VSKYLABS DEVELOPMENT NOTES

VSKYLABS ADD-ONS AND X-PLANE 11 UPDATE SYSTEM:

ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE USING THE LATEST UPDATE OF YOUR VSKYLABS MODEL:
You can log-in to your VSKYLABS store account, and look for the 'My purchases' tab up the page.

VSKYLABS Sellfy buyers: IF YOU CAN'T SEE A PURCHASE IN YOUR ACCOUNT, GO TO YOUR DOWNLOAD E-MAIL, AND CLICK ON THE 'i' SYMBOL BESIDE THE DOWNLOAD COUNTER. YOU WILL HAVE AN OPTION TO TRANSFER IT TO YOUR ACCOUNT.

Thank you for flying VSKYLABS ;)

JetManHuss.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab Project

The VSKYLABS

Douglas DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project

A HIGHLY REALISTIC FLIGHT PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING SIMULATION
OF THE DC-3/C-47 AIRCRAFT
For X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 10.51
*** SOON TO BE RELEASED ***

The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner. Its great performance (range of ~1500 miles and speed of above Miles per Hour) revolutionized air transportation in the 1930's and 1940's. It is a twin engine all-metal monoplane, capable to operate from short runways. 

It was able to cross the United States, and making transcontinental flights and worldwide flights possible. This characteristics of the DC-3/C-47 is very fascinating, and was one of the triggers for me to come up with the idea of creating a DC-3/C-47 Flying Performance/Research Lab for X-Plane 11. With it, I will fulfill a virtual dream to cross the Atlantic with a DC-3!


How do I sum-up all of the instructions, knowledge base and practices for transcontinental flights (no matter in what aircraft or which dimension)? The good and the bad news is that it is pretty much the same to fly such missions in X-Plane as in real world...and it cannot be explained easily nor briefly...this page would have been so long, containing so many links, explanations, performance charts...so I've decided NOT to get all-over the actual project page with almost an endless amount of information and data, instead, and for start, I'm inviting you to fire up the engines, taxi to the runway and line up, lock that tail-wheel, complete the 'Before takeoff Checklist' and take this magnificent aircraft to the air. Get to know it, how it flies, handles...there will be plenty of time to get back to the Trans-Atlantic thing :) 

Down this page you will find useful information for operating the aircraft, and I'll work on the Trans Atlantic flight route for the DC-3/C-47 in another page (link will be available soon).

Meanwhile, I'm recommending reading and using the following amazing, DC-3 dedicated website. I've "bumped" into it a while ago, and I've found it very useful and "concentrated", especially with all that is related to flying practices of the DC-3: http://www.douglasdc3.com/dc3throt/dc3throt.htm

I really hope you'll like it! Please proceed down and read the Project's Highlights, Important notes and general instructions 





SPECIAL NOTE:
Version v001 is an Initial Release Version. The project is still under development. Development areas are: Flight dynamics model refinements, 3D Model and texture works, FMOD sounds and more. Every time a certain aspect will be upgraded or new feature will be added, an update will be pushed to all users through the VSKYLABS Online Store and through the X-Plane.org store.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND NOTES

Project Highlights:
  • Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47, along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems.
  • Workhorse for DC-3/C-47 pilot skills: Experience authentic flight performance and handling practices (takeoff, landing, single engine operations, flight planning, long range flights and old school navigation). It is a perfect platform to recreate and fly historic routes using authentic performance.
  • Unique look and feel: There is nothing to hide - the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design.  
  • Systems: All the relevant systems are simulated, but in terms of "hardcore systems simulation", it is not a "study level" DC-3 nor intended to be so.
  • Aircraft Performance: Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of more than 200 hours of flight testing and evaluation (just for the flight model). My long years flying career and profession as an aircraft accident investigator, being an aircraft performance and flight path recreation expert, gave me a "home-field advantage" in this matter...stretching X-Plane to its limits (and it delivers some amazing results!).
  • Still under development: Although "all systems are go!", the initial release version is only the beginning-point of the long-term development plan for the package, which will include continuous work and refinements on the Flight Dynamics Model, and adding/improving 3D modeling qualities.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND NOTES

