NPM's Yak-54 Tranchant
|Wing Area:||584sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||21.2oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||(3) Hitec 225BB and (1) Hitec 225MG|
|Transmitter:||Hitec Optic 6|
|Battery:||Thunder Power Extreme 5s 3300mah|
|Motor:||Atlas 4020/16 brushless outrunner|
|ESC:||Atlas Black 75A Opto|
|Manufacturer:||NEW POWER MODELISME|
I have to admit upon seeing the NEW POWER MODELISME Yak-54 which is being imported and sold in the U.S. by Hobby-Lobby I thought to myself that this is one great scale looking Yak-54. It seems that in today's RC market, just about every manufacturer is offering some version of a Yak-54 in their fleet. However many of these manufactures are stretching this, lowering that, and raising this to improve on some flight characteristic of the Yak. While many of us have benefited from these changes in design, the original look of the full-scale Yak has all but disappeared.
THAT IS, UNTIL NOW!! A great new company called NEW POWER MODELISME has introduced a Yak-54 that not only looks like a full-scale Yak-54 but it also flies FANTASTIC!!. The ARF kit offers up a lightweight plywood and balsa constructed airframe, complete hardware, anodized aluminum wing tube, and it even comes with a great looking and high quality spinner!!
"PATROUILLE-TRANCHANT EST FORM…"
On November 21, 2004 Didier Bougarel and major sponsor Benjamin Tranchant, V.P. of Le Groupe Tranchant announced the first ever all-female aerobatic team named "Patrouille Tranchant" (also know as the Winglet Angels). The aerobatic team flies four Yak-54s (and one spare): two in the red color scheme and two in the blue color scheme. Each of them carry the Groupe Tranchant colors to air shows all over France and adjoining countries.
Here is a terrific air-to-air video of the Patrouille Tranchant aviators in their Yak-54s.
Have you ever wanted to see a full-scale Yak-54 do a rolling harrier? Then watch this!!
My Yak-54 arrived in perfect condition, and I was completely shocked at how closely matched the color scheme was to that of the full-scale Yak-54s flown by the Patrouille Tranchant. I received the red color scheme Yak-54, and the covering on it was absolutely perfect right out of the box! After briefly looking over the kit for any signs of damage (there was none), I was eager to get started on this BEAUTIFUL Yak-54.
The New Power Yak-54 ARF contains:
The New Power Yak-54 Requires:
Items used to complete the NPM Yak-54 review model:
The NPM Yak-54 comes with a photo-illustrated manual which contains very little written words in any of the assembly steps. I found that the photos in the manual were clear enough to make it easy to get through the build without scratching my head. The NPM Yak-54 build is very straightforward, and I had no problem getting the airplane from box to RTF in only a couple of evenings work.
|Size:||Replacement for .46 -.60-size glow engines|
|Bearings or Bushings:||Ball Bearings|
|Recommended Prop Range:||14"-15" diameter|
|Voltage:||18.5V to 25.9V|
|Cells:||16-24 Ni-MH/Ni-Cd 5-7S Li-Po|
The aileron setup was a fairly easy process on the NPM Yak-54. I did find that the aileron servo bays were just a tad to large to allow all four screws in the HS-225BB servos to grasp enough ply, so I just took some stock 1/8" light plywood and created spacers that were just a little wider than the servo bay and epoxied them in place under each aileron servo. This easy step ensured that the servo screws were able to be tightened down and that each aileron servo would remain securely in place. The stock red arms that come with the HS-225BB servos provide more than enough travel on high rates for the NPM Yak-54.
During the assembly of the wings I noticed that the NPM Yak-54 lacked any leading edge sheeting. This is not really an issue other than the NPM Yak-54 would have truly looked like its scale counterpart had the leading edge of the wings been sheeted. Even so, the NPM Yak-54 retains a tremendous amount of the full-scale appearance.
The tail surfaces go on easily, and both the rudder and elevator have counterbalanced surfaces. Both attach using the supplied CA hinges and a few drops of thin CA glue on each hinge. The elevator linkage is very easy to setup and adjust, and I really like the ease of a direct link setup on this surface.
The elevator on the NPM Yak-54 does not use a metal joiner to connect the elevator halves. Instead it uses one solid hardwood joiner which comes preinstalled to the elevators. This makes for an elevator that is less likely to need adjustments due to a bent metal joiner wire. The hardwood joiner has held up great during even the most violent of maneuvers. For the elevator controls I used one HS-225BB.
The rudder on the NPM Yak-54 uses a direct linkage setup instead of a pull-pull setup. I think in this airplane, with the flat tail surface group, that a rudder servo in the tail is an absolute must. There is a lot of mass up in the front of most Yak-54s, so to make adjusting the CG a little easier,a a rear mounted rudder servo makes sense. In my Yak-54 I used a HS-225MG servo to handle the duties on this control surface.
