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Aircraft Review : Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight and Thranda

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JF_Duchess 76_Header.jpg

 

Aircraft Review : Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight and Thranda

 

With most developers in that they usually keep to a particular category or theme in say all General Aviation, Airliners, Helicopters or the just plain weird. But JustFlight with Thranda tend to jump into any category that produces interesting aircraft, so can you as these developers go then pigeon hole them as what sort of developers they are. So from a review point of view you know that really anything could be next up on the release from JustFlight for a review.

In the early releases they tended to follow the Carenado model (before Carenado went all regional and private jet) in other words the staple General Aviation market, of which was covered mostly with their various Archer/Arrows and the odd Cessna.... but all were solely single engined aircraft.

 

So this is JustFlight/Thranda's first twin-engined aircraft and it is the Beechcraft Duchess 76, and the aircraft is developed out of the Beechcraft Musketeer family of single-engined aircraft family line, and at first glance you would be pushed to see any family resemblance, between the model 24 low-wing standard low elevator design to the Series 76 twin engined high T-Tail configuration and all round far larger aircraft in a 32 ft 9 in (9.98 m) to 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m) wingspan and longer fuselage 25 ft 8 in (7.82 m) to the 76's 29 ft 0 12 in (8.852 m) overall length. But get down into the parts catalogue and you would be amazed on on how many of the same spec are on both aircraft.

 

Its main rival is the Cessna 310 of which there are several including Milviz's T310R and a new 310L that has just been added to the X-PlaneStore. Other references in this category include the PA-30 Twin Comanche and the PA-34 Seneca V.

 

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JustFlight are in that top category in another way in quality and price, they cover the upper echelons in all their GA aircraft are priced US$40+, as is this Duchess at US$41.99. So you are expecting a lot for your investment, and on JustFlight's past record and sales then the aircraft must meet such a high criteria and standard. I really liked their last machine PA-28-181 Archer III as it was a gem of a machine, so how would a twin feel, and could it be twice as good? I doubt that, but just as good would still be very nice.

 

Nice detail includes NACA 632A415 airfoil shape, it is well done and shaped to perfection. Wings are bonded here for a cleaner airflow, but overall the detail of the design is first rate and very well recreated. The twin enclosures houses two  Lycoming O-360-A1G6D air-cooled flat-four engines, 180 hp(130 kW) each, and through out the full production run 1978-1983 there was no updated or engine revisions, except for one in house turbo development aircraft.

 

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All minor detailing is also covered, note the lovely (working) trim and rudder assembly of that high T-Tail structure, and the really nice cabin vents rear fuselage and quality entrance grab handles, so there is not a lot to get picky about here as it is all really well done.

 

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All the undercarriage came directly from the Musketeer spare parts bins, so it is exactly the same trailing link layout and structure, all is expertly done in detail and animation, it is a complex gear system but fully realised here. There was a missing texture (and hole) in the left wheel-well, but that has been fixed in the update.

 

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Interior

After the eccentric Bright Reds, Blues and Salmon colours of past JustFlight GA's this is a very different and sombre cabin of just different shades of greys, bland? well no as the detail in here is very good with the well done fabric creases and stitching, but you don't get the "Bam" in your face factor of the JF other aircraft. In cabin detail it is again all first rate

 

JF_Duchess 76_Cabin 1.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Cabin 2.jpg

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I do however like the factor that the pilot's seat is more forward than the passenger's front seat, that works for me. Overhead the roof trim is a grey molded one piece, with just the speaker and cabin lighting forward...  both shades hide two air vents which is nicely done, but the wires don't match to the window whiskey compass (noted again to be fixed).

 

JF_Duchess 76_Cabin 5.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Cabin 6.jpg

 

An emergency manual extension (gravity release) gear lever is set in a floor panel that is usable and active, nice touch is the lever in the door pocket.

 

JF_Duchess 76_Cabin 7.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Cabin 8.jpg

 

Pitch trim is situated between the seats and is well done, but requires help in key settings in a simulation environment (electric trim is available on the yokes), fuel levers are really nice as is the engine vents that can be opened, closed or set half way....  fuel crossfeed is active and the (working) Carb heat is here as well.

 

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Instrument Panel

Again like with the other in your face JustFlight GA's the instrument panel doesn't have that 'wham bam, thank you mam" factor... even slightly flat, but look closely and the detail is very well done. Yokes are up close are quite authentic and gloriously faded from their 70's heyday, you can hide them and use the switch electric trim...

