• SimFlight3D's Cessna 140

    SimFlight3D's Cessna 140 for FSX

    By Bill Stack (26 November 2009)


    Screen shots by SimFlight3D



    The Cessna 140 is a two-seat, single-engine, light-utility airplane built by Cessna between 1946 and 1950. More than 7,600 aircraft were built. Its maximum speed is 109 knots (125 mph). Original versions had metal fuselages and fabric wings with metal control surfaces supported by dual "V" struts. They were powered by 85 to 90 horsepower, four-cylinder, air-cooled piston engines. This is the model recreated by SimFlight3D.

    According to some Internet forums, the Cessna 152 is a Cessna 140 with tricycle gear instead of tail wheel. The fuselage, wings, and tail all look alike on both models. SimFlight3D is has also made an early model Cessna 172 for FSX and for FS2004.


    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    YES

    Installation program

    YES

    License key required

    NO

    End user license agreement (EULA) required

    YES

    Uninstall program included

    NO

    Manual included

    NO




    Major Features

    SimFlight3D heralds the following among many features of its Cessna 140:

    • Photo-realistic textures inside and outside, optimized for smooth frame rates;

    • Working, detailed 2D and 3D cockpits with IFR panel and day/night effects;

    • Doors and windows that open, with moving handles;

    • Realistic textures, shadows, and lighting;

    • Checklist and performance information; and

    • Four paint schemes.

    This aircraft package is easily downloaded in a few minutes from the FlightSim Pilot Shop. An end-user license agreement is required. The installation program extracts all needed files quickly and deposits them in the correct folder. The aircraft in its four paint schemes appears in the aircraft-selection menu.


    Springfield Flying Service Green on Silver Red on Silver

    Blue on Silver

    All Four Paint Schemes

    Screen Shots by Bill Stack




    Visual Features

    This aircraft is realistically depicted inside and outside.

    • Four color schemes are offered:

      • Springfield Flying Service,

      • Red on Silver,

      • Blue on Silver, and

      • Green on Silver.

    • All four 2D and 3D cockpits are the same.

    • The basic aircraft and its paint schemes are accurate compared with pictures I found on the Internet. I found many photos of real-world paint schemes, which can be expected of an aircraft that was built 60 years ago and is still flying in large numbers. SimFlight3D is offering four of innumerable paint schemes.

    • The Springfield Flying Service is a real-world enterprise providing flight lessons, rides and tours, and flying vacations in the Columbia, California, area, according to its web site. The logo on SimFlight3D's C-140 matches the logo on the Springfield website. Having received no answers to my questions about this product from SimFlight3D, I do not know why this model was chosen or what its significance is.

    • Details inside and out are more than enough for representing all four aircraft accurately without diminishing frame rates.

    • Being unable to find photos of real-world cockpits and instrument panels, I cannot comment on their accuracy. But I believe SimFlight3D's depictions are realistic based on the realism of the overall aircraft.

    • Controls inside the cockpits move realistically, as do control surfaces outside the aircraft.

    • The left and right windows and doors open with mouse clicks on the handles and with keyboard commands. The engine cover opens with a keyboard command, but I didn't find a handle in the cockpit for opening it with mouse clicks.

    • Frame rates are good. They ranged between 15 and 30 during my vigorous flight tests, and the simulator never hesitated or skipped.

    • Night effects are good inside and out. Cockpits and exterior navigation lights illuminate realistically.





    Left View

    Right View

    Outside View
    C-140 Cockpits


    3D Panel

    2D Panel

    Springfield Flying Service
    C140 Panels

    Screen shots by Bill Stack





    Left Front

    Left Rear

    Right Front

    Night Views

    Screen shots by Bill Stack





    Left View

    Right View

    Outside View

    Nighttime Cockpits

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Technical Features

    Controls such as throttle, mixture, propeller, and carburetor heat are clickable and moveable.

    Electrical switches (lights, battery, starter, etc.) are clickable.

    Sounds are taken from the FSX Cessna 172 sound collection. It's reasonable to assume they are realistic, and it's also reasonable to wonder whether a Cessna 140 sounds the same as a Cessna 172.

    The hand-held GPS model is available in a typical popup window.

    Checklists and reference data in the kneeboard provide important performance information such as flaps settings, engine readings, and V speeds. In addition to the kneeboard popup windows, these data are also available in separate Adobe files. The inclusion of this important performance information contrasts starkly to some aircraft developers who focus on visuals and leave the flying to guess work.

    The installation program's final screen shows a button for opening a three-page "ReadMe.PDF" file. If you want to find this file later, it's in the FSX aircraft folder: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\C140_N4293N.

    The aircraft are kept in a folder named "SimFlight3D" for the developer instead of "Cessna" for the aircraft manufacturer, the latter of which is the convention in MSFS.

