This is part two of my three-part series reviewing the VPC MongoosT-50CM3 Throttle throttle. I’ve been using the new throttle for a couple of weeks now and it’s time to put together some of my first impressions.
From out of the box to first flights
The first thing that strikes me about the CM3 throttle is the size. Compared to the first-generation MT-50 or the similarly sized Thrustmaster Warthog, the CM3 is significantly smaller and somewhat lighter as a result. The size and weight always made me a bit nervous with my other throttle on the mounts that I have and so the reduction in size feels like a good thing.
Part of the reason for this is the reconfiguration of the controls on the throttle and having a few less buttons and dials on the base unit. This is done partly because of size but also because of an emerging pattern in higher end flight sim hardware where the throttle unit has tons of functionality but an additional panel unit can be added on with custom controls. VIRPIL has two control panels available that can be paired with the throttle to provide for a ton of extra options.
Although I already feel the loss of a couple of controls on my old throttle, there are so many new controls on the throttle handle itself that I’m finding this to be a fair trade. VIRPIL did not skimp on the number of four way plus push hats and there’s a couple of extra rotary controls and a two way plus push button on the grip that more than make up for what I may have lost. In-fact, after a little thought behind the setup, I now have an even more ergonomic setup.
The feel on the throttle itself remains outstanding with the kind of weight and fine adjustability that VIRPIL throttles are known for. It’s always been immensely satisfying to push the throttle forward into full power on any aircraft from WWI bi-plane to modern fighter jet to airliner. The weight is enough to give you fine control while being manageable in tense situations where you need rapid control changes. The ultimate tests are carrier landings and aerial refueling where you need to constantly make adjustments forward and back. This throttle handles those with confidence and it never sticks or hesitates in these situations.
No issues across multiple sims
I’ve already flown with this throttle on three sims: IL-2: Great Battles, DCS World and Microsoft Flight Simulator. All of these sims have access to the full range of controls here and I haven’t found many issues with setting up controls the way I want them to be setup.
The toggle wheels on the throttle work well to configure altitude and VS controls in Microsoft Flight Simulator, the various hat switches are immensely useful in DCS World, and all of the buttons are great to have to manage those World War II aircraft of both DCS and IL-2.
There is one exception to the ease of configuration. The four momentary toggle switches are configured, out of the box, to be just one button. You can, however, reconfigure to make it two buttons (so up is gear up and down is gear down or up is supercharger stage 2 and down is supercharger stage 1) and I’m going to have to look up how to do that as I’ve configured it that way on my first gen throttle but forgotten where in the software I do that for this new one. I’ll have that sorted out by the time I write the full review.
I’ve also been using the throttle to fly the brand new DCS: Mi-24P Hind for DCS World. I have not reversed my throttle for this and set it up like a traditional helicopter collective, however, some of you have asked me about using it this way and how they might interact with the detents. I will try that out before the full review.
I’ve been asked a few questions about the CM3 and how it can be used so let me attempt to answer some of those questions now with a few more to be tackled during the full review.
One question I was asked was if the throttle can be used on the right side rather than the left. The answer I’m going to give is no. The three hat switches and two buttons on the right side of the throttle are ideally manipulated by the thumb and reversing that puts those controls near your pinky switch – but not ergonomically.
Another question I was asked was about VR usability and the answer I have for that is – yes, mostly. Each hat switch and button on the throttle has its own unique feel and that means that you can very easily and quickly feel for the appropriate button. What is a bit harder are the buttons on the base of the throttle which don’t have the same kind if unique design. You can still feel for them most of the time and that makes it reasonably good to work with in VR.
I also think that the usability there is good even for those without VR like myself. You don’t want to fumble for controls in the middle of a tense flight situation. You want to put your thumb on that hat switch or control dial and just know what it is. This throttle excels at that.
Someone else asked about reliability. I know there are some concerns in the forums and that is a legitimate issue. There are issues with reliability on some of the first-generation units but with this being the fourth generation, my hope is that VIRPIL has been able to take their iterative design method and improved everything along the way. My review might not be able to fully answer this question for you but I can report on how well it works over the next few weeks.
More to come
I like to take my time with hardware reviews and so I’m planning to spend more time with this throttle flying it with other sims and in other situations. I’m also going to get into detail with the detent system as that is a major feature of this new throttle and it comes with customization that we’ve never seen before. That’s all to come!