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Phoenix Tiger Moth "E" & Nitro!

Which flies better: a Tiger Moth electric powered or a Tiger Moth powered by an OS 55 glow engine? Here is a review that evaluated the assembly and flying differences and similarities of the Phoenix Model Tiger Moth!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:55"
Wing Area:899 Sq. In. 6.24Sq ‘
Weight: Glow 6.25 lbs; "E" 7.875 lbs.
Length:44.6"
Wing Loading: 16 -20 oz/sq. ft.
Servos: Futaba 3004
Transmitter: Futaba T6EX 6-Channel 2.4GHz
Receiver: Futaba R617FS 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST Receiver
Battery: FlightPower 6S 5500 mAh
Engine:Max .55
Motor:RIMFIRE 55
ESC: Silver Series 60 Amp
Typical Flight Duration: 5-10 minutes
Manufacturer: Phoenix Model
Available From: www.towerhobbies.com
Price: $189.98

When one thinks of the early days of the 'Golden Years; aviation and how pilots were trained, the PT-17 Stearman comes to mind (that is if you are on the American side of the pond). But how did the Europeans get trained? Up jumps the Tiger Moth! Life started as a de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth, progressed from DH 82A to DH 82C. Not exactly an easy airplane to fly - which is exactly what instructors want - but yet forgiving for those 'What was I thinking" moments. Being somewhat slow reacting to inputs gave the student pilot some time to rethink what was done and what should be happening soon! It has been said the Tiger Moth is 'easy to fly, but difficult to fly well'.

The Tiger Moth was placed into service in 1932 by the Royal Air Force and was finally retired in 1952 with the de Havilland Chipmunk ! Over 8,000 were built and to this day there are quite a number still flying which indicates the quality and durability of this airplane.

Phoenix Models have released a relatively small version (1:6) of this famous trainer. So for those pilots who wish to do some lazy day touch and goes (but do not want a J-3 Cub), take a gander at this one. And another plus - Tower Hobbies offers spare parts!

Kit Contents

The complete kit contents, including equipment for either nitro powered or electric powered.

This is how this once in a lifetime Review happened....my flying buddy Ron and I were discussing our next project and he mentioned he would like to fly Phoenix's Tiger Moth as he likes biplanes, so he ordered a 'box damaged' Tiger Moth and an OS..55 glow engine. The next day I receive a request to do a review from RCGroups and guess what the plane was? Yep! The Phoenix Tiger Moth.

So I was blessed with the opportunity to assemble both a glow powered AND an electric powered Tiger Moth (AKA 'Tiggy'). As it turned out the glow version was finished and then the second kit arrived. I would have preferred to assemble both at the same time, but with the lack of organization on this end, perhaps it was best to do one at a time! Ron waited until my version was finished so we could both fly ours for the first time the same day.

Assembly

Order of assembly: wings; tail feathers ; landing gear; motor/engine; radio; cowl; wing struts and rigging.

Wing

Nothing earth shaking concerning the lower wing, just install the two aileron servos, control horns and push rods. I had a rough time finding the four screws for the control horns....they are 2M x 20mm. The first plane was almost out the door before I came across the correct screws. When assembling the second Tiggy, I found the correct package with four screws and then 'discovered' the first plane's package hiding somewhere in the box. So if you find some screws that don't quite extend into the control horn - stop and keep looking for 4 real live screws.

In fact the term 'screw' could mean a variety of metal objects used to hold 'stuff' together on the Tiger Moth and here is were Phoenix Model could use some terminology improvement. Only three times the exact 'screw' dimensions were given and this caused some confusion as to which MACHINE screw goes where and which tapered screw goes where.

The top wing is assembled by sandwiching the center section between the two outer wing panels. The 15.5” aluminum wing tube was used on the top wing.

The three wing pieces are held together with four LONG nylon bolts – way too long for these fat fingers to work, so they were cut in about half – making the securing process move along much faster as well as less fatiguing. Near the end some needle nose pliers were used to make the last two or three turns.

Tail

The upper wing was then put aside and the effort changed to the mounting of the tail feathers. Attaching the horizontal stabilizer on the fuselage (on both models) was clean, neat and parallel to the wing! Some covering material from both the fuselage and the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer was removed to give the epoxy a good gluing surface. Some yellow paint was added to the epoxy so any drips, runs and/or fingerprints would blend in with the covering.

The vertical stabilizer was later epoxied in place with the rudder attached. The tail wheel has to be attached to the rudder and it appeared easier to do this and glue the rudder in place before the whole assembly was glued to the fuselage. In fact the decals were placed on the vertical stabilizer before the gluing was attempted.

I have to give a “BOO” to Phoenix Models with their selection of tail wheel wire – it is the strongest metal in any kit I've built and probably stronger than anything offered in Ace Hardware stores! Luckily, the 90 degree bend can be done on the workbench and in a vice.

Fuselage

The main pre-assembled landing gear was next on the agenda. Again I would advise mounting all the hardware on the landing gear before mounting this assembly on the fuselage. One of the axles was used to open up the slot for the gear by pulling that axle through the slot a couple of time resulting in the gear sitting flush to the fuselage when mounted.

The plastic covers were sanded on a flat piece of sandpaper, and glued together with thin CA – again before mounting the landing gear on the plane. After that was completed, some Silicone glue was used to hold the plastic covers in place. Then the landing gear could be mounted on the fuselage.

OS Max .55

Up next was the mounting of the motor, and/or engine for Ron's version. Whereas Ron wanted his powered by an O.S. 55, the supplied two piece engine mounting hardware was attached to the fuselage.

It was noted that each piece had to holes already drilled into the mount – one was circular and the other oval in shape. This was done so a variety of engines could fit without any drilling – so you are ‘locked in’ to how far forward or backward your engine sits if you use these holes. The manual suggests 110mm from firewall to front of the thrust washer, and really you can disregard that measurement and mount your engine using the supplied holes! The cowl can slide backward a LOT to make that nice spacing between the prop and spinner look great.

The supplied fuel tank was configured for a three line system and secured with some Velcro – only to find it interfered with the hatch closing; I would suggest a nylon tie to secure the tank and not follow the instructions which recommend using Silicon glue to hold the tank in place. A permanently mounted fuel tank will surely leak!

RIMFIRE 55

The second Tiger Moth would be powered by a RimFire 55 and FlightPower 6 cell battery, so the little package containing the motor mount was quickly mounted to the front of the fuselage. This went on easily as the blind nuts actually lined up and the Du-Bro 3mm tap wasn’t needed to clean up the threads like it had to do on the first (glow) powered model.

The speed control was attached to the firewall followed by the RIMFIRE 55. No problems or issues doing this. The speed control power lead fit through the hole created for the fuel tank and will make connections much easier than some models. The battery will be held with Velcro to keep from shifting during flight.

A FlightPower 5s 5000mAh battery fit snug as a bug in the rug and some Velcro would hold it in place, but the instructions recommended a 6s 5000 mAh battery!

A trial fitting of a FlightPower 6s 5000mAh battery proved problematic as the battery was about ¾” too long for the allotted fuselage space. So some modifications were needed as follows: 1) the bulkhead in the fuselage was removed so now the battery would fit lengthwise; 2) the hatch was modified by cutting the inside of the hatch - back to the instrument panel – this also cut off my pilot’s legs – darn, I wish I knew that before I painted his toenails to match his helmet!

Radio Installation

Now the hatch would close with the battery installed. With that complete, the rudder and elevator servos (Futaba 3004) were mounted in the designated locations and their respected push rods were inserted into the pre-installed housings. I was careful not to move the servos too close to the sides of the fuselage as the lower wing hold down bolts are located in that area.

The elevator has two push rods which are joined in a metal “domino”. A single push rod then connects the “domino” to the servo arm. Needless to say some thread locker was used at that junction! The two elevator push rods where then connected to the two control horns (which you might notice had been painted yellow – the kit supplied BLACK plastic horns – UGH – on a yellow plane???).

The rudder push rod exited the fuselage near the top of the turtle decking and if it was not slightly relocated, the rudder control horn would interfere with the “UP” elevator movement. So the push rod was bent slightly to permit clearance with full left rudder and full up.

Cowl was next…and a beautifully painted fiberglass cowl it is. The front of the cowl requires two openings, one small and one long. A Dremel tool was used to open those two holes. The first cowl was for the nitro powered model so after making many calculations, the cowl fit with the muffler on. A slot was created to accommodate the high speed needle valve and a short wire extension was added to the needle valve. Another hole was opened up to grant access to the low speed needle screw.

The cowl for the electric version was much easier as a large portion of the bottom was removed so cooling air would be flowing over the speed controller. The RimFire 55 just barely clears the pre-cut center hole, so that opening was slightly enlarged to guarantee clearance.

On both models an On/Off switch was installed on the right side of the fuselage. Now was the time to make this fuselage into a biplane – you know, the ones with two wings!

The lower wing was remounted after installing the aluminum plates as it was easier to secure them on the workbench as opposed to being actually on the model. The first Tiger Moth had those plates installed, removed, reinstalled, removed again and finally permanently mounted! The reason was the mounting “screw”. I figured the mounting BOLTS would be in the same package as the plates – WRONG! The screws they refer to are found in the package with the wire rigging! Small little #2 bolts – with the longer bolts being used for the upper cabane plates.

With the lower wing mounted the attention goes back to the top wing and four 90-degree brackets were screwed into place in the center section. At this time the aluminum plates were also installed further out on the wing.. On the second plane one of the blind nuts holding a plate came loose so the covering was opened up and a new blind nut (“T”-nut) was installed…and the covering taped up and no one is the wiser…..how many times does this happen to the BOTTOM of a wing??? Well there is a first for everything.

The two “N” struts (also called Cabane struts) were now secured to the fuselage. On the second Tiger Moth one didn’t like the alignment with the fuselage’s blind nuts and I had a sick feeling this wasn’t going to be a good day. To my surprise, by turning the strut around (or over – can’t remember which) everything lined up perfectly! So if you are fighting the mounting of the top wing, check those “N” struts again.

The next step was to put the top wing on – and here is where a third hand would sure be nice, but persistence pays off and the wing does fit as it is supposed to. The largest time consuming task was trying to tighten the four top bolts where the “N” strut meets the wing – not a lot of room and those holes in the 90-degree brackets were a bit too small for the bolts. What saved the day was a 5.5mm wrench – which came from a set of small metric wrenches from Craftsman – well worth their weight in gold as the saying goes.

Once the four bolts are connected (but not tightened) the outer wing struts were installed and then all the bolts were tightened. Then comes the wire cables and boy do they look great. First of all do NOT cut them, as you get 4 plastic covered cables and they are the correct length! All the hardware is supplied so install them – are they necessary? Nowhere is it written they be installed so I guess you could skip them – but it is well worth the short amount of time necessary to install them!

Completion

The two pilots were glued into their cockpits with silicon glue as was their windscreens. Watch carefully as the windscreens could be mounted upside down. For Ron’s glow powered Tiger Moth, the brown pilot was in the front and the electric powered version the blue pilot was in the front…that was done so we could tell which plane was ours when flying formation <g>. The instructions forgot to mention the application of decals! Also the decals were slightly ‘adjusted’ to distinguish the difference between glow and electric planes. We couldn’t have two exactly the same (except for the differences) plane flying at exactly the same time could we?

Both versions balanced at the 90mm mark on the top wing which surprised the both of us as Ron’s plane weighed in at 6.25 lbs and mine a stout 7 lbs 11 oz! Of course that was with the 6 cell battery installed. A 5 cell weighs about 10 oz less and to my surprise, the lighter battery doesn’t affect the CG! Because the Silver Series speed controller requires a separate battery for the flight controls, a simple 4.8 v NiMH was placed right under the CG. The weight of the 6 cell FlightPower battery was 32.4 oz and the 5 cell was 21.6 oz, so I guess the glow engine combo weighs a lot less.

Radio Installation

All control surface movement was set to the recommended low rates with the only exception the rudder – you can never have too much rudder in my opinion so the electric powered Tiger Moth has about 30mm movement in both directions. To assist in taking off, -25% expo was dialed in the Futaba transmitter. An APC 15-8 prop was installed for the first flight on the “E” powered plane and a 12-6 was in front of the OS .55. We found an APC 14-10E gave better performance than the 15-8E and saved on replacing props.

Flying

One must remember the full scale Tiger Moth was a trainer - a BASIC trainer - therefore if you expect to fly a harrier or a blender, you have the wrong plane. This model flies like the full scale, slow and smooth if you wish, or if flown faster, you can get some excitement doing basic maneuvers, most accomplished pilots can complete.

The recommended control throws for the aileron and elevator are (in my opinion) way too conservative. As the video shows the first take off was very long and there was a lot of up elevator being used. Aileron throws almost caused a panic attack when the first aileron roll was tried - the roll almost didn't happen! As I flew the Tiger Moth more and more, switching back to low rates was not an option. The only thing that wasn't tried was differential throws on the aileron . Our final control throw for ailerons were ailerons 30mm and elevator 25mm.

Basics

Electric Powered:

The Tiger Moth when configured with a glow engine seemed to fly faster (and definitely longer) than the electric version, but that is only common sense. Loops can be relatively 'tight' but if you wish a very large loop, you had better plan ahead for electron use. A fresh 5cell or 6cell can produce some nice vertical climbs, but I wouldn't say unlimited (or at least I didn't try). I really preferred the 6 cell battery over the 5 cell for flying is a bit more 'fun' but the 5 cell flights ended up with smoother landings. I guess the wing loading has its consequences.

The use of the Electrifly Silver Series speed controller makes for a nice 'safe' environment because the additional battery must be activated (by switch on the side of the fuse) before the motor is almost ready to be armed. You must then give full throttle, (hear a beep) and return to idle (hear some more beeps) THEN you can advance the throttle and the prop starts spinning. And yes, those APC props are SHARP! I started with an APC 15-8 E for the first two flights, then switched to a 14-10E - which I liked so much more.

Nitro (or glow) Powered:

For some unknown reason, Ron's Tiger Moth came out a LOT lighter than mine (6.25lbs vs 7.625 lbs) making his wing loading in the 16 oz/sq. ft. territory as opposed to my near 20 oz/sq. ft. The funny thing is that when I flew both, I really couldn't tell any difference (other than longer flight time with the OS Max .55). Being that Ron did purchase his engine just for this plane and it was brand new - it started well and ran well - no dead sticks or lean runs. My hat's off to OS for an engine like that!

When I test flew his plane he had already increased the control throws so I never got to try the low rates on his plane. I must say the glow version had more response to control inputs, but that is to be expected due to the faster speeds. His inverted flights were just like mine - required a lot of down elevator at first, then slowly coming back toward neutral. Both planes flew inverted quite well but if you get go the elevator, a 10-15 degree dive ensued.

Most flat-bottomed airfoils will climb when additional power is added - not with the Tiger Moth! From cursing speed (nice and level) full power can be applied and the altitude doesn't change!

Taking Off and Landing

Both planes required some right rudder while taking off. My first take off was almost a disaster because the rudder (being at low rates) just didn't move the nose the way I wanted. Since then my new rates get about 30mm both ways and I added some Expo. The Tiger Moth will not 'jump' off the runway but needs some time to get (spelled distance) to become airborne.

Landings are a lot of fun because you slow down the sink rate by increasing throttle slightly NOT pulling up elevator. If you are dropping a bit too fast, a bounce (s) await you! This plane will not do a 3-point landing well because it will bounce, bounce, and did I mention bounce? Instead you have to land with a bit more speed than you would normally need and (again with the throttle) gently reduce your airspeed and land on the main wheels. Crosswind landings are a challenge as the Tiger Moth will weather vane and the wind will push you downwind so plan ahead. Ron said he doesn't understand why the ailerons are so sluggish while flying but very sensitive when landing - and all I can say to him is to switch to low rates when on final.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

As mentioned earlier, this WAS designed as a BASIC trainer and the model reflects this in many ways. Loops, split ess, Cuban eights can be easily completed, just don't expect quick reactions to your inputs. I'd recommend a couple mistakes high for the first time a maneuver is tried. As mentioned inverted flight will require a lot of down elevator at first.

Stalls are interesting in that the nose drops sharply and slightly behind the airplane and not straight down - but at least it is straight ahead! Spins, well maybe we should say spirals will eat up a lot of altitude to rotate even once! Try this one high up for the first time. Recovery is smooth with no hint of a secondary stall.

Knife edge is a lot of fun...and this bird WILL knife edge - just not for a long time! When in knife edge configuration the flight path resembles the glide path of the Space Shuttle. But it holds itself well on the wing with no tendency to pull either toward the canopy or wheels.

After a bunch of bounce and goes as well as a couple of 'greasers' I noticed my flying wires were coming somewhat lose. It turned out the metal clevis was not holding itself well in the threaded rod and was slipping a bit. Perhaps a nylon clevis might hold the tension better. Sadly one could not hear a whistle as the plane would make a fast fly by - darn, I was hoping to hear those wires in the wind!

Is This For a Beginner?

I would say no to the rank beginner as the assembly is slightly advanced. Flying wise, yes if there is a instructor available. When trimmed for slow flight this could be a good trainer, but it lacks self-recovery characteristics and there are better PRIMARY trainers available. For the modeler who can successfully fly a 4 channel airplane and maybe this is their third plane - yes.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Electric Powered Tiger Moth (5 min 16 sec)
Electric Powered Tiger Moth flies on 5 or 6 cells!

Nitro Powered Tiger Moth (4 min 6 sec)
Glow powered Tiger Moth loves to play in the sun.

Pluses:

Part fit is excellent;

Alignment of two wings is spot on;

Complete hardware package;

Good looking airplane!

Flies like a trainer IF you want or can do some graceful scale-like maneuvers.

There is a wide variety of spare parts available.

This plane looks great in the pits or in the air.

Good color scheme, especially when flying in an all blue sky.

Minuses:

Instruction manual needs to be more specific when it requires a 'screw' - what size?;

Almost all threaded parts needed to be cleaned out before assembly;

Rigging procedure needs more explanation for those new to the hobby;

instructions forgot to mention the need for aileron extensions;

Recommended control throws too conservative.

Conclusion

I'm really getting to like this plane more and more - very predictable flight characteristics and is a fine addition to my hangar. If given the choice between glow or electric I would favor the glow only because of the longer flight times. This is the plane for those of you who do not like J-3's to have that later in the day (as the sun sets and the wind is calm) to shoot those touch and goes....and if you do like Cubs, stick a black stripe down the fuselage <g>.

I would like to thank Ron for permitting me the honor of assembling his Tiger Moth and to George for putting up with taking the videos and flying still shots. Also would like to thank Hobbico for their support in completing this project.

Last edited by tailskid2; Jul 28, 2015 at 04:25 PM..
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Aug 03, 2015, 10:18 AM
UAS Pilot - FAA# *******HRK
CryHavoc's Avatar
Why are the top wing tips rounded and the bottom ones squared off??? Both are rounded on the full scale.

Also, looks like they forgot the little fold down cockpit half doors for the pilots.

Neither of these are a biggie but I noticed it right away and I'm not even a scale Nazi. The price sure is right though.

Mike
Aug 03, 2015, 04:46 PM
Registered User
tailskid2's Avatar
Thread OP
Not sure why the wings are different on the full scale, but I do know there were many versions over the years. I was tempted to "add" the cockpit doors, but due to time restraints I decided not to do that.
Last edited by tailskid2; Aug 03, 2015 at 04:59 PM.
Aug 05, 2015, 11:51 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by tailskid2
Not sure why the wings are different on the full scale, but I do know there were many versions over the years. I was tempted to "add" the cockpit doors, but due to time restraints I decided not to do that.
Imagination scale while on lsd
Aug 07, 2015, 08:57 PM
Modeling Retread
Did you consider setting the electric motor to run anti-clockwise in true DeHaviland fashion?
Aug 07, 2015, 10:35 PM
Registered User
tailskid2's Avatar
Thread OP
Not a chance . But it would be interesting to do!
Aug 08, 2015, 09:54 PM
UAS Pilot - FAA# *******HRK
CryHavoc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tailskid2
Not a chance . But it would be interesting to do!
All you would have to do is switch two of the motor/esc connectors and find a suitable pusher prop.

Mike
Aug 14, 2015, 07:37 PM
I got FPV fever
CurrentDude's Avatar
A good vid (electric) I enjoyed it. Thanx for sharing it here.

I've the same Tiggy but it was a nitro version which I converted to electric. Very please with it. However, I use 4s and 13x6.5 apc prop and she flies well with plenty of reserve power.

I'm glad the model is now available again.

Happy flying.

Cheers
Last edited by CurrentDude; Aug 17, 2015 at 03:25 PM.
Aug 14, 2015, 09:08 PM
Registered User
tailskid2's Avatar
Thread OP
Glad you enjoyed yours, I really know mine is popular as I "have" to let others fly it
Aug 17, 2015, 10:31 AM
Back to the drawing board!
arttoch's Avatar
Subscribe
Aug 17, 2015, 02:26 PM
Registered User
tailskid2's Avatar
Thread OP
Flew it again for the umpteenth time and with the cross wind I love the way it crabs into the wind but lands with authority! (meaning I didn't grease it in)
Aug 18, 2015, 09:54 AM
Registered User
I had a Dymond Models one, no longer available, about 42" wingspan. It was in the Nicad era, or very expensive lipos, and I flew it with a Phasor 30-3 (remember those?).

These (Tigermoths) planes fly very nicely and look great in the air.

I would love to get another one. It was the best flying biplane I ever had.
Aug 24, 2015, 06:29 PM
Same Day Delivery
mike3976's Avatar
For some un-godly reason, I have been thinking that I need a Bipe, probably a result of old age creaping up on me. Anyway, this one might do, wish it was a little more scale, but it is what it is! Gonna have to have a Saito in it, what a you think, .56 or .62, have .72, but that one might be a little too big?
Jun 16, 2016, 07:10 PM
Warbird Willie
jtalley10's Avatar
Maidened this morning, video uploading mow.

Jim
Jun 17, 2016, 06:00 AM
I got FPV fever
CurrentDude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtalley10
Maidened this morning, video uploading mow.

Jim
Congratulations Jim. Its a great feeling ... bask in your glory for a while.

This Tiggy is one of my favourite models... so graceful in the sky and a "User Friendly" model

Look forward to your vid.

Happy landings

Cheers


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