    There are no popups for the radio stack or engine controls (throttles, mixture, propeller pitch) as is typical in most MSFS aircraft. Users must zoom in on the 3D panel and pan left and right to read instruments and control labels. This can be awkward during demanding maneuvers such as take-offs and landings.

    Performance data in the kneeboard reference sheet are inconsistent with data in the aircraft-selection menu's details window. As examples: The reference sheet says the "maximum structural cruising speed" (Vno) is 115 MPH, which converts to 100 KTS, while the details window says the cruising speed is 91 KTS. (Maximum structural cruising speed is another term for maximum speed for normal operations, both of which are Vno.) The reference sheet says the never-exceed speed is 140 MPH, which is 122 KTS, while the details window says the maximum speed is 104 KTS. As a result, sim pilots will have to experiment with this aircraft to learn its capabilities and limits.

    The airspeed indicator's color-coded arcs are inconsistent with the specified data. As examples: The safe speed is shown up to 130 KTS, the caution zone ranges from 130 KTS to 160 KTS, and the never-exceed red line is at 160 KTS. These indications depart from the specified cruising and never-exceed speeds in the reference sheet explained above. This conflict probably results from the use of an airspeed indicator for a faster aircraft such as the C172, but it can cause improper airspeeds and flap deflection if sim pilotS rely on the airspeed indicator instead of the specified performance data.

    There are two small glitches that can be fixed easily. The cockpit tool tip for the left window says "Open Door," and the tip for the left door says "Canopy." Cockpit tool tips are those little boxes that appear with a description when the mouse is rolled over an instrument or control.



    Checklist

    Reference Sheet

    Kneeboards

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Flight Modeling

    Once airborne, this Cessna 140 aircraft handles much like the Cessna 172 in FSX. It differs on the ground because it is a tail wheeler and the 172 has tricycle gear. I tested this C-140 thoroughly, including high power, low power, climbs, rolls, glides, and landings. I pushed it aggressively such as turning too sharply, pulling up too sharply, overcorrecting, and forcing low-power and high-power stalls. It generally handles much as expected from a light, single-engine, single-wing aircraft.

    • It is very nimble &#8212 it banks, turns, climbs, and descends with little effort.

    • It recovers easily from all control input whether normal or excessive.

    • It easily climbs at 500 feet per minute but slows to around 50 KTS (its specified stall speed is 49 MPH, which is 43 KTS). It struggles at higher vertical speeds. This performance is consistent with pilot reports I found on the Internet.

    • It glides smoothly with zero throttle at 700 feet per minute without diving or stalling.

    • It doesn't stall readily, and it recovers from stalls quickly.

    • Landing is as easy as in any other light aircraft in FSX.

    • I never attained this aircraft's stated cruising speed of 109 MPH, which is 95 KTS, never mind its structural cruising speed of 115 MPH, which is 100 KTS. The best I could get was 80 KTS, which is 92 MPH. Not even with one 195-pound pilot and 60 pounds of fuel and the throttle fully open.

    • Similarly, I never reached its cruising altitude of 15,500 FT, as specified in the aircraft-selection menu's details window. The highest I reached was 12,700 feet, where the aircraft stalled at 49 KIAS and full throttle.

    • Performance specifications and V speeds are expressed in miles per hour, while the airspeed indicator shows knots. This requires simulation pilots to convert the speeds to knots and vice versa so they can fly the aircraft correctly.





    Airborne

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Nice Features

    The 3D panel shows reflections on the background, which implies that it was made of shiny metal. I'm not sure how "nice" that is, but it's probably realistic. The instrument panel is reflected in the windscreen. I don't know how "nice" this is, either, but it seems realistic, too.


    Upholstery Exterior Details Exterior Details Tail Details

    Nice Touches

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Screen Shots

    My screen shots were made with FSX display settings on "default" because that's what I presume most flight simmers would be using and the developer does not recommend any special settings. I tested with the frame rate set on "30" and "unlimited" to see what rates were possible while flying this aircraft, and they were always within acceptable range.


    Summary

    This aircraft for FSX is marvelous for flight simmers who want different simulation experiences. It is excellent for training because it is so easy to fly and so forgiving of pilot errors. Interior and exterior modeling are excellent. Details are sufficient for realism while not harming simulation performance. The inconsistencies in performance data need to be clarified by the developer, and a few small glitches need to be fixed, all of which I reported to SimFlight3D. I hope a corrective update will be issued. The lack of response to two emails I sent several days apart does not bode well for users who need technical assistance or have suggestions or other comments. Notwitstanding these concerns, this product is suitable for flight simmers seeking something historic and unique.


    Bill Stack

    Learn More Here


    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


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