E-flite Extra 260 / 480

E-flite Extra 260 / 480

Re-reading Andy Ellison’s review of E-flite’s Mini Edge 540 (published in the March ‘06 issue of RCM&E) he was clearly impressed by certain aspects, such as the model’s satisfying pattern aerobatic performance, but was less than impressed by poor slow speed handling that could easily spring a nasty surprise for the unwary. Things move on, though, and I was hoping that such problems would be sorted on this new Extra 260, which takes its place alongside the Edge 540 in E-flite’s mini aerobat line-up.

Size for size, the Extra is actually lighter than the aforementioned Edge. It has a larger wingspan – 43” (1090mm) compared to the Edge’s 371/4” (945mm) – but the weight gain is proportionally smaller and benefits the wing loading by a couple of ounces. E-flite make great play of the new construction system employed here, designed to reduce all unnecessary weight, and fresh from the box it’s easy to appreciate what is indeed a very light and attractive airframe. The laser-cut ply structure uses wood only where necessary, and very much reminds me of the small SebArt Katana – no bad thing, that.

SCREW FIX

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Transition from kit box to flightline is a minimalist experience, so keen flyers will be pleased to hear that putting this Extra together will only entail a few hours at the workbench. As we’ve come expect from E-flite, the instruction manual is superb and the fit of parts is generally very good, although I do have a few observations. When offering the cowl into position it seemed too small at first, which in truth it isn’t. The trick is to attach both screws on one side first before starting on the other side. It’s actually a very snug fit and butts against the fuselage, rather than overlapping it. Whilst the fin and tailplane are designed to simply slot in place, I found a little surgery was required to ensure the fin stood at 90° to the tail. It’s very unusual to find this kind of adjustment necessary these days, such is the quality of current ARTF models. Anyway, do please note that a dry fit of parts is essential before applying any glue.

Bags of room and not much wood, just what you’d expect to find in a light weight aerobatic machine

SHARP END

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Since the model is designed for one of E-flite’s Park 480 brushless outrunner motors, I chose the 910kV Park 480 and fitted a 12 x 6” APC-E prop. This motor can deliver up to 250W of power to models weighing up to 35oz (992g), although any equivalent outrunner will be fine.

Battery wise we’re in 3s (11.1V) territory here, so Li-Pos between 1300mAh and 2100mAh are required. It’s your choice although the smaller, lighter packs will benefit all-up weight whilst the heavier ones will provide a little more grunt and some additional mass that may improve stability and penetration in a breeze. I’ve measured a 24A current draw from my motor, which equates to a healthy 120W / lb give or take an ounce. Like many models of this size, the Extra requires just a handful of standard micro servos to do the pushing and pulling – one in each wing panel for the ailerons, with one each for elevator and rudder, mounted down at the tail. I used what I had to hand, dropping Multiplex micros into the wing and Ultrafly micros into the fuselage. I very much prefer using 2.4GHz radio where electric models are concerned; happily the glitches I occasionally suffered during my electric adventures of the past no longer exist. With servos housed at the extremities, then, there’s plenty of room in the Extra for a 2.4GHz receiver and antenna.

The forward top fuselage deck lifts away to allow access for battery replacement using a feature that’s fast becoming standard on ARTF aerobat designs, i.e. where the removable access hatch / panel is retained by magnets. And very strong magnets they are, too! As such, care is required to avoid damage when separating the cover from the fuselage. The centre of gravity is just about on the main wing spar, which for me is the ideal position for general club and pattern aerobatic flying, combined with some 3D flight. I’ve used exponential on aileron and elevator, 40% all round being a comfortable measure.

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She just goes where she’s pointed, exponential trim is essential to smooth out the elevator and aileron response

HEAVEN SENT

Once airborne, it doesn’t take long to realise that this little model is a wonderful aerobat – a delight, in fact. The stall characteristics are superb; a very slight wing drop can sometimes be detected if elevator is applied all the way whilst speed is bled off, but the normal response is nothing more than a mushy nod. I’ve certainly failed to provoke any snappy or severe response from the 260 – she’s stable, smooth, and as the saying goes: ‘flies as if on rails’.

