Lightman Posted May 19 Report Share Posted May 19 Aircraft Review: X-Hangar DHC-4 Caribou By Dominic Smith Introduction With an enduring passion for the art of virtual aviation, I am always thrilled to sit at the controls of a new X-Plane model, even though my flying skills often don't warrant it. Today, it is the turn of the DHC-4 Caribou from X-Hangar, a developer whose work I have really come to admire over my two-decade journey through the X-Plane universe. Each new aircraft I encounter, such as the Caribou here, rekindles my enthusiasm and reinforces my belief in the infinite possibilities of X-Plane. This robust and versatile transport aircraft, with its unique charm and capabilities, is the latest to have captured my attention. The DHC-4 Caribou, a marvel of Canadian aviation engineering, first took to the skies in 1958. Created by de Havilland Canada, a company renowned for its rugged, reliable, and innovative aircraft designs, the Caribou was purpose-built to cater to the unique demands for a versatile and sturdy short takeoff and landing (STOL) transport aircraft capable of operating in diverse environments. Over the span of its production life, more than three hundred Caribous were produced, serving in a variety of roles such as cargo transport, troop movements, medevac, and more. The Caribou's simplistic, yet functionally robust design, excellent short-field performance, and durability have made it a popular choice among military and civilian operators worldwide, and as such, I’m pleased to offer my thoughts on the X-Plane model being reviewed here by X-Hangar. X-Hangar's DHC-4 Caribou, much like the Shorts Skyvan I reviewed previously, highlights the developer's dedication to creating immersive and accurate flight experiences that a wide range of simmers can enjoy. This is illustrated through a myriad of features that not only enhance the model's authenticity but also adds a layer of interaction for the user. These include three distinct models: a radar pod variant, a non-radar pod model, and a bare metal version. Other features included in the package are rain effects on the windscreen and windows, a Garmin 430 with pop-up panel, pilot figures including pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster, custom 3D gauges and sounds, as well as numerous liveries. Documentation In keeping with X-Hangar's approach of creating both comprehensive and user-friendly aircraft models, the Caribou comes with an impressive amount of documentation. This includes a highly detailed PDF manual, which provides a thorough overview of the Caribou's operational features and cockpit layout. This is extremely well-written and includes numerous images which clearly illustrate key aspects of the aircraft's cockpit and operation. In addition to explaining the Caribou's functionality, the manual also includes a nicely detailed tutorial on how to operate the aircraft through all phases of flight. I highly recommend you look at this section, as it will allow you to get the most enjoyment out of the model. A notable highlight of the documentation is the availability of a downloadable real-world pilot's manual spanning over 450 pages (now that’s what you call a real POH). Having this included not only enhances the authenticity of the package on offer, but also serves as an invaluable educational resource for those keen on learning more about the DHC-4 Caribou's operation in the real world. Installation The installation process of the DHC-4 Caribou follows the same tried and tested formula as other X-Hangar models, including the previously reviewed Shorts Skyvan. A hassle-free process, it involves downloading the appropriate model (versions available for both X-Plane 11 and 12) and extracting the files into your X-Plane's 'Aircraft' folder. There are no convoluted steps, no confusing instructions, and most importantly of all, no online activation (thank you X-Hangar). Exterior The first thing that struck me about seeing X-Hangar’s Caribou up close was its robust and utilitarian design, a reflection of its real-world counterpart's roles in military and civil operations worldwide. This was no sleek, modern airliner (sorry Stephen), but a workhorse, built to handle demanding environments and heavy loads. X-hangar’s DHC-4 Caribou comes complete with a variety of interactive features, such as opening engine cowls, cargo and passenger doors which both open and close, and numerous liveries, all of which help provide an engaging level of immersion. This focus on interaction, while not groundbreaking, certainly adds value to the overall experience, a trait that some models in a similar price range often lack. The short, stout fuselage, high wings, and twin radial engines, all hallmark features of the Caribou, are rendered with an appreciable level of detail, and as such, it's clear to see that a lot of effort has been put into capturing the unique characteristics of this STOL aircraft. The exterior texturing has notable highlights, particularly the faithfully recreated liveries that reflect actual aircraft, lending a strong sense of authenticity to the model. However, I found