 

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... dials are also rusted, dusty and worn out, with plasters even stuck to the panel from past use. Instrument gauges have faded graphics and the lighting studs are also well worn and even rusted from use.

 

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Instrument reflections are excellent in the pursuit of realism and overall it reflects a very earlier build of a Duchess than a last off the line aircraft.

 

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Panel layout is three layers of dials to create a deep feel of instruments...   The Standard Six (SS) flying instruments are front and centre... Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator are on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial/Course and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the SS is a clock, backup Attitude Indicator and lower EGT (Exhaust gas temperature) needles. Right of the SS is a twin-needle Manifold pressure and below a twin needle RPM gauges, lower panel centre are two Bendix/King dials ADF (yellow) VOR2 (green) pointers driven by KR 87 ADF/VOR2 and the other is a VOR 2 / ILS indicator driven by KX 165 (NAV 2). Both heading and OBS rear dials/cards are adjustable.

 

Lower panel is a Instrument air (vacuum) gauge and electrical starting and lighting switchgear with the neat gear knob. Top panel left is the label NAV 2 over the clock, very weird?

 

Twin (engine sets) of six rows of gauges are centre panel, with from top:  Fuel L&R quantity gauges, Fuel pressure gauges, Oil pressure gauges, Oil temperature gauges, Cylinder temperature gauges and Alternator load meters with Alternator-out under/over voltage warning lights inset (are beautifully done). Top of the gauges sits a DME indicator which displays range, ground speed and time to station for NAV 1 or NAV 2 frequencies.

 

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There are no instruments for the right seat pilot/passenger with the equipment stack dominating the area. Avionics stack is the usual Bendix/King KMA 28 TSO radio top which is above the GNS430 below (the Reality XP's GTN 750 unit can also be fitted and windows only, but this is an addon extra and costs you another $49.95) There is a really nice Bendix/King KT 76A transponder unit with a Bendix/King KX 155 COM/NAV 2 radio and Bendix/King KR87 ADF radio receiver bottom. Top far right is the Century IV autopilot which is (speaking to the passenger) "can you press the second button the top row, thanks very much" as far away from the pilot as reachable possible (there is thankfully a pop-up panel), and below is a WX-8 Stormscope.

 

An outside air temperature (digital) matches the manual pressure left window type, and a Hobbs hour meter is far right. The circuit breaker panel is active and can be used and is noted in the twin-bus layout of BUS 1 and BUS 2, it is very good and highly authentic in use. Flap lever and display are below the avionics with 0º - 10º - 20º - DN settings, but the flaps are not section driven but are continuous in operation and so the degree markers are for display only.

 

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Twin Throttle levers, Propeller control levers (feathering on both 2-bladed Hartzell 7666A constant speed propellers does work) and Mixture levers are all excellent and well worn and feel nicely authentic to use.

 

Menus

The Duchess comes with the usual JustFlight pop-out side left menu, scroll above the arrow to make it less visible. Menus provided are pretty the same standard menu layout of all JustFlight menu options in three rows...

 

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There are eighteen menu tiles to use including:

Top row : Open/Close pilot's door - Open/Close passenger door - Open/Close rear left baggage door - Toggle window reflections - Toggle Interior glass dynamic reflections - Toggle dome light if the engine is running, or flashlight when starting cold and dark.

 

Middle Row : Toggle autopilot pop-up window - Toggle altimeter between inHg and mb - Toggle GNS 430 GPS pop-up window (or the GTN750 payware add-on by RealityXP) - Toggle fuel refill menu window - Open weight and balance window - Toggle sound volumes window 

 

Bottom row : Select ‘ready for takeoff’ or ‘cold and dark’ state - Toggle checklist pop-up window - Toggle flight computer pop-up window - Toggle logbook pop-up window - Toggle ground handling pop-up window - Toggle chocks, aircraft puller and tie-downs.
 

JF_Duchess 76_Menu 1.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Menu 2.jpg

 

Static elements are "all for one and one for all", with not much custom choices or no engine covers, tags or pitot covers? Excellent animated pilot however does go home.

