Review by Ray Marshall. This release was one of those really good surprises. I had no idea Rob and Sean were even considering an update of their Piston Duke. Heck, I thought they were hard at work on the RealAir Cessna 172. Rob is still hush hush on the C172 but added a v2 Duke teaser on their website a few days before it was introduced to the public.
It turns out these two masterminds have been working day and night for nine months updating the Piston Duke, an already outstanding twin turbo for FSX, up to their Lancair Legacy standards with even more `never-before-seen-in-FSX’ type features.
I was busy juggling 3 reviews and considering a fourth when one of my Duke friends innocently asked if I would be updating my Duke repaints for the new v2. Duh, do you mean the Turbine Duke? No Ray, the new v2 Piston Duke; check it out here.
OK. So now I can’t concentrate on completing my review of the most advanced fixed-gear single I have seen to date because I keep asking myself how could they improve on something as good as the original Duke, knowing the Turbine Duke is a totally different simulation. Hmmm.
I know, I’ll try the back door. I send an email to the Avsim reviewer that co-authored the Turbine Duke review last year and ask if he has a review copy? Nope, no review copy, no beta testing. Hmmm.
I wait a day or two and finally fire off an email to Rob and innocently ask if the original Duke repaints are compatible with the new v2 Duke. The answer is `not yet’, but they should be soon when the paint kit is released. Ah ha! Rob goes on to tell me the new v2 Duke textures are 2048 pixels with a couple of fresh new schemes, but the 5 new interiors are totally new with a long list of never done before RealAir type things.
One of the RealAir Duke fans sends me an email saying he is in possession of the new v2 Piston Duke and that he may have the only one as the download severs just went belly-up.
Now, I have almost lost interest in the advanced single review that I was about to finalize so I compose a second email to RealAir. “Sorry to hear your servers are down, good luck with your new release” Response: “Thanks Ray. It's pretty stressful here and no sleep for 48 hours.” The plot thickens…
Rob has to be the most polished man to head up a simulation development company. He is always the polite gentleman who will take the time to write thoughtful responses to most any email at any time of the day or night. He never seems to go on the defensive; he just calmly explains why they do what they do and why they do it that way.
He goes on with “We are honestly surprised how well V2 has been received (by the way a link is provided to you below), because some people are quite cynical about "makeovers". This is no makeover but a Legacy-type special effects and other improvement package that took three times as long as we thought.”
A few minutes later I have the new v2 Piston Duke installed, and quickly walk through some of the configuration tabs and pages to install my two Reality XP 530 GPS and choose this or that, click on save and eagerly load up the spiffy new Red one. In my haste I give the old Ctrl-E engine start a try. As luck would have it, my Bose speakers were already turned on and when that left engine kind of choked with the cold start I was about to abort and find the proper checklist. A slight hesitation, some more grinding, coughing, pop, wham, as that sucker came to life with the most realistic engine start I have ever seen or heard in FSX. Before I can catch my breath, the right engine prop starts the slow hard cranking and struggling with sounds exactly like the real thing as it also comes to life with more choking and coughing while straining to find the correct mix of avgas and air. I quickly turn my hat switch view over to the right corner of the cockpit just in time to see the realistic looking smoke coming over the nacelle as the spitting and sputtering Lycoming smooths out. I am rewarded with dancing needles, shaking panels, previously unknown vibrations and sounds with cockpit images that were absolutely stunning.
A gentle rocking of the airplane is immediately noticeable. I quickly look around and see a few of those little things that mean so very much to a simulator pilot, like dust and fingerprints on the gauges, the sparkle of rays of sunshine on the windshield where the line boy didn’t quite get all the dirt. There are worn spots here and there just where they are supposed to be. Cowl flaps full open - oops, need the parking brake on. I’m starting to move as I am all googly-eyed and not paying attention to the aircraft as I should be.
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What is it that is so different here? Hmmm. Well, one thing I notice is none of the power quadrant levers are dancing around like they tend to do with hardware that has not been calibrated recently. The sounds are different. What is it? I know, it sounds like a Duke cockpit and not like I just started up a simulation in FSX. Was that the brakes making that sound as I quickly applied the parking brake to stop that creep. This is going to be fun!
The stereo separation in the original Duke was way above average, but these new stereo sounds are absolutely outstanding. I can’t pinpoint the sources just yet, but there are lots of new sounds, really nice, new sounds. Love that gentle rocking. How’d they do that anyway?
Let’s go flying.
I’m lined on a short runway on the West coast of Oregon in the Orbx region, abbreviated takeoff checklist complete, trims set, fuel selected, boost pump on, cowl flaps open, one notch of flaps, Props and Mixture full forward, and as I release the brakes and slowly bring the dual throttles forward I instantly notice that I’m moving exactly straight ahead. Nice. More power. Oh wow, the sounds are fantastic and the panel gauges are all alive.
