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RC Aerodyne Beechcraft Duke B60 PNP Review

Stunning scale looks are only part of the fun of this powerful, all-EPO electric twin. Just complete the final assembly, add a receiver and hit the skies.

Splash

Introduction

RC Aerodyne Beechcraft Duke B60 PNP
Wingspan:63" (1600mm)
Wing Area:540.95 sq in (34.9 sq dm)
Weight:88.2 oz (2500g)
Length:52.66" (1490mm)
Construction:Expanded polyolefin airframe with plywood spars and motor mounts; polycarbonate, plastic and EPO scale details; electronic tricycle retracts with aluminum oleo struts; optional LED nav lights; rubber-coated foam tires and plastic wheels; composite propellers
Servos:Six EMAX ES08A 9g analog; landing gear struts are individually powered
Transmitter:Hitec Optic 6 Sport 2.4 six-channel computerized 2.4GHz spread spectrum aircraft
Receiver:Hitec Optima 6 2.4GHz spread spectrum aircraft
Batteries:Two Mad Dog 2200mAh 4S 30C lithium polymer with EC3 connectors and JST-XH balancing taps
Motors:Two generic C3542 920Kv brushless outrunner
Propellers:Two 10x7 composite three-blade electric
ESCs:Two generic 45A brushless with Deans Ultra-Plug battery connectors
Operator Skill Level:Advanced; age 14+
Manufacturer:FlyFly Hobby Manufacturing
Distributor:RC Aerodyne, 6324 South 199th Place, Suite 101, Kent, Washington 98032-2135 USA
Catalog Number:FF-F006CPNP
Price (USD):$249.95

When one considers the sheer number of beautifully crafted ARF, RTF and PNP models on the market, one can easily make the argument that today marks a golden age of model aviation.

This review represents a good case in point.

A banner ad here on RCGroups.com led me to the folks at Scaleflying.com of Kent, Washington USA and their RC Aerodyne brand.

That banner ad in turn led me to the subject of our review, the RC Aerodyne Beechcraft Duke B60 PNP . Pardon me for gushing here, but what I saw was to my eye one of the most staggeringly beautiful model aircraft I'd ever seen. It was a model I'd hoped to be able to share here in a review from the moment I saw it and so, through an emailed request made via the miracle of the Internet, I'm about to do just that.

The model, marketed as a sort of stepping stone to RC Aerodyne's composite business twins is a large, all-EPO foam model with electronic tricycle retracts produced by FlyFly Hobby Manufacturing of Dongguan City, China with parts and technical support available directly through Scaleflying.com.

It's available in both kit and plug-n-play versions. The kit comes with electric retracts, but modelers will need to add their own electronics.

The problem with the kit lies in what turned out to be outdated documentation, something RC Aerodyne is aware of. On the other hand, it's affordably priced for such a large model - almost impossibly so - and would make an excellent basis for a rekit should one's PNP be subjected to a less than gentle landing. A kit was first sent to me and I couldn't even figure out how to properly mount the nose gear and a steering servo. As it turned out, the manual was written before the retracts were added to the kit per RC Aerodyne's specifications and it shows the installation of fixed landing gear.

Enter RC Aerodyne's Cliff Turnbull. Cliff and I had a long, pleasant conversation regarding the difficulties I'd encountered in the very first assembly step and he was somewhat surprised that a kit had been sent and not the plug-n-play version. He immediately arranged to send me a PNP in exchange for the kit.

We also discussed an upcoming RC Aerodyne fun fly in Ontario, California. Ontario is, of course, the site of the annual Academy of Model Aeronautics Expo and several great clubs and fields are in the area. When that fun fly happens, I'll be there to get the lowdown on RC Aerodyne's new giant scale Beechcraft King Air, a composite twin loaded with eye-popping scale detail both inside and out. Based on what Cliff told me, a report on the King Air will be very much worth the wait.

I'll be flying the Duke with a brand new Hitec Optic 6 six-channel computerized radio and a Hitec Optima 6 six-channel receiver provided by Suzanne Lepine, Shawn Spiker and Bryan Shaw of Hitec RCD in Poway, California. The electrons came courtesy of two Mad Dog 2200 mAh 14.8V 35C li-pos from Mark Grohe of 2DogRC.com of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Sit back and relax, dear reader. One of the most beautiful scale twins on the market is only a few steps away from becoming airborne and you're invited to join the fun.

