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SR Cutie

If you followed the Cutie discussion in the forums, now you must read the review. As Paul Bradley discovers in his in-depth analysis, the Cutie delivers on all its promises, in spades.

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  • Type: Speed 400 trainer, sport flyer, limited space flyer - have a good time model
  • Wingspan: 46 inches
  • Wing Area: 360 Sq. In.
  • Length: 34 Inches
  • Recommended Power: 7.2v Speed 400 with a Graupner 2.33:1 gear drive and 10 500 mah cells
  • Weight: 27 oz specified - Review model weighed 28.3 oz. with an SR 10-cell 500 mah pack
  • Controls: Throttle, Elevator, rudder
  • Construction: Balsa with some lite-ply featuring laser cut parts, and carbon fiber wing spars
  • Manufacturer: SR Batteries
  • Complete Power System Package: SR has an optional package available that includes the motor, gear drive, prop, prop adapter, True Turn spinner nut, Jeti 350 ESC, and a 10-cell SR 500 Max battery pack. Motor and ESC come pre-wired, and the ESC and battery pack come with installed Sermos connectors.
How does one even begin to write an article about a model that has probably the longest single topic thread ever on the E-Zone discussion forum? If for some reason you have not followed that discussion Larry Sribnick, the man behind SR Batteries and the designer of the Cutie, provided the E-Zone faithful with a great insight into the development of the Cutie kit.
As I followed the E-Zone discussion thread, I could not help but see a very strong parallel between George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars series, and Larry Sribnick. By this, I mean that Larry and George seem to have similar approaches to their creative work, and in my opinion have had similar impacts on their respective industries. When George Lucas gave us the first episode of Star Wars back in 1977, he established a new level of film making technology. Larry Sribnick's introduction of the SR X250 also set a new industry standard for model airplane airframe design and kit manufacturing. George Lucas started in the middle of his story line with his first episode. Larry also started some where near the middle of his kit evolution. His first offering, the X250, represents a model targeted for the intermediate and more experienced flyer. The Cutie, introduced after the X250, is aimed for the new flyer or those looking for something a little tamer than the X250. Finally, to complete my comparison of Larry Sribnick and George Lucas, each episode of Star Wars that was released kept raising the bar on movie making technology. Without a doubt, the Cutie has raised the bar on model airplane airframe design and kit production.
Building the SR Cutie was absolutely the best model airplane construction experience I have had in more than 45 years of modeling. I can't begin to do justice to this kit through words. The SR Cutie simply must be experienced to fully appreciate what can be accomplished through careful design and kit production. While laser cutting is becoming the norm for modern kits, you just haven't seen what is possible until you assemble the laser cut parts in this kit. The laser cutting process has been honed to a fine edge by SR Batteries, and the results really show in the very precise fit of the Cutie parts. Building the SR Cutie is like enjoying a world-class gourmet meal. The only difference is that the dessert, flying, can be enjoyed over and over again. I know it may sound weird, but even if you don't need a trainer/sport type model in your stable, consider building a Cutie. The experience is unequalled and you can then sell the completed airframe to someone else who absolutely just can't commit the time, no mater how great the building experience would be. With that said, let me humbly try to take you through the Cutie experience in words.

Kit Contents

The Cutie arrives on your doorstep in a nice triangular shipping box. Inside that box is a treasure load of neat stuff. All nicely sealed in plastic bags are the laser cut wood and Lexan parts. The building plan comes in a very convenient size that will fit nicely on your building surface. You will also notice upon spreading the kit contents out on your bench that all the hardware is name brand. You will find items from DuBro and Sig. You will also find a set of Dave Brown LiteFlite wheels.
The kit is very complete and includes name brand hardware. The only way to describe the assembly manual is ... well you can't, is simply awesome.
In addition to the quality materials needed to build the Cutie, you will also find an 81/2"x11" 103 page "book" stuffed into the shipping box. That "book" is the most comprehensive assembly manual I have ever seen for a model airplane. It is loaded with quality photographs that take you through all the building steps. Even the experienced builder will appreciate this assembly manual. In fact, the experienced builder really needs to pay attention to the manual because you will see a number of departures from the way things are typically done. Larry has done a great job of using current technology to create a very efficient structural design. Experienced builder or not, to keep from painting yourself into a corner follow the manual step by step.
When I opened the plastic bags that contained the laser cut balsa parts, I knew immediately that Larry and his staff have continued their commitment to the builder. Wood density and grain selection are the cornerstones of any building project. When I can carve out the time, I like to scratch build models of my own design. Selection of the wood is something I take pretty seriously. I didn't need my scale to tell me that very good wood had been supplied in the kit. It sure is nice to see that SR Batteries continues to be serious about wood selection. For your reference, the table below presents the wood densities found in the review kit.
Components Avg. Density (lb/ft3)
Wing parts 6.63
Fuselage parts 6.96
Tail surfaces 7.61



