W7 Ultimate RC1 x64 (not used)
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Saitek ProFlight Yoke System
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
43 hours

Installation

A little bit surprised after receiving the installer or actually not an installer at all but a ZIP file. After being unzipped, I got one directory - copy contents of this folder into FSX root directory – with two sub-directories – Effects and SimObjects - and although I know how to handle this, it seems there’s no installation manual. Ok, the folder pointing to copy the contents in FSX is a kind of guide but rather new for me. Anyway, no installer, but you only need to copy it into FSX. That’s all!

However, it means you won’t find any shortcuts on your desktop or anything under the Windows Start button but what about manuals? Ok, after digging into the SimObjects – Airplanes, I found this folder; C172_N3955F. Here are some manuals, which I’ll explain in a minute. Since I’ve got the time, I’m a little curious about the setup of the aircraft folder. It seems that some important engine and flight instruments like the altimeter, airspeed, vertical speed, heading indicator, bank and slip indicator and a few others are not custom made but taken from the default FSX Cessna 172 aircraft.

Find here an extraction of the aircraft.cfg file within the SimObjects/Airplanes/C172_N3955F folder:
gauge00=Cessna!Altimeter, 240,148,73,74
gauge01=Cessna!Heading_Indicator, 99,247,68,74
gauge02=Cessna!Turn_Indicator, 33,263,61,68
gauge03=Cessna!Vertical_Speed, 243,257,71,70
gauge04=Cessna172!Airspeed, 28,189,60,67
gauge05=Cessna172!Tachometer, 409,246,69,68
gauge06=CessnaWAlpha!Attitude_Alpha, 97,171,66,72
gauge07=CessnaWAlpha!VOR1_Alpha, 336,245,68,69
gauge08=Bendix_King_Radio!Bendix-King Radio Nav-Comm 1, 492,142,144,59
gauge09=Bendix_King_Radio!Bendix-King Radio Xpndr, 459,345,134,35
gauge10=fs9gps!gps_500, 321,103,169,139
gauge11=..\SimObjects\Airplanes\Maule_M7_260C\panel\Maule_M7_260C!suction, 5,250,24,25
gauge12=..\SimObjects\Airplanes\C208B\panel\Cessna208B_XML!clock, 181,279,49,52
gauge13=..\SimObjects\Airplanes\Aircreation_582SL\panel\Aircreation_582SL!compass, 178,164,50,54
gauge14=..\SimObjects\Airplanes\C172_N3955F\panel\55FGauges!carb_heat, 317, 359 ,35,23

Except for the last shown gauge14, all the others are default FSX gauges so it seems not really its own design. It seems while busy with this, that most of the sound files for this add-on Cessna 172 are also from the default Cessna 172 FSX and therefore not really original! Ok, it’s time to move on and see what kind of manuals this aircraft offers.

Documentation

As I said before, the manuals can be found in the aircraft folder itself and those are:
- Readme.pfd
Some information about the airplane itself, where to install it (I did this already), aircraft specifications, key command etc. Not really, a shocking manual but some items are worth having it. One last remark; don’t expect too much of these 3 pages.
- Copyright.pdf
I think this is self-explaining.
- Reference.pdf
Just one page with some aircraft speeds like Vr, Vx, Vy, Vs, Vso, Va etc.
- Checklist.pdf
This Acrobat file offers a complete checklist, which is by the way also available via the kneeboard and some door control items. One nice implemented command is Shift+E + 4. This opens the engine for an oil check. You will see this later on during our walk-around check.
- Panel_use.jpg
Only one screenshot with some switchable items like light switches, engine controls, start control, battery control etc. There’s no information about the flight- and/or engine instruments but what said before, these are the same as the default Cessna 172 so when you need more information, have a look in these manuals. Anyway, the panel file is simple and offers not much information.

Is it worth adding some screenshots of the manuals here? No, the 5 manuals are all together far from finished to be honest. I should say when making an aircraft like this old fashioned Cessna 172, put some history in the books, add some screenshots of the airplane itself, although they used default instruments, it’s still worth adding some information here. Add something in the manual about the 2D, VC and cabin etc. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and that’s a shame.

External model versus real Cessna

According to the website, the developer has more than 15 years experience as a 3D modeler/animator in the video games industry. With this background and skill he started to create his own Cessna 172 from the year/model 1958. I must admit that the external model looks nice and is something different than we have seen before. There’s nobody out there who’s created this old Cessna 172 model and probably there are even people who don’t believe this was one of the first Cessna 172 models. Whatever you think or believe, it’s true and getting some real material including screenshots was difficult. After digging and digging on the Internet, I found some good looking and useful photos.