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The poke from the Park 480 is just about right – not over powerful, yet enough to pull the model with authority so that satisfactory vertical climbs and prop-hanging can be enjoyed. At the suggested balance point inverted flight requires just a touch of forward elevator pressure, whereupon the model feels supremely stable and flyable. Flick response is snappily entertaining, yet the model feels safe at all times and never at the point of running away with itself. Aileron rates are really a matter of preference and can be set to execute rolls as fast as the pilot desires; whatever the setting, rolls are executed in a very axial and smooth manner. Knife-edge flight is straightforward enough and a little elevator can be mixed in if you’d prefer not to apply it manually.

Standard micro servos do the pushing and pulling

What I love about this model is the fact that she flies so well, whatever’s asked of her. She’ll perform standard pattern aerobatics in a smooth, stable and entirely comfortable manner, yet 3D manoeuvres are just the flick of a rate switch away (or at boundaries of stick travel if, like me, you prefer to employ exponential). In this respect the Harrier reveals an absence of wing rock and although my model lacked sufficient power to punch away decisively from a prop-hang, she’ll still hold her position nicely in the vertical. Excellent slow-speed handling qualities mean that the landing phase poses no threat. Like most models of this type the Extra needs to be flown in, so a little power will need to be used to bring her to a gentle touch-down. Although small and light the model copes well in a breeze, but it really comes into its own on calm days, balmy summer evenings or during early morning sorties in the park.

The metal undercarriage, fibreglass spats and lightweight wheels have proved to be robust enough to cope with the short grass fields I fly from, and flight times can be in excess of 12 minutes with a 2200mAh 3s pack.

GOOD JOB

That this Extra is so good should come as no surprise for she was designed by Mike McConville, the man who penned the superb Hangar 9 Pulse XT and Mini Pulse – both rated highly in recent RCM&E reviews.

The Extra 260 isn’t for beginners, but if you’ve progressed from your first low-wing model then you should be at home with her. Take it easy at first, fly on low rates and you’ll quickly appreciate just what a lightweight aerobat like this has to offer. Experienced pilots will simply love her to bits from the first flight. Me? I can’t speak too highly of this super little model.

Landing is easy – a little throttle helps bring her in for a smooth touchdown

THREE MONTHS ON….?

I popped into my local model shop last week and got chatting to the proprietor about this model. He’s flown one and we both agreed that it’s a wonderful little aeroplane. He mentioned that one customer had difficulty with the model although this was a relatively inexperienced flyer who needed time to adjust to the aeroplane.

Sometimes when I write reviews in retrospect I wonder if I’ve forgotten who the model is aimed at so let me say categorically therefore that this model isn’t for beginners and shouldn’t be contemplated by anyone who doesn’t have at least one low wing model under their belt. That said and for intermediate and experienced flyers this little model is one that you’ll find punches well above it’s weight – it flies like a bigger model and can provide a superb aerobatic flying experience from a small flying space. It’s quickly become my favourite plane these last few months bar none and suprassing my SebArt Katana 30 (something I wouldn’t have thought possible) which itself has provided some fantastic aerobatic adventures – if I break this Extra 260 then I’ll buy another straight away – you can’t praise a model more highly than that.

Datafile

  • Name – E-flite Extra 260/480
  • Type – ARTF aerobat
  • Manufacturer/Distributor – Horizon Hobby
  • RRP – £79.99
  • Wingspan – 43″
  • All-up weight – 26-29oz
  • Wing loading 10-11oz / sq.ft.
  • Motor used – Park 480
  • ESC used – 40 amp
  • Battery req’d – 3s 1800-2200mAh Li-Po
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