Clubmate Nathan Farrell-Jones had flown Hangar 9's Showtime at our field, and like everyone else, I wondered if those funny SFGs (Side Force Generators) really worked. Nathan said they did, and they made the model grip the air better. So when ed. Graham asked me to review the Showtime's little brother, I was keen to have a go. Even better, he asked me to air-test the accompanying Evolution 36 NT engine. A tough job, but someone's gotta do it!
Like all Hangar 9 products this ARTF is well presented, with accurately-fitting parts. The supplied photo-assembly manual is beautifully written in 'proper' English, with large photographs clearly detailing the stage youíre working on. Putting the model together involves little more than screwdriver assembly, with a bit of simple gluing, so I won't bore you with the details. The model went together very nicely with no head-scratching, and no bits that were 'out' or needed re-fitting. For a finishing touch, I added my custom signature stickers to the cockpit (sourced from rcgraphics.co.uk), and I was ready to go. Just how quick was it to put together? Well, I received the model on Friday night and flew it on Sunday morning. I guess I need say little else, though you may be interested in the following basic points:
The model balanced without any additional lead.
The unusual Side Force Generators are optional.
Hangar 9 supply neat covers if you wish to fly without SFGs; and you can easily swap between the two.
No parts or accessories were missing from the kit.
The standard of covering was very good indeed.
I used all the supplied hardware and made no substitutions.
Fit an Evolution 36 engine and you won't be disappointed.
I fitted Futaba radio and used standard ball raced Futaba 3003 servos throughout. Fun-fly style, the throttle, rudder, and elevator servos hang out in the breeze from the fuselage, whilst the wing panels play host to individual servos for the ailerons. Normal practice on such high-performance models is to fit short, stiff linkages to stop any blow-back on large control surfaces, however, Hangar 9 have had to use long snakes on the Tribute to get the C of G where it needs to be, which is well forward. Itís worth noting, however, that these snakes exhibited no slop, and worked perfectly.
THROWS & EXPO
To experienced 3D modellers, such settings might seem like a small point, but they are actually extremely important. The Tribute's control settings are very thoroughly and clearly set out by Hangar 9, for both high and low rates. They also list the appropriate exponential setting for each control, too. This is an excellent way of taking the guesswork out of setting up a complex group of controls on a computer Tx. Accordingly, a beginner to 3D would have no problem setting his model up correctly from the information provided and that, I feel, is a tremendous advantage.
I like to throw my models around, so I ignored the factory control deflections and set my high rates to 'hooligan' setting, i.e. maximum throw on all surfaces! For the purposes of this review I also set the low rates as recommended by Hangar 9, with the following exponential settings:
Elevator (high rate): 70% expo
Aileron (high rate): 55% expo
Rudder: 45% expo
I notice that Hangar 9 call their recommended high rates Ď3Dí, yet boast the Tribute as being a '4D' aeropalne. Clearly, theyíre somewhat confused and, quite honestly, so am I! I really don't know the difference between the two, but would love someone to explain if they get a moment. (Rightly or wrongly, Iíve always assumed that 4D was a badge pinned only to aircraft that can fly backwards, i.e. Shock Flyers with reverse pitch propellers - ed.).
EVOLUTION 36 NT
This engine is very eye-catching. It has lots of fluted cooling fins that snake from front to back, giving it the air of a high-tech bicycle helmet! The main thing I noticed was the restricted movement of the remote needle valve. The idea is that beginners to glow engines are allowed only a few degrees of needle valve alteration. Since this datum is factory set, the principle is that you can lean the engine out but can't stray too far from the 'start' setting. I was sceptical, since I wondered what you did if it wouldn't tune between the fixed limits. The supplied documentation promised it was factory tuned, but I've read that before! However, in the event my scepticism was misplaced. On the field it worked brilliantly. It started first go out of the box, and has performed well ever since within the available range of adjustment. It really is a good combination.
You can re-adjust the given factory mixture position, but the process is a little involved. Providing the engine is correctly set at the factory then I reckon the idea works, and you won't have to alter it. In terms of performance the Evolution is a little cracker, and it complements the Tribute perfectly. Available from Helger Distribution dealers, the Evolution 36NT has a street price of around £72.
Right, let's get down to the main event. How well does it fly? Few words are required to describe this, in fact just one will do... Brilliant! The maiden flight was in almost gale conditions yet the Tribute handled it very well. It really did fly 'straight out the box'. It will perform anything in the book, providing you know the stick inputs, and will do all you ask of it. Even in a gale it tracks very precisely and can easily perform the whole 3D circus of flicks, flat spins, knife-edge loops, blenders, harriers, the wall, and of course it will hover. Moreover, it exits the bottom of knife-edge loops pretty quickly, in fact I'd say that if you're looking for a model to perfect your knife-edge loops, then this is the one!
The Side Force Generators proved not to be a gimmick, as they do extend the Tribute's performance. Fly without them and the model still performs very well, but not as precisely, and it will fly just that bit faster at the low end. The SFGs really come into their own in knife-edge manoeuvres, though it must be said that the Tribute is easier to transport without them.
Ok, so what are the pros and cons of this Tribute / Evolution 36 package?
It does what it is says on the box.
The kit offers a snag-free build.
The model is a superb performer.
Itís fantastic for knife-edge flight.
The SFGs actually work, and enhance the flying qualities.
Itís a superb no-fuss winter model.
The kit has good, clear instructions and offers the best
advice I've seen for de-mystifying the setting up of rates, control throws, and exponential.
The Evolution 36 is poweful yet very quiet.
Transporting the model complete with its bulky SFGs in place needs a degree of care.
Yup, I reckon the Tribute ticks all the right boxes for both established and budding 3D (4D?) pilots. If you're looking for top-class performance from a small airframe then you won't go far wrong with this one.