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Robbe Modelsport Pitts S 12 RTF Review

Join Dr. Dave as he completes and flies the big Pitts bi-wing.

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Introduction


Top Wingspan:900mm / 35in
Bottom Wingspan:860mm / 33in
Total Wing Area:32 dm sq / 496 sq in
Weight:1170g / 41.2oz
Length:960mm / 37.7in
Total Wing Loading:37g / dm sq / 11.9 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:9 gram servos
Transmitter:Digital Proportional 4 channel (Included in RTF Combo)
Receiver:Single conversion (Included in RTF Combo)
Battery:2250 mAh 11.1 volt Lipo (Included in RTF Combo)
Motor:1000 kv
ESC:30 amp brushless
MSRP Shipped from Germany:$333.24 as RTF with all electronics
Available From:Robbe Modelsport

Since its first certification in 1971 the Pitts has earned a reputation by winning almost every unlimited aerobatic contest in the US. The Pitts 12 (Macho Stinker), a descendent of the Pitts Model 11 also known as the Super Stinker, is a more refined version of the Pitts Special S -2A and subsequent Pitts designs. The rounded nose accommodates the 400 hp radial engine and the aileron design makes the Pitts S - 12 a real performer in the air. Roll rates at nearly 360 degrees per second are spectacular at air shows.

This kit has undergone significant design changes. The first versions were less powerfull and lighter weighing in at only 650 grams, but Robbbe's ultimate goal was to produce a faster, heavier and stronger airframe with plenty of power up front. In this, the final production version, they have accomplished their goal.

Kit Contents

My kit arrived in pretty good shape considering the delivery company was off by about two continents, so three weeks after an extra 10,000 miles it arrived. I was surprised it endured such a difficult trip. I had a slight bend in the rudder and some loose screws in the bottom of the box, but other that that is was in great shape.

Kit includes

  • Molded and colored Arcel foam fuselage
  • All rudder and elevator pushrods installed
  • Arcel molded wing with ailerons installed
  • Cabane struts
  • Landing gear including wheel pants
  • Molded tinted canopy
  • Motor and ESC installed
  • 13 x 6.5 prop and spinner
  • Transmittter and receiver (Included in RTF version)
  • 30 amp brushless ESC (Included in RTF version)
  • 11.1 Lipo and Lipo Charger (Included in RTF version)
  • Huge decal sheet
  • Comprehensive building instructions

Kit Requires

  • Eight AA batteries
  • Medium CA

The instructions come in six languages, and there is a photo version and a descriptive version to make sure you do everything correctly. A safety manual is also provided.

Kit Requires

  • 8 transmitter AA batteries
  • Scissors for cutting out decals

Assembly

It was nice having the servos, receiver, motor and ESC installed. The biggest time consumer is cutting out the decals and applying them. The Arcel foam is tough stuff and is smooth without unsightly molding bumps. The yellow coloration looks great and over the long haul will stay much cleaner than white.

Fuselage

On just about every plane I build with a completed fuselage, I first install the landing gear and tail wheel so I can have a stable airframe on the work bench.

There is really nothing to do on the fuselage other than install the gear and the tail wheel. The tail wheel is a little different from others in that it does not directly attach to the rudder. A rubber band or elastic band makes the connection so the tail wheel is free to move back and forth, and when on the ground it will adjust to the rudder rather than lead the rudder.

The cowl and motor are installed so you just need to install the prop and spinner. They even put the prop into the spinner so all you need to do is slide the unit on the prop shaft and tighten the hex head set screws. I was pleased that the prop and spinner were in balance, a testament to Robbe's quality and attention to details.

The elevator and rudder servos are also pre-installed with their linkages. The receiver is not firmly attached, but an adhesive tape is applied and ready once you set your battery and ESC in place.

Wing

Begin your wing assembly by placing the lower wing on the bottom of the fuselage and attach with the wing bolts. The wing mounting plates are ready and have been glued in place. The alignment was perfect.

