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Old fashioned, the NK Design Cessna C140

Introduction

Wikipedia states that the Cessna 140 and its variants 120 and 140A, are single-engine, two-seat, conventional landing gear (tailwheel), light, general aviation aircraft that were first produced in 1946, immediately following the end of World War II. Production ended in 1951, and was succeeded in 1959 by the Cessna 150, a similar two-seat trainer which introduced tricycle gear. Combined production of the 120, 140, and 140A was 7,664 units in five years.

The Cessna 140 was originally equipped with a Continental C-85-12 or C-85-12F horizontally opposed, air-cooled, four-cylinder piston engine of 85 hp (63 kW). The Continental C-90-12F or C-90-14F of 90 hp (67 kW) was optional, as was the 108 hp (81 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 engine, an aftermarket installation authorised in the type certificate.

This model had a metal fuselage and fabric wings with metal control surfaces. The Cessna 120 was an economy version of the 140 produced at the same time. It had the same engine as the 140, but lacked wing flaps. The rear-cabin “D” side windows and electrical system (radios, lights, battery and starter) were optional.

A 120 outfitted with every factory option would be nearly equivalent to a 140, but the International Cessna 120/140 Association believes that no 120s were originally built this way. Despite this, many decades’ worth of owner-added options have rendered many 120s almost indistinguishable from a 140 aside from the absence of wing flaps. The 120 was dropped from production upon introduction of the 140A in 1949.

The 140A, was a new variant with aluminium covered wings and single wing struts instead of the fabric wing covering, dual “V” struts, and jury struts fitted on earlier models. Standard engines were the Continental C-90-12F or C-90-14F of 90 hp (67 kW), with the 85 hp (63 kW) Continental C-85-12, C-85-12F, or C-85-14F engines optional. The spring-steel gear had been swept 3 in (8 cm) forward on 120 and 140 models in late 1947 so wheel extenders were no longer necessary to counter nose-over tendencies during heavy application of brakes; all 140A models had the improved gear legs.

Despite these improvements, sales of the 140 lineup faltered, and the 140A comprised only seven percent of overall 120/140 production.

Specifications Cessna 140

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: one passenger
  • Length: 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
  • Wing area: 159.3 sq ft (14.80 m2)
  • Empty weight: 890 lb (404 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1,450 lb (658 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 25 US gallons (95 litres), of which 21 US gallons (79.5 litres) are useable
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental C-85 four cylinder, four stroke, horizontally opposed aircraft engine, 85 hp (63 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed Sensenich

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 125 mph (201 km/h, 109 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 105 mph (169 km/h, 91 kn)
  • Stall speed: 45 mph (72 km/h, 39 kn) flaps down
  • Never exceed speed: 140 mph (230 km/h, 120 kn)
  • Range: 450 mi (720 km, 390 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 15,500 ft (4,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 680 ft/min (3.5 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 9.1 lb/sq ft (44 kg/m2)

Keep in mind that I have never flown a Cessna C140 nor that I own a Private Pilot license. That said, I use X-Plane on a recreational basis and write the reviews from that point of view, trying to include items of interest that I would find useful when considering this model.

Installation and Documentation

Download speeds vary with internet connection but I found the process to be quick and straight forward. Once downloaded the file can be placed in the users X-Plane aircraft folder. The model comes with a default livery and five other colour schemes. Once installed the aircraft appears in the flight configuration window and can then be selected for a flight.

The aircraft file contains a seven page user manual. The manual gives an introduction to the aircraft and stresses this is the C140 and not the C120 or C140A variants. The next page covers aircraft specifications. There are two pages of very clear cockpit diagrams and then a page of checklists covering Preflight, Before Engine Start, Engine Start, Before Taxi, Engine Run-up, Before Take Off, Take Off, Climb, Cruise, Before Landing, After Landing and Shutdown.

The page also lists critical speeds for Glide/Dive, Level Flight, Flap Extension and Best Rate, The final page covers the use of the paint kit folder included with the aircraft which allows the user to paint their own liveries and how to contact NKDesign.

Exterior Modelling

I set up the aircraft on the grass parking. I opened the doors using the modelled door handles and also gave the aircraft wheel fairings and chocks. This can be done by clicking the document holder on the interior wall of the cockpit alongside the pilot’s legs. This opens a pop up note book which allows the user to toggle the airspeed indicator between MPH and Knots, change the panel colour, toggle the windscreen camera, fairings and chocks.

Approaching the aircraft from the front left the clarity of the colour and signage is immediately evident as is the glass effect in the doors and windscreen. Closer inspection shows that the colours and textures of the model work well with light and reflections and the panels and rivets are clearly displayed. The pilot figure looks natural and realistic. The modelling of the underwing struts, leading edge wheel fairings and chocks are all precise and crisp. Raising the view slightly shows the smooth lines of the wings and the modelling of the control surfaces.