RealAir Legacy type stuff, except even better. The Duke takeoffs require one notch of flaps for all takeoffs. Listen to those acceleration and wind sounds, I love it. Gentle back pressure on the yoke is all I need.
I slowly ease the nose into the quartering headwind, with the airspeed needle sitting squarely on the blue line, I hit the gear up switch, more new thumps, bumps and a final clunk that shakes the entire airplane.
Did I actually feel the gear seating and the doors closing? I think I did. Ok, up with the flaps, hmm, I’m 100 feet above those trees, has the performance increased with this new version? It must be the zero time engines and those higher efficiency turbochargers, more nice glare on the windshield, good reflections, wonderful vibrations and sounds as I ease off the power, whoa 41 inches MP, to a more reasonable climb setting. I’m loving it! This plane is alive.
There’s just something special about how all these new sounds, views and vibrations are all working in concert. I am so glad they chose to work on the Duke rather than the Cessna 172.
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I swing around, and level off, I’m still amazed at the sounds and images as I set power and props for downwind. So realistic. I know I have never heard some of these wind noises before. Hard to believe this is FSX. I’m thinking, wait ‘til Capt. Mike Ray flies this one – talk about immersive simulated reality.
Speaking of FSX, did you know that RealAir Simulations was doing this kind of stuff even before Microsoft released FSX. Yep, they were breaking new ground way back in the FS2004 days. For those who may be new to RealAir and the Piston Duke, let me say that this was the very first add-on that I purchased for FSX. That was the old days when Orbx was still in Australia and that little island was free scenery. My Duke landed at every one of those runways and makeshift runways in Tasmania.
When I look back at the original v1 Piston Duke, which took a full two years to develop, it is difficult to believe that so many improvements could be made to such a fine simulation. This list is very long, more than 50 unique items have been added and the results are outstanding. A few were just the normal, almost expected upgrades that evolve over a 5 years period, but a majority are creative, new features that find a home somewhere in the simulation. Many of the new features work in concert, and do not manifest themselves the same each and every time. Some depend on your speed, your configuration, the wind, temperature, time of day, etc. Amazing, simply amazing!
As you may know, the B60 Duke was had a very limited production run, only 350 were built with the last 16 coming off the line in 1982. Because Beech got it right the first time with the overall design, panel and cockpit layout, it was easy, just expensive, to bring everything up to date with this latest overhaul. A high time B60 Duke is not expensive to purchase, it is that total cabin makeover by those two ladies in Dallas, hmmm, I can’t recall their Company name just this minute, but their fine leather throughout and Kentucky burl walnut sure is a knockout. Everyone seems to think those zero-hour TIO-541 turbocharged Lycomings is what runs the bill up, but the Panel upgrades was the big ticket.
Every instrument was replaced with the latest resized 3d gauges with improved VC texturing and night lighting. Then, of course, the Beech engineers left that huge rectangle in the middle for the updated full suite of Bendix King high-end avionics and dual Garmin WAAS GPS units. I guess I need to mention the de-ice and pressurization system keeps us alive at those high cruise altitudes. Yep, it all adds up to a rather large chunk of time and money, but, the first time you crank ‘er up and take to the air, you know it was money and time well spent. The up-to-date HD paint job is just to let the neighbors know we have a brand new v2 Piston Duke. Everyone knows having a Duke is cool, just ask the two bears at Beech Talk.
Is this new Duke based on a specific real world model?
Nope. RealAir says that looked at almost every Duke model available and decided to go with a composite of what you would find if you went looking for a B60 model for a total overhaul and upgrade to the latest, greatest and most up-to-date avionics. Here is how Sean put it:
“The Duke panel is meant to reflect a fairly typical panel as you’d see it today. Not many Duke panels appear to have been left standard, with most having the radios at least replaced with more modern ones, and most current Duke panels appear to have been refurbished in some way at some point in the aircraft’s life, so despite looking at hundreds of panel photos and videos I don’t think I ever saw two that were exactly the same. The same goes for the cabin – almost all Dukes I’ve seen appear to have had the cabin refurbished at some point and again no two cabins look the same! So the cabin I modeled is meant to reflect a typical, well-kept and recently refurbished example.
The exterior doesn’t reflect a specific model year aside from being a B60, as opposed to the A60 and 60 models, which had slightly different engine cowlings. Winglets and ventral strakes were never fitted as standard by Beech, but are aftermarket items that seem to be fitted to the majority of Dukes these days.”
This means you can pick a model year between 1974 and 1982 and be correct. More about the cockpit, panel and cabin upgrades a little later in the review.
"Even on a crowded, wing-tip to wingtip flight line, there is no mistaking a pressurized Beechcraft Duke. It sits tall and proud on the ramp, dominating everything around it. From the very beginning, the Duke was designed to be more than an exceptional airplane. It was designed to be a visible extension of your personality. To be testimony to your lifestyle. And to make a bold statement about your achievements no other airplane can."