Before getting into the actual building summary of the Cutie fuselage, I would like to offer a few observations. I really can't say enough about the care taken by SR in their laser cutting process. I have now had the privilege of building a number of laser cut kits. They all represent a quantum leap forward from the old days of die crunched or print wood kits. I have observed, though, that the quality of the laser cutting does vary from the different kit suppliers. Sometimes the parts just don't quite fit as precisely as they should. The source for this observed variation from kit to kit seems to be the laser cutting curf. If you study the shape of the laser beam that does the cutting you will see that it is "V" shaped. If the kit cutter is not careful about the set up on the laser cutting machines, the "V" will push down further in the wood than is actually necessary. This produces a wider curf, and if not carefully accounted for will result in some parts not fitting as well as intended. By carefully controlling that part of the process, you can also control the quality and consistency of the parts being cut. SR has obviously taken a lot of pain to be sure they control the curf of the cut. This is demonstrated by a few of the parts needing just a little help with a hobby knife to remove them from the sheet. While that may seem like a draw back, it is actually a feature. Having a few parts need a little help makes sure they will fit as precisely as intended by the designer Larry Sribnick. You can easily see where any such help may be needed by turning each laser cut sheet over to its backside. The distinctive brown lines will fade where they need just a little help.
Not only has Larry and SR taken care to be sure that the laser cutting process produces consistently accurate parts, but Larry has also done a great job of using the laser cutting process to obtain a very structurally efficient design. A good example is the main fuselage side doubler. The lightening holes and former slots form a ballet of well-placed lightness and structural integrity.
The laser cutting is very precise. The depth of the cut is tightly controlled to minimize the effects of curf. Some parts may require the help of a hobby knife to remove them from the sheets. A good example of the great design in this kit, and the laser cutting precision is the fuselage doubler. The lightening holes are placed to retain strength, while helping build in lightness.
Ok, let's get into the actual building of the Cutie. Right from the get-go, you get to see some of Larry's innovative design and approach to building. Every kit that I have built prior to the Cutie that used fuselage doublers has been done the same way. You put some glue on the doubler and then place it on the fuselage side. Alignment is left up to your ability to fit the parts together correctly. In the case of the Cutie, getting the doublers in the correct position is very important to how true the entire fuselage will be at the end. As a result, Larry has taken the seemingly simple step of gluing on a fuselage doubler and added a new touch. Very simple, but also highly effective laser cut plywood jigs are provided that allows perfect alignment of the doublers with the fuselage sides. You dry fit everything together and when satisfied that you have a perfect alignment, simply flow a bit of thin CyA into the lightening holes. The CyA will wick completely into the joint and produce a perfect fuselage side/doubler combination. My only caution is to make sure to pay attention to the doublers. The manual is quite clear about identifying the left and right fuselage sides (one has a slot for the arming switch). I did not pay attention to the doublers, which I assumed were the same. WRONG! One has the arming switch slot and one does not. Of course, I goofed that up. I blame Larry for this (with a big smile). He mentioned the fuselage sides in the manual, but did not caution the builder on the doubler differences. This certainly should have been obvious to me, but I need to find an excuse somewhere.
In addition to the well thought out part design, the kit also includes some very well engineered building aids. The very first parts you fit together confirm the total precision of the fit.
After the doublers are in place, you can start putting pieces in place. As soon as the first parts are dry, fit into their respective slots you really gain an appreciation for the effort put into delivering quality laser cutting. The fit is absolutely perfect. You also see why it is so important to get the doublers perfectly aligned when they are glued to the fuselage sides. They have the slots for the forward bulkheads, motor mounts, and battery compartment floor. All of the parts during this phase of the construction are dry fit. No adhesive is added until you are able to confirm that each of the initial assembly parts is properly positioned. This sure makes it easy to insure that you will end up with a perfectly straight fuselage.
