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All posts for the month April, 2018

RC gliders, also known as sailplanes, can offer the beginner a very gentle introduction to the radio control flying hobby, but can also offer the experienced rc pilot some truly exhilarating aerobatic and racing opportunities – such is the diversity of radio control gliding.

But is there a difference between both names?

Well, technically speaking a glider is any motorless aircraft capable of stable unpowered flight, even if over just a short distance. For example, man’s early attempts at flight were done in simple gliders, and flights were no more than a few hundred feet long.
A sailplane is a motorless aircraft specifically designed for sustained unpowered performance, primarily by using columns of warm air (thermals) to keep aloft. But in reality, and especially in the rc flying hobby, both names are commonly used to describe a model aircraft without a motor.

 

Easy RC flying.
Simpler rc gliders are excellent for introducing newcomers to the hobby. The majority of conventional beginner rc gliders are 2 or 3 channel, with control to either rudder and elevator, aileron and elevator or rudder, aileron and elevator. By conventional I mean gliders with a wing, fin and tailplane.

The alternative is the delta-wing type (or ‘flying wing’) and these are common for slope soaring. These gliders are usually just two channel with both aileron and elevator controls mixed in to control surfaces called elevons.

A two channel glider, although simple, can still be a lot of fun on the slope, particularly if it has aileron control instead of rudder. Having aileron control means that the glider can be rolled more easily, and it just makes the glider more aerobatic and fun to fly.
A foam delta-wing type glider is fairly durable, generally speaking, which makes it very beginner-friendly.

 

The more advanced rc gliders and larger sailplanes can have more channels still, with additional controls for flaps or spoilers, air brakes and even tow line release hooks in the nose and retractable nose wheel.

Simpler two channel conventional rc gliders like the timeless Goldberg Gentle Lady for example, shown below, are not at all complicated to fly and their design makes them inherently very stable, making such gliders perfect for the novice.

Flying rc gliders of this type can be a very peaceful and relaxing experience. Typically flying speeds of such gliders are much slower than the speeds of powered airplanes and their stability gives the pilot plenty of time to react. Gliders like the Gentle Lady are very forgiving in the air and won’t punish you for making mistakes with your Tx sticks!

Intermediate/expert RC gliders.
Of course, different types of rc glider and sailplane have different flight characteristics and at the other end of the scale the sleek racing gliders can be thrown around the slopes at crazy speeds and in stronger winds.

These models are typically moulded from glass fibre and/or carbon fibre, and are commonly referred to as mouldies. They can be ballasted up (made heavier) by inserting metal weights into a special ballast tube inside the fuselage and/or wing, and this extra mass gives the glider more inertia and better penetration into the wind (i.e. makes them fly faster).

Such rc gliders can be very expensive and the faster speeds demand good reactions and co-ordination – this is not the sort of model you want to break due to inexperience!

And while on the subject of speed, did you know that the fastest radio control aircraft in the world is a glider?! Not a jet but an rc glider! Yep, the current world record has just exceeded 500 m.p.h in the sector of dynamic soaring.
So you can see that radio control gliders offer more than you might expect!

A big advantage that rc gliders and sailplanes have over powered radio control aircraft is that of flight duration; if the conditions are favourable with good lift during a rc slope soaring or thermal flying session then you can keep your glider aloft for a very long time. No need to land for refueling or replacing a motor battery pack, although you do of course need to keep an eye on the TX and RX battery levels to keep the radio signal strong.

RTF vs. ARF RC gliders.
Unfortunately there are few Ready To Fly rc gliders available compared to powered rc planes, and this is a shame for beginners who just want to get flying without any assembly fuss.
It seems that the only RTF gliders around are of the powered variety. Presumably this is a reflection on market demand, and in my opinion it’s a shame that at least some manufacturers aren’t offering a good selection of 2 or 3 channel RTF gliders for sale.

An Almost Ready To Fly (ARF) glider is the next best option but obviously you’re going to have to buy, install and set up the radio gear yourself. A certain degree of aeromodelling knowledge is required to complete and set up an ARF rc aircraft, but if you’re completely new to the hobby there is plenty of help around.
The range of scale gliders from Seagull is a good one, and the quality of Seagull aircraft is very good. Having had a couple of their aircraft, I can vouch for their quality.

 

Categories of RC gliders and sailplanes.
There are several different categories of radio control glider, as well as a large diversity of model designs ranging from general sport gliders to expensive carbon racing ones to large scale vintage sailplanes. Below are some examples of and brief introductions to the more popular types…

General sport gliders.
These come in a large variety of shapes and sizes and are suited to flat field flying with assisted launch, or the very popular sector of slope soaring.

Typically three channel (rudder, aileron & elevator), sport gliders can handle a variety of conditions and are, usually, aerobatically capable. Sport rc gliders can be non-scale or scale, although many scale gliders of this type are labelled as ‘aerobatic’ rather than ‘sport’.

 

Construction, as with any rc aircraft, can be traditional balsa and ply or foam such as the popular Multiplex Cularis, shown below, or GRP (glass reinforced plastic aka fibreglass). This latter material is very common in rc glider construction.

 

Hand launched gliders

Gliders that are specifically designed to be thrown upwards from a strong hand launch are generally smaller, to make them more manageable. You might see them referred to as chuckies.

A simple two channel example is the Great Planes Fling, shown right, although owner feedback about this particular glider hasn’t been great. Gliders like this one can also be launched with a simple ‘high-start’ launching system (catapult / bungee) so if your throws aren’t quite strong enough then you can still get airborne. But with the right throwing technique and strength a hand launched glider can easily reach an adequate altitude without any external aids.
Once launched, either by a throw or catapult system, flight duration is achieved by using thermals and wind to keep the glider aloft.

Discus Launch Gliders (DLGs).
Following on from the standard hand launch gliders mentioned above, a Discus Launch Glider is a newer breed of rc glider that’s become very popular with flat-field flyers.

A DLG has a specially designed wingtip handle (a strong pin running vertically through the wing) that is held between index and middle finger. The pilot spins in a 360 degree circle and launches the glider upwards on exiting the spin, just like a field athlete launches a discus (hence the name DLG…).

You don’t need to be strong because the force needed to power the glider upwards is generated during your spin, and then the design of the glider aids the steep climb.
With the right technique a Discus Launch Glider can reach a surprising height. Once the glider has leveled out after its vertical climb, your thermal-seeking can commence.

The big advantage with a DLG, and indeed a normal hand launch glider, is that you don’t need to be on a hilltop or in an area large enough to take a long bungee/Hi-Start system. A DLG can be launched from a relatively small space, as it goes vertically upwards.

Thermal soarers.
RC sailplanes that are intended for thermal soaring tend to have larger wingspans, up to 4 meters for the serious competition models. Their construction is kept as lightweight as possible and they have a low wing loading, this combination keeps their glide rate (vertical descent) to an absolute minimum.

There’s a definite skill to thermal soaring; if the pilot can’t successfully locate the thermals then the glider won’t stay airborne for any great length of time. That said, a thermal soarer will out fly a sport glider (time aloft) under the same conditions, simply because of its better glide rate.
A fairly typical ‘pod and boom’ type rc thermal soarer is shown below:

Combat RC gliders.
Combat gliders are generally much smaller than traditional soarers and are typically made from EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) foam, a material that’s incredibly tough and resilient to damage, making the gliders very durable. The tail feathers can be sheet balsa or, more commonly, fluted polypropylene sheet (eg ‘Corflute’), a very bendy and crash-resistant material.

EPP combat gliders are commonly covered in reinforced tape to add strength, and then coloured tape to finish. All this tape also adds to the durability. Other ways of finishing them include paint and low-heat iron on covering film.

The idea with combat gliding is to fly as a group and try to knock your opponent’s glider out of the air. Because the EPP rarely gets damaged, it’s quite safe to fly straight into another glider at full speed!

Combat gliders are a great deal of fun, but even if you can’t get a group together flying one on your own is equally exhilarating. Because of their general design they can be very maneuverable indeed and in the right conditions can be flown fast and aerobatically. Highly recommended for some low-worry slope soaring fun!

Scale RC sailplanes.
A scale model aircraft is one that is modelled from a full size aircraft, and there are plenty of full size gliders and sailplanes that make excellent subjects to model.

A big attraction of such a model is the build itself, as well as the flying. I’m currently building a 1/5 scale Letov LF-107 Lunak, which you can read about right here.

Below is a photo of a fellow clubmate’s beautiful large-scale sailplanes, these are about 5 meter wingspan. Obviously not all scale gliders need to be this big!

 

Well those are just several of the basic categories of rc gliders and sailplanes; as has already been mentioned radio control gliders have many many types, shapes and sizes from traditional built-up kits meant for relaxed soaring to modern carbon fiber racing machines capable of incredible speeds and performance.

Whichever type of rc glider you choose, you’ll be entering a hugely popular sector of the radio control flying hobby. The ease of control and gentle flying characteristics of many gliders make them a great attraction and introduction to the hobby, and I can highly recommend giving rc gliding a try especially if you live near an open slope that faces the prevailing wind!

