Ripmax ME-109

Ripmax ME-109

Pretty isn’t she?

Personally I have always liked the look of the Me109. It’s certainly a purposeful and aggressive looking machine, almost a counterpoint to the beauty and grace of its arch enemy, the Spitfire. Indeed this Ripmax 48″ span rendition of the famous Messerschmitt captures a lot of the character of the full size. Designed as a stablemate for their already popular electric Spitfire and Mustang of the same size, it can be flown on a standard 600 sized brushed motor but an appropriate brushless outrunner coupled up to a 3300mah 3-Cell Li-po can be used for really exciting performance.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The kit is packaged in colourful and attractive box, featuring one large image on the front with the usual fact file about the aircraft plus some flying shots scattered around the sides. Upon lifting the lid you are greeted with a well packed box using sturdy cardboard separators to keep all the main airframe components apart.

All parts are also bagged up and once removed I was pleased to see a well built and surprisingly light airframe that looks to be constructed from laser cut parts, the fir of parts seems to be superb.

Another thing that struck me while looking at the kit was how ‘scale’ it seems to be with things like the wing fairing and a very complex moulded cowling, featuring all sorts of scale lumps, bumps and intakes, very nice.
This 109 is covered in heat-shrink film, but with a difference – the colour scheme, markings and panel lines are printed onto the film before it is applied to the aircraft. This means that for once, there are no stickers to apply. The colour scheme is a little bright and you can see that it has been printed, but It doesn’t bother me all that much.

It’s a nice, well made model.

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While mentioning the covering it should be noted that a small amount of wrinkling in the covering was apparent although this was taken out quickly using a covering Iron. A full hardware pack is also supplied which provides all the small accessories needed to finish the model. The manual is a step-by-step guide with photos, generally very clear and easy to understand.

BUILDING
Well, I say building but apart from hardware install there really is only one part of construction to note and that is the installation of the fin and tailplane. This doesn’t take long – marking and removing the film from the contact areas and then applying epoxy (I used one-hour) and sliding the parts into place.

Once this is done you can attach the support struts for the tailplane while checking that you keep the tailplane level and straight as you attach it, after this you can get on with hinging the surfaces.

Talking of hinges, all the slots for the hinges are pre-cut and the hinges themselves are the standard Mylar strip type. Using some thin cyano this job was quickly dealt with.
Starting the hardware install, I decided to get the servo installation out of the way. I used Hitec HS-81s as I have used them before with success and they’re pretty cheap too. They go into the openings in the wing with no problem and the servo tray in the fuselage just needs opening out ever so slightly to accept them. The control snakes for the tail feathers are pre-installed in the fuselage and this makes connecting them up using the supplied horns a doddle.

The aileron servos do require extension leads but I had some extension wire handy so I just cut the servo wires and extended and then re-soldered them. Before installing the motor it is a good idea to go over all the wood joints of the engine mount with thin cyano, on my model this area looked a little dry.

This is the 4-Max power package I used.

The motor I decided to use was the 4-Max 3542-1250 outrunner together with a 4-Max 45A ESC, Both of these items were supplied by George Worley at 4-Max (see link below) who after calling with a few questions turned out to be very useful and knowledgeable on all things electric!
This motor bolts very nicely onto the firewall and even the holes line up. The speed controller sits neatly below the battery tray in a perfect spot for cooling.

I grabbed one of my spare receivers which happened to be a Futaba R-147 FB Slim which fits inside the fuselage with room to spare. I would be hesitant using a limited range receiver like the Futaba R146iP, as this model does use a fair amount of sky and the slight extra weight of a full range receiver isn’t anything to be concerned about. Most of the rest of the build isn’t really worth mentioning in detail and is just adding cosmetic parts like the pre-cut canopy, cowl and under-wing radiators, all can be done in a matter of minutes.

One thing I feel I should touch on is the spinner. The supplied item is a lightweight plastic cone that you have to glue to a wooden backplate. I did the best I could with this and ended up with a spinner that looked as though it was running fairly true. I decided to persevere with this and see how it worked out. The last thing on the list was to balance the model, amazingly with the 4-Max 3300mAh 3-cell flight pack fully forward the model came out right at the balance point at roughly 83mm back from the leading edge. It was time for the interesting bit.

