Stephen

Aircraft Review : DC-6 Cloudmaster Type A/B by PMDG

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Aircraft Review : DC-6 Cloudmaster Type A/B by Precision Manuals Development Group

 

To survive in simulation, you have to be good and have the consistency in delivering quality aircraft in release after release that can in time finally deliver the recognition and the awareness that the users of good simulation aircraft will recognize and laud their approval of their efforts (in other words but their products in the downloads full). But more so into delivering that quality and consistency for nearly twenty years is an outstanding achievement.

 

The Precision Manuals Development Group know as PMDG are such a long standing developer in the FSX/Prepar3D platforms and they have an outstanding legacy in those arenas.  They are certainly to be compared with other outstanding Flight Simulator stalwarts like Carenado and Aerosoft that have already developed for X-Plane, but until now PMDG have not developed for the X-Plane platform and no matter how long or how good your are in the business of simulation the move to a new platform is a big undertaking, or even a large gamble.

 

But the approach of PMDG to the X-Plane platform is also very different from other crossover developers from the FSX/Prepar3d universe in the aspect that instead of just converting a current or successful FS (Flight Simulator) aircraft to X-Plane they have decided to build a completely from the ground up aircraft directly for the platform, and that is a far bigger gamble on the simulator because a lot of time and money has to be spent as to rather than just converting and using already designed basic areas of completed work.

 

And this first PMDG X-Plane platform release aircraft is the Douglas DC-6 Cloudmaster.

 

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So there is large investment in the DC-6 by PMDG for X-Plane, and so how does this aircraft deliver and more importantly has the build from scratch approach delivered in the context does this iconic aircraft have a real X-Plane feel and use, rather than the FS converted feel approach which has in areas have not been successful in the past...  That was my objective for this review, in how X-Plane is this DC-6 from PMDG in conscienceless, feel and use with the simulator, the results surprised me and not in the way I expected.

 

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The aircraft reproduced here is of an actual DC-6, as PMDG notes in the introduction...

 

"This aircraft is the last DC-6 to roll off of the assembly line, and the last to fly commercially in a passenger configuration: V5-NCG, s/n 45564.

While the default livery is PMDG house colors, it is heavily influenced by the livery currently on V5-NCG. The interior, however, faithfully recreates this aircraft down to the occasionally mislabeled placards, and gauge replacements that differ slightly from the rest. Both 45564 and its sister ship 45563 have lived rather storied lives"

 

Douglas DC-6

 

The Douglas DC-6 is a piston-powered airliner and transport aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1946 to 1958. Originally intended as a military transport near the end of World War II, it was reworked after the war to compete directly with the Lockheed Constellation in the long-range commercial transport market. More than 700 were built and many still fly today in cargo, military, and wildfire control roles.

 

After the Second World War Douglas Aircraft modified the design into a civil transport which is 80in (200 cm) longer than the host design in the DC-4. The civil DC-6 first flew on 29 June 1946. The first airline deliveries were to American Airlines and United Airlines on 24 November 1946. But a series of inflight fires (including the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 608) grounded the DC-6 fleet in 1947. The cause was found to be a fuel vent next to the cabin cooling turbine intake; all DC-6s were modified and the fleet was flying again after four months on the ground.

 

The aircraft was not just an American domestic route carrier, as United flew DC-6's to Hawaii, Braniff flew them to Rio de Janeiro, and Panagra flew Miami-Buenos Aires; KLM, SAS, and Sabena flew DC-6s across the Atlantic. BCPA DC-6s flew Sydney to Vancouver, and Philippine Airlines flew Manila to London and Manila to San Francisco.

In April 1949, United, American, Delta, National, and Braniff were flying DC-6s in the United States. United flew them to Hawaii, Braniff flew them to Rio de Janeiro, and Panagra flew Miami-Buenos Aires; KLM, SAS, and Sabena flew DC-6s across the Atlantic. BCPA DC-6s flew Sydney to Vancouver, and Philippine flew Manila to London and Manila to San Francisco.

 

Pan Am used DC-6Bs to start transatlantic tourist-class flights in 1952. These were the first DC-6Bs that could gross 107,000 lb (49,000 kg), with CB-17 engines rated at 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) on 108/135 octane fuel. Several European airlines followed with their own transatlantic services. The DC-6A/B/C subtypes could fly nonstop from the eastern US to Europe, but needed to refuel in Newfoundland when westbound against the wind.

 

Douglas designed four variants of the DC-6: the basic DC-6, and the longer-fuselage 60in (150 cm) higher-gross-weight, longer-range versions—the DC-6A with cargo doors forward and aft of the wing on the left side, with a cargo floor; the DC-6B for was for passenger work, with passenger doors only and a lighter floor; and the DC-6C convertible (combi), with the two cargo doors and removable passenger seats.

