MilViz DHC-3T Turbo Otter
The aircraft manual has a very good introduction to the aircraft and its background and the following information is taken from Wikipedia:
The rugged single-engined, high-wing, propeller-driven DHC-3 Otter was conceived in January 1951 by de Havilland Canada as a larger, more powerful version of its highly successful DHC2 Beaver STOL utility transport. Dubbed the “King Beaver” during design, it would be the “one-ton truck” to the Beaver’s “half-ton” role.
The Otter received Canadian certification in November 1952 and entered production shortly thereafter. Using the same overall configuration as the Beaver, the new, much heavier design incorporated a longer fuselage, greater-span wing, and cruciform tail. Seating in the main cabin expanded from six to 10 or 11. Power was supplied by a 450-kW (600 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 geared radial.
The version used in the Otter was geared for lower propeller revolutions and consequently lower airspeed. The electrical system was 28 volts D.C. Like the Beaver, the Otter can be fitted with skis or floats. The Otter has been used by multiple armed forces and civil operators and is also very popular with sky diving clubs. The aircraft has a reputation of being rugged and reliable. This model represents an aircraft with the power plant upgraded to a Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turboprop engine.
The addition of this more powerful engine to a renown aircraft is a great combination for this work horse.
I have not flown in a DHC-3T nor seen one in real life and I am not qualified as a pilot. I do not claim any expertise in X-Plane and carry out the review from the viewpoint of a person who uses X-Plane on a recreational basis. I try to produce a review that addresses the questions I would ask when interested in this model and make comments that I hope someone of my experience will find useful.
Installation and Documentation
Download speeds vary with internet connection but I found the process straight forward. Once the file for the model is downloaded the user needs to copy it in to their aircraft file within X-Plane. Once X-Plane is launched the aircraft appears as an option in the flight configuration screen.
The aircraft appears in three versions in flight configuration the first is the amphibious version equipped with wheeled floats, allowing use on land and water and supplied with four liveries, the second is very similar but equipped with standard floats with the same four liveries and, like the first, with a canoe attached the aircraft exterior and the third is the wheeled version, although the on screen menu allows for the addition of skis, and this again has four liveries.
If X-Plane is paused when the aircraft is loaded it appears to have sunk in to the run way but once pause is released it assumes the correct position.
The manual is supplied in a separate download. Once downloaded it is worth creating a documents folder within the model’s folder and placing the manual file within it. This then means the manual can be accessed in the tablet positioned in the cockpit via the Avitab plug in with which the aircraft is compatible.
I will discuss this further later in the review. The manual for the model is a 41 page illustrated document which is of good quality and very helpful. It is well worth reading before installation of the aircraft as it covers the best way to install the model.
The first part of the manual carries a comprehensive introduction to the real aircraft and then moves on to the key product features and system requirements. The next section covers installation, uninstalling, updating and product support. There is also a page explaining the rain effect plug-in that comes in the download and produces realistic rain effects on the windows.
The model has an on screen menu opened by clicking a small icon which appears when the cursor is moved to the left of the screen. This menu allows the user to hide/show external equipment and covers, show/hide the tablet which works with the Avitab plug-in, change liveries, change GPS options and adjust the loading of the aircraft. The GPS options allow for dual GPS units, a single unit and no GPS. The model is compatible with Reality XP units and where loaded these are automatically used.
The next sections are really useful for all users but more so for those unfamiliar with the real aircraft or learning to use the model. There are illustrated pages relating to cabin and controls, engine instrumentation, control panels and switch locations and how the fuel system works.
Further information is provided about flight controls, tail wheel steering, operation on water and avionics and communications equipment. The developers have tried to clarify and explain the aircraft to facilitate its use for users of all experience. The manual then covers operating procedures with checklists for normal operations and emergency procedures and also covers operating limits.
I found this to be a useful document whether installing, setting up or using the aircraft and made learning the models capabilities a very enjoyable experience.
