AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Flight1 – Douglas DC-2

Product Information

Publisher: Flight 1

Description: Douglas DC-2 (including FS9/FSX SP1 plus FSX SP2 propfix).

Download Size:
37.3 MB ea

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 & FSX
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Staff Reviewer - February 9, 2008

The legendary Douglas DC-2

This time it's not a modern commercial liner or a jumbo jet nor a GA aircraft review. No, it’s a very old but a highly interesting FS9/FSX aircraft. It’s probably so old that young people hardly know that this Douglas beauty was once a member of the famous and devastating MacRobertson Air Race in 1934.

Ok, that’s all for later. I’ve purposely chosen this aircraft. In the past 24 years, I’ve been working as a ground engineer and technical instructor in the aviation industry but even I have never worked on these piston engine type of aircraft. Although at Schiphol-East, the maintenance area of Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport, many of those old ones are still there. Famous in Holland, and probably abroad, is the Dutch Dakota Association and the Aviodrome Aviation Theme Park and museum.

That previous part of my aviation life and associated knowledge was more than enough to start a review about this Flight1 Douglas DC-2. That’s not all, this review also includes an exclusive interview with Rob Cappers, who is one of the lead members of the Douglas DC-2 project.
More about him later in this review.

Apart from the fact that the DC-2 - which was no more then the successor of the DC-1 - was quickly followed by the even more famous Douglas DC-3, which included the military version, the Dakota, the DC-2 also became a famous aircraft during the MacRobertson Air Race. To be precise, this was achieved by the Royal Dutch Airlines PH-AJU “Uiver”.

Taking this simulated model for a check ride was really a challenge. The only problem is that the good looking colored pictures of a real DC-2 from the 1930’s are, of course, hard to find. We are happy when we can find some old photographs from those days or persons who flew on it or just people who know this plane from the old days. I will see how far I can go but the Aviodrome is close by and there’s a real DC-2 there, so let’s go and take a ride in the Douglas Corporation DC-2.

Some background information

Inspired by the technical success of the DC-1, the DC-2 was introduced less than a year after the DC-1's first flight. The new plane was similar in shape to the DC-1 but had more powerful engines, was faster and was capable of longer flights. More importantly, it was two feet longer and could carry two more passengers.

The DC-2 was an instant hit. In its first six months of service, the DC-2 established 19 American speed and distance records. In 1934, TWA put DC-2s on overnight flights from New York to Los Angeles, Calif. Called The Sky Chief, the flight left New York at 4 p.m. and, after stops in Chicago, Ill., Kansas City, Mo., and Albuquerque, N.M., arrived in Los Angeles at 7 a.m. For the first time, the air traveler could fly from coast to coast without losing the business day.

The DC-2 was the first Douglas airliner to enter service with an airline outside the United States. In October 1934, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines entered one of its DC-2's in the London-to-Melbourne, Australia air race. It made every scheduled passenger stop on KLM's regular 9,000-mile route (1,000 miles longer than the official race route), carried mail and even turned back once to pick up a stranded passenger. Yet the DC-2 finished in second place behind a racing plane built especially for the competition. After that, the DC-2's reputation was assured and it became the airplane of choice for many of the world's largest airlines. In 1935, the DC-2 became the first Douglas aircraft to receive the prestigious Collier Trophy for outstanding achievements in flight. Between 1934 and 1937, Douglas built 156 DC-2s at its Santa Monica, Calif., plant.

Installation and Documentation

Installation

Since we’re dealing with the Flight1 wrapper, there’s not that much to explain about the FS9 installation process. It’s, as usual, straightforward. Once you’ve installed the DC-2, you need to install Service Pack 1. Remember that when installing this, you will start again with the Flight1 wrapper but now you need to select the “Click here to Reinstall” button. This guides you to the created key, which needs to be selected so there’s no need to buy the product again, just select the key. You bought the main installer, so updates or service packs are free of charge.

Before we start with the FSX installation, first this; the offered FSX DC-2 is free of charge, so once again you get two products for the price of one! For the FSX installation, which uses the same Flight1 file, the initial installation process is the same but you’re already been warned of some manual actions. This manual action consists of manually moving the created Aircraft folder in FSX into the SimObject\Airplanes folder. Doing these things manually could only lead to problems for inexperienced flight simmers, so this is the first bump you may have to tackle, so read the documentation.