Prototype

Introduced in 1968 by the Beech Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas USA, known today as Beechcraft Corporation, the five-passenger Beechcraft Duke was designed to fill the gap between the Baron and the Queen Air. Though the Duke was an excellent performer, it was a somewhat poor seller owing to the additional maintenance required by its advanced and complex electro-mechanical cabin pressurization and flight systems.

Power comes from turbocharged Lycoming TIO541-B4 engines rated at 380 HP (283kW), making the Duke a fuel-hungry aircraft.

A modification by Rocket Engineering of Spokane, Washington consists of replacing the reciprocating engines with a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 or -35 turbine engines. The modification increases performance and load carrying capabilities, but increases fuel consumption and lowers the certified ceiling.

A total of 598 Dukes were built between 1968 and 1983.

RC Aerodyne's version depicts HK-4628-G, a Duke 60B registered in Colombia and which underwent the turbine conversion. They did a great job of capturing the spirit of the prototype; photos of the real thing may be viewed here.

FlyFly Hobby makes an alternate version of a Duke registered in Sweden as SE-KKK. For those who would have liked to own both the real thing as well as a model, it was actually for sale, but the link went dead before this review could be completed. I personally feel that the scheme isn't nearly as attractive and I'm glad RC Aerodyne went with the more colorful HK-4628-G scheme for both the kit and the PNP.

Kit Contents

The RC Aerodyne Duke PNP comes with the following:

  • Prepainted EPO and plastic airframe parts with decals already applied
  • Two C3542 900Kv brushless outrunner motors
  • Two preinstalled 45A brushless ESCs
  • Six preinstalled 9g micro servos
  • Individually powered and preinstalled electronic retracts with aluminum oleo struts and preinstalled wheels and tires
  • Two 10x7 three-blade composite propellers
  • Preinstalled working LED tail beacon
  • Prewired LED navigational lights for the wingtips
  • Full hardware package including servo extensions
  • Illustrated assembly and setup manual
  • Contact cement

The following items are needed to complete the model :

  • 2.4GHz computerized aircraft radio, five channels or greater
  • Thirty-minute epoxy, mixing sticks and mixing cups
  • Regular CA and regular kicker
  • X-Acto #11 hobby knife or equivalent
  • Two 2200mAh 4S 20C lithium polymer batteries and suitable charger
  • Velcro brand hook-and-loop fastener strips to replace the factory strips
  • Electrical tape to aid in securing the elevator servo leads to the factory Y-harness
  • Hinge tape (3M Blenderm adhesive tape) to secure the retract and elevator servo leads to their wiring channels
  • Three 3" servo extensions to aid in connecting and disconnecting the servo leads from the wing to the receiver (optional but recommended)
  • Pacer Formula "360" canopy glue and masking tape to attach the clear nav light lenses to the wingtips (again, optional but recommended)
  • Labels to easily identify the wiring coming off of the wing

If ever there were an argument for making EPO the standard for foam aircraft, this is it. All of the airframe parts were utterly smooth with crisp panel detail, some scale detail such as fuel tank caps and virtually no mold injection marks. The kit version actually looked somewhat better than the PNP; the too-glossy decals were preapplied on the PNP and not very well. The pinstriping decals over the rudder hinge areas were either cut poorly or not at all. Wrinkles and misalignments abounded and when I tried to burnish some of the decals into the panel lines, the gold paint literally began flaking off in places.

The rudder servo, interestingly enough, is mounted on the horizontal stabilizer and not inside the fuselage; in all likelihood, this was done to prevent a too-long pushrod. With all the scale looks of the Duke, this seemed unfinished since there isn't some sort of panel hiding the servo. Nor is there any tape hiding the wiring going up one side of the tail to the LED beacon.

Still, RC Aerodyne claims this model looks like a composite at first glance thanks in large part to the polycarbonate cabin, cowls, nose cone and beautifully smooth finish and I agree. Decals and one exposed servo notwithstanding, it's a fantastic looking model and an elegant, rarely modeled subject.

Assembly

Fuselage

Short of a receiver and the horizontal stabilizer halves, the PNP Duke's fuselage is about as complete an assembly as one could possibly hope for. Rudder servo, servo extensions, nosewheel, beacon, all present and accounted for when I pulled the fuselage from its plastic bag.