The precise fit of the parts along with their well-engineered design, makes everything go together perfectly. This also produces a light structure without sacrificing strength. Just in case you might want to fly the Cutie off water, mounts are provided for both conventional landing gear, and floats.
The core fuselage assembly moves along very quickly. Parts are slipped into place, the position is confirmed, and then some thin CyA is flowed into the joint. In what seems like no time at all you have the basic fuselage assembly done.
The turtle deck of the Cutie represents another departure from "conventional" design. Rather than building it on the fuselage, it is built up as a separate structure and then added to the fuselage. The nose cheeks are built up from laser cut balsa laminations. They are light and fit perfectly over the plywood motor mounts.
Once the core fuselage assembly is completed, you move on to the "features." This includes the rear turtle deck and the nose cheeks. The turtle deck represents another departure from traditional assembly methods. For every other model that I have built that includes a turtle deck, the process of assembly consists of adding shaped formers to the fuselage followed by stringers, but not so with the Cutie. You actually build the turtle deck as a separate assembly, and then glue it to the fuselage. Here again, Larry as developed a structural design aimed at delivering a true assembly. All of the parts, including the stringers, are laser cut. The turtle deck is built upside down on your building surface. All the parts are dry fit together and checked for proper alignment. When all is well, some thin CyA is added to each joint and you have a perfectly aligned turtle deck. It is glued in place on the fuselage to complete the rear structure.
The nose cheeks also deserve some discussion. You stack three pieces on each motor mount. As with everything else, the fit of the parts is perfect. A little thin CyA between each intermediate layer holds everything in place very firmly. I used some Pica Glue-It on the outside layer just to be sure glue reached all of the mating faces.
The battery hatch is also made up from laser cut balsa laminations. When finish sanded, the layers disappear. Unnecessary material is left out of the individual layers. After final sanding, the hatch and nose cheeks blend together to form a very smooth nose.
For those of you who have built balsa models in the past, how many times have you uttered a few expletives during the process of creating a balsa block hatch? For me this step in a building project is always a bit tedious. You usually have to remove a lot of material, and some where along the line it seems you get too heavy on one side or the other with the sanding block. This results in a less than symmetrical shape. While not normally noticeable, it is still a bit irritating when I don't get it just right. Here again Larry has come to the rescue. The battery compartment hatch on the Cutie is a prominent feature on the forward fuselage. For that reason, you really want it to come out right. The innovative approach taken by Larry in the design of the hatch involves layers of laser cut balsa parts with laser cut plywood end caps. The plywood end caps provide a perfect sanding reference surface. The end caps also include a notch profile that fits a corresponding tab on the fuselage formers. This makes for a very precise fit of the hatch. The design of the balsa layers keeps the amount of material needing to be removed to a minimum. The balsa parts are glued together from the inside of the stack using thin CyA to keep from forming a hard glue line.
Once all of the parts are glued together, you shape the hatch and the nose cheeks. Since so little material needs to be removed, this step takes very little time and is pretty painless. When the sanding is complete, you will be amazed at the precision of the fit for the hatch.
Laser cut plywood pieces at the front and rear of the battery hatch insure a perfect fit on the fuselage. The pre-bent landing gear legs fit into holes pre-cut in the plywood mounting plate. Laser cut Lexan straps are used to retain the legs with flanged cap screws.
The fuselage structure is completed by adding the bottom planking. When you get to the landing gear mount and float mount area, you need to make sure that holes are drilled in the planking to line up with the laser cut holes in the mounts. You don't have access to all of the holes from the inside of the fuselage, so be sure to locate them in the planking before gluing it in place.
Mounting the pre-bent landing gear legs is very simple and rugged. The landing gear is made up from two independent legs formed from 3/32" music wire. You need to cut a slot in the planking from each landing gear leg hole in the plywood mount to the opposite side of the fuselage. A 90-degree bend at the end of each leg fits into one of the holes in the plywood mount. When each leg is in place, it is retained by four sets of laser cut Lexan straps and flanged cap screws. This system produces a very strong landing gear that can be easily removed for transportation.