If you have either the Acceleration Pack or the separate FSX SP2 installed, then you need to install the DC2_FSXsp2_propfix.zip file. A note related to FSX in general; the offered DC-2 FSX version only works in combination with DX9 and not DX10. By the way, this file - DC2_FSXsp2_propfix.zip - can be found in the SimObject/Airplanes/Douglas DC-2 folder, so you need to move the contents manually in the texture folders since it’s not an installer. Read the readme file beforehand and you will see that it’s very simple to solve this problem. That’s it related to the installation process. It’s not that complicated but see below for a few screenshots of the basic and SP installations with the necessary remarks.

Enter and double check that you’ve got the correct FSD9/FSX directory Additional installation information for Fs9/FSX can be found here Important information regarding the FS9/FSX Service Pack updates

What else comes with the installation process? To reduce the size of the basic installer, the DC-2 comes standard with three liveries; the PH-AJU (Royal Dutch Airlines), the Ceskoslovenska OC-AIB and the Swissair’s HB-ITI, but many more can be found in the AVSIM Library. In total, I’ve found 28 other liveries at AVSIM, but this amount could grow every day.

The nice thing is that the basic aircraft.cfg file already contains all the necessary data or information ([fltsim=xx] except for example, the Canadian Colonial Company livery and probably later released ones as well. So for the basic one, installing a new airline texture is very easy. You just drop the texture.[name] into the Douglas DC2 directory and that’s it.

Since the aircraft.cfg is already pre-configured for all the possible liveries, except for newer ones, there’s no need to add anything in this file which could only lead to problems and failures. What you need to know is that without the installation of any other livery (texture), those non-existing aircraft are greyed out or in FSX there’s a question mark on top of it. See the screenshots below for standard/basic available liveries and a few examples of some nice looking liveries.

Last remark: It's nice that the aircraft.cfg file is preconfigured, however, when newer liveries become available you have no idea if this is already pre-added into this aircraft.cfg, so then you’ve to go back to adding it yourself like you did before. Then this nice pre-configured feature is no longer applicable.

KLM PH-AJU “Uiver” Ceskoslovenska OC-AIB Swissair HB-ITI Example of grey model
(preconfigured aircraft.cfg)
Special painting
KLM PH-ALE (orange)
Special painting
RAAF VH-CRF
Special painting
TWA NC13711
Special painting
Canadian CF-BPP
At the AVSIM library there’s a huge list of available FS9 liveries from all kind of worldwide airlines who used the Douglas DC-2 like Aeroflot, RAAF, Pan American Grace, American Airlines, TWA, US Marines, Austrian Government, Lufthansa, LOT, Lineas Aéreas Postales Españolas, KLM, KNILM, Finnish Air Force, Eastern Air Lines, General Air Lines, Iberia, Compania Mexicana de Aviacion, Australian National Airways, Canadian Colonial Airways and a template kit. There’s also a FSX livery and that’s for the Avio Linee Italiane.
The lower row of liveries is just to give you an example of what you can expect. Specifically the RAAF, TWA and the CCC are very nice paintings.

Last but not least, the London-Melbourne Air Race for FS2004/FSX. You will find in the Douglas DC-2 FS9/FSX folder the London-Melbourne 1934 zip file. This file contains all the flight legs belonging to the famous and original MacRobertson Air Race. This race, held in October 1934, was very special for the Royal Dutch Airlines, which had just received their brand new DC-2, with the registration PH-AJU “Uiver”. So, when you unzip this file you will find all 19 legs flown between London (Mildenhall) and Melbourne (Albury) in FSNavigator 4.7 format.

In other words, if you’re interested in flying this race by yourself, now you can with the help of these files and you can become a member of the KLM-VA, where they just introduced this race for KLM pilots only. The website is available in Dutch and English and covers not only the race, but also the software, SRTM files and much more. Find below some screenshots from KLM-VA’s London-Melbourne website.

