Great Planes Performance Series Giant Scale Cap 3D ARF Review w/ OS 160 - RC Groups
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Great Planes Performance Series Giant Scale Cap 3D ARF Review w/ OS 160

Steve Herlacher has a great time exploring this exciting new 1.60 sized 3D aerobat and the OS 160FX powerhouse to go with it!

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Wing Area:1168sq in
Weight:12.5 - 14lb
Servos:Futaba and Hitec
Transmitter:Futaba 14MZ
Receiver: Futaba R148DF
Motor:OS 1.60FX
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies

Several years ago, Great Planes came out with several surprisingly capable aerobatic aircraft, both in kit and ARF form, such as the very popular .40 sized Cap 232 and the .46 sized Giles G202. When it came to 40 then 60 sized aerobatic birds, Great Planes was THE name. Then they added the 1/3 scale Extra kit, and later the Matt Chapman 1/3 scale ARF -- two more awesome aerobats. Realizing there's a HUGE transitional space between the 40s and the 1/3 scale, they added an 'inbetween' line-up...such incredibly popular birds as the Patty Wagstaff Extra 1.60. The Cap 3D is one of Great Planes new lineup of 160-sized performance series airplanes even more focused on lightweight and 3D much as 2 lbs lighter than the Patty Extra! They also have an Ultimate Biplane and a Yak 54 which both look great.

Kit Contents

The Cap 3d kit includes:

  • Pre-built and covered wings,fuselage and tail assemblies
  • pushrods
  • Fiberglass main landing gear
  • spring loaded tailwheel assembly
  • 3" main wheels
  • 1" tailwheel
  • nylon adjustable engine mount
  • 24oz fuel tank
  • wood servo trays and wing joiners
  • hardware package
  • decal sheet
  • 3.5" diameter aluminum spinner
  • photo-illustrated instructions.

Items needed to complete the kit

  • 1.60 sized Engine with pitts style muffler
  • 4 channel minimum radio
  • 6-7 servos with at least 70oz of torque
  • Servo extensions
  • Epoxy and thin/think CA
  • Misc. Items: Glow plug, 1/4" foam rubber padding, medium fuel tubing,fuel filter, propeller, building and field equipment.


The instructions manual was one of the best I have seen, it even gives lots of hints and tips on how to do things, like using a covering iron to cut the covering instead of a knife.

I first went over everything with a covering iron to get the wrinkles out of the Monokote, there was not an excessive amount but still some nonetheless.

Rudder Servo(s) Choices and Pull-Pull Setup

The manual shows a dual RUDDER servo setup, using two 70+oz servos. That seemed an unnecessarily complicated setup for a rudder this size -- one heavy duty servo would work fine. I used a Hitec HS-5945 digital high torque servo for the rudder and it worked great, plus was alot easier to setup. If you don't have a servo with this much torque, the ganged servo setup will work fine, it will just be a little more work.

I did run into a problem with the pull pull wires. I found that they were slightly rubbing on the top of my elevator servos. If the pull pull exits on the rear of the fuse would have been 1/4" or so higher they wouldn't have touched. Putting the ball links on the bottom of the control horn helped a little but not enough.

To fix this I ran the wires thru a short piece of nylon tubing that was glued in the rear of the fuse above the servo.

Engine mounting -- Great Planes couldn't have made this any easier!

Engine Spacing Suggestion

This small, light engine is mounted at the end of the mount and this allows the engine to have alot of flexibility which can cause the mount to break. I removed my cowl 2 times at the flying field because I thought the engine bolts came loose as I could grab the spinner and wiggle it around. I would recommend mounting the engine farther back in the mount and spacing the mount itself away from the firewall to get the recommended hub/firewall distance.

This couldn't be any simpler, without them including and installing the engine for me!


The recommended CG is 5 3/4" back from the leading edge of the wing and can be moved 3/4" back or forward from this. My Cap came out a little tail heavy and I had to add 2 ounces of lead to the nose, to put it towards the rear of the CG limit.

My all up weight was 12.5 pounds(!) dry ---
exactly the low end of the specs! That doesn't happen very often.

I setup the control throws per the manual:

Low rates

  • Ailerons 1" up and down
  • Elevator 1 1/2" Up and down
  • Rudder 3" right and left

High rates

  • Ailerons 1 1/2" up and down
  • Elevator 2 1/2" up and down
  • Rudder 4 1/2" left and right


I ran a tank of fuel thru the OS 1.60 engine on the ground to start the break in process. After that the Cap was ready to test fly.

After installing the wing with 2 nylon bolts, I filled up the tank, primed the 1.60, and it fired right up on a single flip of the 18x6 prop. After some adjusting of the low end and a good range check I taxied out to the runway and was cleared for takeoff.

Take-off and Landing

Takeoff was effortless!

The Cap 3D just floats in for landings and is very easy to control. The Cap is a real floater and didn't have any bad tendencies to drop a wing or snap, not to say that it won't if too much elevator is used with not enough airspeed.


