Just Flight's de Havilland DH.104 'Dove', known to military operators as the 'Devon', covers both the civilian and the military versions of this aircraft. The aircraft has enjoyed a long life, originally entering service in 1946, and there are still a few flying today.
The de Havilland DH.104 'Dove' is considered to be one of Britain's most successful post-war civil aircraft. The aircraft was originally designed as a civilian aircraft with a crew of two capable of carrying between eight and eleven passengers, or as an executive aircraft carrying five passengers. As a civil aircraft it saw service with many airlines from no less than 19 countries. Several military variants were built, such as the 'Devon', which was operated by the RAF and the 'Sea Devon' which was used by the Royal Navy. Military versions were also operated by various army, navy, coast guard and police forces from 23 different countries.
The de Havilland DH.104 'Dove' first flew on 25 September 1945 and was sold as the successor to the pre-war DH.89 'Dragon Rapide'. Argentina and the USA were the best overseas customers for the 'Dove', Argentina for military versions for its air force, coast guard, and federal police, and the USA for civil operators, including five airlines and the National Test Pilots School.
The de Havilland DH.104 'Dove' was first manufactured in 1946 and production continued until 1967, in which time 542 airframes were built. As well as airlines, the 'Dove' saw service with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia, several business concerns, such as the Iraq Petroleum Company, and various government organisations, including the Indian Government of Madras. On the military side, the aircraft saw service globally from the UK to New Zealand, Paraguay to Portugal. This service was mostly with the air force of the countries purchasing the aircraft, but it also saw service with the Royal Navy, Indian Navy, and several police forces.
The Just Flight DH.104 'Dove' and 'Devon' is currently available direct from Just Flight and Just Flight resellers as a download only product (some resellers also offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a minor additional cost). It is priced at £19.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 362MB and it requires 1.6GB of HDD space for installation. There is a separate livery pack available for £3.99 which contains a South African, Dutch, and two British liveries.
Installation is straight forward and will install the 'Dove' and 'Devon' effortlessly to your chosen simulator. The process for uninstalling the 'Dove' and 'Devon' is described in the manual and is essentially a guide to uninstalling the package through the Windows Control Panel.
External Model. The exterior of the model is excellently rendered with just the right amount of reflective sheen to the paintwork. The bodywork is very detailed, with all rivets and panels, aerials and control surface mechanisms present. The panelling is convincingly shaded to provide subtle realism, and signage is well detailed throughout. The views of the inside of the aircraft from an external perspective are also excellent, with realistic cabin interiors, cockpit and pilots. Fuselage voids, such as wheel wells, are very well detailed inside as are the undercarriage legs and doors.
Internal Model. There are three virtual cockpits available. The cockpit of the civilian 'Dove' is a grey cockpit and is a faithful representation of the real thing, as can be seen from the pictures below. The 'Devon' versions use the black military cockpit and it is also a very good representation of the real thing, with the main difference to the real world pictures being the addition of the analogue flight recorder in the Just Flight cockpit. Both the civilian and military cockpits contain the original analogue instrument suite, much of which is animated and works. The civilian version also comes as a modernised cockpit with the centre of the main console replaced with modern radio and GPS systems. The LTU aircraft comes with the upgraded cockpit and there is a version of the South Australian Air Taxi aircraft with this cockpit as well. The South Australian Air Taxi aircraft also comes with an original cockpit as do all of the other models of the 'Dove', and all models of the 'Devon' come with the black military cockpit. The modern cockpit's digital upgrades can be seen in the screenshots. The instruments and their use are described well in the manual. There is a comprehensive panel guide in the manual, and this guide is based on the instrument set of the 'Dove'. However, there is sufficient commonality with the 'Devon' panels to be able to easily cross-reference the two aircraft's instrumentation. In addition to the main panels, there are a number of small controls dotted about the cockpit in nooks and crannies, be sure to read the manual to find these and understand their use. Personally I liked the old analogue instruments, as they really give a 1950s feel to the aircraft and provide a nostalgic impression when taking a flight in the DH.104.
