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ElectriFly Sopwith Camel WWI Parkflyer ARF Review

ElectriFly has just added yet another stunning WWI aircraft to their EP Parkflyer lineup, this time with the Sopwith Camel.

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Introduction


Wingspan:35.5"
Wing Area:389 sq. in.
Weight:21 - 26.5 oz.
Length:25"
Wing Loading:7.8 - 9.7 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Futaba S3114 Micro (4x)
Transmitter:4 channel
Receiver:4 channel min
Battery:Electrifly 3s 1500mah 15C
Motor:RimFire 28-30-950 Brushless
ESC:Silver Series SS-25
Manufacturer:GreatPlanes
Available From:Your local hobby store
MSRP:$99.99

Go ask around your flying field, and see just what are your friendsí favorite era/type of aircraft. I'm sure you'll get lots of answers, but I'd bet there are quite a few votes for WW1 and WW2 fighters. For those of us who fall into this category, it truly is a great time to be involved in this hobby; everytime I login here at RCGroups or visit my LHS, I see a new product that escalates the level of achievement set just a few days prior!

Enter the new Great Planes Sopwith Camel Parkflyer. With great scale looks, docile flight characteristics, and its vivid history what's not to like?

 

<font size=-2>Sopwith Camel ... what a beautiful aircraft!</font>
Sopwith Camel ... what a beautiful aircraft!

<font size=-2>Welcome to the aerodrome!</font>
Welcome to the aerodrome!


 

History

WW1, spanned over 4 years (1914-1918) and involved over 100 countries. The War to End All Wars saw the modernization of many technologies that certainly helped serve as the basis for many of today's modern military weaponry and vehicles including:

  • Tanks
  • Aircraft
  • Machine guns

  • Submarines
  • Heavy artillery

The pace at which aeronautical engineering grew between the years of 1914 - 1918 was staggering, and it was certainly one of the most exciting times ever in the history of military aviation. Among the many innovators of the era was the Sopwith Aviation Company based in Kingston upon Thames in the U.K. Founded by Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith in December of 1912, the company produced and designed aircraft until September of 1920. Sopwith aviation developed many well known aircraft over the years, including the Tabloid, Gun Bus, 1 1/2 Strutter, Pup, Camel, Triplane and Dolphin.

The Sopwith Camel was widely known for its many unique characteristics, including the hump shaped enclosure surrounding its .303 caliber machine guns that gave it its nickname, the "Camel". Originally introduced into service in 1917, the Camel came equipped with a Clerget 9B Rotary engine making 130hp, giving it a top speed of just under 115mph. Construction consisted mainly of wood, canvas and wire which helped keep the plane light (around 900lbs dry and 1500 with fuel and ordinance), which allowed for greater armament than the Camelís predecessor, the Sopwith Pup. In experienced hands, the Camel was a superb fighter and a favorite of such pilots as William Barker who racked up 46 plane and blimp kills between late 1917 - 1918.

<font size=-2>William Barkerís historic Camel</font>
William Barkerís historic Camel

<font size=-2>On the flight line</font>
On the flight line

<font size=-2>'Business end of the Camel</font>
'Business end of the Camel

<font size=-2>Australian Air Force</font>
Australian Air Force

<font size=-2>Clerget power plant</font>
Clerget power plant

Kit Contents

My kit arrived double boxed with some holes on the outside shipping carton. But the Camel comes well packaged, and nothing within the kit box was harmed. The control surfaces are pre-slotted, pre-hinged and pre-glued at the factory, a nice touch if you're like me and get grumpy installing them. The included pilot comes pre-painted and even has a little scarf material. The hatch is magnetic, and there appears to be plenty of room in the battery compartment for a much larger battery then the recommended 1500mah pack.

The wings, fuse and stabs are constructed of balsa and are nicely covered with MonoKote film. Decals are pre-applied. There are even some plastic .303 Vickers machine guns and inspection cowls to round out those nice scale details. As one would expect from Electrifly, their planes come pretty complete in the way of hardware, and don't require much to be supplied short of glue and power train/electronics.

