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Hobby Lobby Art-Tech Su-27 "Russian Knights" EDF ARF Review

Michael Heer reviews this new twin engine brushless powered EDF. The plane comes mostly assembled and is made of molded foam that has been beautifully painted in the "Russian Knights" show colors.

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Introduction


Wingspan:31 1/4"
Wing Area:242 sq. in.
Weight Listed:27.5 oz.
Weight Actual RTF:29.8 oz.
Length:42 3/4"
Servos:5-pre-wired 9g servos
Transmitter:JR 7202
Receiver:Hitec Electron
Battery:3-cell 2200 mAh Lipoly
Motor:twin brushless B2015-31s
ESC:Double ESC 18 amp
Ducted Fan:EDF 64 x 2
Thrust:> or = 400g per manufacturer
Manufacturer:Art-Tech Aircraft
Available From:Hobby Lobby
Price:$248
Combo Price:$259.00 ($11.00 more gets a transmitter & receiver)

What really captured my attention about the Art-Tech "Russian Knights" Su-27 Twin Ducted Fighter EDF ARF was that it has been intentionally designed for only moderate speed and to be "easy enough to fly even for a less experienced pilot” as well as "ready to fly in about an hour!"

A note on power

If you look at the information that Hobby Lobby has about this jet on its website, you’ll see that that it can perform loops, rolls and inverted flight. So while, not underpowered in the strict sense (more powerful motors could be used), it is not overpowered either. The jet has moderate speed, and with twin motors and one 3-cell 2200 mAh LiPoly pack the plane can fly over 10 minutes. Additionally the video showed a rather long run for takeoff and displayed climbs that while good were not unlimited or lightning fast. Let’s see what happens.

Kit Contents

The Included Parts:

  • Fuselage with landing gear attached
  • Left & right wing sections
  • 2 Horizontal stabilizers
  • 2 Vertical stabilizers
  • 5 Servos installed
  • 2 Ducted fans
  • 2 Brushless motors
  • 3-Cell 2200 mAh Lipoly battery pack
  • 12-Volt balance charger
  • Fuselage nosecone
  • Assorted hardware and control rods
  • Glue

Radio Parts Needed (unless you’ve purchased the Combo):

  • Four channel transmitter
  • Four channel receiver

Additional parts needed:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat bladed screwdriver

Assembly

The servos, ducted fans, brushless motors and dual speed controller come installed (aileron servos are wired but need to be inserted into molded spaces in the wing after the wings are glued to the fuselage.). The amount of assembly required on this plane is minimal, with no soldering required!

My goal was to see if I could complete assembly in approximately an hour and still take pictures of the assembly process for this review, but after I glued the two main wing panels to the fuselage, I tried to move to the horizontal stabilizer and bumped the left wing panel and moved it out of alignment while the glue was still wet. I straightened the wing panels and glued on the nose cone to the fuselage and set it aside for the night. I checked an hour later, and the glue had apparently set up, so I glued on the plastic wing tip rocket launchers as well as the tail piece protrusion and stood the plane on its nose in a corner and went to bed. Timer stopped.

Radio Installation

It was necessary for me to install at least a 4-channel receiver. One port was for the ESC, one port was used for the two aileron servos that were hard wired together to one connector, one port was for the two elevator servos that were hard wired together, and the fourth port, or rudder port, was used for the steerable front landing gear plugged into the rudder connector on the receiver. The receiver was powered by a Battery Elimination Circuit in the dual Speed Control, thus the ESC connection powered the receiver and in turn the five micro servos. The supplied 2200 mAh 3-cell LiPo battery pack had been charged the previous evening.

Connecting the ESC and the servo for the steerable nose wheel was easy. For the ailerons and the elevators there was no excess wire so it was a bit harder to connect them to the receiver while working between the ducting for the engines and right above the space for the receiver. There was no space for separation of the receiver and dual speed controller, they are mounted end to end in the fuselage. The antenna was taped to the bottom of the fuselage as shown in the pictures below.

Stabs

Both the vertical and horizontal stabilizers mount to the fuselage with screws, so assembly should have been quick and easy. The horizontal stabilizers screwed into place per the instructions. I centered the servos and installed the control arms for the ailerons and then glued the aileron servos into place in the wing and added the little foam panel covers that covered the wires at the fuselage. I repeated the process for the split elevators and their two servos.

The control rods were a bit short for connecting to the servo arms at 90 degrees, so I mounted the servo arms at a 45 degree angle backwards on both sides and connected the control rods to the horns and control arms. The servo arms both go to the same side for the elevator servos (ee the picture). This way they both go in the same direction for proper control. This must be the way they wanted it as the picture in the manual shows them connected that way as well.

The vertical stabs required a little reworking to mount to the fuselage. There were two little square pieces of plastic at the bottom of each vertical stabilizer, each with one hole for a mounting screw. The fuselage had two little pieces of hard plastic for the screws, but they did not line up with the squares on the vertical fins. I removed the squares from the fins and mounted them in line with the plastic pieces in the fuselage. I screwed the fins into their proper positions with the screws going through the plastic squares and into the plastic pieces on the wings. There were no working rudders on this plane, so once the vertical stabs had been screwed in place their assembly was finished.

