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Great Planes Cosmic Wind Minnow ARF Review

What an exciting new addition to the GP lineup! Super-Reviewer Dick Pettit finds this aircraft not only to be priced right and look great, but also to fly at amazingly slow speeds and be wonderfully docile to handle. "All You Have to Remember Is Go Fast & Turn Left!"

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Introduction


Spec:Adv.Measured
Wingspan:63"63.25"
Wing Area (sq in):775755
Weight (lb):7.25-8.258.5
Length:67.5/56.5"64.5"
Wing Loading (oz/sq ft):22-2525.94
Prop to ground:n/a10.5"
Servos:5 stdFutaba S3151 (4)
Transmitter:4+ chFutaba 7CAP
Battery:4-cell16500mAh NiMH
Engine:.61 2-str
.91 4-str
OS .91 Surpass II
22.8 oz
Price:$249.95Tower Hobbies
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available Online From:Tower Hobbies

“Designed by Lockheed test pilot Tony Le Vier and built by Lockheed's skunk works in the late 40's, the Cosmic Wind was specifically designed as a Formula One racing airplane. Unlike most Formula One aircraft of the time, the Cosmic Wind used the latest construction techniques of stressed aluminum skin. The plane was competitive in Formula One for a long while. Three Cosmic Winds were built officially, "Ballerina", "Li'l Toni" and "Minnow" and a fourth was built up of spare parts, allegedly smuggled out of the factory.”

The Great Planes Cosmic Wind Minnow ARF follows in the footsteps of their popular Shoestring and Little Toni racers. It is modeled in 27% scale, making it suitable for participation at IMAA events, even though it has only a 63” wingspan. With a fiberglass fuselage, small size and light weight, the Minnow is sure to be a classic racer, just like its full size counterpart.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes:

  • Painted fiberglass fuselage, cowl and wheel pants,
  • painted metal spinner with mounting hardware,
  • formed and painted plastic canopy,
  • painted metal main landing gear,
  • formed tail wheel assembly,
  • main and tail wheels,
  • adjustable plastic engine mount,
  • fuel tank with hardware,
  • CA type hinges,
  • hook and loop fasteners for radio and battery installation,
  • all required 2-56 control linkages including horns and clevises,
  • all necessary bolts, nuts and screws for complete assembly,
  • self-stick vinyl graphics,
  • 28 page illustrated assembly manual.

FIRST GLANCE

The kit box arrived at the workshop and I immediately dove into its depths looking for any shipping problems or defects. All major parts were packaged in plastic bags, and I could not find any damage other than the typical ARF wrinkles in a few of the parts covered with Monokote.

The sleek, slim fiberglass fuselage was painted to match the cowl and the Monokote covering on the wing and tail. Well, it almost matched the other parts. The red on the cowl was darker than the red on the fuselage. The red on the rear of the canopy was lighter than the red on the front of the canopy. Maybe it didn’t come from the same spray can. It was a close match, but far from being perfect. I also noticed some very slight high spots on the fuselage that matched the interior former locations. You have to really look for them, but they are there.

I have started to weigh everything that comes in an ARF kit box to determine if the suggested weight of the completed model could be met. In the case of the Minnow, the total parts weight was 6.15 pounds, and by adding the weight of the engine, servos, receiver and battery, I predict that the total weight of the Minnow will be 8.4 pounds, just a slight bit more than the high end of the advertised weight range.

Assembly Process

Fiberglass Safety

Since the Minnow has fiberglass parts that must be trimmed or sanded, please use caution when performing these operations and provide extra ventilation and air circulation. The same rule holds true for the use of adhesive and epoxy products. I’ll be using Pacer Brand epoxies and ZAP instant adhesives to assemble the Great Planes Minnow.

As always, the first thing the builder should do is shrink the covering and remove any bubbles or wrinkles that may have popped up during shipment. I used my trusty heat gun and a soft cloth and it took about an hour to remove all the bubbles that showed up. Care must be taken to avoid heating the Monokote too much or it will melt. (Don’t ask)

We now proceed with the installation of the ailerons using the supplied CA hinge material and thin ZAP adhesive. The pre-cut hinge slots were centered on both the wings and the ailerons, but had to be cut deeper to allow the hinges to fit deep enough. I cut the hinges from the supplied sheet and then cut a diagonal on each corner to allow the hinge to fit into the slot with ease.