A real hallmark of the SR X250 is the wing structure. It builds straight and is very strong. The Cutie uses a very similar core structure with some added features. In order to help insure that we get a straight and true wing, the kit includes several very neat fixtures and jigs. Assembling and setting up these construction aids is our fist step in building the wing. The only items here that need a comment are the spar/leading edge jig blocks. Preparing these important building aids is not at all difficult, but does require some attention to detail. Follow the well laid out steps in the assembly manual for the wing jig blocks, and you will get a straight wing structure.
The Cutie wing is built in two halves. It certainly does not matter which half you choose to start with. We begin by sorting the wing ribs into two sets. The center section ribs are different from the main ribs, so it is important to compare the individual ribs to the laser cut parts guide. When the ribs are properly sorted, one set is slid onto one of the carbon fiber tube spars. Positioning is not important at this point.
Parts for wing assembly and alignment jigs are provided. They are assembled before the wing construction begins. Assembly of each wing half begins by slipping the ribs over the carbon fiber tube spar.
Once the ribs have been placed on the spar in their approximate position, we put the leading edge in position. Larry calls out a very neat and simple way to hold the leading edge carbon fiber tube in place. You make up a set of clamps from paper clips and rubber bands. These clamps use the main spar as an anchor and pull the leading edge against the ribs. This is a cleaver way to keep things together while handling the assembly. With the leading edge in place, we add the jig blocks. The jig blocks make sure that the spar and leading edge are held in alignment. Nothing is glued yet. We next get the leading edge and spar in alignment front to back (leading edge to trailing edge direction). The jig blocks are then tightened and we can begin aligning and gluing the ribs in place. The process of gluing the ribs in place starts with the rib that is adjacent to the tip. The supplied rib alignment tool is used to maintain perfect spacing between each rib. An important note here is the root rib in the center section. This rib needs to be set at an angle to agree with the dihedral of the wing. Need I say it? Larry has taken care of that task with a very nice jig that was built earlier. It slips over the spar and provides a perfect alignment base for the root rib when being glued in place.
When all the ribs for a given wing half are all glued in place, the trailing edge is added. The trailing edge is made up of two laser cut 1/16" balsa 1" wide strips. The wing half assembly is rotated to rest on the leading edge side of the jig blocks. The two trailing edge halves are held together at the rear edge with several strips of masking tape. This assembly is then place over the trailing edge of the ribs much like a balsa "tent." You can sight down the trailing edge to be sure every thing is properly aligned and straight. Using thin CyA, you flow a few drops into the edge joint. This will flow to the ribs and attach the trailing edge. By carefully working the CyA along the edge joint of the trailing edge, you will be able to lock everything together. Once the glue has set, you can lift up the assembly and wick CyA into the inside at each rib location. The result is a very straight and true trailing edge.
Assembly of the wing uses several unique jigs and alignment fixtures. The carbon fiber tube leading edge is held in place with a set of rubber band/paper clip clamps. The wing assembly process results in a very true wing. Once the ribs and leading edge are in place, the two-piece laser cut trailing edge is glued in place. The process produces a very straight trailing edge.
To complete the wing half all we need to do is build up the trailing edge in the center section, add the tip parts, and sheet the center section. These steps require very little effort thanks to the accuracy of the laser cut parts. The wing tips are built up from several parts that have been cut from 1/16" sheet balsa. This produces a very light and strong tip that requires very little sanding and shaping.
When building the Cutie wing, I found that I could comfortably complete a wing half in a single evening building session. In a way, I was actually glad that I needed two sessions to complete both halves. I found the assembly process so satisfying that I was a little sad when each major step was completed.
Rather than use heavy balsa blocks that require a lot of shaping, the wing tips are made up from laser cut balsa pieces. The result is a strong and light wing tip. The wing halves are completed by adding center sheeting and balsa stock at the trailing edge of the center section. I used two evening building sessions for the wing halves (one each).
With two complete Cutie wing halves sitting on my workbench, I was now ready to bring them together to form the completed wing structure. As was done with the fuselage doublers, Larry provides a little something extra for this step to insure a perfect fit of the two halves. The strength of the Cutie wing joint comes from the center section structure as opposed to dihedral braces commonly used in similar wing designs. With access to those nice carbon fiber tubes in each wing, we do have a great way to key them together during the mating process. Larry includes two laser cut Lexan locator keys that look much like small dihedral braces. These slip into the carbon fiber tubes in one wing half. Epoxy is then spread on the center rib face and the wing halves are pushed together over the Lexan keys. As you would expect, the fit is right on the money thanks to the jig used to set the angle of the root ribs and the accuracy of the center section parts.
Laser cut Lexan keys are provided to help align the wing halves when joined. They don't provide strength to the joint, but rather insure a perfect fit of the two halves when brought together. After the wing halves are glued together, a strip of supplied fiberglass tape is epoxied in place to add some final reinforcement to the joint.
The wing structure is completed by adding a supplied 1" wide fiberglass tape strip around the center joint. Carefully applied epoxy is used to adhere the fiberglass tape. This joint reinforcement in combination with the center section structure results in a very strong wing joint. A little clean up sanding and the wing is ready to cover.

