• Review: Lockheed 12 by Golden Age Simulations

    Review: Lockheed 12 by Golden Age Simulations

    By Bill Stack
    October 9, 2011


    Screen shots by Golden Age Simulations

    The Lockheed Model 12A, commonly called "Electra Junior," is a twin-engine, piston-prop aircraft built by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation during the 1930s and 1940s. Carrying up to six passengers and two pilots, it was a smaller version of Lockheed's L-10 Electra airliner. The L-12A was intended for feeder airlines but was used mostly for private corporate executives and government officials. A military version (C-40) was built for the United States and other militaries around the world.

    The most familiar L-12A was seen in the famous 1942 movie Casablanca during its climatic final scene.

    Golden Age Simulations touts these features of its Lockheed L-12A Electra Junior:

    • Models designed from actual blueprints
    • Factory flight manual authored by C.L. Johnson himself
    • Accurate flight dynamics based on actual factory specifications
    • Accurate sound files
    • Paint kit

    Eleven models are included: Seven under "Electra Junior" (civilian, commercial), and four under "C-40" (military). One of the civilian models is called "Amelia," even though Amelia Earhart flew the larger Lockheed L-10 Electra on her final voyage in 1937.

    C.L. (Kelly) Johnson was an aircraft engineer and aeronautical innovator. He worked for Lockheed Aircraft for more than 40 years with leading roles in the design of over 40 aircraft.


    SAMPLING OF LIVERIES

    G AGTL UK

    NC2633

    U.S. Army 1941
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Visual Features

    Overall dimensions, details, and liveries appear realistic compared with real-world photos I found on the Internet.


    L-12A IN FLIGHT
    NC 18906 U.S. Army 1942 Trans World Airline
    Amelia Southwest Airlines G AGTL UK

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    NIGHT EFFECTS
    Dusk Night 3D Cockpit

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Electra Junior's Interior

    Golden Age Simulations' rendition of the cockpit and cabin is impressive. Everything depicts an aircraft as it would have been decades ago. Even the magazine racks contain titles and issues from the 1930s.

    The instrument panel is designed by Golden Age Simulations to appear "as is might have been in the 1960s," according to its manual. It has full IFR instrumentation and sufficient instrumentation for safe VFR flight, the manual says. All controls are fully animated and can be operated by mouse clicks or assigned keyboard commands. All instruments are typical except the airspeed indicator, which measures in miles per hour instead of knots. That difference takes a bit of personal adjustment &#8212 getting used to thinking of higher numbers than usual. The manual also cites airspeeds in MPH.

    The only two popup windows show the radios and the hand-held GPS device. The GPS unit is not period, obviously, because GPS didn't exist in the 1930s and 1940s.

    There is no two-dimensional instrument panel.




    L-12A's INTERIORS
    Virtual Cockpit Virtual Cabin Virtual Cabin
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Animations

    The passenger cabin door, cockpit curtain, armrests, fire extinguisher, flight bag, and cockpit windows are animated. The manual says they respond to the "standard FSX key stroke exit commands" (probably means FS2004) to open and close. The cockpit windows are opened by left clicking on the window pulls from the virtual cockpit view, the flight bag opens by clicking on its latch, and the armrest opens by clicking on it. The cabin curtain opens not with mouse clicks but with a keyboard command (Shift/E/2).


    ANIMATIONS

    People Door

    Left Window

    Flight Bag & Right Window

    Cabin Curtain Open
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    The L-12A's Performance

    I flew this aircraft from Bob Hope Airport (KBUR) in Burbank, California, where Lockheed operated during the Electra period. This airport was called "Lockheed Air Terminal" from 1940 to 1967. Its elevation is 778 feet (237 meters) above mean sea level. I used the aircraft's default weight (8,647 pounds, nearly full), standard atmosphere (59F, 29.92 in), clear weather, and calm air.

