Commercial Aircraft Review

Cessna C337H Skymaster




Publisher/Developer: Carenado
Description: Real Representation of the Cessna C337H Skymaster
Software Source/Size: Download / 242 MB (installed 316 MB)
Flight Simulator: X-Plane
Reviewed by: Tércio Sampaio
Published: October 16th, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Intel i7 920 2.4GHz
- 6 GB RAM
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- TM Hotas Cougar + TM WCS + CH TQ + Track IR
Software: - Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - X-Plane 10.22




















Introduction

The past few days I've been flying a Cessna C337H Skymaster using the X-Plane 10. This aircraft has an unusual configuration of its 2 engines. This configuration, also known push-pull,has the front engine making the pull and a rear facing engine aligned in the back making the push. This type of configuration was not invented by Cessna. The Italian Caproni Ca. 1 of 1914 was one of the first aircraft using a push-pull configuration.

Later, other companies made many models using this configuration, such as the Dornier with their flying boats. This type of configuration obviously has its pros and cons. It's a positive since it gives the aircraft extra power by having a second engine. In a conventional twin engine aircraft, if an engine fails, the aircraft starts to yaw and roll because the failed engine starts to create drag in that side, but in the case of a failure of an engine in a push pull configuration, because they are aligned with the centerline, that's not a factor. In military combat aviation, one of the first efforts using a push-pull configuration, was with Dornier Do 335.

That created many problems for pilot safety because of crashes and bailouts. In civil applications, it also had some problems, like the unequal cooling between both engines. Because of the difficulty in cooling the rear engine as efficiently as the front one, that engine tends to have more failures than the one in front. Needless to say, this isn't good for maintenance costs. The success of this type of configuration depends on the aircraft design and cooling systems. Conventional design of engines don't take into account the use of the rear facing engine for push work.



Using knowledge from other companies successes and failures in design, Cessna Aircraft Company, created and introduced to the public their push-pull aircraft. The C337 was introduced in 1962 and 2,993 C337’s were built, including all variants. That showed that Cessna had a good design. It was used by civil/private operators and military air forces used the O-2 version for recon and transport operations,. It's worth mentioning that the military version was also a success with around 521 O-2 units built. There was even one version equipped with weapons for the Rhodesian Air Force. Cessna ended production of C337 in 1982 but it continued to be produced in France by Reims Aviation Industries.

The virtual version that I used on X-Plane was created by Carenado. It represents the C337H version with retractable landing gears and with Continental IO-360-G engines that give it a maximum speed of almost 200 miles per hour (322 kilometers per hour). It’s a nice speed for a GA (General Aviation) aircraft.


Installation and Documentation

The installation process was very easy. Typical of many other X-plane aircraft, to install, you only need to unzip a file to a subfolder in the X-Plane aircraft folder. Inside the aircraft folder, there exists a directory with the documents and manuals. There you will find 9 files that cover the following areas:
- Copied from the real documents, in 33 pages, all the normal and emergency procedures are provided.

They are very extensive and detailed. The performance tables are also included in the final pages of this document. Making a photocopy from the original manuals of the real aircraft makes some small numbers are not easily read.

That's a problem with the direct copy process.
- All the reference speeds needed to fly this aircraft.
- 2 pages that explain in detail what settings you need to select in X-Plane 9/10 to maximise the visuals versus performance.
- Since this is version 2, there's a document that describes the features that evolved from version 1
- Recommended settings for joystick sensibility in X-Plane settings.
- A 5 page list of many features and details that developers made in this add-on. There are also some troubleshooting tips if needed.
- And finally, the copyrights and credits.

There's no manual with the cockpit or gauges explained, but with all the documents provided and because it’s not a complex airliner, you'll quickly and easily master this aircraft. No worries about that.


First impressions

My first impressions were what I expected. I already had flown other aircraft from Carenado for X-Plane, and thought that this one won't be any different in terms of quality. I was right. After loading the aircraft and saw it for the first time, I thought, wow it looks real. The overall detail of the 3D model, the textures in HD (high definition) quality, outside and inside was impressive and I immediately started to become pleased to have this aircraft.


Walk-around

As usual, I checked around the aircraft to see the details. You can see in the screen shots that it’s very detailed. It’s an amazing representation of the real Cessna C337H. It even has the tiny antennas and pitots correctly modelled. The landing gears are very detailed and retract or extend just like the real one. The 5 liveries included were based on real models and are beautiful.