Final steps before covering

With the wing and fuselage completed at this point, there is not much left to do before covering can commence. The tail surfaces are made up from several laser cut 1/8" balsa pieces. The appropriate parts are glued together and sanded to produce smooth surfaces with rounded edges. The elevator halves are joined with a supplied length of dowel. The individual steps are covered very well in the assembly manual.
A feature that is unique to the Cutie is the parasol wing mount. Parasol wings are notorious for having weak and/or difficult mounts. If there were one signature feature of this kit, I would have to say it is the wing mount. I can't say enough about the very cleaver design developed by Larry or the incredible fit of the parts. The combination of carbon fiber rods for struts, the very well designed plywood wing saddles, and the mating fuselage parts is a real work of creative genius. You get a very strong perfectly aligned wing mount with Larry's design. I think this parasol wing is almost easier to build right than a conventional high wing trainer design.
The tail surfaces are made up from individual laser cut balsa parts. Like everything else in the kit, the fit of the parts is right on target. I think the one feature of this kit that truly underscores the precision and engineering of the overall model are the wing mounts. They demonstrate some great thinking and their execution simply has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Completion of the framing process for the Cutie took me about 10 hours. I feel this was the best building experience I have had in 45 years of building model airplanes.
Completion of the Cutie airframe took me about 10 hours. This time involved some evening as well as weekend building sessions. I think 10 hours to complete the airframe is actually a pretty short time for a model of this type. In fact, it was too short a time. This is one building project that I hated to see end so quickly. The design innovations and quality of fit of the parts at each juncture of the process gave me something to look forward to as I readied for each new step. I'm sure looking forward to building the next kit that comes from the skunk works at SR Batteries.

