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Aircraft Review : Beechcraft 18 by Heinz Dzuirowitz

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Aircraft Review : Beechcraft 18 by Heinz Dzuirowitz

 

The "Twin Beech" or Beechcraft Model 18 is a six to 11-seat, twin-engined, low-wing, tailwheel light aircraft that was manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. from 1937 to November 1969, A world record at the time at over 32 years, 9,000 Beech 18's were produced and making it one of the world's most widely used and an early style of regional airliner.

 

Beech18_Head 1.jpg  Beech18_Head 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Head 3.jpg  Beech18_Head 4.jpg

 

By the late 1930s, Beechcraft management speculated that a demand would exist for a new design after the big success of their Model 17 Staggerwing of which became the Model 18, which would have a more military application and an increase of the main production facilities. The design was mainly conventional for the time, including twin radial engines, all-metal semimonocoque construction with fabric-covered control surfaces and tailwheel undercarriage. Less conventional was the twin-tailfin configuration. Early production aircraft were powered either by two 330-hp (250-kW) Jacobs L-6s or 350-hp (260-kW) Wright R-760Es. The 450-hp (336-kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 became the definitive engine from the prewar C18S onwards. The Beech 18 prototype first flew on January 15, 1937.

 

The aircraft has used a variety of engines and has had a number of airframe modifications to increase gross weight and speed. At least one aircraft was modified to a 600-hp (447-kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 powerplant configuration. With the added weight of about 200 lb (91 kg) per engine

 

A variants were specifically built for training military pilots, bombardiers, and navigators. The effort resulted in the Army AT-7 and Navy SNB. Further development led to the AT-11 and SNB-2 navigation trainers and the C-45 military transport. The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command had Beechcraft Models 18 in the AT-11 Kansans, C-45 Expeditors, F-2 Expeditors (the "F" standing for "Fotorecon"), and UC-45 Expeditors from 1946 until 1951. The C-45 flew in U.S. Air Force service until 1963, the USN retired its last SNB in 1972, while the U.S. Army flew its C-45s through 1976.

 

In 1955, deliveries of the Model E18S commenced with the E18S featured. With a fuselage that was extended 6in (150 mm) higher for more headroom in the passenger cabin. All later Beech 18s (sometimes called Super 18s) featured this taller fuselage, and some earlier models (including one AT-11) have been modified to this larger fuselage. The Model H18, introduced in 1963, featured optional tricycle undercarriage. Unusually the undercarriage was developed for earlier-model aircraft under an STC by Volpar, and installed in H18s at the factory during manufacture. A total of 109 H18s were built with tricycle undercarriage, and another 240 earlier-model aircraft were modified with this.

Beechcraft Model 18 production ended in 1970 with a final Model H18 going to Japan Airlines. Beechcraft had by then set a record that still stands today for the longest continuous production of a piston-engine aircraft.

 

Even today the Beechcraft Model 18 remains popular with air charter companies and small feeder airlines worldwide and a few are still working the skies out there.

 

    Performance - Maximum speed: 225 mph (195 knots, 360 km/h) - Range: 1,200 mi (1,000 NM, 1,900 km) at 160 mph (260 km/h) - Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,930 m) - Rate of climb: 1,850 ft/min (9.4 m/s)

 

Heinz Dzuirowitz has been one of the most prolific of designers for X-Plane. Every one somewhere in their aircraft folder usually has one or many of Heinz's aircraft. Heinz does not turn them out now as much as he used to, but still updates his aircraft to the current X-Plane Version (10.32). The Beech Twin is the latest to have an major upgrade with a totally newly built virtual cockpit, cabin and major fine-tune to the current version status and it is great to have such an iconic aircraft still current and with a few new navigation aids.

 

Beech18_Cockpit 1.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Cockpit 9.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit 3.jpg

 

Beech18_Cockpit 5.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit 6.jpg

 

Beech18_Cockpit 7.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit 8.jpg

 

Cockpit :  The classic style of the panel in the cockpit shows you how far ahead in design the Beech 18 was in 1937. It looks old fashioned today, but you wouldn't notice any real differences from a General Aviation aircraft of the 50's or 60's in design and layout. And those dials were huge, and very easy to read. In fact the panel layout is well done in putting the engine (RPM and Manifold Pressure) right under your line-sight and the Standard-six instrument layout set just below. Most panels put the engine gauges more out of sight or usually on the Co-Pilot's side, were as you need them closer to watch the condition of the engines and the ability to not over use them. The engine dials use the twin needle in one dial system that is very effective in keeping the engines running at the same levels or if one engine is not performing as strong as the other one you can notice that straight away. Rate of turn is very good and the so is the very large "Airspeed" in MPH. The aircraft was quite slow, even by the standards of the day, but very reliable and trustworthy and that is what counts in business. On the Co-Pilot's side of the panel on the top are the two dials for engine temperatures and pressures (P.S.I.) in Oil - Fuel - and main temp in ºF. The other six lower dials cover Fuel Qty, Fuel Flow, CHT-EGT, AMPS and Voltage and a Poweeer dial!  With a Hydraulics pressure gauge down right.

