Lanier RC's SE5A and Fokker D.VII ARFs - by Albert Wahrhaftig and Jon R. Barnes

Did you see Flyboys at your local theater? If your answer is no, go right now! If your answer is yes, then we understand your desire to join the Lafayette Esquadrille, and with these fine flying WWI fighters, you can! Tally Ho!

Splash

Introduction

The late, famous Jim Walker could fly three control line models at the same time: one with his right hand, one with his left and the third with lines attached to his helmet.

For this review, eZone sought two modelers who lived near one another; one to build the Fokker and one to build the SE5. Jon Barnes (who wanted the Fokker) and I, Albert Wahrhaftig (who was more than happy to receive the SE5a), fit that bill and so tossed our hats into the ring.Neither myself, nor Jon have evolved to Jim Walker’s level, but with Lanier's two new offerings - Britain's finest, the SE5a and Germany's formidable Fokker D.VII- the two of us can put on a great dogfight. In World War I, these two legendary contenders were well matched, and over a grass field today, the RC versions continue to be a great combo.

With these models, the folks at Lanier have outdone themselves. The magic of laser cutting has allowed Lanier to produce incredibly light airframes with every possible bit of excess weight carved away. Using quality materials in every part of the planes, they have created designs that assemble easily and look great. Putting these little machines together has been a pleasure for both of us from start to finish! Get one, talk a buddy into getting the other, and get on with some great flying.


Wingspan:38"
Wing Area:508 sq. in.
Weight:28 oz.
Length:29"
Wing Loading:8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 x HS55 used
Transmitter:Hitec Laser 4
Receiver:Hitec 4
Battery:3 x 1350 Lipo
Motor:Ultra fly A/30/29 stick mount brushless with 3.89:1 gearbox recommended, AC 28/7-35D Mp Jet Brushless direct drive used.
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 25
Manufacturer:Lanier R/C, Inc,.
Available From:Lanier R/C, Inc.

Wingspan:38.25" Top, 32.25" Bottom
Wing Area:512 sq. in.
Weight:31-34, (Mine=29.5 oz.)
Length:33"
Wing Loading:8.4 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 Hitec HS55
Transmitter:Multiplex EVO 9
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery:Thunder Power 3S 1320 Pro-lite
Motor:Welgard 2217-10 Outrunner
Available From:Grayson Hobby
ESC:Cool Runnings A12
Manufacturer:Lanier R/C, Inc,.
Available From:Lanier R/C, Inc.

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • Pre-built and covered main components
  • Excellent mylar "decals" (The Fokker's wing decals come pre-applied).
  • Stick for stick-mounted motor
  • Comprehensive hardware bag
  • Premium iron-on Oracover
  • Scale wheels
  • Pre-bent and pre-soldered wire cabanes and landing gear (on the Fokker)
  • Color matched cowl
  • Extra details, e.g. painted pilot, machine gun(s), etc.
  • Easy to follow instruction booklet

Kit Requires:

  • Four channel radio with four micro servos
  • 6" servo Y harness
  • Two 12" servo extensions
  • Electronic speed control to suit motor selected
  • Motor with suitable prop adapter and prop
  • Propeller to suit motor selected
  • 3 cell 1350-1500 Lipo battery
  • Sturdy wheels to replace those supplied by Lanier (see text)

Lanier packages these ARFs in boxes that can really get your heart pumping! On the SE5 box, an entire flight of SE5s streak across the sky (well, as close to streaking as any WWI craft ever came), ready to encounter an enemy. Made me want to dive right in, I can tell you!

These days packing model aircraft for shipment is an art, and Lanier's planes are no exception.

When you open the SE5 box, the first things you see are the largest, brightest roundels imaginable. (Can those huge things actually fit on the SE5's wing? Actually they do, and the size is apparently authentic.) Underneath, the major components lie, each wrapped in an individual plastic bag. One layer below that, protected by a sheet of cardboard, there are bags of smaller parts. Everything arrived in perfect condition and the polyester Oracover film covering was completely free of wrinkles.

The larger pieces are all carefully constructed from light ply, mostly, and balsa, and every bit of the included hardware is of excellent quality.

The 16 page manual in which each construction step is photo illustrated is concise and clearly written. Along with instructions, it contains a serious caveat on the front cover and again on page 14. It says:

With the power available from the new breed of engines, it is necessary to use throttle management in order not to overstress the airframe. You must maintain good tight control linkage with no slop, good servos with plenty of power, and good servo arms to protect against flutter. Sloppy linkage and over speeding the plane will cause flutter which is not covered in the warranty.

In short, take your time, build it right, and fly it slow.

