One moment I’m sitting in the complex flight deck of the PMDG McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and next, I’m going back to my PPL roots, playing around in a Cessna 152 II from Carenado. This – PPL license - is also the reason why I wanted to review this new full certified FSX GA (General Aviation) model.
After receiving a custom made painting with aircraft registration N94268, it brings me back to the summer of 2003, where I struggled to fulfill my wish to get within 28 days my PPL license. I was stationed in Florida KEVB (New Smyrna Beach) where I had my lessons at IFT (International Flight Training). Anyway, I digress, but what’s Carenado telling us about this tiny Cessna model. Let’s have a look.
C152 II Developed Only For FSX. Supports SP2, Acceleration Pack and DX10.
New FSX features: external dynamic shadows, internal dynamic shadows on VC, normal mapping, specular mapping and bloom lights – Polygon optimized model - Four different paints with maximum details and realistic textures - Includes: Interactive virtual cockpit - Full moving parts: Ailerons, elevators, rudders, flaps, rolling wheels – Animated sections such as: doors, pilot's window, ashtray, copilot seat, glove compartment, sun visor, fresh air control and vibrating antenna - Light: Navigation lights, beacons, landing lights - Transparent windows - 3D modeled pilot and cockpit area - Real Propeller - Many details as: pitot pressure chamber, antennas, chocks, pitot tube cover – Realistic textures and original paint design - Custom panel and gauges - Realistic light effects on gauges - Nightlight effects on panel – Yoke – Full checklist and reference text about the Flight Dynamics - Realistic performance based on documents and experimented pilot observations...and our own experience on real flight and MFS - Similar behavior compared to the real airplane - Real weight and balance - PDF document with information - 1 persons on board - By CARENADO.
Oops, that’s a lot of information and not well organized. All that text, I've already lost already the overview but we've known Carenado for years and they are – more or less - famous of their FS2004 models, so I’m not surprised about this fully developed FSX model. It’s my job to become enthusiastic about it and to offer you an objective review, so let’s rock and roll!
Cessna took the venerable 150 and made some very significant changes to it to deal with the problems of bigger, heavier pilots and the unavailability of 80 octane fuel. The changes were so significant that Cessna introduced the upgraded aircraft under a new model number, the Cessna 152. First delivered in 1977 as the 1978 model year, the 152 was a modernization of the proven Cessna 150 design.
The 152 was intended to compete with the new Beechcraft Skipper and Piper Tomahawk, both of which were introduced the same year. Additional design goals were to improve useful load through a gross weight increase to 1670 lbs (757 kg), decrease internal and external noise levels and run better on the then newly introduced 100LL fuel.
As with the 150, the great majority of 152s were built at the Cessna factory in Wichita, Kansas. A number of aircraft were also built by Reims Aviation of France and given the designation F152/FA152.
Production of the 152 finished in 1985 when Cessna ended production of all of their light aircraft. By that time, a total of 7,584 examples of the 152, including A152 and FA152 Aerobat aerobatic variants, had been built worldwide.
The following three screenshots are just an example of a typical Cessna 152 II, but of course many others exist and are still flying. It’s still a nice airplane for learning to fly, although new students quickly chose its bigger brother/sister, the Cessna 172 or one of the many other brand models.
The 152's airframe is an all metal construction. It is primarily Aluminum 2024-T3 alloy, although some components such as wing tips and fairings are made from fiberglass. The fuselage is a semi-monocoque structure: it has vertical bulkheads and frames joined by longerons which run the length of the fuselage. The metal skin of the aircraft is riveted, which allows loads to be spread out over the structure.
The wings are of a strut-braced design and have a 1 degree dihedral angle. The tapered (outboard) portion of each wing has one degree of washout (the chord of the tip section has one degree lower angle of attack than the chord at the end of the constant-width section). This allows greater aileron effectiveness during a stall, although it is much less than the 3 degrees used in Cessna 172 wings.
Dual controls are available as optional equipment on the Cessna 152 and almost all 152s have this option installed. The Cessna 152 is equipped with differential ailerons that move through 20 degrees upwards and 15 degrees downwards. It has modified Fowler (slotted, aft-traveling) flaps which are electrically operated and deploy to a maximum of 30 degrees.
The rudder can move 23 degrees to either side and is fitted with a ground adjustable trim tab. The elevators move up through 25 degrees and down through 18 degrees. An adjustable trim tab is installed in the right elevator and is controlled by a small wheel in the center of the control console. The trim tab moves 10 degrees up and 20 degrees down relative to the elevator chord line.
The Cessna 152 is equipped with fixed tricycle landing gear. The main gear is a tubular steel undercarriage leg surrounded by a full length fairing with a step for access to the cabin. The main gear has a 7 ft 7 in (2.3 m) wheelbase. The nose wheel is connected to the engine mount and has an oleo strut to dampen and absorb normal operating loads. The nose wheel is steerable through 8 degrees either side of neutral and can caster under differential braking up to 30 degrees. It is connected to the rudder pedals through a spring linkage.
The braking system consists of single disc brake assemblies fitted to the main undercarriage and operated by a hydraulic system. Brakes are operated by pushing on the top portion of the rudder pedals. It is possible to use differential braking when taxiing and this allows very tight turns to be made. The 152 is also fitted with a parking brake system. It is applied by depressing both toe brakes and then pulling the "Park Brake" lever to the pilot’s left. The toe brakes are then released but pressure is maintained in the system thereby leaving both brakes engaged.
There are hundreds of modifications available for the Cessna 152. The most frequently installed include the tail dragger conversions such as the 'Texas Tail dragger' and have been fitted to some 152s. It involves strengthening the fuselage for the undercarriage being moved further forward, removing the nose wheel and strengthening the tail area for the tail wheel. This greatly improves short field performance and is claimed to give up to a 10kt cruise speed increase.
Another modification is the STOL kit. The wings can be modified using a number of modification kits, some improving high speed/cruise performance but most concentrating on STOL performance. Horton's STOL kit is one of the better known of the latter. It involves fitting a more cambered leading edge cuff to increase angle of attack, fitting fences at the aileron/flap intersection and fitting drooped wingtips. Stalls with these modifications are almost off the airspeed indicator, since instrument error is high at high angles of attack. It has been said that landings can be achieved in 2 fuselage lengths with the kit installed in addition to a tail dragger mod by balancing power against drag. Takeoff performance is also improved by varying degrees depending on the surface.
All Cessna 152s were manufactured with a Lycoming O-235 engine, whereas the 150s use either Continental O-200-A in US-built versions or Rolls-Royce 0-240-A engines in the Reims-produced version. The Lycoming provided not only an increase in engine power over the Cessna 150, but also was more compatible with the newer 100LL low lead fuel.
Cessna 152s produced between 1977 and 1982 were equipped with Lycoming O-235-L2C engines producing 110 hp (82 kW) at 2550 RPM. This engine still suffered some lead-fouling problems in service and was succeeded in 1983 by the 108 hp O-235-N2C which featured a different piston design and a redesigned combustion chamber to reduce this problem. The N2C engine was used until 152 production ended in 1985.
The 152 was produced in several different versions over its eight year production run. Aside from the standard model 152 there was a 152 II with an enhanced package of standard avionics and trim features. The 152 II with Nav Pac included more standard avionics for IFR use. The 152T was a standard option package for use by flying schools, the "T" indicating "trainer" and not a sub-model.
The 152 was also produced in an aerobatic version. In the same manner as the Cessna A150 Aerobat, the 152 version was designated the Cessna A152 Aerobat. The A152 was certified for +6, -3 “g” and had standard four point harnesses, skylights and jetisonable doors, along with a checkerboard paint scheme and removable seat cushions to allow parachutes to be worn by the crew.
Installation, documentation and additional info
The installation is straightforward with nothing special to report. The FSX directory is automatically detected from the Windows Registry. As far as I have seen, there’s no desktop shortcut created and no Start menu folders either. This means, finding the Carenado manuals is suddenly not that easy.
