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Great Planes Revolver GP/EP Sport Aerobatic ARF Review

The new Great Planes Revolver is billed as "a sleek aerobat with hybrid versatility"and "the sports car of sport aerobatics". Kevin Petrilla puts the Revolver to the test and finds that it fits its billing perfectly.

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Introduction

The new Great Planes Revolver is billed as "a sleek aerobat with hybrid versatility" since it can be built in either the glow or electric version. The Revolver is targeted at the average sport flier who wants a sport plane capable of performing a wide range of aerobatic maneuvers. When equipped with the recommended electric power system, The Revolver does not disappoint!


Wingspan:59"
Wing Area:563 sq. in.
Weight:6 lbs 12 oz.
Length:49.75"
Wing Loading:27.6 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Hitec
Transmitter:Futaba 9caps
Receiver:Hitec 555
Battery:2 - 3s 3200mAh Electrifly power series lithium (6s total)
Motor:Great Planes Rimfire 42-60-800
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 80
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies
Retail price (Revolver kit) $169.98

Kit Contents

I was very impressed during my initial inspection of the Revolver kit. The first thing that struck me was how well the Monokote was applied; there wasn't a single wrinkle on the entire airframe. The Monokote itself was very brilliant and the overlapping trim colors showed no signs of underlying bubbles.The fiberglass parts were well formed and were painted with precision. The paint matches very well and even the trim scheme lines from the cowl to the fuselage line up perfectly. The aluminum spinner looks great although It feels just a bit heavy to me. I really didn't see anything that concerned me except for the tape holding the control surfaces on during shipping, but I will have more on that later. I knew if this plane flew as good as it looked, I would have a winner.

Kit Includes:

  • Fuselage (balsa and ply)
  • Fiberglass cowl
  • Canopy/hatch assembly
  • Wing panels - ailerons
  • Horizontal stab - elevators
  • Aluminum wing tube
  • Fiberglass wheel pants
  • Fiberglass landing gear
  • Wheels - main and tail
  • Aluminum spinner
  • Engine mount - glow
  • Fuel tank
  • Rudder
  • Painted pilot bust
  • Misc. hardware

Kit Requires (for electric version):

  • Great Planes Rimfire 42-60-800 outrunner motor or similar
  • Great Planes Brushless Motor Mount for medium motors or similar
  • 80 Amp brushless motor controller
  • 6s 3200 mAh Electrifly battery pack or similar
  • Radio system with four servos
  • Aileron extension wires (two for ailerons, one for ESC extension)
  • Servo Y-harness
  • Receiver battery or UBEC
  • Misc. building supplies

Assembly

The Revolver manual is well detailed and easy to follow. The assembly pictures look good and help to clarify the steps that might be a little confusing. The Revolver manual can be downloaded from this link.

Wing

Aileron Installation

The wing panels are made from balsa covered foam cores with plywood end caps. The panels come with the slots for the hinges (ailerons) already pre-cut. Unfortunately, the hinges are not pre-cut and must be cut from one large 2" x 9" strip into the individual hinges. Cutting the hinges from the strip is very easy, but it would have been nice to see individual hinges on an ARF this complete.

Before attaching the ailerons, I drilled small holes in the center of the hinge slots and removed some of the covering to ensure proper adhesion with the hinge. After the hinges are cut they are inserted into the wing and respective aileron slots and secured with thin, odorless CA. The ailerons fit into the wing panels easily and the red Monokote trim scheme from the wing panels carries over onto the ailerons perfectly.

As supplied, the ailerons as well as all of the control surfaces are held in place with small strips of tape. The tape is very tacky and will easily lift the Monokote from the surface under it so I recommend that you pull the tape parallel to the surface to minimize this possibility. I had some tape residue left, but removed it with GooGone.

Aileron Servo Installation

The installation of the aileron servos moves along rather quickly because most of the prep work is already done. The servos are mounted to the hatch covers on a set of hardwood blocks that are glued and screw to the hatch covers. The aileron extension wires are run down the length of the wing panels with the assistance of pre-installed pull strings. The servos and hatch covers are then screwed into place in the servo pockets on the wing panels with four small wood screws. After the servos are installed, the control rods, clevises, and horns are installed.

