|Type||Electric Ducted Fan|
|Wing Area||138 Sq. In.|
|Fan Unit||Vasa 55|
|Battery||8-cell 600AE NiCad|
|Controls||Throttle, Elevon (taileron)|
|Speed Control||Jeti JES 110|
|Radio and gear||Hitec Focus 3 FM, HS55 servos, Feather receiver|
|Available from||Hobby Lobby International Inc.|
I received the entire "here's what you need to fly it" outfit consisting of the model, a Vasa 55 fan, a 280bb motor, a Jeti ESC, the 8x600AE battery, and a Hitec Focus III FM transmitter with servos and a Feather micro receiver.
The F-16 I received for review was packed well and arrived with few scuffs on the foam surfaces. This model was an early shipment and had been handled a bit by the guys at Hobby-Lobby, so I was happy to see how well the pieces arrived. The kit includes hollow molded wing panels, fuselage, nose cone, horizontal stabilizers, vertical fin, and canopy. All were already painted and ready for assembly. Also included in the box were stickers, water slide decals, and some basic instructions on where to mount what, etc.
Construction began with preparing the fuselage for the fan. A hatch was cut in the bottom rear of the fuselage. This was made large enough to fit the fan unit as well as for inside the fuselage for servo and receiver mounting.
I prepped the fan by performing a break in of the supplied Simprop Acro 280bb motor. After I was satisfied that the brushes were seated along the commutator face, I installed the impeller adapter on the shaft. The fit was slightly loose but the adapter had grub screws on opposite sides, so I was able to get it approximately centered. I fit the fan to the adapter and noticed a bit of wobble when it spun. Trial and error finally had it fit and running true. The motor was mounted to the fan shroud and the fan installed. Before installation, I ran the fan up to speed on eight cells, and I was surprised at the thrust generated by such a small motor on a ducted fan. I was encouraged to say the least.
The fan unit was test fit to the fuselage, and while the front lip of the fan fit well, I felt the center of the fan needed a bit more support. To accomplish this, I wrapped one layer of blue-core foam around the fan. I sanded this to a taper so that the fan would fit snug against the fuselage along its entire length. To mount the fan within the fuselage, I slid it through the hatch opening and pushed it rearward flush with the rear of the fuselage. I wanted to be able to remove the fan later, so I used two dabs of hot melt glue to hold the fan in place.
I then cut the battery access hatch from the fuselage. The canopy was then cut and clued to this hatch.
After the canopy was prepped, I cut a piece of 1/16-inch balsa to the proper size and shape and installed in into the cockpit area as a battery tray. I made sure to leave it long enough to provide room to move the battery back and forth to facilitate CG changes.
There are a few different ways to control the F-16; I chose the method Hobby Lobby used. The elevons are measured and cut free from the horizontal stabilizers. After cutting them free, the faces of the elevons are beveled and then hinged with clear tape on the top. I used DuBro micro control horns on the elevons. I cut the pins short and epoxied them in place.
As I was using the recommended method of control, I mounted the servos into the fuselage sides, just in front of the horizontal stabilizer mounting slots. The servos are installed from inside the fuselage with just the servo arm extending outside the fuselage. This was easily accomplished by measuring the servo mounting area, and then marking and cutting an opening for each servo. After marking the fuselage where the center of the servo arm would need to be located, I then drilled a small hole. Using some templates I constructed from thin card stock, I then cut the servo mounting holes with an Xacto knife. After making the cuts, the servos were installed from within the fuselage, through the fan hatch, and then glued in place with small drops of 5-minute epoxy.
The wings were hollow foam affairs, and they were seemingly quite strong and light. However, a balsa spar was included with the kit and was used per the included instructions. In addition to adding strength, the spar also maintains the proper dihedral angle of the wings.
The first step in installing the wings is to fit the spar and each wing to the fuselage and check for gaps. After fitting one wing panel, I marked any area on the wing root (top and bottom) that needed sanding, removed it, and then proceeded to lightly sand it with 220 grit sand paper. This was repeated until the wing root was a snug, gapless fit against the fuselage. After I was satisfied with the fit, I glued the wings using 5-minute epoxy.
After the wings were in place and the glue dried, I then mounted the horizontal stabilizers in place. The F-16 stabilizers have a bit of anhedral, meaning that the tips point downward slightly. I simply eyeballed this angle while the 5-minute epoxy set. After the epoxy had cured, I then installed the servo arms with DuBro micro EZ Links and micro control rods with DuBro keepers. This was a simple, neat setup, which allowed proper adjustment of the elevons.
The kit was finished by gluing on the nose cone and the vertical fin. Again, 5-minute epoxy was used. No sanding was necessary and tape was used to hold the pieces in place while the epoxy cured. The tail cone was installed with tape so that the thrust angle could be adjusted.
The servos and speed control were connected to the Hitec Feather receiver, and the receiver was attached to the inside top of the fuselage with double-sided foam tape. The speed control was also installed to the side of the fuselage, just behind one servo with double-sided foam tape.
The eight-cell battery was secured in place with hook and loop fastener, and adjusted so the CG was on the recommended spot, which I had marked on the underside of the wings with a pencil.
Attention was then turned to applying the included decals. The tiger decal is a sticky backed, but the other decals are the water slide type. The tiger emblem looked great after cutting it and installing it to the fin, but the water slide decals were a bit of a disappointment. After cutting them and installing them, they dried to a yellow color, which was not very appealing, so I removed them. At this point, the model was ready to fly. While Hobby Lobby gives instructions on how to secure the hatch, I chose to use tape to hold mine in place.
The first flight was uneventful, which is to say that all went well. The winds had calmed in the evening, and after peaking the battery, checking the CG, and a range check, it was time to chuck it and see what would happen.
I throttled the F-16 up to 100%, and gave it a running throw into the slight breeze, and it was off! It needed a good deal of "up" elevon, and the first few yards were a series of undulations until I had the model trimmed, at which point, it began a gentle climb to altitude. The sound of the little Vasa 55 fan whining as the F-16 flew by put a smile on my face. I did a few gentle circuits around the field, and I found the controls to be a bit mushy for my liking, but still adequate for most flying. I would prefer a faster roll rate, but that is a personal preference.
After a few circuits, it was time to setup for a landing. I turned onto final, brought it to about three feet, cut the throttle, and applied some up elevon. It quickly settled onto the ground. Subsequent landings were with a bit more power until just before touchdown. I have tried a few loops and rolls with the little fighter and found that it will roll, although a bit sloppy. Loops take a good dive to gain enough speed, or they look more like a 'P' than an 'O'. As this is one of my first ducted fans, I am still getting used to flying it, but overall I am happy with what Hobby Lobby has recommended.
Overall, I am impressed with the Vasa 55 fan. The rotor adapter can be a bit finicky to deal with and align, but once properly setup, it runs quite smooth.
The model is of light construction, so it will certainly fly well, but it is also somewhat fragile. I would not recommend landing it on an overly rough field. I have managed to break one of the horizontal stabilizers on a less than perfect landing. It is also best to apply some clear packing tape to the bottom of the fuselage to protect the foam from those skidding stops during landings.
The experienced modeler should consider this kit. It is neither tough to build or to fly, but it does take aileron sport experience to fly. What it does best is simply look great in the air doing a fast split-S into a low fly-by, just a few inches off the ground.
NICE and FAST!
My two key words.
Beleave it or not, my friend Kennedy was flying a F-16 Faclon and it was struck by lighting in brawed daylight! And heres the shock; the lighting didn't do a thing to the plane but eat up a little plastic and give the plane a paint jod- black!
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