    Taxiing: The Electra Junior taxis like typical tail draggers. Seeing the aprons, taxiways, and runways ahead is difficult with the nose pointed upward, and the tail can veer toward the downwind side during moderate winds and gusts. The lack of 2-D panel is helpful in this regard because ground surfaces ahead are visible without it.

    Taking Off: With full power as recommended, the tachometer spun to over 2,500 RPMs for just a few seconds then settled at 2,300 RPMs. The manual says not to exceed 2,300 RPMs, but I don't see how that's possible when it topped out at 2,300 RPMs under full power. The aircraft quickly gained airspeed. The tail lifted at 70 MPH, and the entire aircraft lifted off at 90 MPH. It used about one-third of the runway's 6,895-foot length. The checklist recommends maintaining a shallow climb until airspeed reaches 95 MPH, presumably to prevent low-altitude stalls, but the aircraft surpassed 95 MPH too quickly for concern about that.

    Later I tested wind effect with a moderate 16-knot wind from about my 10 o'clock position. Repeated rudder adjustments were necessary to remain on the centerline as the wind pushed the tail fin of this tail dragger toward the right and its nose moved toward the left.

    Climbing Out: Once airborne, this aircraft climbs smoothly. The checklist calls for a minimum airspeed of 125 MPH indicated and normal airspeed of 140 MPH indicated. At full power, the aircraft wants to climb as fast as 2,000 FPM, but that's a bit much for passengers in an unpressurized cabin, so I reduced power to maintain 140 MPH and 1,000 FPM. As I climbed through the altitudes at 1,000 FPM, the aircraft accelerated to 160 MPH. Above 7,000 feet, it climbed at 175 MPH and 500 FPM.

    Cruising: At any altitude, this aircraft holds straight and level flight easily. The checklist recommends 1,850 RPM for cruising, but I never got it below 2,200 RPMs even with throttle at zero. At 5,000 feet, full power, and steady altitude, it accelerated into the yellow caution zone on the airspeed indicator, which starts at 215 MPH, and the manifold pressure was 34. After I reduced power to remain within the safe zone, the manifold pressure fell to 26, but the tachometer remained at 2,300. Holding an altitude manually (without autopilot) is easy.

    The ceiling is specified as 22,300 feet in Golden Age's manual and 19,400 feet in Wikipedia. I was able to reach no higher than 20,000 feet. Indicated airspeed was 135 MPH, which calculates to about 175 MPH true airspeed.

    The aircraft's torque causes it to bank and turn toward the left, which requires trimming the rudder or using the autopilot.

    Turning: Entering and exiting turns is easy. The aircraft responds quickly but not immediately to all controls &#8212 pitch, yaw, and bank. But it loses pitch and altitude (or climb rate) quickly, so immediate control adjustment is necessary. Turning into and throughout an airport circuit, including into the final approach path, is easy however.

    Descending: With power reduced by about half, this aircraft glides smoothly at about 500 FPM and 160 MPH. Slight power adjustments can make it descend faster or slower (airspeed, vertical speed, or both). The checklist advises close attention to tachometer and manifold-pressure readings to keep the engine from faltering during descent through the altitudes

    Approaching & Landing: The checklist calls for approaching no faster than 140 MPH and final approaching at 80 to 85 MPH. Because this wide airspeed range requires considerable deceleration over a short distance, I decelerated to 120 MPH and dropped landing gear, which causes further airspeed reduction. Then I began deploying flaps at 100 MPH as specified in the checklist. This aircraft approached comfortably at these airspeeds, and it touched down smoothly at 80 MPH IAS. It stopped well within the runways's length.

    Overall: This aircraft handles much like a Beechcraft Baron 58. It's a bit more sluggish, but not as much as the DC-3. For comparison: At 8,650 pounds maximum gross weight, the Lockheed L-12A Electra Junior is about one-third the weight of the Douglas DC-3, whose maximum gross weight is 26,200 lbs, and about 50-percent heavier than the Beechcraft Baron 58, whose maximum gross weight is 5,524 pounds.

