GWS C-47 Skytrain/DC-3 Build and Maiden - RC Groups
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This thread is privately moderated by Balsa Al, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Nov 08, 2017, 03:21 PM
Another Broken Spar
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GWS C-47 Skytrain/DC-3 Build and Maiden


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This one I built in honor of my father, Vernon. He tells a good story about traveling in Europe (Greece?) on a C-47 military transport during the Korean War. The officers were taking all of the passenger seats, returning home with trophy saddles in the adjacent seat. This left no regular seats for my father, who was trying to get back to his unit before his leave ran out. He gladly took the jump seat instead of being AWOL.

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Description: My father, Vernon, at the controls of a DC-3 in Northeast Airlines livery. This was at an utralight fly-in in Greenland, New Hampshire. The DC-3 was the largest ultralight there. :)

This is the GWS C-47 Skytrain kit, released around 2003. It is formed from traditional styrofoam - light weight but easily dented, broken, scratched, and dimpled. I did my first fiberglass work to help prevent styrofoam pitfalls, using water-based poly instead of epoxy resin. I was very pleased with the finish this created. Minimal weight, a good surface for paint, and added strength. I will definitely glass again.

I wasn't interested in a show piece and frankly didn't want to spend the time to do a really good job. I wanted something that resembled the Northeast AIrlines DC-3 that we saw at the ultralight fly-in.

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Description: Gorilla glue instead of GWS supplied glue. It was 15 years old, however having scrapped a few old planes that used this adhesive, I bet it would have been fine for another 15 years.

I modded a few things. The kit included the GWS brushed 300 stick mount motors. That meant lots of weight and, well, brushed. I chose EMax CF-2805 1600 brushless motors instead. I planned on mating those with 12 amp ESC's and GWS 6030x3 props set for differential thrust and counter-rotation. All parts were from the good folks at Heads Up RC.

I also used DuBro small hinges instead of the paper ones in the kit. The stock wheels were replaced with larger DuBro light treaded wheels for better appearance and grass field survival. I had to fashion new gear wires as the DuBro wheels are wider than the GWS wheels and would not fit on the stock wire. I missed an opportunity to make the gear look more authentic with dual struts - it would have been easy to do while bending the new wires.

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Description: Glued mounts for twin CF-2805 brushless motors.

I used a metallic silver that had a good stainless/chrome effect, however where the WBPU was lacking, it destroyed the smooth Styrofoam finish. I used a craft silver enamel safe for foam and plastic to coat over everything and patch what I could. I was able to use the shiny silver on the plastic cowls. The white is a mix of almost empty rattle can semi-gloss and matte.

Being my first twin engine plane, I had to geek it up with differential thrust. I followed a couple excellent YouTube videos that show how to set up the ESC's and program the Spektrum DX6 radio. I added a mix on the rudder to boost thrust to the outward motor. It had the benefit of improving ground handling during taxi tests.

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Description: The GWS supplied decals look great.

Time for the maiden! I only had 1 prop adapter for the 6030 3-blade props, so I used the prop savers that came with the motors and some APC 6030 2-blade props to do the maiden. I also had not done the gloss coat or the rest of the details - why bother if I might just smash it up on the first flight?

The largest 2S battery I had was an 800 mAh. This left the CG so far aft that I ended up taping a 3S 1000 mAH battery to the nose as counter weight. I should get this better balanced with a 2S 2200 mAH battery carved up into the front. The CG is about 60 cm back - where the nacelles blend into the wing. GWS instructions show it 50 to 55 cm from the LE, but this seemed too far forward and RCG posts I found tended to favor 55 to 75 cm.

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Description: I should try flying with a 3S taped to the front of more planes. It made up for the missing heavy NIMH pack and the 2 brushed 300's.

The maiden went great, even with that battery sticking out the front. The speed was a wee fast for me - low and slow is my favorite - but the trim was good and the differential thrust helped bring it around quickly without using a sharp bank angle. I flew for 3 minutes, mindful of the small battery I was using for the maiden. I felt like I needed to keep some speed to maintain good maneuvering and I was unsure how the stall would be - tales of cartwheels and tip-stalls were foremost in my mind.

I flew the plane down onto the sandy infield of the softball field, keeping it on the mains as I backed off the throttle. I forgot to bring the elevator up as the tail dropped, resulting in a mild nose-over. No damage to plane or pride.

I am looking forward to finishing the detailing, hopefully with some Northeast Airlines lettering, and showing this to my Dad on the next visit.
Last edited by Balsa Al; Nov 09, 2017 at 10:25 AM.
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