 

The DC-6B, originally powered by Double Wasp engines with Hamilton Standard 43E60 constant-speed reversing propellers, and was regarded as the ultimate piston-engine airliner from the standpoint of ruggedness, reliability, economical operation, and handling qualities.

The military version, similar to the DC-6A, was the USAF C-118 Liftmaster; the USN R6D version used the more powerful R-2800-CB-17 engines. These were later used on the commercial DC-6B to allow international flights. Total production of the DC-6 series was 704, including military versions.

 

The aircraft reigned mostly through the 1950's until the intercontinental passenger services were overtaken by the jet age with Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 aircraft, but the DC-6 did carry on within shorter domestic routes and still many are still flying even today but within mostly a cargo role. (edited Wikipedia)

 

Performance: Cruise speed : 315 mph (507 km/h) - Range : DC-6A 2,948 nmi (5,460 km) Max payload 4,317 nmi (7,995 km) Max fuel 2,610 nmi DC-6B (4,830 km) Max payload 4,100 nmi (7,600 km) Max fuel - Service ceiling DC-6A 21,900 ft (6,700 m) DC-6B 25,000 ft (7,600 m) - Rate of climb1,070 ft/min (330 m/min)

 

PMDG DC-6 Cloudmaster

 

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There are two versions of the DC-6 included with the package with the Cargo A Variant (left) and the Passenger B Variant (right).

 

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Design and construction of the DC-6 is excellent by PMDG, this is a beautifully created aircraft with a lot of fine detailing. The period riveting, gap and panel work is very good as well, can't fault the design in these areas. Complex strut, links and assemblies are excellent with great detailing on the rear twin bogie with wire and springs well designed and the hydraulic rams highly visible. All internal gear bays are well done and they do also light up if required.

 

The engines are also very good, with their movable hot and cold cowlings being very authentic. Closer inspection will reveal the internal wasp engines and their complex exhaust systems from each radial cylinder, all the exhausts spit out angry flames when running which is highly realistic and are a fiery highlight when running at night.

 

Aircraft glass is very good, and you can see easily the internal cabin from any point of view.

 

Some early users noted the aircraft's liveries were not that good on release. I disagree as the liveries and the quality of the livery textures are excellent and of a very high 4K quality. I think the point of view is that the liveries and the detail is not the problem here, but a lot of the aircraft and certainly on the undercarriage areas is that the external working parts of the aircraft are simply too clean. These 1950's working aircraft were dirty, oily, greasy or just plain grubby in their day to day service and are plainly soiled machines, but this lovely DC-6 looks like it hasn't even rolled out he factory yet, but has had its engines run hard and tested. It needs to be a bit more grubby, and the tyre textures are too light or more greyish than blackish.

 

Menus

 

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PMDG uses the tab - panel menu system, which is positioned on the left lower part of your screen. And there are six menu tabs:

 

  • Ramp Manager
  • Fuel and Load Manager
  • Artificial Flight Engineer
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Realism Options
  • Save and Load Scenarios

 

All the popup panels are quite large and can't be resized, which will cover a large part of a screen and almost all of a smaller screen like on a laptop computer.

 

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Ramp Manager: menu covers all external areas of the aircraft in ramp equipment and animations, there are also two selection areas for Aircraft State and Cockpit Lighting.

 

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Ramp equipment (left) sections include: Tow bar and tractor, Wheel chocks, Pitot covers, Engine oil pans (hang under the engines) Mechanic Stands.

 

Animations include (right) Main Cabin (door) Exit, Main Cabin Exit Stairs, Cargo hold (doors), Front cabin (door) exit and Front cabin exit stairs.

 

The ramp and animated selections here are all very good. I really like the "Mechanic Stands" which make work on the ramp or in the hangar authentic, shame you can't select them individually, but a great idea. long front stairs unfurl out of the opened front door and look great. The tow bar and tractor is a static model only, so in a way without any pushback capability it is a bit useless...

 

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The DC-6A Cargo version has both huge opening main front and rear cargo doors. When you set the load capacity the aircraft will load up with the amount of freight selected (see Fuel and Load Manager below). The lower cargo doors are also available and you add add freight in to those spaces as well, for the medium haulers this is a dream cargo ship.

 

Aircraft State: A simple feature but powerful. You can select from three aircraft states in: Cold and Dark - Ready For Start - Ready for taxi

 

You can very easily move to an aircraft state like cold and dark when the aircraft is completely shut down, Ready for Start when the aircraft is at the point of starting the engines or Ready to Taxi when everything is running and you can fly straight away. I found this feature excellent in moving from point to point in the review, which requires different aircraft states to cover the different areas of the review, in real simulation flying the instant move to a point in if you want to say start right at the beginning and do the whole startup sequence, or just want to fly right straightaway...   is a great feature and I used it a lot.

