A large brown parcel had appeared in our sunroom. Closer inspection revealed a Hanger 9 Corsair lurking inside. Both Janet (my model flying wife) and myself concluded that this was an irresistible invitation from the editor to spend great wads of cash on a new engine and R/C gear. In typical style he duly delved into the selection of cakes we’d presented, to go with the tea he drank as he watched us delve into the contents of the package.
Hanger 9's presentation and packaging is superb and gives one confidence in the product. There’s a contents list enabling you to check that everything is present before building commences. A useful list of tools, glues, radio, servos, engine types, extension leads and sundry items required, is equally helpful. Of course, the fun side of ARTF modelling is that you can put most of the main components together ‘dry’ and get a good idea what the finished model will look like before you even consider opening the glue bottle. This we did this as the ed. started on the Fondant Fancies.
As a traditional modeller I have no problem with modern 'ready to fly' models. In my teens I recall being revoked by an older flyer for building a kit that used pre-cut components rather than printed sheets of balsa that had to be cut-out using a hard backed razor blade. No doubt his contemporaries had chastised him for using printed components and not drawing them on to the wood himself. Clearly, this debate is a very old one indeed.Article continues below…
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TICKING THE BOXES
The instruction manual is over 50 pages long and is an excellent document containing good advice and a well thought out building procedure. Each section contains a box that you can tick upon completion of the task and, I must admit, I quite enjoyed the box-ticking bit!
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With the editor now removed from the premises, fresh tea brewed and a few cakes remaining, Janet and I laid out all the components and read through the manual. We identified each part and the place it had in the assembly sequence. Trust me, this was 20 minutes very well spent.
As a review model it's normal to follow the instructions to the letter but these instructions are so good that I would advise even the most accomplished builder to do the same.
Assembly starts with the wings. Thirty minute epoxy glue is recommended to join the panels, though please don’t be tempted to use anything faster as this process takes time and a faster glue would generate a little too much personal stress. Believe me you need 30 minutes to accomplish the section with accuracy. I found that the fitted retracts could be contaminated by epoxy running out of the wing joiner boxes and into the wing space, so do keep an eye on things as you push the panels together. Attaching the wings to the fuselage employs traditional leading edge dowel pegs and two wing-bolts at the trailing edge. The bolts are not plastic but metal. I hate adding unnecessary weight behind the centre of gravity but a review model is a review model, so on they went.Article continues below…
The rear flying surfaces are next and in typical ARTF fashion the covering has to be removed where components are to be mated. It’s imperative that this procedure is adhered to or the surfaces will not be properly fixed to the airframe. A Solarfilm to Solarfilm glue joint should not be contemplated under any circumstances. The rudder is driven by the tail wheel assembly wire passing up through the fuselage and then turning 90 degrees to fix to the control surface itself. Note: I found that bending the wire across a film covered airframe was not the easiest of tasks.
Now, believe it or not I’ve never used glued hinges before (usually opting for a mechanical version) and had this not been a review model I would never have found out how convenient cyano' hinges are – one is never too old to learn something new!
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Suggested power units are Sato 100 four-stroke or Evolution .61 two-stroke motors. Personally I like a four-stroke in a scale airframe like the Corsair, they sound better and drive a larger prop. So, this being the case, it was time to pop off to the local model shop to drink tea and discuss the options. My ‘local’ is Elite Models in Ashford, Kent. Rod is a repository of good advice and after much debate we settled on an O.S. 91 pumped four-stroke motor.
The engine is bolted to a two-part metal engine mount which is attached to the main bulkhead through four elongated holes. This enables the unit to be centralised before final tightening of the captive bolts – a good and simple system that allows adjustment to accommodate almost any size of power unit.
At this point I decided to deviate from the instructions and add a 5mm ply disc to the main bulkhead together with two coats of fuel proofer. This had nothing to do with the model lacking strength, on the contrary, all looked perfectly suitable for the intended use. No, the reason I beefed things up a little at the front end is because, between us, Janet and I can wring a fair amount of air-time from our models and at this point in the proceedings the Corsair was promising to be a very flyable, long term addition to the Lowe hangar. The fuel tank came fully assembled with just two pipes fitted, one to the engine and one for fill and pressure. Since the fuel tube supplied was too thin I reassembled the tank using three heavier gauge copper pipes and thicker walled tubing.
A touch flimsy perhaps, I reckon the fibreglass cowl could do with a little more bulk at the front end, indeed I can only assume that the lack of material here is down to the economics of the Corsair package. Anyway, when it comes to fitting the cowl, measure twice and cut once. Time spent here makes all the difference to the end result, as I’m sure you know.
Incidentally, whilst the canopy comes ready painted, a pilot figure isn't supplied so it appears that Hangar 9 are giving with one hand and taking with the other. More economics I suspect but don't stint with your Corsair – A model of this quality needs a chap in the office. My 1/8th scale W.W.II pilot was also from Elite Models and made a very pleasing difference to the overall appearance.
As the wheels retract rearwards the centre of gravity must be set with an empty fuel tank and the undercarriage in the raised position. With careful adjustment of the radio and battery position I was able to achieve the correct centre of gravity without additional weight being added. That said, the balance point, as directed, seemed a long way back from the leading edge and I felt this could result in things being a little tender during flight testing. In pursuit of a solution I decided to tease the model off the ground for a few seconds while I was running up the engine on our small runway at home. She didn't feel twitchy but I decided to add some lead to the nose, thus bringing the C of G forward half an inch, the intention being to remove it at a later date. Twist and turn retracts come fitted, but do however check all the screws and fittings for security. In my case things became loose after the initial taxi tests.
