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Great Planes Escapade™ .40-.56 EP ARF Review

The newest sport ARF from Great Planes is a real head-turner: nicely built, impeccably finished and it has a great classic color scheme.

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Introduction


Wingspan:52.5"
Wing Area:483 sq. in.
Weight:5 lb. 6 oz.
Wing Loading:25.6 oz/sq. ft.
Length:46"
Servos:4 x Futaba S3004 Standard Size
Transmitter:Futaba 10C
Receiver:Futaba R606FS
Battery:Electrifly Power Series 3200mAh 4S
Motor:Great Planes Rimfire .46 42-60-800 Outrunner Brushless
ESC:Great Planes Silver Series 60A Brushless ESC High Volt
Prop:APC 13x8
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies
Price:$99.98 (ARF only)

The newest sport ARF from Great Planes is a real head-turner: nicely built, impeccably finished, and it has a great classic color scheme. At only $99 for a complete ARF that you can build with either glow or electric power, it's a heck of a deal. Oh yeah, it flies pretty well too! It'll scream with a .40 glow engine, or drop in a motor, and enjoy the ease of electric flight (but be sure to pick up the optional cowl for the nose.) This should be a strong contender for your next sport plane or your first low-winger. We have gotten numerous compliments and have already seen a couple of Escapades join ours at our local field.

Kit Contents

Kit Contains:

  • ARF
  • Landing gear
  • Wheel pants
  • Complete hardware kit including fuel tank
  • Motor mount for electric and glow

Kit Requires:

  • .40-sized glow or equivalent electric setup
  • Cowl (optional)
  • 3-4 standard size servos depending on aileron setup (add 1 for glow throttle)
  • Receiver

The first thing we noticed when unboxing the Escapade was the incredibly tight covering job. As we unbagged piece after piece, we saw nary a wrinkle. The heat gun stayed in its drawer throughout the build. We've never had an ARF that didn't need some tightening, but this one did not. And after a dozen or so flights, it still doesn't.

The second thing we noticed was the neat retro covering scheme. Straight lines, classic colors - none of the swirly swoopy pink and purple high-tech graphics that have become popular in the last decade. Add the lack of decals (they come on a sheet but the plane out of the box is decal-free), and we liked this look a lot. We could have passed the plane off as a very well-built kit if we had wanted to! Great Planes deserves to have their graphics applied to the plane, but if this weren't a review plane I believe we'd have left the clean look alone.

Another retro touch is the open engine bay. No cowls to mess with and a very sporty look for a glow plane. For an electric? You don't want to see all those wires and whatnot hanging out there in the breeze. But Great Planes makes an optional cowl, and while it didn't fit as well as we'd hoped and required 3/8" motor offsets, the look is worth it.

The plane comes fully equipped for either glow or electric, including motor mounts and a fuel tank. We went with the electric option, but a .40 would move that plane around the sky nicely! We're considering getting a second one in glow.

Assembly

There were a couple of gotchas in the assembly, particularly in the tail, but nothing we couldn't overcome. All in all, unless this is your very first ARF, the build should be quite straightforward.

Wing

Right off the bat there is a choice when building the wing: Continuing the retro theme, you can set it up with only one aileron servo utilizing torque rods (the way we did it back in the day of rotary phones and American car companies) or the now-standard one per aileron. One servo will have plenty of torque to drive both ailerons, but we were not comfortable with the possibility of flex in the torque rods, the inability to set individual endpoints for each aileron and who knows we might want to program in flaperons. So we went with the dual-servo setup. Step one, which is not mentioned in the manual, was to cut off the torque rods where they stuck out of the center section of the wing. These are just begging to rip up the covering of whatever other plane you put this wing near.

Installing the servos was simple and presented no problems.

The wing is two-piece, which we were grateful to see. We were less grateful that the wing tube fits so tightly that while we were struggling to get the wing together we were afraid that one of us would crack a rib... or perhaps even damage the wing. So while this is a two-piece wing, it's pretty small, so we've treated it as a one-piece.

Speaking of small, this is positioned as a .40-sized plane, but with a wing area of only 483 sq. in., it's a lot closer to what most manufacturers would consider a .25. The only measurement that fits into the .40 category is weight (5 lb. 6 oz with battery). That's a semi-heavy 25.6 oz./sq. ft. wing loading.

