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Model Aero Cessna 310 Twin Foamy Review

Scott DeTray of Model Aero deserves recognition for his creation of profile airplanes that are not only quick to assemble but exceptionally well performing. Does the Cessna 310, now available from ModelAero.com, add to his reputation for great designs?

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:32"
Wing Area:178.5 sq. in.
Weight:8-12 oz. (9.6 ounces as reviewed)
Length:25"
Wing Loading:7.74 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Blue Bird 9G
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum 6100e
Battery:Dualsky 450 mAh 7.4V 25C Li-Poly Battery
Motor/ESC:Dualsky 2812RTR-27 w/Built In 6 Amp ESC
Available From:Model Aero
Price:$49.95

The Cessna 310 is a classic twin engine general aviation airplane that is very popular, in both the full size version and also in the various scaled down radio control versions. The Cessna 310 was the first twin engine design from Cessna to enter production after WW2. It's sleek and modern rakish lines were complemented by the then innovative feature of storing all fuel in its tip tanks. With a service ceiling of nearly 20,000 feet, its top speed is around 207 knots. First flown in 1953, it's many variants are still used by private owners. It is also used extensively as a commercial taxi and even in military applications.

Model Aero deserves recognition for making this uniquely small profile version available. I have never built or flown a twin engined plane, although I have been involved in the hobby for over twenty years now. I was very excited when Scott DeTray approached me about reviewing his fresh, new design. I have experience with Scott's other designs, the AeroCat and the AeroSport, having built and flown (and loved) both of them.

With the many good memories of flying ModelAero’s two previous designs on my mind, I opened the small parcel sent by Scott and began to take inventory of it's contents. I regularly receive boxes via the various delivery services, and I have become accustomed to even the average park flyer sized airplane coming in a fairly large box.

When the box containing the Cessna 310 was first handed to me, my initial thought was that it must be a partial shipment. It certainly could not contain an entire plane and all the accessories needed to complete it.

Kit Contents

Its contents were very well packed and secured and nothing was damaged or displaced on its journey from Ohio to California. The laser cutting is very crisp and precise. The parts count is very small. The assembly manual is short, sweet and to the point.

According to Scott, the Model Aero Cessna 310 was actually designed around the Dualsky 2812RTR-27 motors. These small outrunners are quite unique in that they come with a 6 amp ESC built right in to the motor housing, eliminating quite a bit of the normal soldering and wiring chores that typically accompany a build like this. This is especially notable on this model, given that it is a twin. This means a greatly reduced amount of time spent on the building table. However, it is not absolutely necessary to use this power setup. Model Aero provides other options on their web site or perhaps you have a pair of motors and ESCs lying around the shop already? Just remember, when selecting components, keep her light, and she'll fly all the better!

Kit Includes:

  • CNC precision cut 6mm Depron foam kit pieces
  • Carbon fiber spars and rods
  • Ply and hardwood motor mounts
  • Dubro micro control horns
  • Full color pre-applied vinyl decals
  • Multipage assembly manual

Kit Requires:

  • Two motors
  • Two speed controllers
  • Two lithium batteries
  • 3 channel radio system. (3 micro servos required)
  • Appropriately sized propellers (2)
  • Ultimate RC Foam glue or foam safe CA and kicker for assembly
  • Blenderm tape (my recommendation, not Model Aero’s)

As with any electric model, the builder normally needs to make a decision when it comes to what power system to use. Model Aero has provided two different power options on their web site for the 310. The Spin Max 2204-14 Brushless Outrunner is one very compact option. The other choice is the Dualsky 2812RTR-27 with integrated ESC. Either motor will require a 2S battery. If your dollars are very important to you, the Spin Max motor option offers nearly identical performance as the Dualsky motors at a pretty big savings. It doesn't have the cool plug-n-play factor, but it can save you about $30 on the complete setup. The recommended Dualsky 450 mAh 2S batteries come with a JST connector already attached, which means they are truly plug-n-play when used with the second motor choice.

The complexities of wiring and configuring a dual motor electric setup may intimidate or even discourage those contemplating such a project. These potential downfalls are all but eliminated by selecting the second motor choice. I was glad Scott decided to include the Dualsky 2812 power systems, partly because I was intrigued by the idea of a motor with a built in speed controller, and also because I knew it would help ensure my success at building and configuring my first twin motor powered project.