A warm welcome to you Introduction
Rules and Regulations Uiver’s last flight
The KLM Virtual Airline (KLM-VA) is an IVAO airline who wants to know everything about the wealthy history of the Royal Dutch Airlines. Because of this interest, they created a special website for their members to honor the Uiver with its victory flight in the London Melbourne MacRobertson handicap Air Race. All the ingredients to become race number 44 are there, so if you’re interested, have a look at this link.

The FSX installation worries me a little bit. This could be much more advanced and prevent unnecessary problems. Too many manual actions must be taken or else it won’t work. After the installation, we find a shortcut via the Windows start button. However, the created folders only have uninstaller files and no shortcuts to, for example, a manual. This means then that we need to dig into the Windows Explorer to see if there’s something there.

For FS9, you will find lots of Acrobat documents under \Aircraft\Douglas DC2\Documentation or for FSX ..\SimObjects\Airplanes Douglas DC2\Documentation. Concerning the contents of these manuals, see and read for yourself in the sub chapter Documentation.

Documentation

In either the FS9 or FSX Documentation directory you will find the same manuals. In total you will find 15 Acrobat manuals or better yet, 15 very short documents. Most of them are just two pages with one exception, an official 35 page Douglas DC-2 Operations Manual from the year 1956. Since it’s not a complicated aircraft, not having FMS, EFIS, ECAM, EICAS and many of those fancy things, the operation of the aircraft and thus the manuals, are much more limited but everything is there. What I personally don’t understand is why it’s not bundled into one nice looking Acrobat file. Now you need to open one file for the 2D cockpit, another one for the captain's or FO panel, or the overhead panel etc.

Anyway, everything you need is there and that’s the most important thing, so good luck in reading those pages. I would like to add something to this; do read those manuals and especially the file “how to fly the DC-2”, otherwise you may run into troubles. I will, in the meantime, continue with the rest of the documentation. Here’s the DC-2 Uiver link for you, so you can read the manuals for yourself.

2D panel screenshot with description and operation DC-2 Power Chart (graph) for the engine (currently partly in Dutch) Center pedestal screenshot with description and operation Captain’s panel screenshot with description and operation

When you’re there at the DC-2 Uiver website, you will see that many pages are related to the PH-AJU Uiver.

Old fashioned cockpit

2D cockpit (FS9/FSX)

As written by Rob Cappers, one of the developers, “the 2D is incorporated in this package for those who wish to fly in this mode. However we did not concentrate all our efforts to this viewpoint. We feel the VC in this airplane is of high standards, and the aircraft is very flyable in VC view. We recommend you to enjoy the full capabilities of this plane in the Virtual Cockpit mode.

Ok, that’s it folks, no more 2D description or images. No, that’s not the case.

I think they created a good looking 2D model with all its in's and out's. There are no separate sub-panels except then for the control steering wheel in view or out of view, a trim sheet and a GPS (see screenshots). You can use the numpad for all possible side views, but I have to admit, that’s it. While in the VC mode any view is possible, as usual.

Still I think this 2D is extremely FS9/FSX frame rate friendly, which is still important for those who are using older PC systems. Just have a look at the different 2D cockpit views and thus the possibilities.

One thing apart from the main panel is how sharp those instruments are. Zooming into it is possible but only on a specific location of the captain’s panel. You’ve got a clear view, good reading and everything is there, but I do agree with Rob, that the VC is much more fun to fly in.
We will see this later, and frame rates of 30-40 while flying the FS9 VC is normal. I also know that this depends of you PC and FS9 settings, but since PC prices are very low these days, you will have good frame rates This is also more or less applicable in FSX, but slightly lower.

What else about this 2D cockpit? What’s also applicable for the VC, is that the 2D is created around digitized images including the side views. Especially for the latter, this is not always the case with other add-on manufactures. FSX doesn’t allow us to do so but FS9 does and to be honest, I do prefer digitized images in the 2D view.

Num 7

Here you are; all the NumPad screenshots in place, related to the 2D cockpit. FSX shots are in principle the same, so there’s no need to add those here as well.