Completion

With the plane now assembled I checked on the servos again and checked the control horns on the servos mechanically so that they were all in their proper position and all control surfaces were properly centered as well. I reversed the travel direction of the aileron servos and the nose wheel servo with my transmitter. They were now functioning in the proper directions. I next went to check that the plane balanced initially on the recommended CG , but there was no mention of the proper location for the CG or for the amount of throw for the control surfaces in the instructions. There is only one place for the battery to go and everything fits in a certain place, so in essence they have created the only CG location. Per my balancing of the plane upside down, this location was 6 3/8" on the molded line to the outside of the fins from the plane's wing's trailing edge.

Since none were listed in the instructions, I went with the throws my transmitter made with normal setup at 100% normal range. The measurements were taken from the back of the control surfaces:

  • Ailerons: 7/8" up and 3/4" down
  • Elevator: 3/8" up and down
  • Rudder: none (No rudder)

Finally, I checked the left stick to turn the steerable nose wheel and run the motors. Both seemed to be working fine. It was time to fly!

Actual time spent working on the plane was about an hour and a half to two hours but as stated above, I let the main components’ glue dry over night.

Flying

Basics

The plane has three controls during flight: throttle, ailerons and elevator. This should allow for a wide range of acrobatics. Based on my initial analysis of what I expect from the plane I am going to initially fly at a field with a long runway to allow for a build up of speed before trying to lift off.

Taking Off and Landing Part 1

I went to taxi out to take off, and the nose gear was working until it hit a small depression about the size of a flat dime. At that point the nose gear stopped responding to my radio commands. I removed the blue tape in front of the gear and found a circular access cover above the servo. I found the bent pin (bent by design) of the front gear was out of the track of the servo arm that steered the wheel. I saw no loose part that would have fit that pin and kept it in place. I didn't have anything like that with me, so I took the plane home to repair the steering. I added a small red washer and mixed up a batch of five minute epoxy and let it sit for 3.5 minutes and then placed a small drop on the top of the pin and let it slide down to the washer. I turned the plane right side up and rested it on the rear wheels and tail to let the epoxy set up. The pin can no longer come out of the servo arm.

Taking Off and Landing Part 2

I taxied out to the runway with no problems. I turned into the slight breeze and throttled up to maximum and let her have a nice long roll (over 150 feet) before any attempt to lift off. She climbed nice and smooth and at a shallow climb per my elevator control and picked up speed and rate of climb from throttle alone thereafter. I entered a slow right turn while still climbing and the sun lit up the top of the plane. A very pretty sight!

After a nice first flight I entered the final approach at about 20 feet above and way far down the runway and reduced throttle to less then 50%. I had the motor still running at touchdown, but it was basically a glider type landing with a slight flair and a touch down on the rear wheels that was nice and smooth. After a short roll of about three feet the nose started to drop down. It touched down nicely and rolled out. I taxied her back in to the pit area.

Subsequent takeoffs showed it was possible to do a short steep climb out from the runway before it was necessary to reduce the climb angle due to slowing of the plane. There is good, but limited, climb with a long take off run. Handling was surprisingly tame throughout the flight.

I did one hand launch, throwing it as HARD AS I COULD in a level toss after a couple of running steps. The motor was going full blast, but she couldn't maintain level flight. She had a three foot drop in the first 40 feet, leveled off, and by 100 feet out she was climbing on throttle alone. I have taken off and landed on very very short level grass, and that went fine with about a 150 foot roll out. I was most comfortable with take off rolls of 150 feet or more. For the sake of the review I did a very shallow take off after only a 100 foot roll out and it performed it, but I feel more comfortable with a longer roll out.

Can't Remove the Landing Gear

I am sure that some are wondering: "Can I remove the landing gear and fly this as a belly lander?" The answer is NO! The CG was designed with the landing gear in place, and more importantly the engine ducts would be destroyed quickly doing belly landings. The gear needs to stay on the plane.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

At full throttle she can do a very nice axial roll, a loop and inverted flight. I have done some stalls at altitude going straight up, and she dropped on her tail quite a ways before elevator kicked her into a dive, and she regained speed and control. A straightforward stall from a slight climb at low speed caused her to mush down and recovery was easy after a short drop. She can be flown in a very tame manner at half speed on the throttle or just a click or two more up throttle. She hasn't accidentally entered a wing tip stall on her own, and I didn't think to try to induce one in my first few flights. Handling was as demonstrated in the Hobby Lobby video and as I expected.

Is This For a Beginner?

This SU-27 makes a great first EDF plane for the person who has mastered basic flight. Its handling is so nice and smooth that it could even be a first aileron plane.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The performance of the plane was pretty much as I expected from the information on Hobby Lobby's website. Handling was even easier than I expected and I was very happy with it. Top speed was moderate as advertised, and I could get about ten minute flights with some throttle management. The fans on my plane were nicely balanced and I was happy with the performance. I give a nice thumbs up for those looking for a first EDF plane who will accept its speed and power as provided. Very easy to fly but still acrobatic! The Russian Knight SU-27 does the job it was designed to do very nicely.

