About a week ago I was approached by a guy called Adrián. After a short introduction of who he was Adrián told me that he was working on a freeware modification of the Carenado C152 II which is rather old and certainly not among my favorite add-ons. Before I continue you must know that I get a rather large number of similar claims and so (I do admit) I had my doubts if this was even newsworthy. Luckily, I kept listening to the guy.
What I then learned from Adrián is nothing short of amazing. Adrián spent almost one year upgrading every little detail of this small aircraft. Adrián also teamed up with Mike Bos, an Australian aerobatic pilot who helped Adrián validate the massive flight model changes he made.
In this unusual review I am taking a closer look on all these modifications. If you’re a GA man like myself, you will be pleased! 🙂
By the time this review was published, this mod is not (yet) available to the public. Adrián seeks permission to share this mod from Carenado which has not been given yet. Since this impressive mod naturally requires the possession of the Carenado C152 II, I am confident that Carenado’s consent will be given soon. After all, it’s in their business interest to sell more copies of this aging bird!
The Original Model
Since I didn’t own the C152 yet, I had to purchase it first. The C152 II is available for $24.95 from x-plane.org here. Given it’s age and quality level, this is a rather high price tag for this add-on. Luckily I had some Reward Points left. After spending 623 of these points I am now a proud owner of the C152. That said, take a look at it:
It doesn’t look too bad on the screenshots and in the sim but you can definitely see the aircraft’s age once you hop inside its cockpit. Carenado did add basic X-Plane 11 compatibility but this surely isn’t what one would expect when purchasing a v11 aircraft.
The flight model is very basic in my opinion and the stall behavior has to be way off. If you try to stall this thing, basically nothing happens. The plane just descents without ever changing its attitude. But enough with Carenado’s offering, this is not what this review is about.
After a small chat with Adrián I learned that he is known among our community by the name nhadrian. Fans of the recently released HungaryVFR freeware may be delighted to hear that nhadrian is actually a member of the HungaryVFR team so this guy already has a lot to show for. Impressive track record!
I asked nhadrian to introduce himself, which he kindly did:
I’m Adrián Nagy-Hinst, I live in Hungary. I’m a mechanical engineer with lots of experience in 3D modelling, UAV design and building, 3D printing and building printers, etc, as personal hobbies. But I’m now working as a welding engineer, quite far from flight simulation. I started using X-Plane about 3 years ago, and after a while I decided on modifying sceneries, planes according my personal needs. So I started to learn how things are working in XP.
After this introduction, nhadrian explained his C152 mod in detail:
Back to the little Cessna. The actual plane is located at Tököl, and handled by the Hungarian Pilot Academy (MPA). But this plane is used in Hungary by many pilot schools. Since I’m planning on doing PPL, I wanted to practice in realistic conditions. The only detailed C152 on the market for XP11 is the Carenado’s one. But using that plane in XP11, the result was really poor. I asked Carenado about future XP11 upgrade and they replied it is not on the roadmap. So the only solution was starting to modify.
First I only tried to figure out some interesting behavior of the physics and systems. But then I found some mistakes in 3D obj. models, in plugins, etc… so things got better and better. Then I decided on doing a livery, practically the HA-JON from the neighboring airfield because I live next to Tököl. When doing textures I figured out missing normal maps, wrong texture positions, other problems like “fake” interior reflections, and many-many other small issues. From then there was no stopping, I made some missing objects, some new objects, co-pilot, animations, textures… etc, till I reached the current state which is good enough for my needs.
Another important point is that I’m not a real life pilot but I always felt that the Carenado C152 is not quite realistic (ie. a proper 2-point landing can’t be done). After publishing some screenshots on the x-plane.org along with a short topic of possible upgrading, a real life pilot contacted me and offered that he would help me in testing, comparing my modifications to his real plane, even in basic aerobatic figures! So I have to say big thank you to Mike Bos for testing a lot my variations and giving me useful suggestions on modifications. I have to mention that finally there is almost not not any single point in the Plane Maker untouched, I had to modify or fine-tune everything for best reality. So at this point it looks like my C152 is as realistic as it can be at least in this simulation environment.
Adrián also told me that he is a cockpit builder. Oh yeah and he built his own force feedback yoke. Check this out:
Adrián also made a short video of his yoke:
Clearly this is not just “some guy” who plays with Planemaker settings without understanding them. This guy knows what he’s doing!
Back to nhadrian’s mod again. After I got my copy of the Carenado C152 II, Adrián sent me a bunch of files for testing together with some instructions which were pretty straight forward. However, Adrián told me that he plans to build an easy-to-use installer once he got permission from Carenado. So no fiddling around with this mod.
So I did as instructed, fired up my sim, and yeah, the difference is definitely noticeable. 😉
Welcome to LHTL Tököl, home of HA-JON (by the way, the livery is already available from x-plane.org here). Conveniently Tököl is part of HungaryVFR so I could do a “proper” review for once.
Check out the exterior model and compare these shots with Carenado’s original model above. Clearly a lot of work has been done on the exterior model. For example, take a closer look at the exhaust pipe, which is missing in the original model.
Let’s jump inside! This is gonna be interesting for you. Take a look at the screenshots. This is basically a whole new aircraft. See those action cams? These are hidden in the glove compartment. A single click and they are mounted inside the cockpit. This adds a lot to the immersion since the cockpit looks a lot more “alive”.
Then there’s a new and fully operational chronometer mounted on the panel. Why wasn’t this there in the original plane? Awesome!
Adrián also added a working fuel valve switch, which is totally missing in Carenado’s original model:
Flying the C152
After seeing all the work and detail that obviously went into this mod I had to take the C152 II on a ride! My very first test flight was actually for my review of Matterhorn Park. You can see a lot more screenshots of the C152 there in case you’ve missed it.
For this review, though, I decided to do a short hop from LHTL Tököl to LHDC Debrecen, keeping it “Hungarian style”! The latter is also available for free from LHSimulations in case you wonder.
As you can see on the screenshot above, there’s a super-mustached fella on board our lil’ aircraft. This co-pilot appears whenever you raise the payload above 130 kg (286 lbs). Another new feature of nhadrian’s mod.
The flight model is definitely different than Carenado’s. As you know I am no pilot, though I do have real world experience in the 172 so I can’t validate the flight model for sure. However, in my personal opinion nhadrian’s 152 feels more alive, more precise and a lot more real.
Stalling nhadrian’s 152 actually leads to the behavior depicted below on the left, which is what I would expect from a light Cessna.
In short, it’s a joy to fly nhadrian’s C152!
Approaching LHDC Debrecen
Our exciting ride ends abruptly as we approach LHDC Debrecen. See here some more screenshots of my landing.
Adrián Nagy-Hinst and Mike Bos are names you all should remember. With the help of Mike, Adrián did to the Carenado C152 II what Zibo and likes did to X-Plane’s default 737. This is one of the best GA aircraft I ever had the joy flying and I do hope we all will be able to enjoy this masterpiece soon.
As soon as we find out more about Carenado’s opinion towards this community project we will inform you. Stay tuned for more information. Fingers crossed!