As I promised, I wrote a review for this aircraft I purchased recently.
Let's start it at the beginning
When SF3D released their C140 for FSX, I was really hoping for an FS2004 version. Why? Because there wasn't any decent Cessna tail-dragger available for FS2004. By decent, I mean detailed textures and modeling, photoreal VC, nice stereo sound, etc. Carenado released their Skywagon for FSX, but again, no FS2004 version. (In the meantime they did release the FS2004 version....)
There was a freeware C140 available, with a FS2002-ish cockpit. For me as a VFR flyer, the look of the exterior and the VC is as important as the scenery around it. So, I was delighted to find that SF3D came out with the FS2004 version. I had a look attheir website and fell in love with the plane at the first sight. The old-school yoke, the sheet metal cockpit and the nice and shiny aluminum reflections on the interior....that's exactly what I wanted. It's very similar to one of Bill Lyons beautiful creatures, the Luscombe 8A (you can find both FSX and FS2004 versions on Flightsim.com) but this is a CESSNA.
So, the decision was made, and I used that extremely helpful plastic card to pay 32 NZD. The next day I found an email from them with the download link (the delay is caused by the time-zone difference). The installer is only about 9MB, so it was less the 2 minutes to download it with a decent broadband connection. The installation was easy as. Double-click on the exe file, confirm the path to the root FS2004 directory, the end.
The documentation (if you can call 3 text files documentation) is extremely simple. No fancy pdf files with pictures. Reference and checklist, end of story. But I actually like it. It contains all the information I need and it also reflects the simplistic old-school style of the aircraft.
The exterior is a real strength of this payware add-on. The reflections are well designed and look real, the details are spectacular. However, please don't forget, this is still FS2004 on a low-end computer.
The brake system:
Don't forget to check the oil before every flight:
All the 'usual' animations are smooth and visible (rudder, elevator, aileron, flaps etc). So, IMHB :
EXTERIOR : 10/10 (for FS2004)
In terms of the textures, the quality is just as superb as we saw it on the exterior.
I've never seen such a beautiful leader upholstery on an FS2004 aircraft yet
The elevator trim and the fuel selector are clickable/movable too, and the VC also has hotspots for the map and ATC windows, and also for opening the windows/doors.
Nice and realistic overall look inside
...BUT! Yes unfortunately, there is a but. When it comes to the panel, the delicious old-school taste gets a bit sour.... SF3D used the default Cessna gauges, instead of 'proper' custom ones and some of the gauges are extremely low resolution.
Can you read the switch titles?
It first, I thought, the oil gauges were inactive. They aren't, but they still look like a picture taken with an old cellphone
The 2D panel has the same gauges, but at least the titles are readable here
Yes, we all know the workaround... Let's grab those gauges from another nice payware or freeware Cessna or buy the Reality XP gauges if you don't have them already and install them...Easy enough, but hey, I paid for this, and expect a certain level of quality. It's probably just me being too picky....anyway:
INTERIOR 7/10 (because of the panel....)
Start the engine...
...and you'll hear the boring sound of the default FS2004 Cessna 172. And please don't tell me that a 120 HP Lycoming sounds exactly like a 80HP Continental... Another area, where manual input is necessary - if you want to make it realistic. Copy the sound of a J3 Cub, Aeronca Champion or a Cessna 150. These are a lot closer to the real thing.
Being in a tail-dragger, don't expect too much visibility from the cockpit when you taxi to the runway
You'll have to use the good old mini panel or the spot view
However I think that the default view position is a bit too low, you have to adjust it int the arcraft.cfg file. Anyway, let's get this bird up into the air! After completing the take-off checklist I applied full throttle. You obviously won't be able to see anything from the VC until the tail raises. The take off roll is as long as what you'd expect from a gutless little bird like that . According to the manual she's able to climb at 64-70 KTS. Yes, she certainly is, but you have to keep the climb rate under 200FPM, until the plane actually accelerates to that speed, than you can carry on raising the nose to 500-600 FPM (with full tanks and a passenger on your side). As far as I concern this is realistic enough.
The handling in general is quite good, and feels realistic, but you can easily overreact on crosswind approaches which is a typical part of a taildragger's characteristics. At 5000Ft she happily flies at 95 KTS (in low wind conditions) after leaning the mixture. You won't be able to get more than 2400RPM (actually 2399 ) out of her up there, which is totally reasonable.
And there she goes
The visibility problem comes back on approach. Especially if you try to perform a 3 point landing. The following pictures were taken when I idled the throttle to start my gliding using the ground effect before I flare the aircraft:
Looks fine from here
You have to switch to the mini panel or 'adjust your seat' in the VC for a safe landing.
I made it back safely to the parking.
OVERALL HANDLING : 8/10
And now, I try to write a conclusion which suppose to make it easier for you to decide : Buy or not to buy?
If you're a hobby simmer who expect a perfect product out of the box, then it's probably not the best deal for you.
However, if you have AVGAS running in your veins, keen to customize and tweak stuff,
In the meantime, I'm pretty sure that the FSX version has even more stuff to offer, as a more complex and more detailed platform, so I think that with the FSX version you can't go wrong at all.
Any questions?.... I thought so.
Seriously, if you want to know even more about this "friendly grandpa of all modern GA aircraft", please let me know.