THE VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Flying Lab Project

A highly Realistic Flight Performance and Handling Simulation of the C-47/DC-3 Skytrain

For X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 10.51

Project Under Development notice

Like all of the VSKYLABS projects, this project status is "Under Development". Development areas are: Flight dynamics model refinements, 3D Model and texture works, systems integration, 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.

<<<<<VSKYLABS may decide to prioritize/change its projects development plans at any time>>>>>

STMA AutoUpdater Plugin notice

From project version v2.79 (X-Plane 11 only), the aircraft is incorporating the STMA AutoUpdater Plugin which notifies users for available updates every time the airplane is being loaded. When an update is indeed available, the STMA AutoUpdater plugin will automatically update the project, and will prompt the user to reload the updated aircraft.

Within the settings file of the plugin, the user can choose not to enable automatic updating.

It is recommended to keep backups of older versions.

Project Highlights:

  • Project is 'VR Ready' for use with X-Plane: VR functionality is a part of the project aspects which are constantly under evaluation and development for reaching higher level of immersion as the VR features and possibilities are growing.

  • Highly Realistic Handling and 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. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of hundreds of flight testing and evaluation, tested and refined by real-world C-47 pilot.

  • 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.

  • Two C-47 variants included: The C-47 and the XC-47C floats-equipped variants.

  • Systems: All the relevant systems are being simulated. Here are **some** of the more unique systems:

    • Two speed Supercharger blowers - based on the PW-1830-90C engines model, equipped with lo/hi blowers. The high blower configuration is allowing high altitude cruise.

    • Oxygen system - including crew dilution/regulator, pressure indicator and functional flow-indicator ("Blinker"). Do not forget to enable hypoxia in X-Plane's general settings menu.

    • Fire Extinguisher system - including fire indication system. The fire extinguisher control panel is located behind the hinged cover on the cockpit floor, between the pilot/co-pilot's seats.

    • Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up. Engine mishandling will result in severe damage to the engine/engine fire. Stressing the airframe will result also in severe damage, following a visual representation of the damages. Blown tires are also being visualized and simulated.

    • Engines/propeller systems - designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic propeller feathering system, for highly realistic single engine simulation.

    • Landing gears and flaps simulation - are being simulated with a high level of authenticity.

    • Sperry Autopilot - Old school autopilot is configured.

    • Optional modern avionics - dual GNS 530, S-TEC autopilot, AviTab compatibility.

    • Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems - including icing and rain visualization.

    • Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model.

    • Passengers/cargo configurations.

  • Comprehensive FMOD sounds.

  • STMA Auto-updater plugin included.

  • AviTab plugin compatibility included (AviTab plugin not included).

  • Highly responsive VSKYLABS support system (including C-47/DC-3 operational knowledge and support/assistance).

The Living Soul of the DC-3/C-47:

A real C-47 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 C-47 is a kind of a "Yoda"...teaching the use of the "Force": "This aircraft with great respect, you shell treat!".

...When I'm flying the VSKYLABS C-47 in X-Plane, there is that overlay feeling that was probably imprinted in me back then when I was a young pilot when I was learning the use of the C-47/DC-3 "Force" in real-life. It starts with how I grip the hardware yoke, how I hold and manipulate the throttle and propeller levers down to that familiar take-off and landing paces, where every landing is a small victory even though it is already a routine process. And as a reminder...this is all with regards to flying the VSKYLABS C-47 in X-Plane. That feeling "surrounds" the entire project development process, which was initiated back in 2015 (v1.0 was released in 2017).

There are so many aspects to cover when flying a C-47, for sure when creating one as a flight simulator project. The VSKYLABS 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 C-47, with cockpit configuration similar to the one that is described in the AAF Manual Pilot Training Manual for C-47 Skytrain. I also wanted it to be accessible and educational for 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 C-47 is challenging in terms of aircraft handling and piloting skills, but operating the plane is not a total "headache" and will not require you to become a flight engineer. However, it will turn you into a better pilot.

This project is a personal invitation to a unique C-47 flying experience in X-Plane, and it incorporates a lot of good old memories, curiosity and excitement.

Enjoy the ride!

Huss - VSKYLABS

Final words before diving into the cockpit

Easy to fly...it isn't! The flight dynamics model is built, setup and tuned to be as authentic as possible, demonstrating how deep is the use of the C-47 "Force":

The aircraft requires the correct use of all pilot inputs, including differential power, and braking, one of the most important aspect of taxiing the C-47.

Performance and handling are 'on the numbers' (within reasonable margins): 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 C-47. Actually, you will have to plan ahead every piloting "move", even with two engines running, exactly as it is done with the real C-47...

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!

Additional Information:

  • The VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Flying Lab Project is an independent VSKYLABS in-house development effort that is on-going for more than 5 years now. During the initial stage of development, Emmanuel Baranger's DC-3 3D basic model, which was specifically licensed for the purpose of this project, was used as a base reference for the development of the VSKYLABS C-47B aircraft, along with Brett Harrison's approval to create a paint-kit that matches to his original paint-kit for this project. The VSKYLABS Copyright and Disclaimer notes are fully applied on/to the VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Flying Lab Project. © 2021 JetManHuss - VSKYLABS.

  • The 'Buffalo Airways' livery which is included in the project, was approved to be used as a livery in the project by the Amazing Buffalo Airways company (Thank you Mikey!).

  • The High Definition rivet lines texture map of project version 2.0 was created and contributed to the project by Oleg Tronov, Sochi, Russia. Oleg is a long years DC-3 enthusiast. He has created the rivets layout based on real rivet map technical drawings as a reference. The rivet map source and paint kit are not a part of the VSKYLABS project.

  • Project version v3.0+ is introducing a new PBR normal maps for the project which was created in-house. Oleg's v2.0 rivets normal maps are still compatible with v3.0+.