Num 9

Num 4

Num 6

Num 1

Num 2

Num 3

The screenshots above - NumPad area - represent the 2D FSX and FS9 version, although the pictures are made in FS9. Below you will find additional panels, which can we requested like the steering wheel in view/out of view, a GPS pop-up instrument and a real trim sheet.

Yoke (steering wheel) – Shift+2

GPS pop-up – Shift+4

Trim sheet – Shift+3

Virtual cockpit (FS9/FSX)

Flying in the VC gives the user the best and most realistic experience, but sometimes this results in frame rate drops. Apart of this, VC’s often look a little cartoonish but for this DC-2, including the open cargo hold, there’s hardly any cartoon image to find. Except for a few items which are created by the developer, all the images of sidewalls, panels, overhead, ceiling blankets, and cargo area, all those are digitized images and thus results in a very realistic cockpit. That brings me immediately to the next point, and that’s how does it really look compared with a real DC-2 cockpit?

Normally, this would be more or less impossible to find out since finding an airplane of this vintage is not that easy. However, for this DC-2 it is different. A real replica is close by, so let’s have a look at real and simulated VC pictures. You may have to tell me which ones are from the real DC-2!

Have you found which screenshots belong to the simulated DC-2 from Flight1? The upper pair or the lower ones?
Ok, I will help you …. The lower screenshots are published courtesy of Airliners.Net, which means that the upper ones are from the Flight1 DC-2 Virtual Cockpit.

So, that was one hell of a surprise but we’re not yet finished. There’s so much to see in this virtual cockpit. Wherever you look, every detail is there and more important, the frames are within limits. Until now, all those screenshots were made in Flight Simulator 9, so is there then nothing to complain about?

When I want to, I can find something but let’s be honest, making virtual switches, knobs, and selectors which look like the real ones is not always possible as there are Flight Simulator limitations. This is not only in the VC, but also in the 2D cockpit. Some switches or knobs, for example from the throttles, mixture and prop, look different then the real ones but with full understanding as to why this is. The rest of the panels, blankets, ceiling, pilot seats and many more details are of a high quality. Please join me on a short photo collection I made during a flight.

These screenshots are taken in FS9 but they will give you the same results in FSX, except then for the frame rates. Additionally, the FSX package comes with the following FSX VCs; the standard cockpit, the right seat, overhead panel and engine controls radio views.

This concludes the virtual cockpit discussion and I think I don’t need to add much more to it. The VC looks very real including the panels, ceiling, instruments, blankets and many others I forgot. The reality level is mainly because lots of digitized images are used which results in this quality cockpit. If I want, I could show many more pictures like the sliding windows, the flag next to the right hand sliding window, the movable third cockpit seat opposite of the cargo door entrance etc. but we'll leave it like it is.

External model and virtual cabin

When looking at an external model, it should not make any difference in which airline livery it’s painted, so therefore I have chosen the PH-AJU from the Royal Dutch Airlines. My first impression was that it looks awesome and I really mean this. Writing this down is so easy, but making a good looking, highly realistic model and/or painting, is not that easy. The screenshots are made during passenger loading at Lelystad Airport (EHLE) and in flight, I know that these were taken within Flight Simulator 9, but some of them are so real, that I sometimes ask myself is it a MSFS model or is it a real DC-2?

The external model is so extremely detailed has everything to do with the fact that Rob Cappers worked very closely with the Aviodrome employees. They had the possibility to look at a real DC-2 model and this means taking lots of pictures and measuring every component with the final results being a simulated model which is as real as it gets. Before continuing, let’s first have a look at the following “simulated” FS9 model, these are not pictures from a real Douglas DC-2, although it sometimes looks like it except for the scenery.

I’ve seen many MSFS external models, from big once till and including GA models, but this one is really super. Since the Aviodrome is not that far from my home, I went there and had a look for myself and I need to confirm this. The simulated Uiver or DC-2 is as real as it gets. Additionally I need to add that these screenshots are made in FS9, but the external model/textures are further on of the same quality. The differences with FSX are first the lower frame rates and the pre configured external aircraft views; landing gear, tail, left- and right wing.

