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Hacker Models Extra 330SC Full-Fuselage EPP Plane Review

Join Napo Monasterio as he tests this new release from Hacker Models, complete with a GWS power system to match.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:39.3 "
Wing Area:325 sq. in.
Weight:19 oz.
Length:40"
Wing loading:8.5 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Four GWS Naro digital servos
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7 Special Edition
Receiver:Spektrum AR6100E
Battery:900-1300mAh 3S LiPo battery
Motor:GWS 2215-12 brushless motor
Speed controller: GWS 25-amp brushless speed controller
Manufacturer:Hacker Models
US Distributor:World Toy imports

Somehow, I have developed an affinity/quasi-fetish with Extras. Maybe it's because of its sleek lines, maybe it's because it's a fine sport plane with plenty of aerobatic potential, or maybe it's because it comes in so many different flavors — 260, 300, 330... pick a random number, and chances are you'll stumble upon an Extra model.

Now, a new variation of the Extra has stumbled its way to my workbench. All the way from the Czech Republic comes the all-EPP Extra 330 SC ARF from Hacker Model, a full-fuselage aerobat advertised as "almost unbreakable." If history holds true, I am without a doubt the right person to put that bold statement to the test — and then some. Let's do this.

Kit contents

The kit had a treacherous journey from the other side of the pond, but neither the Czech postal service nor USPS managed to mangle this kit (you could say that it passed the first "almost unbreakable" test). Everything came tightly packed, in true European fashion, and here's what came out of the box:

  • All the EPP you want: From the full fuselage to the wings, to the tail and the wheel pants, everything is made of expanded polypropylene, that wonderful foam we like to crash with, for it bounces off terra firma with the greatest of ease.
  • A full bag of hardware: You won't need much in terms of screws or pushrod connectors for finishing this aircraft. All the control horns, pushrods and whatever else you need are included in the kit. Even the landing gear is pre-bent, so that saves on time.
  • Reinforcements: EPP has the benefit of being flexible, which helps with crashes, but that is also a drawback when it comes to airframe rigidity. With the help of carbon-fiber rods, the wings will now be less prone to flexing without that weight penalty.
  • Plastic parts: Included in the kit are a clear canopy and a cowl matching the fuselage color (in my case, it was yellow).
  • Instructions: They're written in both Czech and English, though the latter can be a bit broken up at first (I can't speak for the former, but I take it in good faith that it's some fine Czech prose). It's nicely illustrated over 12 pages, and it covers all the material nicely.

Of course, we're talking about an aerobatic machine here. Unless you want a free-flight glider, here's what you'll need:

  • Motor: I went with a 2215-12 brushless motor provided by GWS. As long as you have something that can produce at least 200 watts, you should be good shape.
  • Speed controller: GWS also supplied its 25-amp brushless speed controller, a simple and affordable choice for this EPP machine.
  • Servos: You'll need for, and in keeping with the theme here, I received some of the new GWS Naro digital servos. Any micro servo will do, but you'll hear more about these in a little while.
  • Receiver (and transmitter): I went with the ever-reliable AR6100E from Spektrum, which received its commands from the ever-reliable DX7 Special Edition — my go-to team for any parkflyer-sized situation.
  • Batteries: You'll do fine with any 3S battery in the 900-to-1300mAh range. Lighter is better, and so I stuck with mostly the former. There is plenty of room, however, for any kind of LiPo.
  • Odds and ends: Just about everything is included in the kit other than the power system and radio gear, so you'll just need some hook-and-loop tape for the battery and receiver, along with your favorite tools (hobby knives, canopy scissors, ruler, drill bits and other usual suspects). And, since we're dealing with EPP foam here, we can use traditional CA and kicker without the need to go foam-safe. A bit of epoxy will be necessary at times, however.

<font size=-2>GWS 2215-12 brushless motor</font>
GWS 2215-12 brushless motor
Type: Brushless outrunner
Weight:57g
Diameter:22mm
Prop range:9x4.7 to 12x6
Cells:2S-3S LiPo maximum<
kV rating:900kV

<font size=-2>GWS 25-amp brushless ESC</font>
GWS 25-amp brushless ESC
Maximum current:25 amps
Weight:18 grams
BEC: 2 amps

<font size=-2>GWS Naro-D servos</font>
GWS Naro-D servos
Type: Sub-micro servo
Operating voltage: 4.8V-6V
Operating speed: 0.08 sec/60°
Stall torque (4.8V): 17 oz/in.
Weight: 8.8 grams
Dimensions: 22 x11.24 x 21.35 mm
Gear type: All-nylon

<font size=-2>Spektrum AR6110e receiver</font>
Spektrum AR6110e receiver
Frequency: 2.4Ghz DSM2
Number of channels: 6
Voltage range: 3.5 - 9.6V
Weight: 4 grams
Dimensions: 19 x 30 x 9mm
MSRP: $49.99

So, shall we build? I say we do.

