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Great Planes ElectriFly ARF Widgeon G-44 Review

The Grumman Widgeon - one of the most beautiful twin engined amphibians of all-time is now available as an ARF from ElectriFly. Let's get one floatin' and flyin' just for you.

Splash

Introduction

ElectriFly G-44 Widgeon

Wingspan:51 in
Length:36 in
Wing Area:373 sq in
Weight:3.81 lb
Wing Loading:29.3 oz/sq ft
Servos:Futaba S3114(x2) Futaba S3115(x2)
Receiver:Futaba R617FS
Battery:FlightPower 3S 11.1V 3350mAh 30C Lipo
Motor:RimFire 400 28-30-950 Brushless Outrunner (x2)
ESC:ElectriFly SS-25 Brushless ESC (x2)
Propeller:ElectriFly 8x6 SF (x2)
Power WOT:27 Amps - 315 Watts
Transmitter:Futaba 9CAP with FASST Module
Manufacturer:ElectriFly
Available From:
Hobbico Dealers and fine Hobby Shops
Price:$179.99

The Grumman G-44 Widgeon was the little brother of the famous Grumman Goose and the smallest seaplane ever produced by that manufacturer. The prototype Widgeon first flew on July 22, 1940. With the advent of World War II, the 6-person Widgeon was quickly placed in service with the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy for use on search and rescue missions. It would later serve the Navy as a transport and even as an amphibian trainer. The U.S. Army would also use them as observation planes. Of the 276 G-44 Widgeons produced, only about 35 remain in flying condition throughout the world today.

Possibly the most famous Widgeon was featured in the opening sequence of the popular 1978 TV Series "Fantasy Island". Referred to as "De Plane!, De Plane!" by actor Hervé Villechaize (Tattoo), N4453 had a somewhat checkered past that included drug running prior to its starring role in the series. This very famous Widgeon now resides in the aircraft collection of an antique dealer in Hollister, Missouri.

The ElectriFly Widgeon accurately captures the graceful lines of the original Grumman seaplanes and the colorful Monokote trim scheme is very pleasing to the eye. Reliable electric power takes much of the worry out of twin motor operational risks and greatly speeds up the build process. I think it's about time to get started building this one.



Kit Contents

Kit art is very eye-catching.
Kit art is very eye-catching.
Components were well protected and undamaged.
Components were well protected and undamaged.
The fuselage looks great even in the box!
The fuselage looks great even in the box!

Kit Includes:

  • Fiberglass Fuselage with Vertical Stab and pre-installed Pushrod Tubes
  • 3-Piece Built-up Wing
  • Built-up Rudder, Horizontal Stab, and Elevator
  • Fiberglass Motor Nacelles and Sponsons
  • Cockpit Floor
  • Fuselage Cradle
  • Pre-Made ESC Extensions
  • Generous Hardware Package
  • Colorful Decal Sheet
  • 24-Page Photo-Illustrated Instruction Manual

Wings and things
Wings and things
Fiberglass floats, motor mounts and hardware
Fiberglass floats, motor mounts and hardware
Lots of hardware
Lots of hardware

Kit Requires:

  • Two 400 Watt Brushless Motors
  • Two 25 Amp Brushless ESCs
  • Two 8x6 Slow Fly Style Props
  • 3200 mAh 3-cell Lipoly Battery
  • Minimum 4-Channel Radio
  • Two 21 oz-in Torque Servos and Two 39 oz-in Torque Servos
  • 2-24" Servo Extensions
  • 2 Servo Y-Connectors
  • RC-56 Canopy Glue
  • Thin & Medium CA Glue
  • 6-minute and 30-minute Epoxy Glue
  • Thread Locking Compound
  • Assorted Drills, Knife Blades, and Screwdrivers

Recommended by Great Planes and supplied by Hobbico for this review:

  • Two RimFire 400 (28-30-950) Brushless Motors
  • Two Silver Series 25 Amp Brushless ESCs
  • FlightPower EON 3350 mAh Battery
  • Two Great Planes 8x6 Slow-Fly Props

Rimfire 400 (28-30-950) Outrunner Motor
Rimfire 400 (28-30-950) Outrunner Motor
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Number of cells: LiPoly 2s-3s
RPM/V: 950
Weight: 54g
Max Surge Current: 20A
Max Power(watts): 220W
Shaft diameter: 3mm
Male Motor Connector : 2mm