 

2d popup panels include: GNS 430, nice sound volume panel, Century IV autopilot panel...  The flight computer panel provides a wealth of information that is very handy in flight with highlights including (time) endurance, range (available) and used fuel flow.... fuel burn can be reset. The Refill Menu allows you to view the fuel and oil status as well as the status of spark plug fouling, and you can recharge the battery if it goes flat, of which it does with regularity.

 

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The weight and balance window  is very good, with adjustable weights for all four passengers, and baggage, fuel can be set here also as can the change from kg - lbs. A full list of weights, CG and a large graph of your settings are all very helpful into balancing the aircraft.

 

Flying the Duchess 76

You have to prime the engines via a button in the middle of the starter switch before turning the starter switch, but it is a bit of a trick on how long to hold the primer button and not flood the engine, not a lot I believe...  engine starts are excellent, but I found several times the No.2 right engine has a tendency to foul it's plugs more than the left one, if it does it is tricky to even hell to restart it again.

 

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The Hartzell constant speed propellers are counter-rotating, turning counter clockwise engine left and clockwise engine right, this is to balance the aircraft's thrust and it is very helpful on takeoff. Engine sounds are simply first rate, as they should be in this class...  but more so in that they feel authentic and change through a huge range to even a deep gutter throb when close to idle but still under load, I like them very much. A fine bit of throttle while waiting with the engines running stops any stall, and the effects are shown on the EGT needles, you will note that will you use this gauge a lot in this aircraft.

 

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Both Attitude Indicators (main and backup) have to have their pressures manually set (yellow arrows above)...  you can also set your Artificial Horizon marker to match the intended climb pitch (arrowed below)...  Trim central to the takeoff T.O marker and you are ready to go...

 

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The Duchess will taxi at a nice speed, there is no fighting the thrust here in braking here and braking there.... so you enjoy the short ride to the runway.

 

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With no set flap degrees you can set the angle you want, here I go for 5º to create lift, but as little drag as possible....  the display (arrowed) can be hard to see at this distance, harder to set on landing.

 

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Power up and the counter-rotating blades keep you aligned on the runway, but I did find I had to still adjust each throttle (slightly) to absorb the different engine performance...  but that felt highly realistic.  Around 95 knts and your climbing out.

 

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Climb out is around 1000 fpm (Feet Per Minute) and that is a nice number here, officially the rate of climb limit is 1,248 ft/min (6.34 m/s), so you are using the climb to maximum effect, it doesn't feel like there is any strain on the engines or the aircraft.

 

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Using the set adjustable artificial horzion marker and your rate of turn instrument, you can get the perfect turn, while still getting the perfect climb...  this is a very good tool for beginner learner flyers and to use their instruments to fly the aircraft well and with clean professionalism....

 

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Once in KDAB (Daytona) left circuit departure pattern I leveled off at 2000ft and trimmed the aircraft. The Duchess will trim up very nicely thank you...  I as noted still use the manual (keyboard) trim, but you can use the electric trim on the yoke, but to remember to switch on the electric trim version (required also for the autopilot) on the lower panel switch (lower arrow).

 

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Once trimmed the Model 76 will sit here all day with just minor adjustments, wind strength allowable.

 

The Century lV autopilot (AP) won't work unless again you switch on the power in the same row of switches as the electric trim....

 

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ALT will hold your current altitude, but to climb or descend you then press ATT and then set your pitch, you click and don't scroll the buttons to change the aircraft's pitch. The ATT setting can also be used just to hold your current pitch if you like that angle or rate of climb, so the AP is again very easy to use...  you can really only use the pop-up 2d panel as the real layout is just too distracting a reach in it's too far right panel position.

 

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View out is excellent for a twin prop, yes the forward positioned engines do still obscure the view a little, but you seem to sit higher than in other twins so the aspect is still better than most.

 

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You go hunting for the EGT needles, the yellow needles represent the best lean to rich mixture for the best fuel flow and hence performance, you adjust both the throttles and the mixture levers to achieve your golden lean setting.... I found on the outbound flight it worked perfectly, but on the inbound flight (here) I couldn't get as close?....  unless I leaned the engines all the way to shutoff and too far. This setting is about right to the setting before, and I found the yellow needles moved back to their central positions the more the fuel burnt off.

 

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Cruise speed is 158 kn (182 mph; 293 km/h) at the best at 10,000 ft (3,000 m), Range is VOR busting 780 nmi (898 mi; 1,445 km) and the Service Ceiling is a generous 19,650 ft (5,990 m).