Covering and Finish

To paraphrase a quote from Larry Sribnick, the Cutie is a blank canvas. Your only limitation on the covering layout is your imagination. While simple in appearance, the color scheme of the prototype actually reflects some creative thinking. Covered in Cub Yellow and using Cub-like trim on the fuselage creates a very nice looking model. I felt obligated, though, to come up with a layout of my own for the review model. While not especially creative, it does represent yet another approach to adding clothes to this Cutie. I'm sure that over time we will see some really creative covering jobs on the Cuties that make their way to the local flying fields.
I used white Ultracote as the base color for the model. Trim color is deep red and deep blue Ultracote.
Selection of a covering material was a real dilemma for me. For Speed 400 models, I normally use something like LiteSpan (Coverite Cover Lite). This is a fairly lightweight material that offers many possibilities for adding trim. I also like the translucent properties that let the structure show through when flying overhead. Perhaps I was influenced by the great photos used on the SR web site, but some how an opaque film covering material seem better suited to this lovely little bird. After a lot of thought, I decided on using white Ultracote for my base color. Many "back of the envelope" sketches later I ended up with the trim layout you see in the photos. The trim is also Ultracote applied over the white base. The only exception to applying the trim color over the white base is the fuselage. The white was cut to the trim line with the red just overlapping the edge by an 1/8 of an inch or so. This allowed the rear turtle deck to be covered directly with the red film. Larry does a great job of providing covering guidance in the assembly manual. He also shows how to cut the roll of film being used for the base color so you only need one standard roll of film (24" x 72"). Requiring just one roll of film sure helps keep the construction cost down. Note that the wing mounts have not yet been installed. That gets done after covering and equipment installation.

Equipment Installation

The recommended power setup for the Cutie is a 7.2v Speed 400 mated to a Graupner 2.33:1 gear drive motivated by a 10-cell battery pack. This is the same highly successful setup used in the SR X250. To make life easy, SR offers a complete power system package suitable for the Cutie or X250. This SR power system package was used to power the review Cutie.
The SR power package option for this model is very complete. It sure saves a lot of running around to collect the necessary components. It is also very nice to have the motor and ESC connected with quality solder joints. The use of Sermos connectors is another much-appreciated touch.
The package is totally complete and contains the motor mated to the gear drive, a Jeti 350 speed control professionally connected to the motor, a 10-cell SR 500 Max battery pack, Sermos connectors already installed on the battery and ESC, a Graupner prop adapter, a Graupner 9x5 Slim Prop, and to finish it all off a nice True Turn spinner nut. All you have to do is open the bag and install the components in the model. By install the components I simply mean screw the motor/gear drive to the motor mounts with the supplied flanged cap screws, and then slip the ESC arming switch in to the pre cut slot in the fuselage. The arming switch is held in place with a supplied laser cut Lexan faceplate and two screws. It sure doesn't get any easier than this.
The push rods come with "Z" bends already at one end. A trademark set up for SR is the use of lightweight aluminum tubing over the music wire rods to add stiffness. This makes it possible to have the rods unsupported over their length. As you can see, there is plenty of room for the equipment and flight battery pack. SR recommends the use of the reasonably priced Maxx Products 50HP ball bearing micro servos. I found them to be very nice indeed. Another of the many nice features of the Cutie is a laser cut Lexan equipment cover. It snaps in place between two bulkheads and it is very easy to remove if necessary. I painted it black to hide the equipment. I also added a Williams Brothers pilot figure to finish things out.
Since some of the Cutie builders will be new to the process, SR has made sure that an appropriate set of equipment components is recommended and available for purchase from them. This really helps insure that the finished model will come close to the specified weight, and that it will not suffer from inadequate components. With this in mind, SR recommends the Maxx Products 50HP servos for the Cutie. These are reasonably priced mini servos with ball bearing output and very adequate torque. Two were used in the review model with excellent results. The servos are connected to the control surfaces using the same aluminum tubing over music wire system that Larry introduced with the X250. This is a great system for creating a lightweight, stiff, and minimum work push rod. This approach also eliminates the need for intermediate push rod supports between the servo arm and control surface. The kit comes with the aluminum tubing and two music wire push rods with a "Z" bend already placed at one end. Installation of the push rods is very straightforward. You simply slip them into place, mark their length with a DuBro control link temporarily installed, remove them, cut to length, solder on the control link, and then put them back into the fuselage for keeps. I really love it when the push rod installation can be done hassle free.
My only deviation from the recommended equipment layout was the receiver antenna. Larry has provided a nice hole in the bulkhead at the aft end of the equipment compartment to allow the antenna to be treaded out, back to the fin. I just hate seeing an antenna exposed on a pretty airplane like the Cutie, so I decided to deviate just this once from the "book." I glued a Deans base loaded antenna to a 1/64" plywood plate and then glued that assembly to the fuselage bottom planking under the turtle deck. This was done before covering the fuselage. The antenna is well below the metal push rods, and has worked perfectly during my flying.
One other note that I should make is the pilot figure you see in the photos did not come with the kit. While on a business trip in the Detroit area, I was able to visit one of my favorite hobby shops, the Prop Shop. That shop had a nice assortment of Williams Brothers pilot busts and I decided the 1.5" (1/8 scale) version of the sport pilot would look nice in the Cutie. Other than adhesives and covering material, that is the only item I added to the very complete kit.
The finished model ready for some "serious" air time.
Once the equipment is installed, the assembly of the Cutie is completed by adding the wing mounts. These fit very precisely into laser cut plywood mounts in the fuselage. The only potential problem is getting them properly aligned with each other, and at the correct incidence angle. As a final gesture to the builder and the great Cutie building experience, Larry offers yet another innovative and simple solution. Two laser cut alignment jig blocks are provided that make the installation of the wing mounts a walk in the park. While the jigs provided may seem simple and obvious, I find such solutions don't normally come easy. They are only easy once you have seen the approach. I did elect to paint the wing mounts flat black to help them blend in with the rest of the model.
Final weight for my Cutie came in at 28.3 ounces. The specifications indicate a 27-ounce flying weight. I'm not quite sure where I picked up the extra 1.3 ounces. The balsa in the kit was not an issue, and I used the factory recommended equipment. Hopefully I was not that heavy handed when applying CyA to the joints. Maybe white film is heavier than other colors. It really doesn't matter other than my building pride being hurt. The added 1.3 ounces were certainly not noticed when the Cutie took wing.
With the wing mounts in place, building the Cutie was complete. I was certainly looking forward to flying this model, but I did feel a little twinge of regret that such a nice building experience had come to a close.