The manual includes guidelines for an exterior check of the aircraft and I followed this to view the exterior modelling. In accordance with the guidance I started outside the pilot’s door and if I was preparing to fly I would check the stowage of baggage, weight distribution and fuel quantities. This position allows the user to see that the panel and glass surfaces are modelled in detail and the realistic colours show wear and tear on the aircraft.
Handles, fixings and inlets and outlets are visible as are the pilot and passengers through the windows. The undercarriage in this case is the wheeled version and the struts wheels and tyres are produced in detail and to good effect. Having viewed the different configurations of the model’s undercarriage at the time of loading the aircraft I can confirm the skis and floats are also created to a high standard.
The engine covers are visible and clear and with the engine off the propellor sits in the fully feathered position and carries detail such as manufacturers labels and warning markings at the end of the blades. There is a good contrast between the matt colours and textures on the propellor and exhaust surfaces and the lighting and reflections on the shiny propellor boss. Changing the livery of the aircraft allows different shadow, lighting and weathering effects to be seen.
Examination of the starboard wing shows detailed modelling of the leading edge, panelling and lights. The view from the rear also shows the hinges and surface controls are clear and well produced. Viewing the side of the model shows realistic panelling and riveting with windows, doors and control surfaces created to a high standard, whilst further wear marks and weathering make the aircraft look well used.
The tail wheel carries the same level of detail as the main undercarriage whilst the aerial wires are visible. Viewing the aircraft from the rear the control surfaces on the tail and wings can be clearly seen with detailed hinges and surfaces. All aerials and antennae are well created and the light and shadow respond appropriately as the control surfaces move.
The standard of modelling is repeated for the left side and wing of the aircraft. The ground equipment and covers can be put in place through the on screen menu and create further realism for the model. The extra long pitot tube is very evident on the port wing.
In the air the aircraft maintains its integrity with colours, light and shadow looking very convincing and working well with the X-Plane scenery. The aircraft also looks good in low light in flight. Exhaust emissions can be seen blown around in the propellor wash when the aircraft is on the ground with the engine running.
This is a detailed and well thought out model with appropriate weathering for this work horse of an aircraft. The different liveries deliver different qualities without detracting from surface detail and the model looks good both on the ground and in flight.
The interior of the model is not created in a pristine, unused way but in keeping with the realism of the exterior it has a worn and worked appearance with wear marks evident in places and appropriate discolouration of textures and surfaces. The controls and switches are clear and easy to see with good lighting and crisp signage.
The panel itself is worn and has a very different texture from the dials and instrumentation. All textures throughout the cockpit are well modelled and convincing. The more modern pieces of equipment such as the GPS, radios and tablet stand out in contrast to the older, well used equipment. The glass reflections work well with the rest of the cockpit surroundings. The instrumentation also looks good in low light.
The cockpit doors can be opened using the interior handles and warning lights and instrumentation are clear and bright. A curtain separates the cockpit and the cabin and this can be moved to one side by a click of the mouse. The number of passengers can be controlled via the on screen menu and these are modelled realistically and individually. The attention to detail given to the cabin is very evident and views throughout the rear of the aircraft maintain the character of the model that other details have created.
The luggage area is full of baggage, the rear doors can be opened by use of the handles and each seat is modelled accurately. There are many and varied textures and colours throughout the aircraft interior and this creates a very interesting environment. The interior modelling augments and compliments that of the exterior of the aircraft creating a model that appears well used yet maintained and shows the effects of what appears to be years of service whilst remaining convincing.
The sound package is impressive with responsive engine noises, changing dependent on viewing position and throttle settings and clear indications of the movement of surfaces such as flaps. There is a real engine tone change when initiating reverse thrust.
Ground noise is also comprehensive with tyre noise along the runway and on landing. Alarms are clear and strident. Doors, switches and levers all have their own bespoke noises when operated. The rain can be heard when present and the whole package is very immersive and of good quality.
