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Hacker Model Production Sbach 342 1000mm ARF Review

Full-fuselaged foam fun in a relatively compact package come together for one heck of an aerobatic thrill ride.

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Introduction

When I was offered to review some models from Hacker Model Production a couple of years ago, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from what I thought was a small manufacturer.

I certainly didn't expect high-quality, great flying models expertly crafted of machined foam by real hobbyists and full-scale pilots in a state-of-the-art factory.

Today, the Super Zoom 2 and Super Zoom XL profilers along with the Extra 330 1200mm full-fuselaged model I was privileged to review still get flown on a regular basis and have held up beautifully.

It's my pleasure to present a brand new example from Karel Hacker and his crew in the Czech Republic. The Sbach 342 1000mm ARF is one of the latest additions to the Hacker Model Production "Top Flyer - Almost Unbreakable" lineup and is distributed in North America by RCBaron.com of Pataskala, Ohio USA.

It's a semi-scale rendition of the XtremeAir Sbach 342, a German-built, two-seat, aerobatic tourer designed by Philipp Steinbach and Albert Mylius and built by XtremeAir GmbH of Hecklingen, Germany.

As much as I enjoy "budget builds," especially given the fact that I own and have reviewed a few, this is going to be a no-holds-barred build with some of the finest names in radio control.

This baby is getting a Hacker Motor A20-20L 1022Kv brushless outrunner and a Hacker X-20 Pro 20-amp programmable ESC from Aero-Model of Tempe, Arizona who also forwarded the correct APC 10x4.7SF propeller. Servos are all Hitec metal-geared, digital programmable units from Hitec RCD of Poway, California. The batteries are the latest 1300mAh 3S 25C packs from ZEUS Battery Products of Bloomingdale, Illinois and guidance will be via an Airtronics SD-6G transmitter and full-range RX600 receiver from Global Hobby Distributors of Fountain Valley, California.

Sit back, relax and enjoy a snack as we get our almost ready-to-fly (or in Czech, rychlostavebnice) Sbach together and airborne.

Hacker Model Production Sbach 342 1000mm ARF

Wingspan:39.2" (1000mm)
Wing Area:460 sq in (2968 sq cm)
Approximate Flying Weight:32 oz (907g)
Length:36" (915mm)
Wing Loading:9.7 oz/sq. ft. @ 32 oz flying weight
Aileron and Elevator Servos:Hitec HS-5065MG programmable digital metal-geared
Rudder Servo:Hitec HSG-5084MG programmable digital metal-geared
Transmitter:Airtronics SD-6G six-channel spread spectrum
Receiver:Airtronics RX600 six-channel full-range spread spectrum
Battery:ZEUS Battery Products 1300mAh 3S 35C lithium polymer
Motor:Hacker Motor A20-20L brushless outrunner; 1022 Kv
ESC:Hacker Motor X-Pro 20-amp brushless
Propeller:APC 10x4.7SF
Typical Flight Duration:Five minutes
Minimum Skill Level:Intermediate
Minimum Age Level:14+
Manufacturer:Hacker Model Production a.s., Zahradní 465, 270 54 Řevničov, Czech Republic
Available From:RC Baron.com, 310 Jefferson Park Drive, Pataskala, Ohio 43062 USA
Catalog Numbers:1333A (green); 1333B (blue)
Price (USD):$111.75 (Ohio buyers add 7% state sales tax)

Kit Contents

I really have to give credit to Hacker. The way this model is presented in its display box is a vast improvement over the Super Zooms with their busy labeling and misspellings. The label, while similar to previous models, is less cluttered and free of misspellings. It's affixed to a bright red box top and all the parts are neatly laid out inside.

Nice work, Hacker Model Production. A premium model deserves premium presentation.

As I'd said in one of my previous Hacker reviews, the box doesn't fly but the contents will once assembled.

Fly they will if history is any indicator and as the finished product would attest, fly it did. Hacker's distinctive, one-of-a-kind manufacturing process results in a foam model that isn't so much molded as it is machined. I can think of no other model manufacturer that actually uses a CNC-guided hot wire cutting machine to create their products. The foam's necessarily rough-textured surface is covered in semi-scale, sprayed-on graphics, both crisper and clearer than those on my older models but still prone to rubbing off in oft-handled areas such as the battery hatch. Like that of the big Extra, the Sbach's fuselage is expertly pre-assembled, greatly reducing the parts count and speeding up the build. This model really is almost-ready-to fly with only five major airframe parts.