It also gave me a look as to how the nosewheel steering servo would have been mounted on the kit.

That servo is mounted on its own wooden plate which is epoxied to the inside of the well. It operates a pair of pull-pull cables similar to fishing leader which still allow the servo to operate with the rudder when the gear are retracted without "steering" the retracted nosewheel within the well. When the gear are lowered, the cables are pulled taut and can pull on either side of the bellcrank at the nosewheel, allowing it to steer.

These parts weren't supplied with the kit - or if they were, I couldn't find them given the overwhelming number of extra parts supplied with it which I didn't unpack - but someone building the kit can certainly duplicate the setup with the aid of some of the photos in this review.

The manual is the same one supplied with the kit and since most of the indicated steps are already finished, it's useful for what little assembly is necessary. It does seem to assume that the builder already has experience with model aircraft since there's no indication of how to hook up the electronics, but that will be obvious to anyone with enough experience to fly a model of this nature in the first place.

Assembly begins at step two with the horizontal stab halves and their plywood joiner which adds both strength to the airfoiled halves and some dihedral.

What FlyFly Hobby forgot to add was the hole through which the joiner needed to pass. The only hole was the one which allowed the extension leads for the twin elevator servos to pass through.

It was easy enough to determine where a hole for the joiner would need to go, so I carefully cut away the EPO with a new #11 blade, being incredibly careful not to nick the servo extensions.

A test fitting of the stab halves was most definitely called for; once the halves were epoxied to the fuselage, there was no removing or accessing the cables short of either destroying the servo by cutting off the lead or damaging the fuselage. The Y-harness is extremely long, made longer by additional extensions. I didn't want to even think of what might have happened if one of the EMAX elevator servos were to become unplugged from the harness, so I used some electrical tape around the plug to make sure it would stay put despite the snug fit.

Hitec RCD was kind enough to provide a second Optima 6 receiver with their marvelous Optic 6 radio system, so once that second receiver was bound to an open slot, I plugged in the elevators, rudder, a spare ESC and a small li-po so that I could power up the fuselage.

Thankfully, the control surfaces worked fine and in their proper directions, too. A check of the nosewheel showed that it raised and lowered perfectly.

Off to the garage for the epoxy session.

The recesses in which the stabilizer halves would go aren't very deep, but the spar helps to hold things together and aids in lining everything up.

As the epoxy started to set and once I was certain that the halves were properly installed, I opted to run a bead of regular thin CA around the root area.

Not good.

I used both foam-safe and standard kicker and the foam-safe stuff reacted with the blue paint! I noticed that right about the time that I noticed a big blue thumbprint on the rear of the tail section. Damage was limited to a very tiny bit of rubbed-off paint and the thumbprint lifted right off the bare EPO with a bit of the foam-safe kicker on a paper towel. The rubbing alcohol I used to clean the excess epoxy reacted with the paint as well, but there was no visible damage.

Despite that setback and the fact that the installation of the stab halves was about as involved a stabilizer installation as I'd ever done, doing so completed the fuselage with the final detail being some strips of 3M Blenderm hinge tape for securing the elevator servo leads.

Wing

Jumping to step five, the virtually completed wing halves are joined together with the large plywood spar, more thirty-minute epoxy and a large work area. What isn't shown but which was obvious was the need to install a plywood strip in the recess where the mounting screws will eventually pass through.

Going back to my comments regarding the paint: Some of the blue paint on the wing on this particular example seemed to have been less than fully cured. By the time I was through handling the wing, my hands were stained blue, but the model didn't seem to suffer from any areas of damaged paint. I had hoped that the paint would cure over time and I'm pleased to say that it has. No more blue hands.

The ESCs and engine nacelles are already a permanent part of the wing per step 6, which will make accessing the ESCs a problem unless the tops of the nacelles are carefully cut away. The kit has a veritable plethora of rare earth magnets; surely the nacelles could have been magnetically attached rather than epoxied in place per the instructions or left off altogether for the end user to install. I suspect the nacelles are attached with contact cement, but I wasn't about to risk damaging anything in order to find out.

The motors, however, are not mounted. No brand name was visible after I unwrapped them, but they looked nice enough with their chrome and purple anodized parts and as a plus, they were already attached to their mounts. The prop shafts simply needed to be installed with the provided allen head screws retained with a bit of blue threadlocking compound.

