Manfred Jahn/Jan Visser Douglas C-47
By Alex Dickinson
Since coming to Prepar3D almost a yearago, I have mostly stuck to flying modern airliners (with a bit of GAthrown in). This is something I really enjoy, but one of the things Ilove about flight simulation is the diverse range of aircraft onoffer! One of the aircraft I was lucky enough to come across, wasManfred Jahn's Douglas C-47. Originally released for FSX, the C-47I'm using in Prepar3D is an updated model by Jan Visser:
The C-47 has a wonderful exterior, which is rather eye-catching. Thereis good attention to detail throughout, with such things as the antennasbeing modelled on the front of the aircraft, as well as the internal enginetubing. I also have to point out that variations within the aircraftdesign may be witnessed, as some civilian models had a circular dome on topof the fuselage; possibly this would have been used for navigation with asextant.
Compared to the default DC-3 from FSX, Manfred/Jan's version has afar more enhanced look about it, especially when it comes to suchthings as the propeller blades, as I was able to recognise that thepropellers used were possibly made by Hartzell. This comes from theextreme level of detailing included with this model.
The liveries which have been supplied with this package are ratherminimal, but that's no bad thing. Within the package itself are twoliveries: one was a European Air Transport Service paint, the otheris a military livery which was used for deploying paratroopers. Ifyou wish to add more paints, then numerous add-on liveries can befound here at FlightSim.Com.
I was stunned by how well the Douglas C-47 cockpit had beenmodelled. All the levers, switches, and buttons in the C-47 wereplaced accurately and modelled to a high quality. I particularly likedhow the oil staining on some of the mechanical levers gave off aweathered look.
The instrumentation used was both a mix of old and new. Such thingsas the engine gauges, system, and fuel gauges, are the original unitsfound in the real C-47. One may expect these to be copied straight outof the default FSX DC-3, but they are not. They all look to be custommade for this model, and it really gave me the sense that I was flyinga vintage aircraft.
A few instruments like the central artificial horizon did not work,but this didn't detract from the experience in any way. Plus thedeveloper has put "INOP" stickers on them, which I think is afantastic idea.
As well as the vintage gauges, there are also some newer stylecomponents used, the COM stack being a prime example. The COM stackhas two selectable frequencies for COM and NAV, plus a singular ADFsource. Compared to the DC-3 from FSX, this unit is more simplified,thus making it very easy to use. The newer style of components alsoincludes a GPS, as well as VOR/OBS bearing instrumentation.
When combined, both the newer and older style of instrumentationgive off the sense that you are flying a 1930's airliner in the 21stcentury. I do not get this feeling with many other vintage aircraftand the advantage this brings is that it makes it so much easier touse in the modern day without compromising on the immersiveaspect/quality.
Being a freeware aircraft, I was astounded at the number ofadditional features included with this model. The developer hasimplemented cockpit pop-ups into simple, yet well designed singularpanel sections. For example, one panel has controls for the autopilot,external animations, plus the engine instrumentation, while anotherpanel has a variety of switches located on it for ease of operation.
One of the most impressive (and helpful) features I experiencedwith the model, was the checklist system. Coupled with this, was afully interactive flight and cabin crew system, that would actuallyhave generic conversations with each other.
In a way, this was a bit like the Aerosoft system, where the flightcrew automatically set systems for you, but differed in that you hadthe ability to select what items you wished to be set. For example,when starting the engines, I could have the first officer set thepumps and primer, but if so desired, I could select the starter oroperate the mixture controls myself. If that wasn't enough, you arealso able to run through the system using a paper pop-out of thechecklist, which adds greatly to the experience.
Overall the checklist system felt like a mix of A2A's andAerosoft's systems combined, but with added touches from thedeveloper. The amount of personalisation put into this feature isquite frankly staggering, and for myself, it is by far the bestinteractive checklist system I have experienced on any flightsimulation product.
So with all the wonderful features included with this model, whatwas is it like to actually fly? Well, to keep it simple...it was veryauthentic. From a handling prospective, you needed to apply quite adeal of force to the controls, but from what I have seen and read,this is how aircraft of this size/vintage actually performed.
As mentioned, I'm used to flying modern big jets, so the change inperformance is rather noticeable to say the least. However, this ispart of the C-47's charm, and once you get used to its capabilities(taxiing is challenging being a taildragger), then you're in for anenjoyable experience. In terms of actual performance, the C-47 wouldclimb out at around 80 - 105 knots and maintain around 1000feet-per-minute; which pretty much matches that of the real aircraft.
The C-47 is a harmonic symphony of 1930's engineering...it reallyis that good! All the sounds included in the package appear to becustom made, with even the switches, knobs and levers all havingseparate sound effects. If that wasn't enough, even the flaps had thaticonic screeching sound. Perform your first engine start in thisaircraft, and you'll know where I'm coming from!
As you can no doubt tell from reading this article, I found thewhole experience of flying the C-47 to be exhilarating. The fact thatthis aircraft is offered as freeware, is simply beyond me, as itpossesses a level of immersion that I have not experienced with evensome payware aircraft. Knowing all this, it speaks volumes for thedeveloper's generosity and enthusiasm to the hobby. This is A2Aquality given for free...how great is that!
Note: If you download this wonderful model, then why not leave thedevelopers a note of thanks in the comments section. Without thelikes of Manfred and Jan we would not be able to experience 1930's airtravel.
Jan Visser Updated FSX/P3D C-47 v3.14 beta from original by Manfred Jahn
Jan Visser Updated FSX/P3D C-47 v3.12 beta from original by Manfred Jahn
Manfred Jahn's original C-47 for FSX
Manfred Jahn's C-47 for FS2004
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