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Classic Aircraft : de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter by RW Designs

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DHC-3 Otter_Header.jpg


Classic Aircraft : de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter by RW Designs


The de Havilland Canada company of Canada (DHC) had a huge success with their DHC-2 Beaver utility aircraft that was and still is the one of the greatest bush aircraft ever built. And so if you are on to a good thing then being an aircraft manufacturer is that what you usually do with the next aircraft is to build a bigger, faster and better one than the original success story.


This is the original DHC-2 Beaver (by Soul Made Simulations) and this is the size of the first aircraft and the blueprint for the larger DHC-3 Otter.


DHC-3 Beaver_1.jpgDHC-3 Beaver_2.jpg


The design work on the "King Beaver" (the Otter's original name) began in January 1951, and it was noted as an aerial "One Ton Truck" to the Beavers "Half Ton Truck" capability. The new design incorporated a longer fuselage, greater-span wings, a cruciform tail, and it is much heavier. Seating in the main cabin is for 10 or 11 passengers, whereas the Beaver can seat six. Power is supplied by a 450-kW (600 hp) Pratt & Whitney-1340 geared radial. The new version used in the Otter was geared for lower propeller revolutions and consequently a lower airspeed, but flies the same speed as the Beaver. The electrical system was 28 volts D.C. and Like the Beaver, the Otter can be fitted with skis or floats. This Otter also served as the basis for the very successful Twin Otter which featured two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprops. 


The Otter received Canadian certification in November 1952 and entered production shortly thereafter. A total of 466 have been manufactured since.


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RW Design's DHC-3 Otter


Design wise RW's aircraft is very good, certainly not in the Carenado class but then what other aircraft is in that class any way. You don't get the that extreme really fine, fine detailing here, but otherwise it is pretty well put together.


DHC-3 Otter_5.jpg


And that is highlighted by the great wasp 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine detailing, and its lovely 3-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. 


Exhaust Augmenter Tubes

Those huge two exhaust tubes on both sides of the fuselage are called "Exhaust Augmenter Tubes", which are located below the cockpit doors and are a special design feature of the DHC-3. In the exhaust augmenter tubes, the exhaust gases produce suction that is strong enough to pull cooling air around the engine and from behind the engine compartment while at the same time providing a measurable amount of thrust in cruising flight. The engine is thus effectively cooled during steep climbs when the forward air speed is low and the engine out-put near its maximum.


DHC-3 Otter_6.jpgDHC-3 Otter_7.jpg


The exhaust tubes have been expertly modeled here, and are quite beautiful to look at (If you are into that sort of thing). The undercarriage and fuselage attachment points are also very nicely detailed.


DHC-3 Otter_Internal.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Internal 1.jpg


A look into the cockpit and you instantly see the Otter's original Beaver heritage as the layout and the detailing are quite similar, with that huge crossover yoke dominating the panel.


DHC-3 Otter_Internal 4.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Internal 5.jpg


The worn seating is good and well created, but not the really well worn, torn and dirty look you would expect from a working utility aircraft it feels to light. And I am not sure what the tiles are on the roof, canvas, rubber or metal...  plastics were not a basic commodity in the early 50's, if at all it looks plastic. But I think it is to replicate a padded rooflining?  The same effect is on the insides of the doors.


DHC-3 Otter_Internal 3.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Internal 2.jpg


Cabin is also good, but a little basic. I like the cloth seating but there are no seatbelts to hold you down and I wouldn't want to fly seated on them for very long. At the rear is a netted cargo section with a selection of cargo (three crates).



There is a menu pop-up that works when you tap the file folder by the Co-Pilot's seat.


DHC-3 Otter_ Menu 1.jpgDHC-3 Otter_ Menu 2.jpg


One is the main menu that covers:


  • External Power (no showing power unit)
  • Flashlight (needed)
  • Yoke (show/hide)
  • Jump Door
  • Heading Slave
  • Walk-around


There is an "Aircraft Visual Option" that shows: Chocks, Pitot Cover and a ladder.


DHC-3 Otter_ Menu 5.jpgDHC-3 Otter_ Menu 6.jpg


All the doors open, with the two front cockpit doors, right side passenger door and left side double cargo doors. All the doors have to be opened internally which can take time moving around the cockpit and cabin to do all the handles...  an easier door menu selection would have been nice?


Rear left cargo doors can be set two ways with the double doors in position, or "Jump Door" (or no doors).


