AVSIM Commercial FSX Aircraft Review

Part I

Lockheed Constellation

C69 / L-049A

Product Information

Publishers:  Just Flight

Description: Replica of the Lockheed Constellation models C-69, C-69/L-049A and L-049A.

Download Size:
171 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX SP2 or FSX Acceleration
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - November 18, 2009

Dear reader … let’s introduce myself …..Connie is my name

Dear AVSIM readers; let me introduce myself before others continue with me. My name is officially Constellation L049 but I prefer to use Connie, which is my nickname. I’m not a new aircraft model neither am I old. Oops, that’s very confusing but believe me, I’m still young and alive and people worldwide can still see me on special occasions like air shows or just standing in a hangar waiting for visitors to show them my beauty. Yes, that’s me, the world famous extraordinary Lockheed Constellation... in person!

I was born in … let me think … 1938 … oops, that was my sister, the L044 model. See, I’m really becoming old! I’m just kidding; I had my maiden flight somewhere in the year 1943. It’s too long ago to Know exactly what date and time it was. Anyway, while I was created from my sister, the L044, many others were based on me afterwards. The Just Flight package and thus its representation of me, offers lots of offspring models like the C-69 Military Transport Prototype, the C-69/L-049A, and the L-049A first production type. I know, there’s nothing that points to the Super Constellation. There are many reason for this, mainly she hasn’t been born yet.

Confused? Leave it since it’s not worth digging into it. For now, I would like to continue with myself and all my sisters, brothers or kids. All based on the L049 model with each having their own unique qualifications. I think there’s no time left for me to explain all of that since Angelique is already watching me. She wants to start with her review. It’s always the same. Ok, I’m allowed to tell you something about my history and here it is.

My history

Additional knowledge of the model 049 is needed before we can even start with the simulated JF model. So let’s have a look behind the old fashioned scenes of this extraordinary aircraft model.

....later affectionately known as: "the Connie", it was designed in 1939 to meet TWA's specifications for a long-range commercial transport. Or should I say: "... to meet Howard Hughes specifications"? As a major stockholder of the struggling TWA (at that time called Trans Continental & Western Air) , his drive and insight was instrumental. Other key figures in the "hush hush" development of Project 1961 were Lockheed's Chief Aerodynamicist C.L. "Kelly" Johnson (later famous for the Skunk Works' products U-2 and SR-71) and TWA's President Jack Frye.

The design called for an aircraft capable of carrying 20 passengers in sleeping berths (or 44 in normal seating arrangement) and 6,000 pounds of cargo, at speeds of 250-300 mph at 20,000 ft. It was now dubbed as "Model 049" and Hughes demanded development in total secrecy.

Model 049 was a leap forward in technology and design. Hughes wanted to stay ahead of the competition. Focke Wulf was the closest in specifications with the 26-passenger FW-200 Condor. This aircraft was first flown in 1937 and was capable of cruising at 230 mph. A modified prototype flew from Berlin to New York in just under 25 hours!

The prototype Constellation NX25800 (msn1961) completed its maiden flight in January 1943. Although both TWA and Pan American had placed orders for the aircraft, the small number (22) then produced were quickly pressed into military service, as the C-69, for the war effort. Also, its existence could no longer be denied and the world learned about the Connie.

The C-69 could accommodate 63 military men and with a full load its range was 3685 km. The engine chosen was the new Wright R-3350. The Boeing B-29 was also powered by these engines and priority during the war to this bomber meant fewer numbers for the Constellation. But this fell away after the war. Wright's R-3350 engine was a twin-row, 18-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine. It was designed in 1936 and first test run in 1937. The R-3350-35 Duplex Cyclone was capable of 2,200 horsepower at 2,800 RPM at sea level.

One more interesting detail about the speed: a W.W.2 fighter such as the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk was capable of doing 357 mph at 15,000 ft. The Connie moved at 360 mph at 20,000 ft! Not bad for a transport, weighing some 40 tons….!

The fact that the "Connie" had to cruise "over the weather" at 20,000 ft (service ceiling of 35,000 ft), meant that a pressurization system had to be installed. The test model was tested for an altitude of 55,000 ft in a makeshift altitude chamber, made from an oil storage tank.

