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Grand Distribution AT-6 Texan Trainer ARF Review

Already receiving rave reviews, the AT-6 Texan is one of the latest additions to the Grand Distribution lineup of electric planes. Mike Broadbent looks at this versatile plane.

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Introduction

It's not how it looks on the ground, it's how it looks in the air, but this plane looks good both ways!
It's not how it looks on the ground, it's how it looks in the air, but this plane looks good both ways!
Wingspan:39.4"
Wing Area:258.8 sq. in.
Weight:21.5 oz.
Length:28.6"
Wing Loading:35.5 g/dm sq.
Servos:4
Transmitter:Futaba 6 channel radio $179
Receiver:GWS 4 Channel
Battery:11.1v/840 mAh Li-Po
Motor:BL2215 Brushless Motor (Included)
ESC:GWESC35A (Not Included)
Manufacturer:GWS
Available From:Grand Distribution
Retail Price:MSRP $89.99

Already receiving rave reviews, the AT-6 Texan EPS foam plane is one of the latest additions to the Grand Distribution lineup of electric planes. It is versatile in flight, from easy flying to small scale pylon racing at your local flying field. Take a closer look at what makes this plane a success!

Kit Contents

The kit arrived in perfect condition with everything I needed to get out and fly quickly. It comes in different packages with two different motors, glue and servos. Grand Distribution did a nice of job putting together a complete package of hardware for this plane. Rather than using the included glue, I suggest picking up some slow cure, foam safe CA and five-minute epoxy.

Assembly

I spent about 4 hours total working on the kit. This is my first EPS foam plane, and I must say that once you get going, it is easy to complete. GWS did a good job of putting together an illustrated manual, but there really isnít much text to accompany the illustrations, and I noticed that a few steps were out of order.

Wing

The wing of the Grand Distribution AT-6 is all foam and comes in two pieces. This is one of the few places where the 5-minute epoxy is used. The AT-6 wing is quite sturdy as is, but three carbon fiber rods installed along the underside of the wing add strength and stability. Good work GWS!

When installing the control surfaces with the hinges, be careful to not use too much glue, and let them sit for a few minutes to dry. I noticed that the foam safe CA took a long time to dry in this step.

Fuselage

The AT-6 fuselage comes basically molded in two halves. Just use the 5-minute epoxy along the edges and main contact points to ensure strength.

Radio Installation

This plane comes with four servos and connections and double sided tape to help hold the servos in place on the foam. Along with the double sided tape, I gave all the servos a small shot of foam safe CA. Be sure to switch the servos on your radio transmitter so the ailerons are working in the right direction. I made the mistake of not checking this after installation and the first flight was a stressful one when the plane went left and I was telling it to go right!

Motor Mounting

The GWS AT-6 comes with one of two motors: a brushless outrunner or geared setup. The motor mounts up on a 1⁄4 in. square wood dowel. On which side of the plane your motor mounts depends on which motor you receive, so pay special attention before you epoxy the mount on the plane.

Tail

Again, installation is just a matter of using 5-minute epoxy or 25 second slow-cure foam safe CA. The tail section is designed to fit perfectly onto the fuselage with no measuring. Got to love that!

Completion

On completion this plane looks pretty good. I followed the manual for decal application. All I needed for application was a small dish of water to loosen the decals and a steady hand to put them in place. I made sure that the front sides of the decals were secure once dry to ensure they wouldn't peel off in flight. After 10 flights with this plane and several crashes the decals are still looking good. The decal style I used was the Navy version of the T-6. The kit comes with several different decal sets to customize your plane the way you want.

The plane came out to the heavier side of the recommended flying weight at 19.7 oz., but still performed very well. I used the recommended factory settings for the control surfaces (listed below) with no real problems.

Control Throw Settings

surfaceSetting
Elevator 30-35 degrees up and down from neutral
Rudder 20-30 degrees left and right from neutral
Aileron 20-30 degrees up and down from neutral
I would definitely stay within these guidelines. I had to dial down the elevator because of fishtailing on the first flight.

Flying

Notice how low this plane sits in the grass.
Notice how low this plane sits in the grass.
T-6 inverted flight
T-6 inverted flight

I got about 7 flights on the T-6 in different places around Texas. It slips right in the trunk of my car and travels well. GWS has done a good job in creating a foam ARF that has power to climb and the stability to navigate stronger winds. The plane performed the basics in stunts for any easy going flyer. The T-6 handled everything well including loops, rolls, and inverted flight.

This is a very durable plane. I actually had a few accidents, one involving a head on collision with the ground! The front end of the plane tore off in one piece, but with some 5-minute epoxy I was back up in the air flying again. The foam is very resilient and repairable.

