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Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2


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Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2


Midway though 2017. Established developer vSkylabs released a classic aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in the form of the Douglas Commercial 3, or DC-3 as it affectionately became known. The earlier release was of the C-47 variant, or the military "Skytrain" version that won World War ll. Well the aircraft had a big part in winning the logistics side of the war. But in reality the main success of the C-47 was post-war with the huge surplus of these ex-military aircraft becoming an aviation legacy that will never be repeated.


The earlier vskylabs C-47/DC-3 aircraft was an analog design,  but that all changed around Christmas 2022, when the aircraft was then divided into three separate variants...  The original C-47 Skytrain, a new 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. 


The "DC-3 Airliner" split included a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the original C-47B Skytrain variant, as the C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12.


Both variants have now received updates a week apart, v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. There is a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in separate changes to the Airliner variant in this update review.


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.


But first let us have a quick look at the two aircraft.


C-47 Skytrain


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Over the years, the vSkylabs C-47 has evolved quite considerably since it's debut back in 2017, in fact not much of the internal design has survived. Some aspects I miss, like the very worn window surrounds, but overall the original design and great modeling has survived very much intact, that Dakota aspect is also still very strong. Bonuses currently is the much higher quality of the design with the changes and PBS effects, certainly now with X-Plane 12, were as the aircraft has a far more realistic feel to the eye. There are no menus with vSkylabs aircraft, so everything is accessed via "Hotspots", but they are cleverly done.


The cockpit is the antique look of the post-war era, but if you have checked out the earlier C-47, it is a huge and significant difference in detail and change. The X-Plane 12 infused lighting is also a huge bonus on the overall feel and look of the iconic cockpit.


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The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is thankfully still installed here, but added in is also a few mod-cons, like the S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, and the two Garmin GNS530 GPS units (they drop down mid-window)...  another thankful retention from the original aircraft, which is the huge middle windscreen "bouncy wouncy" authentic whisky compass.


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Although a significant improvement over the original release, the cabin is still pretty basic in design, it could do (or is due) with another overhaul to make it more authentic like what was done to the "Airliner" variant, or a cargo aspect would be nice.


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DC-3 Airliner


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Put side by side and there are some quite considerable differences between the two aircraft variants. Externally it is the same "Dak", but in the cockpit it feels and looks very different with the Laminar G1000 Avionics in place, the panels eyebrows are different as well. It's also a greeny-blue in here, more than the older darker green diamond blanket look of the post-war aircraft.


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It is a taste thing, some will like the modern approach, a lot would probably like the earlier darker feel...  the Laminar G1000 displays pop-out as well, but only one of each panel, for the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre single MFD (Multi-Functional Display).


In other changes the two GNS 530 GPS units are gone and so is the large whiskey compass, to be replaced by a smaller (non-floating) version on the top of the instrument panel, another item is the massive window de-mist piping, once on the C-47 (as an option) but removed to the DC-3 variant, personally I didn't like it? as it significantly blocked a lot of the view out of the front windows.


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Cabin has the different diamond padding and colour, and very realistic 3d passengers, very good they are as well. But the seats are actually the same as in the C-47. There is full review of the DC-3 Airliner release here; Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs


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Updates v6.0b2 C-47, and v2.0b2 DC-3 Airliner

Common changes to both aircraft in these companion updates is with the New "Mixture and Carburetor" systems, here now replicating the C-47/DC-3 mixtures operation with better authenticity.


Mixture levers are now set in 'steps' with; (Idle-)Cutoff, Auto-Lean, Auto-Rich and Emergency positions. So the text is still there, but now not just for show...  they actually work with the mixture lever setting.


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Auto-lean and auto-rich are fully automatic modes, with separate control for each engine. To take advantage of the mixture lever settings, you have to set them to different axis modes...  the Left-Engine mixture lever is set to the "Wing Sweep" axis, and the Right-Engine axis is set to the "Thrust Vector" axis...  I set those settings here with the Saitek X-56 Throttle, I don't have extra levers on the add-on throttle, but only knobs, but it worked fine.


