David Ashby samples a rare tractor prop scalie from HSD Jets and comes away impressed.
Words >> David Ashby
Photos >> David Ashby
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Well, this is nice. The first product from HSD Jets for review, one of two tractor prop offerings that complement the brand’s turbine and EDF jet range. You only have to glance at one of these to see that a lot of that know-how has gone into the creation of this sizeable two metre span ‘182.
Like the jets it’s made using EPO foam, with plenty of carbon reinforcement where needed. It’s supplied ‘plug-n-play’, requiring your receiver and 6S 5000-6000mAh LiPo battery, along with a smaller 2S LiPo to provide power to a control/distribution box to which the receiver is connected. We’ve seen simple mixer boxes fitted to the more elaborate RTF models in the last few years, but the MFC-2065 control box inside this Cessna raises the bar and simplifies set-up. It’s a power distribution box with built-in dual S.Bus receiver inputs, and, cleverly, pre-programmed elevator compensation when the flaps are lowered.
Moving around the airframe reveals plenty of scale touches, but the cockpit area is what sets this one apart from its peers. Practically every other Cessna, Cub or semi-scale high winger in the 2m RTF segment employs a solid fuselage with painted windows. Not here, four bods occupy the seats and there’s an instrument panel too. Nav and landing lights litter the airframe, there are the flaps I mentioned, a steerable sprung oleo nose leg, a scale spinner, three-blade prop and lots of little antennas and accoutrements that go to build an impressive scale appearance. It’s a very pretty thing.
There’s very little to do and although HSD’s curiously titled Assembly and Debugging guide needs a proof-read, it has all the information you need. Aluminium tubes brace the two-piece wing, while all servos and lighting wires converge on a quick-plug socket that connects with its opposite half when the wing pushes home at the fuselage. The wing struts fold flat when not in use, another nice touch.
HSD say the main undercarriage legs are from 3mm aviation grade aluminium. I’ll take their word for that, but, importantly, there’s good wheel clearance to help the spats (wheel pants) avoid damage over rough ground.
Used across the jet range, backplate metal control surface horns are here too and, combined with strong pushrods and ball socket connectors, leave the distinct impression that HSD want your ‘182 to last a long time. Each pushrod even has has a little label asking for the linkage to be inspected and the label removed when done.
This is a large model with six powerful 7.4V 25g digital servos and lots of LED lights. Leaving that power hungry lot at the mercy of the ESC’s BEC circuitry wouldn’t be prudent and while some manufacturers might fit a larger stand-alone BEC unit, HSD Jets have gone one better and fitted the power distribution control box common to their jet models. It sits beneath an underside fuselage hatch where there’s also room for a receiver or two. Although a PPM receiver can be used (for which individual channel leads are included), up to two S.Bus receivers can be connected, each with a single lead, so as to increase the antenna count. In truth this is more of a jet model ‘best practice’ and the single receiver I’ve used has been fine. You could argue that, with a 20A output capacity, the control box is a tad over-specified for this model and designed for jets with many servos, electric retracts and wheel brakes, but I’m certainly not complaining.
The manual lists the factory channel slot settings, so it’s just a case of matching these at the transmitter, connecting a 2S LiPo, then making sure everything is moving in the right direction. Control surface deflections are illustrated with, what seems to be, a suggestion that 30% exponential be allocated to ailerons and elevator. Some control surfaces required mechanically entering but, other than that, firing up the electrics proved quick and easy.
A 5055-size 500kV outrunner spins a three-blade 14.5” x 7” prop, with power managed through a Hobbywing 80A ESC; a reliable brand you’ll find fitted to many RTF foamy models. My prop and spinner were smooth and vibration-free straight from the box.
Power system figures come in at around 700W and 40A peak, which may seem modest for a 10lb model, but what’s there is fine and, in flight, it’ll cruise comfortably at just over half throttle.
A slither of flap for take-off does no harm, although that’s unnecessary on windier days. Naturally, the take-off run is a little longer than a punchy aerobat but a squeeze on elevator soon has it rising gracefully. Climb out is graceful and the controls positive and predictable. The suggested deflections (and 30% exponential all round) are just about spot-on for me so I’ve made no changes. If knife-edge flight and spin entry are important then you’ll need to increase rudder deflection accordingly, perhaps with added exponential to reduce the nose leg steering sensitivity during take-off.
I’ve never heard about a ‘182 rolling, but this one does that comfortably, loops too. Reversals are straightforward and there’s enough power to pull up into the vertical before a stall turn or wing over. The prop makes a good sound on the downward leg too. Nothing nasty occurs when the stall point arrives; it’ll mush and nod for a moment before ever-so-gently dropping a wing, but the ailerons are effective throughout.
Although down elevator is pre-programmed for when the flaps are used, the nose will still pitch up if you’re travelling too fast, so make sure throttle is no more than 30% before they’re deployed. Full flap does what you’d expect, slowing the model down for landing, although it’s important to stress that they’re very effective, so some power will still be needed in order to bring the model in for a smooth arrival. Those ‘cut and glide’ landing approaches will look ugly when the model stops short of the strip.
Who needs aerobatics when there’s so much satisfaction to be had just flying circuits and bumps, greasing the model in, and watching the sprung nose leg absorb the undulations. You’ll have plenty of time to do that too; my 5000mAh 6S packs provide a decent 10 minutes before it’s time to land.
Everyone has a soft spot for Cessna’s ‘spam can’ high wingers. As a kid my first full size flying experience was courtesy of a well-used 1960s Cessna 172 at a local aerodrome. That was back in the 70s and, amazingly, several decades and re-paints later, it’s still there and still flying. It looked brand spanking new after the last refurb’.
While very nice to fly, you can ignore the manual’s ‘beginner’ rating for this model. This is far too nice for the rough and tumble flight training will impose and I’d hesitate to recommend it as a follow-on model too. There’s enough power for rolls, loops, wing overs and stall turns, but think of it as a relaxing, stress-free machine and a great flap trainer. It’s a connoisseur’s model, one for those who don’t need to impress others and who derive pleasure from flying simple manoeuvres well in a true scale manner. It’s a lovely thing.
Oh, I nearly forgot, a float set is available separately (£69.99), so it’ll look pretty on water too.
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