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Aircraft Review : Stinson 108-3 Voyager & Station Wagon by Ted Cook

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Aircraft Review : Stinson 108-3 Voyager & Station Wagon by Ted Cook


The name of aviation pioneer Edward “Eddie” Stinson has been mostly forgotten in the history books. Mostly because he died flying in 1932 while on a sales trip at Chicago, Illinois at only the age of 38 years old. But it would be a mistake to not discredit Stinson's contribution to aviation.


His first four seater biplane Stinson SB-1 Detroiter was the first fixed-wing aircraft with a heated, soundproof cabin, electric starter, and wheel brakes. Powered by either a Wright J-5 (SB-1) or Wright J-6 (SB-1D), the Detroiter became quickly an overnight success. The SM-6000 Airliner was a 1930s three-engined (trimotor) ten-passenger airliner that was as design breaking and as modern in the era as any of today's aviation giants. Another Stinson great was the Model O open cockpit high-wing parasol aircraft, and from the early 1920's till the founder's accident the Stinson Aircraft company was one of the real big aviation pioneers and if Eddie Stinson had continued there would be no doubt that his name would have been as familiar as today's other great aviation manufacturers along side of Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas and McDonnell.


After Eddie Stinson's death the company survived until the 1950's and found a niche in supplying the U.S. Forces with excellent aerial reconnaissance and short field liaison aircraft. This aircraft here in the 108-3 Voyager was the post war version of the famous U.S. Army's L-5 Sentinel, one of the most used and least recognized U.S. aircraft of the Second World War. And later was also the basis for Piper Aircraft which bought the company in 1949 to be transformed from this original Stinson design (the "Twin Stinson") into the successful Piper Apache, the world's first general aviation all-metal twin-engined modern aircraft. The 108-3 was powered a Franklin 6A4 six cylinder, horizontally opposed four stroke, aircraft engine with 165 hp (123 kW) and 5,260 model 108 aircraft were built.


Performance: Maximum speed: 143 mph (230 km/h; 124 kn) - Cruise speed: 121 mph (105 kn; 195 km/h)- Stall speed: 65 mph (56 kn; 105 km/h) - Range: 510 mi (443 nmi; 821 km) - Service ceiling: 16,500 ft (5,029 m) - Rate of climb (V/S): 850 ft/min (4.3 m/s)


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This 1948 108-3 aircraft is the first release for X-Plane from Ted Cook Productions. And this package comes in three versions...  VFR Panel, IFR Panel and Floats. We will explore the IFR Panel version and note the other versions as required.


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The strange first view of the 108-3 is that it is the most unfamiliar, familiar aircraft you know. There is a lot of Beaver in the design, most notably in the tail. But for it's period of design it is a modern aircraft that would not be out of place on any kit design aircraft of today with a strikingly similar six cylinder, horizontally opposed four stroke engine in the nose (Porsche anyone).


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The Stinson is not going to win any great 3d or texture design awards, but it is well done and as I would note as sturdy and would certainly fit into the same quality and completeness and the well liked and loved designs of STMA (Shade Tree Micro Aviation) and X-Hangar's aircraft. Highlight is the lovely wooden twin-prop propeller.


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Both the pilot and co-pilot's doors open via the internal handles or using the Shift F1/2 keys. The small rear cabin baggage compartment can also be opened via the Shift F3 key, but like me you may want to reset the 3-slider to another key to make it work. The glovebox can be also opened via the knob switch.

The door windows also slide open, but not evenly in that if the door is open then the glass is not flush with the frame.


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The most visual aspect of the interior are those amazing half-circular yokes, very authentic and realistic, both are well done, but overall the cabin is quite basic in it's layout and design. The differences are that the Voyager uses the cloth seats and paneling, and Station Wagon version uses the wood grain paneling which looks very nice here.


The main differences in the versions are on the the way the instrument panal's are set out for VFR (Visual Flight Rules) and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight.



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The VFR version has a very basic set of instruments with a Compass, Airspeed, Altimeter, RPM Gauge as your only flight tools, aircraft instruments include - Oil Pressure, Oil Temp, Fuel gauge and Amperage. Switch gear is also quite basic.


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The radio set is the most significant difference with just a Com 1 Tuner, and a BendixKing transponder in keeping with the original 108-3 design. The VFR version comes with the nice and brighter Voyager cloth paneling.



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The IFR version has a more comprehensive set out instrument panel with the same Compass, Airspeed, Altimeter, RPM Gauge. But then added are is a Turn-Indicator and Vertical Speed Indicator as part of the flight tools. A really good navigation VOR (2) and ADF pointer instrument and gyro based artificial horizon (Attitude Indicator (AI)) are set either side of the compass. A clock is added between the aircraft instruments.


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As required the IFR radio is more comprehensive with settings for Com 1 and 2, Nav (VOR) 1 and 2 and ADF 1 and 2, the same BendixKing transponder is set out below. All the instruments are a bit glazed over to note age, but can be hard to read, more darker depth would have worked better and help in their usefulness. You can hide the pilot's yoke but not the co-pilot's which is odd as the wheel covers some required instruments making them hard to read.



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The float version uses the internals of the IFR panel and hangs a set of two very nice floats under the aircraft (There is no Tundra or Ski versions available). The floats are really nicely done but have no built in land wheels, so they are for water operations only, rudder steering is very good and they can be raised in the air but with the brake-handle and not the usual switch or landing gear lever.


