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Aircraft Update Review - DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project


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VSL DC-3_v3.0b1_Header.jpg

 

Aircraft Update Review - DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project

 

Changes on VSkyLab's DC3/C47 is increment by increment. That is not a bad as long as it goes forward of which this project always has done, and note the word "Project" as any aircraft by VSkyLabs is an ongoing project and there is more to come as it is developed out more and more. This is part of the deal with the developer, and at least he keeps his side of the bargain.

 

It was noted that v3.0 was always going to be a significant overhaul, and it is...  and it isn't as well? Confused, well that will be explained. First the external textures was changed or gone from 2K to 4K textures, now the mapping has been changed as well, and to the better or worse is again debatable.

 

My beloved Air Atlantique livery needed some significant changes to match the new v3 texture requirements with items moved (propellers and detail), as the mapping has been now totally redone...  but now the rivet lines don't match up to the older livery, but you can certainly see the better quality in the detailing and far better rivet detail, and overall I am quite happy about with changes. Overall all the earlier liveries will still work, but if you are fanatical about detail then you will need to spend the time to fix them up to the v3 specifications.

 

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Version 3 was always about the internal changes, and there has been some significant changes in every internal area. The cockpit is vastly revised...

 

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....  the changes can be dividing depending on your mood and inclination, I know I am. The main visual change is from the older grey quilt insulation to a more wartime green webbing insulation, I actually like it, but I liked the grey quilting as well, so the cockpit now feels more military than commercial. Another big change are that the windows lose their dirty ageing banding for black tinted banding, personally I think this is a backward step as the older wear of dirt gave the aircraft this dated appeal, were as the tinted black makes it feel more modern. And that is a major point to note here in v3.0.

 

The instrument panel is laid out the same, but different in details. First changes are that you lose the lovely "Douglas" logo on the metal rimmed yokes..

 

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...  they may come back in a future update, other changes are that the Standard Six instruments are now yellow boxed which I like a lot, and the landing gear and hydraulic gauges are now a lovely detailed white than black...  here is the original panel.

 

VSL DC-3_Instrument panel 1.jpg

 

First are the missing rings of screws that holds the panel together to the bulkhead, and yes you really miss them visually, another work in progress, I do hope so...   Added is a really nice wiper switch assembly set below the whiskey compass and above the main instrument panel...  but they don't work... switches do, but the wipers don't? but the assembly is a great visual filler of the instrument panel detail. Note the new S-TEC autopilot panel (arrowed), a modern addition, again I would have liked an option on this visual aspect as I really love the original if very misguided Sperry Type A-3A autopilot, I am not sure if that Type 3A still works, I'll test it in flight.

 

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New instruments are lovely, but feel like the new black panel facia in they are now very modern, clean, new and certainly lose that 70 year old wear and tear feel?  Everything now has the feeling that the old has been pulled out and a new layout has been installed to up date the aircraft to a more modern version?

 

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ditto the new clean heel plates on the floor, no wear or tear like the tired older plates...  at least the excellent pedestal is the same.

 

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Pilot and Co-Pilot seats are all new and are more military surplus than the older black chairs, they are however really well done and highly realistic.

 

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So this updated cockpit overall will certainly be divisive, even I are in two minds with the changes, overall it is certainly far better and with a far higher quality of details with those lovely instruments, but that aged aircraft feel is not in here anymore and even the more militaristic feel adds into the changes, but the loss of the ramshackle wear and tear feel of certainly an very old aircraft is not going to give you now that wartime dated appeal anymore either... and that was the biggest attraction of the aircraft for me, if I want new and modern then I'll fly a newer aircraft, not an old wartime Dakota.

 

Behind the cockpit is a main frame computer? because it looks like a 60's IBM 360 mini-computer, but it is actually an avionics rack?

 

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I expected a metal drilled rivieted wartime set of racks, not banks of medical equipment... odd. Crew entry door is now completed opposite and yes it now opens. Upper observation dome requires you stick your head up into it, well done internally and externally.

