Microaces Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a
|Construction:||Depron Aero 3mm sheet foam airframe and tire parts, carbon fiber wing and fuselage reinforcement rods, carbon fiber elevator joiner, steel pushrods and landing gear struts, textured vinyl stickers, plastic receiver mounting tray, plastic pushrod horns, plastic propeller and wheel mounting hardware, foam spinner|
|Weight:||2.4 oz. (70g)|
|Servos:||Generic 1.7g analog aileron servo; elevator and rudder servos are incorporated with the required Spektrum receiver (not included)|
|Transmitter:||Spektrum DX6i six-channel spread spectrum aircraft; model requires a Spektrum or JR DSM or DSM2 transmitter|
|Battery:||Microaces 300mAh 1S lithium polymer with E-flite micro connector|
|Propeller:||GWS 5030 5x3|
|Motor:||AP05 brushless outrunner; 5000Kv|
|Typical Flight Duration:||Five minutes|
|Minimum Operator Skill Level/Age:||Intermediate to advanced; 14+|
|Manufacturer/Available From:||Microaces Ltd., 33 Springdale Road, Broadstone BH18 9BN United Kingdom|
|Price GBP (Standard/Deluxe):||£42.95/£63.95 with VAT; £35.79/£53.29 without VAT for buyers outside the UK|
You meet the nicest people here on RCGroups.com.
Case in point: Mr. Jon Porter, RCGroups site sponsor and co-founder with Simon Barr of Microaces, Ltd. of Broadstone, Dorset, United Kingdom.
Since September 2012, Microaces has been the subject of many a magazine review, most notably Model Aviation. I'm proud to have done the first comprehensive online review here on RCGroups.com of one of Microaces' initial offerings, the Focke-Wulf 190 A-8/R8 "Black 8" in December 2012. The review may be found here. That model's looks and performance never fail to draw attention at the field and for good reason: The level of printed detail on Microaces models is truly beyond anything on the market short of a museum-quality giant scale model.
Every panel, every rivet, every stencil is represented in perfect detail on micro-aerated, textured vinyl stickers, the lightest possible printable material available to Microaces and which was developed with their input. Present too are such details as oil streaks, worn paint and an accurate pilot figure right down to rank and squadron insignia. These are not the sorts of models one just chucks into a closet between flights; they're worthy of display in a prominent place of honor. Microaces is experimenting with Depron display stands and I hope they proceed with production. I know I would order a couple.
This review will center on the brand new Microaces Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a, released in May 2013 and under development almost since the inception of the company.
I'll be turning my attention to the deluxe kit with its AP05 5000Kv brushless outrunner, Oversky XP-7A ESC and a Microaces 300mAh li-po. Since all Microaces kits are designed in such a way as to make swapping the motor, ESC and the required Spektrum AR6400 or AR6400L brick between airframes possible, basic versions are available as well as a money-saving benefit.
If the Supermarine Spitfire is an icon among fighter aircraft, Microaces' rendition represents an icon among icons.
The model denotes N3162, a Spitfire flown by RAF Pilot Officer Eric Stanley Lock of No. 41 Squadron, Hornchurch, Essex during the Battle of Britain in September, 1940; Lock would become an ace during that battle.
Born in 1919 in Shrewsbury, Lock joined the RAF in 1939 and earned the nickname "Sawn-off-Lockie" due to his short stature. I've seen an operational Spitfire up close at the Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, California and I can say without the slightest doubt that one needs to be short of stature and slight of build to fit in that cockpit.
Lock was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer in June 1941. On August 3, 1941, Lock was returning from a sortie over occupied France when he spotted a row of German military vehicles and troops while flying over the Pas-de-Calais. Lock signaled a break from the formation to begin a ground-strafing attack and was never seen again. He and his plane crashed into the English Channel, presumably shot down by ground fire. Neither his body nor his Spitfire Mk V, W3257, were ever recovered.
Lock's name was added to the Runnymede Memorial near Surrey, one of 20,456 British men and women so honored who were lost without a trace in war operations.
