Albatros at the AMA Expo
|Wingspan:||40" Upper 39" Lower|
|Wing Area:||265 sq in Upper 152 sq in Lower|
|Servos:||4 GWS Naro+D Digital|
|Battery:||3-cell Lipoly 2100mAh|
|Motor:||Scorpion Brushless 2212-22|
|Propeller:||9 x 6|
|ESC:||GWS 25 Amp brushless|
|Available From:||Maxford USA|
|Price:||$ 145.99 ARF kit|
In 2008 I purchased a Maxford 38" Jenny at the AMA Expo after falling in love with its transparent covering, rigging and other details such as pull/pull controls. This year at the AMA Expo it was the new Maxford Albatros D III with scale details not often seen on a parkflyer model, including a very detailed preassembled dummy motor, machine guns, a radiator in the upper wing, scale spinner and rigging already installed in the wings.
Tha Albatros D.III built on the success of the earlier D.I and D.II versions. The fuselage was a semi monocoque structure with plywood skinning. The top wing was lowered from the earlier version for improved visibility and the bottom wing was borrowed from the French Nieuport with the sesquiplane wing arrangement with a shorter wing to improve maneuverability and downward visibility. The prototype D.III first flew in August 1916. At the time it had outstanding maneuverability and rate of climb. Additionally, it was heavily armed with twin synchronized, forward-firing 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns. The plane was powered by a 170 hp 6-cylinder inline, water-cooled engine with the radiator in the upper wing. This streamline radiator was originally in the center of the upper wing but was moved offset slightly (starting with plane # 290) to the pilot's right after battle damage caused scalding water to pour on a couple of pilots sitting beneath the radiator.
The radiator's position was not the plane's only problem. The lower wing had the spar too far back, and the wing would twist and crack and/or break the leading edge and ribs in the wing in doing so. This caused several planes to crash. The Red Baron suffered such a failure but was able to land his plane, and it was grounded for a month for repairs until late February 1917. There was a diving restriction on the plane even after the repairs. The plane's cone spinner was both a design flair and an aerodynamic asset.
More then 1,800 Albatros D.IIIs were built between 1916 and 1918, and the plane continued to be used throughout the war. In spring 1917 the plane was popular with the top German aces including Manfred von Richthofen, Kurt Wolff, Erich Lowenhardt and Ernst Udet. The allies quickly developed a high level of respect for the plane and the pilots flying it. This was especially true after the German successes in April 1917 where the Allies had horrific losses and called the month "Bloody April." The English learned to look for the unique spinner, the small bottom wing and the outer V strut and avoided it if for most of 1917.
Included in the Albatros D.III Kit:
Items Supplied by GWS:
Items Supplied by Author:
This product can be purchased from a craft store such as Michael’s. It is applied to the shrink covering with a sponge brush, and I do it in two light coats: one from wing tip to wing tip, and then when that is dry (20 minutes), from front to back. On the fuselage I do it front to back and then top to bottom. It dulls down the shine of the coat and gives it something of a canvas look. It makes the plane look much more scale to me. On the Albatros D.III, I added the decals that came with the plane to the appropriate places, and then I applied the Matte Varnish. It is easier to do a good job before the plane is assembled. Avoid bubbles in the varnish and any pooling or streaks of excess varnish. It goes on white but dries dull semi-clear.
The first step is to add a piece of tubing to the front of the dummy motor and then install it into the fuselage. It secures inside the fuselage with one screw and CA. The brushless motor installs to the firewall. The brushless motor blocks the screw mount for the dummy motor so it is important to follow the directions on the sequence of installation.