 

I will cover the "Cockpit Lighting" menu when we look at the aircraft's lighting, but you do have four choices to choose from in: Off - Low - Medium and High.

 

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Fuel and Load Manager: This panel covers the way you load and fuel the aircraft. The DC-6 has eight fuel tanks and you can set each tank to the requirements you need or set the 50% or 100% fuel loads. Baggage and Cargo Weights are also catered for and so is the Passenger load. On the right side there is a full readout of all the weights including allowed and MAXimum allowances which are all displayed.

 

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Artificial Flight Engineer: The AFE is a powerful checklist and setup feature. The Artificial Flight Engineer is like having a second extra pair of hands in the cockpit, but even more so. The idea is that when activated the AFE will go through all the procedures in that checklist area as which there is eleven of them and the only things the AFE doesn't do is actually start the engines. He will however not only read out the procedure but will also carry out the action as well, so this makes the AFE a great learning tool on how to start up and navigate around the complex cockpit and panels, there is also the added attraction of him taking away a lot of the basic workload of operating the switchgear of the aircraft, while you say work doing the radios...  invaluable, yes absolutely.

 

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Maintenance Manager: Unlike today's efficient 15,000 hours of service in engines. In the era of the DC-6 the service periods were more like hundreds than thousands of hours and even then they were unpredictable. To cover this you have Maintenance Manager panel to see the hours of performance of the engines and propellers and engine oil quantity for each engine is also noted. You can service the engines and propellers and top up the oil tanks with the extra fluids of Water/Alcohol, Auxiliary Oil and Anti-Ice Fluid also available. The total Airframe hours are also shown. 

 

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Realism Options: You can turn on or off "realism" features that allow you to fly unencumbered or have things on the aircraft be more active or fail (usually fail). Items on the panel include:

 

  • Engine Damage Enabled
  • Realistic Start Enabled
  • Carb Icing Enabled
  • CB (Circuit Breaker) Failure Enabled
  • AP (Autopilot) Disc (Disconnect) Sound Disabled
  • Damage Alerts Disabled
  • Head Shake Disabled

 

All the realism items are very good and well...   realistic. But I wouldn't use them when new to the aircraft, but gradually introduce them as you become more familiar with the more general operations. But the features here are very well thought out and implemented.

 

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Scenarios: This feature is a Scenario Manager, or a way of saving a particular situation to come back to. Very similar to the X-Plane "Situations" save function, but it does go a few steps more in operation. My first thoughts was "well this is just another situation saving tool". But soon in doing this review it became a very powerful tool, in that I could move to the three various saved positions to go back to look a certain aspect or item, and then even three saved scenarios seems to be not enough, six would have been perfect. What is very good about the tool is that like when flying the saved scenario does restart absolutely perfectly, no grabbing the yoke or moving the throttle or with that huge descent loss like in the X-Plane situations (in a cruise mode) but you get a restart in a perfect no change position and continued perfect flight. I used one save position to stop and start a long flight by saving each new stop point of the route and then coming back and carrying on from the restart and a covered a large distance with interruptions (like going to bed) and still getting that full perfect flight without resetting up the old point of closing down X-Plane to restart again and spend time getting back to where I had left off.

Only thing to note is that you don't save to the actual scenario? as once you have used up 1,2,3 if you save the next one in Scenario 1 it will actually become Scenario 3 and shuffle the earlier ones down the order, and that can make it confusing.

 

Cockpit

 

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The cockpit is exceptional in detail, yes the DC-6 in the office is a very complex and manual machine in operation. It can be overwhelming at first sight, but you soon learn the various functions of the switchgear and systems. A note is that not eveything here is not actually active as for instance the older radio sets on the pedestal look magnificent, but are really just disconnected items that don't have any function but to look authentic. But that is not to say it is a fake cockpit because in most areas the disconnected items have their more modern or at least the 60's period replacement tools and even a GNS 430 gps. Personally it makes the DC-6 more authentic because that is the way most of these aircraft in their later lives were flown with a hybrid of the original 40's gear and the more modern 60's and 70's gear added on later, but these systems do not significantly override the original way of flying the aircraft but just supplement it.

 

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The rear of the cockpit is also well done and has the same feel as FlyJSim's Boeing 727 Series in look and feel or that greyish metal look. Some panels for racked radio sets and equipment are just images and not actual racks of gear in that FS way, but it is well done and you don't really notice the differences.

