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Review – Carenado C340 II FSX HD series

This is my review of Carenado’s recent release of the Cessna 340 II HD for FSX.

The Cessna 340 II is a twin-engine general aviation aircraft manufactured by the Cessna Aircraft Company headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, USA.

Development of this aircraft began in 1969 with the first deliveries made in 1971. The main feature of the 340 was its pressurized fuselage. At the time it was the only six seat four passenger twin available from a major manufacturer with the exception of the Beechcraft Duke. Production on the aircraft ended in 1984 with a total of 1351 units built-in the 13 year production period.

Here are a few general specifications:

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Capacity: Four passengers
  • Length: 34 ft 4 in (10.46 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 1 in (11.62 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 7 in (3.84 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,921 lb (1,780 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 5,990 lb (2,719kg)
  • Maximum speed: 244 kts (279 mph, 452km/h)
  • Range: 1,406 nm (1,606 mi, 2,603 km) at economy cruising speed
  • Service ceiling: 29,800 ft (9,085 m)

Installation

The installer is simple and straightforward. Run the executable, agree to the terms of the license agreement and allow it to finish the installation.  The first time you go to fly this aircraft you will be asked to allow the gauge dlls to run.

Installer

Verification of publisher

Configuration

The only configuration options appear in a pop up panel that can be accessed by pressing <shift+3>. As you can see there are only three options available; 3D knobs, VC windows and Static Elements.

Static elements deployed

 

The package comes with four paint variants and one blank white texture.

Bluegold

Beige

Grey

Red

White

Documentation

Included with the product are six PDF documents.

C340 Normal and Emergency Procedures has the various checklists you might need as you take the aircraft from pre flight inspections through the various phases of flight to finally securing the aircraft after landing. They also include checklists you could use in response to a number of different emergency situations. I found them to be a good reference.

C340 Reference is simply a listing of various reference speeds.

Garmin GNS430 User’s Guide provides a very brief explanation of some of the knobs and buttons as well as what you see on the default NAV and MAP display pages.

VC Position Instruments C340 II is a single page document that is a picture of the instrument panel along with labels matched to the indicators, switches and controls.  The graphic is very clear and detailed but the thin lines that go between the labels and their associated item is a jumbled mass making it very difficult to make the connection between the label and the item. The only way I found this document to be of any use was to increase the magnification and pan around the screen.

The Weather Radar Manual provides a brief description of the various controls and screen displays.

Carenado Copyright is just what it states; copyright information.

External Visuals

The external visuals of this aircraft are among the best I have seen.  Their use of HD textures combined with lots of fine detailing, sharp crisp lines and smooth curves makes this a beauty to behold. As I began to take a closer look it didn’t take long to see that they went to great lengths in adding all sorts of details. I’ve picked a few examples. It’s possible to make out the different types of fastener heads on various body panels. You can read the filling instructions on the front wheel strut. They’ve included fluid lines and calipers on the undercarriage and you can see the filaments in the wing mounted navigation lights. This aspect of the product is definitely a highlight.

Undercarriage detail

Propeller close up

Underside

Flaps fully extended

Passenger compartment door and baggage access doors open

Wingtip nav light detail

Another example of little details added

If you forget how just read the instructions

Exterior lighting

Level flight

Pilot's view of the wing

In addition to all of the fine detailing they’ve also made each variant of this aircraft appear as though it has seen lots of flying time. Looking closely, especially at the underside you can see the effects of wear and tear with dirt and rust stains along with some paint discolouration. Clearly their intention was to convey realism and again they’ve done it here.

Weathering includes dirt and rust

Virtual Cockpit

This aircraft comes equipped with only a virtual cockpit.  For those of you who continue to prefer 2D panels you will change your minds after seeing and using this one.  The attention to detail is not confined to the exterior, the same care and effort was clearly put into this important aspect of the C340 II. The panel is easy to read and offers very good performance and smooth moving instrumentation. Users will be hard pressed to find any reason to dislike the virtual cockpit in the C340 II. For those users who have yokes or simply want an unobstructed view of the instrument panel you have the ability to remove both the pilot’s and co pilot’s yokes. Looking close in at the gauges you can appreciate the fine details that have gone into their recreation including such fine items as the indicator needles, face plates and securing screws.