 

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Cabin

The original cabin with it's stick like seats was always a stopgap measure. v3.0 was all about a proper cabin, and so it is. The quilt insulation is a lighter green and looks authentic, but it does make the cabin look dullish, the feeling is there is simply too much of it, some lower below the windows paneling would have broken up that over quilty feel. The passenger seats are a bit squared off and blocky as well, and nothing like the excellent forward pilots seats, texture is fine, but the seats have no shape in the cushions or blockrests (sorry back rests), rear seat detailing though is very good. Green curtains replace the bright red ones...  more green.

 

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Kick the computer (sorry touch the avionics racks) and the passenger version changes into the very much wanted cargo version.

 

First you notice the ventilation tubes now added that both run around the cockpit windows and into your forward view?

 

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Invasive, yes very much so as most tubing in images is not this large or so deep into your personal space? I like the detail, but not so close to my face while flying the aircraft, again so divisive....  Cargo consists of three wooden crates and three army surplus bags, no weights are given and there is no adjustment in cargo in volume or types of cargo...  those lower blanket walls would not last a day in any real rough cargo operations?

 

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Huge twin cargo doors open (with a push) and you can see why the DC-3 is such a brilliant regional cargo aircraft, the right size vs the right volume in loading capacity... the aircraft is so hard to replace for those wilderness "way off beaten track" fields. Door detailing is very good, but they feel a little thin, ditto the door fuselage frame.

 

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EGGD - Bristol to EDIW - Dublin

Startup and those lovely Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines burst into life, and the authentic sounds are really good.

 

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I do absolutely recommend XPRealistic Pro v2 by r.k.Apps effects plugin with this VSkyLabs DC-3/C-47...   it gives the aircraft a life like no other with shakes, rattles, sounds and movements that I seriously love...  the twin G530 GPS units are still two of the best intergration systems that are perfectly slung from the top of the windshield, but I am not going to use them here as this is strictly a VOR to VOR flight, but they are there if you need them.

 

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There is a change on how you control the tailwheel in this new v2 version...  the tailwheel lock lever is still there down on the lower pedestal, but there is now a button far left panel that switches between "Pro" and "Novice"

 

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It is a little insulting to be called a "Novice" after flying X-Plane seriously for twelve years or so, but I need the lock between the rudder and tailwheel movement, yes you can go "Pro" and have a loose and twirly tailwheel if you can control that, but I haven't got the time in mastering it all over again.

 

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The Douglas needs a heft of power to get it moving, and a huge amount of power to the left engine to turn the aircraft onto the taxiway...

 

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...  the taxiway feels tight with the nose up - taildown movement, and there is the need to find the time to set up the correct trim for takeoff.

 

Half-power up and your moving...  then gradually increase the RPM until the tail lifts, you have to be fully in control and give the DC-3 a bootful of right rudder to keep the line ahead straight...

 

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At around 85 mph you will become unstuck from the runway, the DC-3 is very hard to feel the ground at this point of aerodynamic lift.

 

VSL DC3_C-47_EGGD 16.jpg

 

A wheel can lift as you fight the rudder, in fact grasping the yoke and pushing pulling hard on the rudder pedals is what this aircraft is all about...

 

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The DC-3 has a climb rate of 1,130 ft/min but you keep it around a 1,000 ft/min as so not to strain the Wasps, but she will climb nicely with no fuss or loss of speed. Total ceiling is around 23,000ft (7,100 m) but I will climb only to 8,000ft for this trip.

 

In the air I go from pushing the right rudder to heavily pressing the left to keep the aircraft flying straight, and then in a moment remember an old trick in using the engines to balance out the drifting, pull back a little on the left hand power and the DC-3 will straighten up, while letting the right engine pull the forces into line...  that denotes the way you fly this aircraft, it is very physical, and it comes with a lot of pressures on the controls and using the power to control the direction. (Yes there is a rudder adjustment lower pedestal, but it is in an impossible place to use)

 

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Once at altitude you use the trim to level up the aircraft.   The rudder knob is then used to adjust the upper section of the twin compass...

 

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The NAV 1 is set to BRECON VOR (117.45 Mhz) BCN, and so I align the compass heading to my VOR heading, There are loads of Collins CTL 22's and CTL 60's set out on the roof for adjusting the required frequencies. So the aircraft is balanced between the trim and throttle power position on keeping it level and straight towards the BCN VOR... The autopilot switch is again on the lower pedestal, but you can't use an X-Plane servo toggle or keyboard selection, it as it has to be switched on manually.

