History of the DC-3....
So which "DC-3" will I be talking about today? The American rock band, DC-3? The North American proposed space shuttle design? Or the Douglas DC-3 aircraft that first flew in 1935? Yup, you guessed it! I’m talking about the Douglas DC-3 aircraft!
The DC-3 is a fixed-wing aircraft that changed the way air travel worked in the 1930s and 1940s - during the Great Depression and World War II. Due to the lasting impact it had on airline transportation, many regard the DC-3 as the most significant aircraft and icon man has made to date.
Arthur Raymond was the chief engineer on the team that developed the DC-3, which took its first flight in December 1935, that's 76 years ago! At the time, American Airlines CEO Cyrus Smith wrote to Donald Douglas (founder of Davis-Douglas Company), requesting an improved successor of the DC-2. All the American Airlines DC-3s had the main passenger door on the right side of the aircraft, unlike today (on modern airliners) where the entry door is at the front left.
The DC-3, when first made was equipped with two Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9 engines, which was a nine cylinder, air cooled radial engine but later in development, the DC-3 (mainly military variations) were fitted with two Pratt & Whitney R-1830 which was a fourteen cylinder, two row piston engine rated at 1350 horse power.
The DC-3 has a max speed of 206 knots, a cruising speed of 130 knots and can travel as far as 900 nautical miles. JustFlight have tackled the task of restoring an ancient war bird into our desktop simulators with the following added items into this product:
- Seven classic airline liveries, two USAAF C-47 transporters, a RAF Dakota, a AC-47 gunship and a flyable Waco CG-4A glider!
The educational part of the product....
For those who are unfamiliar with the JustFlight installation process, it is the same as any other product you purchase from them. You download the file (from a link you have received) and follow the instructions that are given (it's a smart system, so you don't have to enter your email and/or serial code - this is already taken care of for you!!). This is a major improvement over the other system JustFlight had when installing a product, it was confusing and in my honest opinion, plain annoying!
With the product, comes a 68 page manual, which covers the following headings:
If I were to cover each and every heading, I might as well just give you the manual so I will give you a basic knowledge on a few of the headings that may not make sense from just the title.
Aircraft in the simulation; this covers the basics of the overall aircraft, giving a brief history of parts of the DC-3, history on the airline repaints and the DC-3’s cockpit and passenger cabin - included in the simulator. Getting to know the DC-3/C-47 section covers, well, parts about the DC-3 and C-47. Such as its sleek tail dragger design and information regarding the fuselage and square passenger windows.
The manuals are good, but I would have liked to see additional information written about the aircraft, such as real life procedures for a full start up to an entire shut down procedure - it's simple stuff like that, that makes a product so great and easier to learn.
The Front Office....
The Virtual Cockpit (otherwise known as the front office) for the DC-3/C-47 represents parts of what you would expect to find in an actual DC-3 or C-47. From first looking at the actual cockpit, I wasn't too sure if the gauges (which are steam gauges, in case you didn't know) were all in the exact position as the real life DC-3s were. A quick search of "DC-3 Cockpit" on airliners.net confirmed my questions.
Although all the appropriate gauges are in the cockpit, some are not correctly placed - for those learning the DC-3, this will be easy to learn where they are, but for real life pilots who are rated on the DC-3, then this may become confusing to them. It also became apparent that the cockpit was very clean, and for a bird that's over 70 years old - you are looking pretty good!
While it is possible to make the cockpit more dirty (I’ll leave that to the famous painters in our FlightSim community!) it would of be nice for the developers of JustFlight to possibly "dirty it up." That is not to say that by the time this review is published that somebody has not already done so, so a Google search may be necessary.
Now, I'm not sure if this is an FSX limitation, but the "edge" of the cockpit is modeled too close to the gauges and instead of looking 3D as it should, it appears to be 2D. As I said, it’s something I don't really like as I can't see some of the gauges but it could be an FSX limitation.
What I do like about the DC-3/C-47 cockpit is that what is modeled in 3D and looks superb - from the throttles to the switches on the overhead panel - they look great. A small feature which many developers fail to include into their products is windscreen wipers which move. If there is precipitation (rain or snow), a "layer" will appear onto the windscreen and where the wipers move it will stay the same - the only negative with this is, the wipers don't "remove" anything as it stays the same and the "snow or rain" doesn't return.
The Waco CG-4 is an aircraft I have never heard of before, it being a glider (not my specialty!). I was unable to find many high quality pictures of the glider, so please bear with me; I will try to explain the details in the VC in as much detail possible. The cockpit included, I feel, is an inaccurate feel of what the cockpit should represent. Simple stuff is incorrect, such as the four gauges displayed in the centre of the aircraft (there are five in the actual aircraft!)
As I said in the DC-3/C-47 part about the aircraft being far too clean, the Waco CG-4 is as well. I will credit JustFlight for making the aircraft have the nice "wooden" feeling, but this wood is far too clean to be accurate. A unique feature I found in the CG-4 was the "release ready light"; you push the button and a light will glow - this indicates to the aircraft you are being towed by that you are ready to release the rope.
Overall it is a simply cockpit, but I feel more detailed could of been put into it.
There 2D cockpit & pop up panels are from the default DC-3 and are inaccurate to what the VC looks like - if you use the default DC-3 and use the 2D panels and are looking for a better DC-3 than the default to fly, you will be let down by this.