FlightPower EON Series LiPoly Battery
FlightPower EON Series LiPoly Battery
Type Lithium Polymer
Number of cells 3-cells
Capacity 3350 mAh
Voltage 11.1 Volts
Weight279 gm
Dimensions (L x W x D) 135 x 44 x 24mm
Maximum continuous discharge 30C
Maximum continuous current 100.5 amps

ElectriFly Silver Series ESC
ElectriFly Silver Series ESC
Type Brushless Speed Control
Number of cells 2-4 Lipo cells
Max Continuous Current 25 Amps
Max Current Surge 28 Amps
BEC 2.0 Amps
Operating Frequency 8.5 kHz
Voltage Cutoff 67%
Timing Angle 12 Degrees
Brake On or OFF
Dimensions (L x W x D) 40mm x 26mm x 8mm
Weight 26 grams

.

  • Futaba R617FS Receiver
  • 2-Futaba S3114 Servos
  • 2-Futaba S3115 Servos
  • 1-Deans Ultra Parallel ESC Adapter

Futaba R617FS Receiver
Futaba R617FS Receiver
Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
Type: FASST Frequency Hopping
Number of Channels: Seven
Antenna: Dual Antennas
Range Classification: Full Range
Size 1.6" x 1.1" x .35"
Weight with case: 9.8g/0.34 oz.
Power: 4.8V - 6V

Futaba S3115 Servos
Futaba S3115 Servos
Type: Analog
Size Factor: Micro
Bearing: Nylon
Operating Speed 60°: .15 sec (4.8V)
Torque: 39 oz-in (4.8V)
Weight: 17g/0.6oz
Dimensions: 1.1" x 0.5"x 1.2"
Gear Type: All Nylon

Futaba S3114 Servos
Futaba S3114 Servos
Type: Analog
Size Factor: Micro
Bearing: Nylon
Operating Speed 60°: 0.10 sec @4.8V
Torque: 21 oz-in @ 4.8V
Weight: 7.8g/0.28oz
Dimensions: 0.9" x 0.4"x 0.18"
Gear Type: All Nylon

Assembly

The 24-page instruction manual includes numerous illustrations and pictures and helpful building tips. Seasoned ARF builders should have no problems with this plane. However, newer modelers may need to get a little help from someone with more building experience.

Colorful decal sheet and detailed Instruction Manual
Colorful decal sheet and detailed Instruction Manual

Wing

Assembly begins with the wing center section. The first order of business is the installation of motor mounts, motors and motor lead extensions. I chose to route the motor leads through the top opening of the motor mount bulkhead rather than take them through the larger opening lower in the mount. My hope was to keep the leads as high on the wing as possible and as far away from water exposure as possible. The motor leads were binding slightly on the top motor mount opening, so I used my Dremel and raised the opening a little to clear the wires.

Bulkhead cut to clear wires.
Bulkhead cut to clear wires.
Motors and mounts in place.
Motors and mounts in place.

Next comes the installation of the servos in the outer wing panels. The recommended Futaba S3114 servos were a perfect fit in the cover plates. I used Vaseline petroleum jelly to coat the top of the servos and the servo output shafts before I installed them in the plates to help waterproof them.

Coat servo top and output with Vaseline.
Coat servo top and output with Vaseline.

Once the servos and linkage were installed, I discovered that the linkage would bind up as the servo tried to move the aileron surface through its full travel at high rates. The solution was to bend the linkage so that the servo horn and Faslink could move parallel to the wing surface and not be forced up by the surface control horn.

Linkage bent to remove binding.
Linkage bent to remove binding.

The next step was to trial fit the outer panels and the wing joiners to the wing center section. I found that the joiners were a pretty loose fit in the wing pockets. The result was that the outer wing panels could move over 1/2" at the tips -- from 1/4" dihedral to 1/4" anhedral! I used a long flat ruler to insure that the top of the wing surface was flat and the outer wing panel taper gave the wing a little dihedral effect. A flat top wing surface, or an outer panel with dihedral shouldn't make much difference, as long as both outer panels have the SAME amount of flatness or dihedral.

Top of the wing set flat.
Top of the wing set flat.

