The Wings Maker Fairchild PT-26 40 size ARF Review - RC Groups

The Wings Maker Fairchild PT-26 40 size ARF Review

The Wings Maker releases a classic WWII bird - the Fairchild PT-26 Primary Trainer. Mike Llewellyn converts this value priced ARF that is nearly ready to fly to an electric version. The PT-26 looks great, has scale lines and to boot it is an excellent performer in the air!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:57.5”
Wing Area:533 sq”
Wing type:Built up balsa semi-symmetrical
AUW weight:Advertised – 5.3lbs Actual - 5lbs 3oz
Length:44”
Wing loading:22 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 - JR MN48 Mini Servos
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR6200
Battery:Common sense RC 14.8 volt 4000mAh 15C Brick Pack
Motor:AXI 2826/12 Brushless Motor
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 45amp ESC
BEC:Castle Creations BEC
Available from:The Wings Maker
Cost:$129.99 PT-26 ARF

While perusing a hobby magazine I noticed a great new model from The Wings Maker, and this fine ARF model really spoke to me. While the model is intended for .40 size glow, I knew it was an ideal candidate for an electric conversion.

History

Generally flight training for new pilots in the US before World War II was done with large, light biplanes with very light wing loadings. As the production fighter aircraft of the time became faster and had much higher wing loadings, the time arrived for a less forgiving trainer.

The USAAC began the search for a trainer that better met their needs, and the evaluation pointed to the Fairchild M62 two-seat monoplane. The Fairchild had a faster stall speed and was just the ticket for a new trainer. The PT-26 started life as the PT-19 powered by a Ranger six-cylinder inline engine producing 175 horsepower. The Royal Canadian Air Force, in a much cooler northern climate, requested a canopy over the two otherwise open cockpits. The now designated PT-26s with an upgraded 200 hp Ranger engine.

Kit Contents

The Fairchild PT-26 ARF shipped from The Wings Maker and arrived in perfect shape. It was well packaged, double boxed with the contents very well protected. All parts are individually protected with plastic wrap and taped to the box to prevent shifting.

Kit includes:

  • Built up balsa fuselage, wing and tail surfaces
  • Covered in heat shrink covering
  • Vacuum formed and painted canopy
  • Beautiful fiberglass cowl painted to match fuse
  • Turned aluminum spinner nut
  • Hardware (pushrods, horns, wheels, tail wheel, hinges, etc.)
  • Assembly guide with pictorial instructions

Kit requires:

  • Motor
  • Propeller
  • 4s LiPoly battery
  • 4 mini to full size servos
  • Receiver
  • 4 channel minimum transmitter

Electric conversion components used for this review:

  • AXI 2826/12 brushless Motor
  • Castle Creations Phoenix 45 AMP ESC
  • Castle Creations BEC NEW!
  • Common Sense RC 4s 4000mAh 15c LiPoly battery

Assembly

The Wings Maker PT-26 looks fantastic and a few hours will have it ready to fly. While instructions did not contain information about conversion to electric it is a very simple task to convert this model. Any power system with 500+ watts will be more than enough power for this model.

Done by the factory:

  • Two piece wing is covered and includes pre-mounted landing gear connections
  • Surfaces are factory hinged with pinned hinges all ready to go
  • Tail surfaces are covered, hinged and ready to install
  • Landing gear wire assembly comes ready to mount no wire bending

The builder needs to:

  • Join the wing
  • Install the tail surfaces
  • Install radio system and servos
  • Install the power system
  • Create a battery tray
  • Install the landing gear and tail wheel assembly

Wing

The wing is built up balsa and ply with a typical "D" type structure. It uses a short, solid wood wing dihedral brace for additional center joint strength. Each wing half has a servo for aileron control. Aileron servo installation was standard with hatches that secure to a recessed wood frame in the wing. Although the instructions have you join the wing first, I elected to install the servos as it is easier to handle the wing before joining.

The wings included pull strings for the aileron wires - a nice touch. Wire exit holes are precut in the top sheeting - simply remove the covering.

I allowed 2 full hours of clamp time before continuing work on the wing. The joined wing did not initially fit in the fuselage saddle well. It was necessary to trim the top of the wing connector tab to allow for a perfect flat fit in the fuselage wing saddle.