For experienced Windows Explorer users it’s no problem but for many others it’s not really fun. But help is on you way; the Carenado manuals can be found in “X”:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\Carenado C152II, where “X” should be replaced by your own hard disk. In the next sub chapter we will go a little more in detail about what kind of manuals are offered for the beginner, intermediate or experienced GA pilot.
The Carenado Cessna 152 II comes standard with 4 different “real life” colors and each “livery” is either fitted with/without wheel pants. That’s it. If you’re not happy with the paintings, no problem. Just google or request the kind of painting you want or paint it by yourself. I decided to do a request and finally I got my own N94268 registration. It reflects more or less the color scheme of my Cessna 152 during my PPL lessons.
The Carenado Cessna 152 II model comes with the following Acrobat manuals:
- Carenado C152 Reference
- Carenado C152 Checklist
- Copyright Carenado C152
Anything more? No, this is it. Not that much but on the other hand, it’s an uncomplicated aircraft with basic instruments so there’s not really a need to have more manuals. I personally don’t need anything more since I’ve still got my C152 POH (Pilot Operating Handbook) but for others who don’t own this, it was better when something was added to the package.
Don’t forget, it’s not a freeware model; you still need to pay USD 24.95 for it so you may expect something. The Acrobat manuals are, in that respect, very limited and I’m not talking about the copyright manual. That’s of no interest for the fight simmer. Since I’m disappointed that it doesn’t have an additional manual, I did a search on the Internet and apart of the many books you can buy, here's at least one freeware link of a scanned C152 manual from the Langley Flying School – Cessna 152 POH:
Table of Contents
Ok, not that bad but it took a lot longer than expected to find. The only hope that these links stay available for a long time. Furthermore I would like to remind you that these freeware links are based on a 1978 Model 152 and probably this is not the same as the simulated Carenado model.
What I do know is that this is at least something and the aircraft system description will not be that much different than the FSX model although differences could exist in the instrument panel. Anyway, I hope you like this freeware link from the Langley Flying School.
Is it real or is it a FSX model? Sometimes I ask this myself, but the airport scenery brings me back to the real world and tells me that the environment is that of FSX. Let’s first start doing our walk around check on one of the stock Carenado liveries and I can tell you, impressive.
Is this all? Of course not. What I said before, every tiny detail is there. Let’s give you some examples. I did check the main wheels and one of the things to check is the struts and wheels and one special item here is the red stripe on the tire itself and hub. They should be in line. Why? That‘s not important for the moment but it’s made so unbelievably realistic, including the normal tire circumference. If this is the result of more polygons available for a tire, I don’t know, but it looks great.
While looking upwards, the side of the fuselage gives me the same impression as during my PPL lessons. When opening the right hand door (Shift+E+1) you’ve got a very nice view of the door lining but not only that, the instrumentation part, which is not that clearly visible here, but have a look to the highly detailed rudder pedals and insulation blanket. It’s the same as I can remember, as I look into a real aircraft but oops, it’s a MSFS model!
After closing the door I need to check the nose wheel tire and the details can be found here; tire, hub with red stripe, steering cylinder with connections and wrapping, dirty strut, and even the propeller tips look very realistic with all those spots on it. After finishing the nose area, it’s time to take a ladder and inspect the top of the wing.
Since I need to refuel, I’m trying to open the fuel cap but that’s not simulated. There’s also no need for, but it was great when it was done. Anyway, the top of the wing looks right with all those rivets, pieces of Aluminum and dirty lines.... very good. From this location I can have a look at the nose section with propeller and at the tail. There’s not really a need to check the tail from one of the wing tips since it very easy to check the tail from close up and if you wish, you can even press the tail of the aircraft down a little towards the ground.
The tail of the aircraft by itself is, as could be expected, full of tiny things like the elevator and rudder connections, tail striker and many others. To be honest, there's too much to see and I could add many more pictures of this highly detailed aircraft.
