Known throughout the modelling world for the manufacture of performance tuned two- and four-stroke engines, ARTF kits of the highest quality and its own brand Pro-Synth model fuel, Weston UK is a name that conjures images of power, speed and bling. Sporting models such as the Hype, Cougar and Magnum, the entire ARTF range can be flown with a suitable West engine and exhaust system, guided using West radio, and fuelled with the company’s very own fully synthetic nitro brew. Weston UK doesn’t just sell kits and engines, it offers entire packages that find favour with some of the most discerning flyers in the country. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the Capiche 140 – a model praised by both champions and club pilots for its amazing 3D and freestyle capability – should find itself so suitably positioned within the Weston range. So it was that Malcolm Corbin’s winning design, available only in kit form until Weston’s Alan Greenfield showed an interest, got sent to the Far East for an ARTF makeover.
I don’t mind telling you I’ve been a Capiche fan ever since getting my hands on an early 50-size version which, over the years, I flew the wings off and cut my 3D teeth on. It wasn’t long after this that Malcolm designed the 140 and, knowing it was going to be something special, I badgered him relentlessly in pursuit of his prototype. Eventually he weakened, sold me the model, and I used it for a couple of years before buying an updated kit version. Both aircraft are still in my possession, the latter being my 2 meter model of choice. So, how will Weston’s ARTF compare to the designer’s prototype and, indeed, the sought-after kit version? Let’s find out…
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Following an early morning call from the trusty postman, I was presented with a huge parcel which I was very eager to open. A quick signature and the outer packaging was rapidly unwrapped to reveal a colourful and well presented box displaying the model and suggesting recommended engine and pipe set-ups; all par for the course with a Weston UK kit. Anyway, once I had the lid off I could see that the Capiche was well packaged, with individual airframe parts bagged and separated to ensure safe transit. Upon removing the aforementioned protective bags, the quality of this 2 meter model really becomes apparent. The airframe is manufactured from balsa and liteply, covered in Profilm, and certainly seems to be of comparable weight to a kit-built version. Meanwhile, the accessory pack is bulging with high quality parts that are perfectly up to the job for serious 3D and freestyle flying. As a result of this, incidentally, I chose to use all of the supplied equipment rather than my preferred regular replacements. With all the parts laid out and inspected for damage (there was none) I had a quick flick through the manual. Concise and accurate would best describe the step-by-step guide, clear colour photos assisting one’s journey through the build, helping to make the process as painless as possible.
As with most ARTFs the actual assembly process is very straightforward, although another less desirable feature that the model shares with others of its kind is wrinkly covering, this as a result of temperature fluctuations during transit and storage. Mind you, since the covering is genuine Profilm, it’s very easily stretched with a quick blast from your heat gun.
Quality is not something that appears to have been compromised during the realisation of this ARTF, a fact that quickly becomes apparent as you begin the build. With prototypes sitting alongside it’s clear that the design has been very slightly altered, the main difference being the addition of a top hatch which makes radio and tank installation substantially easier than before. Another welcome new feature is the built-in pipe-tunnel, allowing you to use a full tuned pipe exhaust system, access being gained through a removable underside cover. Meanwhile, all control surfaces are attached with the excellent Robart hinge points, the respective components pre-drilled to make the process accurate and fast. Add a small amount of Rhino glue and the job’s done!
One thing about the Capiche that’s slightly different from other models is the fact that it has provision for using a pull-pull closed loop elevator control system, i.e. as you might use for rudder. Since each elevator half has its own pair of wires, you will, of course, end up with four cables running to the back of the fuselage for the elevator and another two for the rudder – six in total. So, make sure you don’t get them tangled! It’s worth the effort though, for with the system up and running you’ll have a supremely precise and strong arrangement, allowing you to easily achieve the large movements needed for 3D flying. In addition to the closed-loop set up, for those who prefer a conventional arrangement, pre-cut slots are provided to accommodate rear mounted servos and conventional pushrods.
Specific to my model, powering both the rudder and elevator, are Hitec titanium HS7955s, whilst a brace of Hitec HS-5645MGs are employed to drive the ailerons. All are all plugged into a 7-channel 2.4GHz Futaba FAAST receiver, powered by an old school 1800mAh 6V NiMH pack.