 

The third crew member's seat folds down or away to gain access to the front seats which are really well worn and have great authentic cloth and leather constructions. The seat arms are not animated in movement up or down but do vibrate in flight.

 

As noted there is a low-resolution virtual cabin installed, but you can't access it? the X-Plane cockpit boundaries forbid that. The developers noted on the forums that the extra virtual cabin would add in lower framerates, which is complete tosh!, If you a completed (even a low-res version) then that frameweight has still already been added in there then the virtual cabin is actually installed or it isn't. There is a misconception about why users like virtual cabins, and the strange thing is we don't actually look at the cabin. For most users the idea of sitting in a virtual cabin is the point of view looking out of it, so a low-res or high-res cabin is not the issue here, as in most cases the viewpoint is in the replay mode and watching your work in action from the aspect of the passengers point of view. Take away that option and certainly on an aircraft as dynamic as the DC-6 (watching props and flaps in action) is taking away a large percentage of the personal involvement with the aircraft.

 

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Side cockpit windows open and the sound increases with the open window, view sideways is great and helpful for taxiway and ramp movement.

 

Panel and Instruments

 

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Both Pilot and Co-Pilot flying instruments are the same with the standard six (Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator or Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicator) are split by the garmin gi-106a gps/Vor/loc/glideslope indicator in the centre with the VOR 1 and VOR 2 needles bottom centre. The only difference on the two flying panels is the ADF pointers (1 and 2) are on the top right on the pilot's panel and lower left on the Co-Pilot's. Far left and far right on the panel is the VOR 2 Bendix KDI572 DME Receiver for distance, speed and time to the VOR. There are switches to control and select the GYRO heading and slaving on the pilots panel.

 

Down left under the panel are two units in a Bendix KT76A Transponder and a Bendix KMA24 Audio Panel.

 

The centre panel covers all the engine instruments and gauges. Fire handles top with six x four rows (24) dials and gauges. Most engine performance instruments are top left and pressures and temperatures on the right and bottom. The odd display out here is the flap position indicator buried centre left in: UP - 10º - 20º - 30º - 40º - DOWN.

 

Brake mean effective pressure (BMEP) - Mean effective pressure calculated from measured brake torque is covered for each engine by the top row of dials with fuel pressures right. Manifold, Fuel Flow and RPM gauges are double in that one gauge covers two engines. Cylinder head and Carburettor temperatures are across the bottom with the water pressure gauges. Centre right are the OIl Pressure and Oil Temperature gauges.

 

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The overhead panel is a very busy area, but like all panel instruments once you understand the different panel areas you can navigate around it quite easier.

 

Lower OVHD covers the Landing lights, Cowl (Engine) Flap(s) and Engine Supercharger switches.  The eight large dials cover the fuel tankage with Supercharger Oil and temperatures pressures. top row of dials include: Pitot Heater Ammeter, Anti Icing Fluid Needle, Engine 1 & 2 Oil Qty, Auxiliary Oil Needle, Engine 3 & 4 Oil Qty, Hydraulic Reservoir amount, Engine 1, 2 and 3, 4 Water Tanks (for engine cooling takeoffs).

 

MId-Overhead panel covers items like internal and external aircraft lighting switchgear, Propeller Feather test and Feather switches, Ignition, Inverters, seatbelt, smoking and attendant call switches and generator control switches.

 

Top or back OVHD panel includes Fuel main and alt booster pumps, Engine spark advance, Water injection pumps, and ammeters.

 

Each side of the main OVHD are two side overhead panels in a corner triangular panel and a side panel. Pilot's triangular panel covers all engine and fuel heating and de-Icing with side panel covering the Fire test and Extinguisher (guarded) switches.  On the Co-Pilot's triangular panel it covers all aspects of pressurization and cabin altitude and the side panel covers all voltages and cockpit/cabin temperatures.

 

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Modern instrument add-ons have been installed under the OVHD. There are three units in a Bendix King KR 87 ADF with two ADF (1 and 2) channels. Then centre is the standard X-Plane Garmin GNS 430 gps with pop-out and a Bendix King KX 155 COM2/VOR2 unit (COM1 and VOR1 are on the GNS430).

 

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The huge pedestal is a work of art, but a lot of the switches and the older radios are just for show. Functional though is the two groups of four throttle levers and the fuel tank selection (red) set up against the panel. The aircraft's Gyro based autopilot works in two functions in turning the aircraft (the large top knob) and adjusting the pitch (up or down) with the twin inner wheels, there is a reset button to centre the turn dial and a hold altitude switch called "Altitude Control" but otherwise it is just a basic system.

