level of expertise they have at producing some of the highest quality add-on FS aircraft available anywhere. With their B-25J “Briefing Time”, released earlier this year, they had established their extraordinary talent at virtual cockpit design, but the R4D-6/DC-3 for FS9 takes that even further as they have not only duplicated the appearance of the DC-3’s panel in 3D, they have now also duplicated all of the DC-3’s systems and their operation, at least as well as can be done within the confinements of Flight Simulator.
By way of pop-up panels, each of the DC-3’s systems is presented, whether that be hydraulics, gear-flap operation, throttle-prop-mixture, overhead panel, or the default Garmin GPS. The overhead panel contains many of your electrical items, starting switches, and your radio gear (UHF & VHF com/nav radios plus your transponder) and the throttle-prop-mixture pop-up has your fuel tank selector valves. The manual covers the operation of each of the systems while the check list provides not only an interactive function, but also has your starting procedure included. Operation of the period autopilot, radios, and other cockpit items are very well covered in the documentation, plus you also have the real-life video available in the HTML formatted manual to assist you. This is particularly helpful for the starting procedures.
The additional manual, which is the original or actual 1940’s era manual used for flight operations of the C-47 (PDF format), is not necessarily the manual you would use with this FS aircraft, though having included it does make for some quite interesting reading, almost humorous to a fashion.
One more point I would like to mention and despite my obvious preference for their outstanding virtual cockpit, the MAAM-SIM group has taken the 2D panel to its limits by offering you the choice of either the captain’s panel, the first officer’s panel, or a full screen IFR panel for each (captain or first officer). Overall, this is about as complete a panel as you could possibly hope for and the MAAM-SIM group has hit a homerun, in my opinion, at reaching the upper limits of realism and authenticity for one of the most historically significant aircraft of the last 100 hundred years.
The majority of the payware FS add-on aircraft have pushed the realism of their included panels to the current limits of the technology and I can’t suggest anyway of improving upon them. The panels (2D, IFR, and the DVC) for the MAAM-SIM R4D-6/DC-3 are certainly as good as the technology currently allows, meaning there are no suggestions available on how they could improve on what you get and I found it interesting how the MAAM-SIM group managed to work around the Flight Simulator limitations to maintain authenticity (allowing for a delay on the fuel primer switch and ignition exciter while you engage the starter for example). Allowing for your mouse to either control the prop or mixture, for each engine independently or in unison, is not new, but they have made sure you can do this in all modes and the MAAM-SIM group has even thought to include a visual (in the HTML manual) of each panel’s hotspot location for controlling that feature using your mouse. For all this authenticity, some negative impact on frame-rates is to be expected, so the MAAM-SIM group has also included a version of the MAAM-SIM R4D-6/DC-3 with a minimum version of the virtual cockpit, from which I noted a 30% improvement in frame-rates when used. This is a nice additional feature to improve on the performance of the aircraft on those systems that are lesser in their capability.
Compared to the modern airliner, whether that be an Airbus or Boeing aircraft, the Douglas R4D-6/DC-3’s systems seem rather simplistic, and the MAAM-SIM group could have left it at that, but the MAAM-SIM group has strived to include all of the complexity of the original aircraft, such as it is, and I’m of the opinion their efforts are well worth the price.
Compared to the default DC-3, the MAAM-SIM 2D panel is very sharp, clear, and highly realistic. Everything works by the way!
The 3D dynamic virtual cockpit on this aircraft is among the very best for realism I’ve seen.
The overhead electrical panel is available as a pop-up window. All of the switches are active and the three center “white” switches are used for start-up. The MAAM-SIM group have programmed the start-up switches to work as near to reality as possible.
The throttle quadrant in the popup form and everything is functional with your mouse, including the fuel selector valves.