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Ground Steering the the DC-3

Many pilots have e-mailed requesting information on how to taxi, or more precisely, how to ground steer the DC-3. Below is Bill Rambow's response to one such request. This article is specific to the R4D team's aircraft; the R4D, and Jan Visser's recently released DC-3s.

Click here for a "Taxi Exercise". It will take you to an interesting, illustrated taxi situation that's worth one flight-hour of credit. More importantly, in conjunction with the information below, it will help you hone your taxiing skills.

NOTE: Satisfactory ground steering is impossible unless the Rudder Auto-coordination is OFF!

Bill Rambow's e-mail:

... I promise you that the R4D turns a LOT easier than does the real one, but a set of rudder pedals, (or at the very least, a twist stick) and un-coordinated rudder control is not just a luxury – it is an absolute essential.

You do not need to spend a great deal of money, either. I have been using a pair of standard CH Products pedals (not the Pro variety), about $45, for years. They are very durable as evidenced by the thousands of hours of use they have given me. I promise you will find that pedals greatly enhance the enjoyment and control of FS and any other flight sim you use.

OK, now let's assume you either already have pedals, or have acquired them. Be sure you are using the default sensitivity settings in FS2000. The R4D was designed using these standard settings and changing them will have an effect on handling, both on the ground and in the air.

Next, go back and read the section on taxiing the R4D in the manual. It takes some practice to taxi the DC-3 with skill. There are times when you will find differential braking, and even differential power, necessary to get a sharp turn started or keep it going. If you do not understand these terms, read the manual. As Trev [Morson] has said, these techniques are almost ALWAYS required in the real DC-3.

The other key to good taxiing and turning is speed – or rather the lack thereof. If the airspeed indicator is active, you are probably moving too fast! Sharp turns at much above jogging speed are impossible. Slow down, but keep moving. She won't turn at all when she is stopped ;-) Good throttle and brake control are the key to skilful taxiing. I have programmed the trigger button on my stick for braking (both brakes) and another two-position toggle for right and left brakes. This helps a lot, as it makes it easy to apply a touch of left or right brake when needed to get a sharp turn started.

Of course, you could go whole hog and buy the new USB CH Pro pedals which have the realistic toe brake feature (about $95), just like the real thing. I have never tried these, though I am about to. One of our R4D fans recently donated a bunch of CH equipment to the FS Department of MAAM, including a USB and a non-USB set of Pro pedals. Since I AM the FS department of MAAM ;-) these will be put to use to demo the packages. So, if you can make it to Reading for the World War II Weekend show, I'll let you try them out. I'll also show you how easy it is to spin the R4D around the pavement with the proper equipment and techniques.

I hope this has been of some help. Happy Landings – Tail Low.

Cheers, Bill