The Sbach comes with almost everything needed in order to get started:

  • Factory assembled fuselage
  • Machined, pre-decorated airframe parts
  • Full hardware package
  • Clear plastic canopy
  • Plastic motor cowl
  • Illustrated assembly manual

There's even an optional set of floats, available under Hacker catalog number HC1812C.

Items needed to complete assembly:

  • Aircraft radio with a minimum of four channels
  • Four micro servos with an output of 1.7 to 2.0 kg/cm
  • 950-1050Kv brushless outrunner in the 150-200W range
  • 25A brushless ESC
  • 800-1500mAh 3S li-po battery
  • 1-3/4" (45mm) electric spinner
  • Servo extensions (2x12", 2x8" and 1x6" recommended, actual lengths may be different depending on components used)
  • Thin foam-safe CA and kicker
  • Five-minute epoxy
  • X-Acto #11 hobby knife or equivalent
  • Fresh #11 blades
  • Transparent tape
  • Electrical tape (optional, but I recommend it for helping secure the servo leads to the extensions)
  • Metric ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Dremel Moto-Tool or equivalent to aid in opening up the cooling holes in the cowl
  • Other basic hand tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
  • Velcro brand hook-and-loop fastener to replace the strips supplied with the kit
  • Protractor or dedicated control surface measuring tool

Assembly

Wing

Hacker models all have the same basic assembly steps; I could just as easily have started assembly using the manual from the Extra 330.

Deja vu behind me, assembly begins with gluing the wing halves together followed by slicing the top and bottom of the wing in order to install the 780mm carbon fiber reinforcement rods at a depth of 3mm. A new #11 blade is a must, otherwise the foam will tear.

The photo in step two is a bit misleading, showing each end of the CF rod on the underside 120mm down from a seemingly arbitrary location on the aileron. Not only that, my measurement didn't match that of the photo. I had this same issue with the Extra; I'll suggest here and now that Hacker apply the guiding line during the graphics process.

On a brighter note, the English translation is greatly improved over that of the previous manuals. The funky translations used in the older models did not, in my opinion, live up to the quality of the models themselves.

Once in place and glued down (and carefully so since CA on one's fingers will lift the graphic inks clean off the foam), step four calls for hollowing out the underside of the wing where the servos will go.

My suggestion is not to scrimp on the servos. This is an premium priced model at US$112 and the servos will all be glued in place.

And brother, did I have the perfect servos.

Suzanne Lepine of Hitec RCD in San Diego generously provided three Hitec HS-5065MG metal-geared digital servos and one Hitec HSG-5084MG metal-geared helicopter tail rotor digital servo for use in my recent review of the Hobbymate HB790 MEMS gyro. My intent was to upgrade the servos in the HK 450TT Pro helicopter used in the test, but the HSG-5084MG was the wrong size and Hitec didn't have one which would fit in the opening.

Rather than send them back, Suzanne said that I could keep them for a future review.

This is that review and here are the specs:

Hitec HS-5065MG High Torque Metal Gear Feather Servo
Speed (4.8V/6.0V):0.14 / 0.11
Torque (4.8/6.0V):25 / 31 oz in (1.8 / 2.2 kg/cm)
Weight:.42 oz (11.91g)
Dimensions:0.92 x 0.45 x 0.94" (23.37 x 11.43 x 23.88mm)
Motor:Three-pole
Output Shaft Support:Ball bearing
Retail Price (USD):$49.95
Distributor:Hitec RCD, 12115 Paine Street, Poway, CA 92064 USA

Hitec HSG-5084MG Micro Heli Tail Rotor Servo
Speed (4.8V/6.0V):0.07 / 0.05
Torque (4.8/6.0V):21 / 26 oz in (1.5 / 1.9 kg/cm)
Weight:.76 oz (21.55g)
Dimensions:1.14 x 0.51 x 1.18" (28.96 x 12.95 x 29.97mm)
Motor:Three-pole
Output Shaft Support:Ball bearing
Retail Price (USD):$43.95
Manufacturer:Hitec RCD, 12115 Paine Street, Poway, CA 92064 USA

Hollowing out the wing once the outline of the servo has been traced in the proper area takes a bit of patience. Care should be taken to make the perimeter of the resulting opening 1mm smaller than the servo. Easier said than done in my case; the openings were just the right size but could have been slightly smaller.