The recommended procedure for securing the canopy in place did not work well for me. Trying to get a rubber band small enough to keep the tension between the canopy hook and the hook in the fuselage did not go over well with my less than petite hands. After several attempts, and many broken rubber bands, I decided to install a simply spring-loaded canopy latch. The canopy latch makes taking the canopy on and off much easier and faster than the stock method, and ensures the canopy is held securely in place.
For its size, the NPM Yak-54 fuselage is extremely light and is constructed of lightweight plywood and balsa. With the extensive use of lightening holes throughout the NPM Yak-54 stills maintains a very robust structure without adding any unnecessary weight. The NPM Yak-54 comes with a very unique canopy restraint system. The use of two small eye hooks is used in addition to a small rubber band to keep the canopy in place. The NPM Yak-54 does not use any type of secondary restraints such as magnets to keep the canopy attached (see sidebar).
|Input Voltage:||9V-33.6V (3s-8s LiPo/ up to 21 NiMH)|
|Output current:||3.5A (8 standard servos , 4-6 digital)|
|Weight:||13g/.46oz. (including wires)|
|A universal adapter is also included.|
The Dimension Engineering Sport BEC is a terrific lightweight BEC unit that works with every kind of speed controller and receiver. It requires no programming and has a selectable switch that allows output of 5V/6V(a red LED indicates 6V). This unit can be used even if your speed controller has a built in BEC unit (non-Opto) but does not have enough amperage to run your servos safely. The Sport BEC installs very easily and can be flight ready in only a matter of minutes. The Sports BEC can supply its fully rated current of 3.5A all the way up to an 8s. With the extra head room that the Sports BEC provides over most internal BECs, I'm finding that these great little units are finding homes in practically all of my electric conversion projects.
Setting up the motor and speed controller on NPM Yak-54 was a fairly easy process, and I found that the fit of the laser cut plywood parts was excellent. There is a laser cut plywood battery tray that must be installed before you attach the motor box. The motor box consists of 4 laser cut plywood pieces that assemble and then glue together. I used medium and thick CA to glue and attach the motor box to the fuselage. The Atlas 4020/16 brushless outrunner was then mounted using the included radial mount and 4 bolts with locking nuts. This setup works great, and on many conversions works better than using blind nuts.
Finally the Atlas Black 75A Opto speed controller was installed under the motor box and held in place with zip ties. The nice thing about most Yak-54s is that you know the speed controller is going to get excellent cooling due to the large radial cowl.
The NPM Yak-54 has a cavernous fuselage which allows easy access to servo connections and installing the nylon wing bolts. The receiver location can be moved around to allow for easy CG changes, and I found that my Hitec Micro 555 worked out best just in front of the eye hook in the fuselage. The battery tray allows plenty of room to move the pack forward, but also there are provisions made to allow the battery pack to be moved aft. I have found that using the Thunder Power Extreme 5s 3300mah requires using this aft area to obtain a neutral CG.
The NPM Yak-54 cowl is very easy to install because the hardwood cowl blocks come pre-installed. However, after I got the cowl aligned and installed, I found that the leading edge of each wing was hitting the back of the cowl. To correct this I just used a Dremel tool and removed a portion of the cowl for a nice fit of each wing half.
|Prop:||APC 15 x 7E|
The finished NPM Yak-54 looked absolutely stunning, and I could not believe how scale it looked when compared to its full-scale counterpart. Equally as impressive was the AUW which came in at a light 5lb. 6oz. (86oz.)! For a .40 sized electric Yak-54, that weight is very impressive and speaks loudly for how well the NPM Yak-54 is constructed. I was able to balance the plane at 4 3/4", which is right at the forward limit for aerobatic flight as stated in the manual.
The two highly detailed decal sheets that come with the NPM Yak-54 really add that finishing scale touch to the airplane. The decals are even precut at the factory. SWEET!!
Control throw setup for the NPM Yak-54
|Control throws were set per the instruction manual:|
|Low Rates Up||Low Rates Down||High Rates Up||High Rates Down||3D Rates|
|Elevator||3/4"||3/4"||1 1/2"||1 1/2"||max. deflection|
|Aileron||1"||1"||1 3/4"||1 3/4"||2 1/2"|
|Low Rates Left||Low Rates Right||High Rates Left||High Rates Right|
|Rudder||1/2"||1/2"||1 1/4"||1 1/4"||2 3/4"|
The NPM Yak-54 makes field assembly very easy with the two piece wing design riding on an anodized aluminum wing tube. It is ready to fly in a matter of minutes. The NPM Yak-54s ground handling is exceptional, and at no time did I feel the airplane was going to ground loop even on my rough grass club flying field. Once lined up on the runway, a nice slow application of power is all that is needed to get this beauty moving and tracking straight down the runway with little to no rudder needed. I was very impressed with the power and thrust that the Atlas motor combo and APC 15 x 7E produced. With this setup, vertical performance is unlimited! The NPM Yak-54 tracks extremely well in the air, and at my CG (4 3/4"), the NPM Yak-54 flew very neutral upright and only required a small amount of down elevator while inverted. For my style of flying, that was just about perfect. The NPM Yak-54 rolls very axially, and I saw no need for any aileron differential. The NPM Yak-54 has a very benign stall with no signs of dropping a wing.