- Beech Sales Brochure, 1968
You can browse the RealAir website and read the extensive list of features built into the new v2, it must be 3 pages long. Even more information is available in the 67 page Pilot’s Guide where Rob explains some of the reasoning for many of these new features. We are always reminded to ‘read to manual’ but, in the case of the v2 Piston Duke, it is not just a recommendation but a requirement if you are to properly configure your Realism setting to take advantage of many of the features. I’m willing to bet that your gut feel or first guess is way off base. Rob has explained in our forums that the General slider must be at 100% and not 98% or 99%. This is not the norm. But even more illuminating is the other recommended Realism settings favor the mid-range or are more to the left than to the right. Seriously? Yep, believe me.
The Crash Tolerance is set to Zero, full left, all the time. I have always considered the FSX Crash Tolerance feature as a designer afterthought and totally worthless anyway. I can usually tell when I have crashed and I seldom wish to have FSX immediately shut down and reboot without my input.
As a matter of fact, the whole Realism page is free of any checked boxes. Interesting. Rob explains why a little later.
The 67 page Flying Guide is available for free download prior to purchase at the RealAir website. See the box nearby for a direct link. You can not only read all about each of the new features but most have background information for not only how but why they were added to the v2 Piston Duke.
You can spend half a day just reading all the information about the new v2 Piston Duke at the RealAir website. This must set a new record for the amount of background information available to someone prior to purchase.
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The Config Panel deserves special mention as you have so much user control over so many selectable and modifiable items. Here are some images to give you an idea of how extensive the choices and how easy it is to make these selections. You can read much more at the website or in the Pilot’s Guide.
A great feature is that you can change configurations while FSX in running. Just make sure you are in the windowed mode, Pause and minimize the FSX window. Open the Config panel, make your changes, click the Save button and Exit. Open your FSX window and press your ‘reload aircraft’ key and you are good to go with your updated configuration. This is a great time saver when you are just getting to know your new Duke and experimenting with some of the new features.
You can access all the documents from the ‘Information’ tab in the config panel. This page is where you will find the checklists, POH charts, aircraft specs, Flying Guide, KFC-225 Autopilot guide, and FAQs. It also has a handy link to the RealAir website.
Proper yoke and rudder pedal deflections.
I was really glad to see RealAir polish off this new edition with real-world looking control surface movements. Especially the yoke and rudder pedal movement when flying using the autopilot. But not only when flying, the trim tabs move when the trim wheel in the cockpit is moved. Nice touch, just like the real Duke, and very unlike most everything else in FSX.
I took off from Skagit Regional and was cleaning up while climbing through 2,000 feet and reached down and Armed the autopilot for 2,500 feet. The heading bug was set about 30 degrees to the right so I pressed the Hdg button on the AP and was actually thrilled to watch the smoothness of the trim wheel dialing in a little nose up in concert with the right deflection of the yoke with a touch of right rudder, then the yoke moved left as we approach the selected heading then back to neutral, then forward movement on the yoke as the AP levels me off at my selected altitude, trim wheel moving to lower the nose. The coordination and smoothness is almost unreal. Wow, this is good folks.
I was just thinking that a lot of our flight simmers that are not real pilots with multi-engine ratings could really benefit by just watching the v2 Duke do its thing on autopilot while we select new headings, altitudes, approaches, changes in power settings, etc. The smoothness and coordination is truly something to behold.
- Inside the cockpit the yokes move smoothly in response to autopilot and trim commands.
- When you add up trim, not only does the elevator trim-tab move down, the elevators deflect upwards and the control yokes moves aft. This effect is speed sensitive just like in real life - for example at standstill you’ll see no control surface or yoke movement, only the trim tab will move. The ailerons and rudder respond in the same way.
I almost passed on this upgrade version because of the price and the fact that the 1.5 version is still one of the best GA twins available. I'm glad I went ahead with it because this type of aircraft is what I enjoy the most in FSX, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants the very best in this aircraft category.
One engine out and feathering
This is also smooth as glass. Those without hardware can just use the right mouse button to select a single throttle or prop. Just like when I was practicing for my real world multi-engine, I reached up and pulled the right throttle back, checked the right rudder is the dead rudder, made the decision that it was indeed the right engine, then pulled the right mixture to idle cutoff and the prop lever back to the feather position. I was rewarded with the normal moans and groans and a beautifully feathered 3-bladed prop. I increase power on the good engine. Back to the feathered engine, fuel to off, boost pump off, mags off, close the cowl flaps. It is so easy to move around the cockpit with the new VC click spots. They are everywhere! Even the Ezdok and TrackIR folks will be happy now. You can turn them on or off in the config panel.
