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Oct 25, 2015, 11:29 AM
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Build Log

GMP Laird Super Solution (Golden Era Racer) ARF Build

Laird Super Solution- Golden Era Racer.
This is my “build” thread for a Giant Model Products (GMP) Laird Super Solution. I use the term “build” loosely since this is an ARF and the “build” is really just the final assembly. I did search RCGroups for a thread on this airplane (specifically the GMP ARF) and did not find any, so I figured I would start one on my build. If anyone already has build experience or any lessons learned/feedback your input is appreciated—especially on flight performance, CG, etc.

A bit of (personal) history:
I first became fascinated with the Laird Super Solution after seeing Jim Moss’s faithful full-scale replica at the 2001 Arlington, WA EAA Fly-in. The plane, in person, has an impressive presence which any scale model does not fully capture. Of course, building an airplane around a fully cowled Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr R-985 doesn’t exactly lend to a small plane.
Being a fan of the more “unusual” airplanes, I bought the GMP ARF a little over a year ago, but its turn in the long line of projects did not come about until this fall. Thus, I am just starting this and am hoping to cover most of the build here.

GMP’s ARF Specs:
  • Wingspan: 1940mm (76.1in)
  • Length: 1525mm (60in)
  • Wing Area: 105.4
  • Weight: 7.8kg (17lbs)
  • Servos: 6 to 7
  • Engine: 50cc to 85cc- (I am planning on powering my with a DLE 60cc twin.)

First Impressions:
The airplane is well packaged and was received free of damage including surviving for a year piled in my storage. For an ARF, the covering is actually very nicely done—one of better I have seen—and doesn’t need any of the typical tacking or tightening as most ARFs.

The fuselage is built up from the typical “lattice” type ARF construction. Although it looks okay on the outside, it is not a smooth and blended as it could be. Sorta like trying to make a round shape out of a square structure. Again, it doesn't look bad--it just looks like... an ARF.

The landing gear mount is well integrated into the plywood structure extending back from the firewall, although I will likely add some extra beef since there is nothing worse than gripping a gear off from a less-than perfect landing. The Firewall is hefty, but again I will likely add addition gusseting to ensure it hold up to the engine vibration. I have had a firewall separate before--so I just inherently don’t trust the “factory” glue.

The cowl is HUGE and will swallow the 60cc twin easily.

The one thing I am concerned about is the large fiberglass wheel pants. While these are definitely needed to finish the lines of the airplane, wheel pants are usually short lived on the rough grass fields I fly from. Although, the 6” diameter wheels will help keep it rolling through the grass without tearing up the fiberglass.

The one problem I did encounter in doing a quick test fit and mock-up of the airplane is that the provided hardware did NOT have the correct size fasteners for the wing attachment. I sent 2 emails to GMP but never got a response. Nonetheless, I scrounged up a couple screws in my assortment of miscellaneous stuff.
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Oct 26, 2015, 10:24 PM
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Engine and Cowl

Okay, this weekend I got the engine mounted and the cowl trimmed to clear the exhaust. The cowl measure 11.75" wide ans 12.5" tall, so it fits around the DLE 60cc twin with no problem. Just two holes in the bottom of the cowl for the exhaust is all that was needed, making it one of the easier cowls to fit that I have tackled in a while. The stock exhaust sticks out the bottom of the cowl only about 1 inch making for a very clean installation.

The faux engine "spokes" in the cowl are some what cheesy and the fiberglass is quite thin but it does fit well to the fuselage.
Oct 27, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Mounting the Tail Feathers

Hit a couple of snags in mounting the tail feathers-- a few things cropped up that I hadn't noticed when I did the quick mock-up of the assembly. While the horizontal alignment of the horizontal stab was really close to parallel with the wing and did not require any shimming, the actual "structure" of the the horz. stab is FAR is symmetric. It looks like that when the stab was sanded to shape, the material removal was biased to one side. As such, with fuselage alignment marked on the stab with a sharpie after painstakingly finding the left-right center and equal distance to the bottom wing tips, the stab "center" is WAY off as clearly shown in the picture back-lighting the stab so you can see both the drawn witness lines and the internal structure. Of course, I found this as I cut right through the covering, missing the structure, in attempt to prep for gluing to the fuselage.

The second issue is that the alignment of the vertical stabilizer is crap. It does sit perpendicular to the horizontal stabilizer, but the blend to the turtle-deck is atrocious. I did cut some material off the bottom of vert. stab so that is sits down further into the slot in the fuselage, but the side-to-side is still off. I covered the seam with the covering that I cut out for the elevator servos; which helps blend the flaw a bit.