 

Approach to KRSW (Southwest Florida) RWY 24 (rare as it is usually 06) means no airport circuit and a straight in approach from LBV (La Belle VOR). Height is reduced at 1300fpm to do the shorter distance landing.

 

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You can easily approach the airport at around 110 knts clean and not lose height or power, but on the final approach you drop it down to 95 knts with the first flap adjustment to 10º...  you know instantly the flap drag kicks in with the low thrumming of the engines coming into play, I love the sounds they are brilliant in this phase of the flight, you adjust and the engine drag power sound adjusts to reflect the change....  brilliant.

 

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One thing has been renforced during this review of the Model 76 and that this is a nice easy aircraft for learners and it comes with a nice stable platform to practise on, yes the 76 is an easy aircraft to fly, but the pro's will get it as well...  and love it as much as there is also a great built in depth in there.

 

JF_Duchess 76_Flying 34.jpg

 

20º flap (more thrumming!) 90 knts....

 

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Full flap (dirty) and 80 knts is nice!

 

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Then gradually reduce the power to 75 knts to 73 knts then a slight pitch and you are touching down.... easy. The timing of the final pitch has to be perfect, to early and the 76 will slightly float, if right then a nice easy fall onto the runway and if the trim is right the aircraft is seemless in it's landing operational phase. Stall is 60 knts and a "no go there!"

 

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Run off the speed and then head for the parc ferme.

 

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Miss those "just chocks" and the non-choice all for one static elements, so I don't use any?

 

Lighting

Both internal and external lighting is quite basic...  panel has only two adjustments in instruments (noted as "Post Lights") and Instrument flood.

 

JF_Duchess 76_Lighting 1.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Lighting 2.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Lighting 3.jpg

 

But you can find that nice night time flying sweetspot. However the worn graphics engine readouts look like early washed out X-Plane 2d panel, and have no depth, but otherwise the panel looks good. Overhead light (and red torch) selection does not work? (yes it will be fixed) but that also gives you a very unusable dark cabin?

 

JF_Duchess 76_Lighting 4.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Lighting 5.jpg

 

External lighting is basic, but very good....   navigation and strobe lights are well done, but there is no beacon. Taxilights and landing lights are situated at each wing outer leading edge, but the taxilights are a bit weak on the ground, in reality you need to use the stronger landing lights to find your way around the taxiways.

 

JF_Duchess 76_Lighting 6.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Lighting 7.jpg

 

Liveries

Eleven Duchess liveries and a blank white are mostly focused on Europe with a few that are UK registered, The US of A gets one, so does Canada and one for Australia. All are 4K extreme top quality.

 

JF_Duchess 76_Livery Blank.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery C-GTYG.jpg

JF_Duchess 76_Livery D-GIGY.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery EC-ING.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery F-GCLJ.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery G_BNYO.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery G_BZRT.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery G-CCL.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery G-WACJ.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery N6714R.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery VH-HKI.jpgJF_Duchess 76_Livery ZK-JED.jpg

 

___________________________________

 

Summary

The Duchess Model 76 is the first twin-engined General Aviation aircraft by JustFlight/Thranda for X-Plane after a procession of single-engined Arrows and Archers. The price range in the early forties is the same and so is mostly the features and details.

 

First immersion with the aircraft found the Model 76 a bit bland, a grey interior and a flat plate panel tended to make the Duchess feel a little average. But the high quality detail is in there as is the nice wear and tear environment, the panel's authenticity also makes it in the realism stakes, after a while you just get used to it and in time don't find anything really wanting, even later very inviting.

 

Features are the usual JustFlight panel of pop-ups and mixed X-Plane default panels: Autopilot, Door actions, Sounds, Quick Start, Flight Computer Panel,  Refill Panel and that excellent Weights and Balance panel...  Avionics list is good with Bendix/King KMA 28 TSO, KT 76A transponder, KX 155 COM/NAV 2 radio and Bendix/King KR87 ADF and an excellent Century IV autopilot.

Static elements on an aircraft of this price however is a bit wanting? (compare to the AirfoilLab's B350!) and with not only no separate chocks, no engine inlet covers, tags and even something clever like window covers would be nice but really expected at this price range... more creativity is required here. A few missed items in the launch list will be corrected quickly in an update, but no working interior light on release is also a bit rich?