Even with high levels of zoom there are no blurs. Carenado also included a blank texture to use as a template for custom paints if someone wants to reproduce a specific model that's not included. The different reflections on different parts of the livery was well achieved and gives a realistic look to the aircraft.



Everything that moves in the real aircraft also moves in this add-on. There are realistic animations for all flight control surfaces: ailerons, elevators, rudders and flaps. The wheels roll correctly and the propeller disc has a custom plug in driving it to give the most impressive and realistic prop disc view that you can see in X-plane. It changes the propeller texture smoothly as you change the pitch and corresponding RPM. Passenger and baggage doors, windows and cowl flaps are also animated. Exhaust tubes also have custom animations and they vibrate when the engines are active.

To increase the immersion of flying a real aircraft, this add-on even included 3D pilots that move realistically when viewed from the outside. The pilot and co-pilot show up after you remove the static elements from the aircraft through a 2D panel. Using this 2D panel, you can also change the tinted effect of the windows.

At night, this add-on shows the care that Carenado used to create an amazingly realistic look. All the lights and beacons work just like the real one. Through a custom plug in, they also have special effects that are activated at night to give these lights some effects that are not seen during day light hours.


Inside and Systems

As I move to the inside of the aircraft, I'm amazed at the quality of this add-on. Although there's no 2D cockpit panel, it a good decision not to have one in this aircraft, since in VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flights, the 2D cockpit panel is almost never used. The virtual cockpit has HD textures that you can clearly and easily read the tiny texts on them. All the gauges are in 3D and their front glass realistically reflects the inside cabin. Everything works and the doors, windows, yokes, buttons, levers and sun visors (that you can adjust in 2 axis) are animated. Another nice feature is that you can hide and unhide the yokes to have a better view of the buttons behind them.



At night, the panel looks impressive. There are different lights to illuminate it and you can smoothly adjust their intensity for what effect you want. The gauges also have some light and reflection effects at night that looks more real than the default X-Plane effects.

This aircraft also includes a very useful 2D window. With it you can quickly and easily change the camera to a predefined position that covers important areas in the cockpit. A good feature since this can give a 2D panel style for those pilots that miss it and gives some easy access to some buttons in the cockpit.

The developers also included a plugin to ease things when using this Carenado aircraft without a throttle quadrant hardware prepared for controlling 2 engines. By using the mouse, you can easily control both engines at the same time or individually using special clickable locations on the throttle quadrant. This feature works with throttle, prop and mixture levers.

This aircraft is equipped with all the avionics that you need to make IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flights. All the gauges work correctly and smoothly without stutter. To help in your navigation, it also includes a GPS, a custom GNS430, which is connected to the C337H autopilot. The developers also recreated the real autopilot of the C337H. I tested it with some flights and it worked very well and controlled the aircraft smoothly and synchronized even in bad weather.


Flight, Performance and Sound

I made many flights with this aircraft. Mainly between 500 and 1000 km/310 and 621 mile range. Sometimes I used the autopilot and on other trips I didn’t use the autopilot. It flies very well and I enjoyed the time spent with it. I'll use this aircraft many times in future flights. It has realistic weight, balance and manoeuvrability. I've never flown the real C337H but from what I expected and checking the aircraft tables, this Carenado’s C337H flies very well.

During Carenado's development of this aircraft, real Skymaster pilots tested it and gave much input and information to the developer’s team to make it as real as possible.

The Carenado developers made 3D models and textures that have a perfect balance between visual quality and performance. As a consequence, this add-on looks beautiful and impressive but doesn't reduce my fps (frames per second). I flew in high density sceneries with high definition textures and I never saw any stutters or low fps.



The sound is great, powerful and very immersive. It was recorded from the real aircraft and is in high quality stereo. I was surprised with the quality when I noticed that as I started the rear facing engine, the sound was from the rear. Another sound effect implemented is engine sound difference when I open a door or a window. The sound becomes louder. Using different throttle and prop settings reminds me why I love propeller aircraft so much.


Summary

Well, one more aircraft for X-Plane 9/10 from Carenado. It’s amazingly made, beautiful, and easy to master and fly. An aircraft that is a must to have for all VFR pilots and to others that want something more complete for IFR procedures. I use it in my X-Plane 10.22 64 bits without any kind of problem and it works like a charm.

With a price of $29.95 US for the full download version, you will be very happy to have it in your virtual hangar! More information can be found at Carenado’s website. I also recommend that you check this movie which will give you a good sense of Carenado C337H for X-Plane in action.

With Greetings,
Tércio Sampaio


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.

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