Sounds. The aircraft has a good sound set that covers all of the major aspects of the flight operation of the aircraft. However, the engines, when started, run up a bit too quickly without going through the clattering that the real aircraft does at very low engine revs. The engine sounds are constant from whichever outside direction the aircraft is viewed from. Wander around the back of a real aircraft and it will sound very different from a frontal aspect, there is no difference when this is done with the Just Flight DH.104. Aside from the above, the sounds are convincing enough and add atmosphere to this aircraft. From inside the cockpit, the sound set is also good. There are some lovely nuggets in the sound, for example, when the brakes are used, there is a rather nice pneumatic sound effect not unlike a large articulated truck makes when applying its brakes. However, there are some omissions as well, the cockpit side windows can be opened by clicking on their handles, however there is no sound as they open.
Animations. There are many animations supplied with this model. Along with the usual control surface movements, the switches, levers, and undercarriage movements, the variable pitch prop blades are animated, and the side cockpit windows can be opened. The 'Dove' and 'Devon' were fitted with a retractable landing light, and this is animated from a switch in the cockpit as well. The main exit door, the luggage compartment, and nose locker open. An entry ladder can be placed at the exit, a Ground Power Unit can be made available and chocks can be placed at the wheels. The pilot yoke can be also be hidden, if necessary, by mouse clicking on an area of the main panel to the right of the gear lights.
The feel of the aircraft was excellent. The aircraft was built at a time where the avionics were relatively simple, engines were not powerful, and speeds were much lower. This is reflected exceptionally well throughout the flight model. Lined up and ready for take-off, opening up the throttle and accelerating down the runway is a relatively sedate affair. The aircraft takes to the air at about 87 KIAS, and acceleration to this point takes a lot of runway. Taking to the air is a fairly horizontal affair with a steady, but slow climb rate, and on a very stable platform. The flaps hiss and groan as their position changes and the undercarriage makes a very convincing clunk as it locks in the retracted position.
The Just Flight DH.104 'Dove' and 'Devon' package comes with an 85 page manual in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. The introduction provides details of the variants and the liveries provided, including no less than five variants of the 'Dove', and a number of the military 'Devon'. There is a section on installing and support, etc., and details of the aircraft's specifications and performance. The manual thoroughly covers the external and internal aspects of the aircraft, especially both the analogue and modern instrument panels. The modern instrumentation is then discussed in great detail, and there is a guide to modern avionics. There is then a section with aircraft check-lists and flying notes, and it includes a good guide to flying the aircraft. The check-lists cover all operations from cold and dark to shut down.
It is a comprehensive, well illustrated manual and refreshing to see this detailed documentation included where some add-on manufactures are inclined to do the bare minimum. Full marks to Just Flight for not trying to make any short cuts here. The manual is also available as a separate download from the Just Flight web site and is available prior to purchase.
Priced at £19.99, the Just Flight DH.104 'Dove' and 'Devon' package is a great price for this offering. It is a nice aircraft to fly, and whilst it has a few short comings, these are not going to detract from your enjoyment of flying this aircraft, with even flight simmers with average rigs able to get a lot from this add-on.
For me there was no discernible performance or frame rate impact with this add-on whatsoever. It performed well in all situations I tested it in. Frame rates were nice and high with this add-on and in all situations the simulation performed well. I think that any average computer set-up would fly this aircraft with no problems.
Just Flight have really captured a 1950s feel in the DH.104 'Dove' and 'Devon' and you really expect to see passengers in their Sunday best and pilots, cabin crew, and air traffic control speaking in their best BBC English. I thoroughly enjoyed flying this aircraft, it is steady, sedate and it truly captures the spirit of its time. I honestly felt I should be piloting this to fly home the last of the British Empire's servants after the UK said goodbye to its Empire.