It seems to me that many real DC-2 pictures are digitized and used in this external model. Let’s give you an idea. On screenshot 2, the engine cowling looks so real since I think that this is a good example of the photographs used, which is the same for screenshot 4. Here you’ve a great look at the bottom of the wing. Clearly can be seen all the stringers, rivets, panels etc. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make a better close-up, but even the inside of the wheel wells are partly or completely digitized. See and judge for yourself by looking at screenshot 7. Even here the empennage, or vertical tail assembly, looks very realistic. So even here I think we are dealing with digitized shots and if that’s not the case, then it’s a marvelous paint job.

Ok, one last example and that’s screenshot 11. Here we have a close-up of extended flaps and when looking at the inside of the flap panels, you can clearly see that this is not hand painted, no, these are real aircraft pictures. Awesome!

Before I forget, as you can see on screenshot 10, the passenger door and its stair are introduced/opened via the standard Shift+E command while the cargo door is opened via the Shift+2 command. By the way, via the cargo door you’ve also got – as in the real model – direct access to the cockpit, but I doubt that the pilots entered the aircraft/cockpit via this door. They just walked in via the cabin to the cockpit, so let’s see how this looks when we enter via the passenger door, through the cabin and cargo hold, and into the cockpit.

While walking to the cockpit, I’ll also have a shot of the engine. Before opening the cockpit door, just a quick look into the cabin. Cargo area still empty but I thought we should have some? Wow, this is my home … open entrance into the cockpit.

Ok, I’m already sitting in the co-pilot's seat but please, enjoy the short but nice walk through of the cabin, the cargo hold and into the cockpit. I can only come to one conclusion by observing this external model and virtual cabin and that is, this model – external look and virtual cabin - is an eye-catcher. Oops, I forgot the toilet in the back of the passenger compartment, just opposite of the door entrance.

Flight dynamics … short test flight from EHLE to EHAM

Test System

Dell Precision Workstation 650
Dual Intel P4-Xeon 3.06Ghz
4Gb RAM DDR 533Mhz
nVidia 7800GS+ 512Mb AGP
RAID-0 HDD’s - SCSI 340Gb
Windows XP Professional SP2
Flight Simulator 9.1
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Saitek ProFlight Yoke System
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
34 hours

Are you ready for a test flight with the Uiver? I’m ready to go, so please join me on this short trip in the Netherlands. We checked everything including reading all the manuals. By the way, you do need to read all of those unless you’ve been in or are a real Douglas DC-2 pilot. Otherwise, problems could appear during your flight. For example, when you don’t retard your throttle after so many minutes while airborne and leave the engine running at high power settings, it won’t survive and an engine fire will appear.

Also get used to the mixture handles. Moving the handles in a forward direction, cuts the fuel and the engine will stop. This is the same as in the real aircraft, but it’s completely different than in other aircraft, so don’t forget this!

Ok, what can you expect? Our plan is to takeoff from runway 05, climbing out to 3000 feet, straight ahead on runway heading and after a few miles, making a left hand turn and flying along the dyke of Flevoland where we pass the city of Almere. Then straight to Schiphol International Airport. Depending on the weather conditions, we plan to land on runway 22. When needed, we will change our planned route to check certain flight characteristics.

By the way, who am I to judge about the flight dynamics of this aircraft? It’s tested by real pilots and they confirm that the simulated Uiver is flying as real as possible. I only own a FAA PPL with flight experience on a Cessna 150 and 172, and those aircraft are not the same as a DC-2, but I’ll try.

It starts already with taxiing from the virtual Aviodrome at EHLE to runway 05. Since it’s a tail dragger, it’s not that easy to see something outside, so the virtual cockpit will help us. Another option is to jump outside and follow the aircraft’s tail while taxiing along the taxiway. We need to keep one thing in mind, don't brake too hard when you have to reduce speed or else when you stop abruptly, the tail comes up from the ground. This is - after you read the manual - the same as in the real aircraft.

There's another thing which looks great, and that's the shadow of the propeller blades. I can't take a picture of this unless I add a movie to my review. Depending on the engine RPM, the shadow of the markings on the blades change, which is well simulated.