Instrument panel

Instrument panel night lighting with pilot's yoke removed

Annunciator lights

Lightswitch panel fuses and pedestal

Close up of gauges

Visors down

I’d also like to mention that I use the Saitek multi panel and that it worked flawlessly with this aircraft.

Attention to interior detail doesn’t stop with the cockpit area. The four seat passenger compartment is fully modelled and features wood panelling accents and courtesy lighting for passenger comfort on those night time flights.

Passenger compartment

Courtesy lighting on for passenger comfort

Sounds

I loved the sounds of this small twin-engine aircraft. I have never been around a Cessna 340 II so I can’t make any statements regarding how well they match the real thing but I can say that the sounds I am hearing are very immersive and seem to be very realistic.  From the time you press the start switches to get the engines running to engine shut down the sounds were all extremely well done. While cruising if the props weren’t synced you could hear a definite difference in the sounds; there was an audible beat that changed as I made adjustments.

Besides the predominant sound of the engines they also include other ambient sounds such as those made when the flaps and landing gear are extended or retracted and the opening and closing of the cargo and passenger doors.

Animations

The aircraft includes all the normal animations you expect plus more; flap and landing gear extensions and retractions, opening and closing of the cabin door and also the baggage compartment access covers. Externally they have also included variable pitch propellers, movable cowl flaps and retractable landing lights. As the passenger door is opened or closed you can see the rear seat move forward and back.

Internally there are also a number of animations; the small vent windows next to the pilot and co-pilot open and close along with their latches moving, both sun visors can be lowered or raised and then of course there are all the various switches and indicators found in the cockpit.

Gauge movement is extremely smooth and realistic. For anyone who feels that virtual cockpit gauges don’t give the same level of smooth operation as a 2D panel those days are long gone when you see how these gauges work. It is not only the smoothness but also the way that they convey even the most subtle of changes in engine performance.

Flying

I don’t normally fly small general aviation aircraft so it took a little bit of adjustment on my part to get use to it. They respond so much quicker to pilot input than the larger jet liners.

The aircraft was a solid performer in all phases of flight from take off to touchdown. All aspects of engine performance appeared to be modelled realistically. You could really get a feel for the power this aircraft has especially on take off. As you gain altitude you will find yourself adjusting the mixture to optimize performance or you will quickly hear and see the results of not doing so. You will also need to pay attention when coming in for a landing making sure you don’t come in too fast or slow. The C340 Normal and Emergency Procedures manual has helpful information in this regard.

Another major part of flying is the ability to navigate from point A to point B successfully.  The Cessna 340 II comes equipped with the two Garmin GNS430s. What Carenado have provided is a stripped down version with minimal functionality. If you choose to navigate using the GPS you may be disappointed. This aircraft is a superior product in every way with the exception of this particular piece of kit. I decided to install the GNS430 WAAS from Reality XP which gave me a realistic and working GPS system. If you are a general aviation aircraft enthusiast and want to fly with a fully functioning GPS system you may want to seriously consider the Reality XP product as it integrates seamlessly into this aircraft.

The working weather radar was another nice feature which enhanced the real world feel of this aircraft. It is both easy to operate and easy to read.  Throughout the course of my flights I encountered varying degrees of cloud cover and as you can see in the screenshots they were portrayed very nicely.

Heavy cloud cover

Broken clouds ahead

 

Final Thoughts

The Carenado C340 II in my opinion is one of the best examples of a general aviation aircraft available for FSX. The combination of graphics, sounds, performance and realism make this an exceptional aircraft all around. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to add to their fleet of general aviation aircraft or if you’re like me and never really explored this genre of aircraft this may be the perfect one to get you hooked.

My Ratings

Installer: Very good, simple to use.

Documentation: Very good, informative.

Modelling: Outstanding, high-definition detailed graphics throughout.

Extras: Multiple animations, immersive sounds, working weather radar.

Download Size: FSX 103MB

Price: EUR 25.60

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/carenado-c340-ii-fsx-hd-series.phtml

Test System:

Intel i7 950 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, ASUS 480GTX w/1.5Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES 2.10

Richard Desjardins

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