The aircraft systems are explained thoroughly in the manual. The use of the various switches and controls are outlined together with screen shots of the controls and their locations. These clear and helpful instructions make the systems more accessible to users of all levels of experience.
The manual also covers the fuel system which has changed from the original DHC-3 configuration in that the engine is only supplied directly from the centre aft fuel tank with fuel from the centre front tank flowing to the rear when necessary. Fuel from the front tank and rear tank has to be pumped to the centre tank, controlled by the pilot. Warning lights and gauges show levels in the tanks and advise the pilot when respective levels are low. This has all been modelled to work in the same way as the real aircraft.
The tail wheel can be steered by a power steering system, left to castor freely for ground handling or locked in position for take off and landing. This is modelled and the controls and indicators are explained in the manual.
There is also additional equipment required for water operations as rudders are required for steering and the wheels on the floats on the amphibious version have to be extended and retracted. Again these are modelled, illustrated and explained.
The on screen menu allows for the user to set up the avionics with one, two or no GPS systems. The supplied GPS units are X-Plane GPS 530 and 430. It also allows for the Reality XP Units to replace the X-Plane units if the plug-ins are installed. The GPS units can be popped out for easier operation if required.
Each layout includes an audio panel, transponder, autopilot, distance measuring equipment and the chosen number of GPS units. Where there are less than two GPS units there is also a Com/Nav radio. The main radio unit when no GPS is used is the KX165A Com1/Nav1 Radio and is equipped with an Omni-Bearing Selector and Active Adjust modes for frequency changes. The secondary radio is the conventional KX165 Com2/Nav2. A KY196A takes the Com2/Nav2 role when one GPS is used.
A conventional audio panel is provided for all three layouts enabling the pilot to listen to Com, Nav and ADF signals and also to transmit. The transponder is a KT 74 which the manual describes as an ADS-B compliant Mode S transponder with Pressure Altimeter, Flight Timer, Count-Up Timer, Altitude Monitor, and ADS-B OUT Position functions. The distance measuring equipment is KN 62A and is described as a conventional unit.
The auto pilot is the KAP 140 two axis autopilot with altitude pre-selection and altitude hold. The unit uses the heading bug for tracking intercepts to VORs and ILS and will follow a GPS flight plan if the X-Plane HSI source is set to GPS. The ADF provided is a KR 87 conventional ADF radio providing ADF, ANT and BFO modes.
The on screen menu also provides a method to alter the number of passengers and the seats that are occupied together with the ability to alter cargo weights and volumes.
The model is compatible with the Avitab plug in which, when used, creates a tablet in the cockpit. The plug in allows for charts, routes and maps to be stored and referenced and will also follow the X-Plane map. The tablet is also capable of supplying information on airports and aircraft user manuals, drawing the latter from the aircraft’s manuals or documents folder in X-Plane.
The Avitab plug in is available for free download and can be installed in each individual aircraft’s plug-ins folder although I have found that by keeping it in the generic plug-ins folder in X-plane it is available for all aircraft. In compatible aircraft there is a position for the tablet but it can be opened as a ‘floating” image by toggling the tablet in the plug ins drop down list.
Basic Flight Experience
My first flight was a straight forward circuit with the wheeled variant with no reference to operations procedures. I started at the end of the runway, applied some flaps and increased the throttle. The aircraft responded very well and increased speed smoothly, rising from the runway quite early and continuing to climb in a manageable way.
The aircraft was responsive to control inputs, in fact I over did the first few manoeuvres as I became accustomed to the sensitivity of the joy stick inputs. The aircraft was great to use in the circuit as it reached required altitudes efficiently and was straight forward to control. Descent also felt easy to manage and I was able to complete a reasonably smooth and controlled landing at my first attempt.