Is there then nothing missing? That depends what you miss. No, you can’t open the engine cowling, you only fly by yourself so there’s no person next of you and unfortunately, there’s no female simulated. There’s also no cargo panel which can be opened ... oops … there’s no cargo panel. There’s also no oil cap that can be opened but instead when you set the parking brakes, a pitot cover and wheel shocks are positioned in place.
Is it important to have those things? That depends on what you want. For me personally, I prefer to have a highly accurate simulated external model rather than a less quality model with lots of panels. Sometimes it’s also a developers decision which we can’t change.
While you think we’ve reached the end of this external model, no no, there’s the cargo area, which is only reachable from the inside by folding the seat forward, which is by the way, not simulated. Just like in your car or not? Ok, the cargo area is not much more then an open space with straps to tie down any luggage. Due to the complexity of the area, it’s full of details and offers a very high realistic look, even when looking through the window from the outside. Let’s have a look before we jump into the aircraft to check the instruments, panels etc.
Did we now reach the end of this section? I think so. Later during my cross country flight in and around the swamps of Florida, we will see much more and I've finally found my own N94268 in FSX. Now it’s time to check, inspect and judge the created cockpits.
Spectacular? No, not really but you’ve got a good looking and fully functional virtual cockpit. However, there are still virtual pilots out there who prefer to fly the 2D cockpit, so here we go. Although the Cessna 152 comes with a few external paintings, the cockpit interior and thus the panel, is all the same so it doesn’t make any difference which airplane painting you take.
The main instrument panel comes together with only one additional sub panel; the RPM and amp indicators. That’s all apart form several indicators which can be selected separately or via the Shift+ “x” key combination. As said before, a limited amount of sub panels, with no other choice than this but on the other hand, you've got a frame rate friendly VC and that makes life and the fun even better. Let’s go back to the 2D panel and instrument configurations.
Satisfied and seen enough from the 2D cockpit? Let’s go on to the Virtual Cockpit.
While I’m still relaxing from my cup of coffee, it’s now time to jump into the Virtual Cockpit and see how virtual real(ity) this one is. Above all, what is the FPS doing and are we able to fly with it? Let’s first of all, with my Nikon CoolPix 990 camera in my hand, make some screenshots and remember, it’s just to give you an impression because I could make hundred of pictures and still not cover all what’s simulated.
Pretty impressive or not? It depends on what you want but I can tell you with all the simulations created, it looks very good and realistic. But what are all those simulations then? Let’s give it a try; front window reflection from the glare shield, or reflection on the size windows from the seats, moveable sun visors and ashtrays, passenger doors with open/closing lock sound, glove compartment on the right hand side of the instrument panel opening/closing and movable fresh air controls and finally, the instrument panel shade depends on the sun angle entrance.
I’ve probably forgotten a few things, but in general, nice although a few items are not simulated, like no rear mirror, which is normally located on top middle of the instrument panel. Also, there’s no instrument integral light system, no red flood light control for the evening flights and no strobe light control. While writing this, I need to add immediately that even for the C152 II, the real life Cessna offered too many configurations and this means the same for Carenado. They’ve created this model based on a particular model and probably not every detail was available.
OK, let’s reproduce my PPL time in my rented N94269; this one didn’t have strobe lights either, no integral instrument lighting system but it had a red flood light control. By the way, the Carenado C152 offers a PANEL LT / RADIO LT rheostat but this one is just a light ON/OFF switch. Furthermore, the real C152 and thus the simulated model, didn’t have DOME, STROBE and TAXI light switches. The result can be seen on the following three screenshots.
Is this the end of the virtual cockpit experience? I should yes, it’s the end! So there’s no need to make any additional screenshots. During my cross country flight in Central Florida we will see some more, and not only related to the flight dynamics.
Air file versus …. cross country flight from KEVB to KCDK
The overall reason for making this cross country flight is to test the flight dynamics or flight characteristics or if you prefer, the air file. Is it difficult to figure out if it flies and behaves like the real Cessna?
Normally this would be a difficult part since we – AVSIM reviewers - don’t all posess ATPL licenses except for a few of us. Personally I don’t own an SE/ME IR (Single/Multi Instrument Rating), CPL (Commercial Pilot License) or frozen ATPL (Air Transport Pilot License) but I do own a PPL license and that’s good for this one.