Fuselage

I decided that the PT-26 would require the wing to be removed for battery access. If you elect you could create a top battery hatch, but it will need to be large due to the canopy size.

Two other modifications are necessary for electric conversion: the firewall and F2 former were modified with cooling holes, battery and wire access.

The elevator and rudder servos were set into a pre-installed servo tray. Installation was completely standard. Pushrod tubes were factory installed and worked well. The elevator surface does not use a joiner so they require a pushrod to each elevator half.

Motor and ESC installation

This was the easiest glow conversion that I have ever done. The firewall came factory installed with some right and down thrust angles. I mounted the electric motor to the existing firewall. It is necessary to use a standoff kit in order to attain the proper propeller hub placement. The standoff I used is available from Hobby Lobby and allows you to mount the motor so the motor shaft hub is the proper 120 mm offset from the firewall.

Tail surfaces

Both the vertical and horizontal stabilizers fit in pre-cut slots in the rear of the fuselage. I attached these with a quality 30 minute epoxy allowing for a secure bond.

Cowl

The included cowl was painted to match the fuselage with great accuracy. It is fiberglass, and the glass work was impeccable. It is also very light. It was factory cut for the motor shaft, and it also included a hole cut replicating the full scale offset inline motor cooling.

The cowl was attached with 4 wood screws into blocks that were factory assembled.

Of note, the PT-26 came with a clear cowl to be used for marking glow engine cutouts. To be honest it would have been very easy to use that clear cowl as a location reference for the screw locations as well. For those doing this ship as a glow model, the clear cowl is a fantastic tool for making perfect motor cutouts.

Landing gear

While the ARF included 2.25" wheels I used slightly larger 2.5" tires to allow for my rough grass field conditions. The main gear mounts in a hardwood block in the wing structure.

Battery tray addition

Creation of a strong, light battery tray was needed to secure the Common Sense RC brick pack. Remember the PT-26 battery is about a pound and the tray must be strong and secured on both ends.

Canopy

The PT-26 differs from the open cockpit PT-19 as it has an enclosed canopy. This helped those Canadian pilots from freezing to death!

Power system

Remembering its role as a trainer, I elected to use the small, light yet powerful AXI 2826/12 brushless outrunner motor. The 12 turn Kv is 760 made it necessary to use 4s voltage to provide the needed RPM's. Even though this motor looks small it hauls this 5 pound ship around with authority.

Amp draw

The motor produced the following results:

Motor statistics
Props Amps Watts Voltage
11x7 APCe 32.7 504 15.42
12x6 APCe 35.3 540 15.2

With 4s voltage the APC-e 11x7 propeller gave the PT-26 99watt/lb performance. With most flights at less than 3/4 throttle power settings. This provides more than enough power for a WW2 trainer and is certainly not taxing any of the power equipment.

Castle Creations Phoenix 45amp ESC

  • Size – 1.72" x 1" x .4"
  • Weight – 30g
  • Operating Voltage - 19.2 Volts 4s Max
  • Low-voltage cutoff - 4V, 5V, 6V, 7.2V, 9V, 12V
  • Over-Current Protection - 5 settings
  • Brake Type - 5 settings
  • Throttle Range - fixed/self-adjusting/governor
  • Timing Advance - 3 choices
  • Cutoff Type - hard or soft
  • Switching Frequency - 3 choices

Castle is certainly a leader in the ESC business and the CC 45 performed flawlessly.

The new Castle Creations BEC also performed very well. If you use Spektrum systems see the note below. The Castle Link USB programmer works with both the ESC and BEC.



Special note for Spektrum systems users! When the BEC is plugged into the Spektrum RX "battery" port the Spektrum RX will go into bind mode on boot-up. Castle is aware and is looking for a way to allow the Castle Link to recognize the BEC without causing the Spektrum to go into bind mode.

Two quick solutions:

  • Remember the Spektrum RX can be powered from the BEC using any open channel, not just "battery.” So the simple solution is to plug the BEC into an unused RX channel.
  • Use a short 3" extension cable and disable the signal wire (orange/yellow or white).



