|Wing Area:||295 sq. in.|
|Weight:||8.5 oz. (advertised as 8-8.5 oz.)|
|Wing Loading:||4.15 oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||Two E-Flite S60 sub-micro servos|
|Transmitter:||Spektrum DX7 Special Edition|
|Battery:||E-Flite 2S 800mAh LiPo|
|Motor:||E-Flite Park 250 2200kV brushless outrunner|
|ESC:||E-Flite 10-amp brushless speed controller|
|Available From:||Horizon Hobby or any of its dealers|
Back before GPS-guided missiles, jet engines and battles in the South Pacific, dogfights were simple: A pilot, a gun and those funny-looking goggles.
Well, simple is a relative word: If a Nieuport 17 was on your tail, things were bound to get a bit dicey. Hailed as one of the best aircraft of that conflict, the French fighter boasted all of two wings and a synchronized Vickers gun. It held its own as a member of the Aιronautique Militaire as well as Britain's Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. But, by 1917, Spads had come into production, and they took the spotlight away from this fine aircraft.
Now, almost 90 years later, E-flite is bringing this icon of the 1910s back to the small scale. And small (and light) it is. This is the third in its series of slow flyers the S.E.5a (reviewed here on Ezone) and the Jenny JN-4 came before the Nieuport and they all are in the eight-ounce range and made of foam. They all boast all of two wings as well as their fair share of detail.
My double-boxed model showed up free of any courier-inflicted damage. Opening the box, here's what I discovered:
Getting the Nieuport out for a dawn patrol requires more than foam and wood, however, so here's what I received for this review (most of the electronics can be swapped for similar items, but I'd suggest that you at least use the recommended motor, for it is a perfect fit for the dummy engine):
With that, you've got yourself all you need to get airborne. On the workbench, however, here's rundown of the different tools of the trade you'll need:
Glue: Foam-safe CA and kicker, as well as regular thin and medium CA. Wood glue is also recommended, though not required.
The Nieuports instructions are detailed, well-written and have pretty pictures throughout (well, pretty and informative). There are tips and then more tips, and they certainly make the build process more enjoyable/less painful. (The fact that they are written in real English is a huge plus, too). You can find it here in PDF format as well.
I would guesstimate that you can have your plane ready in a matter of three to four evenings at the most.
Say what? Are we starting backwards or something here? No, we're not. The build starts at the nose, and that's where all the electric gadgetry resides. So, pull out the cowl and get to work.
The motor mount doubles as a servo tray, and that's where the E-flite S60 servos drop in. The fit is perfect, and all that needs to be done is drill some holes, drop some CA to reinforce the servo holes and screw them in.
The servo arms get a bit of a trimming, and after putting the pushrod connectors in upside down (yes, upside down indeed, for it won't clear the firewall otherwise), attach them to the servos according to the instructions. Route the wires, and you're done.
The receiver gets placed behind the motor mount, and if you're using a Spektrum receiver, you won't have a problem with antenna wires. If you're planning on using a 72mHz receiver, you would be wise to invest in a micro antenna, which would help with disguising unsightly wires.
The empennage (a fitting word for this review, since it is French after all) is a simple step for the build, since most of it is already ready to be glued to the fuselage (yet another French word). Still, there are a couple of steps to be done.
Once you get the control horn glued in, the elevator gets joined to the fuselage, but you want to make sure that it's straight from every single axis. After you make sure that it's level (mine was, but otherwise do some sanding) and perpendicular to the fuselage (from the tips of the horizontal stabilizer to the cabanes it should measure 14 inches), set it in place with some T-pins. Then, glue away with foam-safe CA.
The rudder is just as simple. You also need to attach the control horn, but you'll have to cut away at the CA hinge in order to make it fit. Once you get that done, just add foam-safe CA and let it dry. And attaching it the fuselage is just as easy make sure it's aligned, make sure it will clear the elevator fine and once again glue away.
Finally, route the pushrods to their rightful spots, center everything, tighten the connectors and be done with it.
This is where the build gets truly interesting (in a good way), and this is where the true detailing starts for the Nieuport.
The first order of business is to remove the excess plastic from the dummy engine. That's simple enough a task that requires careful cutting with some canopy scissors and a brand-spanking-new hobby blade.