Last checks are done, so we’re ready for takeoff. Full throttle and there she goes. After liftoff, we slowly climb out to 3000 feet while trying to maintain the runway heading and select the gear up. Even during this initial climb, there are so many tiny things to see, like how the gear retracts, first on the left hand side, followed by the right hand gear assembly. After the gear is fully retracted – with the main wheels half hanging outside - we slowly but steadily climb to our cruising altitude of 3000 feet. Since there’s no need to use any flaps during our takeoff, we don’t have to think about raising them.

At Lelystad Airport (EHLE), we’re looking to the Aviodrome museum Just after lift-off Heading towards Lelystad Flying along the dyke of Flevoland
Starting with the steep turn Flying like an eagle 360 degree turn almost completed Nice view from the VC
Approach and aligned for 22 Final approach EHAM runway 22 Just looking outside Gracefully in the air

When we reach the eastern border of Flevoland, we make a gently turn to the left. While doing this, we feel and see that the aircraft is slowly but in a realistic way responding, not like the default Flight Simulator aircraft. No, the aircraft is moving slowly and I’ve got the idea that this is probably the same as in the real one. Although there’s a very basic Auto Pilot built in, which was by the way not in the original model, I will not use this one. I just want to feel how the aircraft is responding as far as possible, without any motion. In the meantime, I ask my assist to take over the controls which gives me the opportunity to look around and see how beautiful our country is. When we reach the city of Almere, I steer the aircraft towards the Ijsselmeer to do some practices like a steep turn and a few other things. Not too much practice, since I think a real DC-2 pilot wouldn't do this either.

When we’re finished with special performances and now having a good idea of its capabilities, it’s time to go back to our planned route and since there’s no ATC during this test flight, we can do what we want. Slowly we reach Schiphol Airport and with the help of FSNavigator, we make a nice turn and prepare ourselves for a landing on runway 22.

With the help of the DC-2 manual, we select the flaps accordingly, descending further and further before we select the gear DOWN. It’s not that easy to control this aircraft at low speeds, so we must keep in mind not to make too many steering commands. Gently we touchdown at the old Schiphol runway 22-04. While taxiing to the apron of Schiphol-East, you need to remember that it doesn’t have a nose gear but a tail gear, so making turns is not that easy as with a steerable nose gear.

It was a short trip this time, but I have a very good feeling about the flight characteristics of this FS2004 or FSX model. It does represent real flight dynamics, it reacts slowly when a flight control input is given and that’s enough to know. I could make more flights or a longer flight, but there’s not really a need to, since I know what this Douglas DC-2 can do.

Sound

Shall I make this chapter long or short? Let’s put it this way; the Uiver team had the opportunity to see, monitor, feel, measure and hear with there own ears, the produced sound of this real Douglas DC-2. In other words, is the sound representing the real model? Oh yes, for sure. It is no fake. All the engine, flaps, gear, instruments and other sounds are digitized and recorder from a real DC-2.

FPS (Frames Per Second) FS9/FSX

This is so important and hence so difficult to measure. It is so difficult to measure since none of the computers are the same and apart of that, what about a fragmented hard disk or what kind of hard disk system are you using? What do you think about using the old AGP or the modern PCIe standard and which PCIe standard is it? I can continue with many things which influence the FPS in FS9/FSX. Still, I want to show you some screenshots with the FPS counter in view. You can find my PC specs listed above. Last thing I want to add; when you see the FPS counter, keep in mind that this is a fluctuating value, so it’s just an average.

FS9 Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 40.2
FS9 Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 38.3
FS9 VC - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 37.3
FS9 2D cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 41.6
FSX Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 23.1
FSX Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 22.9
FSX VC - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 17.1
FSX 2D cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 38.8

The screenshots are all based on building storms activated in both FS9/FSX.
FS9 sliders and options are all set to maximum or - if applicable - activated. For FSX see additional screenshots and information below.


As you can see, the frame rate value depends as usual on the situation, and it’s not bad at all. When I compare, for example, the FS9 screenshots with FSX, then there’s a huge difference. Based on the FSX settings, I made the screenshots as shown below. These settings with my PC specifications in mind, gives an affordable FSX performance with this Douglas DC-2. I hope with this sub chapter – FPS – it helps you understanding that the final output and performance of this product is of course relative to your PC, it could be higher or lower.