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You do have another option, that is to lock both mixture levers together. Press the area side-plate, and the right mixture lever knob turns yellow to signify that the levers are now locked, to unlock just press the side-plate again. In this locked guise, the left lever controls both. So the "Thrust Vector" action will now move both levers together.


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The lock set up however does also allow you to use both Saitek throttle levers, with the left "Throttle" setting, and the right "Mixture" setting, but you can't adjust both of the Throttles separately (you can't anyway) or the Mixture levers separately...  of course any lever can be set manually, or to be used hands on. Personally I like my Throttles separate... the reason I found was the Dakota has a habit of drifting to the right over a longer distance, so a slight reduction of power on the right engine (or more power to the left engine) would keep you more on the heading.


The new fuel system in these updates now allows you full control of all four tanks, feeding into each engine in separately...


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This is done by the cocks/valves each side of the pedestal, with each noting the L Main, R Main, L AUX, R AUX and OFF.


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Shown here in the OFF and MAINs running, with L-R cocks opposite, all four tanks all are accessible, here with accessing the only the L-Tank, and R-AUX.


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Reading any tank capacity is via a switch lower right Instrument Panel, which is totally authentic. Fixes in the update relate to the Fuel level indicator, which is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode, and the Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation has been changed to provide better a reading, and to be more accurate.


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But currently when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines. This is an (X-Plane) limitation and changes are coming (from Laminar Research) to rectify this restriction. Fuel capacity is - Main tank (front) each - 202 U.S. galls. Auxiliary tank (rear) each 200 U.S. galls. Total each side: 402 U.S. galls, with total 804 U.S. galls fuel capacity.


Carburetor air-intake heat controls now also work...  Two levers top right pedestal controls the carburetor heating, for the left and right engines. The third (lock) lever is a dummy. Oddly it works back to front, forward is COLD, rearwards is HOT, or the rear selection brings the heated air from around the cylinder heads into the induction system to clear the ice, or for running in very cold temperatures.


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Carb heat is shown far right centre Instrument Panel C-47, and lower dead centre Panel DC-3 Airliner.  


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What we are talking about here are authentic or realism in these operations. Yes a lot of aircraft have the same options, but these systems are created to be very authentic to the operation of the DC-3.


The huge pitch trim wheel has been totally redone, or re-modeled to be more authentic to the real one. I personally would like more dirt, wear and tear on the wheel, it is supposed to be over 80 years old, but it looks like it came out the spares store yesterday.


VSL C-47 - Pitch wheel Features 1.jpgVSL C-47 - Pitch wheel Features 2.jpg


The cockpit PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone has been updated in both aircraft, bringing it up to X-Plane 12 specifications. We are now in X-Plane 12.06 and that comes with the better lighting adjustments, it shows in here as the detail now just jumps out at you...  a far cry from the past vSkylabs cockpit environments. (note we are now actually in XP12.07r1, but it was in X-Plane 12.06 that the lighting adjustments were made).


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It's a quirky machine to fly is the DC-3/C-47...  It is always a good idea to do a quick look through the (very explainable manual) in what is what, and how all the quirks work.

Like the gear...  as it is a two-operation, operation. You have to unlock (or lock) the gear up or down. This is done by the lever on the floor, before you can raise or lower the undercarriage.


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You also have to check (via the large Hydraulic Pressure gauges) if the pressure is working for gear operation. If all fails there is a manual gear pump to do the action, it is set behind the cockpit.


There is also the two engine-driven pumps to operate the vacuum system. They provide air suction for the operation of the artificial horizon, directional gyros and turn indicator. Check suction indicator on automatic pilot instrument panel for vacuum indication of 3375" ti 4.25". Again very authentic to the post-war aircraft.


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It's a tricky aircraft to fly as well. You use a lot of rudder movement on takeoff to keep control, mostly far worse are the exaggerated movements required once the tail lifts. In the air it is a lot to handle as well, but you will soon get the feel of this very big taildragger design.