<font size=-2>Kit as it arrived</font>
Kit as it arrived

<font size=-2>First peek inside</font>
First peek inside

<font size=-2>All the goodies out of the box</font>
All the goodies out of the box

Kit includes/features:

  • MonoKote covered fuselage, wing and empennage
  • Pre-installed decals
  • Balsa construction
  • Pre-slotted, pre-hinged and glued control surfaces
  • Pushrods w/ connecting hardware
  • Scale landing gear
  • Pre-painted pilot figure w/ scarf material
  • Magnetic canopy
  • Fiberglass motormount

Kit requires:

  • Complete power system
    (motor, esc, battery)
  • Radio system
    (tx, rx, 4 channel)
  • Sub-micro servos (4x)
  • Servo extensions/Y cable
  • Glue

For this review, Great Planes has supplied me with the setup recommended for this aircraft. The 950kv motor makes a maximum of 155 watts which, with my targeted weight of about 1 1/2lbs, makes for approximately 100 watts per pound - perfect for scale park flight.

<font size=-2>Rimfire 28-30-950
Rimfire 28-30-950
Type:Brushless Outrunner
Weight:1.91oz (54g)
Shaft Dia.:3mm
Cells:7.4v - 14.8v (2-4s lipo)
RPM Volt/KV:950
Continuous Current:14A
Burst Current:20A
Prop range:9x3.5S - 12x6S
Max output (watts):155
MSRP:$49.99

<font size=-2>Great Planes Silver Series 25A ESC</font>
Great Planes Silver Series 25A ESC
Cont. Current:25A
Burst Current:28A
Input Voltage:7-12 nicad or 3-4s lipo
Weight:.92oz (26g)
BEC:5V/2A
MSRP:$39.99

<font size=-2>Great Planes BP1500 11.1V lipo</font>
Great Planes BP1500 11.1V lipo
Capacity:1500mah
Voltage:11.1V
Number of cells:3
Weight:4.6oz (129g)
C Rating:15C
Max. Continuous Current:22.5A
MSRP:$27.99

Assembly

noted there was an addendum to the manual regarding the wing attachment and made sure to follow those new and improved instructions where applicable. The instruction manual was very thorough, well illustrated and clear. Nothing in the assembly process stood out to me as too daunting a task nor did it require any tools that weren't readily available in my workshop. Let the build begin!

Fuselage

While no construction is needed to finalize the fuselage itself, it is the center point for the placement of many other components. It is worth noting that this is the only piece in the kit where I felt it necessary to use a heat gun to shrink down the covering a little bit.

<font size=-2>Fuse w/ tail feathers attached</font>
Fuse w/ tail feathers attached

<font size=-2>Firewall closeup</font>
Firewall closeup

<font size=-2>Completed empennage</font>
Completed empennage

Wing

The wing assembly consists of dropping in the servos, connecting the linkages, bolting the upper and lower wings into place on the cabanes, and installing the hardware for the wing struts. While mounting the wings isn't a difficult task, some attention to detail is required as the alignment here is fairly critical. The decals one one side of my wing were overlapping the aileron a bit too much and caused it to hang up a bit. 30 seconds with a sharp blade to trim up the overhanging sticker(s), and everything was moving freely.

<font size=-2>Strut hardware and fiberglass horn in place</font>
Strut hardware and fiberglass horn in place

<font size=-2>Cabanes temporarily in place</font>
Cabanes temporarily in place

<font size=-2>Completed wing in place</font>
Completed wing in place

<font size=-2>Struts and linkages</font>
Struts and linkages

Tail

Horizontal Stab

The horizontal stab installation begins by mounting the bottom wing with the supplied bolts. This allows you to have a reference point while finding the horizontal stabs center point on the fuselage and during it's leveling. Once the wing was in place, I temporarily fitted the stab with blue painterís tape and ensured it was level to the wings. I had to sand a little bit to get the stab level with the wing. Normally when I verify the stab is centered with the wing, I just measure from the tip of the wing to the tip of the stab with my measuring tape. Electrifly has outlined a cool procedure in which you insert a t-pin in the cockpit at the pre-marked centerline, and run a length of string to the tip of either side of the stab to ensure itís the same distance. I like this approach and will be utilizing it in the future.

