Stephen

Aircraft Review : Boeing 707-420 by Wilson's Aircraft

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Aircraft Review : Boeing 707-420 by Wilson's Aircraft

 

In late 2015 Mike Wilson released an update or in Hollywood speak a "Reboot" of an old favorite in his Boeing 707-320. It was in a nutshell the old aircraft with a 3d virtual cockpit installed and a few other tweeks. It was an interesting idea in just not letting the older design fade away, but to bring it back to life and be usable in your current X-Plane environment, and it worked...  to a point. Then Mike Wilson did the same reboot to another old favorite in the Douglas DC-8 which was a very successful reimagining of that other famous aircraft from the 50/60's.

 

With the DC-8 series being well received then the attention went back on to the 707 to bring it up to the same level as that aircraft, most notably in the original X-Plane wings, really average engines and the spoilers/flaps being very disconnected from the wing when extended and the engineers station in being only a graphic and not a full 3d panel like the pilots instrument panel. Another focus was in bringing the fuselage up to more modern standards as well, all in all a more modern update overall to the aircraft and to fly in X-Plane11.

 

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"It is a classic" and many aviators weep when you mention the golden age of 50/60's Jet airliners, these are totally beautiful aircraft in their element of being the real trendsetters and smashing the long distances and thus creating our global village we all take to easily for granted today.

 

Outward changes - Wings/Engines

The old version really required a new wing, and here it is...

 

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The new wing is thankfully very good, but the overall effect is muted by using the old (really) old early X-Plane style metal low-res textures. X-Plane11 now has the new metalness effects that bring metal and chrome to life, so the wings look overall flat and dull. The same effect extends to the lower fuselage that is more mottled than with an aluminium feel, there is no X-Plane11 shinyness (glossy) effect overall on the aircraft either.

 

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The unique trailing edge "Barn Doors" style flaps are really well done in animation and operation, but there are no outer flap tracks mechanism (links) on the inner extended flaps or the outboard inner flaps?...

 

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...   which is highly noticeable on approach, but they are not all as hanging out there as bad as they were on the original versions.

 

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The leading edge spoilers are a huge step forward from the loose hanging original version, and there is the well done 707 animated cascade irregular slat inner to outer retraction effect as well.

 

The engines are uprated from the original's JT4A's to the newer lovely RR Conway 508 engines with flared noise suppressors these engine types are the difference for the -430 variant, wings are however the same as the -320 

 

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The engine modeling is well done, and with nice internal spinning fans, there is a lovely metalness effect is on the cowls which shows it can be done to great effect. All wings and engine supports have good flex in flight. Missing however is the HF antenna on the right wingtip that was unique to the -420 version.

 

Cockpit

The last original version introduced a 3d virtual cockpit for the 707, it still looks amazing and highly realistic. To note there is no passenger cabin and the 2d cockpit has been dropped.

 

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The lighting effects of X-Plane11 certainly lift the panel experience and brings the detail to life, so you do have a great 707 cockpit to fly in.

 

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Now added to the front of the aircraft in sheer detail, is now the engineer's station set behind.

 

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There is no doubt that this engineer's station is were most of the attention for this aircraft has been focused on. It is highly detailed and very well done, but lot of the switchgear and buttons don't work, a la DC-8. This includes voltage, bleed valves, boost pumps and so on. But the startup procedure and fuel transfer panel in that the tanks are coupled to allow transfer between left, right and center tanks are well simulated as is the anti-ice system.

 

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The multiple seven tank fuel capacity has also been fully simulated and you can set this via the X-Plane "Weight, Balance, & Fuel" menu.

 

Like the engineer's station the overhead panel has also been totally redone, and very nice it is. Numbers like on the DC-8 are still long and odd, but not as noticeable on the 707 overhead. Like everything else not everything works and is mostly for show, but it well done.

 

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The Pedestal is still certainly a highlight, lovely in all that metallic mechanical design, and now more functional as well with speedbrake lever and flaps are actually selectable ( flaps only via arrows and not hand). Fuel valves work now as well to start and to shutdown the engines.

