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Great Planes Patriot 46XL Prop-Jet Kit Review

Woody Workman explores Great Planes newest edition to their popular prop-jet lineup - a larger, lighter wingloaded, faster Patriot kit!

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Introduction

 Complete with graphics, the Patriot combined the look of a jet with the convenience of a  conventional front mounted glow engine and propeller.
Complete with graphics, the Patriot combined the look of a jet with the convenience of a conventional front mounted glow engine and propeller.
Wingspan:55"
Wing Area:742 sq. in.
Weight:8-8.5 lb.
Length:59.5"
Wing Loading:25-27 oz/sq. ft.
Servos Reqd:6-9 standard
Servos Used:8 Futaba S3004
Transmitter Reqd:6-channel minimum
Transmitter Used:Futaba 6EXA
Engine Range:60-90 2- or 4-stroke
Engine Used:Super Tigre G90
(BHP 2.5)
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Available online from Tower Hobbies

The glow powered Great Planes Patriot XL kit has the look of a jet, but with a conventional front mounted glow engine and propeller. This plane is for intermediate to advanced model builders and flyers. This sharp looking aircraft is the big brother/upgraded version of the ever-popular Great Planes 40 sized patriot kit.

KIT CONTENTS:

Required:

  • Engine, 60-90 2-stroke or 4-stroke
  • Propeller, I used an APC 11/8
  • 6+ channel transmitter and standard sized receiver, switch, etc.
  • 6-9 Standard servos, depending on installation
  • Y- Harnesses, depending on installation. I used 3 Total- 1 for flaps, 1 for ailerons and 1 reversed Y for elevators
  • 2-1/4" spinner
  • 2+ rolls covering
  • fuel tank and tubing, and some other misc. items.

Options:

  • LANDING GEAR: The kit is designed to use the included fixed gear, or Robart 605 HD pneumatics. The turtle deck is even added onto the fuselage box after assembly to make room for an air tank! I elected to use fixed gear due to the rough grass flying surface at my site.
  • FLAPS: The patriot can be built with or without operational flaps. Full instructions are provided for either approach, and the addition of the flaps was simple. Having flown the model with and without them, they are definitely not required. However, I would recommend adding them -- they do make slowing the model for landing really nice!

CONSTRUCTION:

Tail Feathers:

The tail structure built just like the older 40 sized patriot. From then on, however, this new XL kit built far faster and easier, and with far less sanding and shaping, than the former 'block and sand' design style.

Wing:

The wing took a little more time than the tail to build, of course, but it built up very strong. The landing gear area worked exceptionally well for fixed or retractable gear. The area was roomy and easy to access for adjustments or repairs even at the field. I glued in the servo trays after taking the wing off of the plans though because it was easier to do. While on the plans there was a gap between the tray and the plans, so I found that if I was not careful the tray would drop down and then it will have be removed and re-attached correctly again.

The wing joiner was a little different, and I liked the way it fit into the wing ribs. It was two ply pieces with a unique 'sausage' shape' that, when it was rotated up into place, allowed it to lock onto every rib in the wing it touched. When both wings were ready to be glued together, I was sure to check the areas to make sure the wings fit together as close as possible. When the two panels were epoxied together it was very strong. The unique way the joiner was cut to fit made for an amazingly strong bond. This area turned out to be so strong that I opted not to glue in any fiberglass on the wing joints, a precaution I've taken on every plane I've built. The result was a fantastic wing.

I recommend building the flaps into this airplane. They weren't hard to do at all, and it was definitely a nice addition. The model handled fine without them, but I really did prefer landing with them to ease off some of that speed.

FUSELAGE:

The fuse built upside-down on the plans and went together very easily and was very strong due to the interlocking parts. These parts needed very little or no trimming or sanding at all before assembly. The access area for the nose gear, if using retractable gear, was very large and roomy. The servo compartment was also very accommodating for making the necessary changes and adjustments needed from time to time. It easily held four servos.

The fuselage took the longest time due to the 1/2" x 1/2" square formers that had to be installed top and bottom down each side of the fuse. The builder should be able to do this with a little patience. The firewall and tail formers were rounded also, so the builder had to have a little patience in these areas also. I found that wetting the wood and using wire ties and rubber bands worked perfectly. I wet the wood several times to let the sheeting conform to the firewall and tail former sections and let it dry. Then taking off the bands and wire ties let the wood stay in the shape they needed to be. This worked wonderfully, and also I used epoxy in these two areas instead of regular glue.

The rear hatch fit perfectly and with a little patience it wasn't even visible during flight.

These ABS fuse sides were not bad to install. It took a little time to get them trimmed and fitted to the fuse, I simply had to be careful when trimming and sanding. I would do just a very little at a time on the trimming and sanding and fit it after each to make sure of a good fit. I used a soft pencil to lay out the outline of the faring so I could be more precise with the glue when performing the final attaching. It attached easily and made for a nice finished look.

I liked the idea of building the turtledeck after the fuse box was done. This was definitely a good change. I think this gave me a better area to measure and make sure the turtledeck was centered accurately on the fuse. It went together very nicely and it made this area of the fuse stronger, so much simpler, and also gave the pneumatic retract option a great place for the tank.

Throws and CG:

After the final covering, installation of the radio equipment and engine, I checked out the CG of the plane. I added only 2 oz of weight to the tail to get the necessary balance needed and the plane still weighed in at a little less than 8.5 lbs. Wonderful! I set all the throws to exactly the manufacturer's recommendations.