The simulated model comes in four different flavors – a Springfield Flying Service (red/blue) painting, a green/yellow striped version, a striped orange model and finally a green layout – and honestly I’ve got no idea if others are available, including from our own AVSIM library. For the moment, I must be happy with these paintings, which are not bad, not bad at all. You really can see that there’s a lot of 3D modeling experience available. Are there any more words needed? Oh, yes but let’s first have a look at some of the following screenshots, based on the Springfield color scheme.

When surfing around the model it seems that the whole model is based on digitalized photo material and therefore with the shiny panels, wheel covers, tail, wings etc. it all gives the flight simmer a highly realistic representation of how this old 1958 model looks since there are still some models out there in the real world. Even small details are there as well as the possibility to open/close the left and right cockpit doors – wow, those are big doors – and the window on the left hand side and the oil inspection panel on the engine cowling.

If you’re going to use the last option – oil inspection panel – I don’t know, but it’s fun to have the option. Although the tires are not that visible because of the wheel covers, what is visible looks very nice and realistic thus these things are available as well. There is much more than this; when doing my walk-around check I’m impressed with the detailed tail and in particular the sheet metal look. It’s a strange straight tail but as real as possible including the antenna.

I’m not finished yet since there’s also the light issue. Looking at the entire simulated light units like navigation, tail and the strobe light on the top of the vertical fin, it all looks very nice but above all very realistic. One last note especially for the landing and taxi lights. These lights are mounted within the left hand wing leading edge and the way it’s integrated into this looks great. I must be honest with you; the complete external model expresses a highly crafted 3D looking replica of the 1958 Cessna 172.

From left to right; opened oil inspection panel and pilots door window, opened pilots entrance door and last but not least, the passenger entrance door.

Either you fly during night or when the sun goes down, the cabin red light and thus the reflection on external aircraft parts is fantastic. Fantastic, because of the external reflection on the wing, or the wing struts etc. It seems that a lot of work was put into the model to make this as real as possible and that they did a well balanced job with a nice result. Visible during twilight hours but also in daytime is the sometimes slightly blurry look of the sheet metal work, in particular on the fuselage. On the other hand, it could be that I’m zooming in too much and then even the best of the best 3D designers work is reduced to blurry stuff. Let’s keep it here that the zooming level is too high. The overall metal look of the models offer a highly realistic external look with lots of available and worthy details.

Available cockpits

Virtual Cockpit (VC)

For many reason I prefer to start with the VC. First of all; the good frame rates and because of this, flying from within the VC is much more fun than from the old fashioned 2D cockpit. Anyway, because of the good FPS – all Scenery sliders set to the maximum except Water Effects, which is set to High 2x – I really enjoyed flying with this VC but there is a down side of these frame rates.

It seems to me that some of the flight and engine instruments are not created by the developer itself but taken from the default FSX Cessna 172 aircraft. Furthermore, the RH instrument panel shows some instruments like oil temperature, oil pressure and others; however these are not real instruments but just fake images. Not so strange since the default FSX Cessna 172 doesn’t offer these instruments. Oops, there’s one other item to mention; for some reason it seems that some instrument circumferences look fuzzy, which can be seen on one of the screenshots below.

Whatever, keeping some competitors in mind and in particular the Carenado Skyhawk 172 or the Flight1 C172, which cost a little more, they offer much more realistic instruments and a better instrument panel look. Ok, let’s first have a look at some VC screenshots before continuing with the rest of this 1958 VC panel.

As can be seen on one of the pictures; the VC comes with four different predefined views:
- Panel left
- Panel right
- Fuel selector/Flaps/Trim
- and of course the default Virtual Cockpit look.

Whatever you chose, that’s a personal taste but the basic virtual cockpit option allows you to swing and move though the cockpit and covers all predefined settings. The problem with the default panel view/height is that you don’t see anything from the outside world. Ok, a good pilot could fly on his/here instruments but unfortunately, this is not applicable for the panel right view since there are no essential flight instruments available. Ok, what else is there to tell about the VC. The VC offers, as far as I can see and judge, some windshield reflections on both the front panel/window and side panels.

There’s no reason to add Carenado screenshots here to compare. Those of you who are familiar with Carenado airplanes know their quality and for those who have never seen Carenado airplanes, just have a look at their website. A quick scan will teach us that there’s a huge difference between those models and this VC or even the 2D cockpit. Ok, there’s one thing that nobody offers and that’s the fact that we’re dealing here with a totally different and old model replica of one of the first Cessna 172 models with the straight vertical fin.

Ok, let’s go back to the Simflight 3D virtual cockpit. Apart from the default instruments, it also offers the default GPS equipment, which was not available in these models in those days. Personally, I don’t like the installed GPS and therefore I think it was a better idea when the developer had offered one cockpit as it was in those days and one with the GPS, but that’s a personal feeling. What else can you find in this VC?