 

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Lower radio and trim pedestal is now void of that nasty flat rudder trim graphic and is now a real 3d object, looks great as well. Radio panel is fully workable and the some numbers are still over large, but better... all modeled trim knobs and handles work.

 

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Panel

As noted the panel is not changed much from the original version, but still very good.

 

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Instruments consist of the Standard Six - Artificial Horizon (sometimes known as the attitude indicator) with built in pitch/turn indicator, Heading, Compass, Vertical Speed, Altimeter and Speed (in knots and Mach speed), added centre are the back up instruments of Radio Altitude, Altitude, Clock, Artificial Horizon and Altitude selector. The DME 2 - NAV 2 (distance) is also situated lower down right. The Co-Pilots set of instruments are very similar with just the Standard Six pack. Altitude dial tends to rotate slightly madly back and to on the ground?

 

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Centre panel is dominated by the four rows of engine parameters. Pressure Ratio (RPM), N1, EXH (Exhaust) Temp, N2 (RPM) and Fuel flow to each engine. Flap position indicators (two) are to the right of the engine dials.

 

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The top glareshield autopilot is basic (X-Plane) but fully functional and easy to use, It does not look as bad as it should do, and it is well intergrated into the cockpit.

 

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A great new feature is the inclusion of the CIVA (Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System. Nicknamed "CIVA") which is fitted directly into the pedestal of where it looks very good and is an extra addon that costs US$10. If you already own the CIVA plugin (FJS Boeing 727) then just directly cut and paste into the B707 plugin's folder in the aircraft's root folder.

 

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The Delco navigation system was the most popular navigation system of this 1960's era and so a welcome addition into this cockpit. Standard X-Plane11 FMS is also installed and the aircraft is X-FMC (provided separately) is usable as well.

 

You have the option of having the crew annoy you or not...

 

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A switch on the upper pedestal allows you to have two crew in a first officer and flight engineer, both are actually well done and would be a comfortable fit on a long flight. All three crew are seen outside the aircraft.

 

Lighting

Like on the FJS Boeing 727 you have a lot of lighting knobs, but not all work here...

 

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You have great instrument lighting and the same on the flight engineer's panel. Two spot lights (map) over each of the pilots and a set of two overhead lights, there are red lighting dials (like on the FJS B727) but in here they doesn't work, which is shame.

 

But in daylight/twilight the cockpit is fine, but when it goes dark...

 

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You get these horrible brown reflections on the cockpit windows, makes it all but impossible to land the aircraft in the dark?

 

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Overhead lighting looks nice with red light (does not actually work) and old fashioned "exit" sign.

 

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Flying notes

This Boeing 707 does have the same flying quirk as the DC-8 in that any bank is a full 30º

 

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Even at 28,500ft and m.78 your going to turn on a dime, god knows what sort of stress that puts the airframe under? But hey "Boeings are built to almost destruction!" is the boast.

 

All sounds are still the JERA sound system and are recorded from a real 707, and they sound excellent outside (certainly on takeoff) and from inside the cockpit at cruise.

 

The aircraft is just plain "dirty" It punks out crap that you would never believe...  60's style!

 

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But you have to admit it looks magnificent on approach...

 

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These old birds are hard work on approach, but that is part of the deal, you wouldn't want it any other way...   the thrust to drag ratio to keep the aircraft correct on the finals is in all the skills you have acquired.

 

Those Conways throw out a lot of ghastly smoke in reverse, you don't need to look at the levers but out of the window as your world goes black all around you.

 

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Landing lights don't have any graphic or modeling, just stuck on the leading edge of the wing.

 

You get three ground support vehicles in a GPU (Ground Power Unit), Stairs and Fuel truck 60's style, but the switch on the lower engineer's station is the wrong way round?

 

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Liveries

There are six retro liveries in : Pan Am, BOAC, Air France, Varig, Seaboard World & Air India...

 

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...   but there was 35 liveries in all before and the selection has been culled to just six, missing is the excellent TWA and Vjet Qantas, ouch!