 

But the core of the Duchess 76 is really, really good...  on the surface it is a simple aircraft, simple to use and simply to fly, but that is also it's strength in that it is an excellent learner/trainee pilot aircraft, you can see why the flight schools fight to get these Duchess aircraft on to their flightlines to train up pilot's to their multi-engine rating. And this X-Plane version is that same environment in that any new pilot wanting to find their wings in a multi-engine rating environment, then I don't think there is a better aircraft out there to do that this well, and a note to those helpful nice counter-rotating props. The pros won't be disappointed either as the Duchess has all the tools and functionality is in here as well, so the Duchess comes out in the end as a really great all rounder....  Highly Recommended.

 

_______________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

The Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight and Thranda is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Duchess Model 76

 

Priced at US$41.99

 

Special Features

MODEL
  • Accurately modeled Duchess Model 76, built using real-world aircraft plans and comprehensive photography of the real aircraft
  • Numerous animations including multi-animation passenger doors that, when open, respond to G-forces and air resistance, baggage door, cockpit window and sun visors
  • Ground equipment including chocks and tie-downs
  • HD textures are used to produce the highest possible texture clarity
  • PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with real-time environment reflections for superb quality and realism
  • Detailed normal mapping for down-to-the-rivet precision of aircraft features
 
COCKPIT
  • A truly 3D virtual cockpit right down to accurately modelled seat belts and screw heads - every instrument is constructed fully in 3D with smooth animations
  • Cockpit textures feature wear and tear based on reference photos taken in the real aircraft to produce an authentic environment
  • Interactive engine start checklist that responds to user inputs and sim variables
  • Interactive checklists for every stage of flight
  • Aircraft configuration system that will allow you to choose between 'cold & dark' or 'ready for take-off' (if aircraft is stationary on the ground)
  • Fully functional and comprehensive IFR capable avionics fit including:
    •  KMA 28 audio selector
    •  Fully featured X-Plane-native GNS430 (supports procedures out of the box, and supports Navigraph and Aerosoft custom NAV databases)
    •  KX 155 COM/NAV 2 radio
    •  KR 87 ADF receiver
    •  KT 76A transponder unit
    •  WX-8 Stormscope
    •  Century IV autopilot
    •  HSI and ADF gauges
    •  Support for Reality GTN750 (sold separately, Windows only)
  • Interactive logbook panel for logging your flight details (X-Plane native)
  • Flight computer panel with useful information such as fuel burn, endurance, speed and wind speed/direction
  • GoodWay compatible
  • Ability to change barometric units from inHg to MB in altimeter adjustment
  • Option to activate flashlight from within pop-up window, to aid in those pitch-black cold and dark starts at night
  • Pop-up autopilot window
  • Option to remove window and instrument reflection effects
  • Animated toe brakes
  • Radio knob animations routed through plugin logic, for optimum movement fidelity and sound synchronisation
AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS
  • Custom-coded fuel system with cross-feed
  • Custom-coded electrical system with functional circuit breakers and avionics power circuit. Circuit breaker logic is linked to X-Plane's internal failure logic, so if the plane is set to fail a certain electrical component after a certain number of hours, the circuit breaker for that element will pop out.
  • Realistic landing gear with emergency extension, slow/fast tire rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), precise shock absorber animation and wheel chocks and tie-downs
  • Functioning carburetor, cowl flap and primer controls

 

Requirements

X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 1.3Gb
Current and Review version : 1.1 (April 4th 2019)
 

Installation and documents:

Download for the Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 is 1.3 Gb and the unzipped file deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 1.70 GB.

  

Documentation:

There are two manuals provided. The ODM is full of performance graphs and data and the X-Plane Manual is a full detailed manual of the aircraft's systems and layouts, a good if basic tutorial is also included

 

  • Duchess Model 76 X-Plane manual.pdf
  • Duchess Model 76 ODM X-Plane manual.pdf
  • ChangeLog.rtf

 

A paintkit is also included

  • Duchess Paint Kit
     

______________________________________________________________________ 

 

Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton

26th April 2019

Copyright©2019 : X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.33 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft)

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft  (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95

- KDAB - Daytona Beach by Aerosoft / Stairport Sceneries (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$28.99

  

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