Assembly

The tab and notch construction employed by Scott in his designs assists with proper alignment when assembling the pieces. I usually trial fit the parts before bonding them with glue to verify the squareness of all edges. Confucius say: Check parts twice, glue parts once.

I did notice during the dry assembly run that a few parts of the Cessna 310 had edges that were a bit away from being exactly square cut. However, it took only a scant few seconds to square them up with my emery board file. With a fresh bottle of foam safe CA and a new refill of accelerator at hand, I started into the build.

Fuselage

The fuselage comes with the vinyl decals already applied. The only steps that must be completed to in connection with the assembly of the fuselage is to attach the two fuselage horizontal surface strengtheners, one left and one right, and then glue the carbon stiffener/landing skid to the bottom front of the fuselage.

Wing

As it came out of the box, the one piece wing was warped. At first, I was concerned. However, after affixing the long carbon spar to the leading edge, I was happy to find it would lie perfectly flat on my building table. Though the instructions say to attach it with adhesive only, I usually supplement carbon spar attachments with a second line of defense against any accidental separations by using a two inch wide piece of Blenderm tape.

The ailerons come attached to the wing by two very small nibs. After cutting them free from the wing, attach them to the wing using tape. Again, Blenderm is the cat's meow when it comes to hinging control surfaces with tape. A piece on top and another on the bottom not only secures the control surface but seals the hinge gap to inhibit any high speed flutter.

The motors mount to a small square piece of ply. These are positioned at the end of a hardwood stick. The stick is sandwiched between a pair of foam mounting blocks which attach to the wing via the tab and notch method. After gluing the ply firewall to the end of the hardwood stick, mount one of the motors you have selected to the ply firewall. Position it on the wing between the sandwich blocks (remember Confucius!) and make sure you have offset it the proper amount for prop-to-nacelle clearance.

The pair of engine nacelles must be assembled and, after they have been rounded to a pleasing shape, the vinyl decals applied to them (the balance of the decals come pre-applied).

I delayed attaching the completed nacelles, waiting until the very end of the entire build to do so. It is easier to attach the props to the prop savers if the nacelles are not in the way. When attempting to grab and stretch an O-ring with a pair of needle nose pliers, I am notorious for slipping. Depron, when subjected to high velocity impacts (such as from crashing or slipping pliers) tends to destabilize and fracture!

Tail

The two split elevator halves are joined by gluing a flat carbon spar to their leading edge. It is important to space them properly so that when attached to the horizontal stabilizer, they will be in the correct position. Though the typical profile foamy assembly will have you bevel the leading edge of the elevators, the previously attached carbon joiner spar necessitates that you instead bevel the trailing edge of the stabilizer.

Create another hinge using the Blenderm method used on the ailerons. When gluing the tail to the main fuselage, it is important to verify that it is correctly and symmetrically installed. This can be done with a T-pin and a length of string.

Radio Installation

I am a recent convert to Spektrum. Though they do have a new 6300 micro-lite receiver, I opted to use one of the newly released 6100e receivers. The end pin configuration enables a much neater installation on a small foamy like this. Instead of connecting the two ESCs through a Y-cable, I decided to plug each unit onto its own channel and use the custom mixing function of the DX7 to map the second ESC unit to the first, located on the throttle channel. The size of the 6100e is small enough that it fits very well on the underside of the 310 fuselage.

I used three Blue Arrow 9 gram servos. I really like the hot glue method of servo installation on profile foamies like the 310. I have never had any problem with the glue letting go. The servo leads were just a bit on the short side though, necessitating the use of servo extensions. But I only needed about two inches worth of extension for the aileron and ESC on the "far" side of the airframe. Instead of using an excessively long extension and having to try to neatly bundle the excess length, I instead cut the connector off the end of the wires and soldered a little longer piece of servo lead on. This served the dual purpose of helping keep the installation neat and also not adding the extra weight of the typical servo extension with its connectors and length of wire.

The aileron push rods were made by carefully making a Z-bend on both ends of the included wire. The elevator push rod is constructed with a piece of the same wire and a length of included round carbon rod. A quick connector on the elevator servo horn facilitates any needed adjustments.