So, then, radio control gliding is a hugely popular sector of the rc flying hobby with its dedicated followers, be they slope soarers or flat field flyers. Perfect for the beginner and advanced rc pilot alike, rc gliders and sailplanes will give you a truly rewarding experience.

From a personal point of view, rc gliders are my favourite form of radio control flight. They require very few accessories and there are no noise issues to worry about. In fact, the only real concern is whether or not your radio gear batteries will last as long as you want to fly for!
The challenge of having to seek out lift and use the air to keep your glider aloft, rather than just rely on motor power and thrust, is an addictive and exhilarating one.

If you’re looking to fly faster model aircraft, rc jets can give you the ultimate thrill and adrenaline rush!

 

Electric powered ducted fan (EDF) jets have become commonplace on our flying fields in recent years, and they offer an excellent gateway to the more serious gas turbine powered model jets.
But these turbine jets, however, are not for the beginner. They are very serious model aircraft that you have to work up to after gaining a large amount of radio control flying experience, and an equally large amount of cash. They are very serious business.

The good news is that the EDF jets are more affordable and many are stunningly realistic, making them an excellent choice for those who aren’t in a position to fly a turbine model.

The best introduction to flying true rc jets (i.e. with no propeller) are the aforementioned jets which use an electric ducted fan unit as pictured above.

A ducted fan is a small but powerful unit that houses a multi-bladed propeller, or fan, spinning at very high RPM (revs/minute). As it spins, air is sucked into a duct through one or more intakes in the fuselage of the jet, and then forced out the back of the jet at very high speed, pushing the jet through the air. A lot of thrust can be generated by an EDF although this is obviously going to vary from unit to unit.

EDF units are generally powered by high Kv brushless motors (high RPM) and need a high capacity/high discharge rate lithium polymer battery pack (Li-Po) because of the high current that they draw.

As previously mentioned, Ready To Fly foam EDF jets have really taken hold in recent times and the number of good quality RTF EDFs available has increased dramatically, to the point where it’s as common to see such a jet on the flying field as it is a plane or helicopter – that wasn’t the case a few years ago when rc jets were very specialised models.

Some manufacturers have gone all-out to produce striking models with fantastic scale detail,

 

Foamie EDF jets like this aren’t cheap and you do need to be an intermediate pilot to fly one safely – in other words they’re absolutely not for the beginner rc pilot. But definitely something to work towards!

It’s a good testament to the hobby that electric ducted fan rc jets like these have now become so widely available and relatively affordable, in exactly the same way that electric rc helicopters have.

But with that said, it’s important to know that starting out in the radio control flying hobby from scratch with an EDF jet isn’t wise. Gaining flight experience with a conventional trainer airplane is the thing to do; the faster flying speeds of jets can catch out the beginner rc pilot who hasn’t yet developed the reactions and co-ordination needed to fly any rc aircraft type.

Micro RC jets
Like all other model types in the radio control flying hobby, rc jets have shrunk in size in recent times.

Leading the way is the Horizon Hobby brand E-flite with their UMX range. The latest jets feature Horizon’s AS3X™ stabilisation technology which helps fight wind gusts and the natural twitchiness of small model aircraft.

These micro-sized rc jets are excellent fun around the park, and are quite cheap to buy. You don’t really need the same level of flying experience as for a larger jet, but their relatively fast speed does mean you need to have built up the necessary reactions and co-ordination before attempting to fly one.

Gas turbine RC jets – the real deal.
To many fliers an rc jet powered by a true model jet engine represents the pinnacle of radio control flying but, as mentioned earlier, such an rc jet like the F14 Tomcat in the following video is definitely best left alone until you have:

1] lots of confidence…
2] endless hours of rc flying experience and…
3] lots of money!!

Even a smaller size model gas turbine unit can cost a four-figure sum, and that’s before you’ve purchased the jet, radio gear and all the essential accessories. So a twin engine model, like the Tomcat in the video, is going to cost you a lot!

But rc gas turbine jets are the ultimate in radio control flying. Large scale jets look and sound amazingly realistic in the air and a properly built and well flown scale model is very impressive to watch in action.

If you ever get a chance to see some of these on display, then do.
RC events that feature such aircraft are becoming more and more common, and it’s worth trying to locate one if you can. Top UK radio control pilot Ali Machinchy, now living in the USA and working for Horizon Hobby (a big loss to the UK rc scene!), always puts on an amazing display and flies large scale jets – indeed, he’s one of the world’s top show pilots.
If you ever get a chance to watch him, please do! If you don’t, then at least enjoy this video of him flying a large scale (1/5) English Electric Lightning at one of the UK’s top shows…

Here’s the video (reproduced, copyright unknown)…

Model RC jets on a simulator.
If you’re more like me than Ali, then there is a cheaper option for trying your hand at flying proper gas turbine powered rc jets…

Phoenix sim – Red Arrow HawkA good quality rc flight simulator can give you a realistic jet-flying experience, without breaking the bank. I have the Phoenix flight sim which features several turbine jets. A screenshot of the BAE Hawk is shown to the right.
You can learn more about rc flight simulators here.

One advantage rc jets have – whether virtual or real – is that they are not so adversely affected by wind like many rc airplanes are, due to the higher airspeeds and sleeker aerodynamics. This is a big plus when you’re flying, although obviously every model has its own limitations and flight characteristics.

A downside is that because of this speed they need extra airspace; a faster flying model requires much more space for turns and aerobatic maneuvers than a slower flying aircraft, and you need to remember this when flying jets of any size. This consequently brings in the problem of your jet being flown at a distance where it’s not always easy to see exactly what it’s doing; that in turn brings the serious risk of disorientation – a proven killer of rc aircraft of all types!

But flying any type of rc jet is always an adrenalin-filled experience and with radio control and electronic technology forever improving and reducing in cost, more and more rc jets will become available still, even for the lesser-experienced amongst us.

There’s a nice diversity of rc aircraft types within the radio control flying hobby, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste and needs. This page will outline various types, and you can click through to read more about them on other pages.

Remember that the word aircraft covers all flying machines, not just conventional airplanes. Also bear in mind that the most common rc aircraft types (airplanes and helicopters) can be scale, semi-scale and non-scale models. These three terms refer to the reality of the model; whether it replicates a real aircraft (scale), is a close representation of a real aircraft (semi-scale) or is a completely made-up design (non-scale).

Whether you end up flying scale, semi-scale or non-scale rc aircraft comes down to your own personal preference. There are plenty from each category to choose from these days, a reflection of the popularity of the hobby!

The basic RC aircraft types.
For the purpose of this page, rc airplanes and helicopters have been split in to their own groups; simply categorising them as just two different aircraft types would be a bit broad given the variations available.

Collectively, rc planes account for the largest number of aircraft in the hobby. Having said that, the popularity of flying rc helicopters has grown tremendously in recent years as electric rc helicopters have surged onto the scene, and the gap between the number of rc airplane pilots and rc helicopter pilots has become much smaller than it ever has been.
Even more recently, multicopters or drones have amassed huge sales globally as this newest sector of the radio control flying hobby takes hold.

Note that this page doesn’t intend to ‘officially categorise’ rc aircraft – the following list is just to introduce you to your options..

RC Airplanes.

Trainer airplanes, or ‘trainers’, are designed for learning on. They are conventional in design and basic, with the wing on top of the fuselage for maximum stability in the air. Trainers can be powered by electric motor or internal combustion engine, glow plug (nitro) being the most common of the IC group. Trainers are available in many different sizes and shapes and count for a large sector of all rc aircraft. Ideally your first rc plane will be a trainer.
Read more on rc trainer planes.

Sport airplanes also make up a very large sector of all rc planes. They are the next up from a trainer but can also be used for training purposes, particularly low-wing training. Sport airplanes can be any size or shape and are more capable of performing aerobatic maneuvers than trainers are. The majority of sport planes are mid or low wing, making them better for performing such maneuvers. High wing planes like trainers, generally speaking, are not that aerobatic.

Aerobatic airplanes have been designed specifically for performing advanced aerobatic maneuvers and ‘3D’ flying. This type of rc airplane is typically mid wing with oversize control surfaces and motors (electric or IC) that deliver more power than the airplane actually needs. Aerobatic airplanes can be thrown around the sky and flown very aggressively, so long as the pilot knows what he or she is doing!
Read more on rc aerobatic airplanes.

Warbirds have always been a popular rc aircraft subject; their classic lines and smooth flying characteristics make warbirds some of the nicest looking rc airplanes out there. The term warbird describes a wartime plane, notably from the First and particularly Second World War. The P-51 Mustang, Spitfire and Corsair F4U are classic examples. Not particularly suitable as an absolute first model, although there are some RTF warbirds available that have been developed with the beginner in mind.