<font size=-2>Finding center</font>
Finding center

     

<font size=-2>Squaring up to the wings</font>
Squaring up to the wings

Vertical Stab

The vertical stab comes with two notches on the bottom which allow it to rest within the horizontal stab. Installing it is as simple as pushing it into the horizontal stab, checking alignment with your builderís triangle and gluing into place.

<font size=-2>Ensuring it's square</font>
Ensuring it's square

   

<font size=-2>T-pin thru the hinge to ensure proper spacing</font>
T-pin thru the hinge to ensure proper spacing

Motor/ESC Installation

Mounting the motor starts by removing the motor mount attached to your motor (if one was) and replacing it with the fiberglass mount from the kit. Once this is done, simply take the provided spacers and bolt the motor up to the firewall. The ESC simply mounts to the RX/ESC tray with standard double sided tape.

One of my favorite scale features on the kit is the faux engine. You can glue the plastic piece in place if you choose or use the included steel rods (as I did) which mimic the engineís pushrods. It really adds to the scale looks in my opinion.

<font size=-2>Rimfire with connectors and fiberglass mount</font>
Rimfire with connectors and fiberglass mount

<font size=-2>Motor mounted and ESC in place</font>
Motor mounted and ESC in place

<font size=-2>Faux motor mounted in cowl</font>
Faux motor mounted in cowl

<font size=-2>Ready to roll!</font>
Ready to roll!

Landing Gear

The landing gear installation is straightforward, but ensure you align the pieces as outlined in the instruction manual. You'll want to install some threadlocker on each of the landing gear strut fasteners. I didn't, and they vibrated loose after just a couple flights.

<font size=-2>Landing gear installed</font>
Landing gear installed

<font size=-2>Tail skid</font>
Tail skid

Radio Installation

The provided S3114 servos fit perfectly in the rudder/elevator servo mounting tray, and I had no issues setting them up on the flush mount aileron trays either. The pushrods come pre-bent, and the ez-connectors that we all love so much come included with the kit as well as all the horns etc. The aileron linkages are interesting: they are two piece and connect together with CA glue and heatshrink tubing. I had no problems installing them, and they seem to operate smoothly.

<font size=-2>Servos mounted in tray</font>
Servos mounted in tray

<font size=-2>RX/ESC tray mounted in place</font>
RX/ESC tray mounted in place

<font size=-2>Flush mount servo tray</font>
Flush mount servo tray

<font size=-2>Servo secured, and linkages connected</font>
Servo secured, and linkages connected

Completion

The remaining steps consist of gluing in the pilot, Vickers machine guns, and inspections cowls, attaching the battery tray, balancing the aircraft (make sure you add the recommended nose weight) and checking the control surface throws.

<font size=-2>Pilot and inspection cowl</font>
Pilot and inspection cowl

<font size=-2>Battery tray and battery in place</font>
Battery tray and battery in place

<font size=-2>Completed model waiting for patrol orders!</font>
Completed model waiting for patrol orders!

<font size=-2>Balancing</font>
Balancing

<font size=-2>Checking throws</font>
Checking throws

Flying

Basics

The Camel is very light, and sized perfectly, for those trips to the playground with the kids. The plane handles very well all around the flight envelope, but seems most comfortable in what scale flight (approx. 1/2 throttle). I just love lumbering this thing around the airfield in the calm air on a nice early morning flight, and it's apparent that this is the type of flying the designers had in mind when developing this plane.

But the Rimfire 950kv motor will pull this thing much faster if you so desire, with enough authority at higher throttle setting to make any WW1 ace envious. With my preferred scalelike flying, I'm getting flight times of about 7 - 8 minutes from my 1500mah pack, and I am putting back about 1100mah.

The instruction manual states the plane is intended for winds in the 0 - 10mph range. I've flown it in winds up to 10 - 12mph, and it can be a bit of a handful. Just be on your toes, make sure you land directly into the wind, and you should be just fine.