How Hard Was It to Build?

I think that the Patriot XL is an excellent kit to build. The Patriot was very easy to assemble, and it could be a first build for someone coming from low wing ARF models. I would recommend that a new builder pay close attention to the plans and assemble the Patriot exactly by the book. If this is done, I see no reason that this could not be accomplished with a beautiful plane as a result.

Now for the important part -- lets see how it flies!

Flying

FINISHED PICTURES:

FIRST FLIGHT:

I started up the engine and let the Patriot roll out on the runway. After fighting butterflies for a moment, I eased into the throttle and let the Patriot roll down the runway. I let it build up speed, and eased the Patriot off the runway. I was amazed at how quickly and easily the big plane gained altitude. With a couple of clicks of right aileron and a couple of clicks of down elevator the Patriot was flying hands off.

I opened up the throttle and let it gain some altitude and performed some slow rolls and loops. The Patriot handled them flawlessly, so I went on for some nice vertical stall turns that ended up with a slow turn to the left that let the plane fall away with no indications of trying to spin out. Beautiful. Inverted flight was awesome as well, it handled as well inverted as upright. After making a couple of passes over the runway to check out the slower speed, it was time for landing.

I set up for the first landing of the Patriot. I landed the first time with no flaps at all and it was very nice. The plane came in straight, setting down on the mains, then the nose gear. The patriot tracked straight, taking off and landing. The handling on the ground was impressive.

More Flight Time

I have flown the Patriot 7 times and the Patriot flew excellently every time. I presently have a 12 oz. tank installed, but I am thinking about putting in a 16 oz. due to the flight time with the larger engine I used on the Patriot. It flies about 8 minutes with the throttle full open and about 10 to 12 minutes at about half throttle on the 12 oz tank with the ST 90 2-stroke. I wanted the extra power so I went with the largest engine in the category for the plane but I believe the Patriot would fly very well with a .60 size engine as well.

Every flight has included time inverted. The patriot takes barely a push, and will do anything I ask of it inverted without difficulty. It is very stable doing lazy circles and figure-8s inverted, and it climbs out inverted with ease.

The roll rate is very comfortable. It is quick, but not excessively, and it is not overly responsive around center. It is crisp when it rolls, and stops instantly.

The stalls are easy and predictable. I did get the Patriot XL to do a horizontal stall at altitude and it very gently gave a little left roll and fell out straightforward with no bad indications of spinning at all. The tip stall are very nice to watch with the Patriot XL.

Flaps

I LOVE the flaps! During the second flight I added 30% flaps on landing and was amazed at how easy and stable the Patriot handled on landing. Since then, I have flown it extensively with the flaps and I have tried a couple of different speeds with it as well. You definitely do not want to give it the flaps at full speed, but I did fly the Patriot at half throttle with full flaps and also at quarter throttle. At half throttle it does have a tendency to pitch up but it is not that bad or uncontrollable. It does slow it down but you cannot tell it as much as with quarter throttle. The Patriot XL at quarter throttle does not pitch up that I can tell hardly at all and I can see the significant change in the speed of the plane.

It does eventually get a little mushy at the slower speeds and I kept slowing it down until it stalled, but this was less than a quarter throttle. Once again the Patriot just rolled a little left and fell out smoothly with no indication of spinning. Add a little power and it was flying again just like it should. It lands shorter with the flaps. I am experimenting with adding more flap, I am sure the reactions of the Patriot will change as I increase the flap. The Patriot is a joy to land, easy on the mains and straight down the runway.

Speed

This is where the patriot excels. It is fun to do basic aerobatics with, but it's form and function are all designed around speed. I am in the process of borrowing the Police Chief's radar gun again, (happens to be a good friend of mine) and see what the Patriot's top speed is. I am presently flying a Sig Kougar that has been turning 120 in flight and I feel that the Patriot may exceed this. It's a larger plane so it looks different when it comes by but it is fast. I am currently flying on an APC 11x8 and plan to go to more square props for even more speed now that I know the plane better.

FLYING PICTURES:

Thanks to Donny Lyons for shooting the in flight photos!

FLYING VIDEO:

Downloads

As the weather permits, I plan to get a lot more flying time on this aircraft, including some chances to get video footage. When available, it will be added here, and this article moved back to the top of the RCPower article list, so be sure to watch for it!

GENERAL OVERVIEW:

It has been a real joy to build such a nice plane. My flying friends are kind of jealous of it and I think some of them will probably be purchasing one before long! It has been turning heads at the field every time. I love to see the cameras come out whenever I ease it out of the truck.

I was very pleased with the Patriot XL Kit, it built up nicely with little or no trimming or sanding on any parts. The Patriot XL was a thrill to fly, it flies fast and it goes right where I put it, yet slows down nicely and has good ground handling. I enjoyed building this kit very much and look forward to many flights for years to come.

THE GOODS:

  • Very nicely boxed parts
  • Roomy access areas for installation and adjustments
  • Great flyer, went where I put it.
  • Kit builds up nicely for a seasoned builder.

THE BADS:

  • I found installing the servo mounts in the wing frustrating as designed, and needed to glue them in after the wing was removed from the plans.
  • The rear plastic piece that glued in around the vertical stab would be better made out of wood. The ABS piece was a little trouble to install but looked good when it was finished.
  • I had to take care when installing the rudder control rod that fit into the rear of the fuselage. Adjustments were almost out the window once the plane was covered and finished. I made sure all adjustments were made and checked before covering.

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