You can see the slight difference in the wing lengths. Both have fiber stiffeners running their length, and both have the wing strut receiver in place and the cabane attachment points for the top wing already attached. The wing bolt receivers in the wing are reinforced with plastic inserts.

Finally, the wings have all four ailerons attached and ready. The hinges are a part of the Arcel molding process, and they provide a strong hinging surface. The control horns are in place, and the linkages for the ailerons are installed. You will have to connect the top and bottom ailerons when both wings are in place.

Attaching the top wing is a combination of both cabane and wing struts. I installed the bottom wing strut on both sides and then attached the top wing, and the fit is perfect. Make sure you have the cabane struts going in the right direction: The tops are angled and should only fit in one direction.

When done, the upper wing is forward of the bottom wing. This stagger is important because otherwise the upper wing and lower wing share in the lift and drag airspace. Moving the upper wing forward reduces this interference.

Finish up by installing the pre-cut aileron linkages. These fit into small couplings and tighten with a screw.

Tail

The tail must be glued in place. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers are made from a different material, but they are still molded. The hinges and control horns are in place.

Once the wing is in place you can install the tail feathers. Really there is very little squaring necessary, and I found right out of the box the horizontal and vertical stabilizers were right on. Use foam safe CA to secure the tail.

The linkages having been preinstalled and are ready and waiting. Be sure you slip the control linkages into the control horns as you install the tail. The elevator uses dual control linkages.

Radio Installation

The receiver and ESC are in the fuselage but not attached. I found that to be a good thing as I determined the exact battery location. Under the fuselage there is a battery compartment, and here you will place the battery for the perfect CG of 90-100mm behind the upper wing. The ESC is snuggled down there so you need to provide some room for cooling. The battery and ESC use pin connectors that were plenty long enough to make the connection easy. The balancing plug connects easily if you have a charger that has a short lead to the balancing connector.

The radio provided is a 4 channel digital proportional that I have used in many previous reviews with no problems. The radio requires 8 AA batteries. I wish it had dual rates.

Completion

The decaling is what sets this bird apart. I almost always use soapy water to install decals, but found the Arcel did not release the water well and the decals did not want to stick like they do to shrinkable covering or depron. Instead, I just took my time and often had to lift and replace the decal.

Flying

Biplanes are fun to fly. They have a great look about them and perform with a style all their own. The quick and nimble Pitts S-12 can do it all: Great maneuverability, easy ground handling and a great glide slope make for some exhilarating flying.

The Pitts S-12 is short both in length and in wingspan. Given that, the Pitts S-12 does not seem to care if the aerodynamics of straight nose forward flight applies. It will snap and roll very quickly and even look like it is tumbling through the air.

Basics

I found nothing difficult about flying the Pitts. Once I got it trimmed, everything went well. Stalls are subtle at one end of the speed spectrum and seemingly unlimited airspeed at the other end gives you a really large flight envelope. The yellow color and purple decals make it easy to see. The power provided by the big 1000 KV motor is plentiful and provides unlimited vertical performance.

Taking Off and Landing

Earlier in the review I mentioned the rudder and the coupling system to the tail wheel. Please take a minute to watch the video, and you will see even at slow speeds and on an extremely rough grass runway the response to turning inputs was immediate. With this system you have the rudder leading the tail rather than the other way around. Ground handling on take offs was no problem at all. Just like many full size tail draggers, the tail is spring loaded and that takes a lot of stress off the rudder servo.

I struggled on my runway to avoid nosing over on both the take off roll and the landings. This is no faulting of the Pitts or the design, just my really rough runway. I do not think you will experience any problem on smooth short grass or a hard surface.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The only limiting factor with the aerobatics of this Pitts S-12 was the radio provided. Because this kit was an ARF with all electronics installed, a radio was also included (an airframe only kit is also available). With my own transmitter and receiver I think I could wring out a few more moves, but donít get me wrong... the supplied radio does a pretty good job. It was not, however, capable of extreme 3D movements of the control surfaces.