 

Beech18_Cockpit 4.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit 10.jpg

 

The equipment stack is very old fashioned but pratical. No brand names here, just the numbers in two Com/Nav's (1 and 2) a Comm panel, ADF and HD King Transponder. The there is a "Flight Director" as a basic autopilot that works very well with changes to HDG - ALT and V/S (Vertical Speed). 

 

Beech18_Cockpit GPS 1.jpg  Beech18_Cockpit GPS 2.jpg

 

The only modern insertion here is a modified GNS530 GPS, to use you have to pop-it-out to get access to the buttons and knobs. Does it fit in such old style panel? that is debatable of course, but you can't fault the useablity of the system as it can make navigation and long routes a breeze if you do some serious travelling. The original (pre-10.30) GNS GPS is available as well as a pop-up but looks very old-fashioned.

You have to serious fall in love with that superb yoke. As a design it is work of art and of a period now well gone. The pedestal is full of the usual tall engine levers of - PROP - THOTTLE - MIXTURE and great trim controls, I loved the Cowl (Flap) pull handles and workablity.

The panels come green for clean (or newer) and the older blue for worn styles, shown here is the worn version, with paint peeling and rust patches. The insertion of this excellent workable virtual cockpit really lifts the aircraft into another dimension from its 2d humble beginnings and shows you can update without losing the charm.

 

Cabin : You wonder how the aircraft got off the ground with all that wood in the cabin? But it is nicely done, with a passenger working away hard on his laptop. His onboard music is supplied by his guitar, and the rest room is well fitted out if he needs the need (If you know what I mean).

 

Beech18_Cabin 1.jpg  Beech18_Cabin 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Cabin 3.jpg  Beech18_Cabin 4.jpg

 

The rear wall clock is tuned to X-Plane's set time which is nice touch, and the two large GE fans both work in a throwback before aircraft had air-conditioning.

 

Variants : The Beech 18 comes with three different variants...  Old Taildragger - Volpar Tri-Cycle undercarriage - and new for this release...  Floats. In their various ways they do make the aircraft feel very different from each other.

 

Original Taildragger 18 : the more traditional of the three aircraft the "TailDragger" feels older and more original, but has the cleaner green panel...

 

Beech18_TD 1.jpg  Beech18_TD 3.jpg

 

Beech18_TD 2.jpg  Beech18_TD 4.jpg

 

Designwise it is very good, but the overall design is certainly an older generational X-Plane design than the highly polished designs we have now. It is very good though, with riveted highlights (a bit big) and the "Beechcraft" is well embossed on the engine cowlings. Those huge cowlings are very well done and so are the internal radial engine-piston aircooled housings. Undercarriage design is for this design period very well done as are the distictive twin-tails that signify this design. All the aircraft variants have had the texures up dated to HD (High-Definition) and the quality is far better overall as the inclusion of glass textures for (slight) reflections. The "taildragger" comes with three liveries.

 

Beech18_Livery TD 1.jpg

 

Beech18_Livery TD 2.jpg  Beech18_Livery TD 3.jpg

 

Volpar - Tricycle version 1954 : Volpar not only converted the Beech 18 to a Tri-Cycle underecarriage but also did cabin and equipment upgrades right up to and into the 1970's.

 

Beech18_Volper 1.jpg  Beech18_Volper 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Volper 3.jpg  Beech18_Volper 4.jpg

 

Most pilots would go for the original "Taildragger" but I like the Volpar a bit more. It is more useable and is more widely used even today of the Beech 18's still flying...  It fits better as well with upgraded GPS units as they would be retro-fitted on aircraft like this, but not by Volpar themselves.

 

Beech18_Volper Livery 1.jpg  Beech18_Volper Livery 2.jpg

 

The Volpar does only have two liveries, but there is a painkit (Photoshop) included if you want to make some more.

 

Float Version : The float version is all new for this v10 release and gives the Beech 18 a very different variant (and a more useful) extension of way to use the aircraft, certainly around Alaska or lake/river hopping activities.

 

Beech18_Float 1.jpg  Beech18_Float 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Float 3.jpg  Beech18_Float 4.jpg

 

The float design and application to the Beech 18 is really well done here and the aircraft is nice and steady on the water (waves set at .05) and the aircraft has a lot of power to get airborne with only a slight drag effect, landing on water is just as assured.

 

Beech18_Float Livery 1.jpg

 

Beech18_Float Livery 2.jpg  Beech18_Float Livery 3.jpg

 

The float liveries give the feel of modern and old and both work in context. Liveries are all noted in HD and quaility.

Night-Lighting : The aircraft lighting has also been updated to HDR. It is nothing really special, but it looks good. Outside is the standard Nav, strobe and beacon lighting which are all excellent. The dropdown landing lights are fine but just disappear than rotate back into the wing...  There are no instrument backlighting, but a panel light, you can fly quite easily with the down panel light turned almost off and dark. In the cabin there is one large adjustible light source.

