We usually focus on scenery files, but not tonight.
Let’s start with a freeware 747-100 (741), commonly referred to as turboblazer’s 747. This file has been around a while and paints come out for the file from time to time. That’s the acf, above, wearing a new TWA paint that came out this week, and the images below are from a couple of real 741s, so let’s take a look at those first.
The first thing to take note of is the steam-gauge panel. Second, the color: gray. Below, a decent vid of the last flying -100. Worth a watch, too:
And here’s turboblazer’s acf in action, departing Mr Xs KBOS:
It’s odd that this file is labeled a 747-100, as its plain to see this cockpit resembles what you’d find in a 747-300, and some displays look like they came right out of a 747-400. The panel color is simply wrong, too, and the cockpit omits the flight engineer’s station entirely. The engines do not appear accurate, at least not what was found on original production -100s, as these resemble Rolls-Royce RB-211s found on later variants and on the L-1011. The leading edge on this wing appears to be off just a tad, too, as the slats do not extend to a fully deployed position.
Flaps and landing gear look decent enough, and the rest of the external model might pass for a -100, too. There’s a hard spline that extends up from the center of the windscreen that could be smoothed out a bit, and the cockpit windows aren’t quite accurately designed, but those are small quibbles. In the end, what we have is a very nice freeware file that in fact more closely resembles a 747-300, at least in the cockpit.
Goran at Leading Edge Simulations (of Saab 340a fame) had been working on a classic steam gauge 742 during the 2010-12 time frame, but as I haven’t talked with him in ages I really have no idea how far along he took that work, and I’ve seen no word on this project moving forward. You can find some of his old development images online (here, for instance), but at this stage those dated images are almost meaningless. He’d be an ideal developer to tackle the project, however. Jack at Fly-J-Sim is the current guru on steam-gauge Boeings, and if his promising 727v3 turns out to be as good as it looks I’d think he might be in a good position to tackle this daunting aircraft, too. Of course, if you want to dive into the deep end of the speculation pool, wouldn’t it be something if IXEG was working on this? It’s impossible to tell if this team finished the 733 and then disbanded, or if they’re locked away in a closet somewhere hard at work on their next project. I think that’s called silent running, and after what happened to XPJets that’s not hard to understand.
In the end, however, as interesting as this freeware “747-100” is, or could have been, it’s just not a classic steam gauge cockpit so I’m not sure why anyone would choose to use it instead of the Laminar’s default 744. When that file first came out (early in v10) the aircraft looked more like a weird 743, yet now, in v11.25 the exterior is improved and the cockpit is just about better than payware. The funky segmented flex as the wing loads remains problematic, but I reckon the team at Laminar will perfect that too one day, perhaps even bring the acf up to PMDG standards. Time will tell, I assume.
Anyway, this 741 is worth tinkering with, and you’ll find it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/35638-boeing-747-100/
The TWA paint is right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46004-trans-world-airlines-twa-livery-for-turboblazers-747-100/
When Carenado first came to X-plane, and that was not quite ten years ago now, there was a tremendous sense of excitement in the community. Some of that had to do with an established FsX developer finally coming to X-plane (they were the first, by the way), but there was also real recognition that one of our own – Dan Klaue – was responsible for the conversion. Dan had been making all kinds of tutorials concerning the proper use of powerful drawing tools, then he made his ERJ and cemented a name for himself. Carenado picked him to help with their conversions, and they’ve stuck with him ever since.
Good thing, too.
Because this new Piper Navajo is outstanding, and in no small part because the file lets all the rendering assets in Xp11 really shine through. Yes, it’s a Carenado Class file – and then some – with a sumptuous interior, a brilliantly detailed exterior, but this one has what may be the best panel Carenado has yet done for X-plane…so…thank you, Dan! It takes an insider to squeeze the most out of Xp11, and Dan has proven himself capable time and time again.
The Navajo was a light/medium twin produced from the mid-60s through the mid-80s (1966-1984), and Carenado’s variant, the PA-31-310, is a non-pressurized model with two turbocharged Lycomings and a well equipped panel capable of basic IFR operations. The aircraft competes with such aircraft as the Cessna 400 series, and many have seen service in the commuter airliner role.
Let’s take a look around the exterior first…noting this model is equipped with the optional wide passenger door and that cones and a ground cart are included. The interior seems quite well modeled, and after a quick look around back there I found that all the textures are sharp and as usual the overhead reading lights work. You gotta love the varieties of light reflecting off the treads in the image just below. Awesome.
The front office in this file is a treat for the eyes, with color, light, and shadow combining to create a really immersive looking cockpit. Of course, none of that would mean a thing if it didn’t work well, but this is Carenado we’re talking about, and good operations are almost a given – yet the point can be made that part of the ease of operation you’ll experience in this file comes directly as a result of this brilliantly modeled and textured panel. There’s no time wasted trying to read blurry or dimly lit instruments, and along with a good HSI and decent AHI, you’ll find a Garmin 530, dual NAVCOMM heads, a weather radar, a dual channel Lean Assist indicator and my favorite IFR add-on: a radar altimeter. Good anti-icing equipment is provided, as well, including boots.
I’m pretty sure you won’t find a better GA panel out there.
We took her up for an extended spin around Mr X’s PAJN Juneau and handling was pure Piper – hard to trim and keep trimmed at speed. But that’s what APs are for, right? And the same AP unit Carenado uses in most Beechcraft and larger Cessnas shows up here, so odds are you know it already so won’t have any issues with it.
At lower speeds, the flight model is benign and she handles well on final.
I’ve had a few rough nights in Navajos. One night flying into Baton Rouge, the fuel manifold ruptured and all the gas onboard just disappeared – about three miles from the threshold. We ended up with branches and leaves in the landing gear – and a few more gray hairs – but that was about the extent of it.
On another night we flew down to Dilly, Texas to pick up some dove hunters and fly them back to Oklahoma. The weather was nasty, big thunderstorms, lots of lightning, and the poor guys had apparently been down to Mexico the day before and their stomachs were in bad shape. We had to land in Wichita Falls and hose out the interior. I have never seen so much barf and diarrhea come out of four people in my life.
Carenado’s PA31 is a big winner, a MUST HAVE file for anyone interested in flying GA twins under both VFR and moderate IFR conditions. The flight model is sound, the detailing “best in it’s class” – and the panel will delight even the most experienced pilots in X-plane.
Its at the Carenado Store right now, and it’ll no doubt turn up in all the usual places within a day or so. I wouldn’t miss this one, as it’s as good as their recent Aero Commander, and I’d say that Carenado, and Dan Klaue, are on a roll right now.
Thanks, and we’ll sea you around the campfire. Beware of barking tree-frogs – C