 

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Mixture (red) and Carburettor air levers (blue) cover the engine management, and there is the red landing gear lever centre. The large yellow Flap lever is right but the main lever on here is the autopilot engage lever (arrowed) that is buried deep and close to the floor. The autopilot has to be engaged by the small Gyro Pilot switch up higher before switching up the engage lever and not the other way around, you soon get used to it, but it is in a difficult place to engage when flying the aircraft.

 

The huge red steering lock on the left has to be disengaged before you can move the flying controls...

 

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You can steer with the taxi wheel left but not the actual controls until the lock is off. Full yoke movement is very authentic and the yoke is sublime to use as are the rudder pedals. Under a panel in the forward floor are the fuel dump levers, don't use unless you have too!

 

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Repeat after me...  "the trim is my best friend" Of course on any aircraft the trim wheels are important, but on the DC-6 they are crucially more important to fly this huge airliner more easily. You will need to practise on how to balance this powerful machine on the trim perfectly to get the balance right and save yourself a lot of hard work, and it is also a lot of fun in doing so. The three trim wheels situated on the rear and side of the pedestal (Aileron and Pitch) and the lovely huge rudder trim sits on the top of the padded glareshield. The actual Trim Tab Indicator is hard to see under the cowling, but the trim wheel is a hoot to use.

 

There is a lot of switchgear and instruments to cover here and PMDG do provide an excellent set of manuals (well Precision Manuals is in their name!) that cover really every aspect of the DC-6 and its operations. You get an introduction manual that covers aspects of mostly PMDG and X-Plane, POH (Pilots Operations Handbook) that covers a huge amount of information of not only the switchgear and panels, but also an in depth detailed explanation on how all the DC-6's systems work and how to operate them including an in depth analyse on how to run and maintain the engines and there are pages and pages of Flight Operational data to cover every aspect of flying and operating the DC-6. There are also two excellent tutorials that cover every aspect from cold start to block in two different scenerios with more tutorials to come.

 

DC-6 Lighting

 

As noted in the Ramp Manager you can set four options with the cockpit lighting...  Off - Low - Medium and High.

 

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These selections give you a good varied choice of lighting conditions, and a great quick go to mood tool. But the red and white lighting by PMDG is very good and fully adjustable to your own preferences. Every area is adjustable, but the knobs and switches are placed almost everywhere including a panel by both the Pilot and Co-Pilot for each set of instruments. Red spot lights are available for both Pilot, Co-Pilot and third crew member, but the dial for the crew member spot is labeled for white adjustment, but it is actually red. Ground Cockpit or Storm light is very bright, so that means it is also very good.

 

It must be noted that the cockpit lighting only works with HDR on, so no panel lighting is available for HDR off running, which in many cases I prefer to fly in. So HDR HAS to be on all the time, and that can hurt framerate if you don't run a powerful computer.

 

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You can find the perfect illumination for takeoff and landing, it was a very nice place to be at night, this is a great night flying machine.

 

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External lighting is great as well...

 

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There are two main landing lights under each wing, but you can use them in two positions. First is in the retracted position that will light up the area directly under the wing, or down for runway illumination. There are also great wheel bay lights for working on the aircraft on the ground, a nice touch.

 

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Forward runway illumination is good, but not a very long spread, but this is an 1940's design. Flashing flames out of the exhausts are magnificent at night...

 

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Wing lighting is very good, and the view rearwards at night from the pilot's seat is very realistic.

 

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Watch those flames belch out of the engines at night for a glorious feeling of power. The view flying in cloud is exciting as you can't climb above the weather, and that make great flying in the dark with the weather engine working a great experience. No rain or water drops on the windows is certainly a missing feature here to heighten the dark stormy night and flying through hell to the destination and landing in zero visibility effect, If one aircraft need rain effects it is this DC-6.

 

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Liveries

 

You get only the PMDG livery with the aircraft, but you can go to the PMDG addon liveries site and download a huge selection from there for free.

 

Available for the DC-6A Cargo

 

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You can download Air Atlantique, British Eagle, Dranensberg, Northern Air Cargo and Everts Air Cargo, It would have been nice to have had a Buffalo Airways livery, and before you sent me a torrent of emails that "Buffalo Airways" uses the L-188 Electra and not the DC-6, then you are wrong as Buffalo Airways does actually have a DC-6 and it is a rare aircraft at that in a Swingtail DC-6 and only 1 of 2 converted.

 

Available for the DC-6B Passenger

 

DC-6B_Livery PMDG.jpgDC-6B_Livery American Airlines.jpgDC-6B_Livery PAA.jpgDC-6B_Livery Northeast.jpg

DC-6B_Livery United.jpgDC-6B_Livery US Navy.jpgDC-6B_Livery Icelandair.jpgDC-6B_Livery KLM.jpg

DC-6B_Livery SAS.jpgDC-6B_Livery UTA.jpgDC-6B_Livery Ansett-ANA.jpgDC-6B_Livery British Eagle.jpg

DC-6B_Livery Olympic.jpgDC-6B_Livery CP.jpgDC-6B_Livery Red Bull.jpgDC-6B_Livery NCA.jpg

 

The passenger selection is quite large and varied with: PMDG (default) American Airlines, PAA (PanAm), Northwest, United, US Navy, Icelandair, KLM, SAS, UTA, Ansett-ANA, British Eagle, Olympic, Canadian Pacific, Red Bull and NCA,

 

Flying the PMDG DC-6

 

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This is a complex aircraft to fly from cold, and too many areas to cover in detail, but I will do soon a full flight review of the DC-6. For this review I did two flights in one in the DC-6A Cargo from KBOS (Boston) to KEWR (Newark) in the dark and with full weather events making it a nighmare but a very exciting flight.

 

Second route was form KPHX (Phoenix) to KLAX (Los Angeles) and I will show you the early highlights from that flight.

 

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Start up was done using the Artificial Flight Engineer and then I started the engines, they put, put and then each one roars into life, and you really have to check each throttle to get the right idle speed until they get some heat into the engines.  At each turn and start of the engines the panel and the cockpit will separately vibrate, and by quite a lot and so much that you can't actually read the instruments.  Note my night flight above and in a heavy storm the panel can be hard to read for most of the flight, very realistic but tiring, and even on idle sitting on the ramp you are getting vibrations from the aircraft and panel.

If you don't want to do the process of starting each engine and want a full set of powered up engines then just press the "Ready for taxi" tab on the "Ramp Manager" panel and you are ready to go, great feature.

 

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Once the engines are purring and warm it is time to leave. Sounds are generally good and if you open the side window you do get that extra fantastic roar from those Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CA15 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) "Double Wasp" radial engines. Overall the sounds are very good to great, but they are also one dimensional with no zoom or 3d effects that we have come to be used to. This had lead to a few comments that the sounds are not great on the PMDG DC-6, and that is not true because they are as noted very good, PMDG have already updated the sound to 3d and are now also doppler shifted on the aircraft in their 0043 update list. To a point X-Plane users have now been very much influenced by the excellent Blue Sky Star Simulation's sound packs and even if the DC-6 had been released as close as this time last year the sounds here would have not been an issue, but things move quickly in simulation and hi-fi sound is now a big and required feature in this price category and it is good to see the commitment of PMDG to update the sounds very quickly in the release period.

 

DC-6_Flying 5.jpgDC-6_Flying 6.jpg

 

I left the AFE do the last of the checks while I taxi to PHX RWY 07L, windows shut, superchargers and cooling water on and away you go.

 

DC-6_Flying 7.jpgDC-6_Flying 8.jpg

 

The power is good but this is not a Boeing 737-800 and climb is limited to below 1000fpm and not the usual 3000fpm in the Boeing of Airbus of choice. Hand climb to around 3000ft or 4000ft with the water and then the superchargers off (watch the gauges), then set the direction of travel and level off and then trim the aircraft.

 

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There are throttle locks if you need them (the red bars), but with the aircraft trimmed and level then click the Gyro Pilot switch up before switching up the AP engage lever. The "Altitude Control" switch has to be down to turn the Pitch Control Knobs and then switch the Altitude Control on to hold the altitude required. If the aircraft is light then 800fpm pitch is easily achieved, but in a heavy configuration you will be pressed to use 500fpm to 300fpm and the climb is a long process.

 

DC-6_Flying 11.jpg

 

I climbed to 12,500ft and powered along towards the Californian coast over Nevada, the DC-6's natural territory.

 

DC-6_Flying 12.jpg

 

DC-6_Flying 13.jpg

 

Summary

 

As noted at the start of this review the DC-6 Cloudmaster is PMDG's first aircraft for X-Plane, and it was built up from the ground up for X-Plane and it is not just a converted Flight Simulator aircraft. For the case of the aircraft being built up for X-Plane first and then converted Flight Simulator platform second, the aircraft does feel very X-Plane and not FS, but a few of the flat cockpit textures do give the FS heritage away.

But the problem with the DC-6 that even in X-Plane it would be a niche aircraft, and I think it would be wrong to surmise the X-Plane platform on this aircraft release alone, as PMDG's other products in the MD-11, Boeing 747-400 and 737NG series are far more mainstream and all would be far more of a better evaluation of the simulator than the DC-6.

