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Hangar 9 Sundowner 50 ARF Electric Review

Hangar 9 Sundowner 50 ARF Review

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Introduction


Wingspan:63 in
Wing Area:572 sq in
Weight:6.6 lbsoz.
Length:47.4 in
Speed Range:moderate to fast
Servos:4-DS821 digital
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR6200
Battery:Thunder Power 4S 3800mAh Lipo
Motor:Eflite Power 46 Brushless Outrunner
ESC:Eflite 60 amp Brushless
Manufacturer:Hangar 9
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price:$259.99

The Hangar 9 Sundowner 50 ARF, the little brother of the successful Hangar 9 Sundowner Formula 1 ARF, is based in large part on the Shoestring, Gilbert DG-1 and other full scale Formula 1 racing planes. Although it is capable of high speed, it is also a terrific sport flier with excellent low speed handling characteristics, as I found out in a "less than perfect" landing attempt that you'll see in the video. Its gorgeous looks, wide speed envelope and attractive price are sure to win it legions of fans!

Kit Contents

Assembly

Everything went together extremely well with no surprises. The assembly is very fast, in fact, there are only a couple of areas where gluing is required. I would estimate the Sundowner 50 can be completed in two to three evenings of easy assembly. As is the case will all Hangar 9 products, the photo-illustrated assembly manual is easy to understand and follow.

Wing

The wing halves attach to the fuselage with two nylon bolts. The aileron servos are concealed inside the wing with servo covers. Two wood blocks are glued to each servo cover and each servo is secured to the wood blocks with four screws. You'll need two 6" servo extensions to allow the servo wires to reach the receiver as well as two JR large servo arms (part #JSP98060) to allow enough clearance for the aileron push rods. The ailerons were glued to the wing halves using thin CA.

Fuselage

Here's the other area of the assembly where gluing is required. I left the wing attached to the fuselage so I could ensure that the wing was parallel to the stabilizer and to check the alignment between the wing and stabilizer before gluing. The tail surfaces were installed onto the fuselage with thin CA as per the instructions after trimming away part of the covering. I used 15 minute epoxy to install the elevator joiner wire to the elevator halves. Again, thin CA is used to install the hinges on the elevator and rudder control surfaces. The push rod tubes are already installed in the fuselage, and the push rods are attached to the control horns with clevises.

Radio Installation

As I mentioned before, there's ample room in the fuselage for the AR6200 receiver. The DS821 servos are a drop-in fit in the fuselage and secured with four screws each. The push rods then secure to the elevator and rudder with the included EZ-type connectors.

Power System

The Eflite Power 46 Outrunner and Eflite 60 amp ESC are the ideal power setup for this plane, and the installation could not have been easier. Even the blind nuts that hold the motor are pre-installed at the factory, and the motor standoffs and bolts are included. Even the blind nuts that hold the beautiful fiberglass cowl bolts in place have been installed for you, so there's no guesswork involved. When installing a motor this big and powerful, I always use a little bit of loctite where the radial mount attaches to the motor and where the mounting bolts thread into the blind nuts in the firewall. This ensures the motor cannot vibrate loose.

Battery installation

The canopy, which covers the radio and battery area, is held in place with two Allen bolts. The kit includes a pilot head with racing helmet. I like to spread a thin film of epoxy to the battery area and allow it to dry before installing Velcro in the battery area. This gives the Velcro a solid surface to stick to. Hangar 9 also provides slots in the battery tray for two battery straps to ensure the battery can't move in flight. The long battery tray allows for plenty of fore and aft adjustment of the battery to get the Center of Gravity just right. The manual states the CG to be 2 1/2 inches (63mm) behind the leading edge of the wing against the fuselage. I balanced it there, but later moved the battery slightly aft for less down-elevator in inverted flight.

Completion

Finally, the landing gear bolts into place, and the included spinner is installed. Thanks to the pre-installed cowl mounting nuts, the clearance between the spinner and cowl was perfect. Hangar 9 has really done their homework in the design of the Sundowner 50, in fact, I can say that I had no issues whatsoever with the build of this plane!

Flying

What a blast this plane is to fly! Although it is capable of high speeds, the Sundowner 50 is very predictable at medium speeds and never gave a hint of a wing dropping. Hangar 9 says the plane is an "aerobatic sport model", and that description is spot-on. The plane goes right where you point it and tracks beautifully. I felt very "connected" with this plane and was immediately comfortable with flying it from the very first time it left the ground. Sometimes big planes like this can seem intimidating at first, but the Sundowner 50 never once gave me shaky knees and was completely predictable.

Taking Off and Landing

There were no surprises whatsoever with takeoffs or landings, although a fairly long stretch of runway is needed. I just gradually applied power to full throttle and gave a little right rudder to counteract the torque of the big Power 46 outrunner and the Sundowner 50 was airborne and smoothly climbing out in less that 100 feet. Landing approaches were made with plenty of runway length and easing the throttle back to a few clicks just before touching down. My club field is grass, and although I normally don't like wheel pants for their tendency to snag and cause nose-overs, I decided to leave the Sundowner 50's on because the wheels are a fairly large diameter and look so nice! I never experienced a single problem with the wheel pants during any takeoffs or landings at all. As you'll see in the video, I had a scary aborted landing attempt that might have left other planes in pieces but the Sundowner recovered beautifully, and I thankfully I was able to recover and bring it down safely.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

As I stated before, the Sundowner 50 is a true sport plane, so it excels at rolls and is easily capable of 2-3 per second on high rates. They are very axial and smooth, even at medium speeds. At full throttle, rolls are blisteringly fast!