the metallic shine seen on some of the liveries to be somewhat inconsistent, and this occasionally detracted from the visual appeal. This minor inconsistency did not significantly undermine the overall visual quality of X-Hangar’s Caribou, but it's worth noting for those who place a high emphasis on texture consistency. Despite this minor issue, the Caribou's exterior remained pleasing to the eye, and whilst it may not reach the pinnacle of photorealism seen in some high-end products, X-Hangar’s model presents a worthy depiction of the aircraft's exterior. When combined with the assorted interactive features, it delivers a balanced experience that holds its own merit. Interior The interior of the Caribou, though again, not striving for photorealism, emanates a charm and effectiveness that has a unique appeal. Rather than chasing the ultra-high definition 4K textures that some users might anticipate (along with expensive, high-end systems), X-Hangar has chosen a path that leans more towards performance and accessibility. The textures and artwork may not leverage the full extent of today's graphical powerhouses, but they are well-executed and possess an engaging charisma that is both captivating and immersive. This decision to prioritize performance, which I highly commend (your VRAM will love you, trust me), enables the model to perform smoothly even on lesser systems, thereby broadening its reach. This demonstrates that creating a high-quality aircraft model doesn't necessarily mean pushing every pixel to its limit. Instead, the focus can be on delivering a balanced and enjoyable user experience that a wider audience can appreciate. Those who happen to overlook the Caribou due to its absence of ultra-high-resolution textures might very well be missing a hidden gem, as the model's honest representation, combined with its accurate portrayal of the aircraft's functions, offers a compelling package that can, in some respects, outshine other more graphically demanding models. The addition of pilot figures - a pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster - heightens the sense of realism, creating the impression of a fully crewed aircraft primed for that all-important mission or flight. Extending the focus on detail to the cabin, X-Hangar has included passengers as part of the interior. While this is not an uncommon feature, it contributes positively to the Caribou's overall immersive environment, and whilst the passengers are presented in a modestly detailed manner, they add to the sense of a fully occupied and lively aircraft without overstepping into the realm of ultra-realism. The cockpit layout, as with most models by X-Hangar, strikes a good balance between functionality and the charm of a classic aircraft such as the Caribou. The pilot's front panel houses the standard six flight instruments, while the centre front console is dedicated to engine gauges, plus the Garmin 530. Critical engine fire controls are conveniently located just above these, whilst nestled between the two pilot seats, you'll find the all-important radio controls. The overhead panel, breaking up the large glass area above, is the domain of throttle and prop pitch controls, mixture, flaps, and ignition switches. Despite the cockpit's complexity, all dials and switches are clear and easy to read, though they can get slightly blurry when examined too closely, however, the quality of the texturing remains consistent with the rest of the aircraft. Oh…and for those of you who enjoy a little snack during a long flight, you even get a wee Snickers bar! The cargo area has not been neglected either, as in a wonderful touch, a Christmas tree, intended for use with the festive Santa Bou livery, is provided in the radar dome model. If that isn’t enough to capture your Christmas spirit (slightly more challenging in May), the tree lights up at night, adding a whimsical charm to the aircraft that is sure to delight many simmers. Sound Echoing my previous experiences with X-Hangar’s excellent Shorts Skyvan, the Caribou provided a respectable level of sound immersion in the audio department. Engine samples, as far as I could discern, were mostly accurate across all stages of flight, providing an authentic feel that isn't always easily achieved when custom sound samples are used. Inside the cockpit, the auditory landscape was populated by more subtle effects, such as the muted clicks of switches in the cockpit and the mechanical sound of control surfaces, such as flaps adjusting to their new position. While the variety of sounds wasn't exhaustive, what was present added a palpable layer to the overall experience. Flight Characteristics Having completed the tour of the aircraft, I was eager to take the Caribou to the skies. The setting for this particular flight was Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport located in Alaska, a personal favourite of mine, and the start of many a long flight…except for this one! Before takeoff, I was immediately struck by the Caribou's ground handling as the aircraft responded precisely to my inputs, allowing for easy taxiing to the runway. The