I had my lessons in a 1981 C152 II at the International Flight Training located at KEVB. Based on this experience, reviewing the Carenado C152 is suddenly fun because of the real experience I had. Does this mean flying this Carenado C152 II is as real as it gets?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, because the model looks great and it flies, which you will read in a minute, very realisticly, but there’s also a no. This is because the motion part is missing. Not surprising, but it makes a big difference from the real world and also for me when flying and knowing at the same time there’s no motion. Ok, that’s not fair since no MSFS add-on aircraft offers this, so please join me and jump into my private N94268 C152 II, which is parked at the apron of KEVB. It’s time for a nice cross-country flight in Central Florida where GEX and UTX are doing the realistic work.
early in the morning, still cold – even in Florida – with
and after checking the CNN weather channel and checking the latest
information on 1-800-WEATHER, I’m ready to go.
goes from KEVB
south of KDED
on a heading
I’ve done all my preparations, refueled the aircraft and I'm ready to go. Since it’s an uncontrolled airport and no TAF available, I use the one from KDAB (Daytona Beach International) but it seems there’s hardly any wind, so I can chose from one of the many runways and since I’m alone here, I won’t interfere with other pilots.
I decide to take off from rwy 29, which is really the shortest way to go. I could take rwy 25 but that’s a little further. Either of the two is in the direction of my first goal, Deland Taylor airport. Engine running, checks performed and finally we taxi to the holding point of runway 29. Flaps set, magneto check performed, listening to the radio in case somebody decides to land on rwy 29 but it really seems that everybody is still in bed. I’m the only person who is crazy enough to be sitting in my C152 at this hour.
It’s cold outside and even inside while the cockpit has not yet heated up but it will in a few minutes. Full power and here we go. At around 70 knots I pull slightly on the yoke and we're in the air. It was a wonderful feeling and it is again in this Carenado C152. Of course, the real feeling to be in the air with nothing below you is not the same in this Carenado but some fantasy is needed here.
I’ll stay at roughly 1000 feet for a while because I’m not interested in getting in contact with Daytona Beach, which is a Class C airport. I’m currently flying on a heading of 270 which should bring me more or less close to KDAD. The moment I see or pass the two highways to/from Daytona city, I’ve passed the Class C controlled airspace and decide to climb to 6000 feet.
That’s by the way, not that easy with this aircraft and this reflects it as I experienced previously. This is really well simulated and after some circling around, I’ve reached 4000 feet and decide to continue, heading for Lake Harris. Because of my altitude and the clear sky, I can see these lakes already – it’s not the first time I’m flying this stretch – and the smoke from one of the southern located factories. Along the prohibited areas on my right, with far away Orlando city on my left and KMCO and unmistakable Lake Apopka, I continue on this heading. While continuing my flight, I climb to 6000 feet.
In the meantime, I’ve selected Ocala VORTAC frequency (113.70) and decide to turn towards this VOR and airport the moment I’m very close to Leesburg Regional. The only reason to do so is because of the restricted area I’m flying along. We’re close to it and it’s time to turn towards my VOR which also gives me the possibility to check some of the aircraft's behaviors like steep turns, slow flights, stalls and a spin. I can tell you it was or is it “is” really great to do so. A steep turn is not really that spectacular and difficult, whereas the only problem is to maintain my altitude but apart from that, it’s fun.
A slow flight with/without flaps is working perfectly and that’s also not surprising but the stall and the drop out resulting in a spin, will that work? Give me a minute since I need to remember how it was in a real flight. It was easy getting into a stall and the fall out to the left was easy and yes, you could get the Cessna easily in a spin. Ok, let’s do it!
Unfortunately, the VOR part of my cockpit is not equipped with DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) so I’ve got no idea how far I’m away from my VOR beacon, but is it important and is there no other way? Of course there’s another way to find out where I am. That’s the fun and relaxation of flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules); simple by continuously checking local roads or highways, rivers, industrial areas, villages and so on.