All Microaces kits come with a frameable art print of the subject, but in order to commemorate the Battle of Britain, Microaces has commissioned a limited edition, museum quality art print which sells on their site for £10. All proceeds from the sales of the prints go to support the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
This incredible short film shows actual footage of the Battle of Britain shot by cameras mounted to the wingtips of Spitfires:
|Spitfire Gun camera actual combat footage - Battle of Britain - RAF (10 min 59 sec)|
All Microaces kits come with a lot of standard stuff:
The deluxe kit adds:
Assembly and completion require the following:
Some ongoing improvements have been made to this kit and will fid their way onto all Microaces models:
As I've learned through experience, assembling a Microaces kit is like assembling no other; a great deal of the fun is in the assembly, so I'll devote some time to describing it. To sum up, these kits are glued together and overlayed with the aforementioned stickers. The result is a strong, true and nearly crashproof airframe which is even immune to "hangar rash."
It begins with the chamfering of the rudder halves, elevator and ailerons with the enclosed heavy-duty sanding stick and clear plastic 45-degree sanding guide. It's a simple matter of holding the part to be chamfered in place and sanding down the edge. The result is a neat, accurate chamfer.
Here's where parts begin to come together, starting with assembly of the rudder. The halves are simply glued together and the outer stickers applied, namely numbers one and two. Sticker number one incorporates the rudder hinges; I'd made the error of misinterpreting that fact when I built the Fw-190. The Spitfire's manual is much clearer in this regard with larger, computer-generated pictographs. The stickers are on the small side, so the use of the tweezers is highly recommended.
As for that glue, Microaces uses UHU Por contact cement which, as I found out during the build of the Fw-190, is a staple item in Europe but a bit hard to find in the US. Hobby Lobby International sells it via mail order and it can be found here. Some contact cement left over from three previous Dynam brand review subjects looked as if it might have some reaction problems on a scrap piece of Depron, so I used the Aleene's FunCraft Foam Glue I'd picked up at a craft store for assembling the Fw-190. It looks like regular non-toxic white glue, but it's a super strong adhesive specifically made for joining foam.
Another possibility is Beacon Foam-Tac which our friends at Yardbird RC sent me for an earlier review. I only wish I still had mine; it was lost during a move. It's available here.
Steps 2, 3 and 4 involve assembly of the elevator and the horizontal stabilizer starting with a 25mm flat strip of carbon fiber which serves as an elevator joiner. I'd used a bit of foam-safe CA to hold the same piece in the elevator of the Fw-190 and I followed suit here.
Couple of things to point out: Stickers number 11 and 12 which serve to skin the underside of the horizontal stabilizer have overlapping tabs down the center line of the stabilizer itself. If the stickers are installed in the order given in the manual, the tabs will not properly overlap. Those assembling their own Spitfire will quickly notice.
The other thing I'm pointing out and changing through experience is the installation of the elevator and rudder servo horns in steps 1 and 4. They are supposed to be glued in place and bent outward later in the assembly process in order to accept the pushrods. That proved to be a real problem with the Fw-190, necessitating the purchase of some Du-Bro micro horns.
I'm opting to leave off the horns until I'm ready to actually attach the pushrods.
No real drama to report other than having to make some slight trims of the stickers with an X-Acto, so it's on to the fuselage.
Steps 5 through 8 begin the basic fuselage, starting with the installation of the tailwheel bracket, carbon fiber spar and motherboard clip to the port half using diecut tabs from the sticker sheets.
In a "waste not, want not" sort of situation, Microaces took what would otherwise be swaths of unused sticker material and put them to use as diecut tape tabs. These were hard to see on the sheets used to assemble the Fw-190, but Microaces has outlined them here on the Spitfire.
Once everything's in place, the starboard half is glued down and some stickers are applied. Again, I remind those building a Microaces kit that the tweezers are your friend when it comes to applying even the larger stickers.
It's necessary to have the radio system and flight battery in hand when completing step 7. The aileron servo is going to be a somewhat permanent resident of the airframe, so it's necessary to first center the servo with the radio prior to screwing down the control arm, inserting the servo into its opening and taping down the lead as shown.