Note: the manual recommends using faslink connectors on the servo control end for all pushrod installation. I chose to use z-bends instead.

On most kits, the aileron control horns are held in place by a set of screws that run through the aileron and into a retaining tab on the top of the aileron. On the Revolver, the ailerons have a small hardwood block inserted in them into which wood screws are used to attach the control horns. The screws do not penetrate into the top of the aileron. This provides for a solid installation with no retaining tabs on the top of the aileron to spoil its clean lines. The rudder and elevator control horns are also installed in this manner. Note that the covering is already removed from the servo control arm slot on the hatch covers and the screw holes are pre-drilled, a very nice touch.

Wing Retention

Nylon anti-rotation pins are installed into the end of the wing panels with epoxy. Unfortunately, one of the pre-drilled holes in one of the panels was slightly off center causing the pin to angle up slightly. I noticed this small problem as the five minute epoxy was quickly curing. I pulled down on the pin to slightly reduce the angle and wished for the best. After the epoxy had cured, a quick wing fit test showed that the slightly off angle pin would cause the wing panel to be a tight fit but would not be a problem.

The aluminum wing tube is easily mounted in the fuselage by inserting it into the fiberglass fuselage tube and securing it with a small screw. The wing panels are mounted to the fuselage on the wing tube and are retained with nylon wing bolts inside the fuselage. I must say that the inclusion of nylon wing bolts that can be easily finger-tightened are a big plus. No need to try to cram a screwdriver into the fuselage to attach the wing panels.

Tail

There are a couple unique things about the stab on the Revolver. First, it has an airfoil shape. Many ARFs these days have flat stick built stabs. Also, the trailing edge of the stab is not straight. If you look closely at the pictures you will notice that it sweeps back slightly to each end from the center. However, the installation of the stab is not unique; the covering must be removed from the center section of the stab after it has been squared on the fuselage. With the center section removed, there is a good wood to wood glue joint between the stab and fuselage.

After the stab was installed I used vinyl pinstripe to cover the fuselage to stab joint.

The tail wheel assembly is attached to the fuse with the nylon tab in the back fuse slot. The wheel post then fits into a hole drilled into the rudder. I needed to deepen the hole in the rudder slightly because I couldn't get the wheel assembly to sit flush with the rudder test fit in place. After the tail wheel assembly was attached, the elevators and rudder were installed with CA hinges. I then installed the control horns onto the elevator halves and rudder in preparation for the pushrods. Finally, I installed the wheel onto the tail wheel assembly and secured it in place with a wheel collar.

Fuselage

The elevator and rudder servos are installed into a plywood tray that is then inserted into a tab system and screwed into the fuselage. The nice thing about the tray system is that it can be easily removed if you need to replace or repair the servos. After owning many planes that have the servos mounted to the outside of the fuselage, I found it refreshing that the servos are installed inside preserving that nice clean look.

The metal pushrods are inserted into the pre-mounted pushrod tubes and run out to the elevators and rudder. The elevators are split and therefore require two pushrods. The manual recommends a pair of wheel collars to hold the two pushrods together just after the servo attachment point. I was a bit leery of using their method on a plane of this size, but I couldn't get the pushrods to slip in the collars, so I used their system (I used thread locking compound on the set screws to prevent them from backing out of the collars). After installing the pushrods, I centered the servos as described in the manual, installed the clevises, and hooked them up to the control horns on the tail surfaces.

Landing Gear

I was really impressed with the weight, or lack thereof, and the strength of the two piece gear legs. The gear appears to be made from fiberglass. First, I installed the axles onto the gear with nylon insert lock nuts. The wheels are then held in place with a set of wheel collars. I slid the fiberglass wheel pants down over the axles and screwed them into place on the gear legs (on some kits the wheel pants are also held in place with the axle bolt, this is not the case with the Revolver). The wheel pants have the plywood retaining plate pre-installed and pre-drilled. To this point in my building career, I have never had a pair of wheel pants go on so perfectly or this easily.

The landing gear are easily mounted to the fuselage with a set of 6-32 bolts and washers.

Power System

Mounting the power system to the fuselage could not have been much easier. Since the Revolver was designed from the start with electric power as an option, the guess work and possible frustration has been taken out of the build if you use the recommended equipment.

I mounted the motor to the aluminum mount with the included set of machine screws. The motor and mount attach to the firewall with a set of machine screws and washers. Make sure to use thread lock compound on the screws.

The ESC tray is glued to the bottom of the firewall/motor box with epoxy. I installed the Phoenix 80 controller to the tray with a strip of Velcro and secured the loose motor wires with a tie wrap.

The 6s battery for the Revolver is made by running two 3s pack in series. The manual recommends attaching the battery to the plywood battery tray with a set of tie wraps. I decided to also install a small strip of Velcro to the battery and tray floor to help keep it from sliding on the tray. Great Planes provides 2 additional battery trays in the kit for additional packs.

Note: Although the specs included with the Rimfire motor list it as having a battery limit of 5s lithium cells, It never overheated while running on the 6s battery pack recommended in the Revolver manual.

Below is a note from Great Planes' tech team regarding the Rimfire motor specifications.

The following is R&D's comment on this issue: While we have very specific performance recommendations for all the motors we have, please realize that the motor's limits were found during bench testing, which is the situation where the motor is loaded the most and when cooling is not optimal. The voltage was also supplied by the power supply, which means that it was constant throughout the run. Neither one of these apply when the motor is setup on a plane and it uses batteries. That is why we are "safe" to recommend a system that might be slightly above what bench testing suggests. When we do that is because we have flown the plane with that setup and we have confirmed that it was acceptable.

Completion

At this point in the build I wanted to mount my receiver and route my servo wires so I could plan the installation of the remaining components. I wanted to make sure my wires didn't interfere with the elevator and rudder servo. I also wanted to make sure my UBEC was as far away from my receiver as possible. The battery and its tray are a tight fit to get in but it fit with a little finesse. As described in the manual, the canopy holds down the battery in flight but there was nothing to keep it from moving slightly from side to side. I used a small removable screw placed through the tray into the support wood below it to prevent the battery tray from sliding.

The Revolver comes with a fiberglass cowl that looks great and matches the paint well. A small exhaust outlet must be cut to accommodate the ESC and provide cooling for the motor. The cowl is held in place with a set of wood screws.

The aluminum spinner that I used on the Revolver is included with the kit. The spinner looks great although it might be a little heavier than some others in this size range. The prop provided for the review was an 11x5.5.

The Revolver has a very large hatch/canopy assembly that makes it very easy to access the equipment and batteries installed in the fuselage. It comes built as shown from the factory. No canopy scissors and rc56 needed here. As recommended in the manual, I installed a small block of foam to the bottom of the canopy that helps to hold the battery in place when the canopy is on. The canopy is held in place on the fuselage with a set of screws.

The Bottom of the revolver has cooling slots cut into it, although they are left covered as supplied in case a glow motor is used. The covering over the holes is easily removed with an Exacto knife for electric operation.

The Revolver comes with a fairly detailed pilot that can be mounted to the cockpit floor with epoxy. I chose to leave the pilot off.

The Revolver comes with a well printed decal sheet. Unfortunately, my decals had a slight haze in the clear sections of the decal that became evident when I applied them to the brilliant white Monokote, so I chose to leave them off.

Once the Revolver was complete, I wanted to get a feel for how much power I would be dealing with so I hooked everything up to my E-meter. I will admit that when I saw the power system would include a 6s battery pack and a motor with a RPM per volt of 800, I was a little apprehensive. I knew the prop would be smaller and spin faster than what I was used to at this power level.

With my power system connected to my E-meter, I slowly advanced the throttle to full and was surprised by what I saw. The Rimfire system was pulling 58.2 amps at 1276 watts. While the power system was at rest the battery voltage was 25.2 volts. Under full power, the battery voltage was 21.9 volts. The 11x5.5 prop was spinning at 13,590 rpm. But that 11x5.5 prop was pulling hard. The Revolver would have plenty of power!

