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Durafly D.H.110 Sea Vixen

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Introduction

Product:Durafly D.H.110 Sea Vixen
Retail Price:PNF w/ Retracts $149.99
Wing span:39.3 in (1000 mm)
Length:34.9 in (888 mm)
Weight:52.9 oz (1500 g)
Construction:EPO foam with lite ply battery tray
EDF:70mm with 2950kv 2836 Brushless Outrunner Motor
ESC:45A w/UBEC
Battery used:Turnigy nano-tech 3300mAh 35-70c 4s 14.8v
Available from:HobbyKing.com

In a market dominated by combat-hardened military aircraft such as the Corsair, the F-18, and the Mustang, it takes guts to produce a relatively obscure aircraft, especially one that never really saw combat in a true war. The de Havilland Sea Vixen is just such an aircraft, having operated in the Royal Navy from 1959 until being retired in 1979, with many notable sorties under it's belt. With its twin booms and offset canopy to allow seating for an observer in the infamous "coal hole", the Sea Vixen was not your ordinary fighter aircraft.

This is just what Durafly was after when they developed and marketed the D.H.110 Sea Vixen. It's a unique bird that gets attention at the field and is actually fun to fly, thanks to it's scale appearance and wide flight envelope. Powered by a 70mm fan on an optional 4-cell LiPo, the Durafly Sea Vixen is available through Hobbyking with or without retracts. Let's take a closer look at this scaled-out fighter.

Kit Contents

The Sea Vixen arrived packaged safely, with all major foam pieces bagged in plastic. After removing everything and discarding the beautifully printed box, I realized that this foam flyer has most of the hard work done for you at the factory; retracts and servos are installed, the fan is bolted in, and the motor and esc are mated. The only major assembly steps left involve attaching the wings and booms, and running the servo wires. But before I give away all of the Vixen's assembly secrets, let's take a look at all of her parts (ahem).

The Sea Vixen's wings don't have spars to join the roots to the fuselage. Instead, they rely on the holding power of cement and a pair of foam notches that key into the fuselage. At first, I thought I might be concerned. But after the glue dried, I realized that there's no way these wings are going to fold in flight; it's a very sturdy connection.

Durafly has included a set of landing gear (PNF w/ Retracts version only) with the Sea Vixen. The gear package consists of a pair of electric mains and one nose gear. They look somewhat scale in appearance and cycle at a medium speed for that added realism factor. The gear mounting points on the wing and nose look secure and don't look like they would pull out of you were flying from a grass strip. Aside from being a little noisy when cycling, I really have no complaints about the landing gear; they function well and look durable.

The Sea Vixen's fuselage comes with the ducted fan, esc, nose retract, and steering servo installed. The battery and receiver mount on a lite-ply deck that's also installed from the factory. The esc is mounted on the right intake wall and receives plenty of cold air during flight. It comes wired with an XT60 connector.

That bright red anodized outrunner you see in the picture below is a 2950kv 2836 attached to a 5-blade 70mm fan. The edf can be removed by unscrewing the bottom foam cover and removing the 4 screws holding it in.

The Sea Vixen includes a pair of drop tanks, unguided rocket pods, and air-to-air missiles. All the ordinances are foam with the exception of the plastic rockets. I glued all of them to the wings with a little cement, and after it dried, added a few drops of foam-safe ca to strengthen bond.

Assembly

I'll start right off with a rant: the Sea Vixen doesn't include any glue, or it was supposed to but didn't make it into the box. For a kit requiring foam-safe cement to assemble, this inexpensive item should be included. I ended up using Goop Crafts, the same stuff I use on all my foam birds. It's fairly lightweight, spreads on easily, and will never pull apart. The downside is that it's pretty stinky and should be used in a well ventilated area. Back to the assembly...

The Sea Vixen goes together fairly quickly; the only parts that were time consuming were routing the elevator servo extension wire and waiting for the glue to dry on the wings. Speaking of the wings, there are no spars; the wing is just glued to the fuselage. The seam is strong and doesn't look like it will ever fail, don't get me wrong. But the lack of a spar makes lining up the wings a "hands-on" process where you need to hold the wings tight against the fuselage and check both sides repeatedly to make sure there are no gaps. Any misalignment could lead to a wingtip slightly higher than the other. Luckily, I nailed it.

In the above photos, you'll see me gluing a few plastic scale accessories onto the wings. There are the cannons, a refueling probe, and boundary layer fences designed to obstruct span-wise airflow across the wing and prevent the entire wing from stalling at once. While effective on the full-scale bird, these wing fences are just for show.