Scorpion 2212-22 Brushless outrunner
|Motor Wind:||22 Turn Delta|
|Weight:||1.84 oz (54g)|
|Motor Length:||0.969" (24.6mm)|
|Maximum Continuous Power (watts):||160|
E-flite 11.1 2100mAh
|Number of cells:||3|
|Weight:||6.6 oz (109g)|
|Dimensions:||1.35" x 4.05" x1.05"|
|Continuous Discharge Current:||42A|
|Connector:||E-flite EC3/balance 4 pin|
GWS 25A ESC
|Number of cells:||Li-Po 2-4, NiCd/NiMh 6-12|
|Weight:||.64 oz (18g)|
|Connector:||E-flite EC3 added|
GWS Naro+D Digital Servo Specs
|Operating Speed||(4.8V): 0.16 sec/60°|
|Stall Torque (4.8V):||22 oz-in.|
|Dimensions:||x 0.43"x 0.96"|
|Connector Wire Length:||5"|
|Gear Type:||All Nylon|
|Operating Voltage:||4.8-6.0 Volts|
The instructions covered the tail assembly very well but I was surprised that they didn't discuss trimming off the covering from the horizontal stab to make wood to wood contact for gluing it to the fuselage at the outside edge of the fuselage. It turned out that that was because I wasn't supposed to glue there, and no trimming was necessary. The horizontal stabilizer slides into a slot for it at the back of the fuselage. Slots on the inside middle of the stab line up with slots built into the fuselage. The vertical stabilizer slides through these slots, and CA glues the whole thing together. It was a nice tight fit and locked the pieces into place very well. The control rods are installed in the fuselage, and I just needed to pull them out to connect to the elevator and rudder. I deviated from the plans and installed the control horns onto the rods before gluing them into the elevator and rudder with CA and kicker. That made the assembly of the stabilizers very easy and quick. Warning: It is a very close clearance for the bottom of the rudder and the fuselage. Make sure you have the clearance before gluing the vertical stab in place. I used both CA and five-minute epoxy in securing the vertical stabilizer and locking in the tail assembly. Finally, the tail skid was epoxied into place per the instructions.
The engine was already installed at the start of the assembly process. I mounted the nicely detailed machine guns per the instructions. The instructions said to insert the windshield into the factory made slots for it in the fuselage, only my fuselage didn't have any visible factory made slots. I inspected the fuselage inside and out but there were no slots, so I cut my own with my Exacto knife and glued the windshield in place as shown below.
The first step was to remove the servo cover on the right wing as well as the radiator cover in the wing. I snaked a 12" servo extension wire from the center of the wing down to the aileron servo bay. I used a stiff but thin metal rod to do this. I installed the GWS Naro + D digital servo onto the servo cover and connected it to the servo extension wire. The 12" extension wire was connected to a 6" Y-connector. I centered the servo and then screwed the servo cover back onto the wing. The digital GWS servo fit nicely. A control horn was glued into the aileron and the servo was connected to the aileron per the instructions with hardware supplied. I repeated the process for the left wing. The Y-connector comes out of the wing through the radiator grill in the bottom of the top wing from the right side. They recommend to tightly wrap black tape around the exposed Y-connector wire to make the wire look like a radiator hose. I used a black magic marker on the wire just to make it dark. Whatever you decide to do with the wire, this is the time to do it since access will be limited after the wing is on the plane.
Four carbon fiber rods were supplied for the joining of the two wings. I inserted the two for the upper wing into one side and slid the other wing onto the rods. With the wings upside down I slide the fuselage onto the cabane struts from the top wing. There are reinforced pockets for the cabane struts on the inside of the fuselage with openings on the sides and they were a tight fit. (I came back and applied thin CA to the struts in the pockets when I was certain the wing was on correctly.) I next slid one side of the bottom wing into the bottom of the fuselage and inserted the carbon fiber rods from the other side and then slid the second bottom wing half onto the rods and into the fuselage. The bottom wing was secured to the bottom of the fuselage with two black bolts into premounted nuts inside the fuselage. So far so good. At this point I had a few questions to resolve.
The top wing was not secured at the center where the two halves come together. Curiously, there was no instruction on what to do about that, but I assumed some epoxy would join them together. I decided I would wait on doing that. The Y-connector wire from the wing is supposed to be plugged into the third 12" extension wire and fed through a hole in the center of the fuselage to get the aileron connection to the receiver. Having the space open between the top wing halves was helpful during this step. My extension wire female connector didn't fit into the hole so I expanded the hole on one side to allow the connector to pass into the fuselage. I tightened the ten screw and nut connectors on the cabane and outer struts per the instructions. It says to anchor and tighten the installed rigging to the anchor point on the fuselage, but I was not sure where to do that. The instructions didn't say, and the pictures showed the wires going in front of the wings to spots on the front of the fuselage, and there were holes on both sides of the fuselage perfect for small screws. However, the wire came pre-rigged, and it looked awful when I pulled the lines forward. They looked great when I pulled them back and down by where the landing gear gets mounted in back. I secured the rigging there and temporarily connected the loose strands with a spring on the end to the landing gear cross piece. Since it looked good as I did it I assumed they modified the rigging since the pictures were taken. At this point I epoxied the top wing halves together and held them together while the glue dried. The wings were now fully installed.