 

Vintage rc airplanes are also a popular subject, particularly with modellers who enjoy the traditional building side of the hobby as well as the flying side. Many classic designs date back to the late 1930s and 40s and are large in size. 3-channel radio and a 4-stroke engine make the best combination in vintage airplanes, and they are often slow, gentle flyers. Vintage planes are also known as Old Timers in some parts of the world, and you might also see them referred to as planes from the ‘Golden Era’ of aeromodelling

RC float planes are increasing in availability but they’re obviously not as widely available as land airplanes. If you have a lake close to home, a float plane can be a lot of fun but get good at landing on land before you attempt water landings! Losing an rc airplane in the drink isn’t a lot of fun…

 

RC Helicopters.
Helicopters can be broadly classified into two types:

Single rotor helicopters count for a huge sector of the rc flying hobby. Like airplanes, they can be electric or IC powered. Electric helicopters have become very popular in recent years and some are easier to fly than others. IC helicopters are slightly more complicated because of the engine and clutch assembly. Learning to fly a multi-channel IC rc helicopter is a serious business, but ultimately very rewarding. Of course, the larger size (eg 700) electric rc helicopters are just as complex as IC ones, apart from the motor side of things, and can be just as expensive too.

Coaxial rc helicopters are sometimes called contra-rotating or dual rotor helicopters. They have two main rotors, mounted one above the other, that spin in opposite directions to each other. This cancels out the torque force normally generated by a spinning single rotor, and so a tail rotor isn’t required to counter any torque. This makes coaxial rc helicopters easier to fly and often more stable than a conventional helicopter.

Jets can be powered by electric or glow plug ducted fan or miniature gas turbine engines. The gas turbine powered jets require a lot of flying experience and a big budget – the engine alone can cost a couple of thousand dollars. Ultimately, though, scale jets like these look very impressive both on the ground and in the air, and sound just like the real thing too.
Electric ducted fan (EDF) rc jets have become hugely popular in recent years, with foam models widely available. Not really for the beginner, although there are some ‘beginner friendly’ ones out there.

Gliders are aircraft without motors. They are the simplest form of airplane and require the least number of accessories. With an rc glider you have to rely solely on the wind and/or thermals to keep the aircraft airborne. Flying from a slope is a popular way of rc gliding, and there are several methods of launch for flying from a flat field

 

Powered gliders, also called e-soarers, are essentially gliders with electric motors. The propeller blades fold back when the motor is not in use, flat against the nose of the plane to reduce drag. Most powered gliders have the motor in the nose, but they can also have the motor on a fold-away pod on top of the fuselage, behind the wing.

 

Blimps are electric powered airships. They vary in design, but all have one thing in common – a helium filled body under which hangs the cabin and motors. The best rc blimps have two or three motors that tilt up and down to control the altitude of the blimp, and rotate to control directional movement. RC blimps are only suitable for flying indoors, or outside on a completely calm day

Multicopters, or drones, are relatively new to the radio control flying hobby and feature three or more electric motors on booms coming out of a central hub or fuselage. These ‘copters are very stable and also agile, and make excellent camera platforms.
RC multicopters are also sometimes sold as ‘RC UFOs’ but the term multicopter has become more common in recent years, with tricopters (3 motors) and quadcopters (4 motors) being the most common. Toy rc UFOs are also available, though usually with a single motor surrounded by an outer foam body.

Autogyros are fairly uncommon and unconventional rc aircraft, but the release in 2012 of a foam electric powered plug and play autogyro has introduced them to otherwise ‘non-rotary’ flyers. Somewhere between a plane and a helicopter, an rc autogyro is a great addition to any aeromodeller’s collection. If you want a different kind of radio control experience, get one of these!

 

Ornithopters are aircraft that represent birds. True to the real thing, ornithopters are powered through the air by the flapping motion of the wings, and can look very convincing when in flight. There aren’t a huge number available to buy and are not really that popular with serious rc flyers, but are good fun anyway!

Novelty rc aircraft can cover just about anything that isn’t considered to be a conventional rc aircraft. The reality is that almost anything can be made to fly if it has the right design properties – rc flying lawn mowers, witches on sticks and flags are just some examples. These are true ‘novelty aircraft’ and there are several manufacturers who specialise in this kind of rc aircraft for the non-serious modeller.

Whatever your preference, there are many rc aircraft types available these days and there’s sure to be something to suit your needs. If you have access to an rc flight simulator you can try your hand at flying many different aircraft types without actually having to buy any!
The Phoenix rc simulator, for example, includes airplanes, helicopters (single rotor & coaxial), jets, gliders, float planes and even an autogyro.

Flying rc aircraft of any type is an exhilarating and addictive hobby, and one that will give you much satisfaction – guaranteed!

Talk About FREEWING $100 JETS REVIEW

If you like jets, you’re going to like this article! The F-8 Crusader and the F-105 Thunderchief are both aircraft that we’ve made vlogs on recently, but we really like to test the aircraft that we review in detail. This way, we can give you a realistic impression of what the planes are like to live with over a long period of time. With that in mind, we took them to one of our favourite flying fields and blasted them into the sky.

 

Style and Detail

Both of these jets are superbly detailed. Based on Cold-War fighter-bombers in an era when jets were becoming established in the USAF (the United States Air Force), each capture those sleek aluminium lines.

 

 

The F-8 has quite a unique intake duct. Like it or not, it’s modelled to perfection.

 

 

The colour schemes on both jets are also fantastic.

 

 

Our daring test pilots Bob and Josh agree on the quality of the remarkable levels of detail put into these small jets.

 

 

Both the F-8 and F-105 feature elevons in the wings, much like would be the case for a delta wing. It’s quite a unique feature which adds to the nimble manoeuvrability of these jets. It’s worth noting that having elevons like this means that you need to use a transmitter capable of elevon mixing.

 

 

The jets feature similar levels of detail to Motion RC’s FlightLine F7F Tigercat (63″/1600mm wingspan) that we reviewed a while back. It’s quite incredible what is available these days. Great flying and great looking models are getting more and more prevalent (which is good news!).

 

 

 

The F7F featured amazing detail in the canopy, radial engines and panel lines.

 

 

It had no less than six servos in the wings, not to mention the retracts. Alex’s favourite feature was the attention to detail inside the wheel wells which were painted with olive drab paint, just like the real thing!

 

 

Flying Characteristics

Back to the jets, the first thing to mention about the performance is this: these things have some serious speed.

 

 

Their menacing, pointy lines are the first indication that they’re going to rip through the air like the real things.

 

 

It takes a lot of concentration to fly fast aircraft like these. Having said that, the technology inside these little jets mean that they remain surprisingly stable at any speed with ‘axial rolls and predictable behaviour’ as Motion RC state on their website.

 

 

But how fast is it? Officially, the F-105D Thunderchief can hit a top speed of 72mph using a 3s 1000mAh-2200mAh lipo. This makes chasing it with the FT 270 Quad a little challenging, especially when the F-105 punches the throttle.

 

For the F-8, Motion RC says that it can reach 68mph with a 3s 1000mAh-2200mAh lipo.

 

 

Hand launches are easy as the small form factor makes them lightweight and easily ‘grabbable’ under the plastic skid tray.

 

 

Launch! Alex’s hair trembles with excitement.

 

 

Spec Comparison

Can’t decide which one’s for you? We can help with that. Here is a brief comparison chart to help you choose your favourite jet. What’s great is that they’re both great options for intermediate fliers as an introduction to the world of EDF’s. Whichever you pick, it’s sure to live up to your expectations.

 

 

F-8 Crusaider F-105 Thunderchief
Top Speed (with recomended battery) 68mph
72mph
Recommended Battery 1000mAh-2200mAh lipo
1000mAh-2200mAh lipo
Material EPO Foam
EPO Foam
EDF 64mm 5-Blade EDF
64mm 5-Blade EDF
Motor 2627-4500kV
2627-4500Kv
Wingspan 530mm / 20.8in
545mm/21.46in
Length 800mm / 31.5in
825mm/32.48in

 

So as you can see, they’re fairly similar in spec and perform very similarly too. So, perhaps choose which one you prefer the look of.

 

More Video and Our First Impressions

As mentioned earlier in the article, we previously did a couple of vlogs featuring each of these planes. If you’ve missed them and would like to see what our first impressions were with these planes out of the box, here is each of them for your enjoyment.

F-8 Crusaider

 

 

 

 

F-105 Thunderchief

 

 

 

Check out both of the $100 jets in this article, along with other awesome products, on Motion RC’s website.

Freewing F-105 Thunderchief 64mm EDF Jet – PNP
Freewing F-8 Crusader 64mm EDF Jet – PNP

 

I had originally intended for our last article and this one to be a single write-up. However, as I continued to write more and more on the construction, I realized that the article really needed to be split into two. Also, since detailing and the application of raised rivets is extensible to more than just speed brakes, I figured a single article on this process would be good since it is a process that can be applied to aircraft as a whole. As with the last article, I’ve also included a how-to video to help illustrate the process which is at the end of the article.