Taking Off and Landing

Without a steering mechanism, I envisioned ground looping and drunkenly weaving about the runway for my first takeoff attempt. Much to my surprise, the planeís ground handling characteristics are very docile, and the rudder stays effective at slower speeds. To help ensure the plane tracks well on departure, I found that instead of gingerly rolling into the throttle as I do on some of my overpowered taildraggers, it's best to apply the throttle a bit more liberally to get the plane tracking and up on step quickly. With the Rimfire 950kv motor, the plane takes off at about 1/2 throttle in about 15 feet, and normally requires just a little bit of aileron and rudder inputs to keep the wings level and tracking straight.

<font size=-2>Nice scale departure</font>
Nice scale departure

<font size=-2>Climb!</font>
Climb!

The camel floats very nicely as I found in power off glide tests, so bringing it in on those first approaches wasn't so nerve wracking. Landing the Camel on a nice day couldn't be much easier. Approach speeds are ridiculously slow, giving you lots of time to visualize your touch down and adjust as needed. Just keep in mind control surfaces are less effective at slower speeds, so you might need to feed in a bit more inputs then you would normally expect, as it has taken me a few flights to remember.

<font size=-2>On approach</font>
On approach

<font size=-2>Over the threshold</font>
Over the threshold

Aerobatics / Special Flight Performance

I don't pretend to be a good aerobatic pilot, so all of the maneuvers I put my review planes through are on the simple side. The plane rolls very nicely on the stock throws, executing them in a scale fashion - not too fast, but not too slow either. Loops can be done easily around 3/4 throttle, or chop the throttle back a little for more scale lazy loops. Pretend you're piloting a WW1 era fighter and you'll have a blast ... you'll probably even find the Camel exceeds your expectations in this department, as I have.

Is This For a Beginner?

While the airplane does not exhibit any tendencies that would make me believe it would be impossible for a beginner to fly, it does have ailerons, and on that basis alone I would not recommend it for a complete beginner.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

<font size=-2>Overcast skies</font>
Overcast skies

<font size=-2>Author shot</font>
Author shot

<font size=-2>Glamour shot</font>
Glamour shot

<font size=-2>Check 6!</font>
Check 6!

<font size=-2>Blue skies over the frontline</font>
Blue skies over the frontline

<font size=-2>Nice markings</font>
Nice markings

<font size=-2>Low & slow</font>
Low & slow

<font size=-2>Nice vivid colors</font>
Nice vivid colors

<font size=-2>In-flight</font>
In-flight

<font size=-2>In-flight</font>
In-flight

<font size=-2>In-flight</font>
In-flight

<font size=-2>In-flight</font>
In-flight

<font size=-2>Cruise flight</font>
Cruise flight

<font size=-2>Taxi to the flightline</font>
Taxi to the flightline

<font size=-2>Gun pass</font>
Gun pass

<font size=-2>Fast & low</font>
Fast & low

Downloads

Conclusion

This is the first biplane I've owned, and I must say I truly enjoy its flight characteristics and find myself using it for the first flights of the day to get my thumbs warmed up. If you're looking for a parkflyer for your fleet that looks great in the air, flies nicely and is fairly priced, I highly recommend you look into the Electrifly Camel.

Pros:

  • Great scale details
  • Level of prefabrication (pre-slotted, pre-hinged, firewall installed, etc)
  • Looks awesome in the air
  • Lands nice and slow

Cons:

  • Glossy covering
  • Landing gear spacer rod keeps falling out

Thanks

Thanks to Hobbico for giving me the opportunity to review this plane, and supplied hardware. And as always to Jon Barnes and Terry Riley for their excellent photography/videography skills and support.

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 14, 2009 at 02:18 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 14, 2009, 03:06 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
United States, CA, Los Angeles
Joined Sep 2003
23,575 Posts
Awesome video. The special effects and slow motion in the first half are excellent.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 03:27 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,455 Posts
Excellent review Don! Truly top notch. As Kmot pointed out, the first half of the video was very interesting and well done. I can't wait to get my Spad XIII. My flying buddy got the Camel and he hopes to get to the assembly soon. Yours looks great in the pictures and video. Mike Heer
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 03:50 PM
↓↘→ + (punch)
theKM's Avatar
central PA.
Joined Sep 2004
20,187 Posts
great work on the video guys! ...in my opinion, I reckon that's one of the few "only available as a 100mb+ download" review vids that's really worth the wait!

