Carenado C337H Skymaster review
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Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ HD Series
For FSX & P3D Published by Carenado
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
February 2013

Introduction

The Carenado Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ is another release in the Carenado HD Series for FSX/P3D. This is a new aircraft for Carenado, not having been released previously in their original FS2004 range.

Carenado is renowned for producing aircraft models in the general aviation category that are of high quality and exceptional detail. Again, Carenado have lived up to this reputation with the Cessna 337H.

History

The Cessna Model 337 ‘Skymaster’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘Super Skymaster’ depending on the variant, before 'Super' was ultimately dropped from the name) is a six seat, twin engine, civil utility aircraft, built in a ‘push-pull’ configuration. It shares the typical nose mounted engine configuration of other single engine models in the Cessna range, but has the second engine mounted in the rear of it’s pod style fuselage. This engine arrangement provides ‘centreline’ thrust and eliminates yaw into the dead engine on an engine failure. The empennage consists of twin booms extending aft of the wings to the twin vertical stabilisers with the horizontal stabiliser mounted between and connecting the two booms.

Initially developed as the Model 336, the ‘Skymaster’ first flew in February 1961. This initial variant, which went into production in May 1963, had the more typical Cessna fixed undercarriage. In February 1965, the Model 337 was introduced with an increase in size, retractable landing gear and more powerful engines. Many improvements were made over the course of production, primarily, more powerful engines, increased take-off weight, various airframe improvements, the introduction of a turbocharged engine variant in 1966 and the introduction of a pressurised variant in 1973. The Cessna Model 337 also saw a number of military variants developed which were primarily used in a Forward Air Control (FAC) and observation role.

With just under 3000 built across 21 model variants, the production life of the Cessna Model 337 finally ended in 1982, although production continued in France, where the Model 337 was built under licence by Reims Aviation Industries

Availability and Installation

The 337H ‘Skymaster’ is only available as a download direct from Carenado and Carenado resellers (some resellers also offer a master back-up CD service for a minor additional cost). It is typically priced at US$34.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of 103MB is reasonable for an aircraft of this type and quality and requires 287MB of HDD space for installation. Depending on where it was purchased from, a ‘key code’ may be issued to be used during installation.

There are two models provided (one pilot and two pilots), five HD paint schemes and a HD blank texture provided for aircraft painting enthusiasts.

Documents

There are five manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf):
        ● Normal and Emergency Procedures, and Performance Tables – this 33 page manual provides the Procedures and Performance Tables for
           the operation of the aircraft and is also provided as a ‘panel window’ in the aircraft;
        ● Reference Table – this single page document details all operating reference speeds and is also provided on the ‘Kneeboard’ in the aircraft;
        ● Carenado GNS 530 Users Guide – this two page document details the operation of the Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit;
        ● Operation Tips and Reality XP Integration – this single page document provides instructions for the integration of the Reality XP
           instruments and other operations tips; and
        ● Recommended Settings – this two page document details recommended settings for Display and Realism for Carenado aircraft.

Model Features

The model features listed by Carenado for the 337H ‘Skymaster’ is typical of models in the Carenado range and includes:
        ● HD quality textures (2048 x 2048);
        ● 3D gauges;
        ● instrument reflections;
        ● Reality XP integration with 3D gauges;
        ● Carenado Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit;
        ● original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft;
        ● realistic flight dynamics and weight and balance; and
        ● tested by real world Cessna 337 pilots during various phases of flight, such as: take-off, climb, cruise, descend, approach, landing
           and specific manoeuvres.

Other visual features and the texture mapping effects introduced in FSX Service Pack 2 are also included.

Paint Schemes

Paint Scheme Blue

Paint Scheme Coastguard

Paint Scheme Grey

Paint Scheme Rhodesian Air Force

Paint Scheme Red

Paint Scheme White

General Visual Appearance

Exterior. Carenado’s Cessna 337H 'Skymaster' displays the same incredible level of attention to accuracy and detail that has become synonymous with Carenado aircraft models. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Carenado’s 337H reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be highly accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft.

Paint Schemes. There are five individual paint schemes and each aircraft has a unique aircraft registration number. The surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a realistic appearance and the paint schemes include dirt, exhaust and oil stains to give the aircraft an overall “used” look.