DHC-3 Otter_ Menu 7.jpgDHC-3 Otter_ Menu 8.jpg


The ladder option only works with the opened double-doors, and not with the "Jump Door" option.



There is a walk-around feature in that if you press the items on the menu car you are postioned at the point of inspection and with notes on the card of what to look for...


DHC-3 Otter_ Menu 4.jpgDHC-3 Otter_ Menu 3.jpg


The action of pointing at the card does not actually point you at the item in question? so you have scroll your view to find the item you want to inspect, it works but not perfectly.



The panel by today's standards is very basic.


DHC-3 Otter_Panel 1.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Panel 2.jpg

DHC-3 Otter_Panel 3.jpg


The Standard six instruments are all there just for the pilot. Top left is the Airspeed Indicator, with the Attitude Indicator or Artificial Horizon middle, right is the Vertical Speed Indicator with the Altimeter is lower left. Heading dial is basically compass style is centre with the Turn Coordinator lower right.


Bottom knee panel is from left with a electrical and engine starter panel, Fire panel, then a VOR2 OBS CDI (course deviation indicator) and a ADF pointer. far right on the panel is the tank selector with Front - Center - Rear tanks available.


Co-Pilot side you have one lower knee panel with the lighting, heating switches and volt dial.


Engine panel is top centre with (top row) Manifold Pressure, R.P.M., Oil/Fuel pressure/temp, Cylinder (CYL) Head Temp. (bottom Row) Clock, Fuel gauges for the three tanks, Temperature Gauge ºC and Suction gauge.


There is the lovely DHC pedestal with all three levers for Throttle, Propeller and Mixture.


Equipment Stack

Far right on the Co-Pilot's side is an angled "Equipment Stack"


The stack pops-out for ease of use but you can't change the scale. It covers a: Benedix/King KMA 28 TSO Audio Panel, Two Benedix/King KX 155A TSO's COM1/VOR1 and COM2/VOR2 frequency tuners, Benedix/King  KT 70 TSO Transponder, Benedix/King KR 87 TSO ADF Tuner and a Benedix/King KFC 225 Autopilot.


DHC-3 Otter_Panel EQ.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Panel GPS.jpg


The default X-Plane Garmin GNS 430 gps is positioned on the top of the panel and as per usual use pops-out.


This Otter looks like it is to reflect the more modern variant than the older earlier model, hence the more lighter paneling and design. There is scruff marks and general dirtying down of the aircraft, but it feels like it needs a lot more hard work and a through beating to make it more totally realistic. Note the beautiful DH rudder pedals (below).


DHC-3 Otter_Panel 4.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Panel 6.jpg


Overall the design and work here is very good, but there are a few noticeable items that should have not passed the fine tuning stage...  like the gap between the yoke handles and the yoke caps. There is a nice trim wheel down by the pilot, but it doesn't work? unless the autopilot is controlling the trim? So no trim adjustment is available including the yaw located up above the windscreen.


DHC-3 Otter_Panel 7.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Panel 8.jpg


There is a very nice outside temperature gauge built into the roof...


DHC-3 Otter_Panel 5.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Panel 9.jpg


...  and an usual skylight built into the cabin ceiling, and you don't see one of them on the average Airbus.



There are three variants with the Otter package. The "Wheeled" version above, a "Ski" version and a "Float" version.


DHC-3 Otter_Ski 10.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Float 10.jpg


The different variants are well done, but they are all separate aircraft, and so you have to set your preferences on each aircraft separately.


DHC-3 Otter_Float 11.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Float 12.jpg


The Float version has a retractable gear panel on the lower pedestal, the animation is very good and the float version looks very nice in flight.



There are one blank and seven liveries and most registrations here are Canadian based.


DHC-3 Otter_livery blank 1.jpgDHC-3 Otter_livery C-FHXY.jpg

DHC-3 Otter_livery NZ.jpgDHC-3 Otter_livery C-ADLAIR.jpg

DHC-3 Otter_livery C-GGSL.jpgDHC-3 Otter_livery C-NORPAC.jpg

DHC-3 Otter_livery N-567KA.jpgDHC-3 Otter_livery C-GYYS.jpg


Livery quality is very good, but not HD (High Definition) deep. The New Zealand VAS is a nice touch. All the liveries work on all the variants.


Flying the Otter!


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 1.jpg


Time to climb up on board and take the Otter for a ride. Starting that old radial wasp as you would expect is a bit of "How's your father" and a lot of praying. In short you need to set the electric pump to on, then a few pumps to prime the cylinders (more if cold) from the manual pump on the front of the pedestal, electric pump off again and then set the mixture to not so full rich and a bit of throttle.... 


