Pierre Rondel assembles a new kid on the block from the rarified world of moulded gliders. Additional pictures by Joël Marin.
The market for all-composite F3F gliders is going well. Just look at the longer delivery times and raising prices from some manufacturers.
Moreover, F3F competitors are, in the majority, often very conservative and it is not uncommon for them to buy the same glider as other competitors, not because it is the best glider but because they do not want to take any risks. As a result, F3F sometimes approaches being a one-design competition, which is a pity.
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It is therefore interesting to look at the newcomers and see what they offer. It is in this perspective that I introduce to you a glider recently introduced to the market, manufactured by Aviatik Composites, based in Slovakia – the Wasabi. We will also verify if the model is as spicy as its name suggests!
The aerodynamic part of the Wasabi was designed in collaboration with Dirk Pflug (Pitbull 1 & 2, Quantum, Orden and many other top gliders). The glider has a wingspan of 3m, which is a little more than average, but it remains an ideal span for slope and F3F. The wing shape is elliptical with rounded wing tips and less pronounced swept back. The ailerons and elevators do not extend right to the tips for practical reasons, according to the manufacturer.
The fuselage doesn’t give in to the current ‘slim’ fashion and is comparable to a Freestyler 3 or Pike Precision 1 fuselage. It hosts a ballast compartment like the Pitbull 1, in addition to joiner and wing ballast.
It is important to note that the Wasabi can easily exceed the FAI limit of 75g/dm2 if all the ballast compartments are full, so it is necessary to remain vigilant in competition in order to respect the FAI rules.
The Wasabi is available in several versions, starting from the simple carbon 160 to the double carbon 160/160, while passing by lighter layups such as the simple or double carbon 90. In short, everyone will find a ‘shoe that will fit’ according to his or her flying habit and objectives. Personally, I chose the double carbon 160/90 version, which offers a good compromise between robustness and weight.
Now let’s have a look at the composition and quality of the kit.
I discovered that the Wasabi had been perfectly packed. The wings and tails are delivered in nice protective bags (the fuselage bag is optional) and you will also find nice carbon servo frames and the LDS system from MP Jet, with all the necessary hardware to mount the servos in the wings. Wiring harnesses are partially prepared and soldered. The fuselage and wing ballast and spacers (joiner ballast is optional) are included and there is even a neutral adjustment template for the wing and the tail!
Let’s take a closer look at the moulded parts; they are very well made and nicely painted, with very clean cut-outs. The carbon root ribs are perfectly sized with holes for green MPX connectors. Even the ballast compartment and the joiner box show sharp angles and a mirror-like surface finish! The joiner can be inserted without force or slop. The wing centering pins are already in place. The wing joiner is particularly wide, in one piece and inspires trust.
The tail halves also have carbon root ribs. Elevator horns and centering pins are in place. The only drawback (I had to find something!) is that the ball clevises are not totally freely accessible once the tail is in place – only 3 or 5 mm is missing for perfect accessibility.
Fuselage assembly is well advanced since the ballast tube is already installed and the servo plate is finished, including brass inserts for M2 screws ready to receive the servos. The fuselage join line is almost invisible, showing superb craftsmanship. Elevator control rods are made of Teflon coated fiberglass rods, sliding in a plastic sleeve. Personally, I like this solution. which I prefer to a rigid carbon rod.
The front fuselage is full carbon, which was a bit of a surprise for me. This means that the antennas need to be placed carefully. I guess it must possible to specify that you want a 2.4 GHz friendly fuselage, which will ease the radio installation.
All parts mount together easily and fit perfectly once assembled, with no slop anywhere. In short, it’s a very beautiful kit!
I started by preparing and finishing the cable harnesses for the fuselage and wings. The one for the fuselage shares the positive and negative wires for two servos, which I found to be useless because it creates an unnecessary point of failure and allows the servos to draw less current. So, I changed one of the cables to have 2 x 3 wires per green plug, without sharing the positive and negative.
As with all my F3 class gliders, before installing green MPX connectors in the fuselage wing roots I always glue in two small 1mm plywood plates, crossing from side to side inside the fuselage, with a 2mm recess on each end to serve as a stop when gluing in the plugs. I also use a 3D printed template that guarantees that the plug is perfectly positioned and perpendicular to the fuselage wing root whilst curing.
Mounting the elevator servos in the fuselage is a delight. There are no holes to drill and no cutouts to enlarge or adjust. MKS HV6125e servos insert effortlessly without damaging the wires and are simply attached with M2 screws. As I didn’t have any screws supplied in my kit, I simply used some Futaba metal servo horn screws that have the right diameter and length and that you can find in a small bag in most model shops.
To finish the elevator control rods I mounted the tail on the fuselage, taped the control surfaces to their neutral position with some masking tape, then measured precisely the length to cut and to de-nude (removing the Teflon layer) before gluing on the brass threaded couplers supplied using rapid epoxy.
I replaced the M2 metal clevises with MP Jet plastic/metal clevises, which I commonly use on all my gliders and which I am particularly satisfied with because they don’t develop slop over time.