The Castle Link allowed me to program the Castle BEC output voltage to 6v. Spektrum receivers like the extra voltage and most servos to run faster and have a bit more torque when run at 6v. You can set the Castle BEC anywhere from 4.8-9v in .1v increments - very nice! Some servos can be damaged by running higher voltage, so check manufacturer specifications.

Battery

Common Sense RC 4000 MAh 4s Brick Pack

  • Size – 50mm x 73mm x 72mm
  • Weight – 455g - 16.2oz
  • 15c Discharge - 60 amps continuous
  • Burst capability of 80 amps for 5 seconds every 30 seconds

The Common Sense RC pack comes ready for you to install your connector of choice. It uses dual leads and included taps for balancing. It provided excellent power source for this model. It was easy to attain the correct CG with the compact brick of cells sitting right in the fuel tank area. The Common Sense LiPoly line offers great bargains and honest "C" discharge rates - so check them out!

Finish

The Wings Maker PT-26 is factory covered in low temp covering. Very few wrinkles were apparent but I did notice that in the 90 degree Texas sun that the covering did develop a few wrinkles. I prefer higher temp covering. The color match of the full scale bird and color match of the canopy lines and cowl to covering was excellent.

The included turned aluminum spinner nut was a great addition to the plane. It looks fantastic.

Pre-Flight

CG

The recommended CG of 83mm felt just right in flight. With the AXI motor the battery needs to go forward in the glow tank area to balance properly. The Common Sense brick pack was compact and it fit well.

Rates and transmitter setup

I used the Spektrum DX7 transmitter and an AR6200 full range receiver for this plane. Rates were set as recommended in the manual with ailerons at 12mm and elevator at 25mm. Rudder was set to 45mm. I found the plane to be a bit pitch sensitive so I lowered the throws down to about 18mm on the elevator. Rudder was effective in flight as well. I did not set dual rates on this ship but did use about 25% expo on all flight controls. Rates are personal - your preferences may vary.

I set the flight timer to count down from 10 minutes. This gives an audible warning long before the 4000mAh 4s battery is depleted.

Flying

As you can see The Wings Maker PT-26 Fairchild is a sharp looking model.

Takeoff and Landing

The near 100w/lb performance makes the takeoff a non-event. The power system provides fantastic performance, and it takes to flight with a short roll out. The wide stance landing gear allows impeccable ground handling and aggressive ground turns if needed. Just as in most WWII planes you must use the rudder to keep the roll out straight, and the elevator to keep the tail low until takeoff speed is reached. Up elevator is needed to keep the model from nosing over in grass.

Landing is a simple task - at 22 in/oz loading it will float in, just as any good trainer type aircraft should. Keep the approaches long and bleed off as much speed as possible. With the gear placed near the CG you will need to keep up elevator from landing applied to keep the plane from nosing over in grass.

Special Flight Characteristics

This plane stalls very predictably for a model with a light wing loading. When pushed to a stall you will get a fairly sharp left wing drop. The PT-26 slows very well before the stall point and it remained controllable until stall was reached.

The PT-26 performs loops and rolls from level flight. Be careful when performing loops - too much elevator will cause the airplane to snap out. Stall turns look fantastic. Inverted flight requires a good push of down elevator to keep it flat.

Thanks to Dawnron1 for these excellent flying shots:

Is this plane for a beginner?

While used as a primary trainer during WWII the PT-26 is not for the first time RC pilot. However the model is very well behaved in flight. Pushed to stall it will drop a wing quickly but recovery is quick as well. It would make a good second low wing plane. Remember it floats along well on approach with its near park flyer wing loading.

Flight Video

Downloads

The Video was shot at a informal scale competition - thus the color commentary and flight timing during the video.

Conclusion

The Wings Maker Fairchild PT-26 is a fantastic looking ARF. It is covered in low-temp covering and colored in a traditional cub yellow and dark blue. The scheme is attractive following the unique markings of a full scale Canadian ship. The finish on the model was fantastic - it looks stunning.

Assembly was ultra fast with simple tasks that nearly anyone can handle. It was a very easy electric conversion, even with the former and firewall modifications needed for wires and cooling. Parts fit was very good - with the exception of the wing to fuse fit. But a few seconds of sanding the joiner tab had it fitting perfectly flat in the saddle.