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 2.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 3.jpg


Then a fingering of your rosary beads (I'm not a Catholic, but it still helps) and click the start switch, If god loves you on this day the radial will churn and fire into life and you will need to steady the idle once you get a few numbers on the needles. If god is not on your side then you will churn the motor forever and flood the pistons with too much fuel...  So a cup of coffee is needed while it all settles down again and give it another churn in a while. Get a really bad day and just go and fly something else.


If the praying worked then you are in the flying business. Sounds are very waspy mechanical knockingly real, or very good, but not the total high quality sounds you can now get, but still very good considering how few of these aircraft are still around or in working condition.


The view out from the pilot's perspective is quite expansive compared to the tight cabin of the Beaver, but this is still a tail-dragger which means a sky high nose and a taxi by looking to the left and down. But the view is very good.


Engine warmed up and a better idle means you are ready to go.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 4.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 5.jpg


For a tail-dragger the DHC-3 is nice to taxi (or it actually does go in the direction you want it to). You need the odd extra bit of throttle if you have a tighter corner to manoeuvre around or swinging around on the ramp, but this is par course for any tail-dragger anyway.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 6.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 7.jpg


The Otter is a STOL aircraft which is short for "Short TakeOff & Landing". If you give the aircraft a fair bit of flap (half) it will leap into the air quite quickly, but a little flap is more controllable at slower speeds, but you still get airborne very quickly. The tail thankfully for the view forward pops up early and you are ready to fly at just over 100knts.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 8.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 9.jpg


The aircraft will track quite well but lift the wheels off the ground and the DHC-3 will bank with the rotating engine thrust to the right quite suddenly and you have to catch it (only the first time as you are ready the next time).


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 11.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 10.jpg


This event may let you think the Otter is hard to fly, but in reality it is however completely the opposite, as it is very easy and very docile in your hands. A very nice aircraft to fly and it was tested by real life Otter pilots and I feel they got it exactly right.


Although there is no trim available (it is noted in the manual?) it does settle to a balance quite quickly, but you still wish for that manual adjustment.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 12.jpg


You are not going to break the sound barrier in an Otter, with a maximum speed of 160 mph (139knots, 257km/h) and a cruise speed of only 121 mph (105knots,195km/h)... range is an amazing 945 mi (822 nmi, 1,520 km) and your ceiling is 18,000ft, so slow and high it is. In speed the Otter is the same as the Beaver, but it feels a little faster and more sprightly overall.


DHC-3 Otter_Air 1.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Air 2.jpg

DHC-3 Otter_Air 3.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Air 4.jpg


In the air the detailing is more highlighted than on the ground, and the aircraft looks very nice in the right light.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 13.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 14.jpg


The autopilot is a change and stick type, or point it in the direction you want the aircraft to go and then select the heading to hold you on that course to get there. But the AP didn't exactly hold the heading as tight as I would want it to, I found I had to correct it often to keep the aircraft on course? Altitude can be changed with a Vertical Speed setting and a target altitude can be also set. The manipulators on the pop-up panel are not as exact or the same as the ones on the panel and they work slightly differently, but overall the panel is very good.


The big windscreen forward view is excellent and even bigger than the Beaver version.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 16.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 15.jpg


At night it is dark in here. Panel lighting is certainly there, but I couldn't find the switches or adjustment? (not in the manual either). On the Beaver they are two large adjustment dials on the Co-Pilot's side, but they are absent here?


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 17.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 18.jpg


Externally it is also quite stark, with just the navigation lights.


DHC-3 Otter_Air 5 LG.jpg


You can tootle along up here for ages, the firing of the radial pistons banging away in the nose, and the slow movement of the scenery passing away below you.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 16.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 15.jpg


My destination airport in Page Field (Ft Myers), Florida (KFMY) comes up on my right and so you reset your mind and enjoy the feeling of your hands on the controls again...


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 19.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 20.jpg


The DHC-3 is a very versatile and lively aircraft to control, docile and the low speed allows steep banking and you are easily into a quick turn back to the airport with a touch of the rudder to control the high wing lift..


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 21.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 22.jpg


Landing is cleared to Page Field's RWY 31. It is time to slow the speed right down and drop the flaps, but in doing so it is like hitting an invisible wall. The DHC-3 as a STOL aircraft was built and designed to land on very poor surfaced and short strips. This is what makes the Otter so versatile and attractive to bush pilots and the aircraft gives you access to airports and in some case just places with no runways but just a rough flat section of ground to deliver or service a community.