Eight 3mm screws are used to attach the motors to their mounting plates once the propeller shafts and endbell retaining collers are installed and the connectors coming off the ESC are unwrapped. Since the ESCs are inaccessible, the factory saw fit to tape some wooden sticks to the connectors to keep them from going into the nacelles in transit.

FYI, I found out a little later that matching the wire colors between the motor and ESC will result in motors which spin the wrong way. I connected red to black, black to red and kept the neutral where it was. All fixed.

A bit of work turned out to be necessary before I could install the motors. One of the blind nuts on the nacelle was fouled with glue, necessitating the use of a 3mm tap in order to chase the threads since I couldn't pass a screw through the nut. Another had a plug of glue completely blocking the hole, but that popped off with the X-Acto. Still another hole, one needed for the mounting screw to pass through the top of the wing, had not been punched out. That was done easily enough with a #1 phillips screwdriver passed though the plywood strip.

Something else which should have been obvious but was skipped in the manual was the need to attach the various Y-harnesses to the retracts, ESCs and aileron servos and then to check the operation of each, especially the rotational direction of the motors. The manual also skips the installation of the wingtip nav lights which, like the preinstalled beacon atop the tail, terminated in a JST-XH balance connector for a 2S li-po battery.

Since both LEDs were clear, I rigged some power to them to determine left and right, or, if you will, red and green or port and starboard.

I got neither.

The LEDs are large versions of the color-changing, flashing electronic variety of the type often found on toy coaxial helicopters. Surely, thought I, the beacon atop the tail had to be red, no?

No. It too put on a very unscalelike light show when I powered it up.

Conclusion: No LEDs for now, at least until I can get a good aftermarket kit. On the other hand, there's no reason that I can't put these to work on a non-scale fun project down the line.

Lemons from lemonade, no?

After that little exercise, I thought that it would be nice to remove the preinstalled plastic wingtips and replace them with the upswept foam scale winglets like those on the full-scale HK-4628-G per the photos linked further up the page. I'd actually done so before I realized that standing the wing on either tip would now be impossible without possibly breaking them and that the scale winglets might be susceptible to damage even in transit. I briefly flirted with the idea of attaching the winglets with magnets before I reinstalled the flat plastic tips with some of the excellent contact cement provided with the model. I may go to the winglets at some point; they add a lot of scale oomph to the Duke.

Another quick check of the wiring with the help of the remaining harnesses which appeared to be of good quality - including a special three-way harness for the retracts - and I was nearly good to go.

Speaking of the main retracts, the wooden plates to which they mount looked a bit splintered and rough. In addition, the mounting screws weren't driven straight in most cases. A gentle tug on the struts showed that one was loose and the other nearly so. The plates were sandwiched in place between a foam cover plate and the wing, so epoxying the mounting plates in place was out of the question unless I were to tear off the cover plate and cannibalize the kit. Instead, I removed the gear and relied on copious quantities of good old thin CA and kicker which seemed to do the trick. The attaching screws seemed to be a bit on the short side, but they do penetrate all the way through the mounting plates and had plenty of bite in the wood. The struts seem to be a bit on the stiff side, but I figured they and the rubber-coated foam tires would do a good job of shock absorption. Based on RC Aerodyne's video linked below - and later based on my own experience - the Duke is a smooth, easy lander and the struts do their jobs well.

Completion

Next come the cowls and propellers in step seven, but I opted to leave the props off until I finished setting up the radio.

There are some round recesses on the nacelles which were the right size for some rare earth magnets, but while there were several magnets of the proper size in the kit, there were no metal plates and using a magnet on the cowls didn't allow them to be properly seated. No indication is given as to how to secure the cowls, so I decided upon some of the supplied contact cement.

Test fitting the cowls showed them to be a tight fit. The paint and decals didn't line up with those on the nacelles and the cowls were poorly trimmed. In fact, I'd pulled off one of the cowls shortly after I cemented it in place to see if it might match up better on the opposite nacelle. It didn't and when I went to slide the cowl back on the original nacelle, the thin polycarbonate buckled slightly, damaging the paint.

Rats.

Off to the kit for another one of the other cowls, but these had no decals. Peeling the first gold pinstriping decal off the damaged cowl resulted in the gold paint flaking off in the same manner as it did on the fuselage.

