Even when using the external 3D view the instrument panel functions correctly and you can actually read the engine and flight gauges as they move as smoothly as they do in the virtual cockpit. It is an unbelievable level of detail. Since Shockwave focused almost exclusively on the 3D VC there are only stand-in 2D instruments that allow you to fly with just the basic flight instruments on the screen. These pseudo-panels work well for times when you want maximum visibility during takeoffs or landings, but are definitely a concession to realism. The restricted views inherent to some of these long nosed tail-draggers are a fact of life, duplicating the views you’d have in the real aircraft.
Much of the information included in the foldout sheets for each aircraft are duplicated in the checklist feature within Flight Simulator, allowing you to pull up information at the press of a button instead of folding out the sheet.