- This review was first published in 2006.
- A Luna II has since been released.
- Andy compared the Luna with the RCRCM Typhoon 'head to head' in his Oct 2010 On The Edge column.
No area of moulded slope kit production is as hotly contested as the 2m sport model market. Chinese manufacturers have cottoned on to this, jumping onto the bandwagon to meet the eastern European domination of this market head-on. This particular arena is seemingly dominated in the UK by designs from Polish outfit X-Models; some variation of the popular Blade series can be seen on most hills open to the culture that fully moulded glider modelling brings. However, the end might well be in sight for the ubiquitous Blade with the arrival of this new 2m sport design.
As is often the case these days, the model is known by different names, dependant on your location. In Europe and the East the model is called Luna and shall be referred to as such throughout this review. In the USA and similar parts thereof, it is known as the Makis. Anyway, irrespective of the name the kit is fairly well presented and seemingly able to live up to the challenge, although you can see areas where it has been built to a price. Not that this an issue, mind you. The Luna is being touted as a ‘fly anywhere’ moulded sports model and not the fastest, slickest high-end slope racer or mega strong DS tool. It’s definitely a mainstream model as mouldies go.
As my slope soaring mates and I were mulling over the contents of the kit, the worst we could throw at it was that the manufacturer probably needed to vacuum the workshop a little better, i.e. to stop the dust flecks that we could see in the gel coat. Oh, and also to give their moulds another coat of wax as one wing looked like it might have been stuck in there momentarily!
The paint on the wings had some evidence of being titivated here and there after manufacture, but in fairness we were dissecting it at a silly level by then and many people casually viewing the model since have just not noticed the minor blooming. The overall quality is really excellent considering the price tag of around £200 plus shipping.
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SHE’S GOT THE LOOK
Aesthetically this is a very pretty model. The crescent wing, tail profile and modern ‘flicky up’ wingtips, coupled with the removable cross tail and a bold contrasting underside colour scheme help set it apart from the usual red and yellow V-tail affairs. The two-piece wing is moulded to an MH32 section at 8.7% and it’s this section that was Martin Hepperle’s answer to Girsberger’s RG15, which is popular on similar models. Many designers nowadays seem to be favouring MH32 for its proven thermal soaring performance (especially with the use of camber changing flap systems), and it’s not unusual to see it utilised on higher-end F3J machines. This means that the Luna is not only a very slippery toy but is also able to achieve outstanding thermally light lift performance too. Especially if you have the knowledge to get the wing set up correctly with trick computerised mixing. It’s still easy to get results straight off the board if you’re a bit of an aerodynamic muppet who doesn’t know his diff from his reflex though. A joggle with the linkages will also ensure that you can get the over-large flaps down to around 80 degrees, guaranteeing rapid braking or backwards landings and hand catches if you’re a flashy fly-boy.
Where the Luna does step its game up a gear is in areas which really do make a difference to ownership. For instance, there are gap seals on all control surfaces and the radio installation is achievable with grown up size hands and no shoehorn. Sensible batteries can be placed in the nose and the tricky pushrod installations are already done. Servo covers are moulded; you don’t have to hack them from a mismatched sheet of ABS plastic and paint them up to avoid the sore thumb look. Decent servos, which don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, can be mounted in the wing servo bays with no requirement to source fancy digital slimline affairs. Everything fits and, clearly, that’s very important.
Less impressive though are the lack of tow hook for what makes an excellent 2m class flat field model (yes I fitted one), the requirement to mount your own ballast tube (although in practice it’s really quite easy) and the plastic wing bolts supplied as standard. True these might be desirable if you’re unsure about your ability to hit the floor with the correct bit of the model at the correct speed, but there can be nothing more frustrating than trying to heat up a small screwdriver with a cigarette lighter on a cold and windy mountainside so you can melt a slot in a snapped off bolt and withdraw it.
The lack of some resin and microballoons during wing and tail construction is also a niggle; that would have prevented the joiners disappearing down the bottomless holes and into the panels. Be especially careful with the tail joiners as there’s no way out again! My servo of choice for toys like these is the Hitec HS85MG. Enough torque for the job, reasonably priced, easy to obtain and standardising on one kind makes carrying spares a lot easier. Some time ago I tried the excellent servo mounts available from Cubbitt’s models in Trowbridge and to be honest I’ve never looked back. Not only do they make fitment considerably quicker but also facilitate easy removal of the unit if you need it, whilst wasting no usable depth within the wing. They’re only about £6 a pair too and much better than plastering five-minute epoxy everywhere.