While Microaces models are designed for removal of the brick and ESC for use in other Microaces airframes, the process is easier said than done, at least in my case. Jon, on the other hand, is an expert and can swap out a brick in a matter of just a couple of minutes.
Rather than struggle with the existing brick, I put a generous gift from a special RCGroups user to work for me and I want to both credit and thank him.
A user by the screen name of "Anixs" out of Edmonton, Alberta frequently puts incredible listings in the free items section of the classified ads. It can be anything up to and including high-end radios and complete aircraft, no strings attached. He even picks up the shipping.
Anixs had some Spektrum AR6115e park flyer receivers up for grabs, so I thought I'd take a chance on one...and he chose me to receive a receiver, as it were. I promised him via a private message that I'd put the receiver to work in a review subject, but they've all been too large as of late in which to install such a small receiver.
Kevin Koch, owner of Uncle Don's Hobbies in Palm Desert, California agreed to take the unopened receiver on trade which I applied to a new Spektrum AR6400 brick. It'll remain on the Spitfire for the most part, but I might use that brick on the original Fw-190 kit once I make the necessary repairs.
That statement needs some clearing up: Some errors in the Fw-190 assembly manual and a couple of mistakes on my part resulted in an assembled model with badly binding pushrods. Jon generously sent a second kit which I used in the review and which I still fly whenever I'm able. He's also forwarded some parts I can use to repair that first model.
Jon has vowed that his customer service will be second to none and I believe him.
The board had to be ordered, which would have meant a wait before I could proceed had it not been for the Focke-Wulf. Since I'll be flying the Spitty on the same memory assignment, I simply plugged the servo into the 190's servo socket, fired up the receiver and centered it.
Step eight is critical; it involves the installation of the elevator and rudder pushrod tubes. This was a real issue with the first Focke-Wulf due to less-than-clear indication as to how the tube was to be attached. This manual makes it very plain. Like the previous build, a hashmarked area on the rearmost sticker on the bottom left of the model (sticker 14, applied in step 6) indicates where the rear of the tube needs to go while an insert shows where the front needs to be along with how the pushrods themselves are oriented. Some light oil is called for here in order to lube the pushrods; I simply put a drop on my fingertip and rubbed the oil along the length of each pushrod.
Sticker 16 represents most of the port side of the model and yes, the tube will cause the sticker to bulge, so careful application is imprortant. A tab at the rear of the sticker is folded under in order to allow passage of the pushrod tube without the risk of the rods binding on the adhesive.
Assembly of the tail is almost as easy as sliding together a little Guillow's balsa glider and is done in much the same manner.
Some glue is first applied to the horizontal stab and it slides in place with alignment aided by a keyed notch between the leading edges. The rudder is next, its hinges sandwiched in place with the two foam parts which extend the tail rearward on the starboard side. Some more stickers are applied to the tail area before the all-important fillet stickers, numbers 19 and 20 are applied to help hold the stab in place.
This proved difficult on the Focke-Wulf since the stickers had to be bent at 90-degree angles before application. It's the same here on the Spitfire, but the lines along which the stickers need bending is lightly scored, making it a no-brainer to bend them in the proper place at a suitably sharp angle. The tweezers are definitely called for.
Heck, that was easy.
The wing, while not complicated, does involve a lot of stickers, pushrods, spars and a joiner in steps 11 through 16. It sounds more involved than it is, so here goes:
It should be noted that the wing has a definite top and bottom as shown in the photos as well as the manual. The top is smooth while the bottom has grooves milled into it for the spars and aileron torque rods. The first couple of steps involve skinning the top of the wing along with the leading edges.
Once the ailerons receive their top skin, the carbon fiber spars are installed underneath the wing in their grooves.
A major improvement which I'd pointed out earlier involves the use of fold-over tabs on the top skins of the ailerons. Lifting of the stickers at the chamfer was a problem with the previous kits.
The aileron torque rods are lightly lubricated before being taped down in their own grooves. The ailerons are next, hinged and attached to the wing and torque rods with more of the tape strips from the sticker sheets.
Here's where the foam shipping tray comes in handy as a sort of miniature workbench. Now that the torque rods are in place, it allows the wing to lie flat when it's belly up.
