The Cessna 152, a twin-seat tricycle gear general aviation aircraft, is primarily used as a trainer around the world. First introduced in 1977, the aircraft was developed from the earlier Cessna 150, and still has many of the 7,500+ builds flying today. The Cessna 152 can also be retrofitted as a taildragger or STOL aircraft and is often powered by a single 110 horsepower Lycoming O-235-L2C engine. As a result of the aircraft’s popularity and durability, it is no surprise that we see many renditions of the model in flight simulators.
Just Flight, in partnership with Thranda Design, has converted their popular C152, originally available for FSX and P3D, to X-Plane 11. This version is a very good rendition, visually, of the real world counterpart, which was based on the UK registered G-BGAE.
As we have come to expect from Thranda Design and Just Flight, the modelling and texturing of this aircraft are truly impeccable. The C152 comes complete with high-definition textures inside and out, which I thought were excellently executed, and super high-quality modelling, which covers everything from the brake disks to the drive gear for the prop, and on to the individual rivets holding the durable craft together. There is also a true ‘depth’ to the cockpit, as every gauge is 3D-modelled and the high polygon count ensures a consistently smooth dashboard throughout.
Just Flight is known for their attention to detail on many projects, and this is no exception. Those with a keen eye can spot a certificate of airworthiness printed on the side of the baggage hold inside the aircraft, which I was very pleased to see, as it makes us simmers realise how much work it takes to maintain aircraft. In addition to this, Thranda Design, in their conversion work, make use of X-Plane 11’s Physically Based Rendering (PBR) system to show the wear-and-tear on the aircraft; a multitude of scratches can be found covering the nose and leading edges of the wings, truly displaying the age of the C152. There is also PBR work on the inside, showing a clear difference between the leather-like glareshield, and the unique carpet flooring.
I often find myself disappointed in some aircraft as many seldom ship with their own liveries and instead rely on the X-Plane community to create them. But Just Flight has us covered here: I loved the selection of liveries available, with a variety of designs and colours, originating from 6 different countries:
- G-BGAE (UK)
- G-BONW (UK)
- N5310H (USA)
- N95469 (USA)
- D-EBPC (Germany)
- F-GJCI (France)
- C-GQOP (Canada)
- VH-IVZ (Australia)
Just Flight includes their famous 2D pop-up menu with this aircraft. This menu can be accessed by clicking the small arrow on the left-hand side of the screen, which gives the user a 6 by 3 layout of icons representing various actions and widgets that I found useful during my G/A adventures in this aircraft. Something that I’m sure not many people know exists is the X-Plane 11 logbook, which is easily accessed via this menu, for those among you who wish to track every flight. And there are even tie-downs so you don’t lose the aircraft the next morning.
There is also the flight computer panel, which I found made life much easier in terms of managing the flight, giving me quick access to vital information, especially important for such an old engine. In addition to this, I was glad to see they’d switched to using a custom load manager, with a display to show the centre of gravity for the aircraft. I found this load manager much easier to use than the default X-Plane 11 fuel and balance page. The included Just Flight interactive checklist was a pleasant surprise for me, as I’m often forgetting my flows, and having them there just a click away came in handy; the ability to click the listed items to mark them as complete also made sure I wouldn’t lose my place when fumbling around trying to find a specific switch.
The C152 was primarily built as a trainer for new pilots, (mainly those getting their PPL), and as a result is not heavily equipped (or even moderately equipped, for that matter) with instrument navigation equipment. One VOR receiver, one ADF receiver, and no DME readout makes the aircraft not very appealing for IFR flight. Consequently, there isn’t much need for an autopilot module, so Just Flight didn’t include one. Being an admittedly lazy pilot, I often find myself relying on autopilot, and had mixed feelings about the lack of autopilot in this plane, as it meant I wasn’t particularly willing to conduct flights that were over 50 minutes. At least it gave me the kick in the backside I do need (as an aspiring pilot) to become more comfortable hand flying an aircraft.
Included in the package is an extensive set of documentation (which totals 69 pages), including checklists, weights and performance charts, all to help make sure you get the most out of this simulation. There is even a set of emergency checklists for when things don’t go quite as planned, (which I love to see), especially since we are able to create our own failure either via X-Plane’s failure menu or using the clickable circuit breakers in the cockpit. Just Flight also included the standard paint kit, which we have come to expect from them. However, I feel the paint kit is for advanced painters, as it spans across 12 PSD files, which seems quite unnecessary and ridiculous, (in my opinion).
When modelling any aircraft in a flight simulator, especially general aviation aircraft, a key component to perfect before release is the flight model. Unfortunately, this is an area where I, and others I’ve seen on the Just Flight forums, feel that this aircraft is lacking in.
I will start off by saying that the aircraft’s dynamics aren’t too bad; it’s nimble and flies as one might expect. However, the real C152 isn’t that simple and it has many quirks. For example: Adding flaps pitches the nose up quite significantly, and adding power does the same, as the thrust vector is below the centre of mass. I was disappointed to discover that neither of these unique characteristics were particularly well-modelled, if at all. Several users, including myself, also found the power settings to be off by quite a bit, as I had to often give the propeller 200 extra rpm or more, in almost every stage of flight, including the approach and landing. Finally, no matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to get the aircraft into a spin, which I find ironic given the fact that Just Flight have a spin recovery note plastered right in front of pilot’s nose.
It’s still early days for the aircraft, and I hope that they manage to get these issues ironed out in future updates. It should be noted that the developers are aware of the issues and have stated they’re going to look into this.
Just Flight have (so far) only released their small-prop aircraft for X-Plane 11. As a result, I don’t see anyone struggling to hold a decent frame rate with this aircraft. I have seen consistently high FPS whilst flying in the C152, irrespective of the environment. Nor did I suffer stutters or the like.
Whilst I am in no way surprised at the excellent performance of the Just Flight’s product, I must announce my pleasure to see that they didn’t make a mistake with it. Prop(eller)s to Just Flight and Thranda on this one.
The Just Flight Cessna 152 was a big deal for me to get my hands on, as I am a huge fan of old Cessnas, and see them flying over my house on a daily basis. And though I do appreciate the looks and features of the aircraft, I cannot help but feel that this is let down by the most important feature: the flight dynamics. All things considered, I believe that £27.99 is too high of a price for this aircraft, especially given the near perfect releases Just Flight and Thranda Design worked on prior to this one for the same price.