Fuselage




The fuselage assembly was very straightforward and the pre-installed windows were a big timesaver. However, the rudder and elevator pushrods were hard to install and difficult to operate. A closer inspection revealed that some fuselage paint had flowed into the pushrod tubes and was causing the obstruction and binding. A few minutes work with a hobby knife opened up the tube ends and the pushrods worked fine. I coated both pushrods with CorrosionX before I installed them in the fuselage to keep them from rusting.

Excess paint in the pushrod tube
Excess paint in the pushrod tube
Paint cleared out
Paint cleared out

I decided to omit the kit's water rudder assembly because I did not like the looks of the non-scale water rudder hanging below the fuselage. Instead, I choose to program throttle differential to provide directional steering control on the water. I found that a 30% mix of Rudder over Throttle gave excellent slow speed and high speed water control.

Radio Installation

Before I began the radio installation, I treated the Receiver, the ESCs, and all the servo and battery connections with CorrosionX. This product is specifically designed to protect electronic circuits and has a 40,000 Volt dielectric strength. Over the years I have found that Murphy's Law has a special clause for seaplanes, and it's not a question of "IF" water will get into your electonics, it's a matter of "WHEN".

Before I installed the ESCs in the fuselage, I ran each ESC with its motor to confirm proper rotation. I found it very helpful to then color code the ESC leads to match the motor extension color code.

ESC leads color coded
ESC leads color coded

The recommended Futaba S3115 servos were a perfect fit in the fuselage and the Futaba R617FS Receiver fit neatly just ahead of them. I ran the receiver antennas through short pieces of tubing to orient the antenna ends at 90 degrees to each other and to keep them away from other wiring and away from the servo arms and control pushrods.



Interior and Final Assembly

I knew I wanted to install the included cockpit floor in the fuselage to help hide the wiring and servos in the fuselage. I also wanted to install a pilot figure to add to the scale appearance of the Widgeon. The problem was that if I permanently mounted the pilot figure on the floor, it was almost impossible to slide the floor in place. I found my solution in hook and loop fastening material. I arranged the pilot figure and applied the hook material to the pilot and the loop material to the cockpit floor while the whole assembly was flat on my workbench. I was then able to install the floor in the fuselage and afterwards easily slide the pilot figure in place.

The next challenge was to connect all the wing wiring to the receiver and ESCs in the fuselage. I decided to use two short servo extensions for the ailerons to keep from having to plug the wing aileron wires directly into the receiver. I guess a short Y-harness would have worked just as well but I wanted to be able to experiment with spoilerons and flaperons at some point.

 Short aileron servo extensions in place
Short aileron servo extensions in place

I soon found that I needed another pair of hands to hold the wing near the fuselage while I plugged in the six ESC connections and the two servo connections. I was glad my wife volunteered to help out. Once all the wiring was in place, I tested the motors and servos to once again confirm proper motor rotation and servo operation before I began the cockpit floor and pilot installation. Only after the floor and pilot were in place, was I able to finish tucking in the wiring and finally bolt down the wing.

 Pilot and wiring in place
Pilot and wiring in place

Completion

The completed Widgeon weighed 3 pounds and 14 ounces. I was able to move the battery around on the battery tray and get the plane balanced perfectly. Before the first flight, I checked the balance on each of the GP 8x6 Slow-Fly props and found they needed balancing. I decided that the best way to balance them was to apply a big drop of thick CA to the tip of the light blade of each prop.



I set the control surface throws at the recommended amounts for low rates and for high rates. Since I prefer to fly with exponential, I then programmed in 25% exponential on low rates and 35% exponential on high rates.

Flying

Basics

Flying off water adds a whole new level of enjoyment to our hobby. Flying a scale, twin-engined amphibian off water, ramps up the fun and the adrenaline rush even farther.

Taking Off and Landing

The Widgeon plowed up a pretty good bow wave at low speeds and the props would contact that wave and noisily spray water. I found that if I held up elevator as I applied power, the spray was minimized and the hull came up on step quickly and then I could relax the elevator. It was much easier to taxi the Widgeon on step than it was plowing through the water at slow speed. However, there was a noticeable torque effect that required right rudder and right aileron input to keep the left sponson out of the water and keep the wings level as I trasitioned from dead stop to on step. Once up on the step, the Widgeon would accelerate cleanly to flying speed. Just a little up elevator was all that was needed at that point to get airborne.