Assembly

It won't take long to get this Extra out of the workbench and into the trunk of your car. Under normal circumstances (read: without a screaming baby, clients who call and need stuff yesterday, or the need to document the build in photos for you, my esteemed audience), you could finish this build in just one day. It's an ARF of quintessential proportions, requiring little work and offering little trouble.

Wings

To kick things off, the wing halves get glued with the help of some thin CA (and some kicker will come in handy). After that, it's time to reinforce this newly created wing, and that is accomplished by cutting one long slot across the full wingspan (top and bottom), then stuff the included carbon-fiber rods (top and bottom) inside, setting them in place with a healthy dose of thin CA.

Servo placement comes next, and it will require you to carve out the holes for them. After marking the spot, have at it with a hobby knife and whatever else helps you get the job done, then set them in place after adding the included pushrod connectors to the control horns. I used some CA, but later secured the GWS servos with a bit of low-temperature hot glue. They're not expected to go anywhere any time soon.

The pushrods are a bit peculiar, as they involve the indoor-flyer technique of using a carbon-fiber rod that's adjusted with a small Z-bend wire and attached via some heatshrink. That's not my favorite option, especially given the size of this plane — and it doesn't make a lot of sense if there's already pushrod connector in place. That said, they did all right, and they go in together without much fanfare.

Fuselage and tail

This Extra from Hacker is a full-fuselage model, and that separates it a good bit from the rest of the foamies out there. It adds a nice level of realism, and the good thing about it is that the fuselage is already pre-glued. Give it up for time-saving!

There's not much to building the motor mount, as it simply involves removing the plywood parts from the pre-cut sheet, then gluing them with some epoxy glue. The manual recommends five-minute epoxy, but I was in no kind of hurry and thus used the 30-minute variety, both for building the motor mount and attaching it to the fuselage. The only thing to watch for: Make sure the part of of the motor mount that has a small hole goes on the right side of the mount — presumably Hacker's way of showing us how to achieve the right thrust angle.

After attaching a landing gear reinforcement, you may move on to the tail, where you can cut a couple of holes to accommodate your rudder and elevator servos. The wires get routed toward the cockpit (it's an easier-said-than-done process, and you might need some servo extensions for it, but once you're done with that, you're good to go.

In order to attach the wing, a bit of destruction is in order (something I'm proficient at, mind you). You'll have to cut a slot through the bottom of the fuselage, by the area where the trailing edge of the wing will go, then jam the wing in place. After making sure everything is straight, true and properly adjusted along all every single axis, a heaping dose of thin CA will set in in place (again, add some kicker to speed up the process).

I moved on straight to the tail at this point, where the stabilizers and control surfaces are all molded into a one-piece, pre-molded concoction. Join the two elevator halves with the included spruce, add the control horns, then glue the whole empennage to the fuselage, again making sure everything is straight and true.

Moving on...

Motor installation

Setting up the business end is a quick process. The GWS motor I was provided was a perfect fit for the firewall and didn't require any re-drilling or any other modifications.

You'll need to use your hobby knife and/or some canopy scissors to cut some holes for cooling and pushing the prop shaft through. Once you get that done, push the cowl through, install the prop (and spinner, if so desired — rebel yours truly did not use one) in order to get the proper clearance, screw it in place, and take a rest.

Landing gear, battery installation and last touches

There's not much to the landing gear other than attaching the wheels with some plastic tubes (be careful not to glue the wheels in place, for I've been there before), then setting the wheel pants in place (if you're going to be taking off from grass, you might want to skip this step).

The tail wheel is, fortunately, steerable, and a bit of CA and some hobby-knife skills are all that's needed to finish this step.