The original model 49s had their civilian interiors stripped and a combination of seats and benches installed, among other modifications, in order to be accepted by the Army as C-69s. At the end of WWII, Lockheed bought back as many as were available and took those C-69s still on the production line and converted them back to model 49s and began delivering "Connies" to the airlines of the world. All model 49s were basically "dressed up" C-69s.
A rash of incidents in 1945 and 1946 caused this first civilian model of the Connie to be grounded for six weeks in July/August 1946 while the government aviation experts tried to sort out the causes. Over the first few years some 486 modifications were carried out. It was found the aircraft had no basic flaws and it was again pronounced airworthy, though engine problems continued to plague the aircraft. The Wright R-3350 Cyclone engines remained the cause for many problems, e.g. engine fires, overheating, etc.

Read a true account of travel on a Connie in those days: Consternation on a Constellation.
On the 4th of August 1945 a C-69 (42-94551) flew from New York to Paris in 14 hrs and 12 min. A record ! The crew was from TWA. They had made an arrangement that long range flights were flown by TWA crew on the aircraft that had been destined for TWA and consequently TWA had gained considerable experience when the war came to an end.

With the end of World War II, the Constellation entered service with TWA in 1946 and was used on both transcontinental and transatlantic flights. The aircraft proved to be extremely popular and was soon bought by a number of other airlines. A total of 88 C-69 and L-049 were produced. Fly away costs would range between US$ 685.000 and US$ 720,000, depending on interior configurations. They were initially delivered to: TWA (31), Pan American World Airways (22), KLM (6), American Overseas Airlines (7), BOAC (6), Air France (5), Capital (2), LAV (2) and El Al (4). One prototype and 2 production models crashed before their deliveries.

Final words; many thanks Ruud Leeuw for making it possible for me and the AVSIM community to be able to publish your Connie material including surfing around at your website.

My installation and my own manual

Easy …..

As you probably know from Just Flight, their installations are straightforward without any problems. More important is what you get? Llet’s see what happens after the installation is done and what models you’ve got.

The JF pre-installer, if I may say so, is well protected. These screenshots are not from the installer itself thus the one that installs your Connie. No, these shots are from the process where you need to enter your received codes to unlock the final installer. Well done and it takes less than 1 minute.

Accessible via the Windows start button, there’s a Just Flight Constellation Professional folder shortcut and within this there’s a link to the manual, which will be described in the next sub chapter. Secondly there’s an Open paint kit shortcut folder.

Oops, forgot to mention! This package comes with three models; the C-69, C-69/L-049A and the L-049. The C-69 is the military version of the Constellation while the L-049 is the passenger version. The package comes standard with the following liveries; C-69 Military green USAAF, C-69 Alloy USAAF, C-69/L-049A Factory livery, L-049A AOA (Overseas American Airlines), L-049A British Overseas Airways, L049A PAA (Pan American World Airways) and finally the L049A from TWA (Trans World Airlines). All passenger models from AOA, BOA, PAA and TWA also come in a speed pack configuration. That’s it … you want more? Then visit the JF website for additional upgrade packages.

For now, let’s have a look at some C69 and C69/L-049 screenshots from the offered liveries. That said, that’s not all and remember what I just wrote, all of the passenger models come with a speed pack. Not many liveries to be honest but on the other hand the liveries you do get are the most famous airlines who flew with the L-040A model even though more liveries are available.

American Overseas Airlines (AOA)
(speedback version)
Pan American World Airways (PAA) Trans World Airlines (TWA)
Factory livery USAAF Alloy USAAF green painting
Not all the available models are shown here, but it should be enough to give you an idea what to expect. What said before, all the passenger models come in a normal- and in a speedback configuration. There are in total two military versions and the factory colored one.

One last item regarding the installer; it comes with an uninstaller. However, this can’t be found in the previous mentioned folder. It’s located in the root of the FSX directory and I found out that when you click the setup program once more, it automatically uninstalls the Connie from your hard disk. Ok, that’s it for the installation sub-chapter.

This is me!

The Aeroplane Heaven/Just Flight Connie comes with an impressive manual. No, it’s not the complete flight crew manual from those days, but instead it comes with lots of information, ranging from history data, offered models, comprehensive cockpit description and operation, standard installation items as well as problems that could be expected in combination with certain software.