 

The one thing that I found with the DC-6 is the amount of time and thought that has been put in by PMDG in the way of creating clever features and using many of X-Plane's best attributes and not only in the actual aircraft but also in the thorough detailing of the documents and manuals. Not many developers take the time to thoroughly explain X-Plane's features, items and what they actually do in the simulator, and thus creating a great bridge to any newcomers to the X-Plane platform, but PMDG has done that and done it very well.

 

There are a few negatives but they are certainly not any major issues and all can be easily cleared up with a few updates. The aircraft needs a little more wear and tear, oil, grease, even a little rust would give the machine a more hard working feel and take a little blandness away from the external. Let us have access to the cabin, for the obvious reasons of simply watching the aircraft from the inside out, and a few animated raindrops on the windows would make it even more realistic at night. Making the static pushback truck a working feature would be a nice addition to the ground features...  more scenario's would be nice but to keep to the saved scenario would stop confusion on where you saved what scenario where.

 

Overall this is a glorious aircraft, clever short cuts in the Artificial Flight Engineer, different engine starts and saving situations are clever well thought out time savers and allow you to get the very best out of the simulation, all menus are excellent and well thought out.

 

The aircraft and its systems are very deep and do require a lot of study to get the very best use and operations out of them, this is a simulation for the long haul and to learn and fly a 1940's aircraft in its prime.

 

No doubt many X-Plane pilots will be very impressed by PMDG's DC-6 and no doubt it will become a firm favorite. It is a different and a very challenging aircraft to use and fly, but that is also the major attraction as well. So I was very impressed at my first look at the aircraft and after doing this review is even more impressed at what PMDG have achieved with their first foray in to the X-Plane Simulator and the result was above my high expectations...

The DC-6 Cloudmaster has arrived, and now let us show the aircraft the X-Plane world it deserves to see.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Video by Flights Worldwide

 

Pmdg 180px logo.jpg

 

Yes! the DC-6 Cloudmaster Type A/B by Precision Manuals Development Group is available from PMDG  here :

 

Douglas DC-6 Cloudmaster

 

Price is US$69.95

 

Features:

  • Engine Model – The Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp CB-16 engine model has been accurately modelled, including realistic engine start, variable carb icing based on precipitation, dew point and OAT, realistic CHT behaviour, oil temperature heat-up and cool-down rates, realistic oil consumption, realistic oil pressure that varies based on oil temperature, water injection detonation suppressant for high-power take-offs, a realistic auto-mixture system correcting for air density and high/low supercharger modes with corresponding effects on critical manifold pressure, altitude and torque. A failure model (optional, can be disabled in Realism Options) is included. Engines are prone to abuse as well as wear and tear when the failure model is enabled.
  • Airplane Systems and Equipment - The DC-6’s systems were reproduced to match the operation of those in the real aircraft, and include: De-icing, Electrical, Engines, Fuel, Hydraulic, Oil, Pressurization, Propellers and Water Injection.
  • Sperry A-12 Automatic Pilot
  • Bendix King KX 155 NAV/COMM Transceiver
  • Bendix King KR 87 ADF Receiver
  • Bendix King KI-227 ADF Indicator
  • Garmin GI-106A GPS/VOR/LOC/Glideslope Indicator
  • Bendix MN- 61A Marker Beacon System
  • Bendix KT76A Transponder
  • Bendix KMA24 Audio Panel
  • Bendix KDI572 DME Receiver
  • Realistic Fuel System – The fuel system has been accurately modelled, and includes the 8-tank main and alternate fuel system with cross-feed, realistic fuel pressure system and the fuel dump system with accurate dump rates.
  • AC/DC Electrical Bus System – The electrical bus system includes realistic amp draw and voltage, as well as battery drain and charging.
  • Realistic, Immersive Sound Set - To increase the level of realism and immersion, individual switches, levers, knobs, aural warning sounds, and an array of systems sounds were recorded from an actual DC-6 expressly for the purpose of providing total flight deck realism and realistic audio-tactile feedback. The sound set covers every sound you would expect to hear inside the DC-6 cockpit, as well as from the exterior view. Highly realistic effects of the relationship between throttle positions, prop lever positions and engine RPM creates an authentic DC-6 in-cockpit sound experience.
  • Add-on Liveries - As is always the case at PMDG, numerous free add-on liveries are available for a variety of real-world DC-6 operators.