Settings - Display - Graphics Settings - Display - Aircraft Settings - Display - Scenery Settings - Display - Weather

Exclusive interview with Rob Cappers

Since the Netherlands is a relatively small country, traveling around won’t take long. I had the honor to conduct an interview for you with Rob Cappers, the man behind the Uiver team and, yes I dare to say, famous for his Douglas DC-2 and specifically the hand made 2D and VC cockpits. Normally we as reviewers, rarely have the opportunity to interview the man or woman behind the product.

First of all, they life somewhere else and traveling around in Europe, the States, Canada, Australia or whatever place on this globe, is too expensive. Then, it’s not always that easy to interview the person or team who’s really responsible for the development of the scenery, airplane or other add-on product. Last but not least, there’s also a time constraint for finishing the review. This time I was lucky, so let’s go.

As always, we do need to start at the beginning or as Rob said by himself; “where it all started …. with Flight Simulator 95”.

During the years ‘95 to ’98, Rob started becoming interested in the Douglas DC-2. This interest became grew after he bought a small payware add-on, which consisted of a Douglas DC-2 booklet and a scenery CD-ROM. By reading this booklet, which also included the well known
London-Melbourne race description, he started becoming enthusiastic about this specific race including the DC-2, but there was no add-on DC-2 available in Flight Simulator 95.

Here the idea started about making and creating Rob’s first 2D cockpit, but where do you get all the information from? When the Douglas DC2 was in the process of being purchased by the Dutch Aviation Museum in 1999/2000, the Aviodrome Museum made a tour past Dutch airfields. He went to the southern part of Holland where he visited the Douglas DC-2 cockpit. That's when the virus really struck. Later, he contacted The Aviodrome, and was grated permission for a private photo session in the Douglas DC2. With those digital pictures on hand and the help of people with programming skills, he started building an FS2000 cockpit.

Nobody, and probably not even Rob himself, could believe that the creation of a realistic cockpit was so immense, even now with the recent release of its FS2004/FSX model.

While Rob makes it clear that “the money raised from the Flight1 selling, goes directly to the Uiver project, belonging to the Aviodrome, the Dutch Aviation Theme Park and Museum in Holland. Here they have an airworthy flyable Douglas DC-2 with, of course, the registration of the famous PH-AJU”. Before I had a second question ready, Rob immediately continues “gifts and support from many companies makes it possible to keep this unique real DC-2 in the air and with his DC-2 flight simulator add-on, he helps and supports, in his way, to express his feelings for this tiny aircraft”.

Since Rob had the possibility, passion, interest, programming skills and flight sim friends to create a real as possible cockpit, Rob spent almost every free hour in the neighborhood of the DC-2 Uiver, either to look around, sitting for hours to get a grip on all those tiny details or making hundreds of pictures. Especially for the latter, this started to get the shape for the realization of the current and latest FS2004/FSX model. Rob continues “although I’m not living very close to the Aviodrome, I’ve spend hours in this aircraft by looking at every detail, not only in the cockpit but also in the cabin and lavatory. Hundreds of pictures, I believe even around 400 were needed to get a good idea of how it really looks but more importantly, to create an as real as possible Virtual Cockpit”.

While Rob is explaining to me all those things, we walk to the other side of the museum, directly to one of the hangers. This particular hanger houses many old models but you can’t miss the Uiver. It’s standing more or less in the middle of the hanger, shining like a brand new eagle although lo’s of parts on the outside and inside are not there, since the real Aviodrome Uiver team is busy with a large maintenance program including certain mandatory cockpit instrument modifications.

What I see when Rob is walking around the model, is his passion and the knowledge he has got about this aircraft. It almost looks like he is one of the designers of the real aircraft. He isn’t of course, but Rob is well ... sorry …. very well informed about the many details that for somebody who’s daily job has no link with real aviation.

While his FS2004 DC-2 was getting into shape, several modelers, gauge programmers, painters and other enthusiasts who belong to this unique non-profit team, FSX popped up and as for many other vendors, work can start again from the beginning. As Rob was saying “The idea for this FS2004 model started around 2003, while FS2004 and FSX beta testing started in April 2007 with a final release date of September 18th 2007. That last period – beta testing - was heavy, almost every day around 1-2 hours where spent to create the perfect add-on aircraft.” Keep in mind that Rob and many others of his team, do have a normal job.

