- This review was first published in RCM&E January 2003
- The model is still available from all good Graupner stockists.
- Review model supplied by Motors and Rotors from where it can also be ordered.
One Monday morning a few weeks ago, while getting bored with decorating and wishing for the weekend to come around again, I decided to have a peek at the Motors & Rotors website. There, I found Graupner’s latest ARTF fixed-wing scale model: an Extra 300. Pictured on the site was an example already built by Dave Wilshere (proprietor of M & R), finished in the Patty Wagstaff / Goodrich colour scheme and kitted out with a new Super Tigre 90.
60 – 90 two-stroke power; 1600mm wingspan; nice scheme; scale too. ARTF; a good aerobat, and one that ought to be well behaved. And hey, hang on a minute – £119.95! (2010 RRP £169 – ed.) This has to be a mistake surely? That’s more like a 40 – 60 size, 1400mm span price tag. I picked up the phone and spoke to Mr. Wilshere to find out more, as any further thoughts of house renovation rapidly began to disappear out of the window.
Dave had nothing but praise for this model which, apparently, requires very little building work even by normal ARTF standards. Oh, and the website was correct on both spec and price, so bearing in mind I live in the Channel Islands, which means the VAT would be removed from Dave’s price too, the temptation became irresistible. Decorating? What decorating?
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ARTF – NEW CHAPTER
We are all experiencing great improvements in terms of quality when it comes to modern ARTF kits. Workmanship standards and materials, plus construction styles, have all got much better, with build and covering quality truly ‘up there’ with the best of them – but the price tags can be a problem, especially with high-end manufacturers such as Graupner. Perhaps this Extra 300 is opening a new chapter in the ARTF legend? We shall see.
I’ve built quite a few ARTF models from a variety of manufacturers over the years, and recall being pleased to find, for the first time, pre-cut hinge slots and then, later, pre-cut hinge slots that were actually deep enough for the hinges, and which lined up with each other! Painted cowls, fancy tail-wheels, servo trays etc. also came along in time. With this kit, I see a new level of ‘completeness’ but with a price range not witnessed before. I mean, take a look at the credentials:Article continues below…
All surfaces are neatly hinged – that is, plastic / metal pin hinges, pre-fitted, pre-glued and all pinned from underneath.
A pre-painted pilot is provided in the kit. He sits behind a pre-fitted instrument panel and beneath a fine, clear canopy… yes, that’s pre-installed too, complete with trim tape. The only obvious criticism here is that he is… well, a ‘he’. Pity they couldn’t come up with a Patty lookalike, really!
The engine mount is provided, this being a beefy pair of plastic ‘T’ beams. Oh yes, and it’s pre-fitted, with a width that should nicely match pretty much any 60 to 90-size motor.Article continues below…
Throttle and rudder / elevator control rods are supplied and pre-fitted, ready to go. Plenty of allowance has been made for final positional adjustments to your own satisfaction, these being made within a slotted former that runs from one side of the fuselage to the other, just behind the servo tray. The latter item is also factory fitted, with a pre-defined switch position. Plastic links are already in place down at the business end of the rods.
At this rate, in not so many years, fixed-wing aircraft of all types will be supplied with control runs fitted and an engine installed, ready for you to drop in your chosen gear and hook up. This is already the case with some heli ‘kits’ today, so do expect things to move in that direction. To go wrong during the construction of this model would take some considerable talent!
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Experienced modellers will not really need the comprehensive instruction manual – I didn’t use mine at all. Assembly is as easy as:
Fit servos to cover-plates, add aileron horns and pushrods, screw cover / mounting plate into wing.
Glue in the brace, and join wings with epoxy.
Pop the wing onto the fuselage, cut away the film on the underside, and glue belly pan to wing. Cut away film for wing bolts, and fit.
Drop servos into the radio tray.
Fit pre-hinged tail / elevator, followed by fin / rudder. Add horns, hook up pre-installed rods, centre control surfaces and servos, then use adjustable links provided to attach rods to servos.
Add tail-wheel assembly, fabricate main undercarriage with wheels and spats etc., then fix to fuselage with pre-fitted captive nuts and bolts (supplied).
Drop motor onto its mount, drill and bolt on.
Moderately adjust pre-cut holes in cowl to suit your cylinder head and exhaust, if required (existing cut-outs designed for O.S. 60 -90 installation). Cut slots from the rear of the cowl to accept u/c legs, line everything up, then drill and fit cowl screws.
Hook-up throttle pushrod at both ends (pre-fitted), then add tank, prop, spinner, Rx, switch and battery.
Add the comprehensive supply of decals (this might take a while if you want proper scale appearance – there’s loads of ‘em!), set up control throws… and Bob’s probably your uncle.