The battery hatch is an ingenious little idea, as it allows you to change it without the need to turn the model around, unscrew anything or use too many mechanisms. The hatch is made of part of the fuselage top (you have to split the piece of painted EPP into three pieces, then glue the two ends, thus leaving the middle part as your new hatch). With a simple rotating carbon-fiber rod, and aided by two small pieces of balsa, you have a functioning battery hatch that's nearly invisible. And, depending on what size of batteries you're using, you'll have to adjust your LiPo's position. Fortunately, there's more than ample wiggle room for them in the battery compartment.

After installing the receiver in the cockpit area, it's time to trim the canopy and attach it via a few screws. And now behold, for this extra-yellow Extra is a finished product, tipping the scales a respectable 19 ounces.

I've been itching to prove this "almost indestructible" manifesto wrong. What do you say you join me?

Flying

The building was easy, predictable and uneventful. Here's hoping the flying is equally easy, predictable and uneventful.

I set the control surfaces per the manual's recommendations — which, in itself, is as much travel as you can squeeze out of your servos. I used my standard 55 percent of exponential for high rates, and for low rates, I cut the travel to 50 percent and added a measly 30 percent of expo all along.

Take-off and landing

Weighing slightly more than a pound, it's not a big deal to let this Extra go into the great blue yonder with a simple hand-toss. Holding it from the canopy area, throttle up to about 75 percent and let it fly it out of your hand without much effort.

Now, if a traditional ROG take-off is your kind of thing, you have nothing to fear (after all, the landing gear is in place for a reason, right?). Without much fanfare, the Extra will take-off in a matter of feet, in a surprisingly gentle manner, without much need for rudder correction or anything of that matter.

Returning back to terra firma is a simple approach as well, and you'll appreciate the light wing loading of this foamie, for it glides gently for a good while, slowly approaching the ground without tip-stalling. Once there, it won't roll long, making this plane a perfect fit for small venues in which landing in tight quarters is the only choice available. I often prefer going into low rates for my landings, but I didn't always use it with this plane.

Basics

Fortunately, my hopes were realized: The Hacker Extra 330 is indeed easy to fly, predictable and not too unpredictable.

As it turns out, the Extra is more graceful than I expected. It's extremely light, and it almost feels like a huge indoor Depron plane: floaty and gentle, yet equally docile. But, as it turns out, I did come across a bit of an issue: I ended up with an underpowered airframe, and it became quite obvious the first time I tried to hover — c'est la vie, as they say, and the fix is only one motor-swap away.

The plane performs as any aerobatic plane — or any Extra, for that matter — should perform: Precise when it comes to aerobatic performance, always keeping you on your toes, but still stable. This Extra, thanks to the light wing loading of 8.5 oz/square foot and hollow/all-EPP construction, is an amazing floater.

Now, even with an underpowered setup (I have since explored more powerful motors), there's an upside: A 1:1 thrust ration can mean you can practice slow maneuvers like there's no tomorrow, with the help of a slow-fly prop such as a 11x3.8 SF or even a 12x6 SF. Just because you may not be able to hover doesn't mean you can't have fun on the field. And, since we're speaking of aerobatic performance...

Aerobatic performance/special flight characteristics

Who needs an Extra to just putt around and do figure-eights? Here's how this EPP creation performed when put through its paces:

  • Loops: The easiest of aerobatics maneuvers is, needless to say, easily accomplished here. Yank that elevator stick all the way down, and you've got yourself your very own inside loop, without much need for rudder correction. Outside loops, with a bit more power, are easily attainable — though, with my GWS setup, I sometimes stalled out during the latter part.
  • Rolls: They are precise, and they are slow and graceful. There's no need for any differential, and I appreciate the fact that they can be accomplished at lower speeds, thus making this plane ideal for four-point-roll training.
  • Harrier flight: I enjoyed this maneuver on the Extra 330, as the combination of a low wing loading, light all-up weight, slow speed and massive wing area made for an extremely stable plane when going into high alpha. It took a little bit of adjusting to get the center of gravity far back enough, but once I found that sweet spot, it was relatively easy to point the nose into the wind, feed some elevator and maintain that position. Inverted harriers were also doable, though a bit more power would have helped.
  • Inverted flight: If you want to hone your upside-down skills, this is a good airframe to do so — and not just because it bounces like rubber. It's quite stable when flying inverted, needing only a bit of elevator adjustment (and I also had to experiment with the battery placement to achieve the perfect CG), and it's an extremely calm plane to get low and slow with.
  • Hovering: Had I had a few more watts under the cowl, this would have been more interesting. Alas, after a couple of seconds of hanging on the prop, the Extra had enough of it and simply stalled out.
  • Tumbles/spins/flat spins: These are all accomplished, but because it's such a light airframe, don't expect to be performing massive G-pulling maneuvers. You won't need a lot of room to recover from these, as the plane gets back to its default position quite quickly. The most fun of all is the flat spin, as this Extra performs a graceful descent without any odd tendencies.
  • Knife-edge flight and turns: Just like the rolls, this is a fun thing to do with this slow plane, as it allows you to practice knife-edge flight with precision and little worry about keeping airspeed. The rudder is big enough that it can hold the plane on its side all the way to the end of the field and beyond, and there was just enough horsepower on the business end to accomplish it. Turns are easily achievable, but beware of some coupling issues.