Back I went for the decal sheet from the kit from which I cut off a pinstripe and applied it to the cowl. I had better luck with removing the other decals and I eventually had the cowls seated. A quick test fit of the props showed that there was sufficient clearance between the blades and the front of each cowl.

I made sure that each electrical lead on the wing was tucked in place before installing the covers per step nine, again with some contact cement. Before installing them, I cut some channels in the foam in order to be able to tuck away the aileron and retract leads and the covers fit in place reasonably well with a bit of interference coming from the spar. I also marked the retract, aileron and ESC harnesses with self-laminating wire and cable markers from Radio Shack (catalog number 278-1616), doing the same with each of the three Spektrum 3" servo extensions since the receiver was a tight lateral fit and since I don't like connecting and disconnecting leads at the receiver itself anyway.

Time to join the wing to the fuselage for the radio setup after bundling the servo leads, using some Velcro squares to attach the Optima 6 receiver, securing the receiver's single antenna lead with the supplied clamp and double-sided tape and replacing the factory hook-and-loop fasteners with genuine Velcro. The factory strips can charitably be called "inadequate." There was no adhesive on the halves meant for the battery and both strips were poorly glued in place with little more than a drizzle of hot melt glue, peeling off of the floor of the battery compartment with a gentle tug. Some Velcro brand adhesive might have worked well, but I opted to toss the strips aside for the adhesive-backed real thing.

Actually bolting the wing in place was easy enough with only two rather long machine screws and a couple of washers necessary to secure the wing.

After connecting one of the ESCs and the retracts to the receiver, I powered up the model and hit the retract switch on the Optic 6. Once the gear were lowered, I set the model on the floor, stood back and had a good look.

One word: Wow.

Business planes tend to be among the most elegantly designed aircraft around and if I thought the Duke looked great in RC Aerodyne's online ad and video, it looked even better in person. FlyFly did an outstanding job of capturing the beautiful scale proportions of the full-scale Duke; the taller-than-prototypical retracts and lack of doors were the only non-scale issues, but I'm not complaining.

This is one gorgeous model.

I was somewhat worried about hooking up two batteries and two ESCs to one receiver, even though I knew they'd be connected in parallel. There was no difference in the speed of the servos once both of the Mad Dog batteries were plugged in, so there was no need to worry further. Best of all, the tones of the motors as I advanced the throttle were in perfect sync with one another.

FYI, Mad Dog batteries come with an E-flite EC3 connector. Rather than remove them, I simply picked up a couple of female Deans pigtails with 12 AWG wires like those on the batteries and a couple of male E-flite EC3 connectors and I soldered up some adapters.

I needed to reverse the aileron channel and to make some minor adjustments with the subtrims to the rudder and elevator, electing to do the control throws and expo settings later.

All that was left assembly-wise was to trim the nav light covers, glue them in place with some Pacer Formula "360" canopy glue and apply a bit of masking tape to hold them in place while the glue set. Once the props were in place, I had me one done Duke.

With the batteries in place, the model seemed to balance OK, if a bit tail heavy. I thought that I should wait until I got to the field for another pair of eyes to help determine the balance since it was too large to balance on my fingertips and to get a good look at the attitude at the same time.

Flying

My first attempt to fly the Duke at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in the desert east of Palm Springs was met by a couple of issues.

One, videographer George Muir wasn't able to show that morning and two, the Duke really was tail heavy and I'd forgotten to bring the Great Planes stick-on lead weights I'd purchased for the occasion.

At home, I installed eight of the quarter-ounce (7g) weights in the wheelwell just ahead of the nose gear as a starting point.

When I did return to the club, George was there and I was ready with more weights.

It needed two more stuck to the mounting plate of the nose gear and, unfortunately, two more temporarily stuck atop the plastic nose cone. The cone was a factory installation which, of course, meant that it wasn't about to come off.

I debated whether to cut away part of the cone in order to install the weights inside the foam stub which holds it in place or to cannibalize the cone in the kit. Either way, this is another part which probably should have been left off at the factory. A few days, later, I took an X-Acto to the soft plastic underside of the cone, hollowed out some of the foam (which was easy since it wasn't that thick), glued the weights in and topped it off with the plastic strip I'd cut out.

Naturally, the paint flaked off a bit. I might just head back to the local Home Depot for an optically matched paint sample so that I can do some touching up.