 

Let’s Get Things Ready
buld-an-rc-jet—skyray-88Last time we built our speed brake assemblies to where we had 4 fully functional speed brakes that could be installed into the airframe. However, detailing the internals is quite a bit simpler with the speed brakes outside of the airframe and broken down into their components. The first item of business was to finish the inside speed brake by adding the sheet metal close out surface on the inside. This was cut from 1/64″ ply and glued onto the basswood stiffeners that create our hinge mentioned previously. Additionally, to get a nice sheet metal look to the exposed fiberglass on the inside, 3M glazing putty was used to fill in the voids of the exposed glass cloth. The putty was applied, sanded when cured and lightly primered (I like to use EVERCOAT lacquer primer). When necessary, a second application was applied to ensure the interior was completely smooth. It has to look like metal afterall!

 

Raised Rivets
From there, raised rivets were added throughout the interior to simulate the full size aircraft as much as possible (I actually placed the raised rivets on the inside liners before even gluing the balsa edges). The rivets used are a laser cut vinyl rivet available from Chad Veich Models. What’s nice about these is that Chad will custom cut whatever size and spacing needed for your project. In the case of the Skyray, I needed two spacings based on what my resources showed.

Note that with these rivets being vinyl, they are most effective as a raised rivet since there will be a raised definition once placed on the surface. Based on that alone, they are not the best choice if one is looking to apply a flush rivet. Flush rivets should be flush to the surface and are more accurate with a recessed definition. I will show how to do flush rivets in a separate article when we get to that on our Skyray. (For flush rivets, I like to use a pin vise and sharpened tube. I plan to use the vinyl rivet carrier from Chad’s raised rivets as a guide when the time comes.)

 

To apply these raised rivets, it’s simply a matter of plotting out the rivet pattern on the receiving part first with a pencil and applying the vinyl dots along that pattern appropriately. The rivets are transferred by first peeling away the main carrier to expose just the rivets on the backing. A piece of scotch tape (clear so we can see the placement) is then placed over the rivets and a burnishing tool is used (a wood sculpting tool works well) to help transfer the rivets from the backing to the tape. From there, the rivets are placed as appropriate onto the parts. It really is that simple when dealing with these vinyl rivets as they are pre-cut and spaced perfectly for us. The most difficult part is getting the rivets off of the backing and onto the scotch tape. Additionally, if at any time we make a mistake or anything like that, it’s simple to peel away the rivets and start again or add and remove as necessary.

So, how does the Freewing F-14 Tomcat fly? In short, pretty darn awesome! The distinguishable shape of the F-14 looks menacing in the air and the flight characteristics are fantastic. As discussed in my assembly review of the airplane, there are some tricks I’d highly recommend in setting the airplane up which at the end of the day, provide a great flying airplane. This comes from not just flying this particular airplane, but also flying the Freewing production prototype (stock and tailerons only) as well as the twin 70mm F-14 I helped design, test, and fly for my folks at JetHangar.com. They have all exhibited similar characteristics and fly very much the same.

In my assembly review, I covered the installation of two 6s 30C 5800 mah batteries that I’m using in the airplane. To maintain the CG, the battery area was modified so that the batteries could be pushed as far back as possible up against the swing wing carry through spar. This maintained the CG well per the manual (87mm measured back from the leading edge of the forward most hatch cut on the overwing fairing hatch) which has shown to be about perfect! Also the manual provides a trim elevator setting (31mm measured from the top of the fuselage to the leading edge of the tail) that is a very good
starting point for flight. Note that there is nothing to worry about regarding CG with wings extended vs wings swept. I found that the airplane could use just a touch more back pressure for flying around, but for me not enough to warrant adding any kind of mix. Also, the CG doesn’t change as a result of the change in wing position either. These have been the case with every F-14 Tomcat I’ve flown and are two of the most common questions I regularly get.

For the control throws, this is where it’s interesting. The control system on the full sized Tomcat uses the tails as the primary surfaces for commanding pitch and roll. The wing has spoilers to augment the roll control with the wings extended which are then disabled with the wings swept. Lastly, there are full span leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps. Now, in the case of the Freewing F-14 in the stock configuration it’s setup a bit differently than the full sized airplane. There are outboard wing ailerons and inboard wing flaps in addition to the taileron surfaces.

All of the servos in the airplane are routed into an electronics board which automatically sets the mixing between the outboard wing ailerons and the tailerons. That’s all well and good and works well for flying with the wings extended, however in this stock configuration the wing ailerons remain active while in the swept wing position and that causes problems. Disabling the ailerons in the wing swept position is absolutely necessary for a good flying model in the swept wing position. So, to get around this, we must program the two aileron servos separately by directly plugging them into the receiver (bypassing the electronics board) and programming their function independently (more discussion on this below). Note that the airplane flies well with the wings extended in the stock configuration, but I found the high rate aileron recommendations much too hot for my liking.

Since we’re programming the wing ailerons independently, I’m using the ailerons more as the function of the turning spoiler like the full size by having them act trailing edge up only to help augment the roll control provided by the tailerons when the wings are extended. Also, since we’re playing with the ailerons in this way, the scale geek in me figured why not set the airplane with full span flaps while we’re at it for a little more scale swag?! By doing this, I was pleasantly rewarded with a beautifully landing airplane that when executed right lands extremely softly! Lastly, having two rates on the tailerons between wings extended and wings swept is an absolute must! I mitigated that through some switch assignments such that the rates change automatically depending on where my wing sweep switch (and subsequently wing position) is. I talk through the radio programming methodology a bit more below. Note that based on the Freewing wing sweep actuators used, the airplane does not have a mid sweep capability, i.e. the wings can only be commanded to fully swept or fully extended.

So, after many flights, here’s what I have converged on for control throws. They suit my style of flying and should be a good starting point to tune to your desired feel. Keep in mind these are purely linear with NO exponential (I’m not a big fan of expo typically). Also, there is plenty of authority running tailerons only, I’ve flown the airplane in that configuration and it works very well. However, the roll stick input requires just about max deflection for a decent 360 degree roll.

Wings Extended:
Roll – tailerons 1-1/4″, wing ailerons mixed with 3/16″ trailing edge up only
Pitch – elevator 1-1/4″
Full span flaps
Partial Flap – 5/8″ with a 3/16″ up elevator mix
Full Flap – 2″ with a 1/2″ up elevator mix

Wings Swept:
Roll – tailerons 1/2″ (no wing aileron throw)
Pitch – elevator 1-1/4″

DOWNLOAD THE SPEKTRUM DX FILE HERE!

f14-dual-2

RADIO PROGRAMMING METHODOLOGY
My go to radio system is the Airtronics SD-10G which is an excellent radio at an excellent price. It’s a 10 channel radio with a ton of capability which made programming the F-14 Tomcat fairly easy. Since radio systems vary, I figure it best to talk through the methodology I used here which should work across most systems I would hope. In order to do what I’ve done exactly, a minimum of 9 channels are required so that the ailerons can be programed individually to function with the flaps as well as act like a turning spoiler. If limited on channels, then it limits the functionality of the ailerons to work only as ailerons (2 servos connected with a y-harness) or as flaps (flying airplane tailerons only and connecting the aileron servos through a y-harness with a reverser on one side). I’ve flown the airplane tailerons only and it flies very well, so if channel limited and you want the full span flap, that is a very good option. That said, I do like the addition of the outboard aileron functionality as it adds a little more roll responsiveness with the wings extended that you don’t get flying with tailerons only.

So, utilizing the 9 channel setup (I have a 10 channel receiver in the airplane) the aileron servos were plugged directly into the receiver using 2 available auxillary channels (bypassing the stock electronics board, all other channels are plugged in and remain in the stock setup). This maintains everything essentially stock with the exception of the aileron servos only.

Ailerons as Flaps
f14-flapI first setup the ailerons to work in conjunction with the flaps. This was done by assigning the two aileron channels to the flap switch and simply adjusting the servo direction and the servo position (using the end point adjustments) at each switch position to match the flaps in each down position.

Ailerons as Turning Spoilers
f14-ailTo actuate the ailerons as a turning spoiler, I used two separate channel mixes, one for each aileron servo aux channel), that were mixed to the standard aileron channel. This channel mix was then assigned to my swing wing switch such that the channel mix is active with the wings extended and then inactive when switched to the wings swept position (disables the ailerons in the swept wing config). Within the channel mix is where the deflections of the aileron servos are set and adjusted. Since I’m using them acting trailing edge up only, it required only adjusting a single end point for each mix/servo (approximately 25%). Again, this is within the channel mix only. Note that since this is outside the traditional aileron setup and aileron channel, these channel mixes do not work in combination with the traditional aileron dual rates. However, some creative switch assignments and an additional channel mix or two could probably create this. I didn’t find this necessary since I only wanted the ailerons active with the wings extended and tuned the rates to the desired feel I wanted with my tailerons on high rate.

Taileron Rates with Wing Position
In addition to the above, I assigned my aileron dual rates to the swing wing switch (in addition to the normal dual rates switch) so that with the wings swept, the tailerons automatically reduce to low rates. This is important as the airplane will otherwise be extremely touchy in roll with the wings swept if the tailerons remain at high rate. The airplane will be on its back if you simply breath on the stick!

