If you’re getting fed up with reviews of those ‘oh-so twiddly-twee’ electric models fitted with dinky little motors and are yearning for something a bit more hairy-chested (in fact very hairy chested, bearing in mind that we’re talking about a 50 cc petrol engine turning a 23” carbon prop), then read on. Rest assured, there’s no mention of Li-Pos in this report, and we definitely don’t secure the propeller in place with a tiny rubber band. This is big boys’ stuff!
In a world where some ARTF manufacturers have difficulty producing even a humble trainer that doesn’t fall to bits before it leaves the ground (don’t ask…), Hangar 9 has earned an enviable reputation for producing good quality ARTF kits. Well made and nicely finished, they’re a joy to own and operate.
Not too many years ago it was quite something to own a 1/4 scale model, and unheard of to have bought it as an ARTF. But things move on and in Hangar 9’s Extra 260 we have an ‘instant’ 27% scale model aeroplane that’s no soppy ‘circuit basher’. Instead, it’s a hot aerobatic machine with huge control surfaces that’s been designed to be flown, and flown hard!
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Not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for the beginner, this aeroplane is a very capable performer indeed – but, of course, we’ve got to build it first!
If you want confirmation about the performance of this model then you need look no further than the first part of the instruction manual, which begins with servo selection and makes no apology for the fact that ‘top end’ units are required to drive the controls, with a minimum 80oz of torque. So that’s the bargain-bundle ten quid specials out, then! With everything out of the box I inspected the various assemblies and they were all perfect. Construction is traditional balsa and ply, with foam top deckings. The wooden parts are laser cut and have good glue joints, there were no warps in the wings and no broken or crushed bits, either. Splendid.
Moving to the accessories you’ll find that these are a pure joy. Usually with ARTFs it’s necessary to throw away most of the hardware because, frankly, it’s useless. However, that supplied in this kit is top of the line: proper (huge) hinge-point type hinges, control rods like scaffold poles and hefty nut ‘n’ bolt clevises to hang onto the surfaces.
Work begins by hinging said control surfaces, and here it’s clear that this model is to be enjoyed to the full. To start with the elevators have enough clearance to travel about 70°, and following the hinging procedure the instructions suggest you seal the gaps with a thin, clear and very sticky tape to make the control more efficient. Oh, yes! At this point I had to give my credit card some counselling prior to the stress it would suffer at the model shop when purchasing five high performance Futaba S9451 digital servos. There was some consolation, though, as a ten quid cheapie was sufficient for the throttle. With credit card in subdued mood it was back to the workshop to bolt the servos in.
The elevator servos are positioned at the rear of the fuselage, close to the tail to keep the control runs as short as possible. Pre-built in two halves and sporting an attractive airfoil section, the tailplane uses a carbon rod spar to maintain its integrity. The wings, on the other hand, are brought together via a substantial aluminium tube, which is 1” in diameter and 32” long. This passes through the fuselage, and the wings are secured to it using a single nylon bolt for each panel. All well engineered to a glove-like fit. When we come to locate the rudder servo it’s worth noting that its position depends on the engine being used. For heavier motors the servo is mounted with the elevator servos at the rear of the fuselage, but for lighter engines there’s provision for it nearer the front, hooked up to the rudder via a (supplied) closed loop linkage.
I used two engines in the Extra (no, not at the same time). The original intention was to use my faithful old Moki 210, and this was duly bolted to the front end. I reasoned that with the model weighing about 13 lb (5.9kg) and the Moki being capable of producing a draught of about 20 – 22 lb, things should be quite exciting. But the poor engine expired after the first few flights when I changed the prop in an attempt to make it produce more power than it was used to. So, I needed to have a rethink about the engine. The sensible thing to do would have been to simply buy a new Moki… but sensible’s for wimps.
Once again the credit card took a pounding and a DA-50 was purchased. Hee-hee… 50cc of petrol power and not much heavier than the Moki. Trouble is, these little beauties don’t come with an exhaust system, and no-one in the UK seemed to have one at that moment in time, so a trawl of the internet found a specialist in Florida who offered a choice of exhausts. I could have chosen an in-cowl Pitts style or the canister type, which is basically a tuned, throttle pipe. Naturally, I chose the latter! A couple of emails later and an exhaust was soon winging its way across the Atlantic.
Silencers for 50cc engines are somewhat bigger than the average glow version and initially, with canister in hand, I thought, “What have I done?” as the whole rig is nearly 2’ long from the rear of the canister to the front of the prop! Still, the model is designed to take the DA-50, and with a bit of minor surgery the canister lives neatly inside the fuselage, hidden out of sight. The only drawback was that I’d planned on turning the Extra 260 into a sweetie bomber at some point in the future, and the ‘toffee bay’ is now filled with the silencer. Oh well, sorry kids!
