began construction building the tail surfaces and fuselage simultaneously. I made a few modifications to the
tail structure. The leading edge of the moving surfaces and trailing edges of the
fixed surfaces were replaced with 1/8” x 1/4” balsa to provide more surface area
for the hinges.
The hinges are regular scotch tape that is adhered to the covering. This
system works but it's sloppier than "proper" hinges. I wanted to prevent
introducing more play into the system by giving the covering more wood to bond
The stabilizer center section is made up of three 1/8" square balsa sticks.
I don't know how Great Planes expects you to do this, but the fin is 1/8" thick
which means you will have to remove all the covering from the center stick in
the stabilizer to glue on the fin. That will leave the covering just
flapping on either side of it until it gets to the next stick.
The other option is to remove less than all the covering making a precarious
mount even more so. Instead of dealing with that I simply made a solid
center section for the stabilizer.
Do yourself a favor and replace the 1/8” square fin root with 1/8” x 1/4"
medium balsa. If you use 1/8” square balsa it is very likely that it will bow
inward when the covering is shrunk which will make it difficult to obtain a good
glue bond when it comes time to attach the fin to the stabilizer.
The last modification I made was to add several 1/32” reinforcing gussets. These
modifications made an insignificant difference in weight and did not affect the
The fuselage construction and implementation bothered me. First, the two
sides are laser cut identically even though the right side needs to be cut shorter to create right
thrust. There is a line burned into both sides to show where the one fuselage side
is cut. It seems to me that if the manufacturer is going to do that why not
just cut each side to the correct shape in the first place?
The pushrod exits are accurately marked on the plan but not cut into the
sides. This seems like another missed opportunity.
What actually bothered me the most was that both sides had undulations from
the sheets being sent through a board sander. The undulations were so extreme
they could not be sanded out without making the sides too thin. If you
look closely at photos in the gallery you should be able to see vertical lines
on the fuselage sides from the sander.
The formers are built from 1/8” square balsa. Ensuring they are square may be
a challenge for a beginning builder but with a little care and patience they
should be successful. I added 1/32" balsa gussets to the joints of all built-up
The instructions indicate a different position for the rear wing dowel if
ailerons are utilized. The alternate position is a better position whether or
not ailerons are used.
Be sure to drill the new holes before gluing anything to
the sides. Tape the sides together to ensure the holes are accurately located in
each. I plugged the original holes using a balsa stick that I pulled
through a hole gauge to turn it into a dowel.
I added a piece of balsa across the grain of the fuselage side to reinforce
the rear dowel in the new position. The front dowel glues to a former and didn’t
need any modification.
The dowels were added after the fuselage was completely built. After sliding
them in place I secured them with thin
CA from the inside so that it would not
fog the covering. Thin CA was used so that it could harden the balsa around the
The dowel mounting is delicate as is the wing center section. The
rubber bands included in the kit are too small and will unnecessarily stress the
wing center section and dowels. I found that #45AA are a good fit. Only two rubber bands per side are
necessary to safely secure the wing assuming the bands are in good condition.
Using too many rubber bands will either crush the wing center section or damage
the fuselage by pulling the dowels loose. A good source of excellent
quality rubber bands in any size is the Dykma Rubber Band Company.
I added a diagonal piece of 1/8" square balsa inside both fuselage sides from
the firewall to former F2. This piece was added to stiffen the forward
fuselage and prevent it from bowing in.
I discarded all the laser cut deck sheeting. All the upper decking had the
grain arranged at a strange diagonal although it was clearly supposed to run
fore to aft. The lower rear decking also had the grain running fore to aft so I
replaced it with cross grain sheet. The forward lower decking had the same weird
grain as the upper decking so I also replaced it with cross grain.
The hole in the firewall to receive the motor didn’t align properly with the
pre-drilled holes for the gearbox. I used a drum sander in a
Dremel to make the
hole a little oblong until everything fit properly. Only two of the three
mounting tabs on the gear box are used which allows the box to rock
even when the screws are fully tightened.
The plans show scrap balsa behind the firewall to provide additional material
for the motor screws to bite into. This is a new one to me as I've never
considered balsa to be a good material to hold a wood screw thread
— particularly for a screw that is retaining a
motor. I used thin
Overall I don’t like the setup and think the model should be re-engineered to
move the motor down such that the thrust line is lowered and the gear box can be
mounted using all three screws. This change may require the fuselage to be
deepened in the front. I haven’t measured it.
The wing is simple and everything fits well. However, I don’t like wood dowel
leading edges. I’ve always thought they were a bad idea. Dowels are never
straight and as you sight the leading edge you can always see dips and kinks in
the leading edge that will always be there.
If that doesn’t bother you then the
advantage is that a dowel can be easily sanded in a minute before gluing it in
place and there is no further shaping necessary.
Shear webs are glued to the spars from the second rib from the root to about
2/3 of the span. There is no web between the root rib and the next rib
because that is where the plywood dihedral brace is glued.
The webs are glued to the back of the spars which is probably the easier way for
a beginner builder to install them. I cut the webs to fit between the
spars. As long as you obtain a good glue joint either way is fine.
The wing tips are not pre-cut so you can do your own thing with them. I
simply laminated a piece of 1/16" balsa to the tip rib and sanded it to match.