While some are only interested in the cockpit controls, others would like to know everything from the outside as well as how to open certain doors and others items. Therefore, these are also included in the manual. Furthermore, the JF manual offers first some basics how to handle the aircraft including the cockpit controls.

It seems to be a rather simple aircraft but it isn’t. Handling the aircraft, controlling and monitoring the engine parameters and oops, I almost forgot, flying it, do all need study beforehand. Because of this: the Operations manual offers a tutorial flight from London to Zurich. Before I continue with the tutorial first this; the basic sub-section of the manual helps you understanding all the controls, how to fly and handle the aircraft. It is created in a way with a nice balance between text and images thus for everybody a pleasant way to learn and understand the Connie.

56 pages, full with Connie C-69 and L-049A information … ranging from the introduction and the inclusion of the available models. That’s not all, what about her history and of course description and operation of the cockpit panels and instrument. Furthermore, basic practices for all flight envelope conditions and finally altogether combined in a tutorial. So there’s nothing to complain about.

Ok, back to the tutorial part; it’s a step-by-step description and operation of what you will need to do to have a safe journey and landing at Zurich. Personally, it’s a little too much text and not always supported by screenshots. Some like to have more screenshots while others can handle it without.

At the same time I need to correct myself. What I just said about the tutorial text and screenshots is true, however, there are lots of pages explaining to you with many screenshots on how to master the Connie and not only during ground operation but also what to do during taxi, takeoff and climb, cruise, descent, approach, landing and tax-out including the shutdown procedure. In other words, a lot of handy/important information that can be used in the tutorial flight and therefore the tutorial flight text is more related to the flight and less to the ins and outs of the instrument panel. So to be honest; it’s well done!

Keeping the aircraft model in mind, this aircraft will probably not be flown by those who would like to have installed systems like EFIS, ECAM, EICAS, FMS and other modern equipment. No, this aircraft is for the diehards who need to navigate by themselves, who need to fly the aircraft all alone and where old fashioned instruments have replaced the modern CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes) or even the latest TFTs. No, these instrument panels are old and dirty, used and smelly but worth trying to succeed in a flight across the Channel and mid-lands of France.

Anyway, the 56 page JF manual offers you exactly that what you need to master this Connie replica. One last remark regarding the manual, although I do understand why it’s made like that. The manual not only covers the models discussed in this review, it also deals with the L-749 (Super Constellation) and the many other liveries available. Long live marketing and sales!

By seeing all of the other possible update packages, you’re more or less challenged to buy those as well. By the way; the basic Connie package can be extended with two additional upgrade packages; A and B. Each of them adds something to the basic model or modifies the model, for example, to a Super Constellation.

Do I look elegant enough?

It’s not really my job to do an external preflight check but once in a while I do it to keep my brains a little up-to-date and see new things. Remember, walk around checks are never the same and there’s something else to see every time. That’s also the case with this extraordinary check on the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) Connie, which arrived in the early morning at London Heathrow and before you know, it was full flight enthusiasts.

Don’t forget, while writing this it’s Autumn 2009 and Heathrow normally has totally different visitors like all the Airbus types including regular flights of the Airbus A380 from Qantas and the Emirates. Anyway, we’re talking about the Lockheed Constellation, pointing with her nose in the direction of the oldest EGLL terminal, which is number 1 and I can tell you, it’s an old terminal. From my personal opinion, outdated for this time but for the Connie, it’s a great challenge where very old meets slightly old.

Ok, let’s start with our preflight check. Is it something like kicking the tires, any oil leaks present … no, you’re ready to go. No, that’s not the case. Although not looking forward to seeing any oil leaks, there will be … believe me. These oil piston star mounted engines are never dry and when they are dry or not sweaty on the outside, then you know there’s something wrong. No, the JF model is not leaking any oil but I expect that for this replica model.

We decide to start at Connie’s impressive tail and via the RH side, wing and nose we walk back to the aft fuselage. By the way; the developer and this is not Just Flight, has chosen a texture not representing a brand new livery. Although this is just one texture example, it’s not shiny except for the engine cowlings with that clear Aluminum. While passing my way from the tail to the wing, you can clearly see that the wing, flaps etc. are not as shiny as they could be however, it’s the reality that this is an old airplane and isn’t as new as we would like, so I’m happy with the sometimes matte Aluminum look but there’s also a downside while walking around. It seems to me that the wing skin is not as detailed as I had hoped for!

