CAP 232 from Jamara
I must admit that, delightful as this little model is, it didn't exactly jump out at me when I first came across it at the BMFA Nationals recently. While I've always loved the lines of the 232, and the shape of the cowl in particular, I didn't think it would be possible to scale that appeal down into a model with a wingspan of only 36". A quick glimpse inside the box, however, persuaded me otherwise: it's a solid-looking model with a perfectly shaped and proportioned glass cowl that gives a more than fair representation of the thoroughbred full-size aerobatic aircraft.

Rather less enticing, however, is the manufacturer's warning that, "these products are designed for the advanced users; introductory or intermediate-level user [sic] are not able to assemble or fly them." Makes you wonder what you're in for, doesn't it? Especially when you realise that there isn't even a contents list in the instructions!

When I made a stock-check of my own, it became apparent that the instructions tend to convey the spirit of the build rather than the literal truth of it. My kit, for example, didn't contain anything resembling the spar shown in the instructions. Instead, there were two pieces of ply which, when laminated together and sanded a little, produced a perfect wing joiner.

As with many ARTFs, then, one of the things that you have to bring to this kit is a little of the initiative required to work around these sort of anomalies.

After attaching the ailerons to the wing halves and solving the wing spar puzzle, I glued the two wing panels together with a dihedral of 35 - 40mm, and left the glue to work its magic overnight.

The next step was to remove the pre-formed cut-out in the wing to make space for the single, central, aileron servo. When it came to fitting the mounting plate, however, it became obvious that the servo cut-out was intended for mini gear while the mount provided was for a full size servo. Ho hum. My solution was to extend the cut-out and use the provided mounting hardware for a standard JR 517 servo.

Next, I hooked up the ailerons using simple connecting rods, which just left the reinforcing plate to fit on the underside of the wing. Again, this called for a dab of initiative as the plate has pre-drilled holes but the wing doesn't. Lining up the plate with the captive nuts in the fuselage, therefore, takes a little bit of care and a touch of fiddling.

Assembling the tail involves little more than removing the covering from the surfaces that are to be glued together, and remembering to fit the elevator joining rod before you glue the tailplane to the back of the fuselage. Once you've attached the elevators and the rudder using the hinges supplied, the job's done.

I was surprised by the size of the tail wheel assembly, which seems very large in relation to the rest of the model. The aluminium main gear, meanwhile, is bolted into place using two captive nuts on the front of the fuselage, followed by the plastic spats which fit over the wheels - or at least they do if your kit contains the requisite fasteners. Mine didn't, and I had to make up the shortfall from my spares drawer.

The 232's bubble canopy is arguably the aeroplane's most distinctive feature, and Jamara has made a very good job of modelling it: the moulding has a clear cut-line to follow, and pre-painted white edging that contrasts beautifully with the deep blue of the fuselage. I elected to screw the canopy in place rather than glue it on, giving me the option of removing it if necessary - a lucky choice as it turned out.

When it came to the motor, I found that I'd been misled most foully! The blurb on the box had suggest that the model could use either a .15cu. in. i.c. engine or a "suitable" electric motor. The instructions, however, told me that a .25cu. in. engine is recommended, but made absolutely no mention of leccy motors, which rather put a crimp in my plan to convert the model to electric power once I'd finished the review!

Throwing caution and the instructions to the wind, I decided to fit a little O.S. .10FP. I tried to rationalise my decision on the grounds that the smaller motor would pull the CAP around in a more scale-like manner, but in truth I fitted the engine for no better reason than the fact that it was lying around the workshop...

Further ignoring the instructions, which suggested that I dress the cowling before installing the motor, I now set about fitting the motor to the engine mount. The simplest way to do this (whilst also maintaining the correct distance between the nose ring and the spinner backplate) is as follows: Loosely fit the cowling and then measure the distance between the firewall and the nose ring. Add 2mm for clearance and you then have the dimension between the back of engine mount and the front of the prop' driver. Having established the correct position for the engine on the mount, you can now drill holes for the fixing screws, before offering up the mount to the firewall and marking out its location. Again, the fixing hardware referred to in the instructions wasn't included in my kit, so I used M3 Nyloc nuts to fit the mount, passing the bolts through from the inside of the fuselage. With the little O.S. in place, the next job was to drill a hole in the firewall for the throttle linkage.

The long, square 85cc fuel tank, meanwhile, went in through the bulkhead without any difficulty, even after I'd wrapped it in foam. The only thing to consider here is whether you want to replace it with a 120cc tank for longer flight times.

The rudder, elevator, and throttle servos are mounted on a ply doubler / servo tray that forms the floor of the cockpit. The cut-outs in the ply are of a size to take standard size servos, so unless you want to fit minis - in which case you'll have to devise a mounting arrangement of your own - you simply need to cut through the balsa beneath the ply doubler and drop the servos into place.

