The first I had heard about this interesting looking add-on was when the developer, Rob Cappers, posted on the Mutley’s Hangar forums about the new update for the FSX version. I had a look at the website and I was immediately captivated not just by the add-on, but the fact that the team donate all of the profits generated from sales to the Aviodrome theme park and Museum – which has one of the last two airworthy DC-2s in it’s collection. It is clear from the outset that this add-on has been created by enthusiasts to help keep the real aircraft in the skies. Shortly after the forum post was made Rob Cappers emailed the Hangar asking if we would like to review the DC-2, this was one I couldn’t resist!
History of the Douglas DC2
The DC-2 was released less than a year after the DC-1 and had the same familiar shape but was more powerful, faster and capable of longer flights. Most importantly for the airlines it was bigger so was able to carry more passengers (up to 14 from 12) and in it’s first 6 months of service set 19 American speed and distance records. In 1934 TWA started an overnight coast-to-coast flight from New York to LA which allowed business travellers to travel without losing a business day.
The DC-2 had a relatively short production run from 1934-1939 and only 200 were built before it was replaced by one of the most iconic aircraft ever; the DC3.
The DC-2 was one of the first aircraft that showed passenger air travel could be comfortable, safe and reliable. To prove this KLM entered their first DC-2 (PH-AJU Uiver) into the October 1934 MacRobertson Air Race from London to Melbourne. With a flight time of 90 hours and 13 minutes it came 2nd out of 20 entrants, only beaten by the purpose build DeHavilland DH.88 racer Grosvenor House
Installation & Manual
Download and installation is very easy using the Flight 1 wrapper system. The file can be downloaded from the DC2 website and you follow the instructions for installation. The package costs €22 or £15 just make sure you download the correct installer for your version of FS. Once installed you will find 3 aircraft/liveries added to your FSX aircraft menu: KLM PH-AJU Uiver, TWA as displayed at the Museum of Flight and Swiss Airlines HB-ITE. For the FS9 version you get KLM PH-AJU Uiver, Swiss Airlines HB-ITI, and C.L.S OK-AIB. Whilst there are not many liveries included, many more can be downloaded for free by following the links on the website.
Whilst the website lacks the polished feel that the likes of Just Flight’s & Aerosoft’s websites have, don’t for a moment be fooled into thinking you are buying an inferior/amateur product. Bear in mind that the developers for the DC-2 are enthusiasts; they are not a large company with big resources to throw at their website. They’ve focused their attention on the add-on itself!
I really enjoyed reading the manual (as sad as that sounds!). It isn’t overly long at 41 pages, and it covers everything you need to know in order to get this aircraft in the air. Each dial/switch is labelled and explained in a concise manner without any waffle. It is worth paying particular attention to the section about the radio in order to be able to use it correctly.
There is also a smaller manual included that walks you through the GPS system, which is slightly different to the default GPS. Whilst the original DC-2 would not have had a GPS it’s nice to see one included for simmers who may not want to navigate using traditional VOR/NDB methods. (The modern avionics depict the museums plane, with this mandatory equipment installed)
The DC-2 does not ship with a 2D cockpit, which leads to the problem of some of the gauges being difficult to read during flight. Fear not as the team have included a fantastic pop-up control panel utility that gives you a digital read-out of all the gauges: Electric, fuel, power, props, hydraulics, speed and the auto pilot. Again, whilst this is not authentic to the real DC-2, it is a massive help for flight sim pilots. Actually they modelled the autopilot to act as your co-pilot. He's a bit sloppy in keeping altitude, but don't be too harsh on him, he's still a rookie! You can even start the DC-2 from the pop-up panel if you don’t want to do it the authentic way. If you want to read the manual before you buy the add-on, you can do so here http://www.gotoandflash.com/DC2/pic/DC2_manual.pdf
· 3 different exterior models
· 2 highly details virtual cockpits – 1 with modern avionics and one with 1950’s radios
· Photo real textures for the interior and exterior
· Realistic engine and fuel system (more on that later)
· Highly details flight model based on actual data and info provided by the Aviodrome DC2 Crew
· Photo real 3D animated gauge set for all gauges
· All the usual animations
· Modern avionics developed by Simflyer for this model
To put it simply the handling is sublime. The kneeboard contains all the information for the power and propeller settings for each phase of flight; follow them and the DC-2 flies by the numbers. Set the trim as advised in the pop-up control panel and you hardly have to touch the yoke to get her into the air.
The aircraft is very forgiving which means you can have more time to admire the interior and exterior models and watch the scenery go by. It’s worth noting that you cannot just sit back and relax, you’ll need to continually monitor the fuel to ensure the tanks are correctly balanced and change them when needed. Just make sure that the electrical booster pumps are turned on prior to switching tanks or the engines will stall (trust me it happened to me).
At first I found the trim to be a little twitchy and a slight trim adjustment led to a large change in pitch, especially when leveling off. The more I have flown the aircraft the easier it has become; making power adjustments prior to applying the trim helps to make the transition smoother.
Landing is another challenge altogether, although it is a fun challenge. The DC-2 has a very slow approach and landing speed at 60 knots. For an aircraft so much larger than a C-172 it doesn’t seem logical that it should land at around the same speed. Flying the final approach with full flaps and more speed than is needed gives you some very interesting descent angles! But if you fly by the numbers as published in the manual/kneeboard you won’t have any problems.
If you are looking for a fault in this package, you won’t find it here. The sound-pack is outstanding. I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing these engines clattering away as I cruise the skies. They sound great in the cabin and even better from the exterior view, a big thumbs up to the development team for their efforts with the sounds.
Is there really any need for a conclusion? This is a fantastic add-on from a by-gone era of flight. The fact that people can create these old timers for FSX for us to enjoy is brilliant. As soon as you see that any profits are being donated to help keep a real DC-2 in the skies, you know that you are getting something from people who have a genuine passion for this aircraft.
Mutley’s Hangar Score: 9/10
Review machine Spec: Intel Core2 Quad 2.40ghz | 4gb DDR2 RAM |Nvidia GForce 880GTX |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium