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Great Planes Seawind 71" ARF E-Conversion Review

Mike McDougall takes us through an e-conversion of the Seawind, a Great Planes model that replicates one of the most beautiful seaplanes ever built. E-power has simplified the build process and improved the operational reliability of an already great model.

Splash

Introduction

The innovative Seawind came to America in 1989. From the outset, the Seawind was a bold concept, built on the principle, "If it looks good, it will fly well." Extensive use of composite materials made the beautiful sweeping lines of the Seawind a reality, and the full scale Seawind does look great and does fly even better.

The Great Planes Seawind model faithfully replicates those beautiful lines and the results are stunning. There is nothing like this plane on any flight line and everyone stops to watch whenever it flies.


Wingspan:71"
Wing Area:676 sq. in.
Weight:10 lb. 4 oz.
Length:56"
Wing Loading:34.9 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 standard servos for ailerons and flaps, 2 mini servos with 50 + ounces of torque for rudder and elevator
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:AR7000
RX Battery:1100 mAh 4 Cell NiCd
Motor:Rimfire Brushless Outrunner 50-55-500kV
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 80
Main Battery:Electrify Power Series LiPoly 6S1P - 2 ea 3200 mAh 3S1P in Series
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies

Kit Contents

Even though this is an ARF, the manual states that the build will take 15 to 20 hours. It took closer to 30 for me... could it have been all that time I spent holding that beautiful fuselage making those airplanes noises? Maybe, but I prefer to think it was because I was just a very careful builder.

Kit Includes:

  • Fiberglass fuselage with vertical stab and wing center section molded in
  • Painted fiberglass motor cowl
  • Painted fiberglass canopy with ply framework
  • Two plug-in balsa and plywood wings
  • Built-up horizontal stab, elevator and rudder
  • Built-up ailerons and flaps
  • Wingtip floats
  • Aluminum wing joiner
  • Wooden parts covered in Top Flight Monokote
  • Foam and PVC work and transport stand
  • Full hardware package, pushrods and water rudder
  • Excellent photo illustrated 28 page construction manual

Kit Requires:

  • Radio (5 or 6 channel)
  • 4 Standard servos and and two Futaba mini servos (S3102)
  • Seven 36" servo extensions
  • Two Y-harness servo connectors
  • Brushless Motor 750-1,000 watts (Rimfire 50-55-500kV recommended)
  • Brushless ESC 60 amps minimum
  • Motor mount (Electrifly Large Mount recommended)
  • LiPoly Batteries 6S1P 3200 mAh 20C minimum
  • Epoxy glue, CA and silicone sealant

Recommended by Great Planes and used in this review:

  • Rimfire brushless outrunner motor 50-55-500kV
  • Electrifly Power Series LiPoly batteries 3200 mAh 20C
  • Electrifly Power System large motor mount
  • 13x8E APC prop

Since this build is an electric conversion and for the float plane specifically, there were some parts that were supplied with the kit that were not used for this review.

These parts were included in the kit, but were not used:

  • Aluminum 3-blade spinner
  • Landing gear mounts, landing gear and wheels
  • Adjustable engine mount
  • Fuel tank
  • Throttle servo mount

Assembly

This kit was a typical ARF. All of the wooden components were covered in white Top Flight Monokote. The fiberglass was painted in a matching white with two-tone painted trim, and the canopy window was painted black. The covering quality was excellent and only required minor touchup to remove a few wrinkles.

The photo-illustrated instructions made assembling the Seawind a pleasure. However, I would like to note some minor issues and some special steps needed for the e-conversion.

Wing

The unique airfoil seemed to have the effect of washout at the wingtips and may have been the reason for the excellent slow flying characteristics of the Seawind.

The kit contains some excellent servo covers that are supposed to help shield the servos from water spray. Since the servos are located on the bottom of the wing, I opted to add some silicone sealant to the covers before I installed them. This proved to be a wise decision (see photo of takeoff below).

Fuselage

The fuselage is truly a thing of beauty. Fit and finish were excellent. The recommended motor mount bolted right to the firewall using the pre-installed T-nuts. E-Power was really easy - no throttle servo linkage to adjust or fuel tank to plumb.