Flying

Before heading out to the field for the maiden flight, I balanced the model at the suggested CG in the manual and adjusted the control surface throws. The CG in the manual was not entirely correct although it is still in the acceptable CG range. Later kits should include a CG addendum or the manual will be corrected. The correct starting CG is 4 and 5/16ths. I received an email with a CG update after my first flight. Unfortunately, at this point I was unaware that the CG that I had used to balance my model was at the rear of the recommended specifications.

The Basics Including Takeoff

Once at the field, I plugged in the battery and heard those familiar Castle Creations tones. I did a transmitter range check and once again checked to make sure my control surfaces were moving in the proper direction. I taxied the Revolver out onto the runway and let it come to a complete stop. I gathered my thoughts and then slowly advanced the throttle. The Revolver has a smaller prop than what I am used to on electric planes of this size, and the smaller prop needs to be spinning quite a bit faster to get the thrust that a larger prop would provide at a lower RPM. After seeing that I would need a bit more RPM I began to advance the throttle a little more quickly. The Rimfire motor sprang to life at just under half throttle and the Revolver shot down the runway.

The Revolver jumped into the air rather quickly after traveling down the runway about 75 feet. My slightly tail heavy condition due to the improper CG and the fact that I needed some down elevator accounted for the abrupt takeoff. Once in the air the Revolver climbed out aggressively. Since the Revolver was already moving out very rapidly, I decided to punch the throttle all the way to full and pull the nose straight up. The Revolver climbed out vertically without slowing down. The first thing I noticed at full throttle was the unique whine that the Rimfire motor makes. Once I was about "three mistakes" high I leveled out and trimmed the Revolver for straight and level flight. The Revolver took 4 clicks of down trim and two clicks of right trim. Now that I had the Revolver trimmed out, It was time to see what it could do.

I wanted to get used to the Revolver's speed range so I made a few high speed and low speed passes. The Revolver is very fast at full throttle, I would estimate it to be just under 100 mph. One thing that did take some getting used to was the throttle response of the high revving 11x5.5 prop. Although my Revolver is electric powered it flies much like a glow powered aircraft in relation to throttle response and power. The instant thrust that I have grown used to with the larger electric props is not present with the smaller high revving prop. The Revolver tracks extremely well at all speeds. Although some aircraft change in pitch between full throttle and half, I didn't notice that with the Revolver.

When I was comfortable with the Revolver, It was time to see if it lived up to its billing as "a sleek aerobat with hybrid versatility" and if it was "the sports car of sport aerobatics.” I flew to the end of the field, did a quick turnaround, and did a full throttle pass pulling up into a loop at field center. The loops can literally be as big as I want them; only limited by my eyesight. At full throttle the Revolver tracks well all the way through the maneuver with no tendency to fall out. At much slower speeds the Revolver will slowly fall out at the top of the loop but it is still easily controlled. Sticking with the basics, I wanted to try a few stall turns. The Revolver performs stall turns extremely easily with only the slightest tail waggle after it begins its descent. The rudder on the Revolver is very effective.

Special Flight Characteristics

Having just seen how effective the rudder is, it was time to try one of the ultimate rudder tests; knife edge flight. The Revolver flies knife edge like few sport planes before it. Granted, you wont be doing knife edge loops like the 3D guys, but you will be able to easily maintain level flight at about three quarter throttle with very little input. I was extremely pleased with its knife edge abilities since this is one of my personal favorite maneuvers to fly.

Next, I flipped the Revolver over on its back and flew a couple of circuits around the field. The revolver flies almost as well upside down as right side up. I only needed a slight bit of down elevator to keep it flying level. The Revolver rolls on its axis. On high rates a roll can be completed with no noticeable loss in altitude. On lower rates a slight dip is noticeable while upside down.