Just have a look for yourself when observing the wing skin. Although it’s not new and therefore slightly matte, my feeling tells me that many tiny details of the Aluminum skin and rivets are missing. It seems even to me that the wing and fuselage skin is created with no digitalized material is used. I’m aware that this is not easy since there are not many Connie’s left but it’s not as realistic as it could be.

Disappointed? … not really but it gives me some thoughts when I reviewed the Flight1 Douglas DC-2 Uiver from Rob Cappers. Anyway, this is not the DC-2 but the JF Connie. Let’s first have a look at the screenshots and see what else I saw during my walk around check.

Is there any need to add some text here? Personally, I don’t think so. These screenshots, and the ones from my flight impression, tells me that the model looks very nice. I personally miss the visibility of the rivets on the wing and fuselage. There are some but the original model had many more. Apart of this, I don’t like the colored wing surface or at least the way it’s made but that could be a personal feeling. Overall the model offers not only a great shape but there are also tiny items like the landing gear details, propeller and engine cowling look etc.
Special attention goes to the screenshot in the lower LH corner with the BOAC aft door stair. Looking closely at the screenshot, you can see on the left a ground crew member and as said before, the aft door stair. Controlling these items goes from two buttons in front of the co-pilot. The manual tells you about it. Another nice remark is the moment you use Ctrl+E, the aft LH passenger door opens, the stair extends to full door level and an attendant is waiting for you.

While you had the time to check all the images, I’ve reached the RH outboard and I must say that it seems that the engines are offering much more shiny textures than the wing, for example. The overall look of the engines and propeller blades looks realistic but it’s time to move on to the nose gear.

Already the way it looks – slim, tall but elegant – makes it worth looking at it even though it’s just a gear with two tires. Because the nose gear is positioned with a forward angle with the fuselage, a strange view appears when you are taxiing in a large turn. It results in lifting one tire from the ground. You will see that later in one of the screenshots. It’s not very strange since the same behavior/construction can be found with the Douglas DC-10 and MD11.

The nose gear doors look ok to me although some grease seems to be missing. Not strange since the door insides are not digitalized photo material but just created/painted. Apart from this, it seems further ok to me. We’re heading for the LH wing and main gear. Oops, I forgot that I did the RH side check. Anyway, here’s the main gear recreation. In principle, what was applicable for the nose gear is the same for the main gear. They look nice but the inner painting of the door, or I should say textures, is handmade and no digitalized material is used which makes it – again when looking at the Flight1 DC-2 – a little unrealistic, but nonetheless still worth the creation. On the other hand, the main wheel tires, and this is also true for the nose wheel tires, are detailed and look great. Via the LH wing and tip we’re heading for the tail and our walk around check finished.

Overall impression: very nice replica although I had hoped for the use of more digitalized material. I know, you won’t find Constellations on every spot around the world and therefore it’s not always easy for developers to find one for making the necessary high resolution images which are needed to offer the digitalized images for the overall fuselage, wing and tail skin.

Meet my virtual workspace

I would like to welcome you to my office. Ok, it’s a slightly old office with no pieces of modern equipment installed but nonetheless, still worth looking into it. Keep in mind how those pilots need to fly the aircraft and it wasn’t only short trips but mostly long distances to fly. Due to the diversity of the available Connie cockpits, there’s no need to compare it with real pictures. However, I can tell you that the created VC is very realistic and where needed, some digitalized material is used.

The overall performance by the way, is very good which I found out already during my walk around check. For PC specifications, just look in the System spec and added to this is that all the sliders are set to the maximum, thus I’m pretty impressed with FPS of around 30 on the ground. And there’s something else, the aircraft is parked near the old building of terminal 1 of Aerosoft’s scenery London Heathrow. Anyway, altogether not bad at all!

Back in the virtual cockpit with lots of preset options available, zooming and moving around all goes smooth and when zooming in to instruments, I’m even more impressed about the gauge and instrument quality. Sharp looking and realistic for those old fashioned ones. It’s really fun sweeping around in this VC and you have to use this since there’s not really a complete 2D cockpit available. With these VC FPS rates, there’s absolutely no need for a 2D cockpit. Flying this Connie is therefore even more fun than doing it within a 2D mode.