 

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Summary

Certainly another big step forward from the first Boeing 707 makeover, and so you go to the next level here in detail with the cockpit now far more 3d virtual realistic than just flat pretty images covering the pedestal and engineer's station. But the Boeing 707 update is not as good as the DC-8 aircraft, although basically both are at the same level in detail now, the DC-8 is more involving and still more complete than the B707.

 

There is a big step forward here but the B707 still has to many bits that are not up to the level you expect in that it still feels like it is in development more than completed in the fact that flaps should not still hang in space but actually be connected to the aircraft's structure, the aircraft notes it is X-Plane11 but uses except for the engines and FMS very few of X-Plane11 features, certainly in metalness and textures.

Internal lighting is half completed and external lights are blobs on the wings or gear and those night reflection textures poor for night landings. Sounds are however very good.

 

I love these 60's era aircraft because of the challenge and sheer physical effort both mental and hands on to fly them, and this Boeing 707-430 is no different. Great additions for navigation with three choices as with the CIVA, XP11 FMS and X-FMC choices. 

 

So in context a very nice upgrade, but not the another step up a level we expected over the DC-8 from Wilson's Aircraft. They are now level in detail, but the DC-8 flies better and has more features, I love the idea of updated old aircraft to be current in X-Plane with 3d virtual cockpits and modern textures and the B707 and DC-8 from Wilson's Aircraft show what can be done, so if you want a good 60's era aircraft and the Boeing 707 was the absolute trendsetter in this area then this is still the best Boeing 707 in X-Plane right now.

 

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Yes! the Boeing 707-420 by Mike Wilson is still available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Boeing 707-420

 

Price is US$30.00

 

Features Include:

- For X-Plane 11 only
- Detailed 3D cockpit including flight engineer panel, with high-res textures.
- Night lighting includes separate knobs for instruments, captain & F/O panels and overhead light.
- Set of pilot, copilot and flight engineer (you can show/hide copilot & F/E with a button in the cockpit or a custom key; pilot is only viewable from the exterior view)
- Yokes can be hidden: just click on it!
- 9 view presets included to reach easily flight engineer panel, navigational panels, radio, overhead, etc?
 
Navigation systems include:
        - new X-Plane 11 standard 3D FMC with 2D pop-up window
        - 2D X-FMC (provided separately)
        - 3D CIVA with 2D pop-up window (provided separately), to navigate like the early days before GPS was available
        - standard VOR-NDB navigation
 
- Fully operable autopilot in the style of the early 707 planes, meaning that the functions are split in two between the pedestal and the front panel
- Operable flight engineer panel with many systems available. However plane can be flown without using the flight engineer panel
- Functioning radar with TCAS
- Anti-ice system
- Radio stack with Com 1/2 Nav 1/2 and ADF 1/2
- Fuel panel includes 7 separate tanks
- Fuel transfer panel: tanks are coupled to allow transfer between left, right and center tanks
- Ground power unit system with highly detailed 60?s style ground support vehicles
- Complete checklist provided to replicate a cold and dark starting procedure
 
- Conway engines with flared noise surpressors
- Irregular slat retraction and extention modeled as in the real plane
- Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
- Wing flex including all 4 engines flex
- Vortex generators modeled
- Flight tested by retired retired 707 captain Charles Raines, retired 707 first officer Alex Stanton.

 

Installation :   Download file size is 320.90mb to your X-Plane - Heavy Aircraft Folder. Installed file size is 424.00mb. This review ver

 

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Review by Stephen Dutton
14th April 2017
Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews
 
(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)
 

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 11r1

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : Headshake by Simcoders : JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe GHD plugin

 

Scenery or Aircraft

- YMML - Melbourne Airport by ISDG (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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Really great aeroplane, has the look and feel of the Golden Oldie Boeing 707. 

 

One thing though, the 707's PDF manual is a "scan", meaning that users cannot search for individual words within the document. You can't lookup "Boeing" for instance. 

 

No big thing really, except that it makes it harder to find specific content.

 

Hope Michael is ready to receive a few help emails!

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