Fuselage

There are some nice touches in the fuselage that we didn't expect. A tube to run your 72Mhz antenna back to the tail is a nice but common touch, but this plane also sports 2 small tubes for your 2.4Ghz antennas. Nice! Tail servos go under the wing like they used to back when men were men and RC airplanes were kits. And one of the nicest touches, in our opinion: blind nuts and machine screws to hold on the wheel pants. Now it's no big deal to drill a pilot hole and drive a wood screw into the wheel pants, but it's so nice not to have to.

Tail

A surprisingly large part of the build time was spent back at the tail. To begin with, the vertical stab bolts in to the fuse, passing through the horizontal stab in the usual manner. But when you get the horizontal stab attached and start to fit everything to the fuse, you can't see the holes that the bolts need to go through, and we found it impossible to get the bolts lined up right. Try after try failed; finally we resorted to the solution shown below: we taped bits of pushrod to the ends of the bolts, which we fed through the holes in the fuse.

A nice touch: Great Planes includes a plastic socket wrench to tighten the bolts at the tail. Not everyone would have a socket that size, so it is a very thoughtful inclusion.

The other problem we had at the tail was the tailwheel. It is a pretty straightforward setup, except that the bracket (as shown below) didn't allow enough room for the collar that goes under it. Tightening the bracket bound the collar to the extent that the rudder wouldn't turn easily. We tried re-bending the bracket to give the collar more space, but that didn't work; eventually we just ground the collar down until it fit.

Motor Installation

At first we weren't aware that there is an optional cowl ($19.99), so we mounted the motor in the engine bay and weren't very happy with the look. For some reason having a .40 sticking up out of that bay is cool, but a motor and wires just looked out of place. Then we discovered the cowl and ordered one. Installing it requires you to saw off the cheeks of the existing bay, which felt kind of strange to do but certainly wasn't difficult. Then we noticed that the cowl didn't fit on far enough for the motor to clear it. After various attempts to get the cowl smushed onto the fuse far enough to clear the motor, we gave up and bought some 3/8" standoffs at our local hardware store. It works fine but feels like a kludge. And as a precaution, we opened up a sizable vent on the underside and widened the scoops on either side of the prop. The motor and ESC stay cool just fine.

Flying

With the battery all the way forward the CG came in right where the manual called for it (2 1/2"). With the relatively small control surfaces (relative to a 3D plane, that is) we went for the full throws of 1 1/4" elevator, 2" rudder, and 1/2" ailerons. This is by no means an aggressive setup, particularly if you include some expo.

The plane, guided by our Futaba 10C, flies great! With a few clicks of up trim, the maiden flight was uneventful - fun, even, once we got it off the ground. Ground handling was a bit squirrelly on the first few flights, until we straightened the tailwheel a bit. But once the plane gets off the ground, the fun starts. Despite the fact that the plane is really a .25-sized plane, it flies more like a .40. It doesn't snap out of loops, and it doesn't feel heavy. The 42-60-800 motor is plenty of power - we flew at 1/2 throttle most of the time.

The plane can handle the basic aerobatic repertoire: It's a sport plane and it flies sporty. It rolls nicely but not fast enough that you will maintain altitude without a little correction from the elevator when inverted. It needs a touch of down to hold inverted too, which is just fine with us (it helps us to remember we're inverted!) The rudder is big compared to the rest of the control surfaces and has plenty of bite - maybe even a little too much at the high throw setting.

The plane needs to carry some power into the landing. At 25.6 oz/sq. ft. it lands more like a scale plane than a sport plane, so be sure to land a little hot at first until you get used to its stall characteristics.

Downloads

Is This For a Beginner?

For a rank beginner? A first plane? It's possible but we wouldn't recommend it. We'd like to see someone who has had some success with a trainer take this plane on. It would make a great second plane; at this price, a crash won't destroy your finances too badly. It would make a great steppingstone to scale flight, or be a relaxing change of pace between your 3D mayhem sessions.

Conclusion

We like this plane a lot. It is one of our regulars now and gets compliments almost every time we bring it. "Sa,y what is that? That's neat looking!" It isn't an aggressive flyer, but it's the essence of a fun little sport plane.