On the engine front, you’ll find the firewall pre-drilled to accept the supplied mount, to which any large four-stroke (West 180, for instance) will fit. Best of all, four-strokes in this class can easily be accommodated within the cowl, tuned pipes being housed neatly along the aforementioned tunnel.
Since undercarriage issues are common-place on ARTF kits these days, I feel obliged to mention that this one’s absolutely fine. Here, then, the dural legs took but a few minutes to install, whilst the glass fibre spats feature pre-drilled holes, are easy to fit and of genuinely good quality.
And so, with the build complete I weighed the airframe dry and I was pleased to discover that it came in at 11.1 lbs, marginally heavier than a well built kit version!
JUST LIKE OLD TIMES
With the summer upon us, a beautiful day presented the perfect opportunity to test the Capiche. Usual field and range checks preceded the test firing of my Magnum West 180 four-stroke, which after a light prime burst into life like a seasoned favourite.
With the engine on song the Capiche was lined up and upon opening the throttle she was airborne within 12 feet. No problem with the power, then! Once airborne, trimming the model proved simplicity itself, the aircraft needing just two clicks of left rudder to produce arrow-like tracking. Although itching to try some aerobatics I opted to investigate the stall characteristics first and, as you might expect, these are completely benign. In the event, the nose of the model remained on the horizon whilst the aircraft simply mushed, this prior to an almost vertical descent – the perfect Parachute!
Formalities behind me, it was time to try some smooth aerobatics. Sharing all the characteristics of the original kit, the Capiche is silky smooth, accurate and graceful. One roll circuits are very axial, as are rebound rolling circuits and loops. Likewise, knife-edge flight is pure with no noticeable coupling, a fact that compliments all the pattern aerobatic manoeuvres and really does give the model presence in the air.
A flick of the rate switch is all that’s needed to summon the model’s 3D capability and, again, I instantly felt at home with this model as it shares the super-forgiving characteristics of the kit built version. The harrier is solid, both upright and inverted, whilst rolling harriers are very axial, it being particularly easy to keep the nose high thanks to the large surfaces and equally large movements available.
With the West 180 on-board the Capiche will prop hang at about three-quarter throttle, and at full power will climb from the hover with sufficient speed. Whether hanging or torque rolling the model is totally stable, requiring minimal correction to keep it locked in. Meanwhile, blenders are extremely graceful, the aeroplane descending very slowly and flattening out beautifully. Oh, and rolling harrier loops can be accomplished in just three aircraft lengths if you use all the available control movements. Incidentally, the balance point I’d chosen was pretty much exactly at the centre of the wing tube, and has proven to be comfortably neutral in smooth aerobatics while not compromising the 3D capability at all.
Happy that I’d got a winner on my hands and that the ARTF had lost none of the original’s performance, I landed the Capiche, which, to be honest, is easier than most trainers; it just floats in! Could I have asked for more from a first flight? No!
This is a design that has outlasted many of its contemporaries and, in my view, is the best two-meter freestyle model available. At the beginning of this review I questioned whether Weston’s ARTF can compare to the hugely popular kit version, to which the answer is an unqualified yes! The model’s presence and flying characteristics are identical to the original, but then, they should be, since Weston’s Capiche has been produced from the original plans and tweaked only for radio installation and wing attachment.
Although slightly heavier than the original kit, the wing loading remains low and the flying characteristics appear unaffected. Truth is, for my money the precision that’s offered here is sufficient to make the model an excellent choice for intermediate F3A pattern flying, indeed I’ll wager it’ll be a winner for many years to come.
- Although the 140 is presently unavailable, a number of other Capiche variants certainly are, check the Weston UK website
Name: Capiche 140
Model type: Freestyle / 3D aerobat
Manufactured by: Weston UK
UK distributor: Weston UK, www.westonuk.co.uk
Wingspan: 78” (1980mm)
Fuselage length: 79” (2010mm)
All-up weight: 11.1 lbs
Functions (servos): Rudder (1); elevator (1); throttle (1); aileron (2)
Rec’d engine: 1.40 – 1.80 cu. in. four-stroke, 1.20 – 1.60 cu. in. two-stroke