Viewing the model from the front again shows the quality of the textures and the presentation of the wing and wheel struts. The windscreen creates very good glass effect with realistic reflections. Moving closer shows the engine visible through the air intakes and the propellor reflecting light from its surface with the polished propellor hub creating clear mirror effect. Removal of the wheel fairings shows the attention to detail given to the wheels, tyres and brakes.


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Moving to the front right of the aircraft, changing livery reveals that the detail, crispness and vivid colours remain at the same high standard. Light works well with the new colours and signage is displayed clearly and legibly. Views from the end of the right wing show the lights are modelled in detail. The interesting tail wheel arrangement can be seen from this angle.

From the rear right quarter of the aircraft the control surfaces are more visible and a new livery shows wear marks and shading. Again the interesting tail wheel configuration is well modelled. The glass panels above the cockpit are modelled and can be seen when the view is raised. Movement of the joystick shows the control surfaces in action. Views from the rear illustrate the size and stance of the aircraft and the lights and antennae on the upper surfaces modelled in detail.

Closer views from the rear left of the model show more panel and rivet detail. Views in to the cabin show further glass effects and control surface modelling. Again colours are vivid and clear and the signage is realistic, crisp and legible. Views from the end of the left wing illustrate how different liveries demonstrate different parts of the panel work and how the different textures and colours all work very well together.

In flight the aircraft maintains its character. Colours and textures work well within X-Plane and the detail looks great from all angles. The propellor arc is realistically modelled and displayed.

I would usually consider a model in flight in low light at this point but a check with the model’s manual and a manual for the real aircraft shows no mention of cockpit and instrument lighting leading me to the conclusion that this aircraft was only flown in daylight. The model, in line with the real C140, has no instrument lighting.

Interior Modelling

Sitting in cockpit the instruments and dials are very clear and legible. The pop up note book allows for the panel to be plain or coloured. This toggles the panel between black dial surrounds and a more coloured panel with coloured surrounds to the dials and instruments. Hovering the cursor over the instruments and equipment creates a label for that particular item.

Whatever setting the panel is given the instruments and switches look very realistic with wear marks and bare metal finish. The layout is simple, as would be expected from an aircraft of this age, and everything is easy to see. The pedals are also of a bright, bare metal finish. The interior textures and colours really do suit the age of the C140 and the interior door handles operate the doors. The interior riveting and fabric fastenings are all modelled to a high standard. The yokes can be toggled in and out of view by clicking at their base.

When looking back into the cabin the seat coverings and seat belts look very convincing and again are in a style to suit the age of the aircraft. Behind the seats is a luggage area and the walls of this area are suitably worn.

Views from the windows are very good, aided by the high wing. Glass effects are present but not over done. When toggled the action camera can be seen attached to the windscreen and, as with most tail draggers, the view over the nose is restricted.

There are two fuel gauges to the upper right and left of the windscreen which can be seen from the pilot or co-pilot seats. Clicking the pouch near the co-pilots legs toggles the pilots sunglasses which darken the view when worn. There is also a headset modelled on the co-pilots seat. I will cover the use of the headset in the sound section.

The aircraft is fairly basic inside in reality yet the developers have made the model detailed and interesting. Everything is modelled in detail and to a high quality and the textures, colours and options provided create a great character for the aircraft.

Sound

The engine has very realistic, rich sound and responds well to throttle and engine management input. The engine note changes when the door is opened. Switches and handles all have their own distinct clicks and sounds, giving real character to the atmosphere of the model. The headphones on the seat can be toggled, as described above, and they have a sound dampening effect when worn.

The sounds respond well to various actions and there is a very good tyre noise on landing. The engine tone changes with throttle input and workload in flight.A realistic sound package which adds to the character of the model.

Basic Flight Experience

Initially I wanted to simply use the aircraft for a flight without checklists and guidance to see what it was like to load up and fly. I loaded the aircraft with engine running at the end of the run way. I found that if I did not add a slight amount of throttle once loaded the engine struggled and cut out. A slight increase in the throttle setting prevented this. I added some flap, increased the throttle and set off down the runway. As with all tail draggers the forward view was obscured to start with but as the tail lifted everything became visible. I found the model highly responsive to throttle input when going down the runway. The aircraft took off smoothly and the climb was good. Views from the cockpit were good and the high wing provided all round visibility.