ESC Calibration
The last item of business before flight is to calibrate the speed controllers to the transmitter (procedure is available here). By following the procedure, the ESCs will tune themselves to the transmitter settings and ensures that each fan is producing the maximum amount of thrust each time it’s powered on. If you change the transmitter at anytime, then the ESCs should be recalibrated. I didn’t do this calibration on the production prototype but did on this airplane and this airplane has notably better performance! So, this is an important step!

One thing to note, I noticed some thrust robbing openings in the exhausts around the taileron servo cutouts and where the motor wires exit into the fuselage. I sealed these up by removing the fan hatches and adding some packing tape f14-sealsinternally over the taileron servo and using hot glue to seal up around the motor wire exit. After placing the fan hatches back onto the fuselage, I used a long dowel to completely seal the packing tape over the hatch areas too. Any leaks in the exhaust ultimately reduce thrust and performance. Though it may be small, every little bit helps for maximum efficiency of the system.

 

 

FLYING THE FREEWING F-14 TOMCAT
Flying the F-14 Tomcat is an absolute blast and with the 5800 mah packs, I can get about 5 minutes of pretty hard flying if I want to push it. Currently, I keep the timer at 4 minutes and fly the airplane as hard as I like and the packs measure out at about 3.78v/cell. Every F-14 I’ve flown has been a great flyer and the Freewing F-14 is no exception. The F-14 configuration as a whole is just a great platform for an awesome flying airplane. Plus, you can’t beat the shape of the F-14 in the air. It’s one of those iconic airplanes that is unmistakable…though it always seems to conjure up quotes from the movie “Top Gun” whether you want them or not…”No my ego doesn’t write checks…I have an ATM card!” 😉

Here’s a full flight video from a fun flying day at the PVMAC Prado Air Park. Thanks Brent Hecht for manning the camera for this flight.

With the wings extended, the airplane is a wonderful flying machine that flies easily and will handle most of what you throw at it (rudders are very effective though, so be aware). The airplane is plenty fast enough and the vertical is quite good. To give you an example, I’m able to perform a 1/2 cuban 8 return from takeoff just like the full size which is a great deal of fun! Recently I’ve gotten into performing a roll on takeoff followed by a 1/2 cuban 8 return and the airplane handles it like a champ! The slow speed handling is excellent as well and the airplane will visually give you an indication of the onset of stall. As you get slow, the wings will start to rock as you approach the stall speed which is your indication to apply power and increase the speed. This is another characteristic of all F-14s I’ve flown. Note that this is less prevalent when slow and with full span flaps.

f14-flt-1

 

 

 

The airplane flies just as easily with the wings swept too. Flying circuit after circuit in the swept wing configuration is easy with low rate taileron and the airplane carries speed well overall in that configuration. Pulling hard tight turns does bleed the speed off in this configuration, which is a characteristic of a delta type platform so keep that in mind.

 

 

Overall, the trickiest part I have found is managing the transition time from wings extended to wings swept and visa versa. Once you’re aware of it though, it’s easy enough to plan for. As noted in the radio setup, the tailerons are automatically set to switch to high and low rates during wing transition. However, this does not occur proportionally to the speed of the wing transition (I wasn’t sure I could program this into the radio). As a result upon hitting the swing wing switch, the wings transition over a second or two, but the taileron rates immediately change. So, when the wings sweep back, the taileron rate will initially start out sluggish (they switch to low rate) and become increasingly more effect as the wings transition aft. Conversely, when sweeping forward, the taileron rates are immediately high and touchy and then become less sensitive as the wings transition forward. It’s really not a big deal, but is something to keep in mind. You’ll quickly become aware of it when you experience a quick roll response as the wings sweep forward. It’s easily manageable…in fact, my favorite maneuver has become rolling while the wings transition like they used to do as part of their airshow demos.

Call the Ball!
At last, the world can rest easily as there is a nicely done F-14 Tomcat ARF that is affordable for most folks. The $580 price tag is an excellent value and you get a well engineered and great flying model. It’s foam which has it’s limitations (if you’re a builder, my folks have a kit at JetHangar.com), but even so it’s pretty nice. I can’t help but think how awesome this airplane would be after stripping it down and refinishing it…but for now, we’ll keep it stock. Now guys, remember, as these become more prevalent and more Freewing F-14 flight videos come online, remember to post responsibly…the internet really doesn’t need another RC jet video featuring the “Top Gun Anthem” or “Danger Zone” playing underneath it…it’s hard to believe, I know! Although, if you’re up for a challenge, how about a few videos featuring “Take my Breath Away” or “Heaven in Your Eyes.” 😉 I mean, they are from the Top Gun soundtrack afterall!

Here are a few more videos I’ve captured of some friends flying their Freewing Tomcats. It really is a very cool foam jet and we’ve been having a lot of fun with them!

 

 

BONUS! Here’s video of the last F-14 Tomcat demo at NAS Oceana in case you’re looking for some maneuvers. 🙂 Who doesn’t love the Tomcat?! I remember the Tomcat demos being one of my favorites when I was a kid at air shows. The full size airplane was an absolute beast!

Written by Tina
Take your foam jet experience to the next level
Product review
Photos by Tina,China Freewing manufacruewe

 

 

Specifications
• Model type: EDF jet
• Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
• Wingspan: 44.8 inches
• Wing area: 512 square inches
• Length: 56 inches
• Weight: 129 ounces
• Power system: 90mm electric ducted fan
• Radio: Minimum seven-channel radio/receiver
• Construction: EPO foam
• Street price: $499

 

Test-model details
• Motor used: Freewing 3748-1550 Kv brushless outrunner (installed)
• Speed controller: Freewing 130-amp brushless with separate 8-amp BEC (installed)
• Battery: Admiral 6S 22.2-volt 5,000 mAh 50C LiPo with EC5 connector
• EDF: Freewing 90mm with 12-blade impeller (installed)
• Radio system: Spektrum Black Edition DX9 DSMX 2.4 GHz transmitter; Spektrum AR8000 DSMX receiver
• Ready-to-fly weight: 129 ounces
• Flight duration: 3 to 4 minutes

 

Pluses
• Extremely high level of scale detail.
• High blade count impeller produces excellent thrust, with accompanying realistic-sounding and ear-pleasing acoustics.
• CNC aluminum suspension-equipped struts and sequenced, multipanel gear doors.
• Operational speed brakes and LE slats.
• Multipin wing connectors and wiring interface module help to tame the abundance of wiring.

 

Minus
• Relatively short flight duration.

 

Product review
Pilots who love flying foam-composition scale jets have, in the past, been forced to make a few obligatory concessions. Until recently, most mass-produced jet models typically featured a meager level of scale detail. Additionally, the electric ducted-fan (EDF) power systems included with many of the kits of yore were underpowered, out of balance, and obnoxiously noisy.

Pilots who preferred any higher level of scale detail and/or a more powerful, better-sounding EDF power system were forced to spend countless hours engineering and improving their jet models. Although that process might be the best part of the hobby to a select few, most prospective EDF jet fliers probably prefer that a model come out of the box already equipped with an impressive level of scale detail and a smooth, appropriately powerful EDF power system preinstalled. Motion RC recently released a series of Freewing Super Scale 90mm EDF jets that are sure to please EDF-loving pilots interested in a scale jet model.

The first kit to be released in the series was the popular T-45 Goshawk. The McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk made its first flight in 1988. This carrier-capable aircraft has since been used extensively by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as a jet flight trainer.

There have been more than a few T-45 kits available to modelers throughout the last few years, most of them done up in the trademark U.S. Navy International orange and white color scheme. Model pilots prone to protest the arrival of “yet another orange and white USN Goshawk” were stopped midsentence by the impressive list of features included with this 90mm EPO foam-composition EDF jet.

 

 

Freewing’s 90mm EDF-powered version of the U.S. Navy-themed T-45 Goshawk is stunningly detailed.

 

The T-45 is available in Plug and Play (PNP) and ARF Plus variants. The former includes all electronic components, while the latter omits the EDF unit and speed controller. The ARF Plus kit is perfect for pilots who prefer to source their own power system. The availability of this option does not infer that the 90mm EDF that Freewing installs in the PNP version is in any way a lackluster performer. To the contrary, this high-performance 90mm EDF uses a 12-blade impeller and endows the T-45 with plenty of thrust!

The long list of scale-enhancing features included with this exquisitely detailed jet is guaranteed to fog the face masks of even the most jaded jet pilots. This model uses worm-gear-driven leading edge (LE) slats. To my knowledge, it is the first time that this unique and fully functional feature has ever been included on a mass-produced model!

Sequenced, multipanel gear doors and trailing link suspension-equipped electric landing gear nicely replicate the geometry and functionality of the full-scale Goshawk’s tricycle landing gear. Rows of plastic vortex generators are positioned slightly aft of the wing’s LEs. Other cool plastic details include a tailhook, functional speed brakes, a pitot tube, and antennae.