Moving on, it is now time to install the aileron servos on the servo plates on the bottom of the wings. Short hardwood blocks are epoxied to the plates using the servos as a reference, and the servos are attached using the screws that come with them. For added strength, small wood screws are installed through the mounting plates to the hardwood blocks. Be sure to align the servo arm with the center of the slot in the plate before gluing the parts into place. The 2-56 control rods and plastic clevises are then cut to size and installed. I had to put a slight bend in each rod at the servo end to allow full movement without the clevis hitting the servo mounting plate. Of course the other wing panel is done the very same way. If the Minnow is to be flown at IMAA sanctioned events, please confirm with the event staff that the 2-56 control linkages will be accepted for use.

The wing panels are then joined using the stout but rather short hardwood joiner block. This block can be installed any number of ways, but only one way is correct. Do a little experimentation first and you’ll soon see that it will only be correct in one position. I marked the words “top” and “front” on my block just to make sure. A generous amount of 30 minute Pacer epoxy was used to secure the wing roots and the block together. Rather than use masking tape, I clamped the front wing mounting tab pieces together and inserted the nylon wing bolts and wrapped several rubber bands between them to keep the wing halves in place. The dihedral was measured and found to be within the range stated in the manual. When the wing epoxy had cured, the plywood bolt plate pieces were attached using medium ZAP after removing some of the Monokote covering. The wing bolt holes were drilled and the wing was almost complete.

We now move to the installation of tail surfaces, being sure to check the geometry of the stab to the wing and fuselage. With all dimensions equal, the stab covering was marked and the Monokote removed for secure gluing. I used the Great Planes method of using a soldering iron to cut the covering, rather than a knife or razor which may weaken the structure. With the stab in place and the dimensions double checked, it is secured using thin ZAP wicked into the fuselage to stab joint on both sides, top and bottom. I have been using this method for years, and it is certainly less messy than using epoxy. The elevator halves are then hinged as were the ailerons and the stab is complete. The rudder and tail wheel wire are than installed in a similar fashion.

The main landing gear, wheels and wheel pants take all of about 5 minutes to install. The holes are already drilled, the blind nuts are in place and all that needs to be done is to cut down the axles to a specified length, attach them to the gear legs, add the wheels and collars and bolt on the wheel pants.

The canopy base is then added to the top of the wing after checking its fit and putting some wax paper between the wing and fuselage, front and back. The canopy base is epoxied to the wing after trimming away some of the Monokote covering, and I used a heavy gel cell battery to weigh the base in place while curing. The clear canopy isn’t added until later.

The engine mounting is next, and this takes all of about 20 minutes to complete. I chose to use an OS .91 Surpass II engine, as shown in the manual. The template printed in the manual is used to locate the position of the bolt holes to be drilled into the firewall. Blind nuts are installed using a piece of wire rod to pull them into position from the inside of the fuselage. The engine mount beams are then bolted into place and the engine itself is placed on the beams at the specified location. Mounting holed are then drilled and tapped for the 8-32 hardware and the engine is permanently installed. The throttle linkage is then installed using EZ connectors and a wire rod to the servo. The spinner supplied in the kit is a different style that the one shown in the manual. The new one uses a drilled and tapped prop nut and a bolt to secure the spinner to the prop shaft, highly superior to the way the original spinner was to be mounted.

The fuel tank parts are assembled and the tank is installed into the mounting holes in the fuselage formers, and secured with a few rubber bands. I used a 3 line system, one vent, one line to the carburetor and one line to fill and drain the tank. A fuel dot will be installed later on the fuselage to fill the tank.

The cowl is then installed after making a card stock template for the engine valve cover. With the location of the cylinder head marked on the cowl, a high speed rotary tool and cutting drill bit was used to open the clearance hole. It took a few tries to get it right, but it was a relatively easy process. After additional holes were marked and cut for the exhaust header and the needle valve, the cowl was mounted using the balsa rings on the engine shaft for alignment. The spinner backplate could also have been used.