I am still on autopilot, so as the airspeed continues to drop, I lower the landing gear, snap a screenshot and get back into the pilot’s seat just in time to see the airspeed approaching the blue line. AP to off, I have the airplane, thank you. I decide to check the red line accuracy. Yep, I ease the nose up and as the needle moves to the slower side of the red radial line (Vmc), the nose start easing to the right. I can’t hold it straight with full opposite rudder, just like it is supposed to work.
My thought is that you should quit reading this review right now and go download the v2 Piston Duke if you haven’t already done so.
The Standard Rate Turn has finally been fixed
Almost everyone that does any serious instrument training or flying in FSX will eventually get around to complaining about the errors when flying a standard rate turn. This applies to all developers and all simulations. Some have gotten close, other are still looking for the ballpark. Well, it appears that RealAir has nailed this one along with so many other firsts.
A standard rate turn for light airplanes is defined as a 3° per second turn, which completes a 360° turn in 2 minutes. This is known as a 2-minute turn, or rate one (= 180°/minute). For heavy airplanes a standard rate turn is a 4-minute turn.
Most of our major developers have been working on this problem for some time now, but not one has stepped up the plate and hit the home run. I think maybe Rob and Sean have just knocked it out of the park.
The Duke B60 has always been known as a cross country airplane. Remember, this is the big brother to the Baron and you have those turbocharged engines and a pressurized cabin for flying high.
This is no Cessna Trainer, the Duke’s best rate of climb speed is the same as full cruise in a C172. Let’s take a look at the cruise numbers.
Normal high cruise settings at Flight Level 250 (25,000 feet above sea level) are typically 75% power which is full throttle using 34 inches manifold pressure at 2750 rpm. At this setting on a standard day (ISA) the fuel flow will be 22 gallons per hour per engine (or 110 PPH indicated) for a true airspeed of approximately 240 knots.
With a more typical lower altitude cruise for shorter journeys the settings will be, for example, 10,000 feet: 32 inches manifold pressure at 2750 rpm with a similar fuel flow of 22 gallons per engine per hour and a true airspeed of 206 knots.
- For more economical cruising a typical setting would be 55% power at 10,000 feet which equates to 27.6 manifold pressure at 2400 rpm with a fuel flow of 15-16 gallons per hour per engine and a true airspeed of 180 knots.
The landing gear and first stage of flaps can be deployed at 174 knots which helps when you need a quick descent. Imagine that, you can drop the gear and the first notch of flaps at only 5 knots slower than economical cruise at 10,000 feet.
The VC panel
RealAir was one of the first developers to stop building 2D panels. The modern, super sharp 3d panels with the multiple views with the pan and zoom enables you to see more and ‘move’ around the cockpit as needed. Several custom VC views are built into the simulation and can be accessed using the ‘A’ key to cycle between them. There are 7 in the cockpit and an additional 4 views in the cabin area.
Hidden click-spots in the VC continue to be tweaked and refined as new camera view programs are introduced like Ezdok and TrackIR. For all to co-exist these click spot can be turned on or off. With them on, a left mouse click on any instrument will jump your view to one of the custom VC views. You can instantly return to the base VC view with a right mouse click on any instrument face. Here is a quick look at the groupings.
This system works extremely well and is almost intuitive once you are accustomed to the groupings.
It helps that the Duke was designed with a wonderful panel and cockpit layout with large easy to read gauges and instruments and logical groupings of switches.
RealView – Advanced Sound and Animation Effects.
This is the core of most of the new features. These are the most advanced offered in FSX. Yes I know all about the competitors and Accu-feel. I have those also and have written recent reviews of their aircraft and systems.
One of the differences is the RealView effects are not a separate add-on for an additional price but an integral part of the aircraft. This works because these effects are designed to suit the specific characteristics of the Duke and they are designed to work together in a seamless, harmonized way.
Many of the other advanced RealView sound effects work in concert with the animated effects. For example, when the landing gear is raised or lowered you will hear the doors shut and the ‘thump’ of the wheels hitting the stops inside the gear well or feel a ‘bump’ as the struts extend to fully open position. You will also hear the gear doors open and shut.
This is all those sounds, vibrations, animations and effects that we keep talking about that makes the simulation come to life. You can find a full list of these advanced effects at the website and in the Pilot’s Guide.
Memory and Frame Rates
A new option is for those with FSX tuned PCs can elect to keep the textures in memory for a smoother and faster transition between the cockpit and exterior view. The redraw time is reduced of zero and the VC textures will be instantly loaded when you return to the cockpit from an external view. This is really nice if you tend to go outside and look around a lot like I do. Those with hardware cockpits will also appreciate this feature.