A removable cockpit and hatch includes a pair of pilot figures and a nicely detailed cockpit interior. The clear plastic canopy even mimics the explosive cord used to predetonate the full-scale T-45’s canopy milliseconds before the pilots’ ejection seats will fire.

A full array of strobing and fixed navigation lights comes preinstalled, as does a small wiring interface module that helps to manage the abundance of wiring used on this full-featured model.

Finally, Freewing did not simply add a few details to the wings and white stabilizers and call it a U.S. Navy scheme. The impressive number and variety of factory-applied maintenance graphics and U.S. Navy markings adorning every inch of this big Goshawk jet help it live up to its Super Scale moniker!

 

Assembly
The PNP version of the T-45 comes out of the box in such an advanced state of completion that there is no need to spend hours at one’s workbench assembling and prepping this detailed jet for its first flights. Pilots pulling the parts out of the box for the first time can instead use the time to savor the incredible variety of included scale details!

 

 

The only items that pilots will need to source to get this quick-assembling PNP kit in the air are a seven- to nine-channel receiver and a 6S 50C 5,000 mAh LiPo battery.

 

An abundance of plastic bits are used to enhance the scale outline of the Goshawk. Notable pieces include a striped tailhook and detailed cockpit with twin pilot figures. The cockpit instrumentation even includes a simulated lighted heads-up display!

Freewing supplements the air supplied to the preinstalled 90mm EDF power system through the scale twin inlet ducts with a large auxiliary air inlet opening, located on the bottom of the fuselage just forward of the fan assembly. A large, rectangular, plastic, louvered inlet panel helps to prohibit the entry of potentially damaging foreign objects and debris.

Best practices when assembling a PNP configuration kit include taking a little time to inspect the integrity of all of the control surface hinges and pushrod connections. Freewing’s use of ball-link-style connectors on the control surface side of the pushrods comes with the advantage of minimal backlash. This can help a model respond more crisply to control inputs and track more precisely in the air and on the ground.

Actual assembly of the airframe involves mounting the horizontal and vertical stabilizer assemblies and two-piece wing. Removable fasteners allow pilots to easily break the model down for transport or replace damaged components when necessary. A little adhesive is required to mount the two different tail cone pieces and to attach the nose cone-mounted pitot tube.

The entire nose cone assembly itself is conveniently engineered to be easily removable and is held in place using magnets. This helps prevent damage to the somewhat delicate component by popping it off for transport and storage. The two wing halves utilize multipin connectors. These conveniently aggregate all of the electronics used in each wing half onto one larger connector. This simplifies wing attachment and removal, and reduces the chances of making wrong connections when assembling the model at the field.

Pilots who want to have independent control of all of the T-45’s features will need to source a minimum eight-channel receiver. A seven-channel receiver can alternately be pressed into service, although this option will require that the slats and flaps are connected to, and driven by, the same channel.

As a longtime Spektrum radio system user, the form factor and number of channels offered by the Spektrum AR8000 DSMX eight-channel receiver made it the obvious choice for this high-performance jet. This full-range receiver’s use of a satellite receiver, which brings the added benefit of multipath redundancy, gives pilots an extra level of confidence. The length of the satellite receiver’s pigtail allowed it to be located forward of the main receiver, near the nose gear retract mechanism.

The black and white assembly manual offers in-depth assembly and component replacement instructions. It includes a complete listing of the 14 servos preinstalled in the airframe, as well as their rotation and the lengths of their leads.

A detailed printout and mapping of the included E04 wiring module assists pilots with the connection of all of the various lights and servo leads. The manual also recommends high- and low-rate throws, the proper center of gravity (CG) location, and that pilots configure the elevator’s neutral position to be slightly biased toward the down position.

 

 

This full-featured T-45 includes an abundance of radio connections and wiring; Freewing’s use of the E04 Integrated Circuit Module helps keep it all as neat as possible.

 

Although the recommended six-cell 22.2-volt 5,000 mAh LiPo battery fits snugly into the battery bay, enough room exists to move it forward and aft for the optimum CG. Those who prefer to source their own high-performance 8S or even 10S EDF power system will want to opt for the ARF Plus version of this kit. The sole difference is that this kit omits the stock Freewing 90mm power system. All other electronics come included and preinstalled exactly as they do in the PNP version.

 

Flying
The importance of performing a thorough preflight routine is imperative. This helps to minimize any in-flight surprises—something most pilots prefer to avoid when flying a larger, high-performance EDF jet model such as the T-45.
Positioning the big Admiral six-cell 5,000 mAh LiPo battery so that its forward edge is even with the Goshawk’s twin intakes balances the airframe within a few millimeters of the recommended CG. The assembly manual recommended a takeoff configuration of half flaps to allow the T-45 to rotate sooner than when takeoffs are performed without the flaps deployed. Whatever takeoff flap configuration a pilot elects to use, the airframe needs time to accelerate to a proper rotation speed.

Although the thrust produced by the Freewing 90mm EDF motivates this 8-pound jet hastily forward, the sound produced by the 12-blade impeller at full throttle is a guaranteed grin generator!

The aluminum trailing link tricycle landing gear nicely absorbs aberrations in the runway surface and helps to keep this jet tracking nicely in the takeoff roll. Only minimal rudder corrections are typically required.

Scale EDF jets fly best when operated in a scalelike manner. The higher wing loading of this airframe precludes pilots yanking and banking it around in the same manner that they would a lightly loaded sport jet. The throttle should generally be kept above 50% at all times and turns should be kept on the gradual side; however, these statements are not intended to infer that this model is difficult to fly.

Keep the speed up and the transmitter inputs controlled and deliberate and the Freewing T-45 will happily cruise around the sky without any bad behavior. High-rate control authority gives a pilot the ability to loop and roll this T-45 with only modest amounts of stick movement required.

The extreme level of out-of-the-box scale detailing, combined with the incredibly smooth, turbine-like sound of the Freewing 90mm EDF power system, give this jet an in-flight appearance and presence that surpasses any EDF model I have experienced!

 

 

Freewing’s 12-blade 90mm EDF power system make this jet sound as good as it looks.

 

The impressive performance offered by this 90mm EDF jet comes with one caveat: typical flight durations using the stock Freewing six-cell 90mm EDF power system will be in the range of three to four minutes.

Although many pilots use a countdown timer to alert them to the need to land, this model is the perfect candidate for the use of a radio telemetry system. Receiving real-time feedback about the voltage of the flight battery enables a pilot to maximize the flight durations of this high-performance model and minimize any chance of accidentally flying this jet into a low-voltage cutoff condition.

Most pilots will agree that the landing is what separates the men from the boys. Freewing’s use of LE and speed brakes on the Goshawk give pilots additional resources that can help bring this big jet safely home every time.

The best landing approaches will occur if pilots give this model a little time to adjust to each applied change in configuration. Quickly and simultaneously dumping flaps, gear, slats and speed brakes can potentially upset the airframe and get a pilot into trouble.

Performing a controlled and traditional rectangular landing approach, with nice extended legs and gradual, arcing transitions through the corners, is a recipe for the perfect, scalelike landing. Well-planned deployment of each individual piece of the airframe should be a pilot’s goal when shooting an approach.

An upwind pass directly over the runway centerline is a great way to visually verify that a pilot has all three landing gear down. The first notch of flaps can be deployed with the jet turning crosswind to downwind. Using a transmitter’s flap speed setting to substantially slow the movement of the flaps allows the jet to settle into the new configuration with minimal pitch changes. Full flaps and slats can be deployed on either the crosswind leg or the base leg.

As the airframe gets “dirty,” pilots will need to actively modulate the throttle to maintain airspeed. Fly the T-45 all the way into the numbers and it can execute the prettiest, nose-high landing approach imaginable!

 

 

The suspension-equipped aluminum trailing link landing gear helps the Goshawk “stick” to the runway when landing.

 

Pilot preference will dictate whether the speed brakes are deployed on final approach or during the landing rollout. The sight of this superbly scalelike model on final, with its nose gear mounted and super bright landing light ablaze, will send a shiver of excitement down the spine of pilots and onlookers alike.

 

Conclusion
With the availability of this amazingly detailed EPO foam-composition jet, pilots can now buy a turnkey, scale, high-performance military jet at a price point that most hardcore EDF enthusiasts will find perfectly palatable. The included six-cell Freewing 90mm EDF power system amply powers the T-45 to roughly 80 to 85 mph and produces smooth, somewhat turbinelike acoustics that are sure to be a sweet-sounding symphony to the ears of EDF enthusiasts.

Pilots who like to go fast know that speed costs money. Or, in the case of this model, speed comes at the expense of amp draw.

With shorter-than-normal flight durations, which is the sole caveat of this exquisitely detailed PNP kit, pilots who crave a large, highly detailed, and superbly performing scale military jet will assuredly love the way this model looks, sounds, and performs in the air!