The NPM Yak-54 can fly fairly slowly for its size which makes flying the pattern and landing this airplane a real nonevent. As with most scale aerobatic airplanes, all that is needed is a few clicks of power to maintain down to the flare, and you are rewarded with a nice mains first landing every time. Flight duration using the recommended Thunder Power 5s 3300mAh battery pack ranges from 8-9 minutes depending on throttle management.
The NPM Yak-54 is an extremely capable aerobatic/3D airplane that really comes to life with the throw of a switch (some people throw a couple of switches). On 3D rates the NPM Yak-54 becomes very responsive, but with plenty of expo. dialed in the NPM Yak-54 makes maneuvers like high alpha rollers and hovering extremely easy for the experienced pilot. It's really fun to fly high speed positive and negative snaps with the NPM Yak-54 as it maintains energy through the maneuver quite well without getting to deep into the snap. The NPM Yak-54 also excels at high alpha knife edge flight, and with all the side area on the NPM Yak they can be flown quite slowly without any signs of snapping out.
Overall I am extremely pleased with how the NPM Yak-54 performed many of these aerobatic/3D maneuvers, and because of its honest flight characteristics, I was able to feel quite comfortable flying it lower and lower on each flight.
|The NPM Yak-54 3D Report Card|
|Parachute||A||No snapping out with full up elevator. EXCELLENT!!|
|High Alpha Level Flight||B+||Just minimal wing rock. Easy to correct with aileron inputs.|
|High Alpha Inverted||A||Super stable and easy!|
|Knife Edge Loop||A-||Plenty of rudder authority makes this soooo smooth.|
|High Alpha Rollers||A-||Very sweet rolling airplane!!|
|High Alpha Knife Edge||B+||Minimal coupling needed 5-6% rudder to elevator.|
|Blenders||B+||Transitions very well, might flatten out quicker with the CG moved further aft.|
|Knife-Edge-to-Knife-Edge Turns||A-||Can easily be flown with rudder and elevator. No mixing needed.|
|Elevator||A-||In a light head wind it will drop almost straight down. ROCK FREE!!|
|Wall||A+||AWESOME!! No bad tendencies here.|
|Flat-Spins||A-||Upright and inverted, need just a touch of throttle to make them really flat.|
|Waterfall||A-||Plenty of elevator throws make these very easy.|
The NPM Yak-54 is a highly responsive aerobatic/3D airplane and utilizes a fully symmetrical airfoil which reacts much faster than a typical trainerís flat-bottomed airfoil. For this reason I would say that NO the NPM Yak-54 is not for beginners and is marketed toward the intermediate/advanced pilot and kit builder.
Full-Scale Groupe Tranchant Yak-54
The NPM Yak-54
The NEW POWER MODELISME Yak-54 is by far one of the most scale looking Yak-54s I have seen. It not only looks great but it also flies well without sacrificing the original full-scale Yak-54 lines. With the kitís quick build and complete hardware, the time from bench work to flying is very short. The recommended power setup provides AWESOME performance on a plane that weighs just over 5 lbs. RTF and provides plenty of flight times on each charge. This Yak-54 gets plenty of attention at the field not only for its great looks, but for its terrific aerobatic and 3D flight performance capabilities.
If you have been looking for a scale looking Yak-54 that flies just as great as it looks then you really owe it to yourself to check out the NPM Yak-54. Vol Heureux (Happy Flying) !!
|Dec 20, 2007, 04:13 PM|
cool review. thinking about servos fitting, its a wonder why someone doesnt market fitting adapters for servos (ie mini to standard ) that are colored , precut and predrilled- id buy them
|Dec 20, 2007, 05:23 PM|
|Dec 20, 2007, 05:24 PM|
Thanks Dave!! Still lot's of stuff to learn, but enjoying every minute of it.
|Dec 20, 2007, 05:36 PM|
I really like what you did with this review! The additional information on the real Yak makes the RC one even MORE appealing to me! (Doesn't hurt that it is flown by some fine looking French gals either! )
The current selection of beautiful aerobatic/3d planes is outstanding and it looks like this one deserves a place right up near the top. Your review video does a nice job of highlighting some of the capabilities of it too. Very nice flying sir!
|Dec 21, 2007, 12:31 AM|
I have one, in partial completion. I tried to use the JR DS-821, but after taking the time to open up one Aileron servo hole, chose to do the tail and throttle with the recommended Hitec HS-225s, and after reading about placing the ply spacers in the wings, may go to the HS-225s in the wings too.
Mine is going "glow," beginning with a Magnum 52, and eventually a Saito .72.
|Dec 21, 2007, 06:39 AM|
It's always fun to have a review plane that is patterned not only in structural design but also in the covering scheme of a full-scale counterpart.
The cool thing about the NPM Yak-54 is it really does fly as good as it looks.
|Dec 21, 2007, 07:34 AM|
I would think that something like a Saito .82 in the NPM Yak-54 would provide excellent power on a airplane that would be just over 5 lbs.
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