 Bow Wave
Bow Wave
 Torque Effect on Takeoff
Torque Effect on Takeoff

Landings took a little practice. The Widgeon would bounce and stall if I tried to slow it down too much. Landings needed to be faster than I had anticipated. I had to carry some throttle and speed all the way to the touchdown. My best landings were accomplished by flying the Widgeon all the way down to the water rather than trying to force the flare for the touchdown.

Normal Flight

Once airborne, the Widgeon flew great. The climb out was brisk and very stable. I only needed a little over 1/2 throttle for a comfortable cruising speed and there was plenty of power left when I wanted to show off. I discovered that the torque effect that showed up during takeoff was also present to a lesser degree during rapid throttle transitions. If I punched the throttle, the left wing would dip and if I pulled the power off rapidly, the right wing would dip. This torque effect was not a problem, just something I needed to keep in mind if I got low and slow and then decided to punch it to go around. Counter rotating props might cure this behavior, but I haven't had a chance to try that out yet.

Aerobatics

The Widgeon had plenty of power for nice large loops and big stall turns. Aileron rolls were pretty axial but they needed a dose of down elevator half way through to keep them level. Inverted flight needed some down elevator, but the plane was very stable even in steep inverted turns. Snap rolls were very fast and I found that spins took a full turn to recover after the sticks were neutralized. After that discovery, I decided to leave a little extra altitude for spin recovery just in case. It was nice to know that I could wring out the Widgeon with a few cool moves to impress the onlookers when I got tired of scale looking takeoffs and landings.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. Scale seaplanes are not suitable for first-time pilots. However, pilots with intermediate flying skills and a little floatplane experience should have no problems. The Widgeon should make an excellent second or third floatplane.

Flight Photo Gallery














Flight Video

Conclusion

The Great Planes ElectriFly Widgeon will undoubtedly be one of the best looking seaplanes at this year's premier float flying events. Whether gently floating along on the water or cruising by at altitude, this Widgeon is simply stunning! Great Planes has done a wonderful job of reproducing a classic seaplane twin in a just right-sized ARF package.

Because the Widgeon is a scale model, it will require more attention to the control sticks than a normal sport model, but the results will be well worth the effort.

A WORD OF THANKS

Thanks to my Wife for her help with the photos, video, and grammer check. Thanks also to Hobbico for providing the Widgeon G-44 for this review!

Pluses:

  • Stunning Good Looks
  • Very High Quality Fiberglass Parts
  • Pre-Installed Windows
  • Stock Power System has Plenty of Power
  • Fuselage Cradle is Included
  • It's a Twin!
  • Great Flying Seaplane!

Minuses:

  • Paint in the pushrod tubes
  • Dihedral Braces were a loose fit in the wing panels
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 13, 2011 at 03:01 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 21, 2011, 08:35 AM
Balsa just crashes better
Cub Fan's Avatar
Bradenton, FL
Joined Nov 2004
599 Posts
Great Review Mike
This one has been on my short list since I first saw it. After your review I think I will give it a try next summer at the lake.
Being a twin and scale it has a huge wow factor

Jay
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 10:29 AM
SagittaXC
Soquel CA.
Joined Feb 2007
149 Posts
Figure 8's

I loved the figure 8's on step....Terrific Review!!!
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 10:38 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,057 Posts
Thanks guys. +1 on the WOW factor Cub Fan.
McD

I'm going to reserve some space on this post to add future updates and videos.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 11:25 AM
71% of the world is runway . .
Bart83's Avatar
Nederland, ZH, Oostvoorne
Joined Jun 2009
1,702 Posts
Hey Mike ,

Thanx for this great review , it was a pleasure to read. Good idea to bend to pushrod for the ailerons! Landings in the video are beatifull , nice to see that the plane doesnt come to a sudden stop like for example my seabee but it takes a while to run out off speed.
Cant wait to get mine finished.

How many minutes can you fly on a fully charged battery pack ?