Even with it's rather small elevator surface, loops can be made big or small from level flight and are a thing of beauty. The plane tracks so straight and true that even 4-point rolls are easy and fun to perform.

The Sundowner 50 has a fairly small amount of rudder surface area but it performs hammerheads very well despite this. In fact it's one of the maneuvers I most enjoy performing with this plane.

The Sundowner flies wonderfully inverted! With the battery installed just slightly aft of the recommended Center of Gravity, the plane is very stable inverted. In fact very little down down elevator is needed to maintain level flight.

It really does not have enough side area or a large enough rudder to perform knife edge maneuvers.

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely not, in fact I would say the pilot needs to be at the intermediate skill level and have a decent amount of four channel experience. The Sundowner would make an excellent choice for a pilot looking for a large electric that flies like a glow plane without the inconvenience of refueling or cleanup.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery













Conclusion

The Hangar 9 Sundowner 50 ARF has got it all. Its solid, stable flight characteristics make it an absolute joy to fly and the removable two-piece wing makes it easy to transport to and from the flying field. It looks great in the air or just sitting still, and it always draw attention wherever I fly it. See it t today at your local hobby shop or online at Horizon Hobby.

Pluses:

  • Beautiful looks
  • Sport scale handling with predictable flight manners
  • Fast assembly
  • Excellent instructions

Minuses:

  • None noted!
Last edited by Angela H; Jan 15, 2009 at 12:22 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 15, 2009, 11:36 AM
Registered User
Joined Dec 2008
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mr president

how is this a warbird?
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 11:52 AM
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ekotil's Avatar
Athens, Texas, United States
Joined Jul 2004
1,669 Posts
Enjoyed the report and the trick "touch&go"!
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 12:03 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,310 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nehoc
how is this a warbird?
The design of the Sundown dates back to a Supermarine design, the Swift.. It was an extremely fast aircraft, but extremely hard to fly and even harder to get into the air, especially on turf, so the project was scrapped after losing the only 2 aircraft ever produced..

In 1974, Laddie J. Reethmore took the Swift plans and tweaked them a little here, a little there (fixed gear, over the retracts that plagued the Swift and a few other things) and came up with the Sundowner for Formula 1 Reno racing..

The Sundowner indeed traces it's heritage to the warbirds, so this is an appropriate forum..
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 12:23 PM
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Angela H's Avatar
Nashville, TN
Joined Nov 2006
1,510 Posts
Whoops! Hit the wrong button on the wrong thing. We should be in the right place now.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Joined Dec 2008
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Oh Ya!

that was an absolutly awsome save I think I gasped out loud! Good Job!
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 01:22 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,310 Posts
(takes a bow.)
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 01:53 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
(takes a bow.)
Thanks fellas The bad landing approach was entirely my fault, my trusty cameraman Mike was standing to my left and I lost sight of the plane for a couple of seconds, and decided to punch out at the last minute and land from the other direction. The wingtip literally touched the ground briefly, so I was really lucky!!

Ronnie
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 02:24 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,136 Posts
Nice review Ronnie. I knew Mike cast a pretty big shadow, but I didn't know he could blot out the sun. LOL

Have you had time to check out the stall characteristics at altitude? How about snaps and spins?

Mike McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Jan 15, 2009 at 02:33 PM.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 03:01 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Nice to have you back Ronnie
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 03:37 PM
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USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
Nice review Ronnie. I knew Mike cast a pretty big shadow, but I didn't know he could blot out the sun. LOL

Have you had time to check out the stall characteristics at altitude? How about snaps and spins?

Mike McD
O yea baby!

Great review Ronnie! This is a great performing plane..........fast yet slows down.

Mike
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 04:00 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Thank you Mike, Dave and Mike!

Mike McD,

The stall is actually very predictable, with a slow left wing drop at the beginning. It snaps fairly well but spins are not very flat, due to the small elevator and rudder. This baby likes to go fast though!

Ronnie
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 04:35 PM
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Hemet, California, United States
Joined Aug 2001
2,660 Posts
Hi Ronnie,

What kind of duration are you getting with the TP 3800? Is there room for a larger battery if desired?

Thanks! Mickydee
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 04:39 PM
Registered User
Sherman, TX
Joined Aug 2003
342 Posts
Nwe Plane

Wow, pretty plane and good review. I have never tried a touch and go like that one. But, I liked the take off the best, sounded like a full size plane. tee hee. Dwayne would like that one. thanks...Joe
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Old Jan 16, 2009, 09:47 AM
JUNK RADIO
Flazo's Avatar
USA, NY, Queens
Joined Dec 2006
3,136 Posts
nice review I think electric is better for this plane... but the landings are always HOT!

and very true not for the intermediate skill level
Fred
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