Specifications
Model type: PNP EDF jet
Skill level: Intermediate/advanced
Wingspan: 37 inches
Wing area: 372 square inches
Airfoil: Delta planform wing
Length: 56.3 inches
Weight: 77.6 ounces
Power system: 80mm EDF
Radio: Minimum six-channel recommended
Construction: EPO foam
Covering/finish: Matte Navy gray over matte white

 

 

Test-Model Details
Motor: Freewing 3530-1850 Kv brushless outrunner
Battery: Admiral 6S 22.2-volt 4,000 mAh and 5,000 mAh (4,000 to 5,200 mAh with minimum C rating of 35C recommended)
EDF: Freewing 80mm with 12-blade impeller
Speed controller: Freewing 100-amp brushless with EC5 connector
Flight duration: 3.5-minute flights with 4,000 mAh battery

 

Pluses
• Nimble performance, efficient power system, excellent power-to-weight ratio.
• Includes both USAF and USMC waterslide graphics schemes, removable stores (two drop tanks, two AGM-12 Bullpup missiles), and removable 20mm cannon barrels and refueling probe.
• Excellent roll, climb, speed, and takeoff characteristics without sacrificing stability.
• Scale landing gear and detailed and functional split flaps.
• Multipin interface boards for easy removal of wings.
• Ball-link connectors on each hinged control surface for crisp performance.

 

Minus
• The nose gear strut is long and might not perform well or hold up to uneven grass or bumpy surfaces.

 

Product Review
Talk around the flying field and in the online forums made it abundantly clear that a new Freewing 80mm Scale electric ducted-fan (EDF) jet was on the way. Many jet pilots were hoping that the new EDF would be an 80mm A-4E/F Skyhawk. Nicknamed “Scooter,” this Vietnam-era warbird was designed by Ed Heinemann in the 1950s and focused on low-cost, outstanding performance, and a straightforward, durable design.

The famed Heinemann’s Hot Rod boasted a scorching 720° roll rate per second (two complete rolls per second), exceptional subsonic speed, and maneuverability that endeared it to many a military aviator.

The appearance of a large, Plug-N-Play (PNP) 80mm A-4 on the Motion RC website, festooned in either U.S. Marine Corps or U.S. Navy graphics with an included scalelike, removable dorsal blister held firmly in place by four strong magnets and plastic guide pins, had many EDF jet pilots jumping for joy!

An initial walk-around of this new EPO foam model reveals how successfully Freewing has rendered the scale lines and unique details of the full-scale aircraft. The model includes an accurately represented plastic molded/painted refueling probe and 20mm cannons, both of which are removable, and large outboard ailerons.

The EPO foam airframe comes out of the box prepainted and ready to accept one of the two included graphics schemes. A full complement of underwing armaments comes with the kit.

 

Freewing did a commendable job of reproducing the manner in which the ailerons blend into the wingtip area. This attention to scale detail also manifests itself on the elevator surfaces. The result is a truly accurate scale silhouette. A matte Navy gray color covers the upper surfaces, and a matte white covers both sides of each control surface and the underside of the model.

Intakes, fairings, antennae, tailhook, under-wing pylons, and the inclusion of six small, plastic leading edge (LE) aerodynamic “fences” add to the scalelike appearance. Each of the two jet intakes is framed in smooth red plastic, which adds a nice finishing touch in the appearance department and improves the foam composition airframe’s durability.

Scale main gear that rotate 90° before fully retracting into molded wheel bays grace the underside of the delta wing. Also on the underside is an example of a new feature for Freewing aircraft: thinly molded plastic split flaps. The flaps use plastic hinges, are painted red on the inside, and include accurate scale surface details.

Freewing even adds a convex molding that, with the flaps fully lowered, mates into the aft portion of each main gear fairing. Hardcore A-4 aficionados might lament the lack of functional LE slats on the model.

All servos are 9-gram metal gear, except the single elevator servo that is a beefy 17-gram metal gear. Each elevator surface is connected by an inconspicuous plastic spar. This is a different approach from other Freewing aircraft, which typically rely on two servos for each elevator surface.

Wrenching a little on each elevator surface reveals no indication of differential slop or looseness. Every control surface has quality metal pushrods and uses plastic hinges. Ball-link connectors are used on all servo horns. This hardware is a must for any intermediate-to-advanced model! Bravo to Freewing for taking its aircraft in this direction.

A slightly elongated nose gear strut results in the Freewing A-4 sitting on its landing gear in a manner that is similar to the full-scale aircraft. The small nose cone is easily removed from its magnetic holders and the tip is molded plastic.

The kit includes two accurately represented large EPO foam fuel tanks. These tanks were often used on the full-scale aircraft and they do justice to the Freewing A-4’s scale silhouette.

Also included are two AGM-12 Bullpup missiles. All stores are easily added to or subtracted from the A-4 via four underside stores pylons and associated magnetized fasteners.

 

Assembly
Assembly is straightforward, with both wing halves, elevator, and vertical stabilizer going together using the supplied screws. The kit includes the requisite tube of contact-style glue. It can be used to attach the antennae, fences, stores pylons, tailhook, and exhaust nozzle.

 

This PNP kit includes a silky-smooth 80mm Freewing EDF power system and assembles using fasteners and adhesive.

 

To easily remove the wing, Freewing uses multipin boards to aggregate aileron, flaps, and landing gear servo leads. The manual provides detailed instructions on pushrod/clevis/control horn setup with low- and high-rate settings for all control surfaces. The manual also includes recommendations for setting the flap deflection and elevator mixing in a pilot’s transmitter. It is recommended that modelers follow these instructions verbatim.

In connection with attaining the correct center of gravity (CG), there is an addendum in the manual that states that loading stores (the fuel tanks and/or missiles) will cause the CG to move slightly aft. To counter this, pilots should add their desired stores, check the CG, and then make any appropriate adjustments by repositioning the battery in the fuselage. The battery tray is lightweight wood stock. Pilots should mark the wood with a pen for the correct CG location when using different size batteries and also mark any CG differences resulting from stores options.

Add a receiver, secure a six-cell 4,000 to 5,200 mAh battery (there is plenty of room) in place with the supplied hook-and-loop strap, snap the spring-loaded, latch-equipped canopy in place, and this A-4 is ready to fly.

 

Flying
With setups and rates settings replicated according to the manual, high rates were selected for everything except the elevator. Thirty percent exponential was programmed all the way around. When performing the maiden flight on a new EDF, underwing ordnance can often improve visual orientation and even improve stability. With that thought in mind, the AGM-12 Bullpup missiles were loaded to the outer pylons.

A freshly charged 35C Admiral 6S 4,000 mAh battery was loaded all the way forward in the fuselage and the CG was verified. Pre-maiden flight thoughts that jet pilots might find themselves musing about include whether the nose-high posture of the A-4 will enable premature rotation during takeoffs and whether the relatively small delta wing, equipped with large outboard ailerons, coupled with an airframe that appears to have a higher CG, will create a model that is twitchy on the ground and dynamically unstable aloft.

The runway at the local club is constructed of a typical geotextile material and is relatively smooth. Slowly advancing the throttle spun the 12-blade Freewing impeller to life and created an incredible-sounding metallic whine and whoosh. The A-4 tracked straight and true down the runway, and with a little back elevator applied, transitioned into a clean rotation with a positive rate of climb.

The A-4 showed no sign of springing into the air on its own because of its nose-high stance. Many of the Freewing EDF jets are excellent at storing energy in the form of airspeed and do not necessarily depend on an excess of raw thrust.

At medium altitude, aerobatic maneuvers can be initiated at half throttle. Half Cuban 8s and full Cuban 8s, when performed in this manner, allow the model to zoom over the top without a hint of stall or elevator mush from an excessive loss of airspeed. Inverted flight requires little corrective elevator input. The A-4 feels as though it is on rails when performing full-flap, low-altitude passes on the deck. Aileron rolls at a mere half deflection of the right stick will cause this A-4 to perform some incredibly crisp, amazingly axial, and almost blindingly fast rolls.

The 80mm fan sounds smooth right out of the box, with no audible undulations, lack of power, or indications of imbalance at any throttle setting. Elevator response is precise, with the 17-gram metal gear servo capably doing its job.

Pilots will want to play it safe and start the transition into the landing pattern at approximately 31/2 minutes into the flight. Best practices for landing include dropping the gear and a first notch of flaps when on the downwind leg. A wide, gradual descent and decrease of power/altitude during the downwind leg and on through to base and final works best. Keep the turns shallow, with a little rudder added. The outline of this Vietnam War-era jet coming down the pipe with a steady rate of descent and constant angle of attack is amazing.

Decrease the power and the A-4 will touch down smoothly with plenty of runway left. Pilots need not feel concern that the scale split flaps are all drag and no lift. Freewing got the wing area and camber right and the result is a jet that is predictable and even slightly floaty on final approach. A 31/2-minute flight saw the 4,000 mAh six-cell LiPo battery with roughly 30% capacity left.