Video

Downloads

Is this for a beginner?

I had been itching to put the "almost unbreakable" claim to the test, and I didn't wait long to experiment — all along the way, it seemed like this would be a good plane for the aerobatic newbie, thanks to the EPP construction and lightweight construction. But is it?

I'd cautiously say it may be, as long as you have an experienced pilot in the vicinity or you have some previous experience with a rudder/elevator/throttle plane. I wouldn't recommend heading out to the nearest park by yourself if you've never flown anything before, but otherwise — and I have never said this before — this Extra just might do it.

And it's not just because it bounces like a champ. And it's not like I wouldn't know anything about that, either.

Here at the Monasterio Electric Aerospace Institute and Crash Test Facility© (motto: "Electrons Rule, Yet Gravity Always Laughs Last"©), we put this one to the test in style: too-low-to-the-ground knife-edge flight, canopy landings, drill-a-hole-in-the-ground-propeller-first maneuver, you name it. The verdict was clear: I only managed to scrape the paint and lightly chip off parts of the EPP, which were put back together in a matter of seconds with thin CA. It did, without a doubt, pass the durability test with flying colors — I picked the plane up and tossed it in the air again and again and again.

The power system I used, underpowered as it might have been, could be a blessing in disguise for new pilots, as it will allow them to practice maneuvers without having to chase this Extra around.

Conclusion

There are a lot of Extras out there. And I mean a whole lot of them, in every color, shape and size. They're a staple of any flying field. Is this one any different?

I'd say it's a unique plane with plenty of potential for fun. It's small enough that it can be flown in a small park, it's so light that you almost feel like you're in control of an indoor F3P plane outside — and yes, it's "almost unbreakable." And, to top it all of, it's as aerobatic as you want to make it.

A WORD OF THANKS

I would like to thank the following for making this review possible: GWS for providing the motor, speed controller and servos; and my good friend and fellow reviewer Andy Grose for the awesomer-than-awesome photo and video work.

I enjoy this plane whenever I hit the field. It's a nice departure from the usual suspects, and it's on the gentler side of all the Extras I've owned. Granted, it could have used a bit more juice (it's nobody's fault, as it's the most powerful of the 2215-series brushless motors that GWS produces), but the rest of the electronics worked like a charm — especially the precise digital servos from GWS.

If you're looking to get into aerobatic flight and are scared that your new first scale-aerobatic plane may quickly into foam confetti, this might be a nice alternative. The build is simple, the materials are good, the performance is legit. I approve.

Pros:

  • A lightweight yet nicely-sized scale rendition of an aerobatic classic.
  • Assembly is easy, with few (if any) issues along the way. Materials used, including carbon-fiber reinforcements, are a nice touch.
  • Nice flight characteristics: Precise for aerobatic maneuvers, but gentle enough for general sport flying.
  • Light wing loading makes for great low-and-slow practice.
  • GWS gear is inexpensive, reliable and a good fit for this parkflyer foamie.

Cons:

  • I had some issues with the pushrods cracking — a simpler, even cheaper all-wire pushrod would be a better alternative.

Neutrals:

  • A more powerful motor would be a better fit for this airframe, but that solution is only a handful of screws away.

Last edited by Angela H; Mar 25, 2011 at 05:11 AM..

Discussion

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Old Mar 25, 2011, 07:11 AM
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United States, CA, Davis
Joined Jan 2010
66 Posts
Sweet Review!! looks like an amazing plane!!!
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 07:24 AM
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7,643 Posts
I've been flying one of these for several weeks now -- the red one. I'm loving it. Handling is awesome. A joy to fly.