I admit to being just a bit intimidated by such a big twin. I've flown larger aircraft and some truly fast ones as well, but the Duke was an imposing beast.

So, I called upon club president Dan Metz to do the maiden flight honors, who gladly obliged. A quick range check and check of the controls later, Dan taxied the Duke out to the runway and advanced the throttle.

ZOOM! The Duke was off like a shot not only because of the power of the twin 3542 motors, but because the elevators were out of trim, even though they looked good on the ground. Dan got the model the usual "two mistakes up, " fighting with the elevator stick. I offered to reach in and adjust the trim on the Hitec Optic 6 since Dan was unfamiliar with the radio and since he wasn't sure his own attempts were working since the radio had no audible beep tones.

After a few clicks of down trim and a bit of right aileron trim, the drama was over and the big Duke was flying straight and level, so up came the gear.

Everyone on the flight line agreed that the model was absolutely beautiful in flight; several asked about price, availability and such. One pilot actually offered to buy the Duke on the spot! As for Dan, he was very impressed at how well the model performed. Despite the twin motors spinning in the same direction and with the same offset, there were none of the torque problems often associated with twins. It just flew as if it had one motor up front.

Since the Mad Dog li-pos were new, Dan decided not to push things too hard. After a pass to see that the gear were down, he brought the Duke around for a perfect landing right down the center line of the runway, taxiing back to the pits immediately afterward. The low speed control prior to the landing was remarkable; at no time did the aircraft threaten to stall.

I just had to try it.

I figured there'd be more than enough charge to go once around the pattern. I took the Duke back to the runway to check the ground handling. It was actually pretty good despite the nose gear being somewhat touchy; it has a lot more throw than the rudder.

I lined up for takeoff, throttled up and was soon rewarded with a spectacular, scale-like takeoff.

Oh, yes. As I made the first left turn, it dawned on me how easily the model flew. No bad habits, no weird control issues. Just smooth, straight and level flight. I was not only immediately comfortable with the Duke, I laughed at myself for being intimidated over this big pussycat in the first place.

I didn't raise the gear since I was only going around once, so I called for the landing and brought it in nearly as well as Dan had done minutes before, gently coming down on the mains with the nose coming down a moment or two later.

My only regret was that I didn't have two more batteries with me!

Aerobatics and Special Flight Performance

If there was one thing I noticed right away, it was that the control responses were very much to scale. The aileron response hinted that rolls would have been quite slow, although it certainly has enough power for loops. This is a model best flown to scale and there are certainly no shortages of aerobatic models on the market. In fact, RC Aerodyne can put you in a Yak 54, a CAP 232 or a Super Chipmunk for about $120 each.

Is This For a Beginner?

Sorry, but no. This is a complex, very scale-like model with absolutely none of the characteristics of a trainer. Even the manual itself presumes the builder has experience in assembling, wiring and otherwise setting up and balancing an ARF or PNP model. An intermediate flyer comfortable with an aileron-equipped model might have some success, but I would recommend that anyone considering this model have a lot of flight time under their belt. That said, it's a lot easier to fly than I thought it would be.

Flight Video and Photo Gallery

Cliff and the crew at RC Aerodyne run their own Duke through its paces right in front of company headquarters! Talk about a great runway:

Beechcraft duke 60 (3 min 32 sec)

Here's the maiden flight of our review subject, complete with its rather dramatic takeoff:

RC Aerodyne Beechcraft Duke B60 PNP (2 min 54 sec)

The Duke looks fantastic on the ground:

It's even more fantastic looking in the air:

Conclusion

With its awesome scale looks, great performance across the speed spectrum and surprisingly gentle flight characteristics, the RC Aerodyne Beechcraft Duke B60 PNP is a winner. There are a few minor hiccups to be sure. Among them are the paint job, the flaking decals and the somewhat haphazard retract installation, although the latter was easily fixed and the paint has now cured on my example.

I give it a full two thumbs up and believe me, I can't wait to get the Duke airborne again! It is, as RC Aerodyne claims, the perfect first twin prior to stepping up into more elaborate twins.

My thanks go to Cliff Turnbull of RC Aerodyne for providing the PNP version reviewed here and to his staff for providing the original kit version. If their big composites are anything like the Duke in terms of how they fly, I hope to step up into one very soon and I'll definitely report back if I have the opportunity to attend their fun fly in Ontario.