Flying the Stinson 108-3


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A bit of carb heat and a setting of the mixture full in and you will also require a few pulls of the "primer" to give the cylinders some juice and then you can flip the right red switch to start and the Franklin 6A4 will suddenly bursts into life. Engine sounds are from a real Stinson Franklin 6A4 and they do sound good, and very realistic in flight. There is a guide in the manual that allows to correctly calculate the correct aircraft weight and balance with the X-Plane aircraft settings which is very helpful.

Unlike most tail-draggers the 108-3 is quite easy to navigate on the ground. The aircraft will go where it is pointed and you can taxi with a nice sense of purpose.


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The view forward with the tail down is not great, the iconic airframe strengthening struts across the main windscreen don't help the situation either. So glancing left you mark your way down the runway as the tail lifts and around 80knts you are flying.


One of the natural aspects of the Stinson is that it is very a nice aircraft to fly, nicely balanced and easy in your movements with the yoke. Very quickly you feel very comfortable with the machine, and yes say "I like this!". You are not going to break any speed records, or create new altitude feats worthy of the records book but a 16,500 ft (5,029 m) ceiling is very impressive for a small aircraft of this open design. You can easily see or feel why this aircraft was the perfect spotters aircraft in it's prime.


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You can set the maximum rate of roll (via a switch) and the fueling system is quite complex. There is a upper toggle switch is for the fuel level indicator and the lower red valve switch assigns of which tank is supplying the fuel to the engine. It is important to note that the fuel level switch does not switch the actual fuel lines from the left or right tanks (the big left red switch does that) but just shows the amount of fuel in the selected tank.


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The aircraft trim is set via a winder knob (Elevation) and a turning knob (Rudder) on the roof. Which is very well done and easy to use. The overhead light is adjustable but it is useless in the day.


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You can putter about up here all day, cruising above the fields and passing traffic. Feel the yoke in your hands and take the aircraft easily in any direction you want to go, it is nice place to be.


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Reality kicks in with a rush as a (WorldTraffic) KingAir powers over me to land on KLAL (Lakeland) Runway 09.


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Surprisingly the VOR and ADF pointers are very handy in navigating your correct approach path in the right hands and with experience. It is the learning and discipline that constant X-Plane flying can add to your experience, in that like me in only a few years you can navigate like a pro and use these tools to their full use and being very confident and sure in your flying.


The flap lever is down between the front seats and they are very effective, the aircraft does not float per se, but it does give you a lot of stability to position the aircraft of where you want to to go with a great and easy allowance to lose altitude for an easy (if perfect) landing at around 55knts.


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The trick though is not a sweet landing but actually stopping the aircraft when the front wheels are down on the hard stuff.


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Once on the runway the 108-3 will quite happily power on down the concrete and on into the scenery. If you hit the brakes too fast the aircraft will simply flip (not good) or do as I did and run off as much speed as possible and then gently just touch the brakes briefly a few times to bring the tailwheel down to a hard contact, again go softly on the brakes till you are well down to taxi speed. It is trick but get it right and it works.



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Internal lighting and panel lighting is average. Only with the internal roof light set to very bright can you see the instruments? Not good as they are all quite blank and useless in normal operation, the yokes turn yellow as well. The roof mounted light is adjustable and when fully lit it does show off the cabin in a far better light (no pun intended), you can see the detail and work that is far better than it looks in the daylight.


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External lighting is basic, with a landing and taxi light in the left wing and standard navigation lights.



There is one blank livery and two themes in a blue or red theme with all three versions, an L-5 Sentinel Army livery would have been a nice addition. Quality is fine and 4K but a little dull.


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The surprise here is that this 1948 Stinson 108-3 is a very nice aircraft to fly. If you are a Bush Pilot tragic, or love those noisy slow STMA (Shade Tree Micro Aviation) hedge hopping aircraft then you will love this Stinson. It is very well done for what it is, but it is just a basic aircraft.

There is a nice set of versions of the aircraft in the package, giving you some flying versatility and the float version is excellent.

I would like those instruments to be far more authentic and even readable in the dark, a bit more details (seatbelts/cargo version?) and a few more features would be nice.


But overall 108-3 is an interesting if iconic aircraft, and like I noted I had a hoot of a time flying it around, it is just so nice behind the controls that you can stay up there all day with the birds, I think Eddie would have approved of the aircraft.


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The Stinson 108-3 Voyager & Station Wagon by Ted Cook is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


1948 Stinson 108-3 Package


Your Price: $18.00

Included in the Stinson Package:

  • All three versions of the Stinson 108
  • Engine sounds from actual Stinson 108-3 with Franklin engine.
  • High resolution (4k) textures.
  • Animated doors, windows, control surfaces, instruments and more.
  • Accurate layout, panel and performance.
  • Weight and balance chart.
  • Pilots Operating Handbook


X-Plane 10.45+ (any edition)
Windows, Mac or Linux
1Gb VRAM Video Card

Current Version: 1.1 (last updated May 27th 2016)
Frameweight wise the Stinson is light as a feather

Installation and documents:

Download for the Tu-154M is 284.40meg and the unzipped file deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 3.88.30mb.

One POH (Pilots Operating Handbook) manual is included.



Review by Stephen Dutton
11th June 2016
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 8 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

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

Scenery or Aircraft

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (X-Plane.Org) - Free (note there has been a few personal additions returned to this KLAL with a mobile office and trucks returned that were omitted from the v2.01 that I liked in v1.0) :)


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