All-in-all, I am hoping the thing will fly better than the quality of the ARF. Oh, and for a real good laugh, the instruction manual (which was provided on a CD-ROM) is grotesquely incomplete and absolutely hilarious with the poor Chinese-English translation. I REALLY REALLY want to like this plane, but it is becoming increasingly challenging to do so.....
Oct 27, 2015, 10:25 PM
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pumbaapig5's Avatar
keep the faith.
What ever you build will fly wonderful.
Just add more power.
The wheel pants are a must.
Just remember we keep are field mowed and smooth.
call me and come out anytime.
Oct 28, 2015, 02:52 AM
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perttime's Avatar
A bit of work to get it right....
Is it the fin or the turtle deck that is off?
The faux engine "spokes" might look much better if you paint some silver stripes on the part, to simulate cooling fins.
Nov 01, 2015, 11:11 AM
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Tail Feather Repair

In going back and reviewing my earlier post, and more specifically the picture of the horz. stab, I noticed that the asymmetry of the structure to the shaping had left the leading edge (left side of previous picture) precariously thin. Unfortunately i had already glued the stab to the fuselage, so reinforcement would have be with the stab in place. Digging through my random assortment of covering, I was fortunate enough to have some old EconoCote that was a very close match. I cut the covering back from the bottom surface where the repair would not be so obvious and added gussets and some material along the back side of the leading edge to make up for the factory error.

The next problem encountered: the control horns. The model was designed for fiberglass horns to be glued into parallel slots on each control surface. However, the hardware provided was a barrel and trunion style. Installation required cutting back the covering around the mounting area, filling the pre-cut slots with scrap balsa, drilling new mounting holes, hardening with CA, and installing the horns. In hind sight, I probably would not use the provided hardware if given a chance to do it again. <sigh>

Nov 01, 2015, 11:26 AM
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Scale Engine Options...

Originally Posted by perttime
The faux engine "spokes" might look much better if you paint some silver stripes on the part, to simulate cooling fins.

That is a good idea and I will probably try that. I also found a 1/4 scale 9-cylinder radial through Park Flyer Plastics (and only $17 dollars) that I may try. It looks like it would make a reasonable representation of the P&W R-985 Wasp Radial. The description says it not recommended for glow applications, but doesn't say anything about gas. Given the quality of the kit so far, I will likely see how it flies before sinking too much more time into beautifying it but I already have the engine on order!
Last edited by AeroKraz; Nov 01, 2015 at 11:29 AM. Reason: added picture
Nov 08, 2015, 10:02 AM
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Catching Up

Work has been making good progress, but the updates have been lagging--so here it is. The engine is mounted and plumbed. The pull-pull set up for the rudder is complete and the dual servos for the elevator are installed.

I opted not to use the provided tiller-style tail wheel assembly--which isn't bad and I actually used it on a GP Stearman but the blue anodized finish didn't match the Laird very well. Instead, I use a carbon tail wheel assembly from Valley View:

I also used some scrap black Ultracote to provide contrast for the cockpit and mounted a pilot. The pilot is actually a Hangar 9 1/4 scale bust that need to be decapitated at the neck in order to fit under the canopy. The switches (master/rx and ignition) are mounted on the dash and will still be easily accessible with the canopy in place.

The landing gear and wheel pants actually fit quite well and assembly was straight forward. The wheels actually mount on the inside of the gear leg, but this allows the pants to be easily slipped on over the curve of the gear legs.

The plane is really starting to look cool now!
Nov 11, 2015, 08:19 PM
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Have you read Jimmy Doolittle's accounts about flying this bird? Makes for interesting reading in the EEA's book by Schmid and Weaver entitled 'The Golden Age of Air Racing'. Have fun with the cool airplane. Hopefully, you'll build more from this era.
Nov 23, 2015, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ARUP
Have you read Jimmy Doolittle's accounts about flying this bird? Makes for interesting reading in the EEA's book by Schmid and Weaver entitled 'The Golden Age of Air Racing'. Have fun with the cool airplane. Hopefully, you'll build more from this era.


Thanks for the tip. I was intrigued and ordered a used copy of the book off Amazon. It has a TON of fascinating details about the air race era. Doolittle's tales of flying the Laird were really interesting--especially how it flew rigged with the right-wing heavy for the Thompson Race running the geared engine and Doolittle still couldn't roll out of the turn and had to roll it 270 degrees to fly it back upright. Yikes! Sad end to the plane though with it essentially being abandoned after the failed attempt to rig it with a retractable gear. Fascinating stuff!
Nov 25, 2015, 08:58 PM
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Jim Moss (R.I.P.) built a Laird Super Solution and had Matty Laird autograph it. I think it was even licensed with its own serial number. Mr. Moss' joined the Air Racing Historical Society and his membership number is just behind mine! That's as close as I'll ever get to being famous in air racing circles (pun intended)!
Nov 26, 2015, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ARUP
Jim Moss (R.I.P.) built a Laird Super Solution and had Matty Laird autograph it. I think it was even licensed with its own serial number. Mr. Moss' joined the Air Racing Historical Society and his membership number is just behind mine! That's as close as I'll ever get to being famous in air racing circles (pun intended)!
I had a chance to see Moss's Laird at Arlington and even had a chance to meet him (being from the northwest) as the Hughes Racer was being completed. It is shame about the untimely loss of Jim and his tallent and passion for aviation history.