Generally I dread biplanes, especially those that have the top wing supported only by struts, but there were some features that especially liked. Getting the wings on and aligned can be a misery, but Lanier has made the task extraordinarily simple by using wood strut connectors with nylon inserts prebuilt into the wing to receive screws. Screwing the struts to these is quick and easy. On the Fokker, pre-bent and pre-soldered cabanes simplify the attachment of the two wings even further.

Although you can glue the control horns (and the instructions advise you to do so), the backing plates clip onto the legs of the horn and hold quite firmly without glue. The horns are very small and light, but they are quite sufficient to do the job.

CA-type hinges with a hole in the center to slip a pin through for aligning are smaller than any I have seen before, but they do their job well also and slip without fuss into precut slots in the control surfaces. In fact, everywhere that control horns must be inserted or screws are to be inserted, pinholes mark the exact spot.

I really appreciated the inclusion of a pilot. He is prepainted, but unfortunately, I thought he was really ugly. A few minutes of repainting took care of that to my satisfaction. Jon was happy with the face on his pilot and left him in in his original state.

It was also pretty super to find that machine guns had been included.

Assembly

Given the excellent quality of the built parts, the wonderful hardware supplied and the clear and well organized instruction manual, assembly is quick and easy.

Motor

Jon writes:

I spend an inordinate amount of time watching the RCGroups For Sale forums. It borders on being a disease! My unwillingness to EVER pass up a great buy has resulted a well-stocked parts box. But, my spending has also caught the attention of my household financial administrator...uh, ahem, my wonderful wife. It's hard to change old habits but I certainly did not want to raise the ire of the Mrs. so early in the fiscal hobby month either! So I carefully returned to the Medina of motors on RCGroups, determined to find a worthy motor that I could have in my hand in just a few days, but the same time, I needed to avoid spending a wad of money. My success is owed to Lt. Smash of GraysonHobby.com who carries a line of motors by Welgard and his sale price listings caught my eye. After trading a few private messages with the Lieutenant, I purchased a nice 2217/10 Welgard Outrunner and had it in my hands two days later. The price? An amazingly low $22.99 + shipping. I selected this motor because it is rated at 980 KV and capable at spinning a 12X6 prop. With a maximum current of 15 amps and a rating classifying it as capable of flying models from 24-50 ounces, it seemed like the perfect motor for the Fokker.

The SE5 is designed to accommodate a stick-mounted (stick provided) Ultrafly brushless motor A/30/29 with a 3.89:1 gearbox. If you are using this or a similar motor, you can follow the sequence in the instruction manual and install the motor after the airframe is complete. I chose to use an Mp Jet AC28/7-35D direct drive outrunner, with its its associated mount. Because I was not sure how to fit this to the fuselage, I made mounting the motor my first task. It turned out that the firewall had built in right and down thrust, and by using 1/8" ply spacers, I was able to screw the mount to the firewall and position the motor perfectly. Problem solved!

Wing

The wing assembly comes first in the instruction manual, and really, there is not much to do - install the control horns, install the ailerons, install the aileron servos, and connect them. Pre-routed strings to pull the servo wires through the wing are provided. You will need two 12" extension wires and a Y harness. Or you can do as Jon did and avoid the Y-harness by using a receiver with 6 channels allowing you to plug each aileron servo into its own channel.

There is one small difficulty with the wing: it is relatively thin, and even Hitec HS 55 servos are too tall to permit use of the provided ply servo spacers. It is a simple task to make thicker spacers out of bits of scrap plywood, or you can shim them with hardwood sticks as Jon did in the photos.

Landing gear

The landing gear is pre-assembled, and on the SE5 the entire unit has been thickly coated with olive drab paint. Be sure to remove the paint from the axles so that the wheels can turn freely.

The SE5 instructions do not clearly explain the use of the two threaded nylon lugs. These screw onto the ends of the rear landing gear struts. The rear wing mounting bolts pass through these lugs and then through the wing to hold both the wing and the landing gear securely.

The wheels are a problem

While the SE5's wheels look great, they are made with a thin plastic shell which simply doesn't stand up to normal use. After my first two landings, the axle punched through the plastic and the wheel was useless. Exactly the same thing happened to Jon's D.VII. Save yourself some grief and buy a pair of sturdy wheels even if they are a bit heavier. Jon bought a set of replacement wheels made for an SE5 from another company.

Tail

The next steps are to hinge the elevator to the stabilizer, the rudder to the vertical fin and install these surfaces. Once they are in place, the rudder and elevator pushrods go through pre-installed tubes and are attached to their respective control horns. Everything fit perfectly.