Radio Installation

I had been flying the Spektrum DX7 system in all my electrics for several months and had not used the full-range AR7000 receiver or the standard size DS-821 servos yet. I decided the Seawind would be an excellent home for the system. The tiny antennas fit inside the fuselage and did not require any hull penetrations like standard 72 MHz receivers. Seven 36" servo extensions made a real mess until I bundled them up and tucked them out of the way in the hull.

Completion

The aluminum wing spar was a very tight fit in the fuselage and in the wing halves. The rubber seal around the cockpit area was easy to apply and worked very well at keeping the water at bay. The canopy fit was excellent.

One of the challenges of the e-conversion was locating the proper CG. The CG given in the manual was for a gasser with an empty tank. On a gasser, as you fuel up and get ready to fly, you move the CG rearward a considerable amount due to the tank location. Because of this, the CG given in the manual was in the most nose-heavy location, and I should have been able to move the e-conversion CG back to an equivalent 3/4 full tank gasser point and have a properly balanced plane. Using a CG machine, I set the CG at 1-1/32" empty then put 13 ounces of weight in the tank area and measured again. The CG had moved to 2-1/8", so that's were I set the CG for the first flight.

Flying

Basics

The Rimfire 50-55-500kV pulled the plane along at 1⁄2 throttle without any problems. At full throttle, the Seawind was really fast! I used high rates for all flights and they felt about right.

Taking Off and Landing

I had to fly the wing throughout the takeoff to keep the wingtips from dragging in the water and "water looping" the plane. I had to hold right aileron to counter motor torque until the Seawind got up to flying speed, and I used up elevator to fly the plane off the water. If you wait for the plane to lift itself off the water, it will begin porpoising and hopping across the top of the water.

Landings were best accomplished by slowing the plane down and dragging it in nose high. Too much speed on the landing resulted in porpoising and large bounces.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

With the CG set at 2-1/8" from the front of the wing, the Seawind was very stable. It may still be slightly nose heavy at this CG location. It was difficult to stall and would not spin very well. Loops were a thing of beauty and rolls were axial. I could not get the Seawind to perform a stall turn. It may have been the rudder throw or maybe the CG location. Inverted flight required some down elevator to hold the plane level. A more rearward CG should take less down elevator.

The full-scale Seawind droops the ailerons 10 degrees when the flaps are lowered. I programmed the ailerons for 3 positions - 10 degrees down, neutral, and 10 degrees up (reflex or crow). With flaps lowered, the down position seemed to help takeoffs, and the crow position seemed to help slow the plane down for landings. I need more airtime to fully evaluate these mixes. I also did not have time to try to reflex the flaps like the full scale plane to see if it would increase airspeed. Even though that may have been an advantage in the full-scale Seawind, the Great Planes model doesn't need any more speed.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. This kit is for intermediate to advanced flyers. The model is fast and requires some special skills to takeoff and land on water.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The e-conversion Seawind was lighter than the glow version and was 100% electric reliable. The Rimfire 50-55-500kV brushless motor pulled the 10 lb Seawind along with ease. The Electrify Power Series LiPoly batteries provided plenty of power and punch to get the Seawind off the water and, after lots of aerobatics, came back barely warm. Electric power systems ran consistently well every time, in any orientation, through every maneuver and landed and taxied back without dying. Try e-power on your Seawind - you will be glad you did!

Pluses:

  • High quality fiberglass parts
  • Excellent flight characteristics
  • Good water handling
  • Seawind is a thing of beauty on the ground and in the air
  • E-conversion is 2 pounds lighter than gas
  • Good construction throughout
  • Snug and dry canopy/fuselage fit

Minuses:

  • Excess glue in wireways

Great Planes has a great flying scale model of the most beautiful seaplane that has ever flown. The Seawind is even better with e-power!

Last edited by Angela H; Jul 06, 2007 at 03:54 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jul 06, 2007, 05:08 PM
WAA-08 Pilot Eventually
donjiskra's Avatar
Darien,IL,USA
Joined Jul 2000
1,570 Posts
AWESOME!!!!!
Mike the review and especially the video. CONGRATULATIONS & MANY THANKS.
E power really works swell on the Seawind.
It's a beauty.
Good job,
Don
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Old Jul 06, 2007, 07:49 PM
Ozzie Express wiggy pilot
SON OF PALEFACE's Avatar
YANKALILLA , SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Joined Nov 2002
5,234 Posts
Good stuff well done ....I move the cg back a little at a time till the elevator is as responsive as I want , then try the inverted trick
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Old Jul 06, 2007, 08:24 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,820 Posts
Thanks. CG adjustment is next on my agenda. With the two Lipoly packs fastened to the sides with hook and loop fastners, I can move them both back 1/4" at a time and slowly shift the CG rearward. I like your adea of getting the CG to the point of the elevator response feeling right.
Mike McD
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Old Jul 06, 2007, 10:40 PM
Man, this stuff is so much fun
United States, CA, Corona
Joined Feb 2006
7,189 Posts
I love the plane, but, please practice the landings and takeoffs. The video scared me away, I consider myself a fairly good pilot, but, wow I hate to do that kind of landing when the water has ripples. LOL