brakes were firm, and the turning radius was impressively tight for an aircraft of this size - a clear nod to its STOL capabilities. As I lined up on the runway and advanced the throttles, the Caribou surged forward with a sense of purpose, its twin radial engines roaring in a symphony of raw power. The takeoff roll was surprisingly short, living up to its real-world counterpart's STOL reputation. The aircraft lifted off almost willingly, and as I climbed, the Caribou's responsive controls became evident, it was stable yet agile. During the cruise phase, the Caribou felt predictable and confident, as if it were in its natural habitat. The aircraft managed to maintain altitude with minimal input, and the autopilot features functioned as expected, allowing for a hands-off flight when desired (perfect for that quick cup of coffee or Snickers bar). As I approached Sitka again for the return leg, I began to appreciate the Caribou's low-speed handling. The aircraft was docile and easily controlled during the descent and approach, demonstrating admirable stability even at slower speeds. The flaps and landing gear extended smoothly, with each stage of flap deployment noticeably altering the aircraft's flight characteristics. The final approach required a certain degree of finesse, as the Caribou demanded careful handling with small control inputs. The touchdown was smooth…for me anyway, with the robust undercarriage absorbing the impact of my landing with ease. Slowing the aircraft on the runway, the effective brakes and reverse thrust brought us to a gentle halt. Performance In terms of performance, the DHC-4 Caribou from X-Hangar shares similarities with its counterpart, the Shorts Skyvan. Both are Plane Maker models, reflecting, as mentioned earlier on, X-Hangar's commitment to optimization for high performance, even on modest hardware. The Caribou upheld this principle, delivering a smooth experience throughout my testing. By utilizing X-Plane’s included Plane Maker for modelling, rather than the likes of Blender or AC3D, where it’s easy to gobble up VRAM, X-Hangar has ensured that users with a wide range of system capabilities can enjoy a seamless experience, free from framerate issues. Conclusion In summing up, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time testing out X-Hangar's DHC-4 Caribou, as it really does have a charm that pulls you in, something which may not be apparent at first. Yes, the model doesn't aim for the photorealistic textures seen in some high-end payware models, but this by no means detracts from the experience. In fact, it's in this decision that the Caribou finds its charm. The aircraft's performance on modest hardware is impressive, providing a smooth and enjoyable experience without compromising too much on detail, and the sound design, while not exhaustive, is effective and adds to the overall authenticity of the aircraft. The DHC-4 Caribou may not cater to the tastes of all simmers, particularly those in search of 4K textures or "ultra realism". However, as mentioned above, it is the simplicity and charm of this model that makes it stand out, as it is an aircraft that offers a unique and highly enjoyable flying experience. X-Hangar's Caribou is a testament to the fact that authenticity in X-Plane, or flight simming in general, is not solely about high-end graphics or an endless list of features, as the right balance of performance, sound, and visuals can also lead to a memorable experience, as is the case here. Overall, the DHC-4 Caribou is a proud testament to X-Hangar's commitment to quality and historical accuracy. Its vintage allure and robust features offer an engaging flight experience that’s hard to match. So, if you're looking to diversify your hangar with a piece of aviation history, then X-Hangar's Caribou is more than worthy of your consideration. ________________________ The DHC4 C-7A Caribou by X-Hangar is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: DHC4 C-7A Caribou Priced at US$22.95 Features Three flyable models: radar pod, no radar pod, and bare metal Rain effect on windscreen and windows Garmin 430 with pop up panel Opening engine cowls Opening cargo doors Opening passenger doors Sliding radio tray Detailed 3d engine and props Many custom 3d gauges Many liveries included Pilot figures including pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster Custom sounds Animated controls Many detailed parts Checklist included PDF manual included that tells you how to fly and use the instrument panels Night LIT textures included Real pilot tested Link to download a 450+ page beautiful, crisp, and clear real world pilot's manual Requirements X-Plane 11 fully updated Windows, Mac, or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 472 Mb Version XP12 - Feb 20th, 2023 Review System Specifications Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit __________________________________ Aircraft Review by Dominic Smith 19th May 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions). Kiwiflyer 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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