Radio Installation

The radio compartment in the fuselage is roomy and has precut spaces for micro servos. It couldn’t be easier: stick the two of them in, attach the receiver with hook and loop fasteners, find a way to route the antenna, and you are done.

Completion

Attaching wings to a biplane can be a difficult and time consuming chore, but not on these two biplanes. The cabane and N struts are pre made and pre-painted, and nylon inserts inside the fuselage and in the pre-installed wing lugs are accurately placed to receive mounting screws. It took just a few minutes to install the struts with the provided screws and I ended up with exactly aligned wings. The final step is to install push rods from the bottom to the top aileron on each wing. The D.VII has ailerons on the top wing only.

Final details consist of gluing on the pre-painted plastic dummy engine and headrest, screwing on the cowl, attaching the pre-split cockpit combing, and repainting Mr. Ugly, the pilot.

Set the CG at 1" back from the leading edge of the bottom wing on the SE5. On the D.VII, you can balance by holding the rearward two wire cabanes. Though the Fokker was spot on, I had to add two ounces of lead to the nose of the SE5 to reach the balance point. (I wouldn't be surprised if the recommended geared motor is heavier than the outrunner I used.) Add weight if you need to - this plane can get nasty if it is tail heavy.

Recommended initial control travel is 1/2" up/down for ailerons, 3/4" up/down for the elevator, and 1" right/left for the rudder.

OK. I know you want to go fly now, but first let me remind you of the message on page 14 of the instruction manual:

Caution:

Too much speed will cause flutter on the control surfaces which can cause structural failure in the airframe.

WE DO NOT WARRANTY FOR FLUTTER

Flying

Basics

Because of all the warnings about the dreadful results of flying too fast, I deliberately used inefficient equipment on the SE5. The motor, leftover from my 15 ounce Alpha Thunderbolt, was installed in what ended up as a 28 ounce airplane. I figured all that load would keep things calm. I used a 10 x 5 Master Airscrew "glo power" prop partly because I did not want efficiency, and partly because it looks cool on this old timer. When the plastic wheels were not up to the job, I loaded on another ounce by using some pudgy looking wheels from my scrap box. Guess what? The airplane loved it! With this set up, I have power for all World War I type flying and a considerable reserve for emergencies.

Be exact about setting the CG. If in doubt, start with the SE5 a bit nose heavy. Initially I somehow mismeasured the CG and, in all innocence, took off on my first flight in a distinctly tail heavy condition. Believe me, this you do not want. The little rascal was all over the sky, responded only grudgingly to ailerons (but turned quickly with rudder), and was frighteningly pitch sensitive. It took two ounces of lead in the nose to get the SE5 tamed and once the CG was correct it was predictable and easy to fly.

Taking Off and Landing

Take offs are what you would predict. A little up elevator at first, a little bit of rudder along the way, and before you know it you are in the air. Actually, even with the power I have described, this plane will leap into the air after a very short run on a hard surface. What is more of a challenge and a lot of fun is trying for a World War I style take off with gradual acceleration and a shallow climb out such as was typical of these underpowered little warbirds.

Landings are as easy as they would be with any trainer. These planes glide well and you can come in on final approach with or without power, just as you please, and you can slow down without fear of stalling. With the spongy wheels I substituted for the original plastic ones on the SE5, the plane just kissed the earth and came to a gentle stop.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

If Lanier would give me a second SE5, I would love to test it to destruction just to see how fast she can fly before flutter sets in and demolishes the plane. But as it is, I like this airplane and want to keep it. What can I tell you except that these WWI biplanes fly very well - slow and easy is the name of the game. No big surprises and virtually stall proof.

I did go so far as to try a careful loop with the SE5. I am convinced that rolls would not be a problem, although I didn't risk one. Jon rolled the D.VII and it was very slow and probably quite scale. Back in 1917 an Immelman was a big deal!

Jon and I attempted to fly in as accurate a World War I manner as possible. The SE5's top speed was only 138 miles per hour. I remembered seeing the National Geographic folks test flying their replica World War I Vickers Vimy bomber a few years ago down in Marin County, so I just throttled back until I was putt putting along in a way that looked something like that. Then I looked around and wondered if I could manage to land in that pasture where I saw that delicious little French milk maid. Eh bien, mes amis, life cannot be all about le guerre!

Are These For a Beginner?

No, these are not trainers. Although they have no bad habits, some time on an aileron equipped plane previous to this one would be helpful. Get a little experience so you can enjoy yourself with no shaking knees.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Once you replace the wheels and revise the aileron servo mounts, you will have a great looking and high quality vintage aircraft. They are easy to build and enjoyable to fly. Park them next to a 3D foamy and watch which plane people stop to look at. You are going to have fun with these classics!

