GWS 3D Tiger Moth Review - RC Groups

GWS 3D Tiger Moth Review

Jouni Tiainen explores the suprisingly nimble and 3D capable new GWS 3D Tiger Moth, complete with a DIY CDRom Brushless Motor Upgrade.

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Wingspan:31.5" (80cm)
Wing Area:409 sq. in. (26.4dm2)
Weight:11.3-14.8 oz. (320-420g)
Length:26.6" (68cm)
Wing Loading:xxxx oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 x Pico/Naro
Transmitter:4+ channels
Receiver:4+ channels
Battery:2-cell 1200mAh LiPo, 8N750mAh NiMH
Motor:GWS EPS-350/DS, included
Prop:GWS 11x4.7, included

A few months ago I had the honor of joining the GWS Test Pilot Group. In addition to my straight feedback to GWS factory, I will publish GWS plane reviews at my website. This is my first review here at E-Zone.

The GWS Tiger Moth has reached a great success in the "Parkflyers for Beginners" category. This new 3D Tiger Moth uses the same fuselage, but is competing in a totally different "3D Hovering Machines" category. While the original Tiger Moth was headed for beginners, the 3D Tiger Moth, as any other 3D plane, needs at least intermediate piloting skills.

Competition is tough in the 3D category and only time will tell how well the GWS 3D Tiger Moth will succeed in following the enormous popularity of the original Tiger Moth. On the other hand... as there are not so many 3D vintage biplane ARFs available today, I can see no obstacles in its way to great success.

Indoor flying season is just about to begin here in Finland and I'm sure that the new 3D TM will gather a lot of attention during flying sessions. Let's find out if it's going to be positive...

Kit Contents

So what's in the box?

  • Airframe Components
  • GWS EPS350C-D-BB Motor with JST-connector, Gearbox and 11x4.7 Prop with Spinner
  • Landing Gear
  • Decals
  • Full Color Instruction Manual with Photos
  • Glue
  • Small Accessories

What else do you need?

  • Radio equipment
  • 4 servo extension wires, or 2 extension wires and Y-cable for ailerons in case you use 4ch radio gear
  • 5 min epoxy
  • Scissors
  • Sharp cutter knife
  • Clear Packing Tape

The fuselage is yellow painted foam. The wing and tail material is white depron with yellow painting. The GWS instruction manual is very detailed containing step-by-step instructions with numerous photos. All construction steps are illustrated, making the building process extremely easy and straightforward. With the help of the manual, building a 3D Tiger Moth did not take more than few hours (waiting the epoxy to dry took most of the time). Admittedly, while the manual is good, being an experienced depron builder, I took the freedom to do some things in different way, which I'll talk about in the assembly section.

First Glance

However, a couple of doubts popped into my mind:

  1. The side surface of the fuselage is smaller than in typical 3D plane, which might make executing some manoeuvres (e.g. knife-edge flying) a bit difficult. I hope that large wing-joiners will compensate for the small side surface area. On the other hand, the scale sized fuselage gives the 3D TM some authority, which might be lost if the proportions of the fuselage were stretched.
  2. The motor is pretty heavy when compared to the size and weight of the plane. The lighter a flat-wing 3D-plane is, the better the flight characteristics. Overpowering is a must in extreme 3D flying. For sure a brushed stock motor will not give extreme vertical performance, but in any case, it should have enough power for impressive indoor flying. (The stock motor is used in this review, but there is also included a short section about brushless CD-Rom modification. Much more power + a bit less weight = extreme fun!)
  3. In every other aspect it looks just like a 3D pilot is expecting 3D plane to look like. All in all 3D Tiger Moth looks like a potential performer to me, especially when powered with lighter and more powerful CD-Rom motor.

(In the conclusions section, we'll look at whether I was right to have these concerns.)


As mentioned above, the building process is very simple and straightforward. However, instead of building according to the manual, I did some things my own way. The differences in my building process are shortly described and illustrated below.

The Wing:

In my opinion, depron and tape are created for each other ;). I've found tape hinges to work extremely well on depron planes. So I decided to use them on the 3D Tiger Moth also. To increase impact durability, I also taped the leading edge. Note: You cannot use just any tape. A high quality tape with a high tack is required.

Instead of installing a fiberglass spar to the lower wing only, I used 2mm carbon fiber spars in the bottom side of both wings.

The Stabilizers:

The same steps were executed with the stabilizers. Note I made a small modification in the rudder installation. Instead of joining the parts separately to the fuselage as in the manual, the entire vertical stabilizer was first built separately, then glued to fuselage fully assembled and hinged.