Mark Grohe of 2DogRC.com is a terrific RCGroups.com sponsor and a gentleman whom I've depended on countless times in the past for batteries and such. I truly appreciate both the batteries as well as the Dualsky ESCs he'd sent for the kit. Ditto to Mike Greenshields of Global Hobby Distributors for providing the kit's motors. I only regret not having the opportunity to use them.

Suzanne Lepine, Shawn Spiker and Bryan Shaw of Hitec RCD are three more site sponsors and contacts whom I cherish and I extend deep thanks to those wonderful folks for the Hitec Optic 6 radio and the second Hitec Optima 6 receiver.

George Muir is the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club's videographer to whom I turn often for video and it's my pleasure to thank him once more. Dan Metz is the club's peerless, hard-working president and I really cannot thank him enough for flying the maiden.

RCGroups.com administrator Angela Haglund makes all of these reviews possible for our worldwide audience of hobbyists. Thanks for visiting the Internet's largest, most comprehensive hobby site!

Pluses and Minuses

Lots and lots of pluses here:

  • Beautiful scale looks
  • Looks absolutely fantastic and very much to scale in flight
  • Terrific flight characteristics once properly balanced and set up
  • Easy to fly as well as to land
  • Excellent ground handling
  • Relatively easy final assembly
  • Smooth, beautifully molded foam parts
  • Unusual and elegant modeling subject; when was the last time anyone saw another model of the Duke?
  • Outstanding parts and technical support from a US-based company
  • The PNP's electronics are a great match to the airframe
  • The kit version is incredibly affordable
  • The perfect first twin for any experienced pilot

As for the minuses:

  • Documentation could be better
  • Paint reacts with CA kicker and was not thoroughly cured on my example
  • Landing gear mounting plates were somewhat sloppily installed but now hold firm with a bit of work
  • The gold-colored paint on the decals tends to flake off
  • The LED nav lights are not to scale
  • Takes quite a few stick-on weights to balance the model
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Sep 30, 2013 at 03:01 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 01, 2013, 04:46 PM
Registered User
United States, TN, Murfreesboro
Joined Apr 2013
678 Posts
Want a great looking plane, wish i was ready. A lot of plane for the money. At that price I am sure I well see a lot of the plane. Something to look forward too.
papadwight is offline Find More Posts by papadwight
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Old Oct 01, 2013, 05:33 PM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,851 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by papadwight View Post
Want a great looking plane, wish i was ready. A lot of plane for the money. At that price I am sure I well see a lot of the plane. Something to look forward too.
Papa, with all the flying you do, you'll get there. Heck, I didn't think that I was ready for it! Horror stories abound about twins having issues with motor or engine torque pulling them to one side, but I didn't encounter any of that in my too-brief time at the sticks.

It flies like a relatively fast four-channel single-motored sport plane.
DismayingObservation is offline Find More Posts by DismayingObservation
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Old Oct 04, 2013, 08:48 PM
Noob with Issues
crash74's Avatar
United States, AZ, Maricopa
Joined Jul 2011
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Caution.

RC Aerodyne isnt the best company to due business with. lest start with the easy..... I waited for this plane for over a year and clicked on there link to notify me when it was in.. I'm still waiting for there email. Now the worse. I have there Beach Craft Baron and I contacted them a couple times about getting the plane in and the wood structure was not glued to the fiberglass shell. I got the run around.. I called and called waiting for call backs.... when I got someone they told me what to do to try to fix it!! I'm no builder.. thats why I bought a arf. Nedless to say the plane has sat in my hobby room but it looks nice!! When I finely got tired of waiting for this foam twin I found one on Nitroplanes. a much cleaner and nicer plane. The one RC Aerodyne sells is the fly version. Crappy looking canopy.....good luck on this plane
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Old Oct 05, 2013, 10:09 AM
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Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
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Sorry to hear about your problems, but I for one haven't had any communications issues. I'd made several phone calls to the company over the course of the review and was able to resolve any questions on the spot.