I didn't want to mess around with trying to pull covering around a wing
tip on a wing this flimsy. I probably would have broken half the ribs in
The ailerons are 3/4" x 1/16” balsa. These are very flexible and probably much
less effective than they would be if they were stiffer. I considered various
ways to make the ailerons more rigid but the only effective solution I could
think of was to make them thicker.
Building thicker ailerons would have meant removing about 3/8” to 1/2" of
chord from the trailing edge of the wing for everything to flow together
smoothly. The wing was already built having 1/32” trailing edge sheeting. I didn’t want to risk having the trailing edge sheeting break and have
to replace it all so I stuck with the ailerons as designed hoping that the slow
speed of the model would prevent them from flexing too much or from fluttering.
The wing is adequately strong, but extremely flexible making it a challenge
to not introduce warps when covering. All I can recommend is to be careful and
work slowly when applying the covering. If you're a beginner then seek
help before attempting to cover the wing by yourself.
The plans call for washout in the wing. After the wing was covered but
before the covering was shrunk, I weighted down the center and blocked up the
trailing edge at the tip 3/8". I then use my covering iron to shrink the
covering on the top of the wing. When that was complete I lowered the heat
to the lowest setting that would still shrink the covering and shrunk the
covering on the bottom of the wing. The result was about 1/4" of washout
in each wing panel.
The landing gear design is something I probably never would have thought of
and if I did I probably would have decided against after about three minutes. Attaching it takes some finesse to avoid damaging the fuselage. The first time I
attached the gear, the rubber bands pulled the dowel down crushing the fuselage
sides. I quickly removed the gear to prevent further damage and added 1/32”
plywood supports inside the fuselage.
There are a lot of good landing gear designs that I think would have been
better for this model. A simple V in the center clamped between two thin plywood
formers or individual struts running across the bottom and up into torsion
blocks inside the fuselage are both easy to make, effective and very reliable.
The axles were cut too short for the included wheels. There simply wasn’t enough
sticking through the wheel to attach the included nylon wheel collars. I drilled
out the wheels and made longer axles using brass tube with a washer soldered on
one end and a washer held in place by a wire at the other end. The new axle is
held in place on the wire gear using permanent Loctite.
The tail skid shown on the plan looks really fragile and precarious. It may
work fine, but I didn’t trust it and made a wire skid instead. The skid is
mounted to a piece of 1/32” plywood, wrapped with SpiderWire and coated with
Radio and Linkage Installation
While the radio installation is simple, the soft 1/16” aluminum tube
are delicate and flimsy. Having an experienced helper when it comes time to install the
radio and make the linkages will be beneficial to the beginning builder.
I didn’t like the choice of much of the hardware included in the kit although
the pack was very complete and can be used. While being somewhat expensive, I
decided to use micro hardware recently released by
I used Dubro micro
clevises for the elevator and rudder with
Z-bends at the
servo end of each pushrod. The instructions call for a Z-bend on both ends of
the pushrod which means trim adjustments must be made solely from the
transmitter. If you use the recommended system then you will not be able to
adjust the pushrods so that the
transmitter trims can be centered.
I was asked to build this model for elevator, aileron and throttle. I went
ahead and made the rudder functional so that it can be set up for use later. A
“dummy” servo was cut from 1/32” plywood to attach the pushrod. This setup
allows the rudder to be trimmed on the ground while being in a fixed position
I also used the micro aileron hardware from Dubro with the addition of two
more micro clevises. Attaching the clevises to the aileron horns while
everything is flopping around is not something I would recommend attempting
until after the Xanax has kicked in. The pin in the micro clevis is a separate
In the flight shots and possibly the video you will see a long section of
antenna trails behind the plane which I'm sure affects its flight. For
test flights I used a Hitec Micro 555 receiver because the receiver supplied to
me for installation was not on the same frequency of my transmitter. The
supplied receiver has a shorter antenna that only trails a couple of inches.
You might want to consider using a base-loaded antenna such as the
from E-Cubed R/C.
They claim this antenna works as well as the original antenna which I doubt but
it also shouldn't matter. I can tell you from experience that a good radio
has range as far as you can see it — over a mile.
This model will disappear from sight at a fraction of that distance so even if
you lost 25% of the range you'd still have more range than you need.
That being said, I can not personally endorse these antennas because I've
never used one, but I have projects that will require one and when I get there
I'll let you know what I learn.
Prior to covering the model I sealed the firewall with 30-minute
entire model was covered with
PolyCover from Hobby Lobby International using
White and Lemon Yellow as base colors. Trim stripes were cut from a roll of Metalflake
Blue. The windows are cut from light gray. The wing tips are
With the exception of the trim stripes, all other trim was ironed to bare
wood which meant cutting away existing covering in the window areas. I did
this to prevent weight build up as well as bubbles trapped between the
The tailskid and dowel ends were painted with appropriate colors of
after they were glued in place.
The power system installed is the one recommended in the manual using a brushed
280 class motor, a
GWS 5 amp speed controller and 2 cell 730 mAh 7.4v lithium polymer battery. The
battery is slightly larger than that recommended because the recommended size
was not available.
The system is adequate but the propeller used was probably
too large. I think a smaller, higher pitch prop and a 3-cell pack will
give the model better performance. For slow, lazy flying around a local
field the installed package is fine.