The wing, tail booms, and the elevator get glued on in that order. As I stated above, make sure to hold the wings tight against the fuselage as the glue sets, and make sure the wings are both level. The booms go on easily, and the elevator gets inserted between them after the glue has dried.

The plastic cockpit cover gets glued to the foam hatch, and is held to the fuselage by a tab in the front and a rare earth magnet at the rear. The only thing missing from this beautiful scale bomber is a pilot figure.

Routing the servo wires is the only hassle in this build, and I really wish they were concealed instead of being routed on the outside of the airframe. The idea is to push the wires into the channels cut into the foam, then use a dab of glue every few inches to secure them. I used medium ca and accelerator (make sure both are foam safe). It becomes a challenge to pile 3 servo extensions into one channel and glue them all down.

Setup

After you've bound your transmitter and receiver, start by adjusting your control throws to best suit your flying style. Unfortunately, no recommended throws are listed in the manual, so I aired on the safe side by giving the Sea Vixen the maximum throws possible before the servos started singing. This turned out to be perfect in flight once I dialed in a little expo. Balance the Sea Vixen by positioning the battery forward or aft until it balances at the listed center of gravity (picture below). Once you've found the spot, mark it with a permanent marker so you know where to place the battery pack every time. With the recommended 4s 3300mAh pack in the Sea Vixen with retracts, I had to push the battery all the way back against the stop to achieve a decent balance... and she was still slightly nose-heavy, but very flyable.

Flying

The Sea Vixen is a scale jet, decked out with ordinance and wing tanks, and it's flight performance is on par with what I would expect from this type of airframe. She's quick but not overly fast, and surprisingly tame in slow flight thanks to the large wing area. As I first advanced the throttle and began it's maiden ground roll, the nose wheel began to overcorrect my seemingly minor adjustments to keep it straight. I had neglected to put any expo in the steering and this oversight almost resulted in a botched takeoff as I came close to running off the side of the runway. Once I dampened the ground steering a bit she tracked straight down the centerline and built up speed. I learned a lesson in flight physics that day, as the Sea Vixen continued her takeoff roll but clung to the runway for longer than I anticipated. Due to the cheater slots in the bottom of the fuselage (additional intake for the fan) the plane required a longer takeoff roll. This is a result of the cheater intake lowering the pressure under the wing while on the ground. This isn't a problem but rather a note for your maiden flight; be prepared for a longer-than-average takeoff roll.

Once airborne, rotate the gear and watch the Sea Vixen climb easily as you break for the pattern. In straight and level flight, the plane picks up speed nicely, but isn't a rocket. Remember all those scale accessories we glued on? The trade off for looking so dashingly scale is increased drag. Some people have shed the missiles and tanks for better top end speed, but I think they belong on the plane. In all honesty, I think the Sea Vixen doesn't need to be a blur in the sky; it's a scale jet and deserves to be flown in a scale manner.

With regards to mild aerobatics, the Sea Vixen can perform the standard maneuvers such as loops, rolls, and inverted flight. Pulling back on the elevator will send the jet skyward, and if you hold a vertical up-line it will begin to slow and eventually run out of steam as the thrust-to-weight ratio is not quite 1:1. The aileron roll rate was crisp and didn't feel mushy at any point. Inverted flight was uneventful with just a small amount of down elevator needed to maintain level flight. Since the Sea Vixen doesn't have a rudder, coordinated turns are out of the question.

The Sea Vixen's slow flight characteristics surprised me, and I was able to bleed off quite a bit of speed, with the nose pointed up in a mild alpha, and just putt around with great aileron authority. I tried numerous power-on and power-off stalls, and the results were a mix of lazy and predictable nose stalls, and some snap stalls that dropped a wing but were easily recoverable. Landing the plane was a real joy, and even from the first flight I felt confident in slowing the Sea Vixen down for a gentle landing on the mains. As you line up for final approach, drop the throttle to control your sink and hold elevator to keep the nose pointed up slightly. As you touch down, allow the nose to settle because without a rudder, we need the nose gear for steering.

Using my Hobbyking Mini GPS Data Logger (purchased independently and not related to the review) I was able to record flight time and top ground speed accurately during the flights. The highest speed recorded was 73.3 mph, and an average flight time around 8 minutes with 30% left in the battery.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Conclusion

The Durafly D.H.110 Sea Vixen, available from HobbyKing, is a scaled-out EPO foam rendition of the twin boom all-weather fighter that flew in the Royal Navy. With its optional retracts and included wing armaments, the Sea Vixen definitely looks and plays the part. In the air, the plane flies as you would expect from a scale airframe; with an acceptable top speed and decent roll rate. She's no cruise missile, but that's not why you bought it. Instead, you'll have more fun making low passes on the deck, practicing touch-and-goes, and just enjoying the scale lines of the D.H 110 Sea Vixen.