Altogether, an average VC representation of this replica instrument panel. Remember, it’s a payware model and having so many default FSX instruments installed, an instrument panel that looks a little fuzzy and some instruments not simulated at all but just static images, makes it not much different than other default instrument panels. Keeping the price in mind, other vendors offer much better panels with custom made instruments as thus offering the user a real panel.

2D Cockpit

For me the 2D panel is not fun to look at. Ok, I have to be honest that the real panel in those days wasn’t spectacular at all and no more than a simple Aluminum plate with holes and that’s it, thus we may not expect anything else. Is this really correct what I’m writing down? Not entirely ... you could expect this phrase from me … since the 2D panel is not the same as the VC. The digitalized static images on the RH side of the panel are not the same as on this 2D panel. I know, static instruments … what difference does it make? I do not agree with this. Although the developer chose static (not operative) RH panel instruments, they should be available as static ones in the 2D panel as well. At least to keep the look the same but above all, to show the user that he/she tries to keep the panels the same.

Did I forget something? I don’t think so. There’s no pop-up window available for showing some simcons that allows you to request additional sub-panels except that via the FSX menu Views – Instrument Panel, you’re able to select the GPS (and of course the Main Panel) panel. This means however, that you can’t select the flaps and/or perform a trim from this 2D panel and oops, you can’t change the fuel selector since there’s no pop-up facility.

Disappointed? Yes. Again keeping the price/quality in mind and making comparisons with competitors who offer more or less these things and for around the same price. The Carenado is just a few US$ more and in my personal opinion, it offers a lot more. Anyway, this review is not related to the Carenado airplane, but it’s so easy and normal to compare it with others.

Although I like the external model, the shape and the overall look, I don’t like the 2D and the previous discussed VC. There’s too much that reminds me of flying the default FSX C172 instruments and although the old fashioned Cessna 172 1958 panel was simple, a little more work is welcome.

How does it fly?

This is always a difficult item or at least without having any real flight experience. I’m the lucky person who has my PPL and flown in a Cessna 152 and her big brother, the Cessna 172. The only remark is that my Cessna 172 was not from 1958 and thus not the simulated model. Still with this real flight experience, I should be able to judge in the right direction although there’s no flight motion available on my PC, but that’s for all the aircraft reviews. I assume that the airfile is new and thus unique for this 1958 model so let’s go for a short flight.

Taxiing doesn’t go that easy but this could be due to many things not related to the aircraft. While doing my last checks, I’ll get my takeoff clearance and thus we’re ready to go. I do a last flap full extension test and something seems strange to me. The flap movement from full UP to DOWN and visa versa goes too fast. Within approximately 1 to 2 seconds, the flaps extend or retract. Knowing that the flaps are controls by an electric motor, this electric motor is in reality not able to move the flaps that quickly. In other words, flaps movement is to my personal opinion not realistic.

Since we’re cleared, I apply full throttle and there we go. Gently I pull on the column and up she goes. During the initial climb to 2000 feet, I must say that it feels like an unstable aircraft, not like the Cessna 172 I flew. If this is real, I don’t know and getting some flight experience from real pilots is not that easy. And suppose you get that information, then it’s still difficult since what’s difficult for me might not be a problem for somebody else.

While approaching my planned altitude, it’s time to retract the flaps and after leveling off, it’s time to reduce the throttle. I’ll try not to write anymore about the instrument panel and other parts. Because of the good frame rates it’s a good idea to keep the VC in view, also because it offers all the adjustable components like the flap handle, trim and fuel selector. During the short test flight, I’ll play a little with rudder deflections and see what the aircraft is doing.

Trying to pre-stall the aircraft is not difficult and before you know, you’re in a real stall. Following a spin is more or less impossible but this is something that seems difficult with other aircraft as well. Forcing it into a spin doesn’t work but I think this aircraft is not really designed for it.

While flying in a northern direction, there are a few other flight techniques I want to perform but so far I can say it’s an easy plane to fly although it seems once in a while I hit a nervous airfile. But remember, it could be that the real Cessna 172 1958 has totally different flight characteristics than the newer models. Since I can’t judge this, I need to accept that this model seems nervous to fly.

Not really a problem, by the way, since flying a Cessna 152 isn’t that easy as well. Constant corrections are needed to keep it level or to fly on a certain heading unless there is no wind at all. After finishing my steep turns, patterns, slow flight with/without flaps etc, it’s time to find our landing spot. I gradually extend my flaps while following the traffic pattern for a landing on runway 18. Because of the aircraft dynamics, I need to keep all my attention on the airplane and my eye towards my intended landing spot. On final, I perform my last preparations and there’s the touchdown.