Interior. Consistent with the exterior, the general appearance of the cockpit and the panel layout are also modelled to a very high degree of detail, including dirt, smudge marks and 'bug splatter' on the windscreen. I was unable to find a real world photograph that matched the exact panel layout modelled by Carenado. However, this isn’t surprising considering the many model variants produced over the Cessna 337’s production life and with the variations in avionics fit out and options available. Regardless, the cockpit and panel layout are modelled to the same high degree of accuracy when compared to real world photographs of comparable layouts.

Exterior

Like other aircraft in the Carenado range, the 337H ‘Skymaster’ displays the hallmark accuracy and detail on the exterior. The level of this detail includes individual fuselage panels, panel access screws and rivets, probe for the outside air temperature gauge, various aerials and antenna wires and vortex generators below the propeller on the rear engine pod. The disc brake assemblies and the brake discs on each of the main wheels are also represented in high detail including the hard and flexible brake lines running along the main gear legs.


External Front

External Side

External Top

External Rear

Interior


Based on photographs I was able to research, Carenado’s rendering of the Cessna 337H’s cockpit is excellent and reasonably indicative of real world layouts. However, again, due to such a wide variation in avionics fit out and other available options which provide a very wide variety in cockpit styles and appearance, any attempt to undertake a detailed comparison of the interior is difficult.

Instruments and Panel Layout. All primary flight instruments and the autopilot are located on the right side (pilot side) with predominantly only engine management instrumentation on the left side of the panel. The radio, GPS and throttle and trim controls are all located centrally. The four primary flight instruments are laid out in the standard “T” arrangement with the turn coordinator and vertical speed indicator forming the common “six pack” layout. All the flight instruments are clear and easy to read and have the option for instrument glass reflections to be enabled or disabled. Both yokes can be removed to provide an unobstructed view of the instrument panel and provide better access to a variety of switches. The Carenado Garmin GNS 530 unit is more versatile and provides far more functionality than the standard FSX Garmin 295 and 500 GPS units. It is used to change both the primary radio and VOR/DME NAVAID frequencies. The GNS 530 unit is also available as a panel window. Various alternative cockpit camera views are available to provide a more detailed view of the instruments. As mentioned earlier under the Model Features list, the Carenado 337H is also capable of Reality XP integration with 3D gauges, further enhancing the cockpit for those users.


Internal Pilot View

Internal Left Panel

Internal Right Panel

Internal Centre Panel

Cockpit Layout.


Unlike the real world Cessna 337, the cockpit layout of the Carenado's 337H only has a four seat arrangement with rear cargo space. It is unclear whether this was a deliberate design decision or a design error. Both door and window levers open and close these features respectively, with the only door access being on the right hand side. The detail in the textures of the leather seating and floor carpet provide an extremely realistic appearance, especially the creasing in the seats and pile of the carpet. The cockpit dome light can be activated separately to the panel lighting by a switch on the roof console above the pilot's head and this dome lighting effect is visible in all other views.


Internal Rear Passenger

Internal Cockpit

Overall, the attention to detail on the interior is, again, of an extremely high quality. This detail even includes various minor switches and systems, such as the cabin air levers on the panel that operate to provide a more realistic feel to the layout. There were minor errors between panel labels and cockpit tool tips, however, these are not considered significant.

Animations and Static Elements

The animations and moving parts on Carenado’s 337H are all modelled faithfully. In particular, the retractable main landing gear displays the peculiar operation involving a multi stage retraction and deployment and the nose wheel rotating through 90 degrees. Initially, the main gear moves to a ‘dangling’ position and pauses before it begins a rearward movement to retract into the gear wells and the reverse during deployment.


In Flight

Landing Configuration Front

Landing Configuration Side

Animations and static elements include:

        ● primary control surfaces – ailerons, elevators and rudder;
        ● secondary control surfaces – flaps;
        ● others – retractable gear, elevator trim tab, rolling wheels, cockpit door open / close, luggage compartment door open / close,
           pilot window open / close, sun visor, vibrating antenna and exhaust;
        ● pilot’s head turning; and
        ● wheel chocks, engine air inlet covers, and safety cones.


Gear 1

Gear 2

Gear 3

Gear 4

Gear 5.

