Durafly 1100mm A-1 Skyraider
A few months ago I was browsing the HobbyKing Website and came across this video for the new Durafly 1100mm range of warbirds: the video showed a T-28 and an A-1 Skyraider. At the time I was teaching a friend to fly and though the T-28 would be a good step from high wing trainers (and it proved to be), so bought myself one. As soon as it arrived it was apparent that this was a higher quality product than one would normally expect. In fact, so impresses was I, that I hoped back on the computer to order the A-1. Except it was not out yet, the video had acted as a teaser, if you will. So I patiently waited, and waited until eventually it was released: I'm pretty sure I was one of the first to order the plane! Of course the waiting had to continue whilst the plane was held in UK customs for 2 weeks untill today when I got home there was a lovely cardboard box waiting for me... Let the fun begin.
Much like the T-28, the A-1 arrived in a foam lined card board box and all the components individually bagged and absolutely everything was taped down: it took me about 10 minutes to pry everything away from the foam box and get it all laid out. Down in the depths of the box you will find a manual: this contains some useful information about CG etc and on installing a UBEC (more on that later). but apart from the data, the manual describes how to build the RTF version: this is ARF - and to be honest if you have ever built a plane before it will hold no challenges.
This is relatively straight forward: bolt on control horns, glue horizontal stabilizer. Done. Of course the reality is slightly trickier.
First, after a bad experience with the T-28, I shall be installing a BEC. The ESC is having to drive the motor, 2 ailerons servos, 2 flap servos, 1 elevator and 1 rudder servo, 2 electronic retracts and LED system. This is just far too much load for the ESC without a voltage drop, so having removed thh XT-60 connector I set about adding a 6A BEC and my preferred choice of connector, EC3.
And yes, that is a DSM2 Orange RX - personally I have never had any problems with them so whilst that happens, and they are so damn cheap I'll keep using them!
Before we start putting the major pieces together I decided to get the ordinance glued up - the ordinance comes supplied with wing panels which are recessed to accept the bombs. These can be swapped out for the plain panels by removing one screw. Whilst gluing these up take note of which way round the panel will sit on the wing: they have locating tabs which are different ways round for each wing, you would look very foolish turning up to fly with half your ordinance facing the wrong way!
That is the locating key I mentioned, each one is individual to retain the panel lines.
The fuel tanks just slide onto plastic rails so can be removed or added as you wish. The difference that the ordinance makes to the wing is astonishing, it really does look fantastic fully loaded up.
The elevator glues on without fuss and has a carbon spar to be added which is nice to see and a new addition from the T-28. The final major build is to attach the wing, before bolting on the wing attach the Y-connectors to the servo leads. All the connectors and leads are labeled which makes this job simple. By the time you have fed everything through and bolted on your wing you will have a mess of wires to deal with: I took a piece of foam board and hot glued it over the wires before fixing the RX, generally makes for a tidier fuselage.
The control horns attach with the screws provided and each bag is marked so no more searching for the right one through hundreds of different screws, very good indeed. the last flourish for this model is to add detail parts, they glue into the premolded slots on the fuselage. Once you have completed this you are pretty much done - have yourself a cup of tea, stand back and enjoy your new toy (oh and charge batteries, of course).
As I mentioned above the plane comes with some stunning detail parts which need to be added to complete the plane: Radio masts, exhaust fins etc.
These detail pieces really add to the overall appearance of the plane, when stood alongside the T-28 the Trojan looks sparse and under detailed in comparison!
Modifications? You have only just got the plane, why do you need to tamper with it?... Well a few things I felt I needed to to before I would get her airborne, one was removing the clear tape grab tab used to remove the canopy - I still have young nubile fingers which can remove it without the need for a piece of tape - so that came off. The next minor mod was on the gear doors: after a few cycles I noticed that the doors were not closing properly - they are pulled back by a couple of springs which are not quite strong enough to close them perfectly - and that's what I want! Also that gap will inevitably allow air to rush in during flight, further pushing the doors apart, so it is both aesthetically and and functionally sensible to try to fix it.
I took a few magnets out of an old out runner case and CA'd them against the inner lip of each door (making sure I observed the correct polarity. ). Now each time the doors close the magnets are there to hold the gap closed, the magnets are of course not strong enough to hold the doors closed when deploying the gear.
Enough talking lets fly... Well that would be great but for the next few days at least I am grounded owing to a recently (today) deceased LiPo charger... A new one is en route and as soon as it arrives a 2200 LiPo will be on charge for the maiden. In preparation I checked the CG and with a 3S Turnigy 2200 mAh LiPo in place the plane balances out beautifully... Fingers crossed for the charger!...
The next day....
Got the charger fixed and charged up a couple of batteries for the maiden and headed out to the field. The wind that had plagued my flying season thus far had finally died down and it was a perfect day for a maiden - light breeze and hazy sunshine. After a few taxi tests to settle the nerves a bit, I pointed her into the wind added half flaps and advanced the throttle - after a short run she was in the air without incident; little in the way of torque roll to note. A couple of clicks of elevator, reduce the flaps to zero, pull up the gear and she was flying level at half throttle.
Other reviews have talked about the 'weight' this plane appears to have when flying, they aren't lying either. Low strafing ground attacks, slow lazy rolls and long banked turns all accomplished with ease and with an amazing scale appearance, this bird does fly like heavy metal. After 6 minutes of lazy manoeuvres it was time to bring her down and as with the take off this was no fuss, full flaps into the wind this thing floats down on 1/4 throttle. A long scale roll out completed the flight as the tail wheel touched down.
The second flight was much, much less scale: removed the ordinance and flipped rates to 125%. The removal of the drag under the wings really increases the top speed but still retains that stable platform. Whilst you wont be doing axial rolls with her, the performance envelope was impressive and of full throws you really can throw her about the sky.
If you have a Durafly T-28 or P-51 then this has a very similar flight envelope and is a great addition to any scale hangar.
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