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Aircraft Review : PA24-250 Comanche by InDepthSimulations


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Aircraft Review : PA24-250 Comanche by InDepthSimulations

 

X-Plane can deliver very deep and complex simulations, but the scale is also very wide. In scale from those in depth "Study" style MEGA immersion aircraft, to the humble General Aviation Simulation. And so this is what we have here, the totally opposite end of the scale in a small GA, the basics, and how you fly in a very bare-bones set up. This is important, the general knowing on how to fly an aircraft at an elementary level.

 

This PA24-250 Comanche is a first time release from the developer inDepthSimulations, so you not going to get an abundance of menus and features (just one actually), but that is not the point here.... it's all about the basic flying skills with a classic aircraft.

 

The Piper PA-24 Comanche is an American single-engine, low-wing, all-metal monoplane of semi-monocoque construction with a tricycle retractable landing gear and has four to six seats. The Comanche was designed and built by Piper Aircraft and first flew on May 24, 1956.

 

In 1958, Piper introduced a 250 hp (190 kW) version using a Lycoming O-540 engine, giving the PA-24-250 Comanche a top cruise speed of 160 kn (180 mph; 300 km/h). Most 250s had carburetted Lycoming O-540-AIA5 engines, but a small number were fitted out with fuel-injected versions of the same engine. Early Comanche 250s also had manually operated flaps and carried 60 US gal (230 L) of fuel. This model was originally to be known as the PA-26, but Piper decided to keep the PA-24 designation and it has the later electric flaps.

 

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First expect a few ongoing updates, as since the release on 3rd June 2024, there has been in only a few weeks already two updates. So the aircraft in question here is still in a developmental period. As we shall see a few items still need to be added, not essential at this point (well maybe one or two items?), but in the main the aircraft is ready to fly.

 

First views are actually very good, it's a mid-50s design, and the PA24 looks and feels very much in it's designated period. The main aircraft modeling is actually very good. Lovely spinner holds three McCauley fixed-pitch props using the trade name "MET-L-PROP" (original was a twin-blade prop). Lower nose air-vent and side latches are well done here, as is the very nicely raised riveting of the fuselage, wings and tail-planes. The wing's aerofoil is very nicely done as well. 

 

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Glass feels a bit thin, and too clear, a slight tint would have helped, also a more stronger reflective effect, but the windshield shaping is fine.

 

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Chunky short undercarriage, is well done and nicely detailed, and it comes with very nice (but very clean) rubber.

 

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If you want to open the (right-hand) door and look around inside...   well you can't just yet as it's not completed, no door handle either?

 

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The cabin itself is basic...  with two front seats and single wide bench in the rear. The front seats look very plain externally, but they are far better up close, the detail is also quite nice. Note the Trim Winder on the roof. Cabin is dressed in a cream colour that makes it feel unfinished, so I think it needs a more detailed colour to hide those flat plain sides...  a grey perhaps to match the seat colours.

 

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Instrument panel is black, a worn black, but black never the less. It is a very sparse instrument panel as well, but reflects the period very well. Rudder pedals on the left (pilot) have built in toe-brakes, the right are just a set of rudder bars.

 

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Yokes are very nice in the rectangle looped style, there are no buttons on these original style yokes, but I bet they felt good to use. You can hide both (only both together) by the hotspot on the left yoke.

 

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All the instruments are grouped left, with the Standard Six central. (Airspeed, Artificial Horizon, Altitude, Rate of Turn HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator and V/S Vertical Speed). Left is a standard clock, right are two Course Deviation Indicators (CDI) and there is no NAV/COM 2 on the aircraft. Further right is a Temperature Gauge (ºF) and below is the Flap position indicator (UP-TAKEOFF-DOWN). Bottom right are two gauges for RPM and Manifold Pressure. Left switch gear is Electrics, and lower switchgear is lighting/pitot heat. Gear switch is a tiny, tiny switch, mid-panel.

 

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Right Instrument Panel are five gauges; Fuel Quantity, Fuel Pressure, AMPS, Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature.

 

Something missing? well yes... a Whiskey Compass, there isn't one and on a GA... please tell me why?

 

Avionics Stack has a Garmin GNS530 top, and the GNS430 lower, Transponder is a modern GTX 327. This is X-Plane 12.1.0, and the Gamins now have a customised startup screen, and more original to the real GPS Units. And a very nice and fancy startup procedure it now is.

 

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Being the default X-Plane GNS Units, they pop-out for your convenience. There is the COMM settings in the GNS Units, but there is no radio unit installed here, please fix this...