Looking closely at these instruments and not only applicable for this Connie model but for all the old fashioned aircraft in the add-on market, these are not easy to draw, create, or make them look as real as it get etc. A modern PFD, ND, EHSI, EADI, EICAS or ECAM display is in that respect easier to create in my opinion – remember, I’m not a developer – however, the complexity of those modern CRTs (Cathode Ray Tube) or TFTs is much more and could reduce FPS although with some developers this is not always the case.

The cockpit is a mix between digitalized material and their own created handles, levers or other components not available for making. However, all is done in a way that’s a pleasure to look at in the cockpit and to fly with it, since that’s what everybody wants. These oldies are not for every flight simmer. Not because of the price, not because of the quality, which is good, but purely because it doesn’t offer modern equipment and it doesn’t fly fast when compared to the modern jets.

The Connie was, for its time, a highly modern, streamlined aircraft. Fast with a well-equipped cabin with all kinds of passenger comfort available and this is also applicable for the cockpit. Ok, I never flew in this aircraft but reading all the papers, which can be found on the Internet, it tells me that it was a great plane. That said, this can be seen in the cockpit. For its day, it was a spacious environment, with a flight engineers panel and a radio/navigator location. All of this is well simulated and created in this JF model.

This was my first date with Connie, my very first VC impression of her working space. I know I’m critical and not easily satisfied but this was like a WOW factor, even for me. Ok, it doesn’t have anything from a modern aircraft like Airbus models or the Boeing 777 however for that time in those days, this was a modern and spacious cockpit. Don’t forget; it houses a standard 4 member cockpit crew and of course, it’s not a super spacious VIP working room. I and they could not complain. As described earlier, it offers lots of tiny details, instrument plates with needles are sharp and very readable, panels look nice and there’s a well balanced combination used/created between handmade panels and digitalized photo material. Most of the switches I’ve seen are working and not only in front of the pilots but also on the small overhead panel and the flight engineer’s station too. If all those switches, indicating lights are all working, that’s something I could figure out but anyway, it’s simulated. All together a great way to fly!

Let’s finally have a close look at some of the screenshots which represent the other parts and panels of the cockpit. For example, the lower left and middle close-up shots of some main flight instruments. The moment you select the thumbnail, it offers you a great overview of the well designed and high quality gauges. I’m impressed to be honest … that sharp, realistic and smooth operation of the needle and/or digital indication, if applicable, and I could continue for hours like this. Definitely a nice integration of created panels/gauges and digitalized image material.

Even the flight engineer’s station, although not as complicated as within a 747 Classic or DC-10-30, still offers me a great, sharp, and still realistic overview and also for this, all the gauges, switches, lights and whatever is mounted here, it all looks great. The only thing I’m not sure about is if all the switches, lights etc. work as they do in the real Connie.

Switching systems, illumination or extinguishing of lights doesn’t say anything if something behind is programmed. On the other hand, flying this baby is already hard work, even within flight simulator. That tells me something about the overall quality and realism factor of this product!
Oops, one screenshot back … the upper left one. Although it seems to be a regular overview, clicking on it shows me an awesome view of the overall cockpit including all the workstations except for the navigator. Just a small note; the overhead insulation, mounted left and right of the overhead panel seems to me a combination between digitalized photo material and/or some waffle structure created by the developers. Whatever it is, it looks nice and doesn’t break down the rest of the cockpit. I have to admit that this is a great Virtual Cockpit … period … end!

Due to the Sepia coloring, the great evening warm lighting conditions are lost or at least you can’t see them on these small shots. What’s also lost is the great instrument backlighting but don’t be disappointed. Just click these thumbnails and a new world opens in front of your eyes. Ridiculous of course what I’m writing but believe me, it’s true. Once you’ve opened the large and original colored image you will know what I mean.

I couldn’t stop to be honest and especially when I like the model, so I’ve added some screenshots of the cockpit as well as from the virtual cabin. Every time there’s a virtual cockpit I have my doubts and every time I’m complaining. Complaining because the cockpit is mostly not well created or I’m fussy while there’s a great virtual cabin … let’s say the other way around?