Additional Information:
  • The ancestor of the 3D model which was used and heavily modified in the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project was created years ago by Emmanuel BARANGER (long years contributor to the Flight Gear community and a great guy!). His original model was licensed to this project, and had gone through a complete "VSKYLABS restoration" and development process, bringing it to the high level of X-Plane 11 requirements. Emmanuel's model was licensed to the VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 project for further development, and The VSKYLABS copyright and disclaimer notes are fully applied to this package.
  • The default livery for the aircraft is of 'Buffalo Airways', approved to be used as a livery in the project by the Buffalo Airways company (Thank you Buffalo Airways!). The livery was originally painted by Brett Harrison, and was heavily modified, by his permission of course, for the purpose of this project. Brett is texture painter and a long years contributor to Flight Gear, and a great guy too ! :)

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND NOTES


NEED TO KNOW: SYSTEMS AND SYSTEMS OPERATIONS

NEED TO KNOW:
SYSTEMS AND SYSTEMS OPERATIONS

Although defined with the various systems that are needed to operate the aircraft, the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is not a "Study Level" model, in terms of advanced systems algorithm simulation. For example, in order to fire up the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines, there is no need for the complex procedure involved in the start-up procedure of the real aircraft.

This section is a short briefing that explains how to use the main systems of the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 aircraft. 

This briefing is not covering *all* of the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 systems, but only some of them. 

NEED TO KNOW: SYSTEMS AND SYSTEMS OPERATIONS

AIRCRAFT MAIN SYSTEMS

COCKPIT CONFIGURATION:
The VSKYLABS DC-3 / C-47 aircraft is featuring the cockpit configuration similar to the one that is described in the AAF Manual Pilot Training Manual for C-47 Skytrain. Few changes existing).  




MODERN GNS:
Version v001 of the aircraft is not including a modern GNS into it's panel. Instead, if you got lost in all of the needles...simply click on the glass of the RMI instrument and a G430 will pop up for you in a pop-up window. It is a 430 with NAV1 controls in it.


MIXTURE CONTROL:
The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is featuring an auto-lean/auto-rich mixture settings, as it is in the real DC-3's. It eliminates the need to install a (non-authentic) EGT in the panel, and also, while in auto-lean mode, the mixture will be automatically adjusted to the peak EGT for cruising. To incorporate this feature into the mixture handles, I had to setup the operation method of the mixture handle so it will be effective also for shutting down the engines. It is very simple, as described in the instructions and the screenshot below:
  • Clicking at the "Auto Rich" zone:
    • Both engines set to "Manual Leaning".
    • Mixture control is "Normal": From 100% rich to 0% (shut off).
    • Mixture levers can be operated with the mouse (click and drag).
  • Clicking at the "Auto Lean" zone:
    • Both engines set to "Auto Lean".
    • Mixture is automatically set to peak EGT at all flight conditions.
    • Mixture levers can be operated only to "Auto Lean" or the "Shut off" positions.
    • Mixture levers can be operated with the mouse (click and drag), but only between the Auto Lean and Shutoff zones.
  • Switching between modes of operation:
    •  Simply click on the desired mode of operation zone.

AUTOPILOT:
Version 001 is incorporating A Sperry type Autopilot with the basic DC-3 configuration of Elevator (nose attitude for pitch) and Ailerons (bank angle). Maintaining heading ("Rudder") could not be setup and changed during flight (as it was in the real aircraft). Future versions will probably include the heading mode and other experimental aspects with the autopilot.

Autopilot Operation:
  1. Trimming the aircraft.
  2. Engaging the autopilot.
  3. Corrections for pitch and bank (thus heading) are made with the 'elv', 'ail' knobs.
  4. Heading ("Rudder") mode is not available in version v001 (one can using the setting knob of the upper scale as an independent heading bug). 
  5. In this workflow, it is quite easy to fly with the autopilot, even in a rapid navigation route. The aircraft is responding nicely and unless you tried to engage the autopilot while flight situation wasn't stable, it is very comfortable. Every once in a while a minor heading correction (using the bank knob) is needed. Not an annoying workload.