The Fuselage:

I did enlarge the open space in the bottom of the front fuselage. As I knew I was going to replace the original motor with a lighter brushless one later, the battery needed to be mounted there to keep the CG in the appropriate position. Our cold winters here was another reason for mounting the battery inside the fuselage. Li-Poly batteries do not like frosty conditions and have to be protected from cold to make winter flying possible. Another way to protect the battery against cold drafts is to wrap it in depron or wallpaper foam.

Instead of using small screws in attaching the cowling, I used clear packing tape here too. The front of the fuselage was first covered in clear packing tape to prevent the paint being damaged. The cowling was then attached with a few small pieces of tape. I also cut small filler parts out of scrap depron pieces to cover the ugly holes between the wing and the fuselage.

Mounting the Radio Gear:

Instead of mounting the aileron servos on top of the lower wing, I decided to mount them on the bottom. I made a small hole for the cables into the middle of the lower wing. In my opinion, the servo installation looked much better that way...much less visible.

I used clear packing tape on the wing prior to mounting the servo with double-sided tape. Why? If later I would need to detach the servo (attached with double-sided tape), it can be done without damaging the depron surface. In addition to double-sided tape, I also secured the servos with clear tape. The winter is cold in Finland and the glue in double-sided tape is not sticky enough to keep the servos in their places in frosty conditions.

The AUW with 2-cell E-Tec 1200HP pack is 340g (12oz).


Maiden Flight

It was already getting dark when I headed to the school's football field. The coming darkness combined with the small area (about the size of 2 tennis courts) surrounded with dense forest scared me a bit, but I decided still to go on. The CG was in "3D-mode", 83mm from leading edge. Control surface movements were set to maximum. AUW with 3-cell E-Tec 700HP battery pack was about 340g (12oz). (Accidentally I had taken a wrong battery pack with me, 3-cell Li-Poly instead of 2-cell. So to protect the motor and battery, I did not use full power. The 3-cell pack can be used with this motor, but it calls for smaller prop).

Because of the darkness, the maiden flight was pretty short. I first flew a few circles to get a feel for how it flew, and it was just as I had expected. Due to aileron drag, turning was a bit complicated if turning without rudder -- using just ailerons and elevator. I needed to use the rudder in coordinated co-operation with other control surfaces to get TM to turn nicely. Fluent flying required continuous and controlled use of all control surfaces (ailerons, rudder and elevator). That's one reason why at least intermediate skills are needed to fly this plane. The box is right. This plane is not for beginners.

As the CG was at a pretty aft position, the max control throws were way too large. I had to handle the sticks extremely gently to get TM to do exactly what I wanted. Control throws were reduced during further trimming flights to better suit my flying habits. I also did move the CG forward a little bit later. It's now about 75 to 78mm from the leading edge. My advice to a new 3D TM pilot would be to start with reasonable control throws and CG at about 70-75mm from the leading edge of the top wing. Then just start trimming the whole setup step to step closer to your own liking.

There was enough power available for relaxed flying. Hovering was easy with the CG that far aft, 3D TM almost hovers by itself. In addition to hovering, with assistance of the torque of the large prop, torque-rolls by itself. Before it got too dark to fly, I had time to perform a few basic aerobatic manoeuvres...inside and outside loops, rolls, cuban eights, immelmans and stall turns were easy to perform - but only as an experienced pilot. I had to get more flying time in better conditions to be able to give a final verdict, but after the maiden flight I was very satisfied.

Later flights

I did not notice any unexpected flight characteristics during further flights either. the GWS 3D Tiger Moth can be flown at very slow speeds and, when controlled by an experienced pilot, can safely be flown in amazingly small space. Half of the tennis court was large enough for impressive and relaxed 3D flying. I have to admit, that I do need a bit larger space though ;)...

With the stock motor and 2-cell ETec 1200HP pack, the 3D TM had enough power for hovering and relaxed indoor flying. Still, I felt that it was a bit underpowered. If the 3D TM is to provide extreme vertical performance, I would definitely need a brushless motor.

Note: Like other indoor 3D planes, the 3D Tiger Moth is intended to be flown only in calm or very light wind conditions only. It does not like hard or gusty wind at all.


Motor Options

There are several brushless motor options available for the GWS 3D Tiger Moth. Almost any brushless motor capable of turning an 8-11" prop, weighing 30-60g and 80-150+W power will do and will provide performance enough for effortless 3D flying. Just remember the simple rule: Less weight, more power -> better power-to-weight ratio -> more 3D fun ;).