While taxiing towards the platform I retract the flaps, switch OFF some lights and read my checklist and before I know, we’re parked in the designated area. Altogether I liked the flight, but I can’t judge if the flight dynamics are the same or close to the real 1958 Cessna. Since I don’t know, it’s wise to leave this comment open. One thing is for sure; the flaps move too quickly and thus in my opinion unrealistic. For the rest, you can’t sit still and look around while flying since the aircraft needs constant corrections to keep it on your intended route.

Sound and FPS

Realistic sound or not?

As far as I can see – so help me God – there’s only one dedicated sound file available???? The rest of the sound files are all referring to the default FSX Cessna 172 sound folder. Is it then realistic or not … that’s the question? I could imagine that depending on the type and brand of fitted engine, each particular one has its own characteristic sound and that’s the same with this old fashioned replica from 1958.

However, since the sound files are linked to the default FSX C172, it seems to me this is not spectacular and keeping Ceranado’s Cessna 172 in mind, it’s far from realistic. I know, this is the easiest way to add sound to an add-on aircraft but is it fair for the flight simmers? Difficult to answer, but for me as a reviewer it means a disappointment.

We all know that default FSX aircraft are not always offering the best of the best or at least something what leads to realism. When you pay for an add-on model, you may expect something unique; something not related to a default FSX aircraft otherwise there’s no reason to buy the add-on model. This is my personal opinion and as usual, we try to offer you a straight and honest experience and thus a straightforward answer.

FPS

Is there a need to offer an FPS listing? I could do that but I’ll integrate that with a few screenshots and I think when you see those, there’s no need to add better or more detailed FPS figures. That’s one of the biggest advantages of this add-on aircraft, high frame rates and thus slower PCs can handle it without any problems so let’s go for some daylight and evening screenshots. And remember what I wrote earlier; flying the VC is more fun thus there’s absolutely no need to fly the 2D. Apart from the fact that the 2D cockpit misses the flap, trim and fuel selector panels.

35.5 FPS 37.2 FPS 49.6 FPS

With the above screenshots I’ll think it tells you enough. In other words, I’m a happy person with these FPS!

Summary / Closing Remarks

With what shall I start … ok, first the price of this FSX model. It will cost 22,95US$ for the FSX version and another 20,95US$ for the FS2004 version when buying it from the Simflight website. Honestly it’s a lot of money but fair is fair, the Carenado C172N Skyhawk II FSX is 26,95US$ (FS2004 version 26,95US$). Carenado offers at least custom-made instruments and some 2D subpanels although it’s not spectacular. Furthermore, the Carenado C172N comes standard with a little more liveries.

Let be honest; the external Simflight 3D model looks very nice. The cockpit panels are very basic however, that’s the reality from this Cessna model of these days so there’s no reason for me to complain but the fact that some default FSX instruments are used, because of this, I may complain. The sound file(s) – except for one – are used from the default FSX C172 Skyhawk. Keeping all of this in mind, I hope that the next Simflight 3D model is a more “own custom-made” version and thus it will reflect the price of a real self-made aircraft, with own instruments and own sound files.

Last incoming note from Simflight 3D regarding an update: According to Simflight 3D an update for the '58 C172 is available. "The update fixes inverted ailerons internal and external views, fixed white navigation light on the rudder from flickering in the external view when viewed from behind. Further is fixed being able to see white navigation light when looking towards the back seat in the VC and finally removed aircraft manufacturer's name from the plane select screen. This means the that original installer is not updated thus you need always to install this update, which can be downloaded directly from their website or via this link."

Keep one thing in mind when installing the update, the installer doesn’t automatically detect your “active” FSX directory thus the correct location! Another thing; the Simflight 3D installer appears to be standard in the Spanish or Portuguese language, which is not so handy for those who can’t read or understand it.

This brings me to the end of this Simflight 3D Cessna 172. I know, the summary is not that long, but there’s no need for it. When you’re looking for a completely different Cessna 172 aircraft model, then Simflight 3D offers it. However, don’t expect a unique cockpit design and beware of the default Cessna 172 sound.

 

What I Like About The Cessna 172 1958 (FSX)

  • Nice looking replica of the old fashioned Cessna 172 model from the year 1958
  • External model looks great with eye for details

 

What I Don't Like About The Cessna 172 1958 (FSX)

  • No installer
  • Because of the previous item, there are no manual shortcuts available on your desktop or under the Start button
  • Most of the installed instruments are default FSX instruments (after investigating the aircraft.cfg file)
  • It offers a good-looking Virtual Cockpit but the 2D panel is the only available panel, thus there are no sub panels for the flap, trim and fuel selector.

 

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