The T310R is one of the many variants of Cessna’s C310, with the T310R being a turbocharged, lengthened version of the twin-engine six-seater piston aircraft. There has always been a large market for twin-piston aircraft – mainly due to their fail-safe nature, versus their single-engined counterpart – and Cessna capitalised on this in the 1950s with the development of their successful 310 series.
Production skyrocketed with this chapter in Cessna’s aircraft pedigree, with over 6,000 of the various types built. As a result, it was difficult to go anywhere without catching a glimpse of the tiny twin, with the aircraft appearing in many films and TV-series like Sky King, Airwolf and The A-Team to name a few. In addition to the commercial air-taxi use and media coverage of the type, the US Air Force made extensive use of their own variants in operations such as the Vietnam War, where 310s were used for courier flights between air bases.
Due to the iconic nature of the aircraft, as well as this being their first project for the X-Plane platform, it was imperative that MilViz pulls this off and deliver the T310R without leaving a sour taste behind. Throughout this review, I’ll cover how I believe the job was successful, however with some small improvements yet to be made.
MilViz is renowned for their beautiful aircraft, and their lack of fear in showing the age of the aircraft. This becomes even more clear when MilViz began this X-Plane 11 venture. With the youngest T310R now approaching 40 years-of-age, it would come as no surprise to find build-ups of dirt, rust and oil spillages throughout the airframe; MilViz took this into account and formed a piece of art out of it.
Beginning with the exterior of the aircraft, the developers have faithfully recreated almost every aspect of the aircraft, from the iconic pointed nose of the R series of the 310 all the way to the larger tail. I was impressed to see the detail that has gone into the wings: the tip tanks are as smooth as the real thing; the landing gear and flaps were superbly modelled and MilViz has even gone so far as to 3D model the RAM air intake for the engines’ turbochargers. The sounds of which are unmistakable when in-flight: Lining up on the runway and giving this little utility mule its burst of power is met with a subtle whine from the turbochargers and the pops from the pistons, which fade and echo in a fly-by view.
Moving inside, the cabin is just as detailed. I felt like a true 1970s pilot when being met by the dirty, 3D gauges. Secondly, the sounds bring out the era of the aircraft, especially when hearing ratchet clicks, when adjusting the mixture. Additionally, the lighting for the gauges and dome lighting for the cabin bring the aircraft to life, and the icing on the cake: MilViz has clearly taken time to get used to the tools available with X-Plane development as the PBR for the T310R is excellently done. The rust on the landing gear, the dirt on the wings and the worn leather seats are all highlighted by the PBR, and give this plane the character it deserves.
However, there is one small bug I truly believe is a mistake that, whilst not game-breaking, shouldn’t be made by a developer with such a reputation as MilViz. Reaching the higher ranges of the throttle’s movement, the levers totally clip through the quadrant and it looks rather silly. I do not doubt that MilViz will address this, though, in a future update as it can be easily fixed, and I don’t believe that it particularly tarnishes the rest of the work.
The Cessna T310R is a versatile craft and has been forever famed for its utility roles. As a result, it was imperative for its manufacturers to make it as agile as possible; MilViz has done an excellent job of recreating this. The X-Plane 11 mechanics allow for some fantastic flight dynamics and the developers have made the most of it. I find the aircraft agile within the higher range of its speed envelope. Skill is needed when it comes to trying to get the aircraft down – careful power management, as well as the knowledge of its huge flaps, always playing at the back of one’s mind makes it a satisfying aircraft to get into small airstrips.
MilViz made sure respect is given to this celebrity, as well. If I overloaded this aircraft or distributed the weight too far back, stalls and flat-spins were seldom avoided. Of course, this is a twin, so a kick of opposite rudder and power means getting the aircraft back onto straight and level flight isn’t too difficult.
Being a small aircraft with not a lot of space to expand, it would be difficult to implement various features we would come to expect, especially given the age of the aircraft. That didn’t stop MilViz giving us GTN compatibility, however, which I love to see in my GA aircraft. I have also discovered the meaning of their ‘hands-on’ autopilot; being a small GA aircraft, the autopilot is bound to have imperfections, and MilViz have managed to subtly pull this off. When I reached cruise on my first IFR flight in the T310R, using the autopilot, I found that the nose would oscillate and the aircraft would only maintain the altitude within +/- 200ft. The only way this would stop is by ‘flying the autopilot’ onto the altitude, to let it stabilise.
Secondly, we have been treated to the genius of Saso Kiselkov, with the use of his amazing rain and ice effects on the windows of the aircraft. I was happy to see MilViz took the time to add this feature, particularly with this being their first X-Plane endeavour, as it adds so much to the immersion of flight when journeying through adverse weather.
Additionally, ground elements have made their way into the product, allowing us to secure the aircraft after every flight; all of these can be accessed via the plugin menu at the top, to open a nifty pop-up. Unfortunately, I do feel as though the aircraft is still a bit bare, even with these features – I would have preferred to see an interactive checklist added, for example, to further the feeling of by-the-book flying.
Given the detail we have been treated to with this product, especially the rain effects, it came as a pleasant surprise to me to find no issues with performance. The sim runs very smoothly at a relatively high FPS when I fly this bird. A common theme with X-Plane, that I’ve noticed, is that performance issues tend to arise and become clear with aircraft when I’m in poor weather: overcast clouds, rain, etc. However, I experienced none of this. So, even when flying through storm cells or between layers of dense cloud, the sim miraculously kept up with everything.
I should note that, in my opinion, a large portion of the value of an addon comes, not only from its looks and features but from the experience you can get out of it. The Cessna T310R is an old aircraft with limited range. Unfortunately, I believe that the current pricing for the product doesn’t line up with the current norm for X-Plane GA aircraft. Whilst this is MilViz’s first project for the X-Plane platform, and there is still some progress to be made with how it’s handled, it is in my honest opinion that this aircraft is too expensive, especially given that there are very similar aircraft on the market available for $15 less, for example, Digital Replica’s C310L.