There are a few quality issues on this model to be sure, chief among them the decals and the landing gear mounts, but there wasn't anything which I couldn't fix. I now have a very attractive, great flying model as a result.
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Old Oct 05, 2013, 01:51 PM
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seeingeyegod's Avatar
United States, OR, Portland
Joined Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crash74 View Post
RC Aerodyne isnt the best company to due business with. lest start with the easy..... I waited for this plane for over a year and clicked on there link to notify me when it was in.. I'm still waiting for there email. Now the worse. I have there Beach Craft Baron and I contacted them a couple times about getting the plane in and the wood structure was not glued to the fiberglass shell. I got the run around.. I called and called waiting for call backs.... when I got someone they told me what to do to try to fix it!! I'm no builder.. thats why I bought a arf. Nedless to say the plane has sat in my hobby room but it looks nice!! When I finely got tired of waiting for this foam twin I found one on Nitroplanes. a much cleaner and nicer plane. The one RC Aerodyne sells is the fly version. Crappy looking canopy.....good luck on this plane
Yeah I too can't get over the crappy looking plastic canopy contrasting with the foam fuse. It just screams FAKE, CHEAP, FOAMIE. Looks like it flies nice though.
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Old Oct 05, 2013, 09:54 PM
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Spring, Texas
Joined Feb 2004
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I too was turned off ny the canopy. Doesn't looks like it fits well. Such a shame, I really like the model. Wish they had just made the canopy EPO to go along with the rest of the fuse.
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Old Oct 06, 2013, 10:04 AM
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Southern California
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I have to admit that I really agonized over the canopy.

On the one hand, an EPO unit might have blended better with the rest of the fuselage, but on the other hand it would likely have lacked windows, the vestigial interior detail or both.

In the end, I decided it was a good idea and a good compromise. Might not blend as well, but it might have been impossible to get scalelike window detail had they not gone with the polycarbonate canopy.
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Old Oct 07, 2013, 07:51 AM
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United States, GA, Atlanta
Joined Mar 2005
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Very nice kit, well done review too, thank you for that.

A set of spinners would finish the plane off nicely and that is about it. Good looking plane.
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Old Oct 15, 2013, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaguar22 View Post
Very nice kit, well done review too, thank you for that.

A set of spinners would finish the plane off nicely and that is about it. Good looking plane.
Thanks!

I'm keeping my eyes peeled for some spinners. The model in the RC Aerodyne video has spinners as well as the winglets. I'm still deciding whether or not to replace the winglets. They look uber cool, but I don't know how well they'll hold up.

I did have the opportunity to put it back in the air this past weekend and the experience was so positive, I decided to blog about it! It is one sweet ride. Very gentle, very stable and very scalelike and it's shot up to close to the top of my favorites list.
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Old Oct 24, 2013, 05:52 AM
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UK
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Is this model available in the UK or Europe?
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Old Oct 24, 2013, 09:02 AM
farmerric
new jersey
Joined Dec 2005
2 Posts
This was a great review. Nice to see that the inevitable "warts" in the kit were talked about. So much better than a magazine that doesn't talk about them so not to make the advertisers mad. They all end up with the observation that the kit was a "keeper" and a great value. BS! They should realize that the modelers can absorb the faults and judge for themselves whether they are a problem. Again, thanks for the candor and valuable info.
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Old Oct 24, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Is this model available in the UK or Europe?
Good question. I don't know their shipping policy, but there's probably some info on their site.

I took mine up again last weekend and I just had a blast with it. The weird little issues like the decals and the contrasting canopy go away once it's out taxiing before takeoff. It's a spectacular flyer once dialed in and it looks just as spectacular while flying.
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Old Nov 03, 2013, 05:57 PM
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United States, MN, Buffalo
Joined Jan 2007
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I Finally opened my news letter, and Thanks for the review! i have only glanced @ the 'big' topics, will go through it again.
At first i didn't know if I should grunt or smile, as I was ( in process as 'next to finish') working with the B60 in scale birds- ( http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1452774
nonetheless, i think that it's great that someone took it upon themselves to complete one of my favorite twins, and even with all the maintenance hassles she has, doesn't discount her looks! i do think, upon not yet purchased, and seeing the canopy hassles in the pics, that one will still get a great value for the cost! Thanks again dismayed!
Johnny
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Old Nov 28, 2013, 05:38 PM
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United States, NJ, Old Bridge Township
Joined May 2013
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I just ordered this plane for a great price on Black Friday. Before I placed my order, I clicked on the parts page. Very surprised to see all the parts for the plane and they were listed as in stock.
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