This is a departure from the manual, but one that I find adds a huge touch of realism to the plane and one that requires all of two minutes. Static modelers call it dry-brushing, and it calls for some silver paint and a flat brush.
Here's what you do: Dab the tip of your paintbrush, then wipe all that paint off on a paper towel. Once you think you've removed it all, remove it some more. Then, gently brush the raised parts of the dummy engine until you get a nice, gentle shine on them. The detail will come to life! Attach the dummy engine to the Park 250 motor with a few drops of CA, and you're ready to admire your creation.
The motor mount gets attached to the motor with a small amount of RTV silicone, per E-flite's recommendation, and the whole assembly gets attached to the fuselage with both thin CA (to hold it in place initially) and later some thick CA (to fill in the gaps and add to the rigidity factor). You want to make sure the prop clears the cowling just fine before committing to gluing the motor, but other than that, it's simple enough.
After that, attach the speed controller, set it in place and screw in the cowling.
There may be two wings, but that doesn't mean this step going to take twice as long, so don't worry.
Starting from the bottom, tighten the screws for the bottom wing, then put the landing gear in place. The only thing that needs to be done now is to put the wheels in there, which get secured with some plastic collars.
The next step requires you to add the (very fancy) wooden struts. Again, glue and move on.
Let me put it this way: Rigging, cool as it may look, is a necessary evil. It may sound exciting, but it's not, frankly. There's OCD-grade precision involved (at least for me), and an extra pair of hands are more than welcome here.
But fear not, it's doable. It's a tedious process that requires you to prop up the bottom wing 5-3/8" inch in order to achieve the right dihedral (I used Tamiya Surface Primer cans) and looping the included wire from strut to strut, back and forth across the fuselage until you get it all in place. It's not until everything is tight, aligned, square and near-perfect that you get to set it in place with some CA.
Words can't quite describe the quasi-tedious process, but fortunately, E-flite has set up two fine videos that explain the process (and rationale) for this step. Watch them and let them be your guide. Here is the first installment, and here is the second part of it.
The fact that you're dealing with less than three feet of wingspan doesn't mean you can skimp on the looks department. The stock model looks fantastic as it is, but that won't stop me from adding a bit of 1910s bling-bling.
The included gun is a nice detail, but using the aforementioned dry-brushed technique, all that fine details comes to life. So, brush in hand, I took care of that and made it look even better.
On the business end, a GWS prop, be it orange or black, didn't quite cut it for me. It was too much of a non-scale eyesore, but with the help of some brown permanent markers, I drew some wood lines that once again helped with making the Nieuport a tad more realistic. It took all of 10 minutes, but a few strokes of the pen later, I did something that would later fool some critics at the flying field.
Finally, what's a scale plane without a scale pilot? If memory serves me right, there were no UAVs back in World War I, so it was time to find a suitable ace pilot for this plane. I found Jack here, and he required little modification to make him fit. Well, dismemberment might be a bit of a modification, and I admit that I chopped off more than I should have, but in the end, Jack did feel right at home in the cockpit.
Detailing aside, it was simply a matter of setting up the radio to the recommended travel rates (there are low and high rates, but the difference is minimal), adding a bit of expo for good measure. The ESC required a bit of finagling, as it had to be set up for a two-cell battery cutoff (it would not run otherwise), but after that, I was good to go. Field, here we come!
I know, I know... It should have been a dawn-patrol mission. Fine. But, when you're itching to go fly this plane, no matter the time of day, anything will do. So, instead of dawn patrol, let's just say it was an earlier-than-dusk patrol, shall we?
Battery in place (behind the motor), CG 2.5 inches behind the leading edge of the top wing, control surfaces do what they're supposed to... let the dogfights begin! (Not!)
Thanks to the larger-than-average wheels, even this small plane can take off from taller-than-average grass. Such is the case at my club, where it's mostly larger electrics that roam the friendly skies. But, nonetheless, a good jam on the throttle, and the Nieuport was moving forward. Three or four yards later, we had liftoff. It's that simple.
If hand-tossing is your kind of thing, this is certainly doable, and a light toss into the wind (think Slow Stick, but more fragile and prettier) would do the trick. But then again, it is unnecessary to resort to a hand-launch unless you truly have no room to take off from. Roll-off takeoffs are the way to go, from both a scale appearance as well as pure simplicity and fun factor.