The flaps gear arrangement here is exquisite and really well designed, it is all well animated as well with great linkages to not only the flaps, but also the outer ailerons. The passengers have a great view of the flap animated action and the great detailing.


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 23.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 24.jpg


The Flap indicator is situated on lower center windscreen divider post. If you use a Saitek (nee Logitech) system it only gives you a continuous movement of flap travel, but there are instructions in the manual to give you the position notches if you need them (but I am not fussed there).


DHC-3 Otter_Flying 25.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Flying 26.jpg


You approach the threshold at only just under a 100kts and easily then adjust down to 65knts.


DHC-3 Otter_Landing 1.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Landing 2.jpg


The aircraft is so docile and stable you use the slight headwind like a seagull to hold your hover position and to look at the point you want to touch down as your speed drop to only 55knts...


DHC-3 Otter_Landing 3.jpg


...    focusing on your landing point you just slowly descend and land right at the point you want too, easy and totally in control, it is these flying qualities made the Beaver and Otter the legends they are today.


DHC-3 Otter_Landing 4.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Landing 5.jpg


With two wheels on the ground you are still in control and the drag will allow you to easily settle the tail without any braking or sudden movements. This landing was in a controlled hard surface setting, but the Otter would be just as at home anywhere really.


DHC-3 Otter_Landing 6.jpgDHC-3 Otter_Landing 7.jpg




DHC-3 Otter_Landing 8.jpg



In many ways the DHC-3 Otter from RW Design's is a total contradiction. It is in many, many areas exquisitely designed with beautiful features and has great details.


But in other areas the details are missing like the views and door actions in the menus, The lighting systems that I know do work, but there is no information on how to adjust or find the switches or knobs, and also the wheels that will rotate from one airport to another. There is such great design in here and yet there are gaps like on the yokes that you can see through while flying the aircraft. There are no pilot's from the outside views also and it looks quite odd without them, a sort of a freaky aircraft flying all on it's own feeling. The none working trim that is noted in the manual but didn't work in practise, and I am not sure of the bathroom tiling of the ceiling and doors. All small stuff but... 


X-Plane today is now getting very demanding in the sheer photographic detailing it can now reproduce and this aircraft and with certainly the external detailing it does pass that level and test. This is also lower Carenado territory in value and price and so it also delivers at that level as well, but if you are looking for the sheer detail and the quality of the SoulMade Simulation Beaver style aircraft here then this Otter just not up to that extreme class or level...  it is though very good.


The aircraft is at this point X-Plane11 compatible, but not a fully compliant X-Plane11 aircraft, in other words it flies and works fine in X-Plane11, but will be updated to the correct compliancy level when X-Plane11 is made into a full release version.


This is a classic aircraft, and very worthy of it's status. It flies very well and it is a great adventure aircraft. And pilot's who like this sort of rough strip or island hopping flying will absolutely love it.




X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter by RW Designs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


DHC-3 Otter


Price is US$26.95


Nice Package with 3 Different Versions:
  • DHC-3 Wheel
  • DHC-3 Float
  • DHC-3 Ski
  • Interchangable liveries between versions
Great Visuals and Ultra-High Definition Aircraft
  • Professionally developed 3D interior and exterior
  • Hundreds of animations
  • Night lighting
  • UHD 4K textures
  • Normal mapping
  • 8 Liveries in Ultra High Definition
  • Paintkit included
Custom sounds and systems powered by SASL
Flight model developed in conjunction with Otter pilots
Pop-up Menus
  • Base menu
  • Walk-around
  • Radio Stack



X-Plane 11+ or X-Plane 10.50+ 
Windows, Mac, Linux - Running in 64 bit mode
2GbVRAM Video Card. 3Gb+ VRAM Recommended 




Installation : Download v1.0 is 310.60mb which is unzipped to your X-Plane aircraft folder at 364.40mb.

Documentation : includes


  • Avionics Manual
  • Checklist
  • Otter Manual



Stephen Dutton

7th March 2017

Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2017


Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:  - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11beta13 / Checked install in X-Plane10.51

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

Plugins: Headshake by SimCoders (free) : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90


- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (X-Plane.Org) - Free (note: personal added items in an office (okay demountable building and vehicles)

- KFMY - Page Field, Fort Meyers by Timbenedict3 (X-Plane.Org) - Free


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