Gear 6

Gear 7

Gear 8

Ground Internal

Ground External Front

Ground External Side

Ground External Top

Lighting


The lighting effects on Carenado's 337H incorporate new light technology which appears to provide an improved lighting effect over previous products. In addition to the usual navigation lights, rotating beacon, strobe light, taxi and landing light effects, there is also a wing de-ice inspection light. Of particular note is the strobe light effect, which replicates the true asynchronous flash effect of these lights. The detailed night light effects for the instrument panel and the cockpit, generally, are quite exceptional and represent the night lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft.


Internal Pilot View (night)

Internal Left Panel (night)

Internal Right Panel (night)

Internal Centre Panel (night)

Sounds


A highlighted feature of Carenado’s 337H is the original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft. The engine exhibits a deep throaty rumble on start before settling into a steady burble sound during idle. As the throttle is increased for take-off, the engine quickly adopts strong steady 'thrum' that then settles to a 'humming' sound as the aircraft is configured at cruise. The stereo quality is excellent and is very lifelike as you swivel the head position in the cockpit. This is accentuated even more with the front and rear engine configuration.

Other realistic sounds include the gear and flaps during their respective deployment and retraction phases and the gear warning sound that activates when the throttle is reduced to idle whilst the gear is still retracted. Of course, there is also the usual sounds associated with the doors opening and closing.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ are provided in the table. This is based on data from “Janes’ All the World’s Aircraft”, data in the aircraft details provided by Carenado, and general research sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an approximation due to limited data available for the 337H model specifically.

pic

Flight Performance

Two Test Flights were conducted from Essendon (YMEN) to Maryborough (YMYB) and return. The flights were both conducted in clear weather with a full load of fuel and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and the route distance was approximately 834 nm. The route was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of Carenado’s 337H. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.

During the first Test Flight, a cruising altitude of 7,500 ft was adopted. Even at MTOW, the 337H climbed effortlessly to the cruise altitude and within the specified rate of climb and speed performance parameters for the aircraft. On shutdown on the ramp at YMYB, there was still sufficient reserve in the tanks to have easily met the maximum range performance for the aircraft.

For the second Test Flight, the aircraft was operated at the service ceiling altitude of 19,500 ft. Again, and with the obviously required adjustments to the rate of climb, the aircraft was able to climb to this altitude.

The aircraft was easy to taxi and with "one notch" of flaps, aircraft rotation occurred at 75 to 80 knots indicated air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft maintained an en route climb speed of 90 to 95 KIAS at a rate of climb of 1,200 ft/min. At 7,500 ft, the aircraft cruised comfortable at 140 KIAS (142 kts ground speed) with a manifold setting of 20 in Hg and at 2,400 RPM. This provided a fuel flow of 60 lbs/hr per engine. Configured for landing, the aircraft’s approach speed was 75 to 80 KIAS and it touched down at 70 KIAS.

In all, the Carenado’s 337H performed excellent in flight, displaying the typical flight characteristics of this aircraft. The aircraft model displays a very accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and performance of the real world aircraft. Carenado claim the aircraft has been tested by real world 337 pilots and provided testimonials claim a high degree of accuracy in the flight characteristics.

Technical Requirements

The Carenado Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ is for FSX / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
        ● Windows XP with SP3 installed, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit);
        ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) installed; and
        ● Pentium V, 2GHz or similar, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, 660MB available HDD space.

Simulator Performance

The aircraft model performed very well within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. FSX continued to perform smoothly and as it would with any default aircraft.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
        ● Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
        ● NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
        ● 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz;
        ● Windows 7, (64bit);
        ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
        ● additional major add-ons include Orbx FTX Australia and Ultimate Traffic 2.

Conclusion

Carenado’s Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ is an excellent, high quality aircraft. It is a fantastic general aviation aircraft and great to fly. If you are a fan of general aviation aircraft, and Cessna aircraft in particular, you will enjoy having this aircraft as an addition to your hangar.



Verdict

The Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ is another solid product from Carenado that displays the usual high quality and attention to detail and is great value for money.

Pros:
        ● High quality and attention to detail.
        ● Excellent animations and sound effects.
        ● Realistic modelling and performance.
        ● Thorough operational performance and emergency procedures documentation.
        ● Very good value for money.

Cons:
        ● None found.

Ratings:
        ● External Model:
        ● Internal Model:
        ● Sounds:
        ● Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers):
        ● Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like):
        ● Documentation:
        ● Value for Money:
9.0/10
8.0/10
 10/10
 10/10
 10/10
 10/10
9.0/10
 

The Carenado Cessna 337H ‘Skymaster’ is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9/10.