I didn’t have much in the way of funds to splash out on a fancy engine, and nothing available in my workshop really suited. Pondering the choices, a Magnum 90 seemed possible, especially since it would be unlikely to require any cowl cutting – and then there were those new Super Tigres from China. The decision was made easy when I learned that Weston had no Magnum 90’s in stock at the time, leaving ST as the way to go.
If you are in the market for a new 2-stroke, it’s worth noting that, quite often, the 90 of a given range weighs little or no more than the 60 or 75. Plus, you do have a throttle, so don’t feel the 90 is too big… in fact, in some cases the 90 is a tad lighter!
POINTS OF VIEW
Given that the assembly side of this review is very positive, let’s be fair and cover a few very minor niggles:
The screws supplied for the control horns are too short, right across the board. I replaced mine with 2mm bolts that secured well straight into the plastic, i.e. without nuts.
Fuel tank is too small – looks about 6 – 8oz. To fit a bigger one, you must relieve supporting formers in the front of the fuselage (not difficult with a sharp knife). I substituted mine with a SLEC 11oz., in view of the bigger engine.
There’s many more ‘up’ sides than ‘downs’ with this kit, but if I had to pick on just a small selection of the positive points they would be:
Pre-finished canopy installation with painted pilot. As tidy a job as I could ever do.
Style and installation of fuselage pushrods. Perhaps a fraction on the heavy side if we are going to get really fussy, but these are full length, lightweight 2mm rods, which run inside what appears to be a nylon-lined aluminium tube. Secured very well at the tail end, and positioned through a slotted former behind the servo tray, with a small piece of ply over the ends which makes them ready to position and glue. Absolutely no bend or slop, and super, super simple, with no hint of binding.
Pre-fitted engine mount. The spacing will surely fit any modern 60 – 90 two-stroke and 90 4-stroke.
Overall finish and construction quality. Nothing really different here to other top makes (e.g. Kyosho), but the very reasonable price sets this one aside.
POWER TO WEIGHT?
All-up weight of my model was about 3kg., even with an ST 90 up front!
At the outset, I realised this would probably guarantee pretty impressive and predictable vertical performance. I’d chosen to put the battery behind the rest of the radio, toward the back of the wing seating area and just under the start of the pushrod runs. As luck would have it this provided a pretty accurate C of G position to kick off with.
Worth noting here is that the model is actually semi-scale, with an over-size wing and suitably blunt leading edge. Characteristics that should produce a very slow flying aircraft with no nasty reactions to hefty elevator inputs at low speed.
Oh dear. Test day, and a Force 5 wind blowing right across the runway. But, before long, and with the engine already run-in, I was goaded into trying it out. The agreement was this: if I could taxi the model from the near end of our runway, where I was, down / crosswind to the opposite end and turn back nicely for my up / crosswind take-off, it would be a deal.
I expected this task to be very tricky, and thought I’d soon have an excuse to abort for another day. Alas, despite that strong wind, the Extra happily trundled down the tarmac with plenty of tail-wheel authority. The subsequent first flight was okay, although it really wasn’t all that fair to judge; the wind was extremely turbulent, but she coped surprisingly well. Landing proved to be straightforward too, with the model displaying a very predictable and safe reaction to rudder inputs as she came in crosswind. Boy, how I looked forward to trying again on a nice day…
WRING IT OUT
Well, try it on a nice day I did. Suffice to say this is a terrific value-for-money model in the sky, too; the Extra 300S is very easy and forgiving to fly, and yet very capable for the more experienced pilot wanting a bit of aerobatic fun. I thoroughly enjoyed wringing her out, especially since she was displaying a penchant for tumbling and flick manoeuvres – very crisp, and simple to achieve. As for the balance, it seems I got the C of G just right, but she did require a little more right thrust – no problem, a couple of extra washers under the front lugs of the engine will sort this when I can be bothered. Right now, I’m having too much fun with her!
Knife-edge spins are very effective, and a synch to perform. Lomcevaks, tumbles, knife-edge flicks, flat spins… the Extra will do ‘em all. Actual knife-edge flight is straightforward, and despite the ‘normal’ size rudder, the ST 91 provided enough power for her to climb the first half of a knife-edge loop. A truly well behaved aerobatic model, although not one for the 3D end of the envelope; control surfaces are a little too small for that, but hey, everything else is just great.
Within a week of displaying this model to my clubmates, four more kits were making their way to Jersey from Motors & Rotors. Says quite a lot, don’t you think?
In short, a great little aeroplane that requires not much work, and not much money. Another thing which occurs to me is just how suitable this Extra would be for someone who needs a ‘second level’ model; for this kind of money, you really can have an aerobatic trainer / sport model that will treat you well. It’s a pretty little semi-scale rendition of the Extra, too. Keep it up Graupner… what’s next?