Completion

The kit includes three Dubro micro control horns. It takes only a minute or two to drill two pilot holes and then glue them to the three control surfaces. The push rods come included with the kit. One small piece of music wire is cut into several short sections. One section is attached to the long carbon rod with heat shrink and CA, which together make up the elevator push rod. Two of the other short lengths of music wire are used to make the aileron push rods. I carefully use a z-bend at both ends to eliminate any need for the additional weight or setup of quick links. Such short and precise aileron push rods make for very precise movement of the control surfaces.

I glued the engine nacelles on with CA and kicker and used Velcro to attach the two Dualsky 2S 450s just behind the motors on the bottom of the wing. A little time spent balancing the props had them ready to be attached to the motors by means of the included prop savers and O-rings.

I decided the Cessna 310 would be a great candidate for a set of navigation lights such as available from TinyBriteLights. The small set they sell is almost perfect for the Cessna's dimensions, although the wing LEDs wiring could be a tiny bit longer. The company can do custom wiring harnesses, but I decided that I could live with the small set's length. I carefully scored the path the wiring needed to take with a sharp razor blade and then pressed the wee wires down into the Depron, covering them over with strips of one inch wide white electrical tape.

Flying

Basics

Unlike Model Aero's two previous designs, the 310 is not necessarily designed for speed. It is an affordable twin, and the speed envelope will allow you to comfortably fly it in that smaller corner park or ball diamond. Or even better yet, the 310 will make a great indoor flyer at a larger sized indoor venue. You can pull the throttles back a bit and slow it down, yet still maintain great stability and control.

Taking Off and Landing

I think I will forever be nervous on the maiden flight of a newly assembled kit. I do not care if it a large 60 size war bird or a wee park flyer, I always fear the worst. I have to say that this was true of this Cessna as well, but I have never become so quickly relaxed and comfortable on a maiden flight as I did with the 310! I would estimate that within about 1.765 seconds of launching the 310, I was not worried at all. I powered up the twin Dualskys to about half throttle and gave the Cessna a light toss, and she was off and flying. It was not necessary to apply even one click of trim, as the 310 tracked straight and true in both pitch and direction. I think this is more a testament to Scott's excellent design and kit construction than to my building abilities.

The sound of those two 7x4 APC props resonating as they beat the air is so cool! After five to six minutes of flying around at half throttle, I decided to set up for the landing. The 310 slows so nicely, thanks to its light all-up-weight, that landing is only as complex as pulling the throttles back and guiding her in for a nice, soft, smooth set down in the grass.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Cessna 310 has aileron and elevator controls and enough power from the twin motors that you can effortlessly loop and roll it. I set up my control throws a little more aggressively than recommended in the assembly manual, so the roll rate was quick but not so much so that it didn't look realistic. I don't know how aerobatic the 310 is in real life, but this one is definitely capable of the basics.

Is This For a Beginner?

Probably not, though I think it a stretch to say it is only for intermediate and beyond RC pilots. Although the slower speed envelope of the 310 lends itself to newer pilots, it does maintain the orientation into which the pilot puts it. It will not level itself as a trainer with dihedral in the wing will do. You must fly it at all times. If you have any experience with a trainer that has a straight wing, you will probably be capable of flying this foamy. Additionally, its 32 inch wingspan means it can get small very quickly if you do not keep it in close.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Downloads

Conclusion

Scott DeTray has come up with a very fresh design with this Cessna 310 twin foamy. Everybody loves the unique sound of a twin, and the Cessna delivers this thrill very well at a budget price. It builds fast, straight and true. It looks very nice with its preprinted and pre-applied decals, and it will accept quite a few different power systems, with Scott conveniently offering two of them on his web site. You will not need very much space to fly this one.

Pluses:

  • Very high quality kit, with superb laser cutting
  • Quick building, maybe even in one evening for more efficient builders
  • Fresh foamy twin design of a general aviation favorite
  • Very nice decals, 85% of them are pre-applied
  • Innovative Dualsky Motor/ESCs simplify wiring and setup of a twin

Minuses:

  • Several pieces were cut with a very slight bias on their edge, instead of being perfectly square. It took only a few seconds with an emery board to dress them out to a perfect, ninety degree square edge.