This time it’s different. The VC is great and great means for me it looks realistic, with great FPS rates – not unimportant – and fun to fly although some study beforehand is needed. The following screenshots are taken during an evening flight from Gatwick Airport London UK to the English Channel. The lighting conditions in the cockpit and instrument backlight illumination is awesome. What I wrote about the sharpness of the clocks, needles, instrument plates and so on, that’s the same and even more when there’s backlight. Just have a look to the previous screenshots for yourself and after that, I think you know what I’ve seen and felt when flying this Connie.

Some words about the predefined internal/external views. As usual, accessible via Views – View Mode – Cockpit, the JF model offers the following – see the screenshots below - VC and/or external previews apart of the default available Cockpit and Virtual Cockpit option.
Not that many options. However, enough to see different sides of the aircraft with some great external views integrated. I personally like the external engine and wing views. Since the previews have predefined zoom settings, unfortunately for the Engine View Right option a little too high a zoom was chosen. This means that a part of the cabin interior is visible which isn’t including the fuselage shell and the wing ends in the air so it isn’t connected to ……..! Ok, not really a big deal, you just press the “+” keyboard key once and you have solved it.

Right Seat Flight Engineer Passenger View RIGHT
Engine View Right Passenger View Landing Gear

From the Virtual Cockpit we move towards the virtual cabin. The screenshots below offer you an inside view of the virtual cabin and although I’m much more interested in the cockpit, it shows me a nice, warm interior and thus a realistic view of the luxury onboard this American Airline. It’s not the top of the bill virtual cabin since it only offers the forward part of the cabin up to and including the wing. The rest is not simulated.
Is that a problem? Not for me since I’m not much interested in the cabin. I’m looking more at the available frame rates and with this JF model and my computer specs they’re very good. Flying a nice add-on aircraft like this is worth every penny, although I know that many flight simmers won’t like this old fashioned aircraft but there are still many flight simmers who will love this one like me.

The simulated Constellation VC and this time VC means Virtual Cabin, is not large. It ends where the wing starts but what they have created looks ok to me. Normally I’m not a favorite of cabins because of the complexity and not much time is spent creating a nice and realistic looking one, but this VC is not bad. I like what I’ve seen and for those who like to make nice cabin with external screenshots, I think it works out fine. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any cabin crew members but I’ve seen at least one passenger. For me she looks relaxed, reading a magazine and once in a while looking outside of what’s passing underneath. For those who like window views, I must admit that the middle shot has a nice window circumference. It’s really fun making screenshots of the outside world.

Not directly belonging to my virtual workspace as the chapter is suggesting, it’s a part of the cockpit and then I’m talking about the 2D cockpit. I know it’s not virtual,but there’s hardly any 2D cockpit available.

I could only make one screenshot where I’m able to combine the entire panel together. Remember what I wrote before; the VC is unbelievably FPS friendly therefore flying a 2D configuration is no longer interesting and while writing this I know that’s my personal feeling.

Because of this statement, the developer could reduce the many bitmaps needed for a 2D cockpit and spend all of it’s time and effort in creating a great looking VC with high FPS rates. I think it worked out perfectly.

This brings me finally to the end of my virtual workspace. Altogether, I really liked the way it’s made; a nice balance between digitalized material for the panels and other VC parts including the creation of handmade parts. The sharpness, lighting conditions, and the full integration of the many sub panels make it a great cockpit to fly. Most of the switches are working although I’ve got no idea if every switch is really doing what it should do. I don’t own a real Connie manual and therefore I can’t confirm what I’ve seen.

In general, I think every flight simmer should love this plane but at the same time I know that will not be the case. The cockpit doesn’t offer an advanced autopilot or navigation system nor EICAS or ECAM. Strange of course since the Connie never had these and therefore it should not be installed and luckily nothing of that is there.
The VC with all of its auto pilot, navigation, aircraft and engine systems offers what is as real as it gets. Is this Connie Virtual Cockpit a 100% replica of the overall Connie models? That’s difficult to say since every Connie is different and because of that in general, every cockpit looks slightly different, depending on the need of the airliners in those days and because uniformity was not as it is now.

Now it’s time to end this part. I’m convinced that this native developed FSX is really awesome!

Connie’s sound

Believe it or not; Connie sings beautifully and is as real as it gets. Ok, I’m not 100% aware of all Connie sound levels since these flying machines are rare to find, but I’ve got the idea it sounds good. Lucky for me it doesn’t offer ECAM, EICAS level sounds or other AP or AT disconnect sounds or more of that.