After I was comfortable with some basic maneuvers, I tried a few things that would test the airframe a bit more. First thing I tried were some snap rolls. The Revolver snaps rather violently when entered into with modest speed. The snaps are very impressive. The Revolver has a slight tendency to continue rotation after input is neutralized, but not overly. Next, I tried a few negative snaps. The negative snaps are somewhat slow, but are remarkably controllable. My favorite maneuver was to enter into a negative snap, then come out into a slight hover, then kick the tail over into a graceful stall turn. This series of tricks was easily repeated, a true testament to a great airframe. Although the Revolver has enough power to hover for a period of time, It is no 3D machine (and not meant to be); at least not the way my kit is set up. I wanted to test the stall characteristics of the Revolver before landing, so I took it up to altitude and pulled the throttle back. It took a bit longer than I thought for it to slow down. Once it had bled of enough speed the Revolver quickly dropped its nose straight ahead. It didn't get quite as slow as some of the other planes I fly but then again it has a slightly higher wing loading. The stall was very easy to recover from; I simply added some power and pulled the nose up.

Landing

I had a few things left that I wanted to try, but I had already been in the air for about 7 minutes. I knew I would be pushing my luck with 3200mAh batteries if I stayed in the air much longer, so I decided to land. I made my downwind pass, turned into the wind, and slowly reduced the power. As noted before, the Revolver has a slight tendency to float when the power is reduced; this is a rather slick airframe. I slowly fed in some up elevator as the Revolver settled in over the runway. I pulled the throttle back to idle and set her down. The revolver wasn't quite done flying yet so it bounced back into the air for a about twenty feet. After it bled off more speed I set the Revolver on the runway and taxied out. After taxiing back to the pits I shut the motor down and went to find my temperature probe. Unfortunately I did not bring it with me to the field but the battery pack was surprisingly cool. The motor on the other hand was a bit warm but not overly hot.

Additional Flight Notes

Subsequent flights have proven the airframe to be very capable of impressive sport aerobatics, especially with the plane now balanced in the correct CG location. The other maneuvers that I attempted included rolling circles, split S's, cuban 8's, and flat turns. The Revolver performs all of these maneuvers with ease. I will eventually try a few other things as I get more familiar with this airframe. With five flights on this airframe at this point I can truly say that the Revolver can easily be classified as one of "the sports cars of sport aerobatics".

Flight Video

Downloads

Revolver flight!  28.17 MB

Is This For a Beginner?

The Revolver is not for a beginner, although it would be a great choice for someone with another sport model under their belt. The Revolver is the ideal aircraft for an experienced glow pilot looking for their first electric aircraft. As recommended, the power system responds similarly to a glow engine.

Conclusion

I started this project very excited about the possibility of having an everyday sport electric aircraft, and I got just that. The Revolver could not have been much easier to assemble. The level of prefabrication was amazing. Little details like having the covering already removed from the servo hatches and the prefabricated canopy / hatch set this ARF apart from many others. What also sets this aircraft apart from many others are its superb flying qualities. Any sport RC pilot, glow or electric, would be happy to have the Revolver in their aircraft hangar.

Pluses:

  • Excellent instruction manual
  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Excellent fiberglass parts
  • High level of prefabrication
  • Two piece plug in wing panels
  • Fast/powerful with recommended setup
  • Included aluminum spinner
  • Excellent flight characteristics
  • Designed for glow or electric propulsion

Minuses:

  • The tape used to hold the control surfaces in place lifts the Monokote and leaves a residue
  • Small misalignment of wing anti-rotation pin
  • Decals had a slight haze in the clear sections
  • Hinges could be pre-cut

*All of the components used for this review performed flawlessly.

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 08, 2007 at 07:17 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 08, 2007, 08:56 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,616 Posts
Very thorough Review Kevin! Great reading.
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Old Oct 09, 2007, 12:00 AM
EDF Addicted
MustangAce17's Avatar
Ocala,Florida
Joined Sep 2005
5,322 Posts
great review Kevin!

I bought one of these after back ordering it when they first came out and am just getting around to finishing it after seeing your excellent review.I'm taking a different approach for the first hop by using a 2826 size outrunner of 1100kv and a 3200 25c 3 cell to see how it performs on a light set-up. If it doesn't suffice I have a 1000 watt ele outrunner to put in it on 6s.Thanks a bunch for the awesome video,first time I've seen one fly since the GP videos never play for me.
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Old Oct 09, 2007, 10:45 AM
Registered User
kevin's Avatar
ohio
Joined Aug 1999
3,600 Posts
Thanks guys !