The rest of the radio and control system was then installed using metal rods, plastic clevises and the pre-installed guide tubes in the fuselage. The 2 elevator halves each have their own pushrods that are joined at the servo location with a pair of wheel collars. I added a wrap of copper wire and soldered the pushrods securely just for added security. The receiver and battery were mounted on foam blocks and secured with some hook and loop fastening material supplied in the kit. The receiver antenna was run into the antenna tube and thing are just about done. I added a remote glow plug fitting to the fuselage side and a fuel dot to the cowl.

I added the self-stick vinyl graphics as shown on the kit box using spray window cleaner first and a balsa stick to squeegee the liquid from under the graphics. I then had to decide on a pilot figure for the Minnow before attaching the clear canopy. Who would be better than Gilligan to pilot the Minnow? I hope it won’t be “a three hour tour” though.

The control throws and directions were then programmed into my Futaba 7C transmitter and a quick weight and balance check showed that the Minnow weighed 8.5 pounds, about 4 ounces heavier than the high end of the published weight range. It also balanced just a little nose heavy, and to correct this, the battery was moved back in the fuselage and secured to the floor with a dab of silicone sealer. According to my rough calculations, the balance point in the manual is placed at approximately the 27% point on the wing, a good choice for a starting point. Great Planes shows the plane being balanced upside down, but I found it easy to balance right side up.

I then began measuring the wingspan and wing area, finding that the area was 20 square inches smaller than advertised. The fuselage length was also stated incorrectly, both in the manual and on the Great Planes web site. But, on the bright side, the wing loading was still only 26 ounces per square foot, not exactly in the trainer category, but light none the less.

I had spent just over 10 hours assembling the Great Planes Cosmic Wind Minnow, probably because of my experience in assembling ARF models. You should plan on about 15 hours to assemble yours, unless you have previous experience.

It was time to run the engine for the first time, so I filled the tank, secured the plane to the ground, primed the carburetor, attached the glow lighter and the OS .91 started on the very first flip. OK, it started backwards on the first flip, but it was running. The second flip got it going in the right direction and I let about half a tank of fuel run through it at a rich mixture before increasing the throttle and leaning it out. I registered almost 9000 RPM when turning an APC 14-8 prop which should be plenty to get the minnow into the air. After a few tweaks on the low speed mixture, it was idling at about 1800 RPM, without the plug being lit. That’s not too shabby for a brand new engine. It’s now time to make plans to head to the flying field.

Flying

After a week of blazing hot temperatures, the weather finally settled down to a point where I could take the Great Planes Minnow out to the field for some test flying. I had arranged for several other modelers to be there, one to take some still photos and another to do a little video shooting. The Minnow was fueled and range checked, and some ground photos were taken for posterity. As I prepared to start the OS 91 four cycle engine, I confidently primed the engine, and then put the glow plug lighter on the remote jack. With my gloved hand on the spinner and the video camera running, I flicked the spinner backwards against compression and the engine started perfectly. After a bit of minor mixture adjustment, I prepared to make the first flight with the Minnow. I just hoped it wouldn't wind up as "...a three hour tour...".

After a pass or two down the grass runway, the minnow was lined up pointed into what little breeze there was. The cameras were rolling, so I advanced the throttle to about half and the Minnow began to roll briskly. At full throttle, I pulled back slightly on the elevator stick and the Minnow was off the ground and flying just fine. I took it to a safe altitude and reduced power a little since it didn't need full throttle to fly at a brisk pace anyway. Only a click or two of aileron and elevator trim was needed to maintain hands-off straight and level flight. At minimum throttle and full up elevator, the Minnow finally dropped its nose in a stall and started to fly once forward speed was increased.

I proceeded to do a few rolls and a loop or two, all done with complete authority and no tendency to fall out at the top. The rolls were just about axial and could be done as fast or as slow as I desired. A stall turn really surprised me because it pivoted perfectly while using only low rate rudder. Inverted flight needed only a tiny bit of down elevator. I did a few more vigorous aerobatic maneuvers including split S's, Immelmanns and a Cuban Eight or two. While the Minnow is not a pattern plane, it could perform just about anything I asked it to do.

After a few low passes, I set up for a landing. First time was too fast, as was the second and third attempt. I didn't want to slow down too much, fearing the Minnow would fall out of the sky. I could not have been farther from correct. The minnow could be dragged across the edge of the runway and landed at a very slow speed, but I didn't find this out until the very last landing of the day. For now, I was landing it hot and taxiing back to the pit area.