I don’t usually even look at frame rates anymore but what I read in the forums is that the new v2 Duke is friendly with the frames. A section of the Pilot’s Guide is dedicated to Frame Rates discussion and video card settings. This is what RealAir has to say about it:
- Many of the Duke’s flying characteristics rely on a reasonably high and smooth frame rate of approximately 30 fps in order for the flight model to display at its best. While 25 fps is adequate for procedural flying (for example navigating under autopilot) a frame rate much below this will start to affect the fluidity and fidelity of the aerodynamic responses, together with far less pleasing movement and manual pilot control input.
Using a modest but reasonably up to date computer, you should be able to easily achieve 30 frames per second in the Duke, provided you are not at large, graphically intensive airports, or are using heavy amounts of road or air traffic.
Higher specified computers should be able to deliver a higher frame rate than this.
Another tidbit of good advice.
Please (everyone please!!!) read the flying guide. Turn off crash detect and collision detection. This setting enables our custom suspension to work and the gear will then work normally. I can't emphasize enough that the flying guide is key to understanding many of the features that you might miss. We advise keeping crash detect off because it doesn't do anything useful except end the flight. Having it off also enables the Duke to do reasonably realistic gear up landings and even water ditching without ending the flight. The custom suspension is set so the Duke can bounce on hard landings in order to promote more realism, but this means that FSX can interpret the main struts as damaged in air even when they are not. If you see the gear stuck in up position, turning off crash detect and damage will fix this.
Click Spots and Missing Click Spots
Rob says “Almost every complex aircraft could suffer from click spot-itis. Some of these fits can be traced to simple things like forgetting to adjust or switch off all sorts of other software like camera add-ons which DIRECTLY interfere with well-designed and well-intended click spots. There are other unexplained reasons which every developer, I assure you, works very hard to get to the bottom of. In our case we saw just very occasional click spot errors, but INSTANTLY this can be cleared by simply doing this: Go to your control assignments in FSX and assign a key to this function:
Aircraft (RELOAD) This INSTANTLY resets click spots with no fuss and almost no inconvenience.
Press this key once and the Duke will reload in anything between one second and three seconds, depending on how much memory is clogged up with scenery and hundreds of other add-ons - and by the way if you have a large list of other add-ons, weather, maps, widgets, traffic, huge scenery LOD, huge textures, enormous stress on graphics and processor etc, etc you can be hardly surprise that the actual aircraft....the thing that FSX is designed to operate, gets to be the last in the queue. Basic things in FSX generally only start breaking down when the user pushes it to beyond its design limits”.
One question that keeps popping up in the forums is Do we need to keep V1 of the Piston Duke installed? Rob answered with this . . . “We left V1 intact because we don't have the right to remove something that customers have chosen to install, because v2 is not a patch, or a bug fix (except maybe 2 out of at least 50 or more new features) but a new version of a similar add-on. Some customers like the old liveries so we don't want to prevent enjoyment of them. Thanks for your post.”
One of the prolific posters thinks the rudder settings are not correct.
Rob says: About the rudder, the Duke doesn't have high aspect ratio wings so doesn't have much of a requirement to rudder a turn, but there is some need. in V1 we slightly increased the lateral drift and flexibility of yaw in order to enable side slipping and spinning (the spinning is there in order to practice recovery and avoidance rather than deliberate spinning for which the Duke is not cleared). In V2 the rudder authority is slightly stronger and the yaw tightened up a little but not so the original side slipping we are known for, was compromised.
Does this v2 have better performance that the original Duke?
RealAir response: We made a note about the increased performance in the flying guide (which I politely suggest quite a lot of users haven't read yet - but we are all guilty of that!). We explain that winglets, better engine technology and better modern versions of the original engine type all combine to make the Duke B60's performance a significant improvement on the default 1600 fpm climb fully loaded. It's more like 1800 fpm plus now in addition to snappier overall performance. All of these subtle gains are built into the upgrade.
Can I use my A2A Accu-Feel with the v2 Piston Duke?
Not wishing to discourage you from running accu-feel at the same time but some effects might be clashing. The custom effects are really custom. If you look at the guide you will see how we've implemented them, for every roll, pitch, yaw and other situations apart from the ground stuff. The yaw was tightened in order to stop the previous slightly too much lateral drift which needed a tad too much rudder and also needed too much rudder for rate one turns. The very slightly more challenging touchdown and final approach handling was also deliberate. P factor is always debatable because it doesn't always translate to everyone's agreement in a sim. I do think every loaded aircraft might need a quick realism menu adjustment because there are so many variables in opinion and approach between developers.
I think the guide contains a lot of aspects which you might like to test after reading about them. This upgrade is not a makeover but a lot of additions that become apparent as you fly more.
How much does it cost? It is priced in Euros, not dollars.
Let’s talk about the price, the discount for V1 owners and why it is not just totally free.
Full price – new Piston Duke v2.0 customer: €29.95 for instant download (~$41.00)
Discounted Price for Piston Duke v1 owners: €16.95 for instant download (~$23.00)
RealAir says the full price is actually 25-30% cheaper in real terms than the original release five years ago but with twice the detail and three times the care and features! I really don't think that is unreasonable.