As I stated in my opening remarks, building the Cutie can be compared to eating a world-class gourmet meal. Just like that meal, the Cutie building experienced is followed by a wonderful dessert called FLYING. It sure didn't take me long to get over my feeling a bit low at finishing the model as I headed for the flying field. There is nothing in the world like anticipating the first flight of a new model, especially when you know for sure that it will be everything it is advertised to be. The Cutie is billed as a just plain fun to fly model that can also be used to help someone learn to fly. Did it deliver? It did, in spades.
The Cutie is very easy to ROG or hand launch. The steerable tail wheel makes ROG flights a lot of fun when flying from a hard surface. At full throttle, the model climbs with authority.
All in flight photos by Ralph Bradley
Right from the get-go, I knew this model would deliver as promised. Part of having a just plain fun model is being able to taxi around with good ground handling. The steerable tail wheel on the Cutie and its landing gear placement makes taxing out for a take off run a total breeze. The model is very easy to steer on the ground with no bad handling. Once you have the model lined up on the run way, all you need to do is advance the throttle gradually. Very little if any corrective rudder is necessary. I like to apply the throttle gradually so the tail will lift as the model accelerates. Shortly there after she lifts off and heads skyward. There are no ground looping tendencies; she just tracks ahead in lifts off with authority. These qualities not only make for a relaxed fun airplane, but also allow the Cutie to be a good training model.
Once airborne, it does not take long for the Cutie to reach a comfortable maneuvering altitude. I set up the review Cutie with full control throws, so I was not sure what to expect with my first control inputs. I found the Cutie be a real friendly lady. Even with full control throws, I found her to be quite relaxing to fly. If I used too much input, she gave me plenty of time to get her back without experiencing a model that had snapped upside down or something else equally upsetting. Don't get me wrong, she will respond to a deliberate strong control input, but not in a harsh manner. It only took me two circuits around the patch to get my sea legs. By the way, the Cutie holds altitude very nicely at about half throttle.
There is plenty of inherent stability in the design of the Cutie, but it can still be "wrung out" a bit as well. For flying in tight spaces, the Cutie can really be racked about in very tight turns.
After doing a little feeling out, I began to see what the Cutie might be capable of performing. Up went the throttle and back came the stick. The Cutie responded with a nice smooth loop. I backed off the throttle on the down side of the loop and she pulled out into a perfect straight and level flight path once again. Loops are a basic maneuver and the Cutie does them with out a lot of effort. "Ok, she loops just fine, so what's next? How about a rudder roll?" I'm terrible at doing them, but the Cutie seemed up to the task. Sure enough, with power added I pulled the nose up and added full rudder. The Cutie started around just like I wanted. I fed in a bit of down elevator (at the wrong time as usual) to help keep the nose up as she went around and the roll was completed. I did several of these just to get dialed in a bit. I found that pulling the model vertical and feeding in full rudder produced some interesting antics. I could almost do a vertical roll. My face was beginning to hurt from all the smiling.
Flying down low is quite comfortable with this model. It also allows you to appreciate your building results during those low pass fly-bys. Landing the model is very easy. She floats in power off with a nice easy to control glide slope.
Next on the agenda was a spin. Here again the Cutie treated me to some fun. After gaining enough altitude to be comfortable with my first spin attempt I pulled the nose up, backed of the throttle and applied full rudder. She made a nice easy transition into a comfortable spin. The spin rate was moderate and very easy to recover. Even though the model does not have ailerons, I found the Cutie to offer plenty of maneuvering capability. In fact, I wanted to see how well she would turn for flying in tight spaces. You can yank and bank this model with the best of them. Application of lots of rudder along with some up elevator will turn the model on a dime. Just be sure to use a little added power when doing tight turns to reduce the risk of a stall. While a bit bigger and heavier than a park flyer class model, the Cutie will fly in most schoolyards and parks.
When it comes time to land the Cutie, you will find that the model has a very comfortable glide. By allowing a nice long approach to your landing, you will be able to handle just about any variable. If you are going to be short, addition of just a small amount of power will extend the glide slope nicely. Once over the landing surface just chop the power and hold a small amount of back pressure on the stick. The Cutie will settle in very nicely. Be sure to save a little power so you can taxi back to the flight line.
In mentioning that the Cutie will do well in limited flying spaces, I should also comment on how easy it is to hand launch. It seems that most park flying type venues don't have hard surfaces in the right places for doing ROG's. This is not a problem for the Cutie, as it is very easy to hand launch. Just run up the throttle and give the model a gently push. You don't have to heave it, just a gentle push will do. It will leap out of your hand holding a nice straight track. You have plenty of time to get on the sticks.
I have made a number of flights with my Cutie at this point and you can definitely expect 7 to 9 minutes in duration. If you spend more time flying aerobatics then you will fall in the lower end of the duration band. If you like to just go up and cruise around, you can go even longer than 9 minutes. The Cutie will respond to passing thermals which helps extend flight time. The flight envelope will certainly satisfy most people who enjoy Speed 400 class electric powered airplanes.


