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Aircraft Review : Piper PA-18 SuperCub by ASDG
Stephen posted a topic in Classic Aircraft ReviewsAircraft Review : Piper PA-18 SuperCub by AeroSim Development Group The original PiperCub was the J-3 a very lightweight tamdem-seater aircraft built between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft. (the first design was the "Taylor Cub" but it was Piper Aircraft that created the classic Cub version that sold 20,000 aircraft). The design is extremely simple with a fabric covered tube frame with a strut-braced high-wing monoplane with a large-area rectangular wing and was powered by an 37 hp (28 kW) air-cooled piston engine driving a fixed-pitch propeller. The Cub was as basic an aircraft as you could fly in the air. Like all successful designs then the aircraft grew, with bigger engines with more speed and more capabilities, and so it is with the Cub, or the SUPER Cub. The PA-11 was the classic Cub with a bigger 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A65-8 piston engine and that morphed into the 95 hp Continental C-90-8F piston engine, sometimes known as the PA-18-95 known as the first SuperCub, but the first true "Super" Cub had flaps, dual fuel tanks, and an O-235 Lycoming engine producing about 108 hp (115 hp for takeoff only). The power was still increased until the ultimate until 1954 variant with a 150 hp Lycoming O-320 which is really the Super, Super, SuperCub! and the one we are reviewing here. There are three versions included with ASDG's SuperCub... 150HP Titan™ X320 powered Super Cub, with a separate flight model for Tundra Tires and or the Standard Tires. 180HP Titan™ X340 Powered Super Cub + constant speed prop with Tundra wheels only. In reality what you are flying here is a tube frame with and an engine fastened on the front and the wings attached above and a tailplane and rudder at the back... but for such a barely basic design the aircraft quite versatile. Most Cub roles are as a trainer, but the aircraft was an excellent observation aircraft and better still as a bush pilot's aircraft, ski's and floats (on the higher powered versions) also add to its workability. The aircraft comes with SimCoder's REP "Reality Expansion Pack" as part of the package and is in part the case for the high price as any REP is an add-on of usually around US$20. Yes the REP packages are excellent, but they can also interfere sometimes a little too forcefully in just you wanting to basically fly the aircraft. Menus There are two sets of menu tabs on your left lower part of your screen. The top set are the main menus and the lower tab is the "Titan" Engine specifications. There are six main menu tabs to choose from on a left hand window menu that is slightly hidden until activated. Top to bottom they consist of : Kneeboard, Mass & Balance, Walkaround, Tow, Maintenance Report and Automatic Engine Start. There is one more Menu option in "Settings" but that is not listed under a tab, but it is placed in your plugin menu that allows you to set REP settings to your liking. These include : Enable Aircraft Damages, Show Failure Messages, Show Tips, Enable Mouse Gestures, Show Side Menu on mouse Hover, Save and Restore Aircraft Status between (flying) sessions, Enable Hypoxia effects and use Imperial Units (metric is default). The "Settings" menu does thankfully allow you to fly the aircraft in some sort of peace without the constant popup's of messages which in REP's can be really annoying and distracting for, but I do like the "Save and Restore Aircraft Status" to keep the continuity between flights. Kneeboard has three sets of notes : Normal Operations, Emergency and References, overall it is a basic set up but usable. Mass & Balance allows you to set up the aircraft with fuel, passengers, baggage and weights. It is quite a powerful panel with a very good Centre of Gravity balance envelope graph to see your changes, both male and female rear passengers are available and are thankfully realistic. Walkaround is another SimCoder feature in that you walk around the aircraft and check it out for its current condition or for flight. You can check the fluids and the condition of the fluid, and all flying surfaces can be checked by moving them violently up and down. You can also add in or remove static elements of chocks and tiedowns, which is a long way around than doing something than just clicking the items on a menu... Tow is an idea of putting you behind the rear tailplane and then moving the aircraft with your joystick. You sorta get the Tow idea, but you are facing the wrong way to see where the aircraft is actually pointing to or where you are moving to? It is tricky at first, but then you get it.... sorta. Maintenance Report gives you three pages of the condition of the aircraft and you can interact on the form to rectify the items on the list, like oil changes, spark plugs (Normal or Fine-Wire) and tyres (Tires). The front engine canopy is separate with a modeled Titan X340 in there but with no removable actions to see it? But my guess is when Maintenance is required you are given access to the engine? Automatic Engine Start is the valuable tool to keep you sane... or at least keep your sanity intact. One of the biggest barriers for me enjoying these REP packages is the simple task of starting the the engine and then keeping it running. I have many times in the past simply abandoned a REP review because I simply spent to much time and throwing way to much anger at a computer screen to find I had better things to review than put up with all this pain. So the Automatic Engine Start is a lifesaver (even though I still had to use it three times to get to the runway?) and can least can start the engine, if keeping it going is another matter entirely. Yes realism is brilliant, but it doesn't have to be as complicated or at least you can or should have the option to tone it down or disconnect the idea. Yes I did all the right things in fine-tuning the mixture, yes the spark plugs do foul, but not to the extent of you wanting to throw a towel at your computer... Detailing The aircraft is certainly well modeled with a lot of care for the details, you find the differences in materials in construction easy to identify and that makes up for a lot of the realism. The two types of propeller in the fixed and variable constant-speed on the standard 150HP and 180HP versions, but I was disappointed that the variable propeller blades didn't move if you adjusted them? Worn and tired metal and working surfaces are done really well, the Cub looks like the old workhorse it is. The major details is on the landing gear with the main and excellent trailing wheel. All the wire work, with the animated control wires are also very well done. Wing spars and fabric looks realistic, but the bolts are drawn on and not highlighted (mapped). The detailed Titan engine is not accessible? I prefer the smaller regular wheels (Tyres) to the larger Balloon Tundra Tyres... .... I think they are portrayed as covered in mud? But look more like a harder solid than rubber? and the they don't sit correctly on the ground either and that makes it all look a little odd and the aircraft is hovering more than resting. Glass or say Hard Plastic? is well done with great reflections, side window goes up and side lower door drops down, but the lower door looks a little flat and unconvincing. There are two sets of textures. The aircraft comes with 4K textures, but if you wish you can load 2K textures to save framerate. The 2K textures are downloaded from ASDG's site here : 2K Texture Pack as framerate with the 4K textures can a big draw on your processors, my graphic resolution came to over 4GB (4530MB) at my usual KLAL setting, so the 2K's could help if you use heavy scenery or if you are restricted to a 4GB graphic card or lower. Flying the SuperCub Two things are to be held in mind before flying the SuperCub. One is to make sure the tiller wheel is locked in to the rudder movement as only the really good bushmasters can fly these spindly airframes and not somersault them off the runway, and to also note the actual rear wheel turns more slowly than the rudder itself. Second is that before you want to explore the far wide and country, that you do a set of serious circuits of takeoff, circuit, and landing again, as the aircraft requires a certain skill to get the procedures correct, you will understand exactly what I mean when you crawl from under the aircraft from your first throttle up or hard bouncy landing... it takes a certain skill or practice to get the details right. For a simple and basic aircraft this Cub is not that easy to fly in the takeoff and landing phases, but you do adjust and fine tune your skill set to match that over a short space of time. But once in the air the Cub becomes fun. As expected the aircraft is light and ease to touch on the controls. Any seat by the pants and rudder and stick person would certainly love the feel of this sort of basic flying... The spider's web of the aircraft's frame surrounds you, but leaves you open to the elements of light and space. Note the built-in wing fuel tank gauge. The instrument panel is basic with a few mod-cons. First is the only difference between the two different fixed and the variable constant-speed propeller versions. The constant-speed (Tundra) has the extra knob (blue) for propeller adjustment, were as the fixed version (below) has none but the mixture (red) and the fixed is missing the Manifold Pressure gauge of the Tundra. Mostly the instrument panel is easy to read, but in some lighting conditions the reflections can be a bit too strong and blank out the instrument details. Standard Six instruments are centred in line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the bank/turn coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below, there is to the right the one large VOR OBS dial for VOR2 above and a ABS pointer below. A suction dial is far right. Four dials far left cover the Oil Temp and Oil Pressure (top row), and the Cylinder Head Temp and Manifold Pressure (Tundra) on the lower. A large RPM and hour gauge sits top right. Avionics is the standard X-Plane GNS 430 (pops out) Com1/Nav1and a Garmin GTX 330 transponder. A Bendix King KR 87 is the ADF radio far bottom. A lovely pitch trim handle with magneto switches with the fuel tank selector is on the right side with dual throttles top, left side is a map pocket. Note the very fine metal bar rudder pedals with excellent control cables. There is great switch panel way up to your right with circuit breakers. The Amperes dial will also react correctly to any switch throws of current. There is a basic 2 axis built in autopilot that covers the heading and altitude hold. It is a Genesys System 30 that is built into the roll indicator instrument. So how does it work? no idea? as there is no manual, in fact there are no manuals at all from ASDG, but manuals are "coming" as noted by the developer and in the meanwhile we will just have to work it all out for ourselves? I did manage however to hold the altitude and capture the heading, but as for a detailed description then we will have to wait for the manual to arrive, but it does look good. Sound is FMOD and is very good with 3d spatial directional sound. But the external sounds are far more a higher level than the internal sound to the point the X-Plane sound volume is in this case needed to be lowered to the 30% position on the external sounds to make them more realistic. Personally my feeling is that internally with an engine positioned right by your feet mounted on a metal frame is certainly going to be far noisier than an external sound that is set a fair distance from the aircraft. But lets get to the tricky bit... After a very nice potter around the Florida landscape in the SuperCub it was time to return to KLAL - Lakeland and start this review. With it's extremely light frame and weight (930lb (422 kg) the Cub on approach has both a lot for it and also against it at the same time. The "for it" is that the aircraft is a sweet balance of controls and that great feel that would be best described as "Bush Pilot Heaven", you feel so in control and one with the aircraft that it is just a natural progression of your body. Your approach and in this case it is towards RWY27 at KLAL and it feels completely in control, but when you lower the two stage flaps (handle is on the floor on the pilot's left) and then you do reach down to the 60 kts approach speed, then the 'against it" factor appears in that any slight wind or breeze will make any approach difficult as you drift or lose your perfect runway alignment... more power , but you can't as your speed needs to be as low as possible. Now certainly you are saying "easy mate, I can fly that" but it is not as easy as it looks, as more power just gives you more angled drift, more rudder just drifts you anyway but the wrong way, as you are so light that any breeze can make the landing difficult, so sometimes the aircraft can stall or even stop in mid-air in a hang-glider moment. You are now sort of fighting the aircraft between a slow speed and direction, but you get there with as little throttle movement as possible. Why not power your way out of all this? Because those huge balloon tundra tyres will not let you if you give them even the slightest weight of landing and they will simply bounce you straight back into the sky... ... not once but as many times as they feel like it and this is with an approach speed of 50 knts and lower and the Tundra's also have a very small narrow track set between them and so it is like landing on a huge trampoline with your feet together with no hard surface to really stick down on to. I did it... I mean I landed twice, In the fact I did actually landed the Cub, but it really tests your skill level.... personally I stuck to the standard tyres, but even they can still cartwheel the aircraft off the runway with that tight narrow front track, but at least they won't bounce you back up into the stratosphere in doing so. Fun, yes in a sweaty anxious sort of way, as your world that was a few moments ago was so serene and peaceful with the world, then you found yourself suddenly struggling to control a simple landing... if you find that fun, then you will love the "Cub" Night Lighting Biggest shock here is that the instruments are not back lit? The only way you can see the instruments is to switch on a light above your head to the right. There maybe an instrument lighting adjuster knob, but we have no manual of course? The light is hard to find in the dark, even when switched on... ... and there is the same secondary light for the rear, both are not adjustable. External lighting is basic, as it would be on an aircraft like this, but you do have taxi/landing lights and a beacon on the tail. The aircraft is quite glossy in the dark, which doesn't look very realistic for a fabric aircraft. Liveries There is a wide range of seventeen liveries including the famous "Yellow Cub" as default. All are excellent with three Alaskan Airmen designs and a wide range of rego numbers, the "SubLivery" is well... different. Summary There are certain classic aircraft that you require in a simulator. All simulators have them, but a high quality version is also required to see and get the best experience from why that aircraft and in this case the Piper Cub is so famous and so loved. It is in reality a bare bones machine, and you feel that and fly the