Pluses:

  • Great World War I looks
  • Excellent flyer at scale speed
  • Expert covering job.
  • Pre-built struts make wing mounting easy
  • Lightweight, high quality construction

Minuses:

  • Weak main wheels
  • Aileron servo mounts need modification
  • Caution about flutter is a worry
Last edited by Angela H; May 31, 2007 at 08:10 PM..
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Jun 05, 2007, 02:53 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Hey! Several of your thumbnails are blocked from being viewed:

Kmot, you do not have permission to access this page. This could be due to one of several reasons:

Your user account may not have sufficient privileges to access this page. Are you trying to edit someone else's post, access administrative features or some other privileged system?
If you are trying to post, the administrator may have disabled your account, or it may be awaiting activation.
Jun 05, 2007, 04:09 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Great review and nice looking planes but I'm confused. Why are several companies putting out almost the same planes at nearly the same time?

Even though these are a bit bigger, these are the nearly identical to the Great Planes WWI planes. The DVII is even the same scheme.

Is it competition? Is this a normal thing in the RC business?
Jun 05, 2007, 04:31 PM
Registered User
Shinigami's Avatar
Nice review! I don't mind the same models coming out from different manufacturer's, the more choices the better. I'm curious as to how these two compare to Electrifly's WWI birds.
Jun 05, 2007, 04:39 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
But since they are models of the same planes, it's not really more choices. Especially when even the covering is the same - there are lots of colorful DVII's to model.

Watching the video, these appear to be better flyers than the GP's. Hard to tell from a video, but these guys appear to float.
Jun 05, 2007, 05:51 PM
Registered User
tgrover's Avatar
I'm also unable to view the thumbnails, I get a message saying my account doesn't have sufficient privilages to view the pages.
Jun 05, 2007, 07:04 PM
Registered User
GEFLTTEST's Avatar
^Same

Good review though.
Jun 05, 2007, 07:14 PM
Registered User
tgrover's Avatar
I agree, good review. I was just startled about the message, thought there was a problem with my account.
Jun 05, 2007, 08:56 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Thread OP
As far as the picture viewing problem, it may be related to the fact that these two planes were originally written up as two separate reviews and then combined into one? I find that if I view a pic and then press "Back" on my browser and select another pic, and so on, instead of scrolling through all of the pics, it seems ok?

I have not flown the Electrifly versions but these two definitely slow down very nicely as Albert and I have them set up.
Latest blog entry: Updated FMS 1400mm J3 Cub
Jun 06, 2007, 01:03 AM
Registered User
Brad Trent's Avatar
I get a "Windows Media Player cannot find the file" message when I try to view the video, in either size. I'd really like to see them in flight, as I fly the GP SE5a, and would have some basis for a comparison. I hope this problem is addressed soon.
Brad.

PS: As the others above have noted, the thumbnails do not expand as they should, either.
Jun 06, 2007, 02:28 AM
Registered User
Mike-A's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fokker Ace
Great review and nice looking planes but I'm confused. Why are several companies putting out almost the same planes at nearly the same time?

Even though these are a bit bigger, these are the nearly identical to the Great Planes WWI planes. The DVII is even the same scheme.

Is it competition? Is this a normal thing in the RC business?
The answer might be "flyboys" release at theaters. Its free advertising for ww1 model aircraft producers. if you are REALLY interested, the original models (some were RC) were produced and are for sale at arizonamodels.com
Last edited by Mike-A; Jun 06, 2007 at 02:34 AM. Reason: correcting link
Jun 06, 2007, 03:41 AM
Registered User
Mike Smart's Avatar
I think its a great shame that having made a great effort to produce a nice model, they couldn't manage to adhere more closely to scale outlines. They are way off, particularly the DVII.

Mike
Jun 06, 2007, 08:52 AM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike-A
The answer might be "flyboys" release at theaters. Its free advertising for ww1 model aircraft producers. if you are REALLY interested, the original models (some were RC) were produced and are for sale at arizonamodels.com
I have several shelves full of WWI aviation books and while I'm no expert I would say I have a keen interest. Flyboys was hardly a blip on the radar screen (horrible film in my opinion) and I can't recall seeing anything other than red tripes and silver Nieuports.

If the movie featured red and white DVII's and olive SE5's I'd understand, but it's odd to be choosing the same planes.
Jun 06, 2007, 12:34 PM
Administrator
Angela H's Avatar
Images should be working now!
Jun 06, 2007, 07:06 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angela H
Images should be working now!
Yes they are! Thanks!


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