Review: A2A Simulations Piper Cub: The definitive J-3 Cub

A2A Simulations Piper Cub: The definitive J-3 Cub

Our staff reviewer from down under Peter Hayes takes an in-depth look at A2A Simulations latest creation, their Piper Cub rendition, which he calls ‘the definitive J-3 Cub’. This is his verdict:

This is a fantastic rendition of the J-3 Cub, It is faithfully reproduced in all its glory, down to the bungy shock absorbers and the leather patches on the wings. Accusim takes the flying experience to the next level. If you are into low and slow flying, around say 1,000 — 2000′ at 75 knots then this is the plane for you. You certainly don’t use it if you want to go somewhere fast. The Cub is basic and Spartan, obviously not as detailed as a 747, but the 3-D models are superlative and faithfully reproduce the real look of a Cub. I guarantee that you will learn quite a bit about real flying in this plane, as it is an easy model to fly — very forgiving. Support is via the forum and there is an excellent paint kit and/or library on the forum. It’s the sort of plane that can land on extreme bush airfields where other planes would never get in.

Read why after the jump and also his take on the Accusim package at the very end of the review.In the Sim

Settings: In the Select aircraft menu in FSX you will see a new tab for A2A and this allows the choice of all 9 models. I tested all 4 variants as part of this review. Initially I loaded one of the Cub Variants in FSX to ensure it ran OK, then closed FSX and ran a “Complete Name” defrag with O&O ver 11.0.

j3cub setup

Manuals: There are two manuals, one for Accusimâ„¢ and a Pilots Manual for the Cub. There is a lot of information conveyed in these two documents and they need to be read if you want to explore the Cub and its capabilities to the fullest. The Pilot’s manual covers the procedure for starting the Cub, from setting the magnetos to both, manually rotating the propeller using the mouse, to the warm-up before you take off. Take off on a cold engine and I guarantee a very rough sounding engine. The instruments and how they work and their placement is also covered in detail. There are tips and tricks for the aerobatics that you can undertake in this versatile machine. The History of the Cub is covered lovingly and it is fascinating to see how this plane came into being. (It was the brainchild of an Englishman, of course.) The Accusimâ„¢ manual is just as comprehensive covering all aspects of engine combustion, sounds, flight characteristics, through to weight and balance as it applies to this Cub.

Controls Setup: It is worth spending a few minutes when you first fly the Cub to set up the controls as advised in the manual. Basically all the flight controls should be set to full right i.e maximum with the other options as detailed but you should not tick “Enable auto-mixture” or “Auto-rudder”. To fly it well you do need a yoke/joystick and pedals.

j3cub 3

The Look
The J-3 Cub for FSX is visually spectacular A2a have paid great attention to detail and if you watch the video (on You-tube and the A2A forum) of the ‘walk around’ of a real cub and then repeat it in the Sim, it’s hard to see the difference. Everything works but simplicity (and not forgetting elegance) is the key.. You can start the plane by “hand” just like in real life and following the start procedure is quite good fun. There are no flaps so that’s one piece of tackle you can ignore. There is no electrical system — so no lights — if its dark, you fly and land in the dark!!. There are no cowl flaps, no generator, no mixture, and there are no parking brakes. There is however, the magneto, a manual engine primer and carburettor heat control, and of course, throttle, rudder, ailerons and brakes. It will take you 5 minutes to learn all of this stuff but a lifetime to conquer. I loved the petrol gauge this is a rod which “floats” in the petrol and tank which you the pilot can see because it sits right in front of you. The window on the left goes up and down and you hear the air rush as it opens/closes, the door on the right also opens and closes, both giving you good air conditioning in warm conditions. As it says in the manual the heater is basic and does not work too well. This is a tail dragger with a vengeance, you use the brakes to steer it when taxiing, and there is no gear to retract. As I said above the propeller is a two-bladed wooden propeller with accurately modelled brass edge, it is a fixed pitch, so no propeller control.

The Variants:

Huge Tundras Bouncy Bouncy
Huge Tundras Bouncy Bouncy

Floats
Floats

Ordinary
Ordinary

The float model has a single water rudder and I controlled this up/down using Ctrl+W. Be aware it is quite flimsy and should only be used to manoeuvre the plane into a take-off position. I found the Tundra version to be the most fun particularly when landing, if you don’t get it right you bounce straight back into the air — many times!

There are a number of re-paints throughout the various forums which makes it easy to get a model that you would want to be seen flying in.

Instruments: As I said above there are only few in the plane. They all work and represent what is found in a real Cub. There is no 2-D cockpit so all the gauges are modelled in 3-D
The gauges are clear and easy to read in the VC.

The Cub VC showing the basic instruments.