Your 2826 will fly this plane but i am not sure you will like it too much. i have a 2826-10 on a 6.25 pound Cessna, it flies it very well. But the Revolver ain't no cessna it comes to life when the power is poured on. go for the 1000 watt setup.


The plane is a blast to fly..flew it again on Sunday. I need more packs.
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Old Oct 10, 2007, 12:17 PM
EDF Addicted
MustangAce17's Avatar
Ocala,Florida
Joined Sep 2005
5,322 Posts
Kevin,after watching your video a few times 1000 watts it will be. Gonna use a GP 3" black plastic spinner though since I reamed the other for a hacker I have
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Old Oct 24, 2007, 07:09 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Great review Kevin, looks to be a really nice flier!

Ronnie
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Old Oct 24, 2007, 02:09 PM
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sdjb's Avatar
Apache Junction,Arizona
Joined Jul 2003
469 Posts
Nice Kevin Real nice. Going to go with an O.S. 55 AX

Steve
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Old Oct 24, 2007, 03:31 PM
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kevin's Avatar
ohio
Joined Aug 1999
3,600 Posts
thanks.

It really is a real great flier. landings can get a bit bouncy every once in a while, because the plane has a tendency to float a little on landing. It is a slippery airframe.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 10:11 PM
what the...
minitelemaster's Avatar
Joined May 2007
261 Posts
I might've missed it, but do you use a glow prop or can an APC-E handle that kind of rpm?
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Old Apr 01, 2008, 10:34 AM
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kevin's Avatar
ohio
Joined Aug 1999
3,600 Posts
I have used the apc-e prop for all of the flights...maybe around a dozen at this point.
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Old Jun 06, 2008, 12:42 PM
electric fly
3rd rock from the sun--east coast
Joined Sep 2004
194 Posts
My 1st flights were 3 days ago and the plane flies great! The wind was a left crosswind at 15-20 MPH and the Revolver had no problems with takeoffs or landings.

Takeoff was less than 25 feet, but the landings are flat and long with speed. Need flaps on it.

I'm running the recommended set up and it just screams along very nicely. I'm using 2 TP 3s2p 4200 packs.

A very nice electric set up with the big hatch for battery access and very good cooling also.

I'll use the same set up for the Great Plane Cherokee as well.

Wayne...
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Old Dec 03, 2008, 09:15 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar
USA, NY, East Islip
Joined Feb 2004
11,050 Posts
Guys

Can anyone tell me if you could fit 2 TP 4s 3300s in this model? Having trouble telling how big the battery area is.

Thanks!

Tommy D
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Old Dec 04, 2008, 07:41 AM
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kevin's Avatar
ohio
Joined Aug 1999
3,600 Posts
if you look at the attached pic you can see how much space is left on the sides of the battery packs. so it looks like 4 of the 3s3200 packs might fit. look up the dimensions of four of the 3 cell 3200 electrifly packs and see if your packs are smaller. or send me the dimensions of your packs and i can check for you.....
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Old Dec 04, 2008, 08:57 AM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar
USA, NY, East Islip
Joined Feb 2004
11,050 Posts
Hi Kevin

Thanks for the speedy response and kind offer.

As measured my pack is 14cm long 4.5cm wide and 2.5cm thick.

It amazes me with the Sundowner being as expensive as it is, that this model is not purchased more as a cheaper alternative.

Tommy D
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Old Dec 11, 2008, 03:43 PM
Wood flight decks, guns only!
VF84Sluggo's Avatar
Gulf Breeze, FL
Joined Nov 2007
1,073 Posts
Saw one of these at the LHS today...wow, what a great looking plane! Reminds me of my 'full scale' RV-3

Just curious: I have a Pulse XT 25e, and I run a 12x10 prop on a Power32, 4s/4000 mah battery. I would think the Rimfire on 6s could run this prop, too, or maybe more. Isn't the Revolver/Rimfire underpropped with an 11x5.5?
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