Basics

On the initial setup the plane flew with a lot of elevator. For the second flight I dialed in the dual rates to change the elevator to close to 70 percent of the recommended settings from the GWS manual. It did a lot of fish-tailing. I ended up with about 28 degrees of throw in the elevator and a little less in the ailerons. In stronger winds this plane will glide a good distance but the stall speed was surprising for the planeís weight.

Taking Off and Landing

A little too much forward CG and this plane will nose down very easy on take offs and landings. Consider hand launching the plane if your field has a little longer grass. The T-6 glides and lands nicely. Depending on the wind conditions, it can lose airspeed and stall. On several landings I did notice the wings wobbling, so be careful to maintain a good speed for landings.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Obviously this plane wasn't made to hover, or perform outstanding harriers, but it handles well and flies in a manner that will keep you picking it up every week to fly.

Is This For a Beginner?

I think if you have a little flight experience on a simulator you can get away with the foam GWS AT-6 as a first plane. The T-6 has a sturdy construction that will provide a pilot with a plane that can handle pretty hard landings and crashes with minor repair work. The flight characteristics, especially handling, make this plane easy to correct when something goes wrong. I think the GWS T-6 will make an excellent second electric plane for anyone who just enjoys a nice, easy flier.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

This plane is definitely sturdy; it took a beating and didnít give up. Itís easy to fly whether you are an advanced pilot or beginner. The kit is easy to build with no prior building experience, requires a minimal amount of tools, and contains almost everything you need to get in the air. Just add a transmitter and receiver. One of the best things about this plane is that it will travel easily in any car and will hand launch when you don't have a good runway. Consider the GWS T-6 for your next foam flyer.

PlusesMinuses
Easy to buildLower quality glue included in the kit
Sturdy construction Manual needs clarification in some spots
Forgiving flight characteristicsHard to obtain correct CG
Travels well anywhere Noses over on takeoff in longer grass
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 12, 2007 at 07:47 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 14, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,401 Posts
Nice first review Michael. I enjoyed watching the video and the plane looks great in the sky. GWS has made another great flying plane. The inverted circle around the field was awesome and your loops and rolls looked nice and crisp. Mike
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Last edited by Michael Heer; Nov 14, 2007 at 09:29 AM.
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Old Nov 14, 2007, 11:17 AM
Flying electric since 1986
Mark Wolf's Avatar
USA, IN, Brownsburg
Joined Oct 2000
1,764 Posts
Nice review!

I've been flying mine for a week or so now and have ~10 flights. I fly from grass, so I left off the gear and built it without a functional rudder.



Setup is:

GWS2215 motor
Jeti ECO 12amp ESC
2 E-sky 8 gram servos (ailerons)
1 HS-55 servo (elevator)
JR R600 Rx w/Dean's antennae
3s 800 mah Polyquest
APC 9x6 SF prop

RTF weight 16.5 ounces

I'm enjoying my Texan quite a lot. It's not as nice as my Alpha's, but for the difference in price I'm thrilled with it's performance.
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Old Nov 14, 2007, 03:47 PM
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David Winter's Avatar
Vancouver, British Columbia
Joined Mar 2004
1,165 Posts
"Lower quality glue included in the kit"

Is this the same glue that is in every other GWS kit? If it is then it's an excellent glue. I've been building GWS models with it for years and it works very well. You just have to know how to use it (it would be nice if it were properly explained in the manual, but the manuals are usually the weakest part of any GWS kit). Other than speeding up assembly by a few minutes, there's no reason to use CA on these kits. 5Min epoxy is useful however for those places where you need to secure plastic to foam.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 10:40 AM
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Thank you for a very comprehensive review! Good job, and good timing too, as I've got an unpainted one sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to turn it into an RCAF Harvard IV.

One minor gripe - why do you report control surface throws in angular measurements? I understand that it's probably more accurate than linear measurements, but I also suspect that the majority of people here don't own a throw gauge.

I'll throw in with David on the CA issue, too. If used as a contact cement, the GWS glue works very well. In fact, I've had more success with it on foam than I have CA - I find the CA to be brittle, and will fail much more readily, especially if the join isn't perfectly flush.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 11:42 AM
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Jcopter's Avatar
United States, CA, Downey
Joined Jun 2005
1,805 Posts
Hey That GWS glue is the perfect glue for Fiber Hinges
I use it for all my Fiber Hinges, have been for years, havent had one fail yet. It will pull out the foam first before the hinge. works better than CA
Jcopter
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 01:03 PM
Flying electric since 1986
Mark Wolf's Avatar
USA, IN, Brownsburg
Joined Oct 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squidbait
One minor gripe - why do you report control surface throws in angular measurements? I understand that it's probably more accurate than linear measurements, but I also suspect that the majority of people here don't own a throw gauge.
That was a minor gripe of mine as well. I just eyeballed it and luckily it worked out well.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 01:32 PM
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David Winter's Avatar
Vancouver, British Columbia
Joined Mar 2004
1,165 Posts
It would also be nice if reviewers used, or at least included the metric measurements and weights. The vast majority of the world stopped using the imperial system a long time ago.

Yes, you can use google to find out what 21oz means, it's just sort of a pain to have to do that for every measurement or weight listed.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 03:34 PM
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Maryland, USA
Joined Oct 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squidbait
One minor gripe - why do you report control surface throws in angular measurements? I understand that it's probably more accurate than linear measurements, but I also suspect that the majority of people here don't own a throw gauge.
The throws he gave in the review are verbatim from the GWS T-6 assembly manual. I would rather that GWS still gave the throws in inches too, like they did in the E-Starter manual. I actually went to buy a throw gauge (Great Planes thingy), and just before getting it rung up at the cash register, I realized that it was calibrated in linear measurements (inches one side, millimeters the other) not angles...well heck, that was the only reason I wanted to buy the thing was so I could measure angles! I put it back on the shelf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Winter
It would also be nice if reviewers used, or at least included the metric measurements and weights. The vast majority of the world stopped using the imperial system a long time ago.

Yes, you can use google to find out what 21oz means, it's just sort of a pain to have to do that for every measurement or weight listed.
Maybe the majority of the world in terms of number of countries, but I'm not so sure about the majority of the world in terms of numbers of consumers with disposable income who are likely to buy RC planes. I get a little tired of Googling back the opposite way myself (mm. to in., g. to oz.)!
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 04:03 PM
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David Winter's Avatar
Vancouver, British Columbia
Joined Mar 2004
1,165 Posts
This graph shows all the countries in the world that have officially adopted metric.

Note that there are only three countries shown in black. And the only one worth noting from those is the US. You're going to try and convince people that no other country has people buying model aeroplanes?

edit.. whoops.. that's a bigger picture than I thought. And it's also getting somewhat off topic.
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Last edited by David Winter; Nov 15, 2007 at 04:10 PM.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 04:10 PM
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Dallas
Joined Jul 2006
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Control Surface Throws in inches and glue

I agree it would of been easier to put it in inches, but, I built the plane to specifications for the review and wanted to keep the information I put in the review from the manual and kit. I had to wing it also, but I ended up eyeballing it with a protractor.

This was the first time I had also worked with the included glue type that was put in the kit. I started out working with the cement, and it would not dry or harden. I waited almost an hour for the glue to form a complete bond. It could have just been something with the glue that was in my kit. I am glad to know it isn't a universal problem.

Another thing that wasn't included in my review was the decal application. I was honestly concerned when applying the decals for the Navy setup. I thought they would peel off before the review was done. I am very impressed with how good this plane still looks. I have about 30 flights on it now. I think the thing that also impressed me the most was how durable the plane is. I caught a gust of wind and by pilot error, the T-6 went straight into the ground. With just a little epoxy the front end was back on and ready to go.

Thanks for everyones comments and keep posting.

Mike
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
This was the first time I had also worked with the included glue type that was put in the kit. I started out working with the cement, and it would not dry or harden. I waited almost an hour for the glue to form a complete bond. It could have just been something with the glue that was in my kit. I am glad to know it isn't a universal problem.
Well, certainly possible it was a bad sample.

GWS glue is basically contact cement. You apply an even amount to both parts, then press them together, pull them apart, and press together, then pull them apart. You should be getting 'strands' or 'hairs' of glue between the parts at this point. Keep the two parts apart for 10 to 15 minutes until the glue becomes tacky to the touch. Then put the two parts together again and press firmly (although these are foam bits so don't press too hard). WARNING. You will only get one shot at this so ensure the parts are properly aligned before hand. Once you have pressed the parts together at this point, it's going to be very unlikely that you'll get them apart again to realign.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 04:28 PM
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Dallas
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I think that is brilliant advice. The manual did skimp on those details of how to properly apply the included cement. This is all great stuff.
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Old Nov 15, 2007, 04:38 PM
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Micheal,

Interesting that GWS would put the throws in their manual that way... I just thumbed through it quickly when I got the kit, but didnt' look at the details. I would say that the new manual seems to be an improvement over the old glossy photo ones though. Hopefully all the measurements given are actually correct (not like some other kit instructions I won't mention!)

It's good to know the waterslide decals are holding up well. I wonder if applying a decal-setting solution like Solvaset or Micro-Set would make them even more secure?
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Old Nov 16, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Darwin Australia
Joined May 2002
6,960 Posts
I have two of the GWS T-6 models.

My first one is fitted with flaps and flies beautifully on a KD A22-15M Brushless Outrunner Motor using only two cells and a GWS 9 x 7.5 HD propeller. I am at present improving my landing skills prior to fitting retracts. See Photo No1

The second is an EPO Foam kit built as a non powered Slope Soaring Glider. This model flys well as a Slope Soarer and has proven to be very durable. See photo No 2
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Last edited by kensp; Nov 16, 2007 at 06:05 PM.
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