 

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As noted there are no menus, the only feature is the nose wheel chock, and Pitot cover. They are visible/toggled via pressing the right seat cover.

 

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The lighting is sadly pathetic...  Internally there is only one (adjustable) setting for an red indirect glow on the instruments with no backlighting, but it doesn't look too bad at night, and there is no internal cabin lights at all.

 

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Externally it's just terrible, in the daylight you can't see any lighting at all, either the landing/taxi lights, or even the red roof beacon?

 

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At night any lighting is still barely visible, and the navigation lights are just dull blobs....  not great.

 

Flying the Comanche 250

The PA24-250 is a basic aircraft, so the startup is basic as well. You just give it a little Throttle, full Prop, and a lot of rich mixture (as required) and in turning the key...  "boom" the O-540-AIA5 springs into life. Sounds are pretty good, in being custom made by Boris Audio Works, but the volume is slightly too low? Set at half volume in idle, I could hardly hear the engine sounds?

 

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Setting the trim for takeoff is tricky, as there is no position indicator, but setting it front forward with the winder, gives you a neutral trim setting, not perfect, but sort of better than nothing....   Move your rudder pedals and you turn the front wheel. It is old style X-Plane when the rudder is set to the steering. Most X-Plane aircraft now have the rudder pedals set using a pinched movement, or a smaller limited angle for steering, if you want more turn angle, then you use the tiller (yaw)...  it's odd to have it back, but good for foot steering, the bad is that nose wheel turns more when trying to counteract the asymmetric thrust on takeoff, in so producing a squeal or smoke from the nosewheel?

 

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But the Comanche 250 is nice to taxi...  so we ask the question? "Why fly this aircraft"...  yes it is basic, but the fundamentals are very good. As once moving the PA24 feels great, and you like being in here. And as you have probably gathered by now, there is no pilot in the aircraft?

 

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It is highly noticeable from the external view, sadly...  it feels like a "ghost plane".

 

You have to point the PA24 slightly to the right off the line...   as when you feed in the power it will pull very heavily to the left, and if you are not ready for it...   you will simply slide out onto the grass? This initial asymmetric thrust is brutal, but once through the window, you get more centre-line control. Takeoff run is 1,400 ft (430 m), but the nose wants to go earlier, but then your flying. The PA24 is tricky to takeoff, note flaps are 9º, takeoff position.

 

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Rate of climb is quite high at 1,320 ft/min (6.7 m/s), but the nose trim needs taming early (Trim set right? I don't know), the great sounds of the gear retracting is very authentic.

 

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Finding the best climb rate is to your advantage, I found 900 fpm about right, nice climb with no loss of power, retract the flaps as soon as you can as well to help with the drag.

 

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This aircraft is all about getting into the groove, feel it, controlling it. There is no Autopilot to use? But you can still use the Flightplan on the GNS GPS units to follow a route cross-country.

 

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There sadly is no VOR/DME direction and range finding in here either, so you can't fly VOR to VOR. So it is either dead-reckoning or in using the GPS route. In this case the missing Whiskey Compass is a big oversight, as the bearing instrument is too low in your vision, and it is not reliable either, moving faster than your turn, then returning to the bearing heading.

 

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The Comanche has two fuel tanks in Left and Right, with 30Gal per tank (60Gal total). The Fuel selector is on the floor. But be careful as the fuel gauge is for "Both tanks", so the gauge may show as here at being over half full, but the actual amount in the (L) tank is desperately low...

 

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... there is no warning or any indication the tank is low either, so does this PA24 need individual fuel tank gauges? The developer has noted that most Comanches have wing tanks (adds extra 30Gal), and that both will be added on later.

 

Sounds are really excellent, you thrumm along to those great external, but better yet nice internal sounds that don't get boring...  thankfully.

 

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I have never flown a real Comanche. But when finely trimmed, you can fly this version along quite nicely with a forefinger and thumb on the yoke, with only slight movements are required to keep the PA24 steady. The Comanche is very good like this thankfully, as the flying here is totally and always manual. That said, very long trips would be generally tiring as there is no respite from the controls to relax.

 

Cruise speed is 185 mph (298 km/h, 161 kn) at 6,300 ft (1,900 m) (max. cruise is set at 75% power). Never exceed speeds are 227 mph (365 km/h, 197 kn), and the standard Range is 1,225 mi (1,971 km, 1,064 nmi) at 10,500 ft (3,200 m).