A Little About the Motor

Instead of commercial options, I decided to build a CD-Rom brushless myself. As I've found the stuff of to be great value for the money, I decided to build the motor using their supplies.

Materials used are listed below:

  • 2 x 22.7mm stators (
  • GBx2 custom can and endbell (
  • 2 x 6/3mm ball bearings (
  • 12 x 10x5x2 N50 magnets
  • 8/6mm cf tube
  • GWS 3mm shaft
  • 0.70mm copper wire (10T wye)

I won't take up this article with the motor building process. (Although, I might come back to that later with a separate article. If you'd be intersted in that, let me know in the 'discuss this article' thread!)

As I wanted to keep the AUW down, the power I took out of this motor was not close to its maximum. 150+W could be easily pulled out of this motor by using different winding. I settled for about 110W. A more powerful motor would need a heavier ESC and battery pack. The weight of my complete motor is about 42g (TM stock motor 62g). With a 3-cell ETec 1250HP pack and GWS 8X4.3 prop, it draws about 10A at full throttle. With this motor the power-to-weight ratio is about 300W/kg, which is enough to give an effortless vertical performance. This almost doubles the power of the stock motor and means a significant performance boost.

The GWS-products I would like to see in the future are brushless motors and controllers. Brushless motors have got much better efficiency compared to brushed ones and have also got a better power-to-weight ratio. There is no doubt that brushless motors are rapidly conquering the market. I am looking forward to seeing GWS surf along with this inevitable brushless wave.

Brushless flying

With this DIY brushless CD-Rom motor, I now had plenty of power available. I used only about 1/2 throttle for hovering. By applying full power, an impressive vertical acceleration was instantly achieved. This is just how it's supposed to be on a 3D plane!

Using a smaller 8x4.3 prop made the flying characteristics better. Controlling the plane was more accurate with help of the increased airflow to the tail. Also the aileron area within the influence of the airflow (prop blast) was smaller, decreasing the aileron drag effect at slow speeds.

And one more thing ;). In my honest opinion: There is no sound in the world better than the whistle of a brushless outrunner!



First back to my doubts:

  1. I was wrong when I doubted the side surface area vs. knife-edge flying. In fact, only minimal rudder movement was needed. Knife-edge was not a problem with GWS 3D Tiger Moth.
  2. More power needed? I was right. The brushed stock motor does have enough power for impressive indoor flying but it does not give extreme vertical performance, which is an essential factor of full featured 3D flying. The GWS 3D Tiger Moth is a great plane with the stock setup, but it will show it's best characteristics only with a more powerful brushless motor.
  3. The GWS 3D Tiger Moth is just as good as it looked at first sight, or even better. F3A indoor competitions are very popular here in Europe and I am pretty sure that a brushless 3D TM and a skilled pilot could make a winner there too.

Some of my friends have test flown my 3D TM. They all share the same opinion. Flying with the brushless GWS 3D Tiger Moth is pure joy. So, if you are looking for a unique looking, full-featured 3D plane for indoor or calm conditions, the GWS 3D Tiger Moth is exactly what you are looking for. Especially when powered by a powerful brushless motor. Just be patient while trimming it to suit your habits and flying style. I guarantee - you won't be disappointed.

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Nov 09, 2004, 07:29 AM
Random Flier

Thanks for the review....

... but :
1) Don't think that a Tiger Moth represents a WW1 ARF. Its a WW2 trainer.
2) Stock power system on 2 LiPo. Before jumping into the brushless route, suggest you try a 3S LiPo (and appropriate prop size reduction: I use a 9050HD on a 350-C). Much cheaper. See RCGroups discussions on 3 LiPos on Can Motors for further info.

Interesting and not surprising that the wing supports have been beefed up over the IPS / regular Tiger Moth.
Nov 09, 2004, 08:05 AM
Mie oo Karjala poikii
Tyson's Avatar
Originally Posted by isvana
... but :
1) Don't think that a Tiger Moth represents a WW1 ARF. Its a WW2 trainer.
You are absolutely right. My mistake, I shoud have checked... First flown in October of 1931 ... Thanks for the correction . I should have called it a vintage biplane instead of WWI warbird (Corrected the bug, thanks again Isvana)...

Originally Posted by isvana
2) Stock power system on 2 LiPo. Before jumping into the brushless route, suggest you try a 3S LiPo (and appropriate prop size reduction: I use a 9050HD on a 350-C). Much cheaper.
I do not agree on that at all. The raw material for DIY 100-180W brushless makes less than 20USD.