Autopilot Further Information:
The Sperry Autopilot which was used in the C-47 in the late 40's and 50's featured 3 knobs: ailerons "hold", rudder "hold" and pitch "hold". I wrote "hold" because the autopilot was in fact a gyro-pilot, and the axes were coupled to the relevant gyro axis (the "cage" was used for setting the gimbals).

Maintaining a desired pitch angle or bank angle using a gyro-pilot is easy to understand. I would like to put some light about the "rudder" knob, and the compass/setting scales that are related to it in the autopilot panel:

In the autopilot panel there is a compass scale window (lower scale is actual aircraft heading, and upper scale is a setting scale, biased to the "rudder" knob in the autopilot panel). The human pilot maintained a certain heading with his trimmed aircraft before engaging the autopilot. Then he used the rudder-knob to set up the upper scale to match with lower scale which presented the current aircraft heading (stable heading as the aircraft is trimmed). Then, he engaged the autopilot and the autopilot could maintain this heading with rudder control (gyroscopic attitude of the heading and not magnetic heading). So, in fact, while the autopilot could maintain a certain "heading", it could not turn into a new heading and then to maintain it.

So, heading corrections and resetting could not be achieved while flying in the real DC-3 C-47, with the use of the "scale-heading bug" in the autopilot panel...

Here is a quick link to the C-47 Sperry Autopilot control panel taken from the Skytrain manual: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B18IAG6g43Y_a1dHeWpLNUJkdm8

NAVIGATION AND COMMUNICATION:
Aircraft is including: 2*COMM, 2*NAV, 2*ADF, 2*DME in the overhead panel. All radios are equipped with working volume control knobs.

Aircraft is including: Radio Compass with fixed card (biased to ADF1), RMI with rotating card and NAV1/2 ADF 1/2 needles and switches, CDI+OBS, OMI markers.

FUEL SYSTEM OPERATION AND READINGS:
Fuel system is including Main L, Aux L, Main R, Aux R tanks with a cross-feed. Fuel consumption selection is only between the Left and the Right Main tanks, while the Aux tanks will start to feed in the engines when the Main tanks are empty (on each side). So, effectively and physically we have 4 tanks, all 4 can feed the engines but the selector can select Main L or Main R only (X-Plane default fuel system limitation...stretched to its its limits...). EDIT: Fuel system may be setup in the future so it will manage automatically the fuel level on each side, between the Aux and the Main...



FLAPS AND GEARS:
  1. Could be operated also by their handles (point and click).
  2. Flaps are set to be infinitely-adjustable between up/down when using keyboard or assigning a button/hardware switch.
  3. FLAPS operation by the handle itself (with the mouse) it is setup with a 3 click zones - for "up", "half" and "down" modes.
  4. GEARS operation by the handle is setup with 2 click zones - for "up" and "down".


TAIL WHEEL LOCK:
A *must* before takeoff. Use the tail wheel lock lever to switch it from Unlocked to locked ("Unlocked" is to the left, while "locked" is to the right):


NEED TO KNOW:
DC-3/C-47 AIRCRAFT MANUAL AND POH

DC-3/C-47 Manuals:
OK...as I've said up in this page...there is too much of practical information to learn...what I'm going to do is first to set here some really practical links to useful website and resources. Take your time and get to know the DC-3/C-47...I can recommend reading information regarding the aircraft "general" systems/systems operations and deeper into flying techniques and performance/limitations.

Here is an AMAZING resource for Flight Operating Instructions and Manuals for the DC-3/C-47. It called "www.avialogs.com" and it is a "treasure" for Aviation enthusiasts. You will find these, among other useful materials:

** STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION - COME BACK SOON **
SCREENSHOTS ROLL:
 




Screenshots and more details will be posted soon, so STAY TUNED :)

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