I found big loops were straight on; rolls were crisp and could be done slow or fast. Four point rolls were solid and snap rolls were impressive. Inverted flight was no problem either. There was limited movement of the rudder so knife edge flight was probably the single biggest loser because of the radio and servo throw limitations.

Is This For a Beginner?

No, the Pitts S-12 is not for the beginner. I believe the advanced flyer is the one that will want this plane because of the simplicity of the build and the short time to getting it in the air.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

No doubt about it Robbe has another great plane in their hanger. It looks great, is durable and a fantastic flyer. The Arcel foam provides a smooth surface that includes the coloring so how can you resist? The Pitts S - 12 is also avaiable in an ARF version without the transmitter, receiver, battery and charger.

The Yes:

  • Strong airframe
  • Colored Arcel foam
  • Innovative design of linkages
  • Easy access to battery and receiver
  • Tail wheel setup
  • Incredible instruction manual
  • Durable as can be - I rolled it several times with no damage or loosening of the wings.

The No:

  • Decals peel off after a while
  • The cowling is very thin plastic
  • Not sure if there is a US Distributor with the Pitts at this time
  • Shipping costs
Last edited by Angela H; Jun 24, 2008 at 11:39 AM..
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 12:13 PM
R/C_Addict is offline
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That's me.
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Looks like a beautiful model. Great review.

-Tucker
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 01:18 PM
RosscoW is offline
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Great review, Dave.

Just to let you know, your Pitts geneology is a little out.

The "Super Stinker" (S-1-11) was an update of the Pitts S1S, which in turn was an evolution of the original Pitts Special which first flew in 1948.

The S2A was the first certified Pitts, but is a different (larger) airframe than the S1, and was the basis for the S2B and current production S2C.

The Model 12 was Curtis' last design (he was over 90 when it first flew!!) and, while inspired by his earlier aircraft, was a "Clean Sheet" design. It was much larger than either the S1 or S2 series, in order the accomodate the M-14 radial.

The S1S,T and the S2 series are the only Pitts ever certified. The others, including all the S1-11s and Model 12s are experimental home-builts.


Thanks again for the great review.
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 04:03 PM
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Dr. Dave
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Glad someone knows all that stuff. Thanks for making the correction. You a plane history buff?
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 06:04 PM
TDisaster is offline
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Practice Makes Precision
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Great review. Nice flying too!
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 09:19 PM
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TP 1.21 Gigawatt Needed
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Too bad Hobby-Lobby doesn't sell this and the Other Robbe Models
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Old Jun 24, 2008, 11:35 PM
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Hobby Lobby used to carry the Robbe Stearman and RC Dyamond used to carry the Robbe Jungmeister, I had both of them, quite a work of art, too bad there are no more US distribution.

Juan
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Old Jun 25, 2008, 06:01 AM
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I agree. There was RobbeUSA but they closed their doors. I would think something is in the works somewhere.
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Old Jun 25, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Great review and thanks for the info, it's really helpful before buying. I'm on the look out for a new project. Aren't we always though?
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Old Jul 05, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Hi Dave!

Well, I am an aviation history buff, but my Pitts knowledge stems more from the fact that I owned two Pitts (an S2A and an S1S) at times in the past.

Had the pleasure of talking to Curtis on one occasion, an American hero if ever there was one!!
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 07:54 PM
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Rossco, so you really have the knowledge. Thanks, got any pictures?
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 09:35 PM
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Nice review Dave and nice flying to show her off. Mike
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Old Jul 11, 2008, 06:55 AM
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Nice picture Beautiful Pitts
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 11:10 AM
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If it is not available in USA WHY reveiw?
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Old Aug 24, 2008, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rscott2888
If it is not available in USA WHY reveiw?
Because not everyone lives in the USA? Lots of people from europe and asia here.
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