Friday, June 9, 2017

The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3 Project

The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 Project

I am proud to present the next VSKYLABS project: The Douglas DC-3/C-47   


The Genesis of the VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 project:
Almost 20 years ago, I've completed a full ground school and had flown the DC-3, actually it was a C-47 version (it was for a short period of time though). For many years I wanted to create it for X-Plane, but only in the recent year the project "came to life" in my mind. I wanted to get back to the challenge of handling a DC-3!

The project's "spirit":
A real DC-3 should always be operated with great respect. Every process, checklist, maneuver, handle movement...should be performed with the right "touch" and specific intent. Further more, the pilot who teaches you how to fly a DC-3 is a kind of a Jedi master...teaching you the use of the 'Force': "This aircraft with great respect, you shell treat!" LOL.... When I'm flying the aircraft in X-Plane, there is that strange feeling that was probably imprinted in me back then when I was a young pilot, learning the use of the DC-3 "Force". If you will not pay attention, the aircraft will resist you. This is exactly what I was aiming for in this project!

There are so many aspects to cover when flying a DC-3, and also when creating one as a flight simulator project. The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 is all about "Flying the aircraft": Aircraft handling and performance, single engine operations, damaged aircraft operations, weather flying, fuel planning, mission considerations and old school navigation.

There are almost endless cockpit configurations for the real plane (It is flying now for more the Eighty years...). Straight away I knew that I wanted it to be a classic, old-school DC-3, with cockpit configuration similar to the one that is described in the AAF Manual Pilot Training Manual for C-47 Skytrain. I also wanted the model to be accessible and educational to the novice pilots (after a short familiarization process), so it features a straight forward cockpit environment, with a reasonable amount of "distractions". Flying the VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 will be challenging in terms of aircraft handling and piloting skills, but operating the plane won't be a total "headache" and will not require you to be a flight engineer, or to graduate a long ground school process.

Flying the VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47:
Easy to isn't! The flight dynamics model is built, setup and tuned to be as authentic as possible, demonstrating how complicated is the use of the DC-3 "Force":
  • The aircraft is requiring the correct use of all pilot inputs, including differential power, one of the most important aspect of taxiing the DC-3.
  • Performance and handling are 'on the numbers': the aircraft was designed to perform as close as possible to the real thing, and extensive test flights and calibrations using the real aircraft performance charts were made.
  • Single engine operations are authentic. You will not be able to sustain a climb rate unless flying in the proper configuration, and you will have to plan ahead your "moves" in case of an engine failure, exactly as it is done with the real DC-3. Actually, you will have to plan ahead every piloting "move", even with two engines running, exactly as it is done with the real DC-3...
  • Lots of effort was made to make the aircraft landing gears to "feel" as it should be when interacting with the ground, and it will bounce realistically on rough terrain operations and will demonstrate a realistic touchdown behavior and ground handling qualities.
  • It is a blast to fly!
The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 3D modeling note:
I have incorporated in this project an unusual 3D asset - the initial 3D model of the DC-3 that was used for further development in the VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 project was created by Emmanuel BARANGER (aka helijah). Emmanuel is known for his great and long years contribution to 'Flight Gear', and he is a great guy! :)

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.


Project release schedule:
The VSKYLABS Douglas DC-3/C-47 project is planned to be released during June/July 2017...depending on my time management skills ;)

DEVELOPMENT STATUS (updated 22/6/2017):
  • Internal lighting setup and wiring.
  • Added ADF2.
  • Cowl flaps operations and animation completed!
  • Tail wheel performance tuning for best ground operations.
  • Night textures draft finished!
  • The aircraft is being developed for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 10.51. Here are a few screenshots showing the cockpit lighting as taken in X-Plane 10.51 version of the aircraft (the setup is not final, but I am very pleased with the results):

DEVELOPMENT STATUS (updated 21/6/2017):
  • Extensive work and progress on all aspects.
  • Development has entered it's final phase towards the initial release version.
  • More detailed information will be posted soon.
  • Here are some updated screenshots showing the interior workout...modeling, texturing, mapping...bringing it all together.

DEVELOPMENT STATUS (updated 15/6/2017):
  • Aircraft systems are almost fully functioning, including the more complex to design without coding (separate fuel lines for each engine plus cross-feed).
  • Cockpit environment is getting into shape, textures workout is still under development especially to get the old 40's/50's "atmosphere" in the cockpit.
  • Cockpit manipulators - I'm using a new methodology to engineer this so every switch/handle will be easy and intuitive to operate (It will be implemented in the future in the rest of my models - to improve interactivity).
  • Autopilot (authentic modes) is fully functioning.
  • GPS - The aircraft will include a modern GPS that will be usable, haven't decided yet if it would be 430/530...
  • Flight Dynamics Model - the aircraft is already performing great, and is slowly get fine-tuned to demonstrate the most accurate DC-3/C-47 handling and flying characteristics.
  • Color scheme - my development prototype is currently featuring the D-Day stripes paint scheme and markings ("Buzz Buggy"), but it is not final! 

Cockpit layout (soon to be posted with the actual panel screenshots):
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.

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


  1. Oh my god. Amazing news and all the best for it to be authentic and a good selling product.

    1. Thank you :)
      It will sure be a special aircraft!..."will" is understatement...better refer to it as "is"..chances that I will be able to release it within a week or two! (I was working undercover for quite some time ;)

  2. Are you able to add a handheld GPS somewhere above the handhold. Will make awarness in modern airspace structure better. Especially if flying online with Vatsim.

    1. Hi! Yes! There will be modern GNS as well, for those who will ultimately want to focus on the "stick and throttles" or mission considerations aspects of the plane.

  3. This is great news! Sounds like it will be a fun and challenging plane.

  4. I think, the modern GPS unit must be remoweble.

  5. Great news thank you very much for this great peroject.

  6. wow this looks really nice!! well done...

  7. Little question: did You make a another classic planes, like Beech 18, Lockheed Electra...

  8. Coming soon an excellent aircraft like you knows to do.
    Essential! ;-)
    I vote for D-Day liverie.

  9. Excellent!! I will buy this as soon as released. I was on the beta team for Jahn's excellent C-47 v3 for FSX/P3D and wrote the manual for it. The DC-3 is one of my favorite plans, and except for the Cub, probably most most flown virtual aircraft.

    You are doing excellent work. I have almost all of your aircraft. I LOVE the gyro in particular! I will buy the Tecnam just to help support your work!

    1. Thanks :)

      I really hope that the DC-3 will meet your expectations! It is a different project than the Tecnam P2006T...started as a really casual project and evolved into something wider...

  10. Jetmanhuss, you continue to throw out some goodies.....I see a Buffalo repaint in the future. Look forward to the release of this classic. Thanks again for bringing this to Xplane, TD68

  11. May I please make a request? For old-school flying, include two ADFs, and also include a way to turn the ADF audio on/off and even better to adjust the volume. I have implemented the four-course range navigation system as a plug-in. Please see and note that V2.0 is about to release with many improvements and more realism. It would be great if I could have a dataref to turn the white IM/FM/Z marker light on and off as well. See this video using the LES DC-3 and my LF Range plugin plus the Lighted Airway scenery I am working on.

  12. Please add the 530 as GPS option. Looks stunning already.



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