I’ve enjoyed the Carenado Cessna 340 v3.2 Xp10/11 for the better part of a year now, and it’s a faithful reproduction of the original model, i.e., a version without a fully decked out glass cockpit. I like my GA aircraft so equipped, too, as they represent what I’m most familiar with…so you might say there’s a comfort level I find lacking in a G1000 equipped acf. Not a big deal, as once you learn your way around the G1000 it offers much more capability. Still, I suspect many old farts like myself enjoy steam gauge panels because that’s what we know best – or remember most fondly.
That said, the Carenado 206 Skywagon with the G1000 upgrade is just about my favorite GA single out there, so go figure. I’m nothing if not inconsistent, right?
After looking over the Digital Replica Cessna 310L a few nights ago I began wondering what the magicians at Carenado had pulled off with their latest v11 upgraded file, for the Cessna 340. The v3.2 model’s panel lighting is not good, so upgrading would be reasonable on those grounds alone, but PBR materials are now standard on HD models and this brings a whole new level of immersion, both inside and out of the aircraft. The new model is VR ready, and has been modified to be compatible with all of the new physics modules (for ground, flight, and engine dynamics) found in Xp11. While not quite a new aircraft, many systems and textures required complete makeovers, and I assume that’s why there’s no special pricing for owners of the existing 340.
Here are a couple of videos showing basic OPS in the 340.
And now, let’s look at the exterior: 1) note how the wing is mated to the fuselage and engine nacelle, i.e., with radiused fairings (and not crudely joined, as you’ll find in many cheaply modeled files); 2) not only does the pilot’s flipper window open, but note all the smoothly radiused corners and joins in the cockpit; 3) we call this Carenado-Class detail for a reason; 4) gear detail, pitot tube detail, and static elements; 5) cowl flaps, NACA vents, and strobe lights…all perfect.
The 340 is a pressurized, turbo-charged twin equipped to fly into known icing conditions, and so is Carenado’s model.
Once again, we flew the newest 340 from PAKT to PAJN – only this time at dawn. In the set below, note the “courtesy” lights flooding the ground just under the tip tanks, and the improved panel lighting, including “post lighting” on all major instruments. Taxiing is reassuringly solid feeling with little tendency to wander, and flap/gear sounds are nicely audible. This 340 takes off and climbs with authority, and IFR OPS are ably handled with a full suite of avionics, including radar altimeter and weather radar, while engine OPS are eased with a Lean Assist module.
This 340 feels stable and predictable on final, and any drift is easily countered with very responsive rudder feel. There’s very little float on flare, and directional control on run-out is fine. Interior details abound, and the animated pull out table is a nice touch.
It’s hard to know what’s at work here, and by that I mean…is it X-plane’s refined physics imparting such a newfound, hyper-realistic feel, or has Carenado (e.g., Dan Klaue) simply figured out how to take full advantage of these new parameters. In the end, I doubt it matters much, because the differences felt at the yoke are real, with heavy low speed handling really most impressive now.
Below, a few comparison shots with the Carenado 340 and the Digital Replica 310L, with 1) panels up first, then 2) the AP/cowl flaps area under the throttle quadrant. Similar details are found on the 310 and, as we concluded earlier, the Digital Replica 310L is a worthy addition to the GA fleet in X-plane.
And once again the 310Ls night panel.
While the 310 and 340 series look superficially similar, they are really remarkably different aircraft, with engine and pressurization only two areas of difference. The 340 inherited the 310s tail, but the wing comes from the Cessna 414 – by way of the 401/402. The fuselage and panel are completely different, as well. The avionic package in the Carenado file is ready to tackle challenging IFR work, while the 310L is best suited to light IFR conditions in a pre-GPS world.
Is one better than the other?
Objectively, maybe so. The Carenado will earn extra points for all the frills, bells and whistles we find in all their work. They make the best GA aircraft in X-plane, period, so it’s interesting to find a new challenger trying to break into the market. And that said, I like the 310L – on a subjective level. It looks good and flies like a dream. The panel works at night well enough, but it’s not as glam as Carenado’s panel.
In the end, I like both of these files and about all I can add is if you can afford to get both, then do so – assuming, that it, you enjoy GA twins. I’d love to see Alabeo bring their 310R to the party soon, and Carenado should get their Baron and A36 Bonanza ported to 11 ASAP, too. And again, I think Digital Replica should get an updated panel option out for their new 310 model, just to entice the younger pilots in the Xp omniverse.
Carenado’s newest 340 is as good as it gets, and we’re looking forward to spending a lot of time in this latest work. We’d call it a Must Have file.
Adios, y’all. Seeya around the campfire someday –