• North Central Convair CV-580

    North Central Convair 580

    By Scott Anttila (4 December 2002)

    The Convair CV-580 airframe was first designed in 1958 as the CV-340 and CV-440. It was decided that the CV-340 and 440 would do better with turboprop engines. The Allsion 501d turboprop engine was added, and the CV-580 entered service in 1964. Growing up in a small northern Michigan town in the seventies the Convair Blue Goose flown by North Central Airlines serviced my town. I still remember going to the airport and watching the 580 pull up to the gate. Filling the air with burnt kerosene smell, and the roar of its huge props cutting the air. I am sure this is one of the reasons I downloaded this aircraft. I am glad I did. The Convair has now become one of the most used aircraft in my hangar.

    Installation

    The FS2002 version of the North Central Convair 580 is by Greg Pepper and Glen Hall. Installation of the turboprop is very easy. After downloading only 1.5 megs you get a zip file named NC_CV580.ZIP. Unzip this into a separate folder. When completed go to where you unzipped it, and there will be a folder named North Central CV-580. Place this folder in your Flight Simulator aircraft folder. You are now done, there are no gauges or sound files to add. This makes the 580 a great addition for someone who is just starting to add aircraft to their flight simulator. I did add a different sound file to make the sound more realistic. I added a C-130 sound file. The C-130 uses the same engines, and has large propellers just like the CV-580. The read me included in the zip has all the information you need.

    Exterior View

    After choosing the Convair I decided to take a look at the exterior view. The textures on this aircraft are done extremely well. I compared the view to a real picture of the North Central 580, and was amazed. The paint job in one of the best that I have seen on any flight simulator aircraft. The plane not only has a great paint job, but the weathering is fantastic too. Exhaust mark on the flaps, oil marks coming out of the cowl flaps, dirt in the seams of aluminum and the white paint is dingey. Great care was done in the texturing which adds dramatically to the plane's realistic look. Working flaps, ailerons, rudder, elevator, landing gear and stair case all add to the realism of the 580. The words 'eye candy' comes to mind when looking at the Convair.

    Panel

    Even though the outside view is important when shooting an ILS in poor weather conditions I could really care less how good the exterior textures of the plane are. The care taken in the outside are continued in the design of the panel. Compare the panel to a real CV-580's and you will see that this model gives you the 'feel' of flying a real 580 -- large panel, small windows. This may not be what all simulator fans want, but if you are flying a simulation it should be as close to real as possible. The panel uses all FS2002 default gauges. They are set up and used in a tactful way. When flying you will not forget what plane you are flying as with many panels that use default gauges. Almost everything is included right on the panel. No need to pop of the throttle quadrant, or radio stack, it is all right there. This makes flying the 580 much easier and enjoyable. The gauges used are also of the correct time period; you don't find CRT's or a flight director. Navigation is done like it was done in the seventies. You use a VOR gauge and the directional gyro. The panel is unique and adds to the joy of flying this airplane.

    Flight Model

    Starting my taxi at the gate I quickly realized I would have to turn the ground bump forces off in the joystick. At about 10 knots, the joystick was jumping around the desk, and the 580 was impossible to taxi. After turning off the ground bumps, it taxied like a charm. Remember to set the condition lever to low taxi, or else you might start your takeoff roll on the taxiway. Takeoff roll was long, and it came off the ground very heavy. The plane was mushing through the air until I cleaned it up. With the landing gear up it was like a whole new airplane. The Convair seemed more like a Corvette with wings. I had to reduce the throttle a little to keep it below 250 knots. Doing some low altitude turns it became apparent that the first impression of being a dog was wrong. It handled great; holding altitude even in a 60 degree bank was not difficult the first time. Taking it down low showed how steady it flew. Buzzing the trees it did not want to porpoise around at all.

    There was a remark in the read me file that said the airspeeds where right on so I decided to find out. At 7000 feet I checked the stall speeds with no flaps, and with full flaps. The airspeed I found were 70 knots full flaps, and 85 knots no flaps. These were right on the money. Turning the autopilot on it was time to go to 15,000 feet to check its cruise speed. Setting the CV-580 at a 2000 feet/minute rate of climb. As I found out later researching the number this was a little to high. In-between FL130 and FL140 the aircraft was on the back side of the power curve, and started to stall. It was a great demonstration of what happens when you are creating too much drag versus power. Even reducing the rate of climb to 500 feet/minute wouldn't allow for much increase in airspeed. The only way to solve the problem was to turn the autopilot off, and point the nose down to gain some airspeed. The airplane then climbed easily to 15,000. With the power at 80% and the prop rmp at 1600 I found a cruise of 230 knots IAS (Indicated Air Speed). At 20000 feet 90% power and 1700 rpm on the props the cruise was 264 knots IAS. The only numbers I could find for a cruise speed was 341 knots at 20000 feet. The 264 knots IAS converts to 341 knots TAS (True Air Speed). I choose to believe the listed cruise speed was TAS and not IAS even though I am not sure. I found these numbers very impressive. As much detail was put in the flight model as was put in the exterior view and panel.

    Landing the 580 proves tricky. Approach at 110 knots and slow to 100 right before you flare. If you come in hot the large wings will float you very far down the runway in the ground effect. One time I must have floated 3000 feet about one or two feet off the pavement before setting it down. Flying the ILS in the Convair is a pleasure. Gear down and full flaps at the outer marker, reduce airspeed to 110 knots. The plane will almost fly itself down the ILS. Great medium weight trainer for sim IFR students.

    Conclusion

    Great looking and great flying--two thumbs up! I have download many airplanes, and this is the best. The Convair CV-580 even is better then most of the add-ons I have purchased. It is remarkable that such a great add-on is freeware, and everyone can enjoy it. The only downfalls I could find was the problem in the force feedback on the ground, and it does not have a virtual cockpit. Neither of these take away from the delightful experience of flying this vintage aircraft. I highly recommend downloading this plane and taking it up for a Sunday spin, I am sure you will enjoy.

    This plane was tested on a Pentium 4 1.7 ghz system, 256MB ram, GeForce4 420 64MB video card, Windows XP pro, Microsoft force feedback 2 joystick, at 1024x768 resolution and 32 bit color.

    Scott Anttila
    anttler@chartermi.net

    Download the North Central Convair 580.