Pluses

  • Scale looks with optional retracts
  • Great slow flight performance
  • Comes complete with all electronics, minus radio gear and battery

Minuses

  • 70mm fan was out of balance

Credits

A big thanks goes out to RCGroups members Andrews421 and Tossin Hoss for their assistance during the review.

Last edited by Matt Gunn; May 31, 2013 at 10:31 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jun 04, 2013, 01:32 PM
The faster the better!
TLMARK's Avatar
Southern England
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Great review it's great plane and well worth it if you've never had a EDF before.
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Old Jun 04, 2013, 01:37 PM
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Great job on the Review!
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Old Jun 04, 2013, 02:00 PM
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Nice plane great review! I am thinking about getting me one of these. Nice scale look.
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Old Jun 04, 2013, 07:11 PM
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One of my favorite planes. Flies great and the detail is awesome. Great review.
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Old Jun 05, 2013, 03:13 PM
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Smoooooth landings.
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Old Jun 05, 2013, 03:18 PM
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The Netherlands, NB, Hapert
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Battery placement

I see you say that your battery is right the way back ?? I have exactly the same Lipo etc and mine is quite a bit further forward from the back stop in order to balance on the recommended C of G, any ideas ? Have I screwed something up?


Scott (HK) if you see this can you comment?

I imagine the C of G is pretty critical with the Vixen for optimum performanec so I want to get it right !!

Cheers


Ray
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Old Jun 05, 2013, 03:32 PM
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Also one of my favorites as well.

And for future reference, the word is ordnance, not ordinance (weapon vs city law)...
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Old Jun 05, 2013, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmisuinas View Post
Also one of my favorites as well.

And for future reference, the word is ordnance, not ordinance (weapon vs city law)...
Doh! thanks. I should have known better...
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Old Jun 05, 2013, 04:19 PM
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Ray, Im not sure I can give you an accurate reason why yours balances with the battery farther forward. I have the pack all the way back against the stop and its slightly nose-heavy still, but I like the way it flies so I didn't try to adjust it any further. Can you post a pic of the battery in place?
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Old Jun 06, 2013, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webdr View Post
Ray, Im not sure I can give you an accurate reason why yours balances with the battery farther forward. I have the pack all the way back against the stop and its slightly nose-heavy still, but I like the way it flies so I didn't try to adjust it any further. Can you post a pic of the battery in place?
Hi webdr, Great review BTW , should have said that at the start :
it may be the Rx ( very light weight) and wiring I am using a pretty heavy cable adaptor ro connect from the Lipo to the X60 connector supplied on the Esc, that is upsetting the balance. I found this one VERY difficult to accurately get the Cof G right..very sensitive to for and aft movement of the Lipo, it ended up about 25mm forward of the stopplate. Anyway, thx fot the reply and will get back to you on this and I will get a photo of the installation...Just another thought, I did this with the U/C down ????

This is a nice model.....although whilst building it up, I made a lot of *dents* and scratches on the airframe...especially when routing the tail boom cables :-) Guess Im just clumsy ! :-)



Ray
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Old Jun 06, 2013, 07:30 AM
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No, balance with the landing gear in the stowed position (up). If you balance with the gear down, and rotate them , she will be tail heavy in flight.

And don't worry, little dents and scratches just happen on a flat painted foamie... they just don't hold their paint that well.
Matt
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Old Jun 06, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Great Plane!

It handles predictably and will flat out FLY on a 5S setup!!! Landings are easiest I've ever had. Yes, fix servo wire routing and put on rudder and it will be perfect.
Real head turner at the flying field too
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Old Jun 06, 2013, 09:58 PM
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Matt ... what a beautifully composed review of an exciting and cool looking EDF jet! Your photos are superb, as usual. I have been resisting this one for months now but your review and video may be what pushes me over the edge.

BTW, I like the new RCG video intro ... did you put that together? Nice!
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Old Jun 07, 2013, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webdr View Post
No, balance with the landing gear in the stowed position (up). If you balance with the gear down, and rotate them , she will be tail heavy in flight.

And don't worry, little dents and scratches just happen on a flat painted foamie... they just don't hold their paint that well.
Matt
Hi Matt, its me, senility creeping in :-) tried to balance with the aeroplane up the right way and the U/C down.........not used to twin boom jets i guess, turned the Vixen upside down and retracted the gear, hey presto, lipo right against the stop...balances properly on the stated C of G..

Sorry to have wasted your time with this......now I will be fine with the Vampire

cheers again

Ray
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