I had soldered an E-flite battery connector onto my GWS ESC at the start of this project to allow me to try a number of different size E-flite packs within the recommended size range (1,300-2,200mAh) for the plane. I already had these battery packs on hand. The ESC was positioned in the front of the fuselage where it wouldn't touch the outrunner motor and secured with Velcro. I mounted two GWS digital Naro + D servos in the spaces provided to control the elevator and rudder. I added EZ connectors to the servo arms, per the instructions, to make attaching and adjusting the control rods easy. I installed a Spectrum AR500 receiver in the forward compartment opposite the ESC and secured it in place with Velcro after plugging the servos into the proper channels on the receiver and binding the receiver to my DX7 transmitter. The battery compartment allowed for some movement of the battery to get the balance at the proper C/G location.
The landing gear was easily installed per the instructions. The prop and special spinner were mounted to the Scorpion motor getting a nice tight clearance at the front of the plane. The recommended Center of Gravity (C/G) was from 3 to 3 1/2 inches behind the leading edge of the upper wing. Movement of the battery allowed for adjusting balance, and I started at 3 1/4 inches back from the leading edge. I ended up moving it forward to 3 inches due to the climb from the under cambered wing discussed below.
Recommended throws for the plane's controls were somewhat different. For a computerized radio they recommend to set the linkages for maximum possible deflections and soften this using 60% exponential on the elevator and aileron controls and 30% exponential for the rudder throw. For non-computerized transmitters they recommended plus or minus 1/2" for all surfaces for low throw and plus or minus an inch for high throw. Further, they recommended the plane would likely need up to 1/4" down elevator trim due to the high-lift under-camber wings. I therefore expected to need down trim but did not dial in any at the start. (I did confirm I could get much of that trim with the elevator trim tab.)
The only concern I had after "finishing" the assembly was that I was afraid that my battery pack could shift forward or backwards during flight with the supplied strap system. With the laser cut wood there was little space to secure Velcro to help lock the battery pack into place. My solution was to glue a small flat piece of balsa wood (I supplied) to the laser cut frame and then add some Velcro to the wood and a matching piece of Velcro to my battery pack. The picture below shows the battery in place. My battery packs were locked into place with the supplied strap and my little addition.
After several flights I decided I had to do a little more work to finish the appearance of the Albatros. I got out my black Sharpie and colored the silver screws in the top radiator so that they blended into the radiator. I got out a bottle of Testor's flat gray paint and dry painted the dummy motor with blotches of flat gray to give it a more realistic appearance. I may later add some silver by dry painting to the radiator and the machine gun as well. I installed the radiator hose from the front of the motor to the upper wing radiator on the bottom side of the wing and glued it in place. I may brush on a mixture of alcohol and black India ink onto my pilot and the fuselage by the exhaust pipe to give some burnt oil effect to the appearance.
The Albatros comes with ailerons, rudder, elevator, throttle and under cambered wings. These are all in play and effect how the plane handles. The under camber wing gives the plane great climbing ability. Flying into a strong breeze she can climb on her own even when set up for level flight at the intended speed. I had her C/G in the middle of the recommended positions 3 1/4" back of the leading edge on the upper wing. At that position she wants to climb with less than half throttle. The more throttle added, the more she wants to climb. I moved the C/G up to 3", and she still wanted to climb but not as much. Because of the under camber, the amount she wants to climb is affected by the wind, the throttle and the heading. While I could add nose weight and balance for a given speed I chose to program down into the elevator so that she flies level at about 3/4 throttle. If I go faster I have to adjust the trim tab on the elevator or hold a little down on the stick. I have been told by a biplane pilot that this is a very real feature on full size planes. It isn't a bad thing at all, just one that a pilot has to expect and cope with as part of flying. With my elevator set for my favorite throttle setting she flies almost hands off at that speed.