AND THE REST
With the controls all linked up using the excellent, high quality fittings included in the kit, attention was turned to the undercarriage. This is a nicely crafted fibreglass unit that’s surprisingly heavy, but exudes a feeling that it will stand up to quite a lot of abuse, a feeling that’s endorsed by a fairly hefty metal plate in the fuselage that it bolts to (more on this later). A pair of equally good quality fibreglass spats cover the wheels. The tail wheel is mounted to a piece of springy carbon that proved to take the landing shocks well, operated by two springs attached to a horn on the rudder.
To finish the model off I was left with the task of fitting the cockpit canopy to the enormous access hatch, and making the engine cowl fit around the engine. No problem. The build was fairly painless, with no major issues to slow progress. With the electronic ignition module mounted up front she balanced within the suggested C of G location parameters, and with the huge control throws set as per the instructions all that was needed was a suitable day to her out to play.
TO THE FIELD
As mentioned earlier, the first few flights were made with a Moki 210 (35cc glow) up front, and it was quickly obvious that the model was a quality flyer. The Moki was good, but it was showing its age in the vertical manoeuvres. A change of propeller increased the power for a while until the poor thing faded and passed away to engine heaven. So, in with the new DA-50… a seriously powerful petrol engine that totally transformed the power-to-weight ratio and indeed the whole character of the aeroplane. With this engine the Extra is like a 15 lb (6.8kg) shock flyer… superb!
Mind you, there was one problem with employing the DA-50. I normally secure a model by placing stakes in front of the undercarriage, thus ensuring that it won’t run forwards when the engine starts. However, whilst running in the DA-50, a few bursts of full power actually bent the metal plate securing the u/c! I’ve tried to bend it back, and used a lot of force, but it’s still not completely straight.
IN-FLIGHT PEDIGREE This is clearly a thoroughbred aeroplane that’s designed to do some outrageous manoeuvres. The huge controls and throws give it an almost brutal – yet strangely attractive – appearance on the ground. On opening the throttle the Extra 260 leaped forward and was airborne in a couple of seconds. With everything feeling ok, the climb angle was increased until it got to vertical. The model felt relaxed and was now in its element. Somewhere off the ground – anywhere off the ground – was clearly where it wanted to be.
Aileron response was absolutely stunning. The roll rate was breathtaking and rolls could be stopped and changed direction at a whim, without any tendency to try to stall out or change track. She goes where she’s pointed. Elevator response calls for a good sense of humour, as the huge throws will have you laughing with the crazy antics that this aeroplane can get up to. However, I did find it a bit unstable at full deflection while trying to do harriers, as the wings tended to wobble a bit, and it looked like it wanted to stall out. Even so, we’re talking serious control throws before it showed any signs of becoming nervous.
The rudder is just gorgeous. One of this model’s party pieces is to go into knife-edge at a high altitude, and then close the throttle to let her sink to the ground. When your nerves fail, just apply a couple of clicks of throttle to stop the descent and fly around in knife-edge… or apply more power and go all the way over the top and back down for a knife-edge loop.
This Extra can fly all the usual 3-D type manoeuvres like blenders, parachutes and waterfalls but it is, perhaps, just a little bit nervous with the extreme application of the (70° throw) elevators. That said, backing off a bit soon has her tame again. I initially wondered how well such a big aeroplane would stand up to being thrown around the sky like a lightweight Shockie, but I needn’t have worried. Thorough inspections after each flight have showed that it can take the strain in its stride.
The only things to cause any concern were the wheel spats, which tended to drag in the grass. Indeed one of them eventually broke off, so they’ve now both been removed. At full rates the controls are a riot of fun. If a more sedate style of flying is called for then a throw of the rate switches changes the Extra into a very smooth, accurate aeroplane that ‘points’ well and is very predictable. It all becomes very pleasant and less frantic, and manoeuvres can be flown as big as you like. Big, lazy, rolling circuits and rolling loops look great.
The handling has a very nice neutral feel to it, so there are no silly trim changes needed for different throttle settings; the model simply goes where it’s pointed and then waits for its next command. Flying inverted requires the usual tweak of down elevator to hold the nose level, but it can be flown like this right down to some very slow airspeeds. Flying at sensible control throws makes this model a superb, stable and very competent aerobat, but throw those rate switches to high, feed in some serious power and you’ll need to hang on for a wild ride!
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