"Nice to see developers improving products but I think 16€ is a bit steep for an upgrade"
Posted comment by a new Avsim member
RealAir posted response: I'd like to answer that if I may. Our aircraft are built to last. V1 Duke has had five years use from our customers. V2 is built to last possibly for another five years. It is not just an update. You get our special effects, animations and sounds custom made for free (not an add-on package with a separate price) and you get at least fifty other genuinely new features. We also release carefully designed products which work virtually bug free out of the box. Even if you only used V2 once a week for five years, the cost of each session is around 0.06 of one euro! Best Wishes, Rob – RealAir
Our friend Bert posted this . . . “For folks fussing over the $25 investment - where in the world can you get your airplane completely overhauled for 25 bucks?? I'm totally delighted to add the Duke back to my favorites list - and to the top of my GA twin list!”
This comment by TJ sums up pricing policy quite well.
“I don’t see what the mystery of this upgrade policy is, this is pretty standard practice in all businesses let alone most add-on developers. Auto dealerships don’t let you trade in your 5 year old Toyota Camry for a brand new Camry without paying something. MS won’t give you their next OS for free. If you had Win7 Home and wanted Win7 Pro features…you had to pay for the upgrade.
Duke V1 is a very good add-on despite being 5 years old. Heck, the Scout 2007 package is still excellent and that is even older. Five years have passed to really enjoy it, and it can still be enjoyed. Even if Rob and Sean had chosen not to upgrade the Duke, it would still have been a fine add-on for years to come. If you don’t want to pay for the Duke V2 upgrades, that’s fine, you can still get lots of enjoyment out of V1.
Do you think PMDG should give you 747v2 for free? What about Carenado’s new Caravan? No one is forcing anyone to buy upgrades, the old versions don’t stop working if you don’t upgrade. There is no reason why the old version can’t be enjoyed for years after the new versions are released.
RealAir, Carenado, PMDG, etc, have spent lots of their time to upgrade these airplanes. If you want to enjoy the benefits of these upgrades, the developers should rightfully be paid for their work to bring you enjoyment.
OK, time to move on. I believe the count in the forums is 99.8% consider the new v2 feels like a new simulation and not an upgrade or makeover and practically everyone that has flown it has posted very positive comments. Only one or two dissenters that I have seen.
3D Landing Lights
Are those real landing lights? Sure looks real.
This is the v2 Piston Duke on short final. I ask you, are we now approaching simulated reality? This feature is called ‘custom runway light splash’. Great screenshot, Skully.
Download Server problems
Update: News is that exactly ten minutes after release our file kicker server went down, for all products, not just the Duke. We are urgently trying to contact file kicker support. We are sure that the download links themselves are fine and we know the installers work fine. This is a stroke of terrible luck and an extraordinary coincidence. We haven't had a server failure like this for several years, except for one brief incident.. We are shutting down sales until this is sorted, but we might be able to transfer downloads to another server. It goes without saying we are truly sorry and hope our customers can trust us to not let them down. I have all the customer details for those affected and we'll get you up and running as soon as possible. If the problem is not sorted within 24 hours we will fully refund those affected and start again when the issue is fixed.
Many thanks for your patience and again, sincere apologies. Rob and Sean - RealAir Simulations
Posted 30 September 2013 - 05:54 AM
Server update: It looks like the server is now behaving so we have reopened the website for orders. Please note that, as per flying guide please switch off crash detect and damage in FSX realism settings. Our custom suspension is set so the Duke can bounce on hard landings in order to promote more realism, but this means that FSX can interpret the main struts as damaged in air even when they are not. If you see the gear stuck in up position, turning off crash detect and damage will fix this, and also enable you to "practice" gear up landings and even water ditching.
Many thanks to all for your patience and so sorry about the server problems yesterday. Best Wishes, Sean and Rob - RealAir Simulations
Sean sent me an email and stated that after the problems that they had on the Duke’s release night, they have now switched all of their downloadable files (installers, patches, guides etc) to a new, far more reliable download server. With this change they anticipate the problems that occurred on the Duke’s release night will be a thing of the past.
Documentation. The Flying Guide is outstanding, but there is more.
The 80/20 rule applies here also. RealAir states that over 80% of current support is solely due to not reading the Flying Guide. Imagine that.
Be sure to visit the DOCS folder ../FSX/RealAir/dukeb60v2/AutoPlay/Docs to find the additional FAQs, manual for the Autopilot, Checklists, POH graphs and charts, and the Flying Guide.
I did a cut-n-paste job on the POH Checklists to remove a lot of the white space and make something a little more manageable for my desktop. I have always been a believer in using Checklists (I was taught that way, and I taught my student pilots that way). Use at least something as simple as GUMP prior to landing.
