Flash – a ‘web only’ review

The RC Factory Flash is one of those aeroplanes that’s just so very versatile and a better foamie 3D trainer you’ll struggle to find.

Flash eh? Great name isn’t it. Now I have to admit that while I love just about anything that flies, there is an exception, a model type of which I’m not the world’s greatest fan and it just happens to be the shock flyer. Had one, broke it, put the gear in something else…succinctly summarises my very short-lived shocky experience and my first thought was to dismiss this Flash as a late and rather large entrant on the shocky scene – big mistake.

Thankfully something made me pause when the Flash arrived. A glance at the box would have one assuming that it’s another Depron creation but this one’s EPP foam, very tough (almost indestructible say the makers) fully aerobatic, 3D capable, yet easy to fly and just the right size for large indoor halls too, on paper a versatile aeroplane.

Designed by David Kyjovsky who has a strong pedigree in performance 3D foamie models, Flash is made by a company called RC-Factory in the Czech Republic. The EPP foam model is well made, or rather I should say that the parts are beautifully cut and pre-decorated whilst supplied with a good hardware set, effective instruction sheets and diagrams.

Flash is designed for a 120-150 watt power system and should weigh in, ready to fly, at between 13-18oz. Micro servos are fine although the big control surfaces point to something a little meatier than the 1kg torque norm so I’ve used Super Tech Naro F 1.7kg torque units.

You’ll need a drop or two of cyano for this one – please make sure you ventilate the room though.CYANO READY?

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There’s nothing to worry any average builder here as the assembly process is easy although the materials and methods used couldn’t be more different to a traditional balsa kit so slow, careful, considered construction makes sense if this is your first foamie. A few evenings of work should see Flash complete but do the work in a well ventilated room as this is a big cyano/kicker project and the fumes will quickly build up, ask me how I know.

The wing, fuselage and tail are strengthened by carbon rod for which slits must be cut before the rod is pushed home and cyano’d into place. The instruction diagrams don’t give precise indications as to where these should go but that’s not an issue and as long as the rod is inserted in approximately the right area, within a few cm perhaps, then all will be well. There’s just one area where a mistake may occur and this is where the fuselage, wings and tail are joined. It’s important to have the tail tab facing the correct way so double check the diagrams and box pic before it’s too late to go back. 
I followed the instructions to the letter apart from screwing on the undercarriage at the very last, this allowed the airframe to stay flat on my workbench throughout assembly. Holes must be cut for the servos and again, like the carbon rod, precise locations are left to the builder but remembering that the servo leads should come together at the receiver without extensions should reveal their locations to within a few mm. The instructions suggest gluing the servos into place which is something I always hate doing, so although there’s probably little option but to tack the rudder unit with a little cyano as I did, good double sided tape keeps the aileron and elevator servos secure in my model.

Flying the model has highlighted a couple of minor maintenance issues worthy of attention at the building stage. Firstly, the spats may look nice but they’re unhappy when introduced to grass so don’t taxi the model if you’d prefer them to remain in place – those on my model were removed after a few flights when I grew weary of repairs. They’re glued to a bar that’s fitted to the axle but a stronger arrangement is required when flying from anything other than smooth surfaces. Second, the tail skid supplied with the model is too short to stop the tail from rubbing on uneven ground so I’ve fitted a longer skid, cut from a piece of strong, clear plastic.     

Cyano’d cocktail sticks help retain the motor mount – works well too.PRE-FLIGHT

My system measures in at 160 watts drawing 17 amps at full throttle which is uncomfortably close to the 18amp rating of the ESC I’ve selected. Concerns that this unit would prematurely expire have been unfounded however, as in reality the model flies very well and with sufficient authority at just half throttle, indeed this is sufficient power to maintain a hover so I’ve rarely flown at full throttle for any more than a few seconds at a time through a flight.

Having said that, it’s good practice to fit some ESC margin so I’d suggest a 20-25amp unit with the 2830-1050 Turnigy motor and 10×4.7 prop (that I used), especially if you’re planning to experiment with prop sizes. 