He continues by pointing out a particular thing “When I saw those red REMOVE BEFORE LIGHT red flags on the nose mounted pitot tubes, I wanted to have those as well, but they should move in any direction when you’re virtual DC-2 is standing outside in the wind. Therefore, we had to model XML files in a way to simulate different movements of those flags depending on wind direction and wind force. The result – as I may say – is great, which is by the way also applicable for the Dutch flag at the co-pilots window.” I can hardly express the way Rob is telling me all these things. Not just creating a regular DC-2, no, as far as Flight Simulator allows him to do, he has a lot of eye for details.

Unfortunately our time is running out since the museum is closing at 5:00 PM, but that doesn’t matter to Rob since he wants to give me another example of something which looks easy, but what was really difficult to simulate. But it finally worked out very well. Rob starts “the GEAR UP/DOWN” travel is done via the hydraulic pressure of electric hydraulic pumps." Rob and some beta team members found out that after a hydraulic failure, problems appear for GEAR DOWN travel. There was only one solution for that; jump into the car, drive to the Aviodrome and talk with those who could help, including the Uiver pilots, and see with his own eyes how it works.

They created the manual hydraulic pump, as installed in the real plane, to create hydraulic pressure during an electric failure, and to be able to extend the gear manually. It’s just a small example, while the reality took much more time to create it, but now it works in the model as it should work.

There’s so much more to talk about and to write down of course, but I’ve got a very good idea of Rob’s passion and his love for the Douglas Corporation DC-2. Rob, thank you very much for your time, effort and help.

Summary / Closing Remarks

I’ll first start with the words … awesome. I could also write, see all those screenshots for yourself and then you be the judge.

I think that you will come to the same conclusion as I did. Where I have the advantage is that I really tried this model. It surprised me and at the same time I’m very happy that products of this quality are still possible and for a reasonable price. The download version will cost you no more then $20.00 or €15.00 and then you’ve got a FS9 and FSX compatible version with free updates. Ok, updates are normally free, but it’s worth mentioning it.

Furthermore, I’ve counted 28 liveries with additional paint kits. Almost all the screenshots are made in FS9, since the FSX model doesn't add anything more to it except for the FPS shots. This is because the FSX model is only made compatible to work under FSX. All available new FSX features are not implemented yet. When Flight1 comes out with a boxed version, there are plans to implement a full FSX model.

Not only is the external model almost perfect but also the 2D and VC look good and above all, very realistic. The simulated cockpit is so unbelievably real, which I can confirm after visiting the real DC-2 Uiver at the Dutch Aviodrome Theme park and museum. A small remark goes to the text of the words on the overhead panel which looks a little odd, but for the rest, the instruments are sharp but at the same time look old fashioned, as they really are. Rob is aware of this and looking to a proper solution.

Incoming note regarding the FSX installation process from Rob Cappers: "Although the FSX installation process requires some manual actions, until now, nobody complained about it. The main reason was the additional costs for a separate installer. For a profit organization this should not be any problem, however, this non-profit organization reduces those additional costs for the benefit for the Uiver foundation."

 

What I Like About The DC2

  • Awesome product with a very good price/quality level.
  • FS9 installer straightforward, including FS9 SP1.
  • Aircraft.cfg already setup for almost all the available paintings, so you only need to install the texture folder. No need to edit the aircraft.cfg.
  • High quality external model, which looks as real as possible, based on the Aviodrome Uiver.
  • Good and very realistic looking 2D cockpit and VC.
  • FPS especially in FS9 superior but also for FSX still good frame rate level.
  • Although the provided manuals are offered in bits and pieces, all what you need is there. A special note goes to the real Operations Manual from 1956.
  • Offered sound directly recorded from a real DC-2.

 

What I Don't Like About The DC2

  • Installer for FSX not fully automatic, but manual action from the user is needed. This is also applicable for the propfix modification (FSX SP2).

 

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