With only the tiniest rudder to deal with and an all moving tailplane which, aerodynamically, seems well balanced, I also used HS85MGs for the back end flappy bits as well. It’s worth noting here that the rudder is actually hinged with silicon. No doubt this permits a much easier installation of the tailplane bellcrank during manufacture and a silicon hinge has never let me down despite far more extreme applications than this. There isn’t much carbon to be seen in the lay up of the model. The manufacturer has confined its use to where it’s really required within the wing spar. The wing skin is multiple layers of glass over a balsa sheet skin with the paint being applied to the moulds before fabrication. I couldn’t see any carbon in the fuselage either, save for the extra bit I added for the tow hook. I might have expected some around the tailplane mounts though. There is no large block of wood to hack your way through in the wing seat area and the captive nuts for the wing mounts are glued into place on the inside. The supplied ballast tube at 19mm diameter can hold over two pounds of your best church roof which is retained with a plastic pin through the front of the tube. You’re required to fit this tube yourself at a jaunty angle through the front bulkhead but this will ensure that you don’t send the plum bum flying through your receiver in an unjust arrival.
The wing is joined by a round piece of 10mm diameter carbon rod which has been specifically moulded for the job. The reason for the moulding is that there’s a crank in the middle of it to provide the dihedral. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that on a round carbon wing joiner. It’s difficult to replace, mind, if you leave it on the slope when you pack up. If you manage to snap it instead I’m pretty sure that a broken joiner will be the least of your worries!
The tail is hung off a smaller rod with a standard 2mm wire incidence peg acting as a drive for the bellcrank. Unusually there are four wing bolts to make up. A product of the two-piece wing I’m afraid. The model does pack up very tidily though and would make a pretty good travelling companion when all broken down.
As for the radio bay, this is covered by a moulded slip-on nose cone which is a bit of a slack fit. Nothing that a smear of epoxy or cyano’ on the inside couldn’t sort, though. With all the linkages fabricated from the parts supplied in the kit and the wiring loom made from the supplied extension leads (not the plugs – I prefer the Multiplex grey jobbies for this kind of work), the model was ready for its lovely decal (not supplied). Finally, the time had come to chuck it off an overly high piece of Wales.
TO THE SLOPE
The day was a ‘good lift’ day. About 20mph of English North Westerly blowing over the border and up the not inconsiderable face of the hill. I also had 1000 feet below me to get it wrong a number of times before it became a much bigger problem. To any of those readers out there who’ve been sniping of late about the ‘soft’ way kits are tested for review to please the advertisers, what happened during the test flight of this poor little glider should stand as testament to what the designers have achieved with nothing more than a little thought, careful design and a fair measure of talent.
Egged on by an assembled throng of gliding peers I threw everything I could at this model and it just sucked it up expecting more. Ballistic dives from daft heights, the tightest high G turns I could muster, full rudder / opposite aileron thermal turns at full camber, fast racing passes, snap rolls, point rolls, consecutive loops, consecutive bunts, stall turns, inside and outside square loops, vertical eights, spins, stupidly extreme aerobatics and even some moderate dynamic soaring. I really wanted to hack it off to prove that decent models cost way much more than this one does… I couldn’t.
The powerful crow brakes had me glad I’d taped the nose cone on and I could hit the same spot every time. It says a lot about the model that when I passed the box to another flier so I could take photos, he was immediately confident enough to fly it inverted up the fence line of the lip of the slope! Then again, it wasn’t his model was it?
I’ve had the Luna out on numerous days since, primarily because it’s an easy aeroplane to chuck in the car with the kids’ stuff for an opportunistic sortie now and then. Whether it’s loaded with ballast on a scary big day or scratching around under full camber sniffing for sparrow flatulence, the Luna has never failed to leave me impressed for a 2 meter model. It’s not right, you know. It’s just not right! To think of the money I’ve spent on bigger toys that don’t fly half this well.
Aircraft type: 2m sport glider
Manufactured in: China
Distributor: T9 Hobbysport, www.t9hobbysport.com
RRP: £279 (2012)
Wingspan: 78 3⁄4'' (2000mm)
Fuselage length: 47'' (1194mm)
Wing area: 525sq. in.
Wing section: MH32 8.71% at 30.2% of the chord
Camber: 2.36% at 40.4% of the chord
All-up weight: 53oz (1.53kg)
Wing loading: 141⁄2oz / sq. ft.
Control functions: Rudder, elevator, ailerons, flaps, crow
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