Again, I used JR 517s for the elevator and rudder, and a Futaba 3001 for the throttle. However, since the large canopy put the servos very much on display, I decided to 'smoke' the inside of the bubble using model car paint. Good job I hadn't glued it in place, eh?

At first sight, the kit's 8mm wooden pushrods feel a bit weak, but they're tough enough for a model of this size. Mind you, due to a misalignment of the exit holes and the installed horn positions, the rudder pushrod did bind a little, although the remedy involved nothing more drastic than re-cutting the exit hole. A similar amount of fettling was required when it came to ensuring that the aileron linkages didn't foul the throttle cable when the wing was fitted - just the sort of fine-tuning that a build usually involves, and not half as irritating as the blasted hardware bag, which now came up short of clevises!

At this point a quick check of the model's balance showed that the CAP was extremely tail heavy. Fitting the four-cell 1400 NiMH battery pack inside the cowl and shoving the receiver as far forward as possible helped a little, but she was still down at the stern. My scales told me that the CAP weighed in at 1114g, which was pretty much bang on the suggested flying weight. However, I then had to hang 286g of lead onto the engine mount to bring the C of G anywhere near the posted rearmost limit, which is 40mm aft of the wing leading edge.

Obviously something was wrong, so I took a long look at the wing and decided that the suggested position for the C of G was far too far forward. Perhaps, I thought, it should be measured from the indented section of the wing where the front dowel is? In the end, I settled for a compromise position, halfway between the stated position and my guesstimate.

After setting up the control throws, I finished the build by cutting holes in the cowl for the needle valve and exhaust. A spinner wasn't included in the kit so I went off to the model shop in search of one. Clearly, the front end wouldn’t look finished without it.

Off to the flying field, then, and with the engine purring away I carried the diminutive model out onto the freshly cut strip and pushed the throttle to the stop. The CAP simply sat there, refusing to move an inch until I gave her a kick up the chuff, whereupon she waddled off down the runway with about as much chance of getting airborne as a Dodo! The little wheels were too small to cope with the grass, and the spats were filling up with clippings.

Eventually, we gave up on the idea of flying her off the ground and chose, instead, to give her a bung. Of course, hand-launching a model like this takes a little experience, although fortunately there are a few lads in our club who know where to hold a model and how hard to chuck it. Suffice to say, eventually, we got the CAP flying. Just. After just a couple of minutes battling with the trim and the low power, the little engine quit. The best that could be said of this first flight was that the CAP flew dead-stick quite well.

Back in the pits I restarted the engine and tried to tune it to run reliably, but every time we got the model airborne the motor went sick. Eventually, we recognised not only that the mill was too small, but missing a pressure nipple on the exhaust, which was the cause of the rough running.

Back in the workshop, a borrowed O.S. 15FP with an 8 x 6" prop' was slotted into the cowling, and the CAP was once again ready for the off.

Though she now had enough oomph to taxi unassisted, the small wheels meant that she tripped over her own feet as soon as she began to get up steam. After another hand-launch, however, I was having to back off the mighty O.S. as the CAP raced off around the field! So much for needing a .25 engine. As I began to explore the handling, I found that the roll rate is quite quick enough and very axial, so slow rolls can be performed with very little correction needed to prevent the nose from dropping. Inverted flight is simple and needs only a gentle forward push on the stick to keep her level, which put my mind at rest over that C of G issue. The authoritative rudder, meanwhile, makes stall turns a breeze, and even with the relatively low power of the .15, it's possible to perform big loops.

The model will tail stall very quickly and with little warning, and although it isn't what I'd call violent, it did catch me by surprise. When the wing stalls, on the other hand, the resulting manoeuvre tends to be more of a nod than a flick, but again it comes up a little too quickly for comfort.

The 85cc (3oz) tank gave me nine minutes of flight, after which I brought the model in dead-stick. The landing went very well right up until the moment when the wheels hit the floor. Happily, the ensuing double summersault bought her to rest in the middle of the strip undamaged.

Although this wasn't the easiest ARTF I have had the pleasure of putting together, it certainly wasn't the worst. What's more, it took only a few flights to forget the build and really begin to enjoy flying the CAP, which belongs to what I'd call the old school of aerobats. She's very solid and flies accurately, but by modern standards she's probably too heavy for her size: all-up the CAP weighed in at 1160g without fuel and with a standard O.S. .15FP engine and 8 x 6" Master Airscrew prop'. In comparison, the Fliton Extra that I reviewed recently is around 5% larger, more than 50% lighter, and far more capable in the handling department.

Having said all that, the only fault that I can find with the handling that she does have is the high stall speed, but that's just a question of getting to know how far you can push the model without coming unstuck.

No, the biggest bugbear is the size of the wheels. I hate having to rely on someone else to get airborne, and I'm sure that I won't get away with too many landings where she ends up on her roof. Mind you, I'm not even sure that bigger wheels will solve the problem unless you're lucky enough to fly from a runway that's as smooth as a bowling green; asphalt might be the only cure.