On another note, there is a Hall Bulldog being built at a small airport in Concrete Washington. It has been a while since I was up there to check on the progress, but that will be another exciting one to see fly.
Nov 26, 2015, 12:33 PM
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Okay, It have fallen behind in the Laird progress updates. The airplane is nearly ready for it's maiden flight, although with the weather in the northwest turning into the typical winter crud, the first flight probably wont happen until spring. Even with wee get a break from the drizzle, the fly field is currently a swap and I don't think the Laird is too short coupled to fly well on floats. However, I am including a few pictures as it sits. I did receive the Park Flyer Plastics engine so I be working on detailing out that next.

The empty weight came out at a hair under 18 lbs. Surprisingly the CG was just about perfect. I am used to radial-engine models being grotesquely tail heavy (my 12lb Monocoupe need almost 2 lbs of nose weight!). As built, the Laird is just a tad on the nose heavy side (dry) which a full tank of gas will push the CG slightly further forward. However, given the amount of aerodrag the large gear fairings and spats create ahead of the CG, I think slightly nose heavy is safe for the first flights. Beside, as the say: Nose heavy airplanes fly like crap, tail heavy airplanes fly once.

At 18lb. the wing loading comes out at 25.4 oz/ft^2. With the airplane being relatively compact, it give the impression of being fairly dense and an impression of being heavily loaded. However, it does have 11.23 sq/ft of wing! For comparison, my 1/4 scale Monocoupe has a wing loading of about 21.5 oz/ft^2 and it flies wonderfully.

The arbitrary valuation of cube loading (wcl) comes out at 7.5 which also suggests that it it ought to be more placid at slow flight than it appears.

Engine power comes out at 289 watts/lb based on the DLE 60cc twin spec that boasts 7.0hp. The power-to-weigh suggests that it ought to have enough gettyup to get up and go. The one concerns in that the 22" "break-in" prop for the engine is fighting against a 12" diameter cowl, not leaving a lot of prop running in clean air. I will likely step up to a 23x10 or 24x8 when I actually go to fly it. Though the silver Xoar looks better but is not available in the larger size.
Nov 26, 2015, 01:33 PM
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Laird Manual and Summary Review

I had a request for the Laird instruction manual I will attach a link i to this post. The manual comes in PDF format on a CD-ROM. When I first got the plane a year or so ago, I pulled out the disc to look at the directions and them managed to misplace it. Several inquiries to GMP for the directions went unanswered. By chance, when I was cleaning off the bench to start this project, I found an unlabled CD which turned out to have the directions...although the quality of directions does not lend much help to the build process anyway.

The manual is too large of a file to upload here, so here is a link:

Also, in summary of the airplane, here are my "ratings" -though admittedly completely arbitrary, biased, and unfounded:

On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being phenomenal)
  • ARF Kit Construction: 3 - Typical ARF box and truss fuse doesn't lend itself smooth transitions on a round airplane: sort of the square peg-round hole effect. The horizontal stab was miss-shaped and needed rework.
  • ARF covering and appearance: 4 - The covering was tight and well adhered, needed very little work from the iron or heat gun. On the down side, what ever they used needed VERY low temperature settings on the iron so I am curious how it will hold up sitting in the sun. The cowl is very light weight and probably won't hold up well in a nose-over and lacks engine detail . Wheel pants fit surprisingly well.
  • Provided Hardware kit: 2 - Hardware did not match the construction of the airplane for the control links. Wing bolts did not fit. The provided tail gear was a joke. I ended up replacing most of the crappy hardware altogether.
  • ARF Fitment and Assembly: 4 - The tail feathers fit square to the wings and assembly was fairly straight forward. I did go through and reinforce the mounting points for the wings, landing gear, and engine. CG came out right on the money
  • ARF Detailing (Decals, etc.): 2 - This almost deserves a 1. The vinyl stickers are "rough" in that any curves are significantly faceted, the scale is off, and perhaps the most disappointing is that the cool '30's-esque Laird logo was omitted for a piss-poor white diamond in which you had to line up and apply the red block letters separately. I will probably look for someone to do some proper decals for me.
  • Instruction Manual: 2 - I have seen worse. The wing rigging was almost completely absent and need some common sense to get through. This is not a beginners ARF.
  • Customer Support: 1 - granted, I haven't had to contact customer service on many builds, but the basic expectations is that someone at least returns email and phone messages. Come-on GMP--step it up a bit!! Actually, at this point, no need to bother--I likely won't be a repeat customer.
  • Stand-off Impressiveness: 5 - Granted I am a sucker for the '30's (I was born about 70 years late), but regardless this is NOT just another friggin' Yak or Extra on the flight-line. This is a flat out cool looking craft!
  • Flight Characteristics - TBD
  • Overall Impression: 3.5 - An average of the above score would put this below a 3, and objectively this is probably deserved, but the hardware deficiencies, poor manual, and other issues were not major. My only real wish is that the decals/detailing where better.
Sep 02, 2016, 01:36 PM
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Do you fly at the RAMS field in Sumner? I think I saw you fly the Laird there.
I live in Federal Way.


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