I have mine set up with a lot of throw on all the controls and use exponential from my Spektrum DX7 transmitter to help keep me smooth on my smaller movements. like to throw the plane around up in the sky but I want to be smooth when taking off and landing. I can fly with just throttle and the right stick, but using a little rudder can make turns smoother. Using a lot of rudder can make turns wilder. As you can see from the video below she flies nice. But come up with a plan to handle the under cambered wings to secure your success. I have down programmed in the subtrim. The trim tab could not supply enough down. Start slowly, and make some short hop flights and adjust as needed after each flight. Below are some pictures of how my elevator is set up with down.
Flights can be started with a hand launch or via runway. Rudder is very helpful in tracking down the runway in any type of cross breeze. On landings, a very slight flair just before touch down is helpful to burn off a little speed and give a nose up attitude when touching down. Hit hard and the shocks on the rear part of the landing gear can absorb some of the hit but it is important to be smooth to avoid noseovers and/or prop strikes. When certain you are down use up elevator to keep the rear of the plane down and the nose up. Can be driven around on the ground but at your own risk due to the rear skid and possible nose over if a main wheel hits any resistance. Basically does a good job but still shows at times the nose over problems WWI planes are famous for. Can be landed with motor off or on slowly. I don't recommend landing at high speed; that is asking for a nose over if either wheel hits something.
If the real plane could do the maneuver, this model Albatros can do the maneuver! Loop de loop, an Emmelman, an axial roll, a barrel roll, a tail slide, all can be done. And with the aileron throw, some wild spins can be performed as well. I have my transmitter set with 60 % exponential for both elevator and ailerons and 30 % for the rudder. It is a big rudder, and it can make some major directional changes so use it wisely. Try a rudder only turn (with some altitude just in case) and see what happens; I sometimes get a nice sliding turn as I do with my Dr-1s. The big body and the large amount of under camber make for interesting flying in windy conditions but especially when trying to do aerobatics. This is a fun plane to fly. You can have some real fun and feel like you really are flying a bit on the edge with a WWI plane. But if I just reduce my movements on the control sticks, she becomes a pretty tame plane with my exponential and goes where I direct with my final set up.
To connect the aileron servos to the aileron control horns they supplied multiple shorts rods with Z bends at one end and shrink tubing to connect them. I used the shrink tubing and applied CA to the ends of the shrink tubing and the rods. I have never been a fan of this type of control rod system. On about the fourth flight, the shrink connection on one rod that came already shrunk onto a connector slid and left the right aileron in a slightly up position and the plane kept turning to the right even after the transmitter stick was back to neutral. I corrected with control of the left aileron and the rudder and landed as soon as possible. I removed their control rod system and added Mini EZ connectors to the aileron control horns and made a connecting rod out of one piece of metal for each side and put a Z bend at one end. I have had no control problems since making this change. I almost used this system from the start and wish I had. Others I know have had great success with the supplied system but I haven't, and I went in with a questioning attitude. It was a small thing to make the change I made, and I now have a lot more confidence with the control rod system I used.
No! This plane is not beginner friendly. Due to the under cambered wings it is best for an intermediate or better pilot. It goes where aimed and doesn't self recover. It would not be easy to repair if badly crashed. It is a very nice plane and flies well but I would recommend it for the pilot that knows how to fly with ailerons and land a plane properly.
Visiting the Maxford website I saw that they continue to make improvements to this model, and there is an addendum to the instruction manual. They now recommend using their lighter, smaller SG-50 servos in the wing and tell you to cut slots for the windshield among other things. There was nothing new said about the rigging. In all there were nine minor changes in the instruction addendum.
This is a fun plane to assemble even with the few minor issues I mentioned. The results are stunning, and the closer people look the better the plane shows off with the dummy engine, machine guns, radiator in the wing, scale body lines and scale spinner. The matte varnish finish I applied also helps make it look like it is covered in cloth and not plastic shrink covering. Of course if it didn't fly well the looks would mean little, and fortunately she flies as good as she looks. I have had the Albatros flying for a couple of months and the Scorpian motor and the GWS digital servos and ESC have all performed flawlessly thus far.
|Jul 20, 2009, 06:43 PM|
Outstanding review Michael! If only every plane on the market had such a thorough review to read.... A couple of the Maxford models have been "calling" my name with this Biplane being one of them. My wallet hates you LOL
|Jul 21, 2009, 10:08 AM|
I have to say this plane is a bit of a let-down compared to Maxford's Jenny in terms of looks. I'm a huge WWI fan and of course love the Albatros fighters and recon aircraft, but this one only resembles the original in my opinion.