The aircraft was sensitive to control input but was very forgiving and as no great speeds were reached there was time to correct mistakes. I flew a circuit and then approached the runway. I added flap again and noted the flap lever move in the cockpit. On the first attempt I did not lose enough altitude so I went around again. On the second circuit I improved my approach technique and made a successful landing. I took note of the comment in the manual introduction and was careful with losing speed so I did not need to apply heavy braking and put the aircraft on its nose. An enjoyable first flight in a model that certainly has its characteristics but also gives the pilot time to learn the correct techniques.

I next loaded the aircraft cold and dark on the ramp.I planned a flight from Exeter UK to Newquay UK. I followed the check list sheet in the manual. I checked the exterior of the aircraft and ensured all electronics and avionics were off. I ensured the flaps were up and the controls moved freely. I set the fuel valve, just in front of the co-pilots seat, to both tanks.

I was then ready to start the engines and continued to follow the checklist. I made sure carb heat was set to cold, pushed fully in, the throttle was partly open and the mixture knob was pushed fully in for rich mixture. I primed the engine, turned the master switch to on and turned the ignition key to switch both magnetos to ON. I checked the prop area was clear and the brakes were on. I pulled the starter knob and the engine fired in to life with a very convincing sound. I checked the oil pressure was correct and leaned the mixture. I overdid the adjustment of the mixture so the engine cut out. I repeated the process and again everything went well and I changed the mixture more carefully.

The before taxi checklist advises the pilot to switch on the radio, which I did by switching on the avionics switch, set the transponder and the altimeter. Having done this I was ready to taxi. I taxied to the end of the runway. The aircraft is responsive on the ground and easy to steer, although as with all this type of aircraft the forward view was obstructed by the engine cowling. I ensured I was at a very low speed when braking to avoid tipping the aircraft on to its nose.

At the end of the runway I carried out an engine run up and then carried out the pre take off checks ensuring mixture was set to rich, carb heat was set to cold, ensuring trim was correct, the fuel valve was set to both tanks and the door was shut! Take off went well as I lifted the tail wheel at 30mph and lifted off at 55mph. I climbed to 2500ft with an airspeed of 70mph and then cruised at 2000rpm.

The aircraft handled very well and once trimmed was very stable. I used a map and VFR to navigate and this was made easier with the great views from the plane due to the high wing.

I approached the last waypoint and prepared to make a turn on a heading for Newquay airport. I put on the sun glasses and earphones supplied in the cockpit and noted how the view of the modelled pilot changed accordingly. The headphones do have a sound damping effect during flight.

Once I could make out the North Cornwall coast I prepared to descend on the approach to Newquay airport. I went through the before landing checklist checking fuel, mixture and carb heat, reduced RPM to 1300 and once below an airspeed of 82mph I extended the flaps. I then continued to lower airspeed to 65mph for landing. I made my approach and successfully landed at Newquay, with a reassuring sound of rubber on tarmac, albeit with a slightly slower airspeed than recommended. I ensured carb heat was off, raised the flaps, noting the sound of their movement and switched the transponder off. I taxied to the stand and carried out the shutdown checklist switching off the radio and lights, reducing mixture to idle /cut off, switching off the magnetos and battery and moving the fuel valve to off.

This is a fun aircraft to fly. The all round visibility from the cockpit is really helpful. There are no complicated systems to learn and the checklist is almost completed by switching the engine on and off. There are no navigation aids so VFR skills are put to the test but everything happens slowly in this forgiving aircraft meaning that mistakes can be rectified before too much damage is done.

Summary

This is not a sophisticated aircraft, but that does not mean this is a simple model. It is true there are no complicated and involved systems but the detail of the modelling and the sound package really do create an aircraft of its time.

There is real character to the appearance of the aircraft augmented by some bespoke sounds to accompany various actions and operations. The aircraft provides great all round visibility and as it does not travel quickly everything can be managed and where mistakes are made there is usually time to put them right.

The developers have modelled the challenges of the aircraft such as an obstructed forward view and the tendency to tip on to its nose on heavy braking, which I can vouch for! A great model for beginners and experienced pilots alike and one that provides a great platform for those who want to move on from starting with engines running to a cold and dark start.

The checklists and engine start up are extremely straight forward that it is simple to “wake” the aircraft. A real opportunity also for those who want to practice VFR flight.

Overall, a fun model for pilots of all abilities.

More information can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page. As of this writing – end of April 2021 – the C140 cost you 20.00 USD. This review of the NKDesign C140 is based on model version 1.2 which was released February 19th, 2021.

Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.

With Greetings,
Andy Clarke

 

 

Add-on:Payware NKDesign C140
Publisher | Developer:X-Plane.Org | NKDesign
Description:Accurate reproduction of Cessna 140
Software Source / Size:Download / Approximately 2.62GB (unzipped)
Reviewed by:Andy Clarke
Published:April 26th 2021
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

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