Most World War I planes didn't have the best of runways to take off from, so when it comes to replicating such flights, it appears that the E-flite Nieuport passes that test without much problem.
Getting back to terra firma is quite simple, too, though I suggest that you maintain a bit of throttle dialed in until the last moment. Approaches are, unsurprisingly, slow as molasses, and the plane simply plops down after a little bit of gliding. And, if the grass happens to be a bit taller than it should, you may very well find yourself toppling over (more than likely to the tune of zero damage). But, once again, being gentle on the controls and idling your way to the runway will maintain those nice scalelike attitudes throughout the last part of your flying routine.
On the grass, things are simple. But on harder surfaces, things are even simpler, of course. Just be sure to land softly, as the wheels are made of hard plastic and may be prone to cracking under rough landings.
My wheels eventually broke off, and so I contacted John Redman, senior product developer for E-flite and the designer for this plane. I discussed this issue with him, an issue that had already been brought up by other pilots, including a friend of mine. Redman said there was a problem with them, in fact, and it would be addressed in future production runs by adding some plywood on the inside. He also added that, for the time being, a way to reduce the chances of them breaking is to run a small drill bit through the hub should it be too snug a fit.
Three-channel planes are, inherently, relatively simple planes to operate. They're hard to roll and easy to tame. And E-flite's Nieuport 17 follows in that tradition.
Once you get airborne, it's gentle flying for there on after. As expected, it will not fly fast, and that's perfectly fine. Most of the cruising along will be done at about half throttle, leaving the upper end of the spectrum for climbs and turns (yes, a bit of extra juice helps with maintaining level flight on this plane).
As expected with a rudder-only plane that boast plenty of dihedral, the Nieuport will not turn on a dime, that's for sure. And that's OK with me. It will make relatively wide turns across the field, and they're nothing but graceful and slow. It almost feels like this plane is a narcissist: It will parade along in front of the crowd, making sure it cruises slowly enough so everyone can take it its beauty and not miss a detail. A small plane with plenty of ego, one would say.
Flight times are a thing to behold, too: Equipped with the 800mAh battery, you can expect to be in the air for no less than 10 to 12 minutes if you exercise careful throttle management, and certainly more if you're more conservative. The motor runs quietly and efficiently, though at times I do wish I had a bit more power under the cowling, for it drops out of the sky at anything below half throttle. But, then again, I must remind myself: This is a plane to relax to, not a plane to catch up to. The only issue I encountered along the way was the fact that, during the maiden flight, I noticed that I had to add an unhealthy amount of right trim to the rudder. And, while editing some photos of the maiden flight, I also noticed one of the wings was sitting way higher than its counterpart.
The culprit? Different levels of dihedral, probably because some wiring got shifted during the maiden. The solution? Re-rigging, which involved removing all the old wiring and replacing it with some new one. This time, obviously out of necessity but also in the spirit of scale looks, I instead used some steel-colored wire. It's just as strong, but a good bit thinner as well as better-looking. For the subsequent flights, the rudder trim came back to near-neutral position, and therefore the workbench adjustment was a success.
Now, this plane is touted as an indoor/outdoor flyer. Indoors, where there's no wind, you shouldn't expect much of a problem. But what about out on the great outdoors, exposed to the elements? It does OK, for the most part. A breeze less than 5 mph is something the Nieuport is able to handle, but anything beyond that is not just a challenge, it's a near-impossibility. The maiden flight was done in light winds, and while the plane did toss and turn at the mercy of the weather a bit, it was still a pleasure to fly.
Another time, however, I had a bit too much bravado and took off when I shouldn't have: In winds that were probably 5 to 10 mph. Not fun at all, and I paid the price with a cracked wing nothing that 30 seconds of gluing and zapping didn't fix, but still a relative embarrassment and a lesson learned. For the rest of the flights, and to this day, the Nieuport only flies when the wind has calmed down.
This is a three-channel slow flyer, so don't expect tumbles and snaps to come out of this World War I replica. If you want to knife edge, you better start looking elsewhere for that kind of satisfaction. There's nothing inherently wrong with that it's just the way this plane was designed to behave.