Step 15 begins with the dihedral joiner which is glued within its precut slot down the middle of the wing. I used some of the Aleene's glue to hold it in for the most part and I used some CA to tack it around the edges, giving the required four degrees of dihedral.
Steps 17 through 20 are the straightforward installation of the wing, the wing retainers which comprise the remaining bottom edge of the fuselage, the remaining 90-degree stickers to secure the wing and horizontal stab and the gluing of the fuselage doublers at the nose. The joiner on the port side was a bit difficult to get to lay down straight because of the pushrod tube, but patience and some well-aimed dabs of CA did the trick.
Here at the end of step 20, we have ourselves something which is beginning to look like one beautiful model airplane.
Steps 21 through 26 entail the nose weights, final carbon fiber spar, motor and housing, the final airframe stickers less those on the access hatches and the building of the simulated oil cooler and radiator.
That final carbon fiber spar is first glued atop the nose while the lead nose weights are stacked atop one another and bent slightly upward to fit the curve of the nose.
This is where I ran into a problem, but one which turned out OK.
The pictogram seems to indicate that the bends in the strip go into where the motor mount slides in. They don't, but that's how I wound up assembling the mount, realizing the error only after I'd reviewed the manual in order to write this section. There was enough leeway allowing a straight installation of the motor mount later on, so crisis averted.
As for the motor itself, installation is a bit frustrating. I remembered from the previous build that the mounting screws were packaged not with the motor but rather with the ESC. Rubber grommets used to dampen vibration and to aid in setting the motor's thrust angle hold each screw in place before the motor is attached to the mount.
Tiny screws, tiny grommets and a deep, tiny motor mount equal the aforementioned frustration. While it's possible to remove the motor and ESC and swap between airframes, the cost is low enough so that one can simply buy the parts separately or to simply buy the deluxe kit outright. That not only saves the frustration of swapping the parts, it also nets another battery.
Application of the 50th and 51st stickers which serve as the pockets for the removable landing gear complete the basic airframe.
Addition of some fascinating details are next; when is the last time any of us saw a simulated radiator and oil cooler on a model Spitfire other than on a static model?
Microaces to the rescue. These are quickly assembled and stickered. An exceptional touch is the use of a reinforcement wire on the underside of the radiator scoop, serving to square and to reinforce the opening.
Once installed, these details really brought the Spitfire to life, so much so that I actually thought I could feel Eric Lock's spirit smiling down on me, a sense I can't recall ever having experienced before. It's hard not to look at a model of such a noble subject and not feel an overwhelming sense of history. I mentioned that to Jon who asked if he could quote me on that; what else could I say but yes?
Assembly of the landing gear, installation of the side panels for battery and motherboard access and installation of the prop and spinner complete the airframe, but I went slightly out of order here, again from experience.
I'd left off the side panels before resetting the Spektrum board to external ESC mode and testing the ESC and motor operation. Recall that I'd left the servo horns off of the rudder and elevator as well.
I found it easier during the build of the Fw-190 to first remove the pushrods from the fuselage and to connect them to the board. The pushrods are necessarily stiff and the process of attaching them to the linear servos is a lot easier to do with the board out of the model.
It would seem that I'm not the only one who agrees with these variations. Joe Malinchak, writing about the Focke-Wulf in the July 2013 issue of Model Aviation came to much the same conclusions, i.e., install the pushrods on the board first and install the control horns later.
This reinterpretation of the manual meant that I didn't have to bend the servo horns in step 34 in order to connect them to the pushrods. I did have to bend the pushrods slightly in order to center the rudder and elevator after I glued the horns in place with the CA, but not by much.
Setting the motor's thrust angle is a lot easier with the prop off, so once that was done, on went the prop and spinner. The spinner can (and should) be painted with an acrylic paint before it's installed; I used some Model Master Acryl Gloss Black and a 99-cent brush after the maiden flights. Semi-gloss or flat might have been a better choice, but I was going by the artwork which showed a bit of sheen to the spinner.