Instead, you get lots of real recorder flap extension/retraction sounds, gear up and down and the best of the best, the engine prop reproduction. These are awesome. Why do I know that ……. because Lelystad Aviodrome aviation museum has a replica of the Connie and I’ve heard that sound many times. I could think of writing more but there are not that many sounds available, but those which are there, are great. Flying on the Auto Pilot with your eyes closed, believe me, is fun!

See how I fly!

It’s finally time to reintroduce myself with a nice and pleasant flight. Angelique has left her office and now I – Connie herself … Queen of the “old” Skies – can show you what I can really do. That being said it’s time to invite you on a short trip from Gatwick airport in the UK to Lelystad, which gives me the possibility to visit my sisters, the replica of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

It’s early in the morning when I decide to make this short but nonetheless great trip. Roughly, our flight goes first in a southwestern direction, making a nice right hand turn in the direction of Harwich. Here we cross the English Channel (or is it the Dutch Channel) and after some time – depending on the wind direction – we reach the Dutch coast.

Via Amsterdam or at least that’s the idea, we enter the 13th province of the Netherlands, Flevoland. Before you now, we’re already at Lelystad National airport. Ok, let’s go back to Gatwick where it’s time to do my final external walk around check. A few minutes later the engines are started and they run great to be honest. The sound is unmistakable, with the associated engine sound. Time to taxi to the assigned runway and although the nose and cockpit are situated high above the ground, we still have a good view of the taxi-way. While making the necessary turns I need to remind you that the nose gear is slightly behind the cockpit and thus calculating the correct turn moment is essential.

I’m ready but waiting for the tower so I can put my throttles full forward. What needs to be set is set, lights ON, seatbelts tight and yes, there’s the call from the control tower. Connie flight C001 is cleared for TO with an initial climb to 3000 feet while maintaining runway heading. Anyway, this time I will follow the control tower commands and here we go, up into the Skies.

It’s a nice day; no thunderstorms, some clouds and behind that the rising sun. After lift off it’s now the moment to retract my long legs - the undercarriage – and slowly raise my flaps. Flying me is as simple as it can be but don’t believe that you can do without anything. You can’t relax because this is real flying. No sophisticated AP, AT or I believe these days it’s called Autoflight equipment, no ECAM or EICAS helping you in doing things or systems that fail, no FMS helping you flying to and from a destination.

No, nothing of this except the presence of a simple AP and some navigation equipment. Suppose you’ve lost faith in all the equipment, no worries … you can always follow the rivers, roads, villages or even cities. In that case you need to fly as low as possible so that you’re able to follow all those landmarks.

While you can look at some of the screenshots I made during the climb out towards our cruising altitude, I’m heading for a nice turn towards the English coast before it’s time to cross the English Channel. It’s fun flying Connie but as long as the AP isn’t connected, there’s a lot of work to do. Constant corrections are needed, trimming here and there and while doing all of that, trying to keep on track or if you wish, to keep the correct heading.

Our flight is not long compared to the Atlantic flights, which are perfect to do with me. No, this flight to Holland is relatively short but should give you a good impression of how I fly, how easy it is but at the same time how hard it is. Shall we say; as real as it gets?

It’s difficult for me to compare this JF Connie with the real Connie concerning flight dynamics so that’s something I can’t say or can’t even compare it to but my thoughts tell me that the developers did a good job. It isn’t difficult to fly, but you need to learn how to fly it and because of the “normal” absence of high sophisticated equipment, your flying skills are even more important than before.

Oh, my goodness, we’ve just passed Amsterdam or I think that’s it so not long to go. I need to do some practices or stretch my legs. No, not my real legs, but finding out how this Connie is behaving during steep turns and approaching stall conditions. Although I don’t want to reach this situation, but see how the flight controls are dynamically affecting each other. Enough time for this and I must say, I’m impressed.

Steep turns are not difficult and the simulated Connie is doing fine. This is also the case when I’ll try to approach a stall situation. The aircraft is doing fine, I’m able to control the aircraft and bring it back to normal flight condition. Altogether – with the limitation known in FSX – I think this model performs very good and realistic. How realistic, that’s a question I unfortunately can’t answer and if I could, I would be a real Connie pilot.