Pluses

  • Quick assembly time:
  • Beautiful finish on the plane
  • Handling is very tame with small movements
  • Capable of doing some very nice aerobatics
  • Currently a great price for the transmitter/receiver in the combo package

Minuses

  • Needs a log runway
  • Included charger takes a long time to charge the battery
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 20, 2007 at 02:14 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 20, 2007, 03:29 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,458 Posts
I have attached four pictures of the real Russian Knight planes and you can see the Hobby Lobby version looks very good. Needs a little white on the inside top of the vertical stabilizers to be scale. Mike
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 05:20 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Nice job Mike. Really have to stay off that nose gear. Even with what was a great landing it looks like it moved back a bit. Definitely not for grass
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 05:24 PM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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I have the "unofficial review" and the grass makes it difficult... also the AOA is low so if you raise the nose and bend the MLG forward, you can reduce the ROG....I can get mine ROG in under 100 feet...no paved area so its grass or gravel and the fans do a fairly good job of eating and spitting out the grass and I am afraid of the gravel.
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Russian knight's Avatar
Charlotte nc
Joined Jun 2007
315 Posts
Wow this review is cool. The plane looks so nice . I have the old one and it is awsome too!

-Andrew
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 07:52 PM
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Dora Nine's Avatar
United States, NH
Joined May 2005
7,676 Posts
What a sweet landing plane. How do you feel it would hold up on on belly flopping?
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 08:01 PM
Bad Gunkie
badbill's Avatar
USA, GA, Centerville
Joined Dec 2002
3,332 Posts
I was going to buy one of these, but it would be so much trouble to assemble a log runway, I may not :-)

Minuses

Needs a log runway
Included charger takes a long time to charge the battery

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 08:21 PM
/bin/ksh
Steve_C's Avatar
USA, GA, Savannah
Joined Nov 2005
3,363 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dora Nine
What a sweet landing plane. How do you feel it would hold up on on belly flopping?
It won't, the intakes are not up to the task. I would glass and add beach wood skid plates to beef it up if you want to hand launch this one. That said it is a moderatrely powered plane stock and hand launch will be tricky at best. A hard hand launch *might* get it in tha air.

My advice would be fly it stock and ROG, if you want more, upgrade the fans and motors, it should be a great flyer upgraded. And stock too for that matter.
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Dear Dora Nine:
Can't Remove the Landing Gear

I am sure that some are wondering: "Can I remove the landing gear and fly this as a belly lander?" The answer is NO! The CG was designed with the landing gear in place, and more importantly the engine ducts would be destroyed quickly doing belly landings. The gear needs to stay on the plane.
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Old Dec 20, 2007, 09:26 PM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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Dora... the intake ducts in front of the fans are thin folded/creased foam... mine cracked just from picking it in that area... and as for hand launching... mine nose dived on maiden.... and in went GS 64 fans and EFlite 400 (4200kv) motors... stock she pulls 18 amps and 198 watts total... mine now pulls 42 amps and 423 watts....with 800 grams of thrust...but still takes a long time to get off the ground cause the nose sits low and the LE of the wings is below the horizon... but I have a mod for that I need to post in the thread I started on this plane.
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Old Dec 21, 2007, 02:33 AM
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Stockton CA.
Joined May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATIS
Dora... the intake ducts in front of the fans are thin folded/creased foam... mine cracked just from picking it in that area... and as for hand launching... mine nose dived on maiden.... and in went GS 64 fans and EFlite 400 (4200kv) motors... stock she pulls 18 amps and 198 watts total... mine now pulls 42 amps and 423 watts....with 800 grams of thrust...but still takes a long time to get off the ground cause the nose sits low and the LE of the wings is below the horizon... but I have a mod for that I need to post in the thread I started on this plane.
hi, please post it fast. I have the same problem, it really need a long run way and hand lanch is almost impossible. Mine crashed so many times when trying to hand lunch it, and only successed a few times.
I was wondering, can i increased the length of the front landing gear(taller) to shorten the runway?
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Old Dec 21, 2007, 02:36 AM
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Stockton CA.
Joined May 2007
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Has anyone update the motors to brushless? do i need two identical esc and lipos?
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Old Dec 21, 2007, 03:53 AM
Fight or Flight
statesy's Avatar
Joined Apr 2006
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su27

lrplin check this out it is the same plane different paint and supplier.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=556528
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Old Dec 21, 2007, 04:53 AM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrplin
Has anyone update the motors to brushless? do i need two identical esc and lipos?

This Knight version is brushless...but I upgraded my stock brushless for more powerful brushless...here is the thread..with picts and a bunch of other stuff to include links to videos..

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=773548


And yes, you can increase the length of the nose gear to help shorten the ROG... I did part of the mod last night and will do the rest to night and post it in thread I provided...
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Old Dec 21, 2007, 02:10 PM
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Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
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Great review, Mike! Looks like a really nice flier and it really moves out. It does seem a bit faster than the HL F/A-18!

Ronnie
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