Once you settle the "Dak", then it comes into it's own... but flights are usually long, because they are low and slow by modern, even regional propeller aircraft standards.


You get a Maximum speed of 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), a cruise speed around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). But the range is excellent at 1,370 nmi (1,580 mi, 2,540 km) (maximum fuel, 3500 lb payload), but you get there very slowly, the Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), or regional propeller driven aircraft altitude...  climbing is with a Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.7 m/s), but usually around 1,000 ft/min.


The odd thing is I have had some really brilliant epic Journeys in this aircraft (maybe because they took so long), but thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe this is why I'm a little bit defensive on in there being too many changes away from the original concept of the DC-3.


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The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is something I love. So adding in the S-Tec is going against my grain. Saying that it works very well, the Sperry is also very tricky to use...  If connected to the S-Tec then the heading is adjusted by the RUD (Rudder) knob and the upper compass drum, but tricky is the alignment of the heading as the lower compass drum is adjustable...


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...   so the lower compass drum needs to be aligned with the main whisky compass. You do this by pressing the centre of the lower adjustment knob, known as "Cageing" or Cage, and that will align the two compasses together. If the lower drum is out of alignment, it gets seriously confusing on where your heading actually is, or set.


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If you want fly on the Sperry alone you still can. And the heading is adjusted manually by moving the AIL (Aileron) knob to bank the aircraft to the new heading and then adjusting it back again to keep the heading. In both adjustments the heading can still be very vague, but as noted...  adjusting the throttles or power outputs on the engines can keep you on the heading a bit tighter.


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Odds in the updates includes a better (or brighter) tail beacon, the landing/taxi lights also now have that X-Plane 12 flare look as well...


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...  DC-3 Airliner only changes include Fuel pumps sounds tuneups, which now have reduced intensity (sounds overall are excellent). Also the DG sync, and a manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob.


Back at Keflavík BIKF, and I'm on approach. I'm not going to say the DC3 is an easy aircraft fly, because it isn't, even demanding. It takes skill to get it all right, and is a big challenge to your perspective. But that is also the attraction, the wanting to fly the aircraft again and again...


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....   my advice is to get in there, stay in there and learn it thoroughly. The systems, the odd handing traits, and yes...  even do a lot of practise. But when the aircraft comes to you, you'll be glad you did all the time and effort...  it is an authentic all round experience.



vSkyLabs have updated their C-47 and DC-3 Airliner to versions v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. This is after the earlier three way split of the original 2017 release of the C47/DC3 into three different variants; C-47 Skytrain, DC-3 Airliner and the coming Tri-Turbo-Three.


The update covers about a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in a separate change to the Airliner variant in this update review, these include different FMOD pump sounds and DG - Sync.


The main changes are with new mixtures, carburetor system algorithm and mixture control is now also fully differential. Fully automatic. Mixture levers have now working detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency, and all auto-modes are fully automatic. New fuel system now allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, and the Carburetor heat system and levers are now also operable. Both aircraft have a lot of attention on the PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone of the internal areas to make them ultra realistic.


It's sweet set of updates to an iconic aircraft. There is as noted a very authentic feel to these pre-war designed aircraft, with a few modern twists in the systems. My preference is still the analog C-47, it recreates the era, and has that Type A-3A autopilot as an added attraction. In X-plane 12, with it's more advances lighting, effects and features....   the original release C-47/DC-3 feels very far away now and the aircraft with it's current updates reflect that aspect.


Go low and slow for a long flight, and you will love the "Dak" in all it's post war glory...  it's an excellent simulation of the most iconic aircraft in the world. Currently both the vSkylab's C-47/DC3 Airliners are 50% off in a sale...



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2/DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain

Your Price: US$34.95

Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF.


X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version:  6.02 (September 14th 2023)

VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner

Your Price: US$34.95

Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF.


X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11)
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version:  2.0b2 (September 19th 2023)



Review System Specifications

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.07b1 (This is a beta review).

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

- BIKF - Airport Keflavik by Aerosoft- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.20



Update Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton

23rd September 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 copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved


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