So there it was, boxes ticked, tested and ready to fly. Everything fitting properly and good instructions made this an enjoyable build that took approximately 20 hours including one or two of my own small modifications. In true flat-pack tradition I had the statutory Allen-key and a small piece of wood left over. The presence of the small blue stick bugged me for days until, while relaxing with friends, I shouted: "Eureka! It's the aerial," and ran in the direction of the model shed.
FLYING THE CORSAIR
The test flight day dawned sunny and clear. I waited while the Ashby brothers picked all the daisies from around the Corsair, apparently they where not to scale and therefore had to go.
With the static shots taken it was time to fly, so with all the pre-flight checks done Janet placed the Corsair on the runway. I love flying a new model for the first time and so, with excitement, I opened the tap and kept her straight on the runway until the long grass at the end loomed closer. The climb-out was smooth, full of authority and very scale-like. I hadn't engaged full throttle so, clearly, this was going to be a fun aircraft with plenty of power in reserve.
With some height in the bag it was time to see if any trims needed adjusting; not much to report here except three beeps of up elevator. Wheels up, there was no effect on the centre of gravity, whereupon I managed to try out what W.W.II fighters do best, i.e. long sweeping turns, big loops and the distinctive barrel roll that oozes power and authority. Before long rank was pulled and it was time to position the model for the flying photos. Both David and Graham, like some strange editorial ground-to-air weapon system, pointed huge lenses at the space occupied by the Corsair and started clicking away. Flying shots require the pilot to position the model in accordance with the cameraman's requests and this is where the Hanger 9 Corsair comes up trumps, for it simply goes exactly where you put it. I was really enjoying the flying but time was running out and as the fuel burnt so the centre of gravity moved back a little, to the point that the effect could be felt on the elevator. At this stage I was very pleased that I’d moved the balance point forward.
Time to land, wheels down and visually checked, and into the circuit. The approach is smooth with full control but do make sure your motor tick-over is slow for this is a light model with a good wing area and she’ll happily float-on given the chance. Sitting on the end of the runway with the sun reflecting off the prop arc and a hint of exhaust curving out from beneath those cranked wings, one can only describe the Corsair as visual art. Apart from the non-scale daisies that is!
A very well presented kit that goes together without any problems – just follow the instructions. The Hangar 9 Corsair is an eminently flyable model that sits right in the sky and looks good on the ground. The supplied (and fitted) retracts appear strong enough for the job but the cowl is very flimsy, time will tell if it’s really up to the job. This model isn't my first W.W.II fighter, in fact I've flown quite a few of them so David (ed.) has asked me to outline a few characteristics of the type and how they can differ from others I’ve encountered.
FLYING A FIGHTER
W.W.II fighters were never intended to be 3D or acrobatic display machines. Most were designed and built to fill a very specific purpose. Unfortunately, for many of the young pilots and crew who flew these machines, the operational life of an aircraft and pilot was sometimes just a few hours.
The original design requirements were often uncompromising and left the prototype with certain unfriendly characteristics, many of which are passed on to our models. Narrow and long undercarriage legs, tapered wing tips, short nose sections and high stall speeds to mention a few. Another feature is camouflage, never the easiest of colour schemes to see when piloting a fast model.
So how to fly one? Well, in order to create flight patterns that represent the original and look convincing you’ll need to be using all four controls: elevator, rudder, aileron and throttle. Personally, I never couple any of these electronically as each manoeuvre can require different amounts of co-ordination and sometimes even opposite controls.
On take-off, let sufficient speed build up before you rotate in order to avoid the stall. Go for a steady safe climb-out and into the circuit, never haul the model up vertically for if all goes amiss you won't recover. If you find orientation difficult with the wheels up, simply lower them until your confidence returns.
In flying a scale model I try to replicate the original. For most Second World War fighters that's long banking turns, barrel rolls, large round loops and those high speed low passes. Very few of the machines had inverted fuel systems so no negative manoeuvres here. Film footage or local flying displays are the best way to find out what the full-size equivalent does best. Just watch and copy.
I normally lower the undercarriage on a slow fly-by in order to be sure it's down before entering the landing circuit. For a scale approach and touch-down try not to start the final leg of the circuit with too much height. Loose the altitude early and use a combination of throttle and elevator to ‘fly’ the model over the threshold. This normally avoids the 'kangaroo' approach that eats up fragile retracts. Also, whilst on approach keep the model level with a combination of aileron and rudder; try not to pick up a wing by using aileron alone as you may encourage the dreaded tip stall.
Remember, don't be shy. The best way forward is to watch and ask; modellers love to share their knowledge.
Name – F4U Corsair
Model type – Semi-scale WWII fighter
Manufactured by – Hangar 9
UK distributor – Horizon Hobby UK
Contact – 01279 641097, www.horizonhobby.co.uk
Street price – £180 (2007)
Wingspan – 65.5"
All-up weight – 7.5 – 8.5lbs
Rec'd engine – .61 – .75 two-stroke, .91 – 1.04 four-stroke
Rec'd no of channels – 5 (6 servos)