There is, however, plenty of fun to be had with it. And the fun, for a change, resides in the fact that you can fly slowly, gracefully, boasting the nice scale qualities in front of the peanut gallery.
Can you perform a loop? Barely, as long as you have plenty of airspeed on hand and even then, the motor doesn't have all that much power to perform a clean loop, either. But I wouldn't recommend making a routine out of it, for the wings are on the flimsier side and, once again, the plane wasn't designed for much more than that.
The Nieuport flies gently and at crawling speed, and with plenty of dihedral to spare, it does have some self-correcting attitudes. But that's where the beginner-friendly part of the plane ends. The build is not overly complicated, but it is more involved than your average first plane. The Nieuport is a bit more fragile than a beginner plane should be, and a case of the dumb thumbs could mean it would be going back to the workbench in short order.
I love small planes, and I love attention to detail. E-flite's Nieuport, for better or for worse, appeals to both of my weaknesses. This release, out of the three World War I biplanes the company has released, might be its best one yet and certainly because of the little touches that make this plane so unique in such a parkflyer size.
I would like to thank the following for making this review possible: Horizon Hobby for providing the Nieuport and all of its recommended accessories; my friend Reynolds Boyd for his fine photographic skills displayed in the flying sections; and my good friend and fellow author Andy Grose for his fine video-recording skills.
The Nieuport goes with me as a warm-up plane with which I can get my fingers and brain coordinated before tackling on the aerobatic machines, and it also is a fine last plane to fly as the day at the field is over a nice, calm aircraft to slow you down and lower the blood pressure. And, certainly, if you have a park nearby, it's a good plane to get a quick flight in after work.
It flies as advertised, for looks without performance aren't worth much. The motor is efficient, and the fact that you can be up in the air for almost 15 minutes without worrying about the battery dying is a plus, indeed. And, at the end of the day, the Nieuport looks rather fancy while resting in the hangar.
|Jun 20, 2009, 03:05 PM|
|Jun 20, 2009, 10:10 PM|
|Jun 20, 2009, 11:17 PM|
I enjoyed your review very much. When I get caught up on my reviews I hope to get mine together. Nice mention on their 60 size servos. As you mentioned they fit but many other companies servos are too tall to use without raising the mounting platform a bit to leave room for the engine mount. Nice job on the issue. Mike H
|Jun 21, 2009, 12:38 AM|
Mike: Thanks! Yes, there's a bit of wiggle room for similar servos, but they need to be measured on a case-by-case basis. And, if you want to, the digital six-gram servos from Spektrum would be an equally fitting alternative, too.
Fran: Thanks as well for the kind words! Good point on the GWS prop size. It's a 7x3.5 direct-drive prop the recommended one.
|Jun 22, 2009, 01:04 PM|
The build photos were taking with a Nikon, and we used a Canon for the flight photos. Two fine systems, indeed. (The glass makes all the difference, too. )
|Jun 22, 2009, 03:51 PM|
For servos, I used HXT500s on mine. It was a tight enough fit that I didn't even use mounting screws. I also had the pushrod connectors on top of the servo horn. Didn't notice any contact with the firewalls but it'll be good for me to check again.
Other than that, I've got 13 flights on mine so far. I don't like flying it with any winds as this light plane will feel it. On no wind days, it is a total relaxation to fly. I have my wing rigged with just a little dihedral. If I apply rudder to bank then release rudder, the plane will pretty much maintain almost constant bank. I've done full circles that way. Beginners may benefit from self correcting wings but I like the extra work of un-banking after a turn to keep my aileron (I have rudder servo plugged into aileron also) thumb memory in practice.
Can't wait to see what biplane/triplane E-Flite puts out next.
|Jun 22, 2009, 06:53 PM|
Joined Aug 2008
No worries, I thought it was funny
Just so happens I saw this plane in the airport parkinglot early this morning. It was FLOATING in the air, nearly walking speed.
|Jun 25, 2009, 03:22 PM|
Yeah, I have mine set up on the aileron channel as well. I do the same thing with all of my three-channel planes.
Glad to hear the HXT500 servos work well in there. I've used them previously, and they work like a charm.
So, you know something that we don't about a E-Flite triplane? I've heard there's something coming, but I don't know what it is.
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