The Main Cabin....
DC-3/C-47 Cabin/Cargo Hold....
The civilian DC-3 features a 2-1 row passenger seating configuration, where as the C-47 has a "row" of seats to each side. I'll start with the DC-3, each airline has its own different seat colours, ie; Buffalo Airways will have a green cabin as Capital Airlines will have a red cabin. This makes the cabin look very accurate, nice looking and an enjoyable feel to it if you want to look at it while you are cruising.
The C-47 also features a unique cabin, a military style cabin, which has a two row of seats running parallel with the aircraft. The Berlin livery has crates in it - as the other cargo versions do not, though both have military personnel in them. Both cabins are accurate, and very nice looking - even if you do not like to use the cabin, this one is worth looking at it - and one of the best I have ever seen!
The CG-4 Cargo Hold....
As with what I said above, the CG-4 is very nice looking. Although it does seem like a smaller version of the DC-3/C-47 cabin/cargo hold - I may be incorrect on this, as I can notice obvious differences such as:
- Windows are higher and circular
- A jeep is in the back
- The military personnel are sitting down.
The outer layer....
If you were not impressed with the virtual cockpit (which will grow on you, and you will like it), then you are in for a real treat with the exterior model of the DC-3/C-47. Everything is accurate; the underbelly of the aircraft is black - my best guess is residue from the engines, but the overall quality of the paint job is clean. I do think that it looks better clean than dirty, something simmers will let not 'care' about in my opinion.
The windows on the aircraft are also a unique "square" shape - something very cool with you being able to look inside the cabin, while still in exterior mode! All small details are covered, right into the engines where the cylinders are even modeled into 3D and not left 2D - everything from the gear to the rudder moves as you would expect in a payware aircraft.
The CG-4 also offers a fantastic looking exterior model, for such a simple designed aircraft, this one impresses me. It is easy to see how much detail went into the exterior, and the default paint jobs are just fantastic.
Everything from the rudders to the speed brakes are operational in the exterior - as they should be, like in the real life glider. Simple things such as rivets are included on the external model, which I appreciate a lot, and is something developers sometimes forget to include when developing aircraft.
Flies like a bird, a jumbo jet or a like a DC-3/C-47/CG-4 ?
Does the default DC-3 have a better FDE or worse FDE than the JustFlight DC-3/C-47? From my testing, which was a few circuits around Buffalo International Airport, taking off from RWY05 and flying a left hand circuit at 140 kts between 1000 and 1500 feet and ending it with a sharp turn (Kai Tak style) to land again at RWY05. With the default DC-3 I noticed that it was very responsive, but as with the JustFlight DC-3, the turns were a lot more "stronger" and not as responsive, feeling more like a war bird than anything else.
I did read somewhere that the JustFlight DC-3s FDE was the default with some customization, I found no evidence of this as even the taxing was different than the default product. You will need to practice a fair bit to be able to turn 90 degrees around an airport, trust me. The CG-4 I found flies similar to the default DC-3, but a bit more responsive.
When the product was first released, simmers complained the sounds were unrealistic. JustFlight came to work with Sonic Sound Solutions and produced a new sound set, which sounds fantastic. From start up to shut down, everything sounds as you would expect; nice and loud and nothing like a turboprop or any other aircraft of that kind. The sounds are nice and crisp, much better than the default DC-3.
Cutting a melon in half, or eating it whole...
The FPS on my system were in a range between 22-35FPS - this caused a bit of stuttering. Compared to the default DC-3, I am able to maintain an easy 35FPS so the FPS are almost cut in half - unfortunately. With that said, this aircraft is much more detailed than the default DC-3 so the impact is alright considering what I have stated above. The CG-4 does not touch your FPS and is very frame rate friendly.
Doing a full flight procedure is not difficult in this aircraft. You do not have any communications with a first officer, navigator, flight attendant etc such as with other add-ons. It is enjoyable to fly small legs at 8000 feet at 140knots.
Start-up smoke is included on the engines, but having a basic knowledge of the aircraft is all I really needed to operate this aircraft. It does not offer in-depth complexity such as "accu-sim" but it is enjoyable for any simmer, from novice to veteran pilots - a nice afternoon flight in this aircraft is what many simmers will enjoy.
An awesome feature on the aircraft is the "weapons system" on the AC47. Once in the air, hold down the "i" button and weapons will begin to fire. Weapons are something we are seeing all over the simulated world these days and it’s fantastic to see JustFlight not fail us on this.
So did the JustFlight “Legends of Flight” product meet my expectations? Yes and no. I was hoping for a more detailed interior cockpit, as that is where I spend most of my time these days whilst using my TrackIR software. Many simmers will let this go, but that is one thing that affects me the most. If you spend your time looking at the exterior, or in the cabin then you will be excited to know that that part of the product is amazing, and very nice looking.
The base and expansion product is $45 USD all up, I felt this was a bit too much compared to what else is on the market. If you are not sure if this product is what you are looking for, I would suggest shopping around for another developer to release their DC-3 and make your decision from there. But I did find this aircraft a joy to fly, and I hope to fly many Buffalo Airways legs from Hay River to Yellowknife and back.
What I Like About The DC-3
What I Don't Like About The DC-3
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