I might point out that the builder is faced with two power leads, one on the board and the other on the ESC. The lead on the ESC is the one to use; the lead on the board is easily and neatly tucked in the hole behind the board's clip on the fuselage itself.
If all goes according to plan, the model should balance right on the recommended CG of 35mm behind the leading edge of the wing with the battery installed, which it did.
There's a rather amusing detail on the landing gear of this model. No previous Microaces model had any marks identifying the manufacturer. That is, until now. Jon and Simon added faint "MICROACES" lettering and the company logo on the sidewall of each tire. It's a clever way of adding both a little bit of visual punch and some company pride.
Speaking of maiden flights, let's fly this bird.
The day I was scheduled to meet George Muir, videographer of the Coachella Vally Radio Control Club near Thermal, California was a windy one, not uncommon in the Colorado and Mojave deserts.
George couldn't stay long enough to wait until the wind died down, but I could.
One thing Microaces models do well is a scale takeoff. The Spitfire simply raised its tail and lifted from the runway in a graceful arc.
I noticed a decidedly different feel when compared to the Fw-190 given the Spitfire's slightly lighter wing loading and larger area. With the gear and drop tank in place, the Fw-190 needs a steady hand on the elevator to keep the nose from dipping way down low in turns.
The flat airfoil of both models require the use of elevator in turns, but less so with the Spitfire. The Spitfire also has somewhat less aileron throw, or so I first thought and I'll explain momentarily. Loops were a problem too, which I'd originally attributed to the shorter servo throws of the AR6400.
The landing turned out to be easy, marred only by a noseover upon touchdown. The wheels felt somewhat tight on the axles and they were. A bit of residue-free lube offered up by another pilot worked wonders.
A hand launch was next; these little models will fly right out of one's hand. Off came the gear to see how it would respond; once I grasped the Spitfire by its canopy and throttled up, a gentle underhand toss was all that was necessary to get it back in the air.
Like the Focke-Wulf, the Spitfire was even happier in turns without the gear hanging down. Loops and rolls were still a problem during these first flights, but not straight, level and remarkably fast flight, especially from a model running a single-cell lipo and a little GWS propeller.
It didn't seem to glide as well without power as did the Fw-190, but just a bit of throttle kept the nose up for a nice belly-flopper onto the pavement. Those stickers are tough, exhibiting no "hangar rash" along the belly.
A test flight later in the week came at a local softball diamond after a double-check of the radio. My mistake regarding lack of throw. I had been flying it on 70% aileron throw instead of the 100% I thought I had set it to. With only 15% expo at 100% throw, the aileron response was hyper-sensitive and oh boy, did it have throw. An increase to 50% expo tamed the ailerons quite a bit, but conditions were a bit too windy and the park a bit too small for me to make any real attempts at rolls or loops.
During the course of the actual video shoot with George behind the camera once more, I attempted some rolls and loops, but I still couldn't get the Spitfire to do so. Jon Porter later explained that the increased wing area compared to the Fw-190 limits the roll rate somewhat, but he has no problems with loops.
I'll jump ahead and mention that I'd solved the looping problem after the video shoot. I'd inserted the pushrod into the lowest hole on the elevator's horn per the manual, thereby limiting the throw. Relocating the pushrod to the uppermost hole did the trick; the Spitfire now loops beautifully!
Back at the video shoot, a nearly dead calm Sunday morning worked to my advantage. The tiny model was now in its element, both with and without the landing gear.
This model quite honestly flies like a big model in calm conditions and with a decidedly different feel than that of the Focke-Wulf. That extra wing area helped keep the nose up during turns and without the gear in place, it tracked even better. No bad habits, no unexpected control issues. Just good, clean flight. Those months of development paid off in one of the nicest micros around, or of any size for that matter.
Once properly trimmed, loops are as easy as can be and rolls slightly less so; this is a model best flown to scale. It was easy to set up the Focke-Wulf in order to get it to roll while the larger wing area of the Spitfire is going to require some experimentation with the exponential rates to find the balance between roll ability and overall control.
For those thinking that the Spitfire's small size equates ease of flight for a raw beginner, no. In many regards, this model responds like a larger warbird model and will not correct itself. This is a remarkably high-performance model with scale-sized surfaces with flight characteristics quite likely as comparable to the prototype as any Spitfire model on the market.