    When guidance in the manual is followed, the aircraft performs as expected in all respects. For these reasons, I believe its performance is realistic for an aircraft of its type and weight. I'm concerned about the tachometer's lack of response to power reductions, however. The developer said this did not appear in their tests, but it happened every time I flew this aircraft.

    Having never flown an L-12A Electra Junior, I cannot say how closely Golden Age Simulation's rendition resembles the real-world aircraft's performance. Golden Age says its flight modeling is based on actual specifications. Neither can I say how it compares to other L-12As that might be available for MSFS.




    L-12A & C-40 Performance Specifications
    Item Value
    Empty Weight 6,000 LBS
    Useful Load 2,650 LBS
    Maximum Take-off Weight 8,650 LBS
    Maximum Landing Weight 8,650 LBS
    Range 700 NM1
    Ceiling 22,300 FT
    Endurance 4 HRS2
    Take-Off Speed 90 MPH IAS
    Climb Speed 140 MPH IAS
    Cruising Speed 213-226 MPH TAS
    Stall Speed 57-64 MPH IAS
    Never-Exceed Speed 276 MPH TAS
    Approach Speed 80-85 MPH IAS
    Notes:
    All data from Golden Age unless otherwise noted.
    1. Wikipedia
    2. Calculated from other data
    "NA" means "Not Available"
    Source: Golden Age Simulations



    The Documents

    Golden Age's manual and checklists provide enough guidance for realistic simulation in this Electra Junior. When the guidance in those documents is followed, this aircraft is easy to fly.

    • Checklists: Complete checklists in command and narrative form are included in the onboard pilot's kneepad. They cover all flight phases from startup to shutdown, including steps for runup. They are clearly written and easy to use.
    • Manual: A 48-page Flight Instruction Manual uses narrative and images to describe all aspects of the aircraft, including emergency procedures. It is based on the real-world L-12A manual designed by Lockheed's famous designer, C.L. (Kelly) Johnson. The buff background paper and typewriter font adds period realism.



    DOCUMENTS

    Table of Contents

    Diagrams

    Instrument Panel
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Technical Matters

    This aircraft is for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 only.

    The installation program shows that 811 megabytes of disk space are required.

    In the Aircraft Selection menu, the L-12A Electra Junior is listed in the manufacturer category under "Lockheed."

    Sounds are unique with 29 distinct files in respective Sounds folders dedicated to the L-12A and the C-40. These files include sounds for engine startup, flaps and gear deployment, stalls, and shutdown.

    Frame rates are good. My new computer (12 gigabytes of memory, 1,500 gigabytes of hard drive space, and Windows 7) is much faster and more powerful than my old computer, and it might be more so than the average flight simmer is using. But I didn't see anything about this aircraft that would cause poor frame rates for anyone.

    Removing the product can be done with the uninstall program included with the product.

    Responses were quick &#8212 within a day &#8212 which bodes very well for users needing technical assistance.

    Readers with technical questions not answered in this review should ask the developer, who is in the best position to answer such questions. Using the links below, go to the Pilot Shop page where the product is listed and described, then click on "Manufacturer Tech Support" in the right column.




    TECHNICAL & PURCHASE FEATURES

    MSFS Version

    FS2004

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key required

    No

    Copyright acknowledgment required

    Yes

    Frame Rates

    Good

    Manual included

    Yes

    Uninstall program included

    Yes

    Price

    $19.95 US




    More Information

    Detailed information about the real-world Lockheed L-12A and C-40 Electra Junior is available from Wikipedia.

    The Developer

    Golden Age Simulations makes vintage add-on aircraft for Microsoft Flight SimulatorĀ® versions FS2004 and FSX, focusing on the period between World Wars I and II. Its many other products include the Boeing Model 40X, the Stearman Model 4, and the Douglas Dolphin.




    Bill Stack
    [email protected]


    Learn more about the Lockheed L-12A Electra Junior by Golden Age Simulations.


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com