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Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs


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VSL DC-3_XP12_Header.jpg


Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs


vSkyLabs have released the DC-3 Airliner for X-Plane 12...    DC-3?


Confused yes? We have been flying the vSkyLabs DC-3 for years? Well you have actually been flying the C-47 (Military) version for years.


So let us clear up the biggest confusion first. Yes to a point this new release is the (same) DC-3. But the aircraft design has been split into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, this DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context;


VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane).


VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. 


VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. 


So this is a new aircraft (totally based on the C-47), not an update, not an upgrade, but a totally new version of the old one.


The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements.


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Externally the DC-3 is an exact replica of the C-47 Skytrain, not one difference, even the same liveries work fine (thankfully) as I can still use my lovely G-AMSV Air Atlantique livery, so I'm very happy. One thing though is different to the exterior, in that it now has that X-Plane 12 shine and realism, the DC-3 looks sensational in X-Plane 12, but only in X-Plane 12 and this aircraft not available for X-Plane 11 or earlier versions (the C-47 Skytrain is).


Engines are slightly different, the C-47 has PW1830-90C (1,200 hp - 890 kW, but this version has the later -94 Engines (1,350 hp - 1,010 kW, Twin Wasp air-cooled radial aircraft engine, so more power.


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We know that there are no menu's from vSkyLabs and just hot spots to open doors and turn on certain features.


X-PlaneReviews did an original review here; Aircraft Review - DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project  Notable is sheer differences in the quality between the updated versions, it's come a long way, but basically it is the same aircraft. There was another major update in 2020; DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 that gave you a lot changes, and a move away from the original pre-war feel. Here is another change into the future again with modern avionics...


....  it's very blue in here, also a little odd. If you are used to the analog dials and a pre-war feel, then it all comes at quite a shock, as it is all very clean and modern... in a DC-3!


VSL DC-3  XP12- Cockpit 1.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Cockpit 2.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Cockpit 3.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Cockpit 4.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Cockpit 5.jpg


It is well done as a modern conversion and everything is in a modern blue metal. Does it have a Russian aircraft feel? interesting thought. Note the lovely scratch markings on the displays, very nice.


Above you are the same three electrical switch panels with Volts and each Generator output, centre are Collins radio ADF1/ADF2 and DME-4 selectors.


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Oh yes and the diamond sound-proofing blankets are blue as well...  there is a lot of blue.


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The DC-3 uses the Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, the normal layout with the two outside PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre MFD (MultiFunctional Display), with Flightplan and MAP modes. Two Comm radios are set between the displays, and the AP (Autopilot) is set lower left MFD and left PFD.


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Obviously the G1000 PFD (Only one, but either one) and the central MFD pop-out.


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Top panel are the three analog backup instruments, Artificial Horizon, Speed and Altitude dials. Upper centre console is the wiper assembly, and the Compass is now attached to the top, gone is the springing "bouncy" animated Compass, damn I really loved that thing?


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Vertical Speed V/S, Clock and Rate of Turn indicator are far Left of the PFD.


Lower instrument panel...  Left; VOR 1 and VOR 2 pointers. All Engine read-outs are Dual-pointers...   for RPM, Manifold Pressure, Oil Pressure, then twin Cylinder head Temp, Carburettor/Air and Oil Temp. Far right lower panel is the Fuel Tank (Amount/GAL) switch, Flap position, Temperature Hydraulic Pressure and De-Icing Pressure, and a Static Pressure switch.


VSL DC-3  XP12- G1000 7.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- G1000 8.jpg


Right side is the Landing Gear (Hydraulic) Pressure, and Hydraulic System (large) Pressure Gauges, and the Cowl (Open/Close) selectors. Centre is the complex lever pedestal, same as in the other C-47 Cockpit, but still well done with excellent detail. Note the Fuel Tank Switches.


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AviTab is available and the tablet is attached to the centre of the yoke. You have to set a slider (#5) on/off option to make them appear, the AviTab plugin is also required.