 

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Requirements:

Minimum

  • Simulator: X-Plane 10.45+
  • Hardware: Dual Core, 2.5 GHz or faster, 4 GB of RAM, A video card with at least 1 GB of VRAM.
  • Windows: Windows 7 32-bit (older OSes such as Windows XP may work, but we cannot guarantee compatibility or support)
  • Mac: OS X Mavericks

Recommended

  • Simulator: X-Plane 10.45+
  • Hardware: A Quad Core, 3.0 GHz or faster processor, 16-20 GB of RAM, a high-performance, DirectX 11-capable video card with at least 4 GB of on-board, dedicated VRAM.
  • Windows: Windows 10 64-bit (older OSes such as Windows XP may work, but we cannot guarantee compatibility or support)
  • Mac: OS X El Capitan

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Installation and documents:

 

Download for the PMDG DC-6 is 387.30meg

Make sure you have the correct installer for your computer platform in Windows and Mac. Installer is included and will install the aircraft   X-Plane main aircraft root folder under PMDG at 3.89.80mb (without extra liveries). Key authorisation is required and I recommend a complete X-Plane restart to start the aircraft up correctly.

 

Documents: There are seven items included in the documentation - All are outstanding in detail and information :

 

PMDG DC-6 Introduction.pdf
Douglas DC-6B R2800-CB16.txt
PMDG DC-6 Tutorial 1.pdf
DC6B_scenario_1.txt
DC6B_scenario_2.txt
PMDG DC-6 POH.pdf
PMDG DC-6 Tutorial 2.pdf

 

______________________________________________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton
 
5th July 2016
 
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini : JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe plugin

Scenery or Aircraft

- KBOS - KBOS Boston Logan International Airport 1.0.0 by Misterx6 (KBOS Boston Logan International Airport 1.0.0 X-Plane.org) - Free

- KPHX - Phoenix Sky Harbor International 1.01 by Misterx6 (KPHX - Phoenix Sky Harbor International 1.01 X-Plane.org) - Free

 

Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg

 

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Thanks for the review! And for the historical part, it seems this text is copied/pasted on every DC-6 website nowadays ;)

 

I have to agree on most of the points, except maybe the sound part which I still find a bit poor and only partially 3D, but I suppose we all have slightly different expectations. For people who want to watch and hear this wonderful beast from outside, it is disappointing to hear some of the sounds coming from right behind you as if you were in the cockpit, and miss the deep tones of those Pratt & Whitney engines (I know, it's supposedly very difficult to reproduce, but this would have deserved more attention nonetheless).

 

The depth of the model is astonishing, and really raises the bar as study-sim, especially in X-Plane where we don't see many good, detailed aircraft. The only part which is inoperable is the pedestal radio that has been replaced by more modern avionics and so it is per design, as mentioned in the review. Every single circuit breaker is functional, and may be used to simulate problems. I haven't checked that part, to be honest, but I think one improvement would be to have another menu similar to Majestic's Dash 8, that would allow to directly inject faults and monitor the state of the main systems.

 

Before further improvement in aesthetics, I'd rather see improvements in the controls, for example moving the mixture levers with the mouse is most awkward and cannot be done from the pilot seat - you cannot put it full rich, for that you need to change the view and face the levers. Also, some switches need a click, other need the awkward X-Plane "mouse drag", and if you don't memorize which is which, you'll end up toggling switches the wrong way. Those inconsistencies are found in some cheaper aircraft, granted, but the level of care shown in this one makes it stand out, and is also annoying. Using the mouse wheel to rotate knobs would be a nice option too, though it has its disadvantages; what we really need is the ability to grab a control with a key or button, then use the wheel or a click to actuate the control, even looking in another direction, I never understood why we couldn't have this feature.

 

Agreed also, I'd also definitely make the pushback tractor functional, while it's possible to find free pushback plug-ins, or paying 3D-modelled tractors, it's a shame to see the model provided in the package and not being able to use it. The DC-6 can reverse, but this is not a safe manoeuver and will cook your engines in no time, or even tilt the whole plane if you brake during the reverse.

 

Curiously we don't see many videos or reviews of this great achievement, maybe people are still a little shy of X-Plane, or maybe they are wary of older aircraft that are quite demanding. But it's so rewarding and interesting to get busy monitoring all the gauges instead of leaving it all to a fully automated MFC. Using the AFE and the preset menus, as A2A has offered long ago in their magnificient Stratocruiser, is a very good idea and allows to progress at one own's pace mastering each sub-system, those guys really were pioneers and brought great ideas in the sim community! Just don't stop at this level and do try to learn to do it without the AFE!

 

It's also interesting to see detailed "older" aircraft, to see where we're coming from.

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13 hours ago, Guest Red said:

Thanks for the review! And for the historical part, it seems this text is copied/pasted on every DC-6 website nowadays ;)

 

I have to agree on most of the points, except maybe the sound part which I still find a bit poor and only partially 3D, but I suppose we all have slightly different expectations. For people.....

 

Thanks for your comprehensive comments, as a note I copy the facts or data on an aircraft or airport and usually edit the text, so it it is not a complete copy/paste, done deal and I believe a video is on it's way...  SD

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