 

Beech18_LIGHTING 1.jpg  Beech18_LIGHTING 2.jpg

 

Beech18_LIGHTING 3.jpg  Beech18_LIGHTING 4.jpg

 

Beech18_LIGHTING 5.jpg  Beech18_LIGHTING 6.jpg

 

In the early light the aircraft looks very good...

Beech18_First light 1.jpg  Beech18_First light 2.jpg

 

Beech18_First light 3.jpg  Beech18_First light 4.jpg

 

For this version 10 upgrade the flying dynamics have had a complete overhaul. I never flew the original, but the aircraft feels good. It is very tricky to keep straight when powering down the runway in both taildragging or Tri-Gear scenereos a slight power up and feeding in the power to full power helps you keep the aircraft on the center line. There is plenty of power but overall this is a slightly ponderous aircraft but flies very well...  Just overall make sure you give yourself time to get there.

 

Beech18_Flight 1.jpg  Beech18_Flight 2.jpg

 

Beech18_Flight 3.jpg  Beech18_Flight 4.jpg

 

Make sure you read the notes in the manual on getting the best performance out of the Twin-Beech. This is still an old aircraft after all and you have to be soft and careful with it. No doubt the installed GNS GPS gives you a greater dimension in the reach and ease of flying the Beechcraft than they had back in its heyday. I found the GPS excellent and was great and useful for a medium distance run like I was doing from Victoria Intl (CYYJ down) to Boeing King Field (KBFI). Sounds have been upgraded for this release as well and are excellent all round.

 

Beech18_Flight 5.jpg  Beech18_Flight 6.jpg

 

Beech18_Flight 7.jpg  Beech18_Flight 8.jpg

 

The aircraft is very steady at low speeds and full flap, but is a little twichy on a hands on approach and needs attention to keep it on the line. ditto once you are down on the hard stuff, as you need to brake carefully in case you wiggle arounfd the tarmac. The taildragger is of course far worse and you will need a lot of concentration at low speeds to stop it twirling you off sideways onto the grass. With the engine shutdown you can see the excellent detailing in the propellers and engine innards.

 

Summary : Without doubt this is a great and significant update to a dated X-Plane design. The Beech 18 is a classic aircraft and deserved to have the chance and the opportunity to show on how good an aircraft it is. The upgrade to version 10 is not just a quick touchover here and there but a full redesign with the inclusion of an excellent virtual cockpit and cabin, full HD texture treatment, full dataref and object changes and the inclusion of the latest GNS GPS for navigation. To a point the aircraft is transformed from its former self, but it is still based on an earlier design philosophy and in some areas that still shows. The inclusion of the new float version also gives you a better investment and a far more versitile aircraft.

 

So overall it is an excellent all round update package for the Beechcraft Model 18 and one that is far above the usual tweaks to just match the current X-Plane conditions. A classic aircraft no doubt and available at a great price, and one to enjoy again in this total upgrade.

 

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The v10 Beechcraft 18 by Heinz Dzuirowitz is now available from the New X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Beech 18 Package

 

and is priced at only US$20.95

Note this Aircraft is now being developed by STMA and is noted on their X-Plane.OrgStore listing and not Mr Dzuirowitz's

Note: There is both an X-Plane10 and X-Plane9 version available of the Beechcraft 18. The X-Plane 10 version is as described here in the review and is optimized for X-Plane 10.30+. The X-Plane9 version is the original Beeech 18 version and does not have the updated 3d cockpit or cabin and X-Plane10 features.

 

Features :

  • Custom gauges
  • Highly detailed Twin Engines
  • Lifelike pilot figures visible from outside views
  • Animated controls
  • Detailed cabin and cockpit in full 3-D
  • Custom prop disk, fully modeled 3-D engines
  • Sun Visor
  • 3D Toggle and rocker switches
  • High resolution Liveries with normal maps
  • Optimized for good frame rates
  • Easy to read instruments, highly usable panel
  • Retracting landing lights, Animated cowl flaps
  • Paint Kit in PSD available

 

Installation : Download is 97.60mb that is unzipped to 147.40mb.

Documents : 1 Manual pdf (10 pages)

 

Requirements:

Windows, Mac or Linux

4Gb RAM - 512Mb VRAM Video card

X-Plane 10.30+ or X-Plane 9.70

Optimized for X-Plane 10.30+

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    Review by Stephen Dutton

    26th January 2015

    Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

     

    Review System Specifications:

    Computer System:     

    - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

    - 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

    - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb

    - Seagate 256gb SSD 

    Software:     

    - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1

    - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.32 (final)

    Addons

    - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

    - Bose - Soundlink Mini

     

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    sounds great to me , i have all heinzes planes! they are truly great . i havn't got this one yet, but i will get it too ! Well done Heinz !

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