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Overall it is a very nice cockpit and very well done...


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In the early (DC-3) days you flew with a half-completed cabin, and a poor one at that. Here the cabin is finished and it now comes with a plane load of passengers and their baggage...


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Passenger 3d modeling is excellent (Nice to see a realistically loaded aircraft), but it does look like a wild student getaway weekend, except for one guy and his very, very young wife, or daughter, no wonder he is smiling?  Seats are nice and modern (For a DC-3), so it is a very nice interior.


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Flying the DC-3 Airliner

The DC-3 is a tail-dragger, fun if you want it. Turning is done via throttle power and toe-brakes, still very tricky though.


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You can use the "Novice' tool to lock in the rear drag wheel to the X-Plane (joystick) yaw, and that really helps, but I really still don't like the poor weak effort from the toe-brakes, no pressure unless almost flat, means the DC-3 is hard to steer manually on takeoff and landing.


Off the ground and the gear won't retract? Oh I forgot about the "manual lock" on the floor central by the pilot, pull it up and retract the gear, then put it down again to lock it up, if not it will drive you crazy in dropping the undercarriage every five minutes, just remember to do the opposite on landing! Note that ski's are also available on the aircraft.


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In the last big update (C-47/DC-3 v4.0r1). There was a completely new and improved FMOD Sound pack, with multi-layer engine sounds for the interiors and exteriors, aural indication system recordings for the mixtures, autopilot and tail-wheel, plus 3d sound effects with doppler movement around the aircraft and changing sound internally and that extensive update has been passed over here in full. I've always loved the DC-3 sounds, but now they are really good.


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Open the window(s) and the noisy wind comes into the cockpit with all that 1,350 hp power...  cockpit sound is also far more different than the cabin, so its really good.


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All the mod-cons...  in a DC-3, it's hard to get your head around that, but it makes it far easier to fly, navigate and then there is an Autopilot!


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You remember were the switch was? of course you do...  hard to use though in being buried down there lower left pedestal. But a more modern autopilot is far more efficient than the old VOR C-47 pointer version, it doesn't drift off-course now, and needed to be consistently corrected every 10 NM. The view out is quite (X-Plane 12) sensational, both forward and from the cabin.


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Better still when it is raining! Yes folks...  Librain is back in X-Plane 12, and you not only get the thick front window streams, but the cabin windows as well, but the wipers are pretty ineffective.


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Iceing was always a great feature on the vSkyLabs DC-3, and with the better X-Plane 12 icing it is very good here...  front windows, even the cabin windows ice up....  wings ice build up is spidery and realistic, but turn those boots on before you fall out of the sky.


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You don't as much fly, but trundle along with all that noise (yes it is good to turn the volume up). VR (Virtual Reality) is built in from the start, so the aircraft is excellent with all the VR features, so the DC-3 must look awesome in 3d.


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Maximum speed is 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), but you might squeeze out a few knots more with the extra power here with the -92 engines, Cruise speed is around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), but you wouldn't really go above 10,000 ft - 12,000ft.


Head up and the backup instruments which are nicely positioned in your eyeline, are however bit dark, if actually too dark to use? The "Panel Inst Lts" adjustment is full on, but quite ineffective. Lower with the two tone lighting in X-Plane 12 RC5 the lighting is not bad, but I feel more instrument brightness would be nice in the daylight.


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At night however it all goes "Very Nice", and the instrument panel glows very well, the G1000 screens are quite bright, but you can tone them down nicely. Other lighting covers; Overhead Hatch, Aisle, and the rear Passenger (cabin) lights. Emergency Lights I couldn't find, but the Seatbelt/No Smoking is well done on the cabin walls.


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 19.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 21.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 20.jpg


Upper panel lights are also very reflective and well done. In the cabin it looks a bit like a Manhattan Disco circa 1989, bright purple and reds?


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 22.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 23.jpg


It's nice...  I suppose?