Another thing that makes brushless cheaper is much longer lifetime. I am expecting the motor to endure at least two years daily use. According to my long-term experience on small can motors, I do not predict brushed stock motor on 3-cells and high current to live very long. Actually I did try stock motor also with 3-cell pack and smaller 9x4.7 prop, but the overall performance was not even close to (this mild) brushless setup.

-=Mike=- (aka Jouni Tiainen)
Last edited by Tyson; Nov 09, 2004 at 09:05 AM.
Nov 12, 2004, 09:36 AM
yeah, I'd like to see an article on DIY outrunners.
Walt Thyng
Nov 30, 2004, 06:27 PM
Been There! Done That!
boomerace's Avatar
I am happy to see they at least got it right this time. I built one of the so called Pico 3D Moths and it was a total piece of crap! First flight the lower wing tip broke off at the aileron even though I had added additional reinforcing with carbon fiber rods! I think it is sacrilegious to make a 3D moth. The shocky's and some of the other designed as 3D bipes are much better IMHO.
Dec 08, 2004, 02:19 PM
Registered User

GWS 400 Tiger Moth

I just completed building the GWS Tiger Moth 400 kit. Trust me, it's not an ARF. I was quite pleased with the final result. The kit contains excellent material. The plastics, foam, decals, screws, are a very good quality and the finished product looks great. I did not install the ailerons. The one BIG complaint is that the enclosed directions are Terrible. The points of view in the photos are not good and I was not able to start building it until I went to the Internet and got better directions. The link noted was very helpful;

There are several other sites as well and I strongly suggest you view several of them prior to attempting to assemble. I have not flown it yet so I can't report on that. I did read that one flyer broke the top wing doing an outer loop so be careful. Also, if you have to back out one of the TINY screws, be careful as they strip easily and the head will come off without much pressure. Have fun…
Jan 25, 2005, 10:17 AM
Glue can fix that.
Brutus's Avatar
Very good review from an experienced builder.
Jan 28, 2005, 08:11 AM
Think 3D :)
Aidan's Avatar
Feb 18, 2005, 05:18 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
Thanks for the review. I would have liked to see more written and some video on the stock motor with the recommended 2 lipoly
Feb 18, 2005, 01:41 PM
Think 3D :)
Aidan's Avatar
me to i find brushless motors are too expensive!
Jan 21, 2008, 10:57 PM
add lightness
PositivelyJoe's Avatar
Well, I'll bring this thread back almost 3 years later.
I see very little on this 3D tiger moth.
I bought one of these kits NIB for $20 on a big sale, so I'm building it with extra carbon fiber and a brushless motor.

3 years later from that last post and now a suppo brushless outrunner is only $15.

anyone else have one of these 3D Tiger Moths?
Aug 11, 2008, 02:59 PM
Weed's Are People Too!
weed's Avatar
I just got 1 that was bought years just looking to see what mods I want to do...will use a brushless..but want to keep it lite will keep checking this thread!!
Nov 22, 2008, 11:09 PM
Registered User


Hi. I just received a 3d Tiger Moth for my birthday but there was no manual on the box. Anyone know where I could get a copy? Thanks!
Apr 07, 2009, 03:16 AM
Registered User
I am sorta surprised that the 3D moth seems to have never became even a smidge popular....

I was handed one in a package deal of "old" stuff from the LHS's attic today, so as soon as all the boxes full of wood, plans, and tissue from my haul were opened and inspected, I went ahead and busted the 3D moth box open. I have built exclusively with sticks up until this lil thing (I have a pico moth, but it was assembled when I got it from a local flyer) but it went together with nary a hitch. I was able to ind enough HS55 knockoffs and even an old GWS ESC so as to complete it this evening without making any additional purchases...

Any way, I know no one wants to hear my ramblings, so here are the questions... does ANYONE still have one of these? and do you ever fly it??? What do you think? What are your control throws set to? Does this thing absolutely NEED a fancy Radio with expo/DR, etc???

If I have only been flying aileron ships for a few weeks but am doing well (Built a 40" Monocoupe 90a from FF plans and made it into a full house ship on 2S and a GWS 350 geared dealy) with no mishaps, should I be okay to try flying this in a nice open erea? These huge ailerons have me a lil spooked, lol.
Apr 15, 2009, 10:01 PM
love to fly, hate to crash
John.G's Avatar
Got one myself still in the box(had one built before)I would say lay out some parts on bristal board so that if you should need to replace any of them you can.I would put some fiberglass packing tape on it so as not to have to much wing flex.Put it together and fly it they fly great I might someday put this one together but have a few others projects to put together first.John

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