I've had a Hyperion Sniper X-II for about a year now. It's been a favorite since day one. It's obvious that the Sniper and the Extra come from the same factory. Many of the details were identical between these two planes.

Only one caveat though. I was reminded of the dangers of leaving foam planes in warm cars. One wing warped slightly, but I was able to coax it back into shape.
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Last edited by rafe_b; Mar 25, 2011 at 09:30 AM. Reason: typo
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Looks like it definitely could use more power. Was it slightly tail heavy?
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 09:30 AM
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mexico: I'm using a Hyperion ZS 2213-18 (280 W max) on mine, and there's plenty of power, tons and tons of it. As often happens, the motor was purchased for a different plane, but it's happy here.

I've flown mine with 3S/1300 up to 3S/2200, it doesn't seem to care. The windier it is, the more battery mass I put in it. The battery compartment is very spacious so there's plenty of room to move the battery for CG adjustment.

I didn't fly it this morning though 'cuz that wing-warp that I though I'd cured somehow crept back. So far I haven't used heat to re-shape it, but I'll try that next. The weird part is, the plane flies fine even with the warped wing; it just looks a bit odd.

Another caveat I'd offer for builders. Take care cutting the slot for the wood joiner between the elevator halves, and gluing that joiner in place. I didn't do it as carefully as I ought to have, so my elevator is a bit cockeyed. (Folks have been telling me that for years.)
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Last edited by rafe_b; Mar 29, 2011 at 06:05 PM. Reason: oops, I had the wrong motor and link.
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 11:14 AM
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Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
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What a great review! Of all the reviewers on this site, Napo, you are distinguished by your gift for prose. I love the clarity and the deft touches of humor throughout. This is a model for how reviews should be written.

Oh yeah, sure, sounds like a fun airplane. Next time around let us know how much it costs.
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 11:26 AM
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$182.25
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 12:18 PM
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USA, CO, Longmont
Joined Jul 2008
202 Posts
You Sir are an excellent writer. Thank you for the great review.

If I could suggest a edit or two...
Please edit the "Links" so that they go to the actual product
Manufacturer: = http://www.hacker-model.com/uk/extra_epp.html
US Distributor: = http://www.worldtoyimports.com/3daer...2e62c2112478b6

Also having the manufactures airframe name would avoid confusion between the 1000 and the 1200
"Hacker Extra 330SC 1000 ARF"
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Old Mar 25, 2011, 12:21 PM
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$110 at rcbaron.com
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 05:09 PM
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Renton, Wa.
Joined Feb 2006
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I've been flying one of these for several months now. Very well put together. Hope Hacker puts an Edge out soon. Personally I did a few mods to mine to increase some of the planes capabilities for 3D. I know its a sports plane but I like EPP and I do more, or attempt more 3D than sports flying. Running a Torque 22T motor, 1050 25c Rhinos, AUW is around 17 oz's. Gobbs of power and very light. I'll get the next full fuselage Hacker puts out.
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 10:32 AM
Crash & Burn
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Glastonbury, CT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rafe_b View Post
$110 at rcbaron.com

Out of stock.
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmgmag View Post
Out of stock.
Bummer. Maybe folks have caught on to these little gems.

The only similar planes I know of are those from e-Foamies

http://www.2dogrc.com/catalog/electr...ll-fuse-planes
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Old Mar 29, 2011, 06:13 PM
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Thread needs a little bump. I wonder why?

The market is awash with foamie warbirds and 3D profile planes. But not so much other aircraft genres, and particularly not full-fuse planes made out of EPP.

I stumbled across flyingfoam.com the other day and it gave me some ideas. Not that I have a shortage of build projects.
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Old Apr 01, 2011, 10:07 AM
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San Angelo TX.
Joined Feb 2006
1,193 Posts
IMO , you need a bump because you can buy wood built plans for that kind of money!
And yes I do have some foamie airplanes also....http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=8785
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=5191
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=6910
And you can buy from many different places not just HobbyKing....!
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Old Apr 01, 2011, 12:19 PM
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Chicago
Joined Nov 2009
333 Posts
I'm not sure either how this plane differs much frorm the Super Zoom or the Hyperion Sniper planes, same size and a little heavier.

Even though they technically don't have a "full" fuse, the Zooms and the Snipers don't really fly like flat foamies, and they do have some mass at the fuse.

Mike
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