For my second flight I loaded a water start and used the aircraft with floats. I shocked myself as I had the screen on pause when loading the flight and the plane appeared half submerged. Once I released the pause the aircraft surfaced and moved around on the surface of the water quite violently even though the throttle was turned right down. I pressed B to release the anchor and the aircraft became a little more stable.
I will certainly have to practice water starts! As I applied power the aircraft actually became more stable and responded better to water rudder inputs. I achieved a successful take off, circuit and landing, giving quite a sense of achievement. I would also emphasise I carried out the flight with the weather settings set to make things as calm and flat as possible, as recommended in the manual.
The aircraft really is straight forward and responsive to fly and light and reflections respond to aircraft movement, creating a realistic environment in the cockpit.
For a more realistic flight I loaded the aircraft in its cold and dark state and went through the normal procedures to start the engines and carry out my flight. Having already completed the exterior walk around I entered the aircraft via the pilots door.
I selected the cockpit layout with one GPS unit and loaded a route via Goodway. The interior of the cockpit stills looks impressive in cold and dark mode and all instrumentation remains clear and legible. The yoke can be hidden to create a clearer view of the panel.
Following the guidance I ensured the parking brake was set, the control movements were free and regular and the trim was set. The procedures state that the generator switch on the junction box should be left on at all times. Having found the junction box behind the co-pilots seat I established the switch was not modelled so there was no chance I could have it in the wrong position.
I ensured the condition lever was set to cut off and the emergency fuel cut off switch was in and that the circuit breakers were positioned correctly. I switched the inverter switch, on the switch panel on the lower pedestal, to on and ensured the fuel transfer switch was set to off. I checked the flight instruments and calibrated the altimeter.
I switched on the master switch and pressed each warning light to ensure correct operation. Finally to complete the checklist for entering the aircraft I checked the fuel levels and communication equipment having switched on the Nav Master switch.
I then completed the before start list by moving the master switch to off, checking the doors were closed and the propellor area was clear, the brakes were checked, power was set at idle, the emergency power lever was set to off, prop control was set to increase and the condition lever was set to idle.
The next stage was engine start. I moved the master switch back to on and ensured the cabin temperature switch was set to cold. I checked that the two fuel pump switches created enough boost to cause the low fuel pressure light to go out and set them as required. I switched the P3 heater on and this was confirmed by the appropriate light, switched on the ignition and then held the starter switch to on until the correct engine readings were obtained, and moved the condition lever to run.
Once the required levels were reached I switched off the starter and ignition switches. In preparing to taxi I moved the flaps to cruise position, checked engine temperatures, took the parking brake off and checked the foot brakes. I checked the rudder and that the tail wheel had power steering and then added power to move to taxi. Taxi was relatively easy to control once I had learned to judge the throttle input required to move forward steadily.
The aircraft responded well on the ground to rudder inputs although, as with most tail wheel aircraft, it was not always easy to see directly ahead as the aircraft nose obstructed a clear view. I taxied to the threshold and went through the before take off checks. I ensured elevator trim was set to take off, which could be achieved by the in cockpit controls or the joystick commands.
I set rudder and aileron trim. A button on the directional gyro allows it to be set correctly and likewise with the artificial horizon. I checked the instruments and the radios and ensured the GPS was working and then moved on to the run way for take off. I moved the propellor to full increase and switched the ignition to on.
For take off I ensured I had the correct aircraft lights switched on and the tail wheel was locked. I checked the engine settings, moved flaps to take off position and then increased the throttle taking off at about 60 MPH. I increased to the climb speed of 90 MPH and switched off the tail wheel lock.
I complied with the advice given in the check list for the engine settings and icing conditions. I switched ignition to off. I next needed to use the auto pilot and therefore followed the guidance in the manual to set the altimeter pressure. I set the autopilot to Heading mode and ensured the heading bug was set to the desired track as indicated on the GPS. I also set the altitude hold mode.
