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E-flite AT-6 Texan 25e Platinum Series ARF Review

Horizon Hobby's new Platinum Series AT-6 Texan is a real looker. Mike McDougall wrings out this pretty Warbird.

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Introduction


Wingspan:54"
Wing Area:455 sq. in.
Weight:3.9-4.5 lb
Length:39"
Wing Loading:19.8-22.8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:(7) JR Sport MC35's, (1) JR Sport RT88 for optional retracts
Transmitter:9C w/Spektrum Module
Receiver:Spektrum AR6200
Battery:11.1 V 4200 mah 3-cell Li-po
Motor:Power 25 or Power 32
ESC:40 - 60 Amp
Max Power:460 Watts (Power 25)
Power Loading:100 Watts/lb; 6.25 Watts/oz (Power 25)
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby Retailers and Fine RC Hobby Shops
Retail Price:$164.99

North American Aviation designed the NA-16 in 1935 for the 1937 Army Air Corp competition, which it won handily. Designated the Advanced Trainer AT-6, the "Texan" entered military service in 1940. During the next ten years, over 17,000 AT-6s were built as original airframes, not counting the airframes that were used to rebuild damaged planes or those planes based on the AT-6 design such as the P-64 and the Boomerang. Variations of the AT-6 have been designated as the SNJ (Navy), Harvard (RAF), Wirraway (Australia), Yale, I-Bird, and Mosquito. Perhaps its best-known name was the PILOT MAKER. The AT-6 was used to train pilots for 34 countries during WWII and has since been used to train pilots in air forces in 55 countries worldwide. More recently, the AT-6 has been used for pylon racing, air show demonstrations, and general sport aviation.

Horizon Hobby chose the AT-6 as the first in its Platinum Series of detailed scale aircraft. The goal of the Platinum Series is to produce models that deliver superior, enhanced features with meticulous attention to detail and provide the modeler with an exceptional level of realism without having to spend weeks of time building, covering and painting.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes:

  • All parts precovered in an attractive Korean Era Warbird scheme
  • All flying surfaces are hinged and installed
  • Fuselage with vertical stab and rudder installed
  • Three-piece wing with flaps and ailerons installed
  • Two-piece stabilizer with elevators installed
  • Painted canopy and pilot figure
  • Nice dummy radial engine and scale strut covers
  • Wheels, pushrods, and a complete hardware package
  • 52 page photo-illustrated assembly manual

Kit Requires:

  • Minimum 6 channel radio with 7 micro servos + 1 retract servo
  • Servo extensions 3-3" and 2-6"
  • Servo "Y" harnesses - 2 standard and 1 reversing
  • Power 25 or Power 32 outrunner brushless motor
  • 60 Amp brushless speed controller
  • 3s or 4S LiPoly battery 3300 mAh
  • Power Connectors - Deans heavy duty or equal
  • Dedicated LiPoly charger
  • Propeller 12x8E APC or equal
  • CA and epoxy glues

Optional Items Available for the AT-6:

  • Extra pilot
  • Scale wheels
  • Robart retracts
  • Scale cockpit interior (on order)

Recommended by Horizon Hobby:

  • Spektrum AR6200 Receiver
  • 7-JR MC-35 Micro Servos and 1-JR RT-88 Retract Servo
  • E-flite Power 32 Brushless Outrunner Motor
  • 60 Amp Pro SB Brushless ESC with Switch-Mode BEC
  • Thunder Power 4200mAh 3S2P 11.1V LiPo Battery Pack
  • E-flite EC3 Heavy Duty Battery Connectors

Items Supplied for this Review:

Assembly

The Platinum Series' 52-page assembly manual is excellent and sets the bar very high for other ARF kits. The manual includes over 115 pictures and illustrations with detailed lists of tools and construction techniques. The AT-6 construction process begins with the elevator and fuselage rather than with the wing like most other ARFs.

Tail

I ran into trouble on the very first step! The manual shows to install the stabilizer tube in the right stabilizer half and secure it with a screw, then insert the tube through the fuselage and into the left stabilizer half and secure that half with a second screw. However, when I went to drill the hole for the second screw, there was no tube under the screw location. The provided tube was 185 mm long, and the stabilizer hole spacing was 180 mm center-to-center. That spacing didn't leave much room for drilling the screw holes.

I redrilled both mounting holes as close to the end of the tube as possible, and I was barely able to get the stabilizer to fit. I called Horizon technical assistance and was told they had not heard of this issue before. They made a service note and promised to investigate the problem.

Once the horizontal stabilizers were mounted, I noticed that the trailing edges of the elevators were warped. The right elevator was warped up, and the left elevator was warped down. This would have caused the plane to roll to the right even with neutral aileron trim.

However, a few minutes work with a heat gun straightened them right out, and I was ready to go on with the build process.

Fuselage

Construction continued with the motor and cowl installation. The firewall had a nifty slotting arrangement that allowed the captive blind nuts to slide in or out to accommodate different size motor mounts. This made the motor installation very easy and would make later motor upgrades a breeze.

The Texan needs two servos for the elevator, one for each half. The location of the pushrods in the fuselage requires that the elevator servos rotate in opposite directions. This arrangement requires the use of either a servo reversing "Y-harness", or the use of an additional Receiver channel and computer radio mixing with trim adjustment enabled. Since I was using the six channel AR6200 receiver, I used a servo reversing harness, and it worked just fine.

Wing

Wing construction begins with servo installation in each outer wing panel. I found that I needed to trim 1/8" off the end of the mounting block that was closest to the trailing edge of the wing. Due to the wing taper, the original block hit the top wing sheeting and would not let the servo plate close.

The flaps were controlled by a servo in each wing panel. The linkage was completely contained within the wing and made for a very scale looking installation.

The construction manual gave some very good hints about the adjustment process to get the flaps functioning properly without damaging the structure. After a few minutes of mechanical manipulations, the flaps tracked each other perfectly.

The wing center section contained the landing gear mounting structure. The kit has provisions for both fixed and retractable landing gear. The kit includes a set of fixed landing gear, and they should be a simple 5-minute bolt-on installation. However, I wanted retracts, and they required a little more work. The retract installation process was well detailed in the manual, and the optional Robart retract mechanisms were an exact fit on the wing structure. It took longer than I anticipated to fine-tune the linkages and get the retracts to function reliably, but it was well worth the effort. The optional scale wheels were also a nice touch. They looked great tucked up in the wheel wells.

After the initial taxi tests, the Robart gear struts worked their way loose from the retracts and began rotating in their housings. I took them out and filed flats on the struts and used some thread locking compound on the setscrews to hold them in place. I took care to be sure the wheels ended up with a little toe-in, and I only used a little thread locking compound as some compounds can react with the plastic retract materials and make it swell. The struts have not come loose again.

The outer wing panels were attaches to the center section with aluminum wing tubes and 4-40 socket head screws. The right wing panel bolt hole did not line up with the blind nut on the center section mounting tab, but a couple of minutesí work with a hand drill had things lined up just fine.

Radio Installation

I mounted the two-piece AR6200 receiver in the fuselage with hook and loop fastener material. The main receiver mounts to the servo plate and the remote receiver mounts on the opposite side of the fuselage with the remote antennas at 90 degrees to the main receiver antennas.

The recommended E-flite 60 amp ESC uses a switching voltage controller in the BEC circuit and is capable of supplying a continuous 2.5 amp load at any ESC input voltage up to 22.2 volts (up to a 6-cell LiPo pack). The BEC is rated for up to seven standard analog servos plus one analog retract servo. That's pretty impressive! However, since I was using seven digital servos plus one digital retract servo, the 2.5 amp circuit was not enough. I opted for a separate 2500 mAh receiver battery pack.