I checked everything for mechanical security and filled the tank once again. I had used less than half the available fuel during the first 12 minute flight. This time the engine needed a real flip with my gloved hand rather than the backwards flip I used initially. It was time for another flight. This time I wanted to try some high speed pylon turns, as the full scale Cosmic Wind Minnow would do if it were in a race. At about 50 feet up and at full throttle, I banked the wings to the vertical in a left hand turn. I pulled full up elevator and the Minnow made the turn before I could release the controls. I tried it again and got pretty good at the high G maneuver. Little Buddy Gilligan looked a bit green in the cockpit, but the Minnow was flying great. I didn't believe how fast the Minnow would turn, but this was probably not the way the full scale plane would go around a pylon. Too much airspeed was lost in that type of turn, but they sure looked cool! Again, a few attempted landings and finally a moderate approach and a shorter roll-out was completed.

The next two flights were made by Pete Paglia because I wanted to get another pilot's opinion as to how the plane flew. It gave me a chance also to take more still and video photos for the review. Pete was amazed with the way the Minnow flew both fast and slow with complete control. He tried some of those high speed pylon turns and was absolutely sold on the way the Minnow flies. He commented that just about any modeler with a few hours of trainer experience could safely fly the Minnow. He did, however, turn the transmitter back over to me to land since he saw the way it landed. I got it back to Earth once more, and again, at an even slower landing speed.

We flew the Great Planes Cosmic Wind Minnow most of the morning, burning up almost half a gallon of glow fuel in the process, and that's a lot of flying. As I mentioned before, I finally got the hang of cutting the throttle on my downwind leg of the pattern, and allowing the minnow to bleed off speed for a very slow and short landing. I had a great time, Pete enjoyed flying the plane and the other pilots at the field liked what they saw, too. In all, it was a good day for flying.

Flight Video

Downloads

Editor's note: Due to technical difficulties, there was some delay in uploading this video. Thank you for your patience, and our apologies for the inconvenience!

Conclusion

The Great Planes Cosmic Wind Minnow ARF is an excellent value for the price and the quality of workmanship and the parts included is top notch. It assembled easily and quickly and can be ready to fly in as little as 10 hours. The OS .91 Surpass II four cycle engine is a good power choice, while a strong .61 two stroke would be another great choice. I'm sure many modelers will want to use an even larger engine on their Minnow, and I feel sure that the Minnow is strong enough to use all that extra power. Other than a few dimensional differences between the model and the literature, the Minnow is one giant scale model that will fit in a sport plane budget, and it fits in the back seat of my car too!

I feel that Great Planes has a real winner here and you'll be seeing quite a few of them at the field in the not to distant future.

All you have to remember is "Go Fast and Turn Left"!

Up’s

  • Extremely complete kit
  • All hardware suitable for use on a plane of this size; however, IMAA may frown on 2-56 linkages at events
  • Striping tape on most color separation lines
  • Fully sheeted wings and tail surfaces
  • Excellent flying model, both fast and slow
  • High speed turns are absolutely breathtaking!

Down’s:

  • Wing area smaller then advertised
  • Fuselage length different than manual and web site
  • Hinge slots were not cut deep enough
  • Red painted parts didn’t match other painted parts, or the Monokote either

Discussion

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Old Oct 22, 2005, 06:13 PM
Registered User
Joined Oct 2005
18 Posts
No video???
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Old Oct 24, 2005, 05:59 AM
Registered User
Durham, NC
Joined Jul 2002
284 Posts
Mnnow

I had to re-take the video for AnnMarie. She's working on it and it should be posted this week.

Sorry for the delay

Dick Pettit
Associate Editor
R/C REPORT Magazine
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Old Nov 01, 2005, 08:14 PM
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AMCross's Avatar
Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
The videos are now both live. I'm very sorry for the delay!
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Old Feb 03, 2006, 06:36 PM
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Joined Jul 2004
4 Posts
rough landing

Wow those landings are rough!
I had one similar due to a flame out and no other choice and it pays a tole on the glass fuse were the landing meets.
I wouldnt do to many more like those!
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