DHC-2 Beaver is a true legend in aviation. The Beaver not only managed
to shape the Canadian wilderness, but over 50 years after it first
flew, no other aircraft has managed to replace it. Beavers did so
much to shape modern
Beaver first flew at De Havilland
In the years since the Beaver ended production, its list of accomplishments has expanded rapidly. Beavers have done firefighting, cargo hauling, crop-dusting and just about everything else except for dog fighting. Beavers have flown from grass, ice, snow, asphalt, and water and have worked on all 7 continents, including both poles. Today, Beavers still work hard and despite their age, demand has meant that their numbers have grown as older wrecks are restored and put to work. But enough with the introduction, let’s get to the review.
Installation, Display and Documentation
The Aerosoft Beaver is, at the time of writing, only available from Aerosoft’s website as an approximately 80MB download, which means 56K’ers better have lots of free time. (I don’t know if a CD version is in the works) The Beaver costs either 19.95 EUR for those within the EU or 17.20 EUR for those living elsewhere. Installation is a snap and within 2 minutes of finishing the download you’re ready to fly. Although the Beaver isn’t terribly complex, I highly recommend reading the included 35 page PDF before flying the Beaver as it contains useful pointers and other important information.
aircraft is found under De Havilland
The visual models are all superb. The Beaver’s chunky shape is captured perfectly and even items like spark plug wires and bolts on the wheels are modelled. Animations are also impressive with animations for everything from the drooping ailerons to doors and windows being included. Things like the skis and the water rudders are also fully animated. The most impressive animation though, is the pilot. Dressed in a spiffy jacket and cap, he moves with all of the control inputs and looks stunningly realistic. Even the engine is modelled, and the spoiler key removes the cowling so you can look at it (pressing it in flight really makes the plane look odd, since the cowling is hovering near the main gear legs) Textures are also very well done with all of the liveries being almost perfect clones of their real counterparts. Since working Beavers are rarely clean, the textures show some weathering to the paint and some of the most realistic looking exhaust and oil stains I’ve seen in FS. Effects are also included for the crop-duster and fire-fighter versions. Despite all this detail, the Beaver delivers about the same frame rates as the default aircraft.
Aerosoft’s Beaver is a bit odd in that it has 2 separate panels, one in the 1950’s style, which is how the Beaver came off the line, and a modernized one that might be seen on more “upscale” Beavers. Both panels can be used as-is, or a smaller panel can be called up for landing and takeoff. Popups include a GPS, fuel gauges and selector, trim panel, radios, and blowup of the engine gauges. Both panels have very well done bitmaps and all of the gauges and controls are easy to read and work as they should, although the fuel selector and gauges are not terribly logical, which is how DHC built them. The vintage panel is my favorite of the two since it seems to capture the essence of what the Beaver was supposed to do. The panel also has a very unique audio checklist.
Bush flying demands a good VC and the Beaver doesn’t disappoint. The VC’s match the panels with a modern and old style version and the interiors are utilitarian and would probably make an interior decorator break down and weep. The cockpit is nicely rendered with all of the switches, controls, and doohickies in their proper places. Most of the important controls in the VC are interactive, but radio use is best done with the popup window. Aerosoft seem to have done their homework here as many small details are present including the hand lever for flaps, the filler neck for the oil tank (yes, it really is inside the airplane) and the overhead trim console complete with the Beavers’ miniscule rollerblade wheel sized trim knobs. The VC is as easy on the FPS as the external model, and it is really enhanced by using the Active Camera module. The only flaw with the VC is that it suffers from the poor lighting model in FS. This means that in some conditions the gauges are nigh-unreadable and a “floodlight” similar to the one in Aerosoft’s Katana would be a great addition.
Since the Beaver is powered by a Wasp radial, a good sound set is mandatory, and once again Aerosoft delivers. The traditional sputtery, loud start-up sounds are great (although the start-up smoke is lacking in quantity) and the rest of the engine sounds are suitably throaty and loud. Ground roll sounds change depending on the surface upon which the aircraft rolls, adding another touch of immersion. Worth mentioning is the fact that there are some excellent environment sounds included. With the engine off, different sounds play depending on where you are. Birds and wildlife are heard on grass or dirt, jets are heard on asphalt, water is heard lapping against the floats, and on snow, boots are heard crunching through it. The only drawback to these sounds is that sitting on a paved strip in the middle of nowhere with the sounds of heavy jets over flying you is irritating.
I’ve prattled on enough about what it looks and sounds like, so let’s get into how it flies. On the ground the Beaver handles like a big airplane. Power is needed to get rolling and steering isn’t exactly nimble. Directional control is easy with the steerable tailwheel and differential brakes are only needed to execute very tight turns. I was impressed to see that the tundra tire version has different ground handling than the normal wheeled version as it rolls in turns and is “mushier” on rough ground.
Water handling for the float versions is done with water rudders at low speed, with the normal rudder coming into use at higher speeds (just remember to retract the water rudders at speed). Taxiing the waterborne Beavers can be difficult since they suffer from Microsoft’s “sticky water” which means lots of power will be needed to get moving. Takeoff is simple with the flaps being set to “takeoff” and the Beaver will come off the ground at about 65KTS in the three point attitude, so you don’t need to raise the tail.
Initial climb or clearing obstacles is done at about 80MPH with the flaps set to “climb”. This gives (depending on weight) a bit over 1000FPM, but the engine can’t sustain max power for long. After clearing any obstacles, the flaps are retracted and with a reduced power setting climb slows to 500-700FPM at about 100 MPH. Beavers aren’t exactly speed demons and the wheeled version cruises at about 125 MPH. You have about 3.5 hours fuel with a reserve. All of the models fly differently, with the numbers I gave here applying to the wheel version. Tundra tires cut about 5 MPH off of cruise, and the float versions lose climb performance and about 10MPH in cruise. The added weight and area of the floats also means those Beavers will roll slower, trim out differently and feel funny in yaw. The Beavers aren’t fighters and really do fly like a big airplane and so it takes time to change direction or speed. There is no autopilot, but The Beaver is very stable when you get it trimmed up correctly and it will fly quite happily hands off until gas runs out. If you do run out of gas, be aware that the Beaver glides about as well as the animal for which it is named, but the upshot is that you can land nearly anywhere. Landing the Beaver is very entertaining and I found myself trying to see what strips the Beaver couldn’t get into (not very many). When fully extended, the flaps act as very effective airbrakes, so keep the power up on approach and be aware that the drooped ailerons lose some effectiveness. With full flaps, the Beaver stalls at about 45MPH and can stop using an absurdly short piece of real estate. Another great thing about the Beaver is that you can go just about anywhere. Mountain lakes are readily accessible and even glaciers are fair game for landing with the ski Beaver. Although loading a half-ton of gear hurts the STOL abilities, the aircraft is still very capable even fully loaded.
So now the big question, is it worth the money? My answer is a definite YES. For the money, you get a lot of product, and numerous liveries are being added by 3rd party repainters. This is a good simple aircraft for beginning simmers, and flying in mountainous terrain in bad weather provides ample excitement and challenge for experienced flyers. The Beaver is perfect for those who enjoy VFR flying and getting in and out of small strips in almost any kind of terrain. Support is superb, and Aerosoft is never hesitant to patch their products should they need it.
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