Externally the lighting is very good...  I particularly like the red left and white right landing lights, pre-war, but nice anyway. Navigation, Beacon (upper red, lower white) Strobe and very nice Ice (wing) lights. There are wheel well lights as well.


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As noted X-Plane 12 is a big attraction here, Norway vistas are sensational in winter, so is flying slow and ponderous at 6,000ft.


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Arrival at Bergen ENBR, RWY35...  I have to admit in doing a lot of flying in the vSkyLabs DC-3 Series, and this cross from Oslo to Bergen has to be one of the best, obviously X-Plane 12 makes a huge difference to the simulation, with not only the vistas, but the effects as well in rain on approach...


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 38.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 39.jpg

VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 40.jpg


Gear down and locked early, for no mistakes...


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 41.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 42.jpg


...    same with the pump flaps (continuous) in getting the aircraft perfectly right in height and speed early in the approach phase.


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 43.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 44.jpg


Modern avionics means modern tools at your disposal, so APP via using the ILS is available, not your usual tail-out and wide rudder approach, but great for novices... don't get it wrong though, this is still a heavy Pre-War aircraft, it feels like it, and it handles that way as well...


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...  nervous?


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It's icy! It's Wet! 20,000lbs of aircraft...     Tricky!


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You can't do too much flare, as you need to land pretty square on the main gear, another tricky part is between having the aerodynamic control and then losing it (Rudder) when the tail drops...  note the great water spray from the wheels


VSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 54.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 55.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Flying 56.jpg


Yes you pulled it of, well done, but it's harder than you think, it needs skill to get it right...  but your a good simulation pilot right!


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We are up to v3 on liveries. The v2 liveries still work and are worth collecting. You get four liveries with the DC-3 version, a new Buffalo Airways 2022, Bare Metal, Military Transport and "That's all Brother". Honestly I don't like the new Buffalo version, it is bland, the older tired version would always fill my heart, I've shown it here with an excellent Icelandair classic.


VSL DC-3  XP12- Livery Buffalo 20.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Livery Bare Metal.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Livery Military Transport.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Livery Thats my brother.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Livery V2 Buffalo.jpgVSL DC-3  XP12- Livery V2 Icelandair.jpg


There are also whole series of professional liveries available for the DC-3 Series...  Liveries for VSKYLABS Aircraft





Most cost around US$10 per package.



The vSkyLab's DC-3 has been around for a few years, since July 2017. It is a capable if always in development aircraft of the famous iconic DC-3/C-47 Skytrain aircraft, a pre-war marvel.


But for X-Plane 12 the DC-3 aircraft design has been split into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, this DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three. All three are now (or will be) also separate projects. Pricing is now also separate for each variant, so there are no discounts or updates, so it is a full upgrade to the version of the DC-3 that you want.


Notable is that the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, and the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements.


The C-47 Skytrain (original) can still be used in X-Plane 12, but this DC-3 Airliner is the same aircraft in absolute X-Plane 12 form, and changed as to be a modern take on the aircraft, with the installation of Laminar Research's default G1000 three display panel installation... 


Different, yes.


Basically it is a very different cockpit (in blue) with modern avionics. as usual things are changed around, and missing here is the floating (animated) compass in being replaced with a static one, it's still currently in the C-47. In the cabin it has also been totally reworked with modern seats, nice 3d people (mostly students) and their baggage. vSkyLab's aircraft don't use menus but datarefs and hotspots to open doors or activate items or areas.


It's a quirky machine to use and fly, so a though study of the POH is highly recommended, but modern instruments can make it accessible to the more novice flyer. VR (Virtual Reality) is built in from the start, so the aircraft is excellent with the VR features, and the Skunkcraft updater is now also available.


Lighting and sounds are overall excellent, certainly the excellent sound package that has been refined over the years, lighting internally is excellent if a little 80's disco in the cabin. negatives are weak toe-brakes (required with a tail-dragger), daytime instrument lighting is too dark, hard to steer even with "Novice mode", but practice helps...   missing the 'bouncy" compass.