 

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Switching on the autopilot turns on the S-Tec 55x servos that over-rides the older Sperry Type A-3A autopilot? you can adjust via the Type 3A controls, but you can't use just the Sperry Type A-3A? which is not a great step forward as I loved the basics of the older tool? surely you could have a choice?

 

VSL DC3_C-47_EGGD 25.jpg

 

Worse is that the over-ride causes the aircraft to sway, in a wing up - wing down movement that is very hard to dial out, you can use the pressure on the yoke to minimalise the annoying movements, but otherwise flying in the aircraft is like swinging in a hammock. Yes the older Type 3A would drift off course, but you could adjust for that, but this is annoying flying? Turn and sway gets worse until you finally sooth the wings down again.

 

VSL DC3_C-47_EGGD 26.jpg

 

At BCN we reset for VOR-STRUMBLE (133.10Mhz) STU. Turn and the sway gets worse until you finally sooth the movements down (again), but it takes ages.

 

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But I love this VOR to VOR flying, it is a discipline of getting everything right, airmanship or now airpersonship? Turns have to be on time and perfect to connect into the next VOR, if not you are adjusting the heading to get it right on the line again for ages.

 

VSL DC3_C-47_EGGD 30.jpg

 

The DC-3 has a range of 1,500 mi or 2,400 km (1,346nm), which is very impressive, but in most cases around 400 to 500nm is usually the go, speed is around 180mph or 156 knts, and so you are not going anywhere really quickly, but that is missing the fun of these aircraft, it is in the journey than the arrival that is the attraction.

 

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Fishguard is under the DC-3's nose so it is time to head out into the Irish Sea, the DUBLIN (114.90Mhz) DUB VOR does show, but I took the course 335º and the  KILLINEY (378Khz) KLY NDB setting as a backup pointer.

 

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The Douglas swayed around like a fishing boat in a large swell as the horizon moved enough to start to make you feel seasick...  I tried everything to dial it out, but the swaying just kept on waving around. The Irish coast was now thankfully getting closer.

 

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Even if you set the S-Tec to a -800 negative descent, you will get no loss of altitude unless you reduce the power, so like a lot of General Aviation aircraft, then throttle control is crucial in controlling the changes in altitude in the DC-3 as well.... so the Douglas is a very feely, feely aircraft to fly.

 

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I used the GNS 530 to get my entrance bearings in to EIDW's Runway 34 (RNP 12-4).

 

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My approach was fine and on the money, but the DC-3 would simply not go left, I had to manhandle the aircraft to get it closer to the centre of RWY 34's centreline, wind was 5knts, but it felt more like a heavy sidewind of 18knts-20knts....   I found that time on the frame helps in using the throttles (or power) as much as the controls to keep the DC-3 going in the direction you want it too, but this is a seriously physical aircraft to fly, to a point you are at war with the machine to get it to do what you want it to, and no doubt in time with skill you will master it.

 

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Flaps are split underwing and variable with no set positions, and the position indicator (arrowed below) is set low and to your left and hard to read while your eyeballs are literally on centre through the windscreen...

 

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Finally I wrestled the aircraft to the touch down point and all things considered it was a good landing, slightly too fast but passable in the circumstances...

 

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So do I like flying the VSkyLabs DC-3/C-47, certainly yes, but I absolutely don't like that swaying under the autopilot, the DC-3 had it's foibles under the Type A-3A but you could sort of refine them out, but I couldn't do that with the S-Tec? But highly challenging it is too fly, for the pro's they will revel in the machine, but for first termers it could be quite a handful, even I know I would need more time (a lot) on the DC-3 again to totally master it.

 

VSL DC3_C-47_EIDW 22.jpg

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Liveries

As noted the liveries and mapping has been updated in v3. The older liveries do work, but need adjustment. Four new liveries are provided with the update, these include; Buffalo Airways, Thats All Brother (D-Day), Bare Metal and Military Transport (default).

 

VSL DC3_C-47_Buffalo.jpgVSL DC3_C-47_Thats all brother.jpgVSL DC3_C-47_Bare Metal.jpgVSL DC3_C-47_Military Transport.jpg

__________________

Summary

VSkyLabs has noted for a while the v3 update for their DC-3/C-47 Douglas was always going to be a significant update for the aircraft, that it is, but it has also muddled up the project into a stranger context.