 

Conclusion
The 80mm Freewing A-4E/F Skyhawk, the latest Vietnam-era EDF in the Freewing lineup, is what many EDF enthusiasts have been waiting for. It has a big 90mm feel to it and an imposing presence in the air and on the ground. This A-4’s shortcomings are difficult to find. Although the main gear is large enough for operations from unimproved fields, the length of the nose gear and smaller wheel size could make grass operations slightly difficult.

The included military waterslide graphics look great, but pilots might wish to apply a coat or two of water-based polyurethane clear coating to help keep them firmly in place. And the large size of this 80mm airframe fairly begs for additional nomenclature markings!

 

Scalelike details include a tailhook, removable gun barrels, and a removable refueling probe. Pilots can choose to fly the A-4 with the magnetically retained avionics hump in place, effectively and instantly transforming the Skyhawk between an E and F variant.

 

This A-4 is a confidence-inspiring, scalelike performance machine. Any pilot with basic radio programming skills will have no trouble dialing up or down the desired level of performance commensurate to his or her piloting ability. Freewing and Motion RC have done a service to Scale aircraft modeling by designing this A-4 and remembering that durability, simplicity, excellent performance, and reasonable cost have their place. Heinemann would applaud!

how to pre-flight checks.

The purpose of pre-flight checks is to ensure that your rc plane is in a fit condition to fly, and that everything is working as it should be. Exact pre-flight checks might differ from plane to plane, but there are some fundamental checks that all rc airplanes need to have done, immediately before flight.

If you neglect to carry out the pre-flight checks before you fly your rc airplane, and something is badly amiss, then an avoidable crash is very likely. Many rc pilots have lost their beloved aircraft seconds after take off, simply because they didn’t do the checks!

Your first and foremost point of reference for the exact pre-flight checks needed for your particular airplane should be the instruction manual (DVD or CD ROM) that came with the plane. But, failing that, listed below (in no particular order) are the minimum checks that you need to carry out before you take off…

All servos are secure, and linkages to servo and control surfaces are secure.
Servo horns and control horns are secure and not loose.
Servo linkages are able to move freely and are not binding.
All servo connections to the receiver, battery pack and ESC are secure and correct.
The receiver and motor battery pack are securely fixed and cannot move during flight.
Receiver antenna (aerial) is correctly positioned and not damaged.
The propeller nut is tight / spinner is secure.
The wing and tailplane (and fin) are secured properly, as per the instructions (i.e. with the correct method of fixing; rubber bands or wing nuts etc.)
All control surfaces move in the correct sense i.e. moving the rudder stick left moves the rudder to the left.
All control surface hinges are secure i.e. you can’t pull the control surface away from its respective flying surface.
The motor power works correctly.
The radio failsafe is set and working correctly.
A range check.
This last one, the range check, is very important so we’ll cover it in more detail…

The purpose of the range check is to make sure the radio signal from transmitter to receiver is strong, so that you can fly your rc airplane at a normal distance away from you without it going out of radio range. If your plane does go out of range, then you lose all control.

Perform a range check with a MHz radio system thus:
Switch on the transmitter then the receiver, and with the transmitter antenna fully collapsed (i.e. down), walk backwards away from the airplane for 30 paces or so. As you walk away from the plane, keep moving the control surface sticks of the Tx (not the motor – keep that stick fully down!) and closely watch the respective control surfaces of the airplane.

If you only get a short distance away and the surfaces start ‘twitching’ or not responding properly to your stick movements, do not fly. Check the batteries of the radio gear, they may need replacing – low batteries in the transmitter drastically reduce the radio range. Also check for loose connections to the receiver etc., and also the condition of the antenna(s).

If the batteries and connections are OK but the control surfaces still don’t respond properly, then other people may be using your frequency nearby. Again, do not fly if this is the case. Interference is a big killer of rc airplanes, and you need to be sure that your frequency is clear before you get airborne.

An rc airplane range check with a 2.4GHz radio system is slightly different, in that the antenna cannot be collapsed. You will have to refer to your radio instruction manual to see the correct range check procedure for your exact radio, as different manufacturers use different methods of activating the range check mode in a 2.4GHz radio.
Whichever method is involved, a 2.4GHz transmitter in range check mode sends out the signals with a reduced voltage, thus producing a weaker signal.
The rest of the check is performed in the same way as explained above.

Regardless of whether you have a MHz or 2.4GHz system, do not fly your plane if you see that control surface response becomes unreliable before you reach 30 paces or so away from the plane. You need to identify and rectify before you fly!

Always always always take a few minutes to perform these rc airplane pre-flight checks before you commence your flying session. Get in to the habit of pre-flighting your plane every time; the checks take just a couple of minutes to do and will save you the grief of a crashed airplane, if something is amiss.

where to fly rc airplanes

his rc flight school page will help you choose a suitable location from where to fly your rc airplane. Pay attention to this one, because flying in the wrong place can be potentially very damaging to our hobby, especially since the rise of the drones and some associated negative press that the hobby has had in recent times!

Club, private land or public area?
These are pretty much your three options for finding somewhere to fly rc airplanes.

It could be that you have an rc flying club close to where you live – use the rc airplane club directory in this website to see if there’s one within a convenient distance from home. If there is, do consider joining especially if you’re thinking of flying IC powered planes. Such airplanes are more involved than your typical electric park flyer, so help from other modellers is always a good thing.

If there’s a club nearby but you don’t want to join, it’s a very good idea to pop along to their field one weekend and talk to the members about flying in the area. Frequency interference is a very serious issue and can’t be ignored if there’s potential for conflict.

While it’s true that most of us are using 2.4GHz radios these days, it’s still very possible that you have bought an rc airplane that utilises a traditional MHz radio system. This is where you have to be very concerned about radio interference from or to other flyers nearby. If you and another flyer are both using a MHz radio within close range (a mile or less) then you need to be sure about who is on which frequency.

Flying your rc airplane from private landIf you’re lucky enough to have access to private open land – either your own or a friendly farmer’s – then you can fly from this so long as you have permission to do so. Private land is the preferable option over flying from somewhere public, because you can pretty much do what you like when you like, without the worry of being yelled at by a member of the public who doesn’t like rc airplanes!

Your final option is to fly your plane from a public area. Depending on the size and type of your airplane, suitable locations include public parks, sports fields, ball parks, beaches, open hill sides…. You get the idea.

The crucial thing to remember when flying in a public area is safety. Read these rc flying do’s and don’ts for flying your rc airplane from such a place, and always use common sense and act responsibly.

As strange as it might seem, not everyone in the world enjoys watching an rc airplane zooming around the sky. It only takes the wrong kind of person to complain to a local authority, and that location can quickly and easily be shut down to model flyers. So always always think about where you’re flying, and be responsible. None of us want this hobby to get a bad reputation.

On that note, the radio control flying hobby has never been in the public eye as much as it now, thanks to the popularity of rc drones. We’re all at risk of being caught up in strict new rules and regulations, so choosing a suitable flying site is more important now than it ever has been. And watch this space, because things are only set to become tighter as governing bodies crack down on UAV operations.

Wherever you want to fly from, your flying location needs to be open and spacious. The size of your plane will determine what size area you need to fly in, but for, say, a 40 inch wingspan electric RTF airplane a ball park would provide ample airspace – that should give you an idea of the kind of area you should be looking for.

Tip: when searching for local flying sites, use Google Earth, Google Maps or Windows Live satellite imagery – it’s simply the best way of searching your area quickly!

Other things to note when looking at where to fly rc airplanes include:

Presence of objects such as trees, posts, pylons, lights, power lines etc.
How close members of the public will be to you while you’re flying.
Proximity of houses, schools, offices, shops etc.
Proximity of roads and highways; rc planes can be a big distraction to some drivers.
The bottom line is that you need a large(ish) open space where there is no danger of causing trouble, being a nuisance or risking damage to people or property. And on that note, you absolutely must check local regulations and laws to see if flying radio control aircraft is even permitted. If it’s not, and you take to the skies, you could well have an angry official breathing down your neck and writing you a ticket!

Another point to make is that of the sun position. The last thing you want is to be flying across the sun (this is a definite no-no), so do pay attention to where the sun is in relation to where you’ll be flying. The ideal situation is for the sun to be behind you so there’s no danger of being blinded as you’re flying.

RC flying insurance.
Another hugely important point you need to consider is public liability insurance.

It’s not so critical if you’re flying from private land (although still recommended), and if you join a club then insurance is usually mandatory anyway, but if you’re flying from public land then it’s well worth taking it out. Model flying liability insurance protects you against damage to people and property, which can easily happen in unfortunate circumstances.

Your national governing body for model flying will be able to help you, here are some links for western countries:

AMA for the USA.
MAAC for Canada.
BMFA for the UK.
MAAA for Australia.
MFNZ for New Zealand.
Third party liability insurance for rc flying isn’t expensive and will give you good peace of mind. Take some time to look in to it and contact your appropriate organisation from the list above for further information.

If you follow all the pointers on this page, you should be able to find where to fly rc airplanes safely. Most of us are close to some kind of open land, but you do need to think through your flying site and weigh up the pros and cons of the location. Be safe, and be responsible when deciding where to fly!