Completion

The completed Texan, RTF weighed 4 pounds and 10 ounces, only 2 ounces over the stated weight - very reasonable considering the heavier digital servos and separate flight battery pack. I checked the center of gravity, and with the flight battery all the way forward, the CG was only 1/4" behind the recommended location. I set the control surface throws at the recommended amounts for high and low rates, and I programmed in 25% exponential on low rates and 30% on high rates. I then set two flap points at approximately 30-degree and 60-degree flap angles.

Flying

Basics

This Texan lived up to its designation as an Advanced Trainer. Horizon took out most of the bad habits normally associated with a scale Warbird model and gave us a well-mannered beauty.

Taking Off and Landing

The manual recommended that the first takeoff be made without flaps, but to use them on landings. This is good advice since most first flights require some trim adjustments, and trying to adjust trims and raise the flaps could get to be a problem. This Texan only needed minor trim adjustments and, to my surprise, needed no elevator trim programming to compensate for landing gear or flap deployment. Even on landing approaches, going from no flaps to full flaps did not cause any ballooning.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Oh, baby! Yes, the Texan was very aerobatic. Inside and outside loops were nice and large, and rolls were axial. Stall turns were crisp, and inverted flight only took a little down elevator. Snap rolls were spectacular! The Texan could perform all normal pattern type maneuvers and looked mighty good doing them.

Retracts and scale split flaps added a lot to the scale appearance and flight appeal of the AT-6.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. However, an intermediate pilot with some tail dragger experience wouldn't have any problems with this Texan. The AT-6 would make an excellent choice as a first Warbird model with its gentle flight characteristics. This would also be an excellent platform to learn how to install and use scale retracts and flaps.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Horizon Hobby has definitely met their stated goals for the AT-6. The E-Flite Platinum Series Texan has the stunning good looks of a famous Warbird with lots of scale details usually reserved for larger scale models, all in a quick building ARF format. This version also has the great trainer-type flying characteristics of its full size counterpart. Horizon has chosen an excellent model as the flagship of its Platinum Series of extra high quality models.

Pluses:

  • Very high quality ARF
  • Excellent assembly manual
  • Nice scale details
  • Korean War trim looked very good
  • Quick building
  • Hinges pre-glued into all movable surfaces
  • Three-piece wing and removable stabs for easy transport
  • Nice large battery access hatch
  • Optional scale upgrades are available
  • Great Flying Plane

Minuses:

  • Stab Tube could be longer
  • Warped elevators
  • Retract gear wire worked loose
  • Outer Wing Panel Mounting Hole Misaligned

Are you ready for a Warbird that flies as good as it looks? Then this Platinum Series AT-6 Texan is the plane for you.

Last edited by Angela H; Apr 27, 2008 at 07:47 PM..

Discussion

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Old May 05, 2008, 08:08 AM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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Great review... I started building mine yesterday and had the same issue as you on the first step... even posted it inthe long thread on her.
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Old May 05, 2008, 10:14 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,253 Posts
Very nice review! I'm looking forward to assembling mine starting in June when I get back from vacation. Mike
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Old May 05, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Joined May 2006
8,113 Posts
The issue of the short tube for the horizontal stab has been covered many times in the AT-6 thread going back to when the plane first came out. Anyone building this plane would do themselves a favor to read through that thread first. A lot of good info in there.
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Old May 05, 2008, 11:51 AM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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Socomon, I agree, but the main issue is that the thread is what...200 pages long!! Thats a lot of reading if your just now getting on board with this plane. A nice build thread with only build info and not the "what I want in the next platinum series plane to be" would make things easier. I do refer back to that thread, and use the search function but building tips/issues are spread out over many pages. Just my 2 cents...
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Old May 05, 2008, 12:40 PM
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BigGuyJT's Avatar
Fresno, California
Joined Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socomon
The issue of the short tube for the horizontal stab has been covered many times in the AT-6 thread going back to when the plane first came out...
Since day 1 that was a problem and we were told that was addressed. I wonder why the tech at HH said they hadnt heard of that yet?
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Old May 05, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Joined May 2006
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Yeah - i was actually wondering that myself. I imagine that means that particular tech wasn't aware of it. Maybe John Redman will set them straight.
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Old May 05, 2008, 12:55 PM
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BigGuyJT's Avatar
Fresno, California
Joined Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socomon
Maybe John Redman will set them straight.
I have faith in him. John R's the man!!!
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Old May 05, 2008, 02:38 PM
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Dora Nine's Avatar
United States, NH
Joined May 2005
7,592 Posts
Yeap, he sure will. When I had issues with my plane, my pictures that I posted on this site were actually sent to China. I guess it caused quite a stir.