Steps five and six entail the pushrod connectors and servo installation. I praised Hacker's wonderful four-piece connectors in previous reviews; they are among the best I've ever seen. All of the servo arms should be prepared at this time.

A very, very careful look at step 6 is in order here.

It's necessary to slice some slots for the servo leads and to poke the ends of the leads through slots which must be cut all the way through. In other words, the leads have to extend through the top of the wing.

There is no mention of it in the text and I missed the step; I'd done the same with the Extra 330. In fact, I really missed that step during that build, requiring me to carefully open up the belly of the fuselage to correct the error.

Here's where I ran into a problem: The hardware had simply been tossed into a bag. No fun trying to find small pieces.

After carefully wading through the pile of parts, it turned out that a hold-down tab was missing. This was the ingenious little tab between the hold-down screw and pushrod which spreads the load over a wider area.

I was lucky since I had two clamps from the Super Zoom 2 still attached to their too-short aileron servo arms. When I assembled that model, the arms supplied with the GWS servos provided were were too short for sufficient aileron travel and I had to rely on aftermarket arms and clamps.

The pushrods themselves are next and to save weight, they're assembled from a combination of carbon fiber rods, metal wire and shrink wrap tubing.

Not only is shrink wrap tubing provided, so too are short lengths of plastic tubing for retaining the wheels of the landing gear. That tubing looks very much the same as the shrink wrap but is stiffer and shinier.

Once the shrink wrap is heated, a dab of CA at either end secures the assembly. I originally wasn't sure how well such a setup would work in the real world, but all the previous models have the same setup and they work fine. The manual suggests making all four pushrods at this point.

Once the pushrods were in place, I couldn't resist the urge to hook up the receiver and an ESC and give the ailerons a try.

The Hitec servos were lightning fast, smooth and quiet. The stock arms allowed more than enough throw; I would do the final sub trims and adjustments later, but for the time being, I was having a ball just flapping the ailerons.

Fuselage

Work on the fuselage begins on step nine with the assembly of the laser-cut plywood motor mount and the fuselage formers which will help to retain the cowl.

After punching out the parts from their sheet, a quick test fit showed them all to fit perfectly.

Five-minute epoxy is called for and so too is a bit of caution.

The front of the mount and the right side half are each marked by a small hole. These holes must be on the same side or the motor thrust angle will be wrong. The offset is very slight, so it's a really good thing that Hacker chose to mark the mounts in this manner. They'd done the same for the Extra 330.

A dovetailed wooden retainer bar helps to hold the mount in place. Once installed, a foam "landing gear stiffener" is epoxied in place behind the factory installed wooden landing gear retaining block. I remember the instructions for the Extra being a bit vague as to what the part was and what it was made of, but the photo of the Sbach's retainer is much clearer.

Opening up some holes for the Hitec rudder and elevator servos was easy; the measurements given were easy to follow. As with the aileron servos, the openings are cut slightly smaller than the perimeter of these servos.

The recommended 12"/30cm servo extensions are next and I used some electrical tape as a bit of insurance to hold the connectors together. A bit of trouble arose here since the leads on the servos were a bit on the short side; once threaded through the fuselage and out the holes in the cockpit area, very little of the plug extended from the hole, making it impossible to connect to the receiver. A pair of JR 18"/45cm leads did the trick. After a quick check of servo operation, I wrapped some transparent tape around each servo as indicated and tacked them both in place with a bit of the CA.

Step 13 shows the proper orientation of the rudder servo (although it isn't indicated as such) but the elevator servo isn't shown except for the incidental photo of the horizontal stab installation on step 23. This was a problem I'd addressed during the assembly of the Extra 330 and apparently still needs to be addressed by Hacker. For the record, the output shafts on each servo point toward the front of the model with the arm of the rudder servo pointing upward and that of the elevator servo pointing downward. It's a standard setup to be sure, but the manual must be made clearer in future models and perhaps even future production runs of this model.

Installing the wing happens in step 14...which means slicing the fuselage.

No, really.

Not to worry, though. Like the Extra 330, installing the wing first entails carefully cutting the fuselage at the trailing edge of the wing saddle. This makes a very flexible flap which opens up easily to accept the assembled wing.

Recall that I missed the part back on step 6 where it was necessary to cut slots along the bottom of the wings for the aileron servo leads and to cut openings in order to allow the leads and extensions to poke from the top of the wing near the seam. It didn't take long for me to notice.

The aileron leads eventually poke through the same holes as the rudder and elevator leads. After a final check of aileron servo operation, it was time to triangulate the wing with the rearmost tip of the fuselage. The illustration in step 16 shows the top of an assembled Sbach and its triangulation points between the wing and elevator, but I got the general idea.

After some careful measuring with a tape measure, it was time to tack down the wing and the flap.

Tail feather time!

Tail

The horizonal and vertical stabilizers with their machined leading edges go on rather quickly. Again, assembly is identical to other full-fuselage Hacker models. There's little to do outside of the milled fiberglass contol horns, the wooden elevator joiner (referred to as a "spruce" in the manual) and installing the stabs.

The horizontal stab is first, requiring a cut be made to the back of the fuselage in much the same way as the wing saddle. Like the wing, the fit is fairly accurate and needed little adjustment to triangulate it to the wing.

Once the tail is properly centered and glued in place, the installation of the rudder and elevator pushrods completes the basic airframe.

Not only does the Sbach look like a real airplane, it looks like a really nice real airplane.

Radio Installation

The motor and ESC are the first components other than the servos to make their way onto the Sbach.

And what components they are.

This Sbach is going to be properly motivated with the aid of a Hacker Motor A20-20L 1022Kv outrunner and a perfectly matched Hacker X-Pro 20A ESC from Mike Donovan, manager of Aero-Model/Hacker Brushless USA of Tempe, Arizona.

Hacker Brushless A20-20L Brushless Outrunner Motor
Peak Watts:200
Kv Rating (RPM/Volt):1022Kv
Weight:1.96 oz
Length:1.33"
Diameter:1.1"
Shaft Diameter:3mm
Operating Current:15A
Number of Poles:14
Retail Price (USD):$54.99
Available From:Aero-Model Incorporated / Hacker Brushless USA, 2122 West Fifth Place, Tempe, Arizona 85281 USA

Mike was even kind enough to send the recommended APC 10x4.7 slo-flyer propeller as well!

While the model calls for a 25-amp control, there is no 25-amp X-Pro control in the Hacker X-Pro lineup. I've worked with Aero-Model before and these folks know their products well. If say a 20-amp unit would work, a 20-amp unit it is.

These fine ESCs don't come with a battery connector and a new, high-quality connector such as a Deans Ultra-Plug is called for. Since virtually all of my batteries are Deans equipped, the choice in connectors wan't terribly difficult.

Hacker Brushless X-20 Pro Brushless Speed Control
Operating Current:20A
Peak Current:25A
Weight:.75 oz
Length:1.65"
Width:.91"
Shaft Diameter:3mm
Retail Price (USD):$39.99
Available From:Aero-Model Incorporated / Hacker Brushless USA, 2122 West Fifth Place, Tempe, Arizona 85281 USA

It's too bad Hacker Motor makes such beautifully finished motors; it's a shame to hide that satin purple and black powerhouse under the cowl.

A test of proper motor rotation is called for before the motor is bolted in place with the machine screws supplied with the model. The manual calls for the use of four screws and washers, but the top and bottom screws interfered with the prop collet. Once the motor is in place, it's then necessary to open up the motor shaft hole and cooling holes in the cowl before it's fitted. Easy enough with a Dremel and easy to trim off the flash with the X-Acto later.

There's a rather large 25mm hole recommended for the motor shaft opening, but a large hole makes it easier to align the cowl later with no interference with the collet or spinner backplate.

No spinner is provided, but any good 1-3/4" (45mm) electric spinner will work. I used a Great Planes nylon spinner with aluminum backplate (GPMQ4757) in black. The cowl goes on first followed by the prop assembly; once everything is in alignment, the cowl is screwed in place.

Completion

Completing the Sbach means installing the landing gear, securing the receiver, checking the CG, cutting and installing the top deck/battery hatch on the fuselage and cutting and installing the canopy.

Steps 31 through 36 entail the landing gear installation which, as with my previous builds, is a combination of straightforward assembly and the utter frustration of dealing with foam cosmetic parts.

The main undercarriage is fitted with Hacker's excellent one-piece wheels which are secured by bits of plastic tubing cut to 5mm lengths and small drops of CA. This setup seemed to work OK for the smaller planes, but a few landings on the Extra 330 resulted in the wheel parting company with the piano wire. It now has regular wheel retainers.

Foam strut covers are sliced open to fit around the landing gear and foam wheel pants are supposed to be sanded in order to round them off.

Problem: The strut covers were too short. Since these models are largely handmade and hand-packed, a blooper like this isn't surprising. Since the covers aren't critical to the operation of the Sbach, I installed them as best I could, short or not.

As for the wheel pants, I elected to leave them squared off.

The whole business looks just plain weird; Hacker should consider some inexpensive plastic parts which would look far better. The foam on the other three models is long since gone, especially since the wheel pants tended to interfere with the wheels themselves.

The tailwheel is, to put it mildly, fascinating. Hacker Model Production is well known for their 3D modeling for various industries. They use a laser-sintered resin to literally build prototype parts via a computer and they've applied that magnificent technology to the tailwheel bracket and the wheel itself. The wheel needed drilling out with a 1/16" drill before it would fit over the wire. The wire is then bent over to retain the wheel (easier said than done) and the top of the wire is bent at a right angle in order to be "plugged" into the rudder.

While the bracket is glued in place once a slot is cut in the fuselage, the wire is not glued to the rudder. It has to be able to move as the rudder moves.

CG is next, with the ZEUS Battery Products 1300mAh 3S li-po serving as ballast.

A bit of tech info is in order:

ZEUS Battery Products 11.1V 1300mAh 25C Lithium Polymer Battery
Length:2.95" (75mm)
Width:1.38" (35mm)
Weight:.25 lb (112g)
Dimensions:1.14 x 0.51 x 1.18" (28.96 x 12.95 x 29.97mm)
Maximum Burst:64A
Maximum Charge Rate:2C (2.6A)
Maximum Continuous Discharge:25C
Connector:Deans Ultra-Plug compatible
Retail Price (USD):$25.60
Available From:ZEUS Battery Products, 191 Covington Drive, Bloomingdale, Illinois 60108 USA

The CG is between 70 - 75mm back from the LE of the wing, or just in front of the carbon fiber spar. It balanced perfectly with the pack just behind the opening for the ESC.

I would recommend using real, brand-name Velcro for retaining the battery. The strip of hook-and-loop fastener supplied with the model simply doesn't cut it. The adhesive is too weak to stick to the foam and there isn't enough "loop" to adequately adhere to the equally inadequate "hook."

It's suggested that an opening be cut in the foam for the receiver, one slightly smaller than the receiver itself. I didn't want to go that route, so I used some Parma servo tape I had on hand. This stuff sticks incredibly well.

The aerials of the Airtronics RX600 receiver are a bit longer than normal and I thought stuffing the receiver into a hole was going to make it more difficult to not only retain the receiver itself due to the aerials extending from the side but more difficult to properly route them in the fuselage.

After a quick check of the operation of the model and a bit of time spent on the Airtronics SD-6G transmitter's menu to set up the separately controlled ailerons, a couple of small tie wraps completed the radio installation.

As for the 6" servo extension recommended to connect the ESC to the receiver, it wasn't necessary in this case.

Assembly is completed with the cutting of the top cover of the fuselage and the trimming and installation of the canopy. The cover is cut into three pieces with the center 90mm section made into a battery cover. The rearmost piece requires the supplied plastic strip (or "plastic former" as the case may be) be glued underneath. This is going to be used to help hold the cover in place; more on that in a moment.

I have to invoke the Extra 330 again. A #11 blade is a bit short to cut all the way through the rather thick cover so, like the Extra, the cuts turned out a bit wavy despite my use of the metric ruler as a cutting guide.

The center section is transformed into the battery cover courtesy of a hole drilled for a laser-sintered twist knob, a laser-sintered washer and the remaining carbon fiber rod. Once a hole is drilled in the cover in the indicated spot, the pieces come together to create a simple yet effective latch. That's where that plastic strip came in. It's used to give the carbon fiber rod something to hold on to other than plain foam. The final two wooden strips serve as guides and are mounted just inside the walls of the fuselage. This setup works beautifully on the Extra to this day; it's both simple and effective.