The real star here is X-Plane 12. It makes the DC-3 shine and feel very realistic, gives you great rain and icing effects, and this is an extremely satisfying aircraft to fly, if challenging if you like your aircraft that way, but to note on this review, X-Plane 12 is still in RC (Release Candidate) mode, so expect changes from not only the simulator, but also from the developer. But also notable that this aircraft is for X-Plane 12 only.


So what this DC-3 Airliner is, is a very modern take of a classic aircraft. The avionics are interesting, even very easy to use, but the word "Classic" here is what to have to debate, if you want this approach, then you will absolutely love this Classic modern airliner, or the best of "both worlds". Highly recommended.



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The DC-3 Airliner by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner

Your Price: US$29.95

This is a new product, so no updates or discounts apply


Project is 'VR Ready' for use with X-Plane: VR functionality is a part of the project aspects which are constantly under evaluation and development for reaching a higher level of immersion as the VR features and possibilities are growing

Highly Realistic Handling and Flight Performance DC-3 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of hundreds of flight testing and evaluation, tested and refined by real-world C-47 pilots.

Workhorse for DC-3 pilot skills: Experience authentic flight performance and handling practices (takeoff, landing, single engine operations, flight planning, long range flights). It is a perfect platform to recreate and fly historic routes using authentic performance.

Unique look and feel: There is nothing to hide - the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 projects are a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design.

Compatible with the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain project liveries!

Advanced avionics and autopilot: Fully featured glass cockpit avionics based on the LR G1000 (including the G1000 autopilot), along with complementary analog instrument gauges and navigation displays.

Comprehensive systems: All the relevant systems are being simulated. Here are **some** of the more unique systems:

  • Engines/propeller systems - Highly defined PW-1830-92, 14 cylinder engine simulation, designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic DC-3/C-47 propeller feathering system, for highly realistic single engine simulation.
  • DC-3 Fire Extinguisher system - including fire indication system. The fire extinguisher control panel is located behind the hinged cover on the cockpit floor, between the pilot/co-pilot seats.
  • Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up (experimental feature). Engine mishandling will result in severe damage to the engine/engine fire. Stressing the airframe will result also in severe damage, following a visual representation of the damages. Blown tires are also being visualized and simulated.
  • Landing gears and flaps simulation - are being simulated with a high level of authenticity.
  • Advanced glass cockpit and autopilot system - based on the LR G1000.
  • Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems - including icing and rain visualization.
  • Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model.
  • Making use of X-Plane 12 advanced weight and balance system for station based passengers loading.
  • Passenger and luggage 3-d visualization.
  • Comprehensive FMOD sounds.
  • Auto-update based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater.
  • Built-in AviTab compatibility. (AviTab plugin not included).
  • Highly responsive VSKYLABS support system (including C-47 / DC-3 operational knowledge and support/assistance).


X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11)
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version:  1.0 (December 12th 2022)


Installation and documents:  download for the DC-3 Airliner is 439Mb and is deposited in the "Aircraft" X-Plane folder.


The AviTab plugin is also required to use this aircraft, and it is deposited in your X-Plane Plugins folder.


Full Installation is 0.99Gb


Documents supplied are:

  • SKYLABS_DC-3_MANUAL-POH.pdf (80 pages)
  • VSL-DC3-Airliner-ESSENTIALS.pdf (2 pages)
Plus "How to Install" pdf
POH is extensive (80 Pages), with set up notes, custom assignments, checklists and project details.



Review by Stephen Dutton

15th December 2022

Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews


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) All Right Reserved

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 11 - X-Plane v12.00RC5 (note this review was done in the beta revision period)

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick, Throttle & Rudder Pedals : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Traffic GlobalJustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 :: RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99

Scenery or Aircraft

- ENGM - Airport Oslo XP by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95

- ENBR - Bergen - X-Plane 12 Global Airport (free)


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