The Wings Maker PT-26 uses light weight components, laser cut balsa and plywood allowing an all up weight of just over 5lbs ready to fly. That is impressive for a ship this size, and I am always happy to come in under the recommended weight even with the conversion. Remember a pound of that weight is just the battery!

In flight the Fairchild PT-26 is a real performer in the air. Conversion with a light 500w 4s power system allowed the plane to turn out under recommended weight and it flies well with that power. The PT-26 has excellent flight and ground handling characteristics. Scale aerobatics are easy to perform and takeoffs and landings are a breeze. In flight the model moves along very quickly it is a pleasure to fly.

Best of all the PT-26 is a value priced model making it possible for anyone to add it to the hangar. I recommend this fine ship as a great scale war bird that is easy to fly.

Hits:

  • Light - comes in under recommended glow weight
  • Looks fantastic in the air
  • Short assembly time
  • Fiberglass cowl and canopy are high quality and look great
  • Turned aluminum spinner nut is a perfect addition
  • Easy glow to electric conversion
  • Value priced

Misses:

  • Landing gear stance is too wide
  • Wing to fuse fit may require slight modification of the wing tab

Take a look at the PT-26 and other offerings at The Wings Maker website!

Last edited by Angela H; Nov 13, 2007 at 08:07 AM..
Thread Tools
Nov 13, 2007, 08:56 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Great Review Mike! Ronnie was spot on with the Pics as always. You guys are my heros. Nice conversion to E-Power. The plane really looks good and seems to fly as good as it looks. That cockpit just begs for "student" and "instructor" pilot figures.

Please get us some more video of this ship. How well does the PT snap roll and spin? Looks like The Wings Maker has another winner on their hands.

Mike McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Nov 13, 2007, 09:30 AM
In NY's beautifull hills
staggerwing's Avatar
Nice review !
This company also has some tempting larger birds at VERY reasonable prices such as the 9lb 81" Sport Wing 90 @ $190 & the 81" Spit 160 w/ installed split flaps & retracts for $300. I checked on ship here to NY & it also is very reasonable---$16 & $21.
Nov 13, 2007, 10:28 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Another excellent review Mike. Ronnie's picture of the plane with you in the background is a very nice shot. Pictures capture the wonderful colors of this plane. Mike
Nov 13, 2007, 07:14 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
I wonder if you could either reverse the landing gear wire or shorten them, make a new bend, and then install them with a narrower track?

The plane looks good and flies real nice!
Nov 14, 2007, 12:23 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Thanks guys for the comments....

Mike it does have one pilot now but it does need another...

It snaps well but that is not really its main focus..... It spins nicely too...

kmot - you could shorten the gear but moving it would require surgery, not terribly hard however....

staggerwing - the prices on the models is very attractive and the quality is great considering the price...

Mike
Nov 15, 2007, 01:09 PM
Timelord
Doctor Who's Avatar
Mike,

Nice review and video. Looks like a nice flyer.
Nov 23, 2007, 11:32 AM
Registered User
As a norwegian I stand up and protest against your labelling this plane as canadian. It is painted in the colours of the Royal Norwegian Airforce,and was used by my countrymen in their flying school " Little Norway" Canada. It looks lika a nice plane and I Would like one too. I wonder if it is available in Europe.
Nov 23, 2007, 11:50 AM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Einarh
As a norwegian I stand up and protest against your labelling this plane as canadian. It is painted in the colours of the Royal Norwegian Airforce,and was used by my countrymen in their flying school " Little Norway" Canada. It looks lika a nice plane and I Would like one too. I wonder if it is available in Europe.
Welcome to eZone - Sorry to upset you. But it was flown in Canada... The markings are from Royal Norwegian Air Force training camp in Canada during World War II. The camp was opened in November 1940, located in the bay area of Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario. About 2500 Norwegian pilots were trained there.

To be honest - the plane is technically American, but the PT-26 variant was built in Canada, under license as a version of the original PT-19.

But no question the markings are of Little Norway group flying a PT-26 built in Canada!