Once the canopy is trimmed and mounted with the final four screws and the control throws set, the Sbach is ready to rock.

Recommended throws were 40 degrees aileron, 50 degrees elevator and 45 degrees rudder, all easily set via the SD-6G. I threw 15% exponential into the ailerons and elevator and 10% into the rudder while I was in the setup menu, thus completing the build. There was some flex in the horizontal stabilizer when the elevator was operated, but the Extra does the same thing, so I wasn't too concerned.

All that's left is to fly this baby.

Flying

Taking Off and Landing

There are probably few places on earth as different as Řevničov, Czech Republic and California's Colorado Desert.

Still, a top-notch model from central Europe packed full of top-notch components from around the world naturally merits a top-notch field in Southern California not far from the international border with Mexico.

I'm privileged to be a member of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club outside of Thermal, California. This AMA Gold Standard field has been the site of many a test flight for these reviews and the maiden flight of the Sbach would be no exception.

Wind conditions were a bit on the breezy side, but not too bad for a plane the size of the Sbach. I was also alone, something the club generally discourages and of course, I had no videographer so this would be a brief flight.

After a range check, a double-check of both the CG and lateral balance and a test of the ground handling which I found to be excellent despite the breeze, I taxied the Sbach out to the runway, aimed it into the wind and punched the throttle.

It's rare indeed when everything goes right on the very first takeoff. In other words, no unpleasant handling surprises, no whacked-out trim issues, stuff like that.

This was one of those times.

The Sbach climbed out fast, straight and true with the accuracy of a simulator. It simply shrugged off the breeze, tracking as if were on the proverbial rails. Speed was about what I would have expected; I eyeballed it at about 50 MPH (80km/h), perhaps even faster.

No matter. It simply went where I pointed it, thanks in no small part to the accuracy of the Airtronics SD-6G, something I've noted in other models I've flown with that system. No drama, no twitchy, spooky handling, nothing. It's certainly no trainer - no model of this configuration is - but neither does it demand its pilot wrestle the sticks to keep it flying.

It maintained a nearly perfect straight and level flight path during a couple of runway passes and did so on the landing as well. Again, no drama. With a tiny bit of power on, the Sbach came in for as good a three-pointer as I've ever done with a brand new model.

Up it went a second time, this time with a couple of rolls and a loop thrown in. The roll rate on the suggested initial setup was good, better than I expected, but I decided on the spot to add a bit more throw before the photo shoot. It also tracked through a loop with almost no correction necessary and with plenty of power on tap. I pulled off an even better landing, but with a slight problem.

I'd been forced to remove the Hacker motor's shaft during the build and it appeared that I'd failed to adequately tighten the setscrews on the motor can. The collet was wedged onto the shaft so tightly that I was unable to remove it and therefore remove the motor from its mount; thankfully, Hacker Motor provides spare shafts with the A20-20L, so removing a shaft doesn't mean needing a drill press in order to slide things apart. The odd buzz I heard was all I needed to hear to bring the Sbach around on a quick final.

No tools meant the end of flying, but I'd seen all I needed to see. The problem arose again during the video shoot and was fixed later; it turned out to be little more than slightly fouled setscrew threads. Once I removed the endbell and chased the threads with the setscrews, the problem was solved.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Another near perfect Sunday morning at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club meant some great flying was dead ahead.

Meeting me for the video shoot once more was club videographer George Muir. George's time was limited, so I had to act fast.

Putting the Sbach in the air once more rewarded me with those same great flying characteristics - and this time, I got to have a bit more fun with some aerobatics:

  • Rolls: The bit of extra throw I programmed into the Airtronics SD-6G paid off with a rate close to two rolls per second. I could get away with rolling with the ailerons only, but a touch of opposite rudder drilled the Sbach through the air with no course deviation. Just perfect.
  • Knife edge: I was still becoming accustomed to the Sbach, but my attempt at a knife edge paid off. I held it only briefly since the model was getting a bit out of camera range, but suffice to say it will knife edge just fine. Additional rudder throw would have helped; the Hitec HSG-5084MG rudder servo doesn't have quite the throw of the HS-5065MG servos. On the other hand, the 5084 is gyro compatible which could lead to a whole new set of rudder-intense possibilities.
  • Loops: Lateral balance makes all the difference in the world when loops come into play and that of the Sbach was perfect from the get-go. Inside loops during the maiden flight and half loops both inside and outside during the video shoot were effortless; it flew like a pattern model. I didn't try a Cuban Eight, but it should pull off some real beauties.
  • Inverted flight: If there's one thing my previously reviewed Hacker models do well, it's inverted flying. The Sbach rolled onto its back with virtually no down elevator needed to keep it level. There was both plenty of power and plenty of elevator throw to bring it back around with an outside loop.
  • 3D flight: Ben Andrus over at RCBaron.com asked if I could get some 3D flying in. I told him the model didn't feel balanced for it, but that I would try. Try I did, but try as I might, I couldn't get it to hold in a hover. The good news: It pulled off some nice hammerheads coming out of the stall. I have no doubt that the CG could be easily shifted rearward for 3D flight. There's plenty of leeway to do so and there's plenty of room for a heavier battery.
  • Landings: This is as easy a model to land as any I've ever flown. It likes to come in with just a bit of power, but only a little since my early attempts at trying to flare out caused it to pitch back into the air. Once I got the hang of it, I brought the model down for a perfect three-pointer with a combination of rudder, throttle and elevator.

Is This For a Beginner?

As beautifully as the Sbach flies, it's most assuredly not for a raw beginner nor would it be a good aileron trainer. Any fully aerobatic plane goes where you point it and will not self-correct. It's easy to put together and looks great which might tempt a beginner, but I have to emphasize the fact a plane like this is best flown by someone with experience. Beginners need not be disappointed, though. Hacker Model Production makes several trainers of equal quality; simply visit their home page to learn more.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery










Downloads

Conclusion

One would be hard pressed to find a better all-around sport plane than the Hacker Model Production Sbach 342 1000mm. It's a premium priced model and the performance bears that out, especially when equipped with premium components. It'll even shrug off rough landings which would mean a lengthy repair job - or worse - for a balsa plane. Since the foam breaks cleanly, any damage is easily and almost invisibly repaired in the field with some CA which in turn justifies the purchase price in my opinion. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. It's equally at home as a lazy Sunday flyer or as a one-plane air show. As for the aforementioned rough landings, the Sbach is so easy to land that only an unlikely case of mechanical failure or a really bad case of "dumb thumbs" will bang it up.

Best of all, I have it on the word of Karel Hacker himself that all of the minor issues are being addressed on a constant basis.

The usual spate of thanks is in order beginning with Ben Andrus and Karel Hacker who made reviewing this model and several other new additions to the Hacker Model Production family possible. Suzanne Lepine of Hitec RCD represents not only some of the best products in all of radio control, she represents some of the greatest professionalism imaginable. I'm sorry to say that Jenny Wright of ZEUS Battery Products has since left that fine company, but rarely have I had the pleasure of dealing with such a pleasant, friendly and enthusiastic company rep. I wish her luck on her future endeavors and I hope to work with her again. Special thanks go to Mike Donovan at Aero-Model for providing the marvelous Hacker Motor GmbH motor and ESC, both perfectly matched for this application. Mike Greenshields of Global Hobby Distributors is truly a giant in the hobby industry; he had a hand in designing the Airtronics SD-6G radio and it shows. Angela Haglund of RCGroups.com is the cornerstone of these reviews. Without her, none would be possible.

Once more, I have to thank you in our audience for whom we review these products.

As for me, the Sbach is going to be a very frequent passenger in the trunk of my car on the way to the field.

Pluses and minuses

Pluses include:

  • High quality parts and hardware
  • Outstanding flight characteristics
  • Nicely packaged
  • Easy assembly and setup
  • Easily repaired if necessary
  • Full support from RCBaron.com
  • CNC-cut parts with full airfoils put this brand in a class of its own
  • Improved CNC-sprayed graphics
  • Plenty of room for electronics and batteries
  • Great looking plane which captures the spirit of the prototype
  • Quite possibly among the finest overall models in its class regardless of construction

Minuses are few:

  • There are still a few minor errors and some badly translated English in the manual
  • Some might consider the purchase price to be on the high side for a foam model
  • Some difficulty with the aileron servo installation
  • The strut covers were clearly from a smaller model
  • Graphic inks tend to rub off with normal handling
  • Supplied hook-and-loop fastener for the battery should be replaced
  • Some flexing of the horizontal stabilizer with elevator input, although it didn't seem to have an effect on the flight characteristics
  • Haphazard hardware packaging which may have resulted in a missing pushrod clamp
  • Scoring lines for the wing reinforcement rods would be a welcome addition
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Oct 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM..