The 5 basic circular instruments from left to right, Tachometer, Oil Temperature Gauge, Compass (doubles as the Inclinometer with Accusimâ„¢ on) Altimeter and Airspeed Indicator. The left knob below the tachometer controls the cabin heat, and the right knob below the ASI is the primer used for manual starting.

magneto pic
The all important magneto switch, a basic design being modelled on the old American Army, Air Force Type ‘A’.

Other instruments shown in the next picture include the throttle, fuel valve, pitch trim crank, door handle and carb heat control.

basic vc layout 3
Clicking the map on the back of the front seat (Shift +5 in the sim) gives you a “map” view of where you are flying. Note the rudder cables running either side of the floor.

The instruments and their operation is described in detail in the manual.

The Passenger and Payload
The passenger weight, fuel etc can be set in the FSX settings as per normal but it is much more fun to select this from the Cub in the pre-flight mode. With Accusimâ„¢ you can select a female passenger (careful she obscures the front instruments making it very difficult to land). She comes in four variants, silent, calm, nervous and fun. After a few flights I reverted to silent so I could concentrate on flying!! Heidi moves and sways with the aircraft manoeuvres and she will grab hold of the struts in a steep dive or turn, particularly when she’s nervous. All is forgiven when you land well as she will give a compliment. She kept asking me if I was a qualified pilot!! She will also spot other traffic and call out the details to you; great at a busy airport.

Nervous Heidi hanging on for grim death!  Note she obscures your instruments.
Nervous Heidi hanging on for grim death! Note she obscures your instruments.

View through the skylight of passenger and pilot.
View through the skylight of passenger and pilot.

Flying

This is a great plane for flying, by following a few basic rules it makes for a great simming experience. There is also the option for some basic aerobatics, including steep turns, loops, rolls, split-s, etc. I followed the checking-out procedure as defined in the manual which you can skip if you are in a hurry to get airborne. With starting the engine you can use the inbuilt auto-start or go for the manual start as you would in the real thing. With Accusim (I don’t recommend not using accusimâ„¢) you need to let this engine warm up before you think about moving. As I’ve said this is a tail dragger, so taxiing is achieved using the S-turn method and it works well. (TrackIRâ„¢ would make it easier). To turn you use the brakes and throttle and this is described in detail in the manual. Careful you don’t use too much brake as this plane will tip forward and damage the prop. Takeoff is unremarkable, you hold the stick in neutral and the tail comes up quickly and you are in the air in no time at all. This plane gets airborne at 40 mph (65km/hr). Crosswind takeoffs where no different any other light plane and can be mastered with practice. The trick is not to “over control” but use a relaxed approach throughout. You climb at a leisurely 55 mph or 400 to 500 ft/min. With Accusimâ„¢ on you can “feel the best rate of climb”, through the controls and/or sounds.

Once in the air the Cub feels smooth and responsive, easy to control and carry out all those aerobatics you’ve always wanted to try. At cruising height and speed, roughly 1,000 — 3,000′ and around 75 knots it is easy to trim to level flight using the throttle control and adjusting the revs and trim. Turning is the same as any other small plane, but remember that you do not have an inclinometer so for steep turns you use the magnetic (“whiskey”) compass to keep you on a level keel. It’s all in the tilt!!

Cruising is relaxed and this is the ideal airplane to explore the landscape low ‘n slow. I followed several of the Stearman routes from “The Flight of the Cannibal Queen” by Stephen Coonts. It brings out the best in the FSX scenery.

Landing is straight forward, in fact, you can usually just reduce the throttle to nil (don’t forget to turn on the carb heat) and glide into your favourite airstrip. Using this method you float down at around 700’/min (approx 40 — 50 knots). Powered landings are the same. Crosswind landings are fun and achievable. The best way to land is to get all 3 wheels on the ground at once at around 40 -50 knots, otherwise if the front wheels hit first (particularly the Tundra) you bounce back up again and again, ad infinitum. The so called “kangaroo” landing. I didn’t bother with brakes, at 40 knots you are not going to use much of the runway and overzealous use could tip the plane up on its nose. Expensive!!

Shutdown is easy — just turn off the magneto and you are done. remember there is no parking brake, so tie her down!

The floatplane is a great option the plane undulates on the water realistically. There is only one water rudder, which is flimsy, so only use it to steer the plane for take-off. This model was great fun, and you have to use different techniques to get in the air and land again.

The ski plane is similar, great for landing on the snow. Just remember to warm that engine up before you take-off.-

Failures: With Accusim you get engine wear, low oil etc so there are a number of “faults” that could develop if you fly the Cub a lot. So, carry out that maintenance on a regular basis.

Summing Up: I liked this plane, it has no real vices and flies well. There were a few minor niggles but these are being addressed with a soon to be released patch. As I write this review the patch is released and fixes most of the niggles.