Last edited by Angela H; Dec 18, 2007 at 09:17 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 18, 2007, 10:02 PM
Registered User
Northwest Ohio
Joined Jan 2002
2,663 Posts
Great Review!

Jon,

Very nice work on the review as usual. Thanks so much for taking on the Cessna 310 project and getting it done so quickly and so well!

Oh, and give your photographer a raise!

Regards,

Scott DeTray

www.ModelAero.com
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 11:39 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,621 Posts
I'm giving MYSELF a raise, in the form of a camera upgrade. From a 6.1 MP body to a 10.1! Oh yeah!

Big Terry Riley (blueskyrider around these parts) gets the big slap on the back for his excellent trigger skills with the camera gear. Tnx TR! I really appreciate your willingness to be my extra hands on these reviews. It is no understatement to say I could NOT do it without you sir!

This little Cessna is a blast to fly! It is easy to keep it in close and the sound of those twins droning by is unbeatable!
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 11:49 PM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Jon,

Very nice review! I especially liked the video with the lights. They're great, aren't they? You sure did a nice job of keeping all the wires nice and hidden.

That looks like a great plane, and the electronics seem to be a great fit for it. Those ESC/motor combos look great and very easy to set up! Do they come pre-set so they're counter-rotating and all that good stuff?

Again, nicely done — keep it up! You deserve that raise.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 11:53 PM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,621 Posts
Hey Napo, they are not counter rotating. But the torque effect is very minimal. The lights are really cool on that plane and I am amazed at how visible they are even on a bright, sunny day.
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 12:23 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Cool — I didn't know it would fly just as fine without counter-rotating motors!

Yeah, they're bright lights all right! I think they're a perfect fit for that little plane, too.
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 01:56 AM
Registered User
Atlanta, GA
Joined Sep 2003
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Thanks a bunch for taking the time to do a very informative review, complete with photos and video. Keep up the good work.
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 08:50 AM
Registered User
Streamwood, Illinois
Joined Nov 2007
35 Posts
Flight Lights

Jon,

Thanks for including Flight Lights in your review of the Model Aero Cessna 310. The video and pictures really tell the story!

We're glad you were able to make the small airplane Flight Lights fit. We know one size does not fit all - so we'll gladly create custom lengths. A little bit more or less wire doesn't change the price.

Sincerely,
Kyle and Jill Ingram
Tiny Brite Lights, LLC
www.tinybritelights.com
tinybritelights@wowway.com
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 03:31 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
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Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Excellent review, Jon! The pics and video are excellent!

Ronnie
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 06:17 PM
Registered User
Northwest Ohio
Joined Jan 2002
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Jon,

One thing I neglected to have you mention in the Cessna 310 review is the source of the excellent laser cutting.

The kits were cut by Budget RC and they do a wonderful job with CNC laser cutting and CNC routing. They also offer screen printing on Depron. They are a full service shop and can produce turn key kits. They are also producing our new AeroCat V2.

If you have any needs for CAD design and/or kit cutting, shoot Mark at Budget RC an email. They are great people to work with.

www.Budgetrc.com
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 06:56 PM
Registered User
Streamwood, Illinois
Joined Nov 2007
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New Tiny Brite Lights website - www.flightlights.net

Hi Everyone,

Please go to our new website: www.flightlights.net for more information about Flight Lights! Visit our updated "Where to Buy" section to see which hobby stores across the US carry Flight Lights.

Thanks and Happy Flying!

The Tiny Brite Lights Team.
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Old Jan 02, 2008, 06:15 PM
Registered User
Northwest Ohio
Joined Jan 2002
2,663 Posts
Cessna 310 Free Shipping!!!

Model Aero is ringing in the New Year with a Free Shipping Special on the Cessna 310 for our friends here on RC Groups and the E Zone. Simply PM or email me for details on how to take advantage of this special deal.

Additionally, if you purchase the plane and any power system for it, we'll ship it all free and throw in two free APC 7/4 SF props!

This special will run the entire month of January.

Happy New Year!

Scott

www.ModelAero.com
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Old Mar 30, 2008, 09:26 AM
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I just spotted a photo of this fun little flyer in the latest FlyRC!
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 09:38 AM
Model specs in my blog.
Joined Apr 2005
263 Posts
Nice plane.
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