OK, heads up since we’re reaching Ocala Airport now so we’ve got to wait with our stall and spin. I think that it’s also a good habit to climb to a higher altitude in case it goes wrong.
No, of course I’m not making any mistakes and I’ll keep it on the safe side, so nothing happens. I’m almost passing straight above Ocala airport and because of my 6000 feet, it looks all very clear down there, and thus the orientation is very easy. I can clearly see the airport, the city, and even far far away to Lewis airport.
No, that’s not true. That’s too far away even if it’s a great sunny - with some clouds – morning. I turn to a heading of 270 but will move a little left and right to be out of the water area and swamps. I don’t want to be in that area and start getting engine problems. Ok, it’s time for our stall and spin.
Everything is set, FSX is set as it should be without any automatic settings active and here we go. Reducing the throttle, increasing the angle of attack and yes, there’s the buzzer but nothing happens. I’m losing altitude quickly which doesn’t surprise me but nothing happens. It should fall and move to one side unless I’m doing something wrong. No, I take the papers in my hand, have a look into it but it should work and nothing happens. After several attempts, I’ve decided to stop and unfortunately it seems that it doesn’t fall out for entering a spin. I leave this part of my flight like it is and continue with the scenery.
Thirty minutes later I’ve reached the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, but I’m still at 6000 feet so it’s time to descend. The easiest way to do this is simply by making nice turns and descending with a rate of, let’s say, 1000 feet per minute. I could do it quicker but why should I? This brings me to a pattern altitude within 5 minutes. There’s no tower or whatever here but there’s a frequency where you can request some information including a pick up at Cedar Key. That was the only reason to come here because of the nice restaurants in this very small city.
I make my last turn, check the wind direction based on the waves on the water, and decide to land on runway 05. That’s a strange experience; approaching the runway and flying at low altitude over the water, but it all goes ok, so don’t worry. Flaps moving down, gear selected DOWN … oops, it’s a fixed gear so there’s nothing to select here. Final adjustments, taking my time, keeping the aircraft and myself centered on the centerline of the runway and finally making a nice landing.
I don’t have that much time to think what to do next since the runway isn’t that long. If I shoot too far, I’m dropping off the other side back into the water, so full brakes. Don’t worry, this aircraft is slowing nicely and it’s time to stop at Cedar Key.
This, unfortunately, concludes my trip to Lewis Airport (KCDK) and I must say I enjoyed flying the Carenado 152 II except that it didn’t fall to the left when you’re in a stall and I do remember this from my own PPL real life lessons. It could be that not every Cessna 152 is the same and this Carenado is based and designed on a particular model, but at the same time, I don’t believe there’s so much difference between Cessna 152 II’s.
Apart of this, a great flight impression!
This will be a short sub chapter since the Cessna doesn’t have that many different sounds. The sounds used for this Cessna 152 are not as complicated as with an advanced cockpit or flight deck. Of course, you’ve got the starter sound, flap electric motor, entrance door – may I call it this? – opening/closing and most important, the engine sound. Overall impression is pretty good!
Summary / Closing Remarks
In one word … great, lots of fun and what more do you want?
think this time the summary will be very short since the
review itself already offers so much information.
Does it mean it’s perfect? No, it’s not perfect but it gave me an “as real as it gets” model. Not perfect, that’s also because of natural limitations like the lack of motion, which is by the way, not a Carenado problem or FSX limitations.
Another thing which seems to give problems once in a while are the external lights. Sometimes there’s no navigation light or the bulb shines through the wing or tail section. According to Fernando Herrera from Carenado, “We have detected some similar issues with some customers, but it’s due to FSX. Even some default aircraft has that problem”. Work is on it’s way!
Is it worth flying the Carenado Cessna 152 II or are there any other competitors out there on the market? As far as I know, there’s no FSX competitor on the market yet and yes, it’s worth your money (US$ 24.95 – €17.80)!
What I Like About The Cessna 152 II
What I Don't Like About The Cessna 152 II
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