Any chance you could also post smaller video file for us folks with slow internet? It'll take days for me to down load that one with my air card. Verizon broad band...yeah.
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Old May 05, 2008, 04:24 PM
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Taylorman's Avatar
Cleveland, Ohio
Joined Jul 2006
1,563 Posts
I agree with ATIS, for someone starting a build, 200 pages to read sorting out the real info from the fluff and non build posts would really be time consuming. Being with the thread from almost the beginning as I assembled mine, it was a lot easier and we were able to share information, problems and solutions. Plus we had the added benefit of John Redman's input. It would really be a shame if others aren't able to benefit from the early builders blood, sweat and tears because the thread is so time consuming to read.

Maybe when another build thread starts on the next plane we should keep it just that - a build thread with tips to get past problems, set up's and flight reports. We can start another parallel thread for wishes and rants.

Almost forgot. Very good review and the flight video really gave a good look at the AT-6's performance! Good Job!
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Old May 05, 2008, 09:40 PM
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ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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well, I have only got as far as mounting the radial motor into the cowling...so I will back up and take a few picts and start a build thread... it will be a few days that way I can get at least a good portion of the build documented and in several posts in a row...stand by for a few PM's if I hit snags so I can incorporate the fixes into the posts then I will open the thread to everyone... can I lock and unlock my own posts?
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Old May 05, 2008, 10:06 PM
Luvin' Life
1Radioflyer's Avatar
United States, MI, Portage
Joined Apr 2007
2,867 Posts
Many of us who have built and flown this beautiful T-6 still chat on a regular basis @

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...58#post9692067

Any issues on the build, such as the short stab tube, have been discussed. Find the center on all tubes for balance mark it adjust it accordingly. Never assume that tube should fit perfectly. I've learned that the hard way

This is a Beautiful plane on the ground and in the sky, it's not a beginners plane and it demands your attention. It flies very well but like any warbird DO NOT let it get slow, it will stop responding and spin.

God Bless Y'all!

Jay
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Old May 06, 2008, 12:19 AM
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Holtenbacker's Avatar
Modesto, California USA
Joined Jan 2004
727 Posts
Same problem
-thread was way long to read everything
-same problems with mine, but corrected them without thread or review
-waiting for the scale cockpit

I now have 5 flights on mine
I would post a picture but everyone would copy it and make theirs look my mine
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Old May 06, 2008, 12:34 AM
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Fresno, California
Joined Mar 2007
2,543 Posts
The guys on the AT-6 all seem to be really good guys. If you have a question, even if its been discussed already I dont think anyone would mind helping you out. I know I dont mind. Even a pm works. But if you post in the thread you might get a couple different answers and might find one that you like better!
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Old May 06, 2008, 05:55 AM
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New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
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Jay and BigGuy,

I agree everyone in the thread is very helpful but the basic build questions/answers are buried and if your like me I get impatient during my builds...the longer they take the less thrilled I am to maiden cause the intital excitement has worn off...of course with this one the excitement is going to be fear of crashing on the maiden after all the work since its my first balsa plane...
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