Mike
Nov 23, 2007, 02:13 PM
jrb
jrb
Member
jrb's Avatar
Nicely done Mike!

You also my favorite 40 converion servo the JR Sport MN48 (formerly Expert SL-451); have them in all my 40ish conversions -- even 80" H9 J-3 w/pull pull rudder.

Thought you might like to know that the sevor can be "centered" perfectly ; w/o using sub trim or just accepting what ever you get via the horn.

Put jewler's screw driver down the center of the control horn's mounting screw hole to access the feedback pot. move it opposite the direction you want the horn to go. Bingo perfectly centered; a fearure from long ago in RC.

Wsa alos thining that this bird could probably got with a A123-4S pack; thne with the right ESC you could forgo the UBEC device. Fly my almots 6# good ole American Flyer like this.

Best thing about A123s is the fast recharge!

Using 10amps via my TP1010C I put back in the 3300mah I use during a 15minute flight of my Cub in 20minutes! The 4S pack even quicker; 6S in the FreeStyle @ 8.25amps give me equally as fast turn aound.

Using a big power supply to do the 10S in my EQC -- 20map recharge.
Nov 23, 2007, 02:35 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Quote:
Put jewler's screw driver down the center of the control horn's mounting screw hole to access the feedback pot. move it opposite the direction you want the horn to go. Bingo perfectly centered; a fearure from long ago in RC.
I will have to try that - totally cool! I LOVE those servos. They have done well for me.

Yep this would make an excellent 4s 123 setup as well...... I do still like the weight savings of LiPoly however.

It is a great little plane - and it flies very well.

Mike
Nov 23, 2007, 03:24 PM
jrb
jrb
Member
jrb's Avatar
Almost like a beer commercial: less weight, fast recharge!

The A123s, for those of us in cooler climes, are not affected by the cold like a LiPos.

For .30 and up its A123s for me; LiPos in our dome: www.marcee.org .


Let me know how you make out with the centering.
Nov 23, 2007, 06:16 PM
Registered User
Dear Mike!
I appreciate your knowledge og this airplane. The modelled plane is the one that is exhibited in the air museum in Bodø in the northern Norway. You can find more picture one the site www/luftfart.museum.no. As a child grown up in the norwegian airforce, I have known some of my fathers colleages who learned to fly in one of these planes. I would like this model as a supplement to my model of the Curtiss Hawk 75 ( from RBC models) , used as an advanced trainer in Little Norway.
Dec 25, 2008, 02:24 PM
Registered User
Mike
I also purchased A pt-26 model and have flown it a hole lot of times in the year I own it.I opted to power it with glow power. I am using an os 46 engine swinging 11x6 wooden prop. I use wood props due to landing on sometimes higher grass runway. I also was having noseover troubles so I tried bending the landing gear forward so the wheels are in line with the L.E. of the wing also I used larger wheels. I am very impressed with this model and would reccomend it to any flier of low wing,tail dragger enthuist. I also fly A pt-19 model with 81in. wings powered with os 120 four stroke and A lot heavier.
keep em flying
Randy
Feb 08, 2011, 04:06 PM
Registered User

Spirit of Little Norway


The PT 19, converted to PT 26 standards, was the standard basic training aircraft at the Norwegian Flying School at Little Norway near Toronto, Canada during WW2.
The Norwegian PTs (according to the stories I have heard) were delivered from US factories as PT 19s, and are said to have been modified from PT 19 or PT 19A to PT 26 standards after delivery. If so, they are not Canadian produced PT 26s.

This particular aircraft, the original-163-,also carried its name "Spirit of Little Norway" on the left side of the cowling, and- as you can observe- on the aircraft at the Canadian museum.
The museum piece may therefore be the original 163.

The model seems to be missing its name on the cowling. Too bad, because that name was given to the first PT bought for money collected amoung the pilots, instructors an all other crew stationed at Little Norway.

Please honour this museum piece and the model as strong tokens of Canadian-Norwegian relations and Canadian friendship and sacrifice devoting time and effort to facilitate state of the art training for Norwegian pilots and ground crew during WW2.
Last edited by Bjorn B; Feb 08, 2011 at 04:09 PM. Reason: Spelling errors


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