Douglas DC-3 Eight One Niner is on Short Final !

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The R4D v4 project has truly been a team effort, with massive contributions from each member.  Each has done a fantastic job and had input into every area of development, which is what has made this package so outstanding.   Although I (Roy) head up RCS Panels, it is Bill Rambow who has led this project, and it is therefore fitting and appropriate that he writes the remainder of this Press Release.


The WJR/RCS DC3 team -- Bill Rambow, team-leader, panel and gauge graphics;  Roy Chaffin, gauge and systems design and programming; and Jan Visser, aircraft design and development -- wish to announce the imminent arrival of Version 4 of our ground-breaking Douglas DC-3, for MSFS2000.

It's been a long time coming, but then the old gal only cruises at 140 knots!  Speed is not what she is about -- endurance is -- and we suppose the same must be said about our DC-3 project.  But like the 65 year-old legend it faithfully depicts, we believe that Version 4 of this comprehensive plane and panel package will become a classic in its own way--the ultimate, most authentic DC-3 simulation available at any price.   Oh, and did we mention that it's FREEWARE? 

Certainly, we have been very gratified by the tremendous response to earlier versions of the package from thousands of Dakota lovers all over the world.  We were thrilled, too, when V3 received a five star review and the Gold Medal for Flightsim Excellence from AVSIM Online.

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We never intended to rest on our laurels, so after a few thousand more man-hours of work, Version 4, completely rebuilt from the ground up for FS2000 is nearly ready.  The team is confident that we have developed some really exciting new features which will extend the popularity of the earlier marks.  Here are a few of those features...

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The most dramatic new feature of the dual panel is undoubtedly the night lighting system.   It consists of separately operable gauge lights and cockpit spot-lights.  Compare the two pictures above and you will see the unique effect the spots lend to the panel.   The First Officer's panel spot-lights are separate from the Captain's, too  You may have a tendency to become a night-flying vampire, shunning the light of day, once you have experienced the soothing beauty of Bill's softly illuminated Dakota cockpit graphics, brought to life by Roy's brilliant, breakthrough coding.


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Jan, meanwhile, is working hard on the final stages of the all-new aircraft and has made some remarkable breakthroughs of his own.  Created with the latest developer's software, it features maximum moving parts, transparent windows, 16-sided rounding, unsynchronized landing gear animation, and unsurpassed attention to detail and realism, inside and out.  Look into the open, moving cowl flaps, for instance, and you will see the engines!   (The pictures here are of the work in progress,  mind you.  Even more detail is yet to be added before release!  He hasn't painted the NATS legend, yet, in case you hadn't noticed.)  

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For the first time, she will be equipped with her own complete sound package, developed from recordings made especially for this package aboard the Dutch Dakota Association DC-3's.   A high-time professional DC-3 pilot has told us, "The flight model is awesome, the performance is on a hair to the real thing....."    Like the flight model, every gauge has been designed and calibrated so that ours flies and performs just like its real world prototype.  This means you can fly #819 "to the numbers", and if you can't remember what they are, just pull up the enlargements of the real Airspeed and Power placards with a click of the mouse.

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Jan is working on some really wonderful night effects to go with those of the panel.  Below the glow of the panel, cabin windows, and open passenger door beckon.

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Jan intends to do many repaints to different liveries, and even different passenger and cargo configurations of this great plane in both civilian and military configurations.  That is going to make a lot of Gooney Bird lovers very happy, indeed!

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Now, climb those swing-down steps, walk up the sloping deck, and step through the cockpit door.   In fact, we even have put in the squeak of the cockpit door hinges! (you think I'm joking, don't you?)    Here is the Introductory screen which will greet you when you first select the plane and panel from your FS2000 Aircraft menu......

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.....unless you load the plane at night, in which case you will be greeted by this......

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Choose whether you want to start your flight in the Captain's seat, or that of the First Officer, then take a seat behind the photo-real, removeable yoke.   Now, touch the hidden hot button area with your mouse to try out the co-pilot's seat.   Roy Chaffin's exclusive "Switch-On-The-Fly" dual panel system allows you to instantly trade seats, anytime you wish, at the touch of an invisible button.   Despite the complexity of these two-panels-in-one, Version 4 still delivers superior frame rates, just like its earlier incarnations, thanks to some brilliant, and elegant coding by Roy--(still SDK-less, I might add!!)

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Now have a look around you.   Seven photo-real interior views form the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's R4D-6 surround you with unprecedented, digital photo-real reality.

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OK, Captain, enough goofing off.   There is a mission to fly!  Adjust the distinctive bent levers on the new photo-real quadrant for engine start.  

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Set the moving elevator trim wheel to neutral with a click of the mouse.  You can mouse drag the levers individually or in pairs for easy and authentic DC-3 power management.

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Now, reach up to the new photo-real overhead electrical panel and initiate the authentic start sequence.   Listen for the real fuel boost pump and engine cranking sounds before the Pratt & Whitney 1830-94's catch, then rumble to life.  Radios and the new auto pilot, accessible from both seats, reside there, too.  No more pop-up radio window obscuring the Sperry Mark III vintage autopilot.

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You can start her up from the First Officer's seat, too, plus control airshow smoke (#819 is a champion airshow performer) , as well as seat belt and no-smoking switches that ring an old fashioned electric bell behind you in the cabin.

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A complete and essential, profusely illustrated  (see the diagrams above) Operator's Manual has been provided to instruct the pilot on the intricacies of this exceptionally complex and supremely authentic panel and aircraft.  How-To-Fly-It chapters cover Engine Starting, Taxiing the big tail dragger, Takeoff and Initial Climb, Approach and Landing, and much more.  Like the plane's complete set of checklists, these instructions are derived from genuine WW-II pilot's manuals.   The primary, must-read manual is in HTML form, to read with your browser, but there is a plain text version if you want to print it out.


Package Release and Download

So, you want to know when she'll pull into the blocks?  You say you really want to wrap your itchy fingers around those shiny white, black, and red knobs?  Well, barring unforeseen go-arounds, we expect #819 to be ready for boarding in the first week of June.  (Please allow the Admiral to board first.;-)   Downloads of the Freeware package will be found right here, and at other FS websites.

Want more?

A special "donation-ware" CD-ROM version of the Version 4 DC-3 package will be sold at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend , June 2, 3 and 4.  Beside the complete aircraft and panel package, the CD will include an AVI film clip of the real #819 in flight, three different, clearly scanned WW-II era manuals for the C-47, a collection of great photographs of some really fabulous warbirds, a scanned copy of the MAAM member's book containing pictures and histories of the entire museum collection of classic aircraft, a whole raft of Bill's digital, interior and exterior photos, used to develop the graphics, and more.   (Think of the savings in download time for the 10+ MB aircraft package, alone!! ;-)   The $25 price of the CD will go to the engine replacement fund for our R4D (she needs a P&W 1830-94), so this is your opportunity to help put this great aircraft back in the air where she belongs, and get something for yourself at the same time. 

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We invite you to come by the MAAM hangar at Reading Regional Airport, home of the real #819, during the show.  There you will find a couple old amateur software salesmen,  Bill Rambow and Roy Chaffin.    Also flying in from England to help out is Keith "Feek" Maton, our chief beta tester from v1,2, and 3 days.  Keith will check you out in the Gooney and let you "try before you buy", right on the spot.   It's a great show, a great cause, and we look forward to meeting you there!  Just look for the guys partially buried under computer equipment. :-)  Roy and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have, or just talk airplanes and panels with you.

For those geographically disadvantaged folks who can't make it to Reading, the Donation-ware CD will be available at the MAAM Museum Online Store, but not until AFTER the show!