The aircraft found the correct heading and maintained its altitude. Its movement was smooth and responsive and settle in to smooth level flight with appropriate indications on the instrumentation. Having settled in the cruise I used the fuel transfer system to top up the centre tank.
This works well and the corresponding gauges indicate the transfer is taking place. I used the vertical speed and altitude alert settings on the autopilot and they worked as described in the manual, creating smooth descent and climb for the aircraft. The distance measuring equipment also worked according to the manual.
Whilst GPS illustrated the course to be followed and the desired track, it can be followed using the heading mode and the HSI set to GPS, it is possible to use the autopilot more conventionally in that the heading bug sets the course for the autopilot and the pilot also needs to fly an intercept route to pick up a VOR radial or ILS localiser. The manual explains:
The autopilot “uses the HDG bug for tracking intercepts to VORs and ILS Localisers. Be sure to adjust the HDG bug to the desired intercept course when attempting to intercept a VOR radial or an ILS localiser. When you engage NAV or APR or REV modes, the “HDG” label will flash on screen three times as a reminder to adjust your HDG course.”
I found it took some practice to become acquainted with the different settings and adjustments required compared to some other autopilots. It is not as immediate as some more modern systems and even when using GPS it needed some assistance in acquiring the desired track, though once this was established it worked well.
It differed from other autopilots in that it is the Heading mode required to link to GPS not the Nav mode and when turning and acquiring a track the course weaves either side of the track for some time. This is not a criticism of the model as it is based on how the real thing functions but an observation that it does require some concentration to work it out at first. It is well explained in the manual.
The views from the aircraft are good and the aircraft feels good to fly. I did find it less forgiving than some if I made a mistake and it took quite a lot of effort to recover.
I made an approach using the airport ILS and tuned in the Nav 1 radio to the correct frequency. This was easy to do on the GPS unit. It is a similar process on the Nav radio. I set the autopilot to Approach mode and the GS symbol appeared.
As I approached the unit told me that it had entered the glide slope and the aircraft responded smoothly and accurately. The controlled approach gave me time to follow the check list and adjust power level and airspeed and lock the tail wheel. I switched on the landing light and set the flaps as required and the ILS caused the aircraft to compensate for the lift this induced. I set the ignition to on and controlled the airspeed with power.
As I crossed the airport boundary I switched off autopilot and completed the landing, using reverse thrust to shorten the landing run before coming to a stop with the brakes.
After landing I followed the check list and ensured ground steering was on, the ignition and landing light were off and flaps and trim were set correctly. I then taxied to the ramp. Engine shut down was straight forward following the checklist by setting the parking brake, setting the power lever to idle, switching off ground steering, feathering the propellor, setting the condition lever to idle cut off, switching off the fuel pumps, radios, anti-collision light and the master switch, The actions of the model and the sounds and engine tone all responded as expected.
The way this aircraft is modelled gives it real character. Exterior and interior views are created with great realism and are weathered and worn in a convincing way to show an aircraft with lots of hours os service. The user is supported in the systems and functions of the aircraft by a very useful support manual.
These systems are realistic and varied and the user interface allows the model to be configured in several ways. The systems also have their own character and do need to be learned to be used effectively but again this is part of the qualities of the model and users should persist as the rewards are worthwhile.
The aircraft is good to fly, being responsive and agile although it is not as forgiving as some if the pilot makes a mistake. This makes it an attractive model for users of all levels of experience. The fact that the Otter can be used with wheels floats and skis also widens the experience and creates multiple challenges before even entering in to the variations created by emergency procedures.
All of these variables and the standard of modelling and sounds make the use of the model an enjoyable and immersive experience.
As of this writing, the DHC-3T cost you 39.95 UD.
|Add-on:||Payware Milviz DHC-3T Turbo Otter|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | MilViz|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Turbo Otter|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 989MB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Andy Clarke|
|Published:||October 1st 2019|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
|Software specifications:||- macOS Big Sur 11.x
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports