The mid-1970s Cardinal RG is just one sexy plane. 200 horsepower, retractable gear, sleek lines… it’s a beautiful machine.
It also makes a great platform for simulation. It’s fast, IFR capable, and offers the added bonus of sharpening your “complex aircraft” skills. FAR 61.31(e), you’ll remember, defines a complex airplane as one having retractable gear, flaps and a controllable pitch propeller. The Cardinal RG has these.
I wanted a Cardinal to train in for X-Plane and found a really fantastic 1970 Cardinal 177B by Sonny Lacey. His Cardinal flies wonderfully but, being an earlier model, lacks the retractable gear and extra power of the later RG variant. Sonny graciously granted me permission to deviate from his non-modification license and to base my RG upon his B model. I deeply appreciate this and stress that credit for the foundation airframe and its modeling belong to Sonny; his is really well done.
My 177RG is modeled after the 1975 version. Changes and improvements I have made to accurately depict the ’75 RG include:
- The engine is 200 HP and fuel-injected
- Higher max-gross weight
- The gear are retractable (and animated)
- The panel layout has been completely reworked to closely resemble the actual plane
- Exterior and interior lighting alterations
- ASI colored arcs and V-speeds are all correctly modeled; ASI reads in knots
- More correct-for-the-period DG and AI graphics
- Certain panel graphics borrowed from X-Plane’s 172 model for realism
- Detented flap position lever (3 detents)
- Adaptive gauges correctly color-banded using the actual 177RG POH
- A fully illuminated and flyable night panel
- The 3D panel “somewhat” works but it’s a hack
I confess to being no artist. You will find that the retractable gear do animate correctly — complete with gear doors for the nose wheel — but they aren’t intricately detailed. I prioritized function over form.
Furthermore, I had to take some liberties with the panel. Some gauges, like the real Cessna combined manifold-pressure/fuel-flow gauge, simply aren’t available and must be represented as two separate gauges. I decided to use X-Plane’s “adaptive” round gauges in some places where square gauges would be more correct, as the latter don’t display accurate numerical data. The ADF gauge would normally be right of the radio stack, as would the flap lever. To be fair, real-world panels are in fact customizable and in my model things are more-or-less where they should be; if you have actual Cardinal experience then controls and gauges should be close to where you would customarily look for them.
I retained Sonny’s livery. (Did I mention that I’m no artist?) In the ZIP file I’ve included a PDF of the 1975 177RG POH, which handily contains the checklists you’ll need to operate the plane along with the other charts and metrics you’ll need for flight planning. (It also points out where the “cigar lighter” would be on the real plane, just in case you want to know.) In the archive I’ve also included two real-life panel photos that I sourced from the internet to aid in my instrument placement choices.
I hope that you enjoy this. Simply unpack the archive into your X-Plane > Aircraft > General Aviation directory and load the .acf file in X-Plane. I welcome and appreciate all feedback regarding this model.
Download here: Cessna_177RG.zip
- Adjusted propeller min and max pitch values for greater accuracy
- Accurized throttle settings throughout the range (idle to full)
- Calibrated the manifold pressure gauge (which was indicating incorrectly)
- Optimized the drag coefficient through flight testing to calibrate true airspeeds with the POH
- Minor cosmetic tweaks on the panel, including a Hobbs gauge
- Fabricated a proper Cessna manifold pressure / fuel flow gauge.
- Scaled the radio stack up a bit for usability.
- Corrected the positive / negative G limits after suffering an embarrassing wing loss during flight.
- Made custom graphics for the square engine gauges and installed those tobe more cosmetically accurate.
- Ditched the lame X-Plane GPS to make room for more useful instruments
- Installed DME
- Installed autopilot
- Installed HSI
- Moved #2 VOR up and moved ADF in its old place
- Installed panel lighting rheostats
- Larger toggle switches for lights etc.
- Larger trim wheels
- Nicer panel background graphics
- Rearranged some panel items for realism / usability