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FLYING
The 109 had been finished and waiting for about 2 weeks until the right day came along. Sunny with a slight breeze down the strip, perfect! Or so I thought. After popping the magnetic canopy off, I slid in a freshly charged flight pack and secured using a Velcro strap. I then proceeded through all the usual pre-flight checks and a range check with the motor running, everything seemed fine. I decided to give the motor a burst of full throttle. As I progressed and passed half throttle vibration started to make itself apparent and I couldn’t even get near full throttle so I throttled back to investigate. Although the tip of the spinner seemed to be running true, it turned out that the hole in the backplate wasn’t drilled in the centre or even exactly 90-degrees to the backplate, so as you would expect ,the rear of the spinner was totally out of balance.

Granted I should have noticed this earlier, but the possibility had never crossed my mind taking into account the quality of the rest of the model. Rather than work on the model at the field I decided to go home and try again another day. Eager to get the Messerschmitt flying, I rummaged through my spare bits box to find a spinner, no luck there, so I just decided to just fly without one. Back to the field I went and this time things were much more successful.

Make no mistake, this is a fine little aeroplane.

Full power was now smooth and there certainly was a lot of thrust being produced. Judging by the lack of side area I decided not to use anywhere near full throttle for the launch as the torque could cause some problems. James Gordon, a club mate, offered to throw the ‘109 for me and with just above half throttle selected it pretty much just flew out of his hands, although I did need some right rudder pretty much instantly to counteract the torque.

A few beeps of right rudder trim later followed by a few beeps of down elevator and the Messerschmitt was flying hands off. Investigating the general handling of the model showed that the advised control movements were pretty much spot on for my liking. I climbed up to test the stall and found that the model would slow down a surprising amount before dropping a wing, usually the left.

Releasing the elevator resulted in the model instantly unstalling itself and begin flying again. Bringing the model back down to where it should be I decided to try some proper warbird style aerobatics. This is where the model really excels, fast, smooth, positive-G aeros. It really does feel very solid and stable and the 4-Max motor and APC-E 11×8 prop provide a serious amount of power.
When I say serious I mean unlimited vertical performance and so much thrust that I am not sure I would want to try full throttle in level flight for too long. This means that most of the flight can be flown at around half throttle and only needing to use the power in the vertical. Low passes are sublime as are barrel rolls and rolling derry reversals, loops can be flown as big as you desire and they track very well too.

I tried knife-edge just to see what would happen. Surprisingly it does it pretty well, albeit with quite a bit of elevator mixing, but that small rudder is amazingly powerful. After about 8 minutes of fun I decided to land. This required a long approach to let the speed bleed off enough and at about 2 ft, I stopped the motor and let the Messerschmitt settle to the ground without too much of a flare as I didn’t want to provoke a tip stall. The ‘109 skidded to a halt without issue.
Disarming the model I noticed that the pack was only barely warm so cooling seems to be excellent, this may however get slightly worse with a spinner. Since the first flight I have flown it quite a few more times. I’m now getting flights of about 12 minutes with quite a lot of flight time in reserve for multiple landing attempts. I have also implemented a 12% throttle to rudder mix to add right rudder as the throttle is advanced. I should really add right thrust to the motor but this mix works so well that I haven’t felt the need to.

CONCLUSION
I really enjoyed building and flying this little warbird. In fact I am thoroughly pleased with its performance. The quality of the kit is high although the spinner does let the whole package down and I would advise using a proper spinner in its place. The way this little ‘109 flies though does make up for that. I like the fact the model is small enough that you can get it in the boot of an estate car in one piece but if you need to take it apart then that is no problem too.
The 4-Max motor, ESC and battery combo supplied by Purple Power provides more then enough ‘go’ and quite respectable flight times. And to top it all off, unlike some ‘scale’ aircraft of this size, It does actually look pretty, much like the real thing. All in all. I highly recommend it.

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DATAFILE

UK distributor/Manufacturer : Ripmax
RRP: £99.99
Available from: Your local model shop

Wingspan: 120 cm (48 in)
Fuselage length: 108 cm (42.5 in)
All-up weight: 1.3kg with flight pack.
Motor/ESC used: 4-Max 3542-1250 outrunner, 45-amp ESC
Propeller used: APC-e 11×8
Servos used: Hitec HS-81 x 4

Click here to visit the 4-Max site.

 

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