There is no surprise here. I would recommend the Cutie to anyone with even a slight interest in building a model airplane. Even if they don't fly electric powered R/C models, they need to experience building the Cutie. If you have ever longed to see what building a model from balsa parts might be like, but felt it was just too daunting a task, get a Cutie. The combination of a well designed kit and very complete assembly manual will get you your first built up model. Even if you don't think you have any interest in this type of model and you are a builder with limited or extensive experience, build a Cutie. You just need to have this experience. Larry Sribnick has delivered a model that will be talked about for a long time to come.
How does it fly you say? The Cutie delivers in that department as well. As if the building experience is not reward enough for buying this model, you end up with a great flying sport model that is suitable for limited space flying, all around relaxed fun flying, and training others to fly. I call that a very complete package, well worth your consideration. Oh yea, speaking of packages, if you don't already have a suitable Speed 400 set up or need another one, also consider buying the complete SR power package You get a break on the price if ordered with a kit and you will have a first class power system for that world class model.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at me email address, which is listed above.
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Dec 26, 2009, 08:35 PM
Always Electric!
nikolaus_c's Avatar

Still a good plane!

I did a maiden voyage today! This plane flies as advertised (although modernized a little with lithium batteries and an out runner motor)

The easiest/best kit I've ever built, and the most amazing 3 channel power plane. Small and portable and flies like its big.

The price tag really isn't much as it comes with all the hardware.

5 Stars!

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