The fuselage was put aside to complete the assembly of the wings and to install the LDS and servo mounts. First, glue the horns and the epoxy arms on the control surface side, making sure that the arm is perpendicular to the hinge. Aileron arms are a little shorter than the flap arms because of the servo neutral and the difference in travel.
Let’s move on to the servo frames. In my case, I had to install the brass inserts for the aileron frames because the position of the screws can vary depending on the MKS servos model that you chose; I used the excellent HBL6625 mini. So, I drilled at 3 mm and then inserted the brass claw nut with a small hammer. We can now glue in the servo mounts, with the servo in place. Once dry, I could finish mounting the servos, with the right neutral position offset on the radio.
All that remained was to glue the green MPX connector in at the root, with two small wooden wedges behind the rib to increase the gluing surface. When gluing take care to protect everything with thin tape and release agent (Polyvinyl Alcohol) so that the plugs do not remain glued together! The glue I used was 30-minute R&G epoxy, which I left to cure all night before removing the wings from the fuselage, cleaning off any excess glue and removing the tape.
Although fuselage volume is large, the available length for the Rx and battery is limited due to the ballast tube and its required clearance. My receiver battery is a 2S Li-ion 18650 in-line. I shortened the balance lead by 1cm to gain some space and I placed this lead on top of the battery. The receiver, a Jeti REX6, is located horizontally above the battery, just in front of the servos. Any excess wiring is hidden underneath.
My Wasabi, a double carbon version 160/90, weighs 2.5kg empty, which is a little more (50 – 100g) than the weight shown on the manufacturer’s website, but it’s nothing critical. Please remember that the weight can differ depending on the colour – white is lighter, whilst orange or red is heavier.
The first flight took place in ideal conditions on a nice slope and with a good wind. For this first flight I ballasted the glider for a flying weight of just under 2.9kg. As soon as I launched the Wasabi showed good energy and speed, to the point that I soon started to do some F3F laps to see its potential. I was not disappointed to discover a plane that showed high speed in trajectory and grip in high load turns. In addition, Wasabi has a real agility and fast reactions to both the ailerons and the elevator. I was able to do a series of laps without seeing it run out of steam. A video of the maiden flight can be seen here: https://youtu.be/HnRgjtqlI2k
In light wind conditions the Wasabi also flies well but its weight (2.5kg in my case) penalises it a little in the turns, where it shows more inertia. If we consider that the ideal weight for a wind of 3m/s is about 2.3kg it means that the glider starts to ‘breathe’ at 5m/s when empty. Then we start to ballast it from 6m/s of wind, with 100g per additional m/s as a first approximation, to be adjusted according to the shape of the slope, its altitude and its efficiency.
Overall, the Wasabi really performs well in the F3F task, combining excellent energy retention, acceleration and speed during turns.
The ballast partitions are not the most convenient for incremental ballasting, but the ballast compartment in the fuselage allows for adjusting the balance of the glider by moving the ballast forward or backward, thus allowing the ballast load to remain on the correct C of G.
When sport flying the Wasabi is also very pleasant. It thermals well and in aerobatics rolls and four point rolls are perfectly centered. Wasabi can hold inverted flight endlessly when conditions allow. Vertical manoeuvres are also really good, with a large amplitude and impressive speed.
Short landings, thanks to butterfly mixing, are a piece of cake. Just remember to retain some horizontal speed just before touching the ground, especially when the glider is ballasted, to avoid the glider hitting the ground heavily and vertically.
In short, the Wasabi has all the qualities you would expect from an all-composite glider of this wingspan. You can see another video of it flying here: https://youtu.be/Eg_VWz0CZMw
2020 was very poor due to Covid and no F3F competitions – no Eurotour or World Cup, and no national league here in France, except for a few competitions before lockdowns. So, unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to use it in competition yet. But I’m totally confident that the Wasabi is competitive and will quickly prove its value.
To conclude, the Wasabi F3F is a really nice surprise, with high kit quality and a glider full of resources, which should be competitive in terms of F3F performance. It is a very efficient alternative to the gliders more usually met on the F3F competition circuit and its pricing makes it an even more attractive proposition.
So, if you are looking for an all-composite glider for F3F competition or, more generally, dynamic slope flying, the Wasabi definitively deserves all of your attention.
Good flights and happy landings to all of you!
Model Type: F3F glider
Manufactured by: VQ Models
Distributed by: Aviatik Composites
RRP: Options start from 1350 Euros
Wingspan: 3000mm (118.1in)
Length: 1452mm (57.2in)
Wing area: 56,2dm2
Tail area: 5,5dm2
FAI area: 61.7 dm2
Max FAI weight: 4627g
Empty flying weight: 2250 – 2500g
Ailerons +24mm, -12mm
Flaps (as ailerons) +17mm, -7.6mm
Snapflaps -2mm (ail), -7mm (flp)
Camber – Thermal +3mm (ail), +3mm (flp)
Camber – Distance -1mm (ail))
Camber – Speed -1mm (ail))
Butterfly -4mm (ele), +23mm (ail), -45mm (flp)
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