The control throws suggested are fine for starters, not forgetting the exponential that helps soften the effect of the massive deflections. Employing dual rates make sense too so both high rate 3D and traditional lower rate pattern aerobatics can be enjoyed across over a flight.

I’ve used Velcro on two sides of my Li-Po packs to retain them on the model. Flash is pretty insensitive to large C of G variations in the sense that it’ll always be perfectly flyable so while moving the battery around will produce changes in the flying traits, it’ll still be floaty, forgiving and fun.

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The model is incredibly tollerant of C of G changes so the battery position isn’t critical for the first few flights.FLASH BY NATURE?

Apart from a ground take-off, the best way to hand-launch the model is by holding the canopy from above and giving a gentle underarm lob. Although the watts/lb measure would suggest a space shuttle-like climb performance and while the model is no slouch, this is a draggy airframe so the model isn’t as fast in the air as the watts per/lb figure would suggest. That’s hardly a criticism though and chances are, like me, within seconds after launch you’ll be rolling, looping and hovering this machine with a big grin on your face.

The model can be flown in a slow, floaty 3D fashion or in a faster, direct F3A pattern manner, setting dual rates means that both flying styles can be enjoyed although a battery shift will improve the performance in a given genre too.

The roll rate will depend on the set up of course so it pays to fly and adjust the throws until satisfied but a good 40-50% exponential will soften the response from the huge control surfaces, the same goes for elevator and rudder.

This model must be one of the very best machines with which to perform harriers and elevators that I’ve ever flown, just pull in elevator, keep a little power on and Flash doesn’t bat an eye lid – rock steady without the need for spoileron adjustment.

Inverted flight will need a touch of down depending on the preferred balance point of course and landings require a little power just to bring the model in nicely so she’ll come to a halt within a few feet. The strong undercarriage will absorb just about anything the model can deliver although as I mentioned, make sure you’ve removed or beefed up those spats. 

Knife-edge is easy-peasy, especially given the huge fuselage side area which is close to matching the wing area in size although it’s important to go easy on the rudder input – too much of that huge ‘barn door’ at the tail will surprise by translating into a impressive knife-edge loop!

Other than that, the sky really is the limit, there’s nothing the model can’t do and as far as 3D flying is concerned, the slow yet highly maneuverable nature of the model means that even relative beginners to R/C flying should be carving impressive patterns in the sky very quickly.  

Flash is a very light model so this machine is better in calm or flat calm conditions. It’ll handle a breeze of up to say 10mph, coping better still when a heavier battery in the 1600-1800mAh capacity is used. Flight times are around the 10-minute mark with a 1100mAh 3S pack, a little longer with the bigger Li-Pos.  

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This really is a teriffic aeroplane, a shocky I can say I like! Whatever next eh?PLEASED TO SEE?

Flash is a difficult model to categorize given that it should appeal to a huge range of flyers and of all abilities. Experienced, intermediate and even pilots who are just retiring their trainers will enjoy this robust aeroplane because it’s just so easy and so much fun to fly. There are very few R/C aeroplanes you can say this of, which in my book, makes Flash a very clever drop of aeroplane indeed. 

Now I come to think of it, one aspect I haven’t tested is the models ultimate claim for durability. Although the airframe is strong, the light floaty nature of the machine means it’s positively difficult to inflict damage. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve flown Flash hard but all I could come up with were two broken spats I’m afraid.

Name:  Flash
Model type: EPP foam aerobat
Manufacturer: RC Factory, Czech Republic

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UK distributor: Robotbirds  
Tel. 0208 841 7873
www.robotbirds.com Click here to go there.    

RRP: £59.95
Wingspan: 1000mm
Fuselage length: 1000mm
All-up weight: 16oz          
Servos required: Micro x 4
Power system used: Turnigy 2830-1050 motor, 10×4.7 prop, 18amp ESC, 1100-1600mAh 3S Li-Po batteries.

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