After adjusting the engine some more it was time to have some fun with the cap. I tried some basic aerobatics, which it performed with no problem -- loops, rolls, spins, etc. It will harrier with only minimal wing rocking and no mixing of the ailerons. Waterfalls were great and blenders/inverted spins were very flat. This was turning out to be a great 3d plane!

Rolls were very quick on high rates and knife edge had some coupling to the gear, which is caused or at least exaggerated by my rear CG point. Inverted flight needed no down elevator to fly level so the CG felt perfect to me for 3D flight. Other pilots may want to add a little more lead to the nose than I did if you are not comfortable with flying a plane with it set at the rear limits.

3D Report Card
 Steep takeoff!
Steep takeoff!

Maneuver Grade Comments
Hovering A Plenty of power to hover
Upright Spins A Spun like a Cap should
Torque rolls A No problem
Knife edge B Knife edge had coupling to the gear
Elevator B+ Only had very minor wing rock which was very controllable
Waterfall A+ The Cap does a great waterfall
Rolling circles A+ No problem at all!
Rolling harrier A+ It does these very easily and will make you look like a pro!
Aileron Rolls A+ Aileron rolls were very good and a blur on high rates
Stall turns A+ No problem
Wall A It does this pretty good, just have to keep on the sticks a little bit to stop it from snapping out.
spinsA Flattened out very nicely
Inverted flight A It flew inverted with no elevator input
Blender A The Cap does a very good blender
Point rolls A+ Very crisp and stopped exactly when the sticks were centered.
Snap rolls A- Needed alot of speed to execute cleanly.

Is This For a Beginner?

The Cap 3d is NOT meant for a beginner. It would serve as a 3rd or 4th plane for someone getting into aerobatics or giant scale, but is really geared toward the 3D flyer that knows how to wring it out.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery



The Cap 232 3D is a great addition to the performance series of aircraft Great Planes is now offering. It flies better than any other Cap I have flown and it looks great. The covering scheme is very easy to tell top from bottom and after sitting in the sun doesn't have wrinkles in it. The hardware offered is top notch and it goes together very easily. It will be a great addition to your hangar whether you are a hardcore 3D'er or a Sunday flyer.

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Jun 27, 2006, 02:30 PM
iumop ap!sdn w,I
G.P.'s Avatar
Nice review and video Steve!

I have one question regarding the OS 1.60 and the Bisson pitts muffler. I have this same set up in a Great Planes Gene Soucey Extra and was able to get it running rich enough once I went with large fuel tubing and a large clunk. Once I got it in the air I was fighting constant dead sticks though. I just recently used JB Weld to plug one of the muffler openings and have a few successful flights now. Have you experianced any of this? Any tips? I was thinking of maybe going with a uniflow setup, or a pump possibly. I also just heard that this engine will flame out on anything less than 15% nitro. I'm running 5%, so I may give that a try as well.

Thanks for your input and keep up the excellent reviews!

Latest blog entry: R.I.P. (rest in pieces)
Jun 27, 2006, 03:12 PM
Registered User
I used 15% nitro and had a few deadstick landings but the engine was new so I chalked it up to that. After it was broken in more I didnt really have any problems with it quitting, a pump couldn't hurt though.
Jun 28, 2006, 12:18 AM
iumop ap!sdn w,I
G.P.'s Avatar
Thanks Steve. I'll keep my fingers crossed then and give it some more time. I ran a jug through it on the ground and have about ten flights on it too. This is my first internal combustion plane, so I'm on a steep learning curve. Perhaps this is just normal break in behavior.

Latest blog entry: R.I.P. (rest in pieces)
Jun 28, 2006, 12:01 PM
Test your IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar

Very nice write up and video on the cap. I was just curious though you gave plane a pretty high rating for the hover capablilities with the 1.60 motor. At 12.5lbs. dry this would really be border line for me to hover this plane well with decent pull-out capablities. Just wondering if I could get any additional thoughts on this. Also, how is the landing gear holding up? Looks like it could have quite abit of flex to it. Thanks Steve great review as always.

Jun 28, 2006, 03:37 PM
Registered User
The gear is holding up just fine. It has plenty of power to hover, pull out is slow but it does pull out. It does not have "foamie" power.
Another guy at my field has one with a ZDZ 40 in it and I let him fly mine and he said it was a totally different plane as his was a lot heavier.
Jun 28, 2006, 03:56 PM
Test your IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Originally Posted by Steve H.
The gear is holding up just fine. It has plenty of power to hover, pull out is slow but it does pull out. It does not have "foamie" power.
Another guy at my field has one with a ZDZ 40 in it and I let him fly mine and he said it was a totally different plane as his was a lot heavier.
Thanks Steve, appreciate the feedback on this great looking(and flying) airplane. On the pilot figure you might want to check with Cajun RC( they might have something you like.


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