Our Connie journey is almost over. Lelystad airport or airfield is close by and I’m looking forward to meeting my twin sister, the restored KLM Connie. If you haven’t seen her, then I’ve got a surprise for you. Find below some screenshots while I was standing next to her, and Angelique took the time to make some nice screenshots.

Courtesy of Airliners.Net
As Sepia images, it could be the JF model but that’s not the case. These shots represent a real Connie model, completely overhauled and proud to be a Connie. Some screenshots are taken at Schiphol-East, the maintenance area of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. A view others are shot at Connie’s permanent home base, the airport of Lelystad or to be exactly, the Aviodrome Aviation Museum. Great images and offering you lot’s of details.

Altogether, Connie’s flight was a success. Not that I had my doubts but simply because I didn’t know what to expect. It seems that building/creating these old ladies slowly becomes a success. As mentioned earlier, the Flight1 DC-2 from Rob Cappers, who’s already busy creating a native DC-2 and not to forget the MAAM DC-3, are all beauties by themselves and now I’m waiting for a Douglas DC-4?

So, my flight or that of Connie, to be honest was a success. It flies as real as it gets within the boundaries of FSX and keeping in mind the absence of motion. The simulated motion created or introduced by Microsoft is, in combination with the developers Constellation, great to fly and worth having the model in your hanger and especially when old times come back and uncomplicated flights where normal.

Test System

Intel Core Extreme i7-965 3.2Ghz
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 1600Mhz
EVGA GTX-285 For the Winner
Triple WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD
Single WD 1TB HDD
W7 Ultimate RC1 x64
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Flight Simulator FS9.1
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Saitek ProFlight Yoke System
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
69 hours

Summary / Closing Remarks

Where shall I start …. honestly, I don’t know. This review took a little longer than planned and as such I had more things to figure out and new ideas popped up, which is not bad for my review. When you look closely to the title, you can conclude by yourself that this JF model will be followed by part II, which covers the upgrade packages A and B.

Anyway, what else can I write here about these Connie models? Although this covers the base package and more liveries and models are added at an additional price, these three models are fun and great to fly. Ok, let’s first tell you what these packages will cost; you’re already the proud owner for less than 10 Euro’s or to be exactly €9,95 or 11.99 US$. What do you get for this?

Have a look on the JF website and follow the following links:
- Upgrade Pack A
- Upgrade Pack B

I’m stuck. There’s so much to write about this add-on software, but on the other hand, the review is already in-depth so why should I write again something here. I think there’s no need for this. Try to read the whole review and when you’ve done that and seen the “What I Like and Dislike” section of this review then you should conclude the same as I’ve done …. Plus I’ve added it to my favorite old timers.

 

What I Like About The Constellation

  • As usual, a straightforward installer that doesn’t give any problems and that also means the automatic detection of your Flight Simulator X directory.
  • Nice external aircraft model with lots of details.
  • Great looking Virtual Cockpit with limited sized Virtual Cabin for those who want to sit in the luxurious forward cabin.
  • Limited 2D cockpit with minimum of panels, but because of the very FPS rate friendly Virtual Cabin, there’s more or less no need to fly the 2D cockpit anymore.
  • Just mentioned, overall very good frame rates. The average – internal and external views – frame rates are between 25-50 FPS of course slightly depending on the weather conditions. Values based on my PC specifications.
  • Although I don’t have any practical flight experience, it seems to me that it feels right during my flights, that the flight dynamics or flight characteristics are highly realistic. Connie’s behavior when entering a stall seems very realistic as well as its behavior during normal flight.
  • Nice manual with a lot of background information on how to handle the engines and lots of info about the flight envelopes, which are taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, approach, landing and taxi-out.
  • You own the JF Connie already for just $29,99 or €24,95, while each upgrade package - A or B - cost you no more than €9,95 or 11,99 US$ per piece.
  • The sounds sound great! What’s that …. The recorded engine sound in and outside of the cockpit is really great and those sounds that are left are, as far as I can judge, realistic.
  • Conclusion … great old timer!

 

What I Don't Like About The Constellation

  • For the moment, I haven’t found anything … ok, one thing. I miss the rivets on the wing and fuselage a little and because of this, the wing and fuselage surface look too nice or should I say a little unrealistic?

 

Printing

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Lockheed Constellation C69 / L-049A

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