The included checklist are probably correct as written but the presentation is in dire need of reformatting. Maybe one of our fellow checklist makers will take an interest and post some nice, clean, downloadable, easy to read (as in to make a laminated spiral booklet) checklists for our model of the Duke B60. About 10 minutes of cut-n-paste will yield a much improved checklist as far as readability.
You can find an excellent set of Duke checklists at a training school site. The only caution is their B60 has larger fuel tanks and some aftermarket upgrades like oil coolers and Vortex Generators so a few of the speeds and weights are a little different than ours. I noticed their max takeoff weight is 6,965 which is almost 200 pounds heavier than ours but the max landing weights are the same. A little digging and I found their engines are TIO-540 and ours are TIO-541.
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You may find something of interest in the Avsim multi-engine round-up.
The turbocharged engines in the Duke tend to run quite hot, so to avoid over-heating the engines it is essential to set the cowl flaps open for takeoff and climb. The cowl flaps should be closed during cruise to reduce drag and avoid over-cooling the engine. To avoid cooling the engines too quickly (shock-cooling) it is essential to close the cowl flaps prior to, and during descent.
It is also essential to monitor the Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT) gauges at all stages of flight to make sure temps stay in the safe green arc. If temperatures stray outside the green, open or close the cowl flaps as required to return CHTs to a safe temperature.
Use of Cowl Flaps
The cowl flap switches are very convenient and have three position settings.
The screenshots Forum at Avsim has some excellent screenshots of the new v2 Piston Duke. Add a little weather, some nice scenery, and they look like real world photos. These two make me want to save this file and go flying.
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The early advertising copy talked of the Duke as an aircraft of the future: "It's happened ... One of the most phenomenal aviation breakthroughs of all time ... The best performing, lowest priced, IFR-equipped, pressurized twin in the world! ... This is tomorrow's airplane-here today ... The most conclusively proven twin in the sky."
Screenshots of the 5 repaints
...with 5 unique matching interiors. These can, of course, easily be mixed or matched in any combination. Click on image to zoom full screen.
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The more you look at these images the more detail you will notice. This is one high-class executive airplane.
These images show the color coordination with the 5 interiors and the initial v2 repaints. Remember, you can easily mix and match any interior with any exterior.
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New Livery Pack
Just when I thought I had completed the new V2 B60 Piston Duke review, I received an advanced copy of the new free Livery Pack. This gives us all the original v1.0 repaints ready for the v2 add-on. Each has a bold new identifier on the thumbnail so we can see that it is indeed a v2 livery.
In total, we have 10 available liveries with the old and new. My memory is not what it used to be, but, I believe some of these have a somewhat fresher look than I remember. Maybe more vibrant colors or just the master with the paintbrush added a little more color here and there. I really do not remember that blue one. Now where did I put my coffee cup? Duh.
This Livery Pack will enable those who wish to now delete their v1.0 or v1.5 folder. There is no real need to continue to have both v1.0 and v2.0 but that is a personal choice available to those who used the upgrade option.
Bottom line is there should now be something for everyone in this package. The world is well represented with the available choices and the paint kit will enable our freeware painters to express themselves with even more liveries for our new v2 Duke. This additional livery pack is a free download at the Realairsimulations.com site and comes with a full installer.
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A last minute addition of the Duke in Norway
DJJose, one of our active members and a Duke lover, sent me some screenshots that he snapped flying the v2 Duke in the freeware Norway scenery package. Thanks Jose.
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Gear Up Landings.
As far as I know, this is the first and only FSX simulation that you can actually practice wheels up landings, both on terra firma and water. I know, I know, any airplane can land on the water, it just can’t takeoff.
The new v2 Piston Duke has been modeled with the intent of us practicing landing with the wheels retracted. It is a real fireworks show using the external view on a dark night. Sparks are everywhere as the twin props rip up the concrete. A simple command for ‘Gear Up’ and you are instantly repaired and back in business and ready to taxi for takeoff. Not realistic, but a heck of lot of fun.
Nothing like practicing these things so you will be ready when it happens for real. You know what they say. . . there are those pilots that have landed gear up and there are those pilots that will land gear up.
This only works provided you have the Realism page properly adjusted as intended by RealAir.
There is an 20 page and growing thread in our forums where many of the early purchasers, mostly owners of v1, have been posting their impressions and assisting others. Here are a collection of posts that got my attention.
“I think one of the strongest features of the new plane are its sounds. I almost hate to stop taxiing and get airborne, as I love to listen to the loping sound of the big pistons when near idle (though in this regard, the old version also excelled), but with all of the other little noises and thumps and subtleties... It's a sonic delight (just not quite, O, y'know...).
Comparisons between the Piston and Turbine Duke are inevitable, but I've always viewed them as very different planes, the extremely obvious similarities aside. I like 'em both - each for different reasons - but right now it's a bit hard to fly anything but the B60 with the new enhancements. It's massively immersive and it's just plain (plane!) fun to fly.”