STOP PRESS: The upgrade features include:
– paddle the float plane to a “parking area”.
– advanced landings from water to airstrip with the Tundra tyres — awesome.
– Hand towing available
– New tie-down physics will hold aircraft steady.
– Audible damage physics. (that cold engine again)
– Heidi’s intelligence is upgraded she now has an IQ of 160, and she’s not as nervous.
– There are also various bug fixes to round out the package.

Accusim does make a difference, it definitely enhances the simming experience. A nice quality package at a reasonable price. I wouldn’t fly without it. Read what Accusim is further below.

WOW Factor: 9/10

Peter Hayes,
Australia, October 2009.

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher A2A Simulations
Supplier simMarket by direct download.
Download File Size 175MB (exe file) 100MB (Accusim exe)
Installation File Size: 420MB (Cub); 130MB A2A Folder
Simulator Requirement: FSX with SP2 (or Acceleration)
OS Requirements: Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7
Variants: 4: Stock, Tundra Tyres, Floats (NOT amphibian) and Skis
Paint Schemes Two different per variant plus one extra for the Float.
Cockpit 3D only no 2D cockpit modeled.
Supplementary: Accusim software can be turned on and off.
Testing System: Intel E8600, 4GB DDR 800 RAM, Vista 64 SP2, nVidia 9800 GT, 182.50 Driver;
FSX SP1 + SP2; 750GB SATA II Seagate 7200 HDD.
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.
Scenery: FSX standard, GEXn, UTX, FSGenesis LC/Mesh; X-Graphics
Installation: Installation is simplicity itself being automatic via a self extracting exe file. Must be installed with Admin rights — VISTA right click “Run as administrator”.
Manuals / Documentation Created by the installation program in pdf format :Accusimâ„¢ 47 pages and Piper J-3 Cub Pilot’s Manual 126 pages
Support: http://www.a2asimulations.com/forum/
Forum: http://www.a2asimulations.com/forum/
Background This is the definitive J-3 Cub. The A2A model is based on the J-3 built between 1938 and 1947. A2A Simulations have used their novel add on software ” Accusimâ„¢” to make flying this aircraft an individual and unique experience.
Updates Patch Imminent with new features:
Ability to tilt Cub when in the water; Manual Paddling option; Parking maneuverability; Tundra wheels on water slow plane for ground landing.

Notes

Accusim — Hayes take!

What is it; My Take: It’s a software rendition designed to make your flight experience just that bit more “real”. In essence the sounds and the feel of the plane tell you what’s going on just like real-life. So the plane may run hotter one day, may not be as smooth, suffer a failure, have different feel and so on but it gives you the pilot more control over flying. Try a steep dive and watch and hear the plane trying to tear itself apart, I guess that you would feel the buffeting if you had a butt-kicker or FF joystick.

The salient features are:

  1. Configuration: Onscreen changing passenger and other Accusim details
  2. Passenger On BoardTM You can choose a front-seat passenger from within FSX; variations include, silent, fun and nervous. “We are going to crash” never sounded better. Heidi has the best legs ever!!
  3. Accu-Sound nearly 400 sounds including, airflow through the airframe, window, and door, structural creaks, groans, moans, bumps, jolts etc.
  4. Piston combustion engine modeling. Accurate combustion engine simulation and the engine has an finite life just like the real thing.
  5. Propeller physics Accurately modeled allowing manual starts with the mouse.
  6. Ground physics Your wings rock and the tail bucks. Tires, floats and skis have unique realistic sounds
  7. Water physics You bob around and feel the movement on the water. Great taxi and take-off experience. Wear a raincoat or get wet!
  8. Sounds: Realistic: Taken from recordings from three actual Piper J-3 aircraft.
  9. Fuel System Realistically modeled.
  10. Engine wear and oil system The engine sputters, spits, and runs rough when damaged.
  11. Engine and airframe physically vibrate and shake, Realistic
  12. Carburetor icing modeling, Accurate requiring intervention from you!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:58

New Blog post Review: A2A Simulations Piper Cub: The definitive J-3 Cub http://bit.ly/yUh8S

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 13:46

simFlight.COM Flight Simulation News Source » Blog Archive … http://bit.ly/bTtny

Sunday, October 11, 2009 21:38

Good review from simFlight: A2A Simulations Piper Cub: The definitive J-3 Cub. http://tinyurl.com/ykqpfhw #fsx #review #aircraft

KDL
Wednesday, October 7, 2009 10:28

Great little plane, no doubt about it!
Some points I’m not really happy with:
– The Cup is too stable with passenger and full fuel load
– It takes too lang to get the plane down during landing phase even if power is totally cut back, she glides too long
– The engines should be powered up a bit