machine that way... and that is why those hardened "Bushie" style pilot's will revel in what they have available here, as for being the famous "Cub you can't get better than this, but it is tricky to takeoff and land until you match your skill set with the aircraft... Overall AeroSim Development Group have done an excellent job here, but there are a few things that should have been covered before releasing the aircraft. No manual is a glaring ommission, a really bad one here as there maybe features you could like, but simply can't access because you can't find them, yes this was a frustrating review at times because of that simple omission, and so yes I may have missed items in the review but you can't review what you can't access or find. A few weeks in finishing off the package would have seen a better presentation for a new developer... a classic mistake. Detailing is excellent and this is a very nice aircraft, but there is a bit of a bad glossy shine in some lighting conditions (more visible at night) that sorta "takes the shine off it", the Tundra tyres highlight this effect, but the modeling and detailing is very good to excellent otherwise. The addition of the SimCoders REP is certainly a huge advantage to the package, but it also creates a few bête noire's in the process. One it adds up to a more expensive package than that you would pay for this sort of machine, but it is also value as well because most REP packages are usually around US$20 and if you added in the extra cost of the aircraft then in reality it is a very good value deal, and so it goes both ways. REP packages can also be a bit frustrating in that they don't give you options or the ability to tone down certain characteristics and in other words they can be inflexible. Certainly the "Automatic Engine Start" is a great tool, but having to use it constantly means there should be more give or graded areas in the way the REP's control the aircraft, you feel mostly out of control of your own machine, get it right and certainly it works, but for a simple "jump in and fly" the REP can create a boundary that sometimes borders on you flying something else... I simply lost count of the many in-flight restarts I did, until my battery went flat and I then just gave up... just more flexibility is required. The "Piper Cub" is a great aircraft, totally basic and excellent to fly, X-Plane deserves a great classic like this aircraft and here it is, and a "Float" version is coming soon as well, so overall a great and value package. _____________________________________________________________________________________ The Piper PA-18 SuperCub by AeroSim Development Group is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : ASDG SuperCub Your Price: $32.95 Features Current version supporting X-Plane 11 3 Individual Flight Models! 150HP Titan™ X320 powered Super Cub, with a separate flight model for Tundra Tires and standard tires. 180HP Titan™ X340 Powered Super Cub + constant speed prop with Tundra wheels only. Engine performance data provided by Titan™ Engines by Continental Full 3D Landing gear animations Flight Dynamics and ground handling designed to allow pilots to land off airfield! Compare the flight differences between a constant speed propeller and a fixed pitch! 4K Textures, full PBR and individual reflections inside the cockpit 2 Included selectable cockpits for the 150HP Model. These include a IFR rated panel and a standard bare bones VFR panel High Definition CSL’s for online flying More updates and additions to come in the future as X-Plane expands Simcoders Pack Included SimCoders Reality Expansion Package comes with the aircraft! (a $20 value) Add dozen of tech features / options to the aircraft Just install and you are ready to fly! Requirements X-Plane 11+ Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended Installation Download of the Piper PA-18 SuperCub is 618.70mb and it is installed in your X-Plane General Aviation Folder as a 3.26Gb folder (yes that is over 3gb?). The SimCoders Reality Expansion Package (REP) is part of the package and is installed with the main aircraft installation (no separate installation is required) There are three separate aircraft files for the 180hp Tundra, 150hp Classic and the Classic with Tundra tyres. 2K textures can be downloaded here: 2K Texture Pack for a lighter aircraft folder. Documents Documents are very good with reference charts and a "how to fly", but no POH Aircraft manual is a serious omission here. ASDG Super Cub 180HP checklist.pdf 2K Texture Instructions.pdf 150HP Normal Speed Ref chart.pdf 150HP Short Field Speed Ref chart.pdf 180HP Short field Speed Reference Chart.pdf 180HP Speed Reference Chart.pdf ASDG Super Cub 150HP Checklist.pdf _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 7th January 2018 Copyright©2018: X-PlaneReviews (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 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.11 Addons: Saitek x56 Pro system Joystick and Throttle Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 Scenery: - KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.0 by NAPS (uploaded by Nicolas) - (X-Plane.Org) - Free