A mighty fine review indeed and it looks like a groovy little park flyer too.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 04:38 PM
Balsa just crashes better
Cub Fan's Avatar
Bradenton, FL
Joined Nov 2004
600 Posts
Great review- The video is very cool. I have the SE-5 in this series and love it. It is great to see they are doing some other WW-1 subjects also. These birds are the perfect size and fly well.
I can see my hanger may be getting another WW-1 Bipe

Cub Fan
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 05:17 PM
Registered User
Wingman26's Avatar
Oklahoma
Joined Aug 2008
670 Posts
Great review and awesome video!

I'm curious...do you know what video software he used for the editing? The special effects were very well done.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 07:13 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
Good job. It would be worth applying some dull coat or matte varnish and maybe adding some dummy rigging too.

From a couple of the photos, especially the one from behind, the plane seems to be a bit "twisted" and not straight. Have you noticed that?
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 07:28 PM
Lipo abuser ... smoke on!
gp125racer's Avatar
Joined Feb 2005
1,917 Posts
Thanks for the comments fellas.

I'll let Jon chime in as to what software he is using for the editing as I am not 100% certain.

As for the "twisting", I do see how the one photo has an odd angle to it, I'm thinking that maybe the perspective / ground not being level has something todo with it as I have not noticed it in person.

Don
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Last edited by gp125racer; Jan 14, 2009 at 07:29 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 07:48 PM
Registered User
Gerry Markgraf's Avatar
S. Calif
Joined Mar 2000
1,409 Posts
Don/Jon

Good review and a stunning video. The video was worth every second of the 100 Mb download - I think it was the best video of a model airplane that I have ever seen. Now all you need are some good markings from Callie and aome Krylon Matt and you will be in business - Oh and some rigging would be nice.

My Camel makes it's second flight tomorrow. I now have 2 1/2 oz of weight in the nose and have a couple of degrees of downthrust. We shall see. I can always take some weight out once I get comfortable with the flight characteristics. Last week, it balloned up on me on takeoff with 1 1/2 oz in the nose, so I think a bit more weight in the nose was called for. The build is stock with the recommended motor, but maybe the Krylon on the fuselage adds enough weight to require some extra weight in the nose. The moment arm of the fuselage aft of the cg is very long and forward of the cg is very short.

Gerry
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 08:09 PM
Boffin
rpage53's Avatar
Victoria, BC, Canada
Joined Apr 2001
3,397 Posts
The video is 110 Meg. I think RCG might want a smaller version to reduce the load on their servers and for anyone without broadband.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 08:54 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar
USA, NY, East Islip
Joined Feb 2004
11,066 Posts
Stunning review! That's going to sell an awful lot of Camels!!!

Tommy D
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 09:01 PM
Yea..When mowers fly!
Jay-viator's Avatar
The White House?
Joined Apr 2008
1,574 Posts
Sweet review (2 Thumbs Up!!)
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 09:16 PM
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sdjb's Avatar
Apache Junction,Arizona
Joined Jul 2003
469 Posts
Camel

Don, Very nice man, Loved it.

sdjb
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 09:37 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,695 Posts
I use Vegas for my video editing. Here is a Vimeo link but I encourage you to download the full version from here. I worked HARD on it and I think it is worth it!

Great Planes Sopwith Camel Biplane (2 min 26 sec)
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 10:01 PM
wine country wing nut
BlueSkyRiderX's Avatar
United States, CA, Sonoma
Joined Mar 2005
388 Posts
Awesome review Don!!! It was a genuine pleasure to shoot some of the media for you. I look forward to doing more of the same.

Awesome video Jon!!! I really like how you included that clean overhead shot I was able to capture. Your video editing skills are definitely moving into the next level.
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Last edited by BlueSkyRiderX; Jan 14, 2009 at 10:11 PM.
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