The non-sheeted fuse (I understand the need for a light airframe) gives a very un-scale starved cow look and why oh why does every single WWI bird need to be red or mostly red? There are so many great Albatros schemes that don't need to be lozenged; it seems, however, people won't buy WWI unless they think the Baron or his brother flew the thing.
It does look nice in the video and from a distance. I just wish it were a little closer in terms of scale appearance.
|Jul 21, 2009, 10:46 AM|
Joined Jun 2007
I have many flights on this bird and find it a very striking model in the air... it really looks nice. I find it flies okay, but kind of crabs in the corners a bit instead of a nice smooth banking turn. I have tried playing around with the CG but it seems to be just a characteristic of the model. I also had to give it 1/4 down elevator to fly normal.
All in all, it is a great looking bird and gets lot's of looks. It is also a bit bigger then the other WW1 planes on the market and that is a plus in my book. If your looking for a plane that has stunning details and flies well, give it a try!
|Jul 21, 2009, 12:49 PM|
Ive flown it several times now....looks wonderful in the air. I did however, have to add a decent amount of lead up front to get stable flying tendencies. The radiator hose has since come off(while in flight as well) even though I glued it in with epoxy. Also not mentioned in the review; where the springs on the dummy motor are located, the connecting wood is very prone to breaking. These areas of the dummy motor are very, very fragile so be careful handling it.
|Jul 21, 2009, 02:30 PM|
|Jul 21, 2009, 02:59 PM|
The instructions call for 1/4 down elevator. These under camber wings require a bit of practice and trying different approaches to find the method the individual pilot is most happy using.That is part of the fun of this plane. As a long time glider pilot I try not to go nose heavy but for some that is there favorite option. As stated in the article I did move my C/G to the front most position which is very unusual for me.
Blending in about 30% rudder should take care of the crabbing problem you have been experiencing in your turns. This plane flies best when using the rudder and not just flying on throttle and right stick. Have fun with it and enjoy being a test pilot. Mike Heer
|Jul 22, 2009, 02:38 PM|
Joined Jun 2007
|Jul 22, 2009, 03:20 PM|
Best to add rudder direction mix in the same direction as the aileron. This is known as co-ordinating your turn. necessary on aircraft with long wing spans. You really don't want to "cross control".
Planes like the Piper Cub, sailplanes, etc. that have long wingspans always benefir form a tad of rudder in the turns.
In real airplanes you'd have a turn and bank indicator to tell you what rudder input to give and then "step on the ball". But since you're not in the cockpit telling if you're in a slip or skid is a bit more difficult.
|Jul 29, 2009, 03:54 PM|
Had a great flight before work this morning. It was cool with a slight breeze from the West. I took off to the northwest and after lift off turned into the breeze and climbed like a home sick angel. Turned to try and catch up with a flight of geese but was unable to catch up with them. Had a nice lazy flight with loops and rolls as I came back down to the field. Had to do an emergency climbas a ladies two grayhounds spotted my plane and were on a course to intersect with it as I was planning to land. I flew to the far end of the park with them chasing my plane as if it were the mechanical rabbit at a race track. Once at the far end of the park I climbed, banked and sped back and was able to land and retrieve my plane before the dogs could make it back. Their owner was out in the field and called them to her as i was heading to my car with my Albatros. Mike Heer
|Jul 29, 2009, 04:12 PM|
People with unleashed dogs are the single biggest reason I'd rather not fly in public parks. Good to hear that both you and the plane escaped unscathed
|Jul 29, 2009, 07:50 PM|
I have dealt with these dogs before but the husband was not as helpful as the wife this morning. there is a dog par just a couple blocks away but they claim it is too small for their dogs. I never launch if they are at the field but when they come when I am in the air it can be an event. I don't blame the dogs but the owners are a real trip, especially the husband. Mike H
|Jul 31, 2009, 07:20 AM|
Joined Nov 2005
The plane turns tail down.
To make a nice turn, I use aileron + rudder and some down elevator to put the plane in a flat line
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