 

Focus was always on the new interior with v3 which here consists of a complete rework of the cockpit and cabin. New instrument panel, pilots seats, different webbed insulation replaces the padded quilting and loads of new details abound including a nice wiper assembly, windows have lost their lovely worn light surrounds to be replaced by a black tint. In the rear you get the same heavier and darker webbing insulation, new passenger seats and now a cargo version with crates and bags and a odd looking avionics rack that is more 70's than 40's. Odd notes are that the pilots seats are excellent, but the new passenger seats are strangely boxy average, the lovely working fans have been removed and when in cargo mode there are ventilation tubes added that both run around the cockpit windows and obstruct your forward view.  Overall the changes are of a seriously higher quality and very good.

 

But this is where the update get confusing. If you want a more military C-47 style Dakota then the internal updates fits better than the earlier civilian versions layouts, so put on a wartime livery and it fits all very nicely. But the instrumentation layout (but I am guessing is still not yet completed in the missing screws), is now a far more modern clean than a post war tired, worn and worked hard DC-3, ditto the newly added S-Tec autopilot that over-rides the older but very authentic Sperry Type A-3A, now it is a mish-mash of both autopilots with a weird wing swaying that is more like flying a fishing boat in a heavy swell.

 

So what was once a civvy post war DC-3 Gooney Bird is now a military 90's updated and not so authentic modern take on the original aircraft, the only thing missing now is the installation of the two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AR turboprop engines to finish off the modern take of the DC-3....  Confused, I am?

 

So it comes down now to your take on what you want out of a DC-3, if you are looking for a post war civilian worn out machine then the VSkyLabs project is moving away from that context, it is slowly being replaced is a more military feel, with modern avionics, it is all very good, even excellent..   but I am not sure how Joe McBryan (aka "Buffalo Joe") would now make of it, I certainly don't know?

______________________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

The DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain / DC-3 Flying Lab Project

 

Your Price: $29.95

 

Features:
New: Two variants included
  • DC-3/C-47 Plus XC-47C Amphibious version
VR Ready
  • X-Plane 11 Native VR ready. will be updated as needed
Features:

 

  • Fully compatible for VR (with fully featured cockpit for touch controllers operations).
  • Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47, along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems.
  • Two Variants included: Standard C-47 and XC-47C Amphibious varariant.
  • Equipped with portable Skis for snow operations.
Comprehensive systems:
  • Two speed Supercharger blowers - based on the PW-1830-90C engines model, equipped with lo/hi blowers. The high blower configuration is allowing high altitude cruise.
  • Oxygen system - including crew dilution/regulator, pressure indicator and functional flow-indicator ("Blinker"). Do not forget to enable hypoxia in X-Plane general settings menu.
  • 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.
  • Smoke ventilation algorithm is incorporated into the cockpit side-windshields.
  • Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up. 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.
  • Engines/propeller systems - designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic propeller feathering system, for highly realistic single engine simulation.
  • Sperry Autopilot - Old school autopilot is configured.
  • Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems.
  • Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model.
  • Rain and Icing conditions visualization.
  • Aircraft handling and performance based on real-world C-47 experience: 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 a real-world C-47 pilot.
Additional features:
  • STMA AutoUpdater plugin included: You always have the most updated project version. Fully automatic.
  • Highly responsive support: Support system to answer all your C-47/DC-3 related questions!
  • Still under development: The project is under constant development, following a long-term development road-map, and also following X-Plane evolving features!

 

If you have already purchased the DC3/C47 from Vskylabs then just login to your X-Plane.OrgStore and go to your account and download the current v3.0b1 (note - that you download the b1 revised version!)

 

Requirements
X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current and Review version:  v3.0b1  (August 11th 2020) 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton

14th August 2020

Copyright©2020 : 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)

 

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 1Tb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 (Tested in v11.50b17-fine)

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins:  : XPRealistic Pro v2  effects US$19.95  (highly recommended with the DC-3), Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99

Scenery or Aircraft

- EIDW - Airport Dublin V2 by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95

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

 

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