Beginners should take heart since a more experienced beginner comfortable with an aileron trainer should be able to fly any Microaces model with no problem. In fact, they'll shrug off some hard landings other models can't. Since it uses standard Spektrum electronics, it would be a cinch to fly it with a buddy box.
|Microaces Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a (2 min 16 sec)|
These videos are parts one and two of the maiden flights of the prototype dated November 30, 2012:
|Maiden flight of the Microaces 1/24th scale Spitfire - Part 1 (1 min 59 sec)|
|Maiden flight of the Microaces 1/24th scale Spitfire - Part 2 (2 min 46 sec)|
I'd pointed out during the review of the Fw-190 that I had become an unabashed, unashamed fan of Microaces. The Microaces Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a simply reinforces that notion. It is a well-engineered, well-thought out model which is as much fun to assemble as it is to fly. Its unique design, resistance to damage and remarkable detail make it a standout among micro aircraft. Just the sense of history when building and flying Microaces models is worth the price of admission. I honestly feel as if I've gotten to personally know a hero who died twenty years before I was born; this model made it so.
I give it my highest possible recommendation. Two thumbs way, way up.
My sincerest thanks go to Jon Porter who offered me this very early production unit for review here at RCGroups.com. He is a sponsor of this site and his magnificent products are more than worthy of consideration by our readers. Jon was also kind enough to send a couple of extra flight batteries plus the new pushrods I'll use to repair the original Focke-Wulf. You would be hard pressed to find a classier act than Jon and I wish both he and business partner Simon Barr nothing but success.
I'm convinced that "Anixs" was sent from heaven above. He was kind enough to award me that Spektrum park flyer receiver and I traded it for the Spektrum brick with his blessing.
Special thanks go to Kevin Koch, owner of Uncle Don's Hobbies who was kind enough to do that swap and to George Muir, videographer of the Coachella Valley Radio Club who always takes the time to assist in getting the necessary video footage.
As always, thanks go to RCGroups.com administrator Angela Haglund. Angela crosses our T's and dots our I's before any review is published.
Thanks to you, our readers, there is no bigger, better place on all of the Internet than RCGroups.com. You're why we review the newest, most innovative radio control products on the market today.
Enjoy your stay here at RCGroups.com!
There is so much to like about this great little model:
Minuses are few:
However, take it from me when I say that it isn't difficult to assemble at all. When you're done, you'll have one of the sweetest micros you've ever flown.
With all due respect, please go back and reread the review of this model. You will note that I have pointed out this model's flaws as well as its benefits and I have expressed an opinion of the product per this site's own guidelines.
Please review this link:
I'm at a loss as to what you mean by "our forum." I have been reviewing models and accessories for seven years and this is how they're done. The model was provided at the expense of the manufacturer and I sunk some of my own money into the model as well, as is often the case.
I should also point out that neither I nor any of the authors are compensated with anything other than the model itself. We put a lot more effort into the average review than the models are sometimes worth. Furthermore, Mr. Porter and Mr. Barr already pay for banner ad space. I solicited a sample from Mr. Porter last year and he offered this one to me on his own.
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Jul 11, 2013 at 10:02 PM.
In any case a review is a "review", plain and simple and cannot be done without mentioning the manufacturers name.
I am VERY GLAD there are members who take their time (It takes a LOT of it to prepare and write a review!!!) to do something so complete and useful.
Oh, and to Jimjim: Not to worry. I wish that I were better at applying the stickers as well! Don't let it get you down. If you have the proper brick, you'll enjoy building and flying this model.
https://www.rcgroups.com/site-sugges...omplaints-259/ ( SSC link )
MicroAces is a Sponsor of this site and is entitled to this unbiased view of his product line.
I am flying the FW190 and now have a few other Microaces kits to build. The "reviews" done here are exactly that. They will help you to successfully build and fly the models. They could also be called build threads. I don't think it is "advertising" to gush over the quality, it is what it is. Thanks for your hard work, free kit or not, in my experience you have "nailed" it
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