Pluses:

  • Price
  • Tightest covering job we've ever seen!
  • Great-looking color scheme
  • Pre-installed control surfaces
  • Complete hardware for electric or glow
  • Canopy pre-glued and ready to go
  • Great sporty handling

Minuses:

  • Tail installation was troublesome
  • Canopy frame is plastic and the corner broke falling off of a table
  • Torque rods? Really?
  • Two-piece wing is very difficult to get apart
Last edited by Angela H; Jul 02, 2009 at 07:50 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jul 02, 2009, 08:02 PM
Where'd my money go?
rawr404's Avatar
VA
Joined Jun 2008
577 Posts
Nice review! Very complete.
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 08:04 PM
The ground is approaching fast
Lewisville, TX
Joined Feb 2009
125 Posts
I've been eying this plane for about a month now along with some others. Thanks for this review because now it bumped it up higher on the list... At that price its almost impossible to resist.
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 08:13 PM
Registered User
Joined Jan 2009
59 Posts
I put a Saito 82 in mine and it flies impeccably well, I love it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFnnJMDa_kI
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 08:43 PM
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Xpress..'s Avatar
Joined Oct 2007
20,936 Posts
Hmm, I wonder how it would do on a .40 glow and 10x7 prop.

Nice review! Looks fantastic in the air!
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 09:41 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,057 Posts
Nice review Vic & Quinn. Good point about the tailwheel. After only a couple of flights I replaced my whole tail wheel assembly. I'm using a Turnigy 3548 1100 kV motor and a 3-cell 3750 mah Lipo pack. I've got unlimited vertical and saved a few ounces using 3-cells. I really like the looks of the optional cowl and think it's the only way to go if you choose electric power. Here's a picture of mine and one of my bud's 72 Saito powered version.
Mike McD
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 09:44 PM
Addicted to RC
YarSmythe's Avatar
USA, TX, Houston
Joined Nov 2003
2,741 Posts
We have a pretty good thread on the Escapade over here:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1012635

Thanks for the review!

-Lee
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 10:05 PM
Registered User
Canada's East Coast, "An Ocean Playground"
Joined Apr 2002
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I would have liked some comment on battery compartment size..!

Bill
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 10:32 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar
USA, NY, East Islip
Joined Feb 2004
11,060 Posts
Very well written article. I'm stunned it fly's so well on just 4 cells! Just how many watts is propelling that model so well?

Tommy D
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Old Jul 03, 2009, 01:10 PM
DJW
Registered User
Canada, ON, London
Joined Aug 2007
100 Posts
How heavy is the cowl and the RimFire? I've set mine up with a Scorpion SII-3026-710 and haven't yet bought the cowl, but even with a 4S5000 battery as far forward as possible I needed nose weight . Flies really well, with a bit of wind howl at high speed (maybe b/c of the fuselage cheeks?). I'm planning on adding the cowl just so I can remove some (maybe all) of the nose weight.
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Old Jul 03, 2009, 02:24 PM
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Xpress..'s Avatar
Joined Oct 2007
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^Rimfire motors are a bit on the heavy side, so that would explain why your scorpion power system wasn't heavy enough. There's only one thing to do: Add MORE power!
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Old Jul 03, 2009, 06:19 PM
We shall serve the Lord
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,057 Posts
After you cut off the nose cheeks and add the cowl, the total weight gain will be pretty small. Add another cell to your flight pack! There is no such thing as an overpowered plane -- some are just under airframed.
McD
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Old Jul 03, 2009, 07:07 PM
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Joined Oct 2008
229 Posts
I had the exact same problem with the tail feathers you did. Exentually I just stuck the rudder in the fuse without the elevator and left it for about an hour. When I came back the metal rods had bent out enough so I could wiggle it into the fuse with the elevator. Of course I thought of that idea after 20 plus minutes is trying to get it to fit. But I do love this plane very much, it is my favorite plane to fly. I especially like the noise it makes when you go fast!!!
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Old Jul 04, 2009, 07:21 PM
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Great review..
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Old Jul 05, 2009, 10:17 AM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredVTT
I would have liked some comment on battery compartment size..!

Bill
Good point Bill. The battery compartment is 2 7/8" x 7 1/4". Very spacious.
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