Greetz ,

Bart
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Last edited by Bart83; Dec 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 02:49 PM
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SRush99's Avatar
Spring, Texas
Joined Feb 2004
1,242 Posts
Great review Mike! Glad you have enough water to fly off of.
-Stuart
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 03:52 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,057 Posts
Thanks Bart. I set my timer for 6 minutes and the batteries were only down to storage charge voltage (3.85 Volts/cell) when I land. Most of my flights were at about 1/2 throttle with just a few full-power blasts thrown in for showin' off. I would think you could easily fly for 8 minutes and maybe even stretch it to 10 minutes with a little throttle management.

Thanks Stuart. We are very blessed to be on Lake LBJ which is considered to be a "constant level" lake. Other lakes in the Highland Lakes chain like Buchanan and Travis are at all-time record low levels this year because of the State-wide drought.

For those that may be interested, check out the RCG discussion thread on the Great Planes Widgeon G-44 located at:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1479971

McD
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 07:52 PM
Model trains, Rc Boats, Rc air
United States, CA, SF
Joined Mar 2009
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Looks nice
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 01:12 AM
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United States, NV, Reno
Joined Mar 2000
7,255 Posts
Mike, have you had a chance to land the airplane on grass yet? I assume this plane could be hand launched and landed on grass without problem to augment water operations but I'd like to hear your thoughts on this as well. Thanks!
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 07:02 AM
We shall serve the Lord
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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First let me say that I have not hand launched the plane nor have I landed the Widgeon on grass. I do plan to fly the Widgeon at SEFF later this year, so I will be taking off and landing on grass at that event. However, Mac Hodges' grass is like the world's largest putting green - the grass is wonderful. I have flown several float planes at SEFF and have not had a problem. The GP SeaWind did just fine on Mac's grass.

From my flights so far, I would be very hesitant to try a hand launch with the stock setup. I think the motors and battery produce plenty of power, but the left torque tendency at low speeds would spell disaster for a normal hand launch. If you set up counter rotating props, then it might be possible. However, because of the high wing loading, you would have to give it a mighty hard throw to get the necessary airspeed. I think I would try to take it off of the grass before I would try a hand launch. Just remember that grass will have more drag than water so it may take a little longer to get to flying speed than it would on water.

As for grass landings, I think they should be fine. Landings will still have to be pretty fast so you will need a much larger area than you might imagine because the Widgeon needs a low approach and a long "slide" area. The grass would have to be pretty short and well manicured or the sponsons might snag and break off.

I guess I'm just trying to say that the Widgeon is a scale model that needs a pretty large area to fly and operate like a club field or a pretty large pond. The plane is not a park flyer or a foamie, so you won't be able to just toss it in the air and then bend it around in tight quarters for a slow landing. If your club field has a nice grass strip, you should be able to comfortably take off and land on the grass.

McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Dec 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM.
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 07:03 AM
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keither's Avatar
Texas
Joined Jun 2009
17 Posts
Widgeon

Hey Mike what a great review! And who did you hire to fly it for you for the super fantastic video?

You gotta reverse a couple of wires on one motor and slap on a pair of Master airscrew 7x6 three-blade props (one a PUSHER of course), on the reversed motor.

Now I gotta get one.

My dog, a Golden Retriever and a good bird dog, is mamed WIDGEON!
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 12:48 PM
Kool Kats Fly RC!! AMA 30462
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United States, CA, Baywood-Los Osos
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Great review, congratulations!

Sonny
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Sweden
Joined Oct 2002
821 Posts
Great review!!! Thanks! I was just wondering... The kit price is included in the review... mabey it would be useful to give a price on the additional requirments to get up and running by putting the going price for the equipment included in the review. Just a suggestion... It seems like very few who do reviews include the cost of needed add ons... This too is useful information even if the buyer would go with his own or different equipment.
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 03:23 PM
We shall serve the Lord
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,057 Posts
Thanks guys. I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

Soooo Keith, do I hear you volunteering to come up and fly my next project so that I can work the video camera, or were you wanting camera duty?

Mike-A, I have included those costs on some reviews, but left them off this time. Here are some retail prices for the required parts.

RimFire 400 motors ---- $49.99 each
Silver Series 25 Amp ESCs ---- $39.99 each
FlightPower Battery ---- $84.99
Futaba S3114 Servos ---- $14.99 each
Futaba S3115 Servos ---- $19.99 each

Hope this helps.

McD
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 09:18 PM
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I like to use clear fingernail polish to balance my props. Works great.
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