Al
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Old Jul 06, 2007, 11:28 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,820 Posts
I hope to smooth out both the takeoffs and the landings by moving the CG a little more aft. I'll also continue to work with the aileron/flap configurations to optimize them for takeoffs and for landings.
Mike McD
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 04:01 AM
Ozzie Express wiggy pilot
SON OF PALEFACE's Avatar
YANKALILLA , SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Joined Nov 2002
5,234 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
I hope to smooth out both the takeoffs and the landings by moving the CG a little more aft. I'll also continue to work with the aileron/flap configurations to optimize them for takeoffs and for landings.
Mike McD
Sorry i cant resist this , if you want to improve your takeoffs and landings , you could get a Nitro one
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 04:19 AM
Suspended Account
New Zealand, Waikato, Hamilton
Joined Aug 2005
2,432 Posts
howzat!!!! the real one http://www.seawindsna.com/
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 06:45 AM
JSF pilot
flyingrandy55's Avatar
USA, TX, Keller
Joined Apr 2006
487 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by SON OF PALEFACE
Sorry i cant resist this , if you want to improve your takeoffs and landings , you could get a Nitro one
Sorry PALEFACE, I disagree No flameouts, no mess and your wife won't say "you smell!" when you get home


Mike, GREAT job, I can't wait to see the EP version!
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 07:27 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,820 Posts
You go Grandy55! And you didn't even mention the fact that the gasser's CG is constantly changing from slightly nose heavy to really nose heavy as the fuel load burns off. Ever tried flaring a nose heavy airplane? You can run out of elevator real fast. PALEFACE can keep the NITRO, I'll take the consistancy of E-Power every time.

The good news about the flooding here in Texas is that float fly ponds are everywhere now. Up until today the lake in my front yard worked great. Unfortunately they are opening LBJ to boat and recreational use in about 30 minutes. Oh well, that's time enough for a couple of more flights. Gotta go. Practice - Practice - Practice.

Mike McD
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 12:37 PM
K4UAV
dalbert02's Avatar
Miami, FL
Joined Jul 2003
1,748 Posts
Another of the real deal taken at Sun-n-Fun, Lakeland, FL...

-dave
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 04:25 PM
Ozzie Express wiggy pilot
SON OF PALEFACE's Avatar
YANKALILLA , SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Joined Nov 2002
5,234 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingrandy55
Sorry PALEFACE, I disagree No flameouts, no mess and your wife won't say "you smell!" when you get home


Mike, GREAT job, I can't wait to see the EP version!
No no no you dont get it , Im referring to the brand ....Nitro models the brand here
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 04:44 PM
Ozzie Express wiggy pilot
SON OF PALEFACE's Avatar
YANKALILLA , SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Joined Nov 2002
5,234 Posts
Here's some morehere

Man youve got some catchin up to do , basicly the "nitro" one has the step back further and better tip floats , and is a lot CHEAPER
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 04:55 PM
Man, this stuff is so much fun
United States, CA, Corona
Joined Feb 2006
7,189 Posts
Son of Paleface,

I've been looking at the Nitro for some time, they are always out. It might be better, but, what good is it if you can't get it?

I love the picture of the flip up canopy, great idea.

Al
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Old Jul 07, 2007, 05:22 PM
Ozzie Express wiggy pilot
SON OF PALEFACE's Avatar
YANKALILLA , SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Joined Nov 2002
5,234 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCALEFAN
Son of Paleface,

I've been looking at the Nitro for some time, they are always out. It might be better, but, what good is it if you can't get it?

I love the picture of the flip up canopy, great idea.

Al
Just hang in there , Ive got the feelers out and am looking to see who makes them in SE/Asia
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