 

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Reduce the power a little and the PA24-250 will descend without any yoke or pitch input, here about 350 fpm, once lower in the white zone 110 knts then you can lower the flaps to again reduce the speed. Again notable is that the speeds shown on the Airspeed dial are outer MPH, and the KNOTS are on the inner band, so you will have to adjust your thinking to that aspect. 

 

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Flaps are available in four positions 0º 9º 18º and 27º degree settings, with each selection, you easily reduce speed, but be aware of lowering the gear too early, the drag is immense, and if done at the wrong time, it could make you quickly lose height, so it is a bit of "at the right time" sort of action. (notes are that the gear here is too draggy?)

 

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Final approach speeds are 75 knts, full 27º flap and gear down, again throttle adjustments to adjust your altitude is very good, you feel totally in control.

 

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Finals are 160 knts, and 150 fpm descent, so just let the Comanche 250 just side itself down to the ground... with a lot of flare pitch, it needs a lot of flare pitch to control the speed downwards.

 

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...   touch is around 55 knts. Be aware of that big grippy tyre on the nose, so yoke inputs (and rudder pedal inputs) once it contacts has to be absolutely minute, if not the the 250 will start to squirm, if you lose it, you will not recover a good landing, so it's a skill to master. Overall it is an aircraft to tune into, but once you do it is also a lot of fun.

 

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Liveries

There is one Blank, and four liveries, all USA registrations.

 

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Summary

The Piper PA-24 Comanche is an American single-engine, low-wing, all-metal monoplane of semi-monocoque construction with a tricycle retractable landing gear and has four to six seats. The Comanche was designed and built by Piper Aircraft and first flew on May 24, 1956.

 

This PA24-250 Comanche is a first time release from the developer inDepthSimulations, and by all accounts and details it is obviously not fully developed. So you may ask the question, "Why review". Our view is that if the developer puts up there product for sale, then the purchaser has the right to know what they are purchasing with their money. There is also the other aspect of another point of view of the product, in this case an aircraft.

 

For a first development, the Piper PA24 Comanche 250 is very good in quality, so that aspect is important. So as an investment, you look at the context of the future, and not where it is now, that ongoing development progress.

 

There are things here I am going to list the aircraft needs, some very quickly in the next few updates. A Whiskey Compass is essential, also is a pitch trim indicator, to balance the aircraft of takeoff. The completion of the cabin, and the opening of the door. A pilot would be a great addition externally in flight, and a radio set (say a Bendix/King KMA 28 TSO) on the Instrument panel. Fuel tanks need separate gauges, and a complete overhaul and refinement of the lighting. From there on you have a pretty good basis for a nice Comanche.

 

It is a basic aircraft to fly, but that is also it's attraction. Bear-bones flying to refine your skills, as the Comanche takes away all the distractions and puts you literally in the pilot's seat, very X-Plane, but it also can be rewarding in recreating one of the great aircraft of the 50s/60"s, as this classic aircraft has four world records to it's name.

_________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! - the PA24-250 Comanche by InDepthSimulations is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


PA24-250 Comanche

Price is US$20.00

 

Requirements

X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)

Windows, Mac or Linux
8 GB VRAM Minimum
Download Size: 576 MB
Current version : 1.0.2 - June 12th 2024
 

Download of the PA24-250  is 562MB, for a full installation of 744Mb

 
Documents
  • InDepthSimulations PA24-250 Manual.pdf (17 Pages)
  • PA24-250 1962-1964 POH .pdf (Authentic Original Handbook, 68 Pages)
  • Piper Comanche 250 Procedures.pdf (Checklists)

 

Manual IDS Cover.jpgHandbook 250.jpg

 

Design by InDepthSimulation
Support forum: PA-24 250 Comanche

_____________________

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 - X-Plane v12.1.0b7 (checked in X-Plane v12.0.9rc5)

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

Scenery or Aircraft

- EGGD - Bristol International Definitive by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$25.95

- EGHI Southampton Airport by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.95

___________________________

Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton

19th June 2024

Copyright©2024: 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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  • 2 weeks later...

Since the plane has both a 530 and a 430, it actually has 2 Com/Nav units, so no radio set is needed. Both of those GPS units includes both a Com and a Nav. Also you said the 3 bladed prop is fixed pitch, but it's actually adjustable pitch/constant speed.

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I noted it as a Fixed-Pitch because there is no animation on the blades, so you are flying with no Prop adjustment? If the developer changes that aspect, then that would be correct.

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