- This review was originally published in 2005. The model is still available.
It’s a fact that, given a pit full of aeromodellers, the conversation will eventually come around to the financial cost of this wonderful hobby. With the Far East dominating the ARTF market and computer radio sets becoming plentiful, R/C aeromodelling can be pursued without endangering your credit limit or suffering embarrassing conversations with either the bank manager or your wife!
After such a discussion at the strip I found myself back in the workshop and decided it was high time I conducted a thorough tidy-up. In the process I came across an engine box; its detectable heaviness persuaded me to open the lid. A long-forgotten O.S. 40LA was revealed, rusting in peace. Whilst I was pleased to find such a treasure, I was also frustrated that I didn’t have a model in which to install this blue beauty. If only I had something cheap that I could put together quickly…
When next at the strip my attention was drawn by a number of clubmates who were campaigning Travel Air and Speed Air ARTF models; they spoke very highly of them and considered the 40LA to be an ideal powerplant for any of the three models in the ‘Air’ range from Black Horse. I was convinced, so to complete the Delyn MFC’s ‘Air’ squadron I rang Al’s Hobbies in Milton Keynes and ordered the Super Air. It was certainly my lucky day as the helpful Pauline informed me that, as a post-Christmas offer, each kit in the Black Horse Models Air range had been reduced from £52 to £48! Still pinching myself, I concluded the deal and took delivery of the model the very next day. A quick look in the box reassured me that no further hardware was required – the 90% built Super Air is a very complete kit. The instruction book is fully illustrated, with clear and logical steps, which all helps to speed up the building process. Whilst I had an engine to hand I still needed to source servos, Rx, NiCad and switch – a quick hunt around the workshop soon yielded the required bits, whereupon I could get to work.
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With the workbench cleared, construction began with installation of the aileron servos – an ideal time to examine the quality of the wing. All the components are laser cut and the fit and finish of the servo plates and wing halves have to be admired. With the trusty Futaba 148s in place (one per wing panel) the wing halves were joined and set aside for the epoxy to cure.
Having removed the fuselage from its protective bag the fuel tank was assembled and installed and the servos fixed into their respective places within the radio bay. Next came the tail feathers, which were dry-fitted for squareness and glued in place, leaving very few large pieces in the box.
This time, when fettling the undercarriage, I took time to solder the fixings that retain the wheels on the undercarriage legs as I do have appalling luck with wheel collets. They develop a habit of bailing out when least expected and a one-wheel landing is always so inconvenient and stressful!
Turning my attention to the engine, I decided to give the 40LA some much-needed first aid as it seemed such a pity to put a mucky motor into a pristine model. The meticulous thought given to the design of the Super Air was properly exemplified during engine installation in that although the model was pre-fitted with an engine mount for a .46, a purpose-built mount for a .40 was also included in the kit. As such, it was only a five-minute job to swap the mounts and install the veteran .40. With the prop’ and spinner in place, the Super Air was complete – a nice, sleek machine. I readied the model for its first outing, checking and re-checking the controls, making any necessary adjustments and ensuring the C of G was in the right place. Although I don’t normally time my model building, I estimated that, allowing for the glue to dry, the model had taken all of two days (in short sessions) to assemble.
The forecast for the following day was good (a real bonus considering it was early March), so putting my faith in the Met. Office I duly put the NiCads on charge.
REFUSAL AT THE FIRST
The day dawned with clear skies but it wasn’t long before the cloud crept over and blanked out the warming spring sun. Down at the field there was the usual fettling and partial re-build as those little items that seemed to fit easily on the bench decided to be awkward on the day. The major factor here was that one wing bolt was out of alignment by 1/4”. Five minutes with a round file from the club tool-board soon had it seated properly, though. The ailerons, despite being thoroughly checked the night before, had developed a mind of their own and refused to get into line. On top of this, the cold weather also persuaded a plastic clevis to shed its pin, an event I’ve never before witnessed; fortunately a replacement was soon chased up. Despite loose retaining bolts on the silencer, a revolving rear pipe, and a loose propeller / spinner combo (oh, joy), the engine appeared very willing. This being the case, and with everything finally battened down or tightened up, she burst into life, idled well and throttled up with gusto, whereupon, we made our way to the strip.
Trying to convince myself that the last-minute problems weren’t really a doom-filled prophecy I placed the Super Air into wind and took a deep breath. Following a final check of all the controls I restrained the model whilst clearing the engine’s throat… the strip was clear, time to throttle up and go! The Super Air accelerated like a frightened rabbit, lifted and hared off into the sky. Two clicks of left aileron and three clicks of down trim were needed to get her flying hands off, whereupon she shook off the early morning harassment and flew beautifully. The model was responsive, steady and totally confidence inspiring, to the point that those ‘new model’ worries evaporated like the early spring dew.
For the price of a cup of tea a passing aero-journalist was cajoled into taking a few snaps for the album, and he favourably remarked on how commanding the model was.
The Super Air is fully aerobatic and rolls energetically both ways, loops are as tight as you want them – and all this with a veteran .40 up front. Testing the model out, a number of low passes were requested as the photographer’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be… The passes got lower and slower as my confidence increased, and there was no detectable tendency to tip stall. After 14 minutes of flight I brought her round and let her sink into the landing pattern for my first perfect three-pointer of the day. The second flight was even more controlled as the model had been trimmed out, but the LA’s fire went out early in the flight due to a mystery ailment and the Super Air suffered the indignity of landing just off the strip.
Well pleased with the day’s proceedings I packed my new charge away, content that future flights would explore the capabilities of this delightful little aircraft. It’s well made, the covering is of superior style and quality and the flying characteristics are dependable and exciting. Remembering my initial statement about the economics of aeromodelling, have a look at one in your model shop and check it out for yourself. You want value for money? Look no further. All round, I think Black Horse Models have another superior model.
Name: Super Air
Model type: Sport aerobatic ARTF
Manufactured by: Black Horse Models
UK distributor: Ripmax
RRP: £79.99 (Jan 2011)
Wing area: 3750cm2 (581sq. in.)
All-up weight: 2.4kg (5 lb 5oz)
Wing loading: 21oz / sq. ft.
Control functions: Ailerons, elevator, throttle, rudder
Rec’d engine: .40 – .46 two-stroke
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