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Old Oct 19, 2012, 06:32 PM
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United States, MO, Springfield
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nice does it come in any other colors?
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Old Oct 20, 2012, 04:07 AM
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"Hell Blues" ROCKS ! thanks JTG. oh , the planes is sweet also.
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Old Oct 21, 2012, 04:58 AM
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Nice love it !
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Old Oct 21, 2012, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elios000 View Post
nice does it come in any other colors?
Yes. It comes in a green scheme with red highlights. Think "Castrol Motor Oil." Same pattern and graphics.
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Old Oct 22, 2012, 09:22 AM
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BTW, thanks to "GassPasser" and "Kris..." for the kind words. Trying to type on an iPhone is definitely not as easy as here on a computer keyboard.

I just got a nice email from Karel Hacker. He and Ondrej Hacker are, as of September, the FAI electric pylon racing world champions!

They beat out nine other international teams at the FAI aeromodelling championships in Romania.
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Old Oct 26, 2012, 12:19 AM
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Thats excellent receiving an email from Karel Hacker bet your well stoked.
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Old Oct 26, 2012, 07:20 PM
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Thats excellent receiving an email from Karel Hacker bet your well stoked.
He's terrific and he's very proud of his products. We started emailing thanks to Ben Andrus at RCBaron.com when I reviewed the Super Zoom 2. He really takes the reviews to heart and there were some noticeable improvements in this new kit.

To tell you the truth, I really am stoked that he'd take the time to tell me about the pylon racing win.
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Old Nov 05, 2012, 10:01 PM
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Thanks for the review. Great job.

One comment; Welder Glue (a contact adhesive) is a much better choice for repairing EPP. Welder stays "rubbery" and therefore is more consistent with the EPP around it. CA works, but will create a "hard" area that is more likely to break again with the next mis-hap. It used to be available at Lowes but I heard they are no longer going to carry it. Google it, you can still find it.

Hope that helps. I am a BIG fan of EPP and have used lots of Welder Glue while learning 3D.

FO4
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 09:23 PM
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Sure would love to see some in-flight photos of this nice looking Hacker Sbach, Ralph.
It looks pretty sweet in your static shots.

I really like my Hacker Sea Fury "Furias" but am intrigued with the idea of a full fuselage EPP model like this.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DismayingObservation View Post
Yes. It comes in a green scheme with red highlights. Think "Castrol Motor Oil." Same pattern and graphics.
boo why does no one make it the black red and white any more i really like that one on the full scale
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:53 AM
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Thanks for the nice words, Fatherof4. That's a great suggestion regarding repairs.

Baj...I goofed. I forgot to ask my videographer friend for some vidcaps. I hadn't even noticed until long after the review was published.

Believe me, this plane is every bit as sweet as I've made it out to be. The larger full-fuselage Extra 330 has some tail twisting under high-G moves which doesn't seem to have a negative effect, but this little sweetie doesn't twist in the least.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:58 PM
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You could always add them in a post here Ralph.
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 08:04 AM
Flyr John in Floyd VA
United States, VA, Floyd
Joined Nov 2007
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Wonderful Plane

Gotta add my 2 cents. Have about 8 flights on mine now and have to say it's a great plane! Some innovative engineering solutions and remarkable flying characteristics. Can fly very slowly and gracefully, yet still be very responsive acrobatically.

Suggestion for alternative, inexpensive motor: Tower Pro 2409-18 with 10x4.7 APC SloFly prop. Light, responsive. Getting 9 minute flights with 3s1300 pack.

John
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Old Nov 24, 2012, 10:01 AM
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hover and harrier?

Thanks for the great thread! I'm thinking about getting this model, also in 1000mm wingspan, and would like to do pattern and 3D flying with it. Has anyone been able to get this model to hover and torque roll? How well does it harrier?

Thanks,
John
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