- Scott, CO
“Personally, I think about the only thing that would make this plane feel more realistic is to get a ButtKicker. I love the way you can actually taxi it...doesn't slide like other FSX aircraft, love the sounds it makes when you make a tight turn, the prop animations when you feather the prop, the whine of the flaps going up and down, the bump you get when the gear goes up and down. Oh yeah, and the True Airspeed knob on the airspeed indicator. With all this your mind thinks less about simming and more about flying...you get the sense of taking the family on a weekend trip or flying small cargo here and there. After shutdown I feel like whipping out my old paper logbook and just making my entries in the quiet. I've already flown it from Virginia to Maine, to Illinois, Nebraska and down to Kansas. A great plane to learn all the nuance of flying a piston twin...and that's what it's all about.”
“My first thought regarding this update was actually that 20€ are maybe a tad too much for just a few new liveries. How wrong I was! The update is just brilliant. The engine start alone is worth the money. The Duke V1 was already an excellent add-on on but this update takes the whole plane to a completely new dimension”
Oh, right! I indeed forgot to exclude the VAT. 16€
“I tried an engine out landing this morning. I was able to feather the prop and hold a reasonable airspeed at 3,000 ft. and was able to turn into the dead engine (carefully!) and the off center thrust was easily controlled with rudder. The landing seemed realistic; the rudder had to be reduced as the power was reduced just before touchdown. My only nitpick was the manifold pressure on the dead engine showed 30 in, even after shutdown and feathering, but perhaps that is what the real aircraft does, as well.
I almost passed on this upgrade version because of the price and the fact that the 1.5 version is still one of the best GA twins available. I'm glad I went ahead with it because this type of aircraft is what I enjoy the most in FSX, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants the very best in this aircraft category. “
There are several websites dedicated to the Duke B60 (real world). Google is your friend here. One of the better ones is the Duke Flyers Association where I captured this page of comparison to some peers.
I read that these turbocharged, fuel injected Lycoming engines are unique to the Duke B60 – they are not used on any other airplane. Interesting. I also read that the performance charts are a bit off and most real world owners tend to fly at somewhat lower power settings to save wear and tear on the engines and systems – as well as saving some money due to the spiraling fuel costs.
I found an informative 8-page article by Edward G.Tripp on the B60 Duke from the AOPA magazine in February 1983. Written back when the Duke was King, it is full of details not normally known in simulator circles. This is recommended reading for all Duke owners.
Just a little side note for those that like to relate to the real world. I was reading a post for a guy looking to buy a Duke B60. One recommendation was to make sure he buys 2 so he will have some spare parts. It seems neither the airframe nor the engines are no longer supported. Hmmm, it sure doesn’t look that old. I saw one high-time, nicely outfitted ’74 Duke for $150,000.
Based on the short time I have been flying the new Duke and with the reputation of RealAir and the history of the V1 and v1.5 Piston Duke, we are in for some great, near real world flying experiences with our new v2 Piston Duke. Every flight is an adventure for me. I have almost 1,000 logged hours in twins, but none recently so I am going to treat this as a learning experience with no quarterly payments, no insurance payments, no annuals, no impact fees, no fuel surcharges, no landing fees, no hangar fees, no nothing’ but good times in FSX.
I realize this review is a little haphazard and maybe rushed to market, but, hey, I want to fly also. I seriously don’t see any down side to purchasing this outstanding simulation. I am more amazed every time I crank those great sounding engines. I even look for those remote parking spots so I will have a long taxi before being cleared for takeoff. This Duke is fast enough for most business travel and those turbo Lycomings will get you over most of the weather and with the upgraded avionics package that we have we can get to our destination and land almost anywhere using almost any approach – lots of LPVs here in the USA.
With these spiffy new paint jobs and the sparkling new interior and instruments, you are sure to be the talk of the town at your local FBO. Be sure to post lots of screenshots. Even Tom A. found the time to post some nice shots.
I’m ready to fly.
Oh, I almost forgot. The RealAir Simulations Piston Duke B60 v2 simulation is highly recommended for purchase and recommended for the coveted Avsim Gold Star.
Clear prop on the Left!
Screenshot of feathered prop, ready for takeoff screenshot at S45. and crash landing by Author.
Night landing on runway 29 screenshot posted by Skully on Avsim forums. Gene Bordelon, used with permission.
Page of the v2 Duke using Norway scenery by Jose Otero. (ten images)
All other screenshots by Sean Moloney
I received permission to post the comments from the forum from the OPs.
Piston Duke, v2 supplied by RealAir Simulations, thanks Rob.
Info from Duke Flyers Association, About Us, by Jim Gorman
Checklist link to Colorado Flight Center.com from Google search
8 Page Duke Article by Edward G. Tripp, from AOPA magazine, February 1983.
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