The World Models 1/6 Scale Piper Pawnee: A Kit Review – Part 3: Final Assembly and Flight

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Hey! It’s me again! This is the third and final part of the World Models 1/6 scale Piper Pawnee kit review. For those that would like to refresh themselves,  Part one covered building the airframe. You can find that review by clicking here. Part two covered, well, covering the airframe with Toughlon brand iron-on covering material. you can find that review by clicking here.

At this point, the Pawnee is basically an ARF – a rather good looking ARF that was built by my own hands, but an ARF none-the-less. The individual parts are all built and covered, and looks exactly like what you’d pull from a box marked ‘Almost Ready to Fly’. So, let’s get started on final assembly and get the Pawnee ready to fly!

Equipment Used

As good as a kit is, and no matter how well it’s built, the end result will depend on having quality equipment installed in the aircraft. This is the equipment I used.

From the ground, I’ll be using my Hitec Flash 7 2.4 gHz Transmitter- I really love this radio! A Hitec Optima 9 receiver, a pair of Hitec HS-485HB Deluxe and four Hitec HS-82MG Micro servos will be taking care of the Pawnee in the air. The four HS-82MG micro servos will be installed in the wings for the ailerons and flaps.

The motor and ESC were provided by Airborne Models, and are a good fit for scale-like performance. I’ll be using a 4S 4000 mAh LiPo battery pack to round out the power system.

Just a couple of last items to mention – I will be using a Falcon 12×6 Beechwood electric propeller. I really like Falcon props, as they require nearly no balancing, look good, and perform well!

Throughout the building and assembling of the Pawnee, I have and will continue using ZAP brand CAs and accelerators, epoxies, and thread locking compounds.

Assembly

Assembly began with temporarily attaching the wings to the fuselage. the carbon fiber wing joiner rods were slid through their respective tubes in the fuselage, and the wing halves were slid onto the rods. I then slid the horizontal stabilizer into its slot in the tail, centered it, and checked that it was parrallel to the wings. All was good, so I pinned the stab in place using two T-pins.

The stabilizer was marked on the top and bottom sides with a permanent marker then removed from the fuselage. Using the lines on the stab, I cut and removed the center section of the covering, leaving approximately 1/16″ inside the lines.

The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were epoxied in place using 5 minute epoxy. Because I had test-fit both parts and knew they fit well, I was able to use 5-minute epoxy. You can always step up to 30-minute epoxy if you want more time to get things set properly before the epoxy cures.

The instructions say to do this after the elevator halves and rudder have been attached, but I found it much easier to install the control horns with the control surfaces not attached to the airframe. To find the proper locations for the horns, I attached a pushrod to a control horn, slid the pushrod into each guide tube, and marked the proper location of each horn with a T-pin. With all of the holes properly marked, I installed the control horns.

The CA hinges were centered in the elevator halves and rudder, and glued in place using thin CA. Make sure to space the control surfaces properly, so that there’s no interference at the tips!

The elevator pushrod was assembled, slid through the firewall, and installed. I twisted the clevises into place after the elevator pushrods were sticking out the tail end. The rudder pushrod was slid into place through the tail-end of the guide tube, and attached to the rudder control horn.

Next came the tail wheel installation, and was really following the instructions. I did have to grind a flat spot in the axle and tighten the aluminum rudder strap a little. A drop of ZAP Blue thread locker will keep the set screws tight in the wheel collars.

Following the instructions, again, I had the main landing gear installed quickly and easily! Just remember to grind a flat spot in the axles to keep the wheel collars tight, and add a drop of ZAP Blue thread locker to the set screws as well!

The prop adapter was attached to the motor, and the motor was then attached to the motor mount.

I added a drop of Blue thread locker in each of the blind nuts that were installed while building the Pawnee. The motor assembly was then attached to the firewall, and the ESC was secured on the flat area under the firewall. A small piece of DuBro 1/4″ Foam Rubber and a pair of zip ties hold the ESC in place.

The included hook n loop straps and foam battery grip were installed on the battery tray.

I assembled the Hitec HS-82MG micro servos and attached them to the aileron and flap servo hatches. to get the spacing set correctly, I had to add a plywood shim between the servo and hatch mount – These shims were cut from scraps of ply left over from building the kit.

The ailerons and flaps were attached to the wings using CA hinges and thin CA. Make sure to check the hinge gaps and end clearances to make sure that each aileron and flap work together. You should have checked their fit during building, but it’s a good idea to check again while gluing them in place!

 

The aileron and flap hatches were installed easily. I also drilled the proper sized pushrod hole in the servo arms prior to installing the hatches. A long piece of wire, like a leftover pushrod from another aircraft was used to pull the aileron and flap servo wiring through the wing to the opening in the wing root.

The clevises were twisted onto the flap and aileron pushrods – notice that the flap pushrod is slightly shorter than the aileron pushrod. Also worth mentioning is that there are two different lentghs of screws for the aileron and flap control horns. the two longer screws go toward the leading edge of the ailerons and flaps, while the shorter screw goes to the rear of the control horn.

With each of the control horns installed and the flaps and ailerons and servos set to center (aileron) /up position (flap), the pushrods were installed, marked, bent and cut to length. A nylon snap keeper secures each pushrod to its respective servo arm.

I slid the wing joiner rods into the right wing half, and drilled through the TOP SIDE of the wing and wing joiner rod. A pair of screws and washers were then installed to keep the rods secured in the wing half. The joiner rods were then slid through the fuselage, and the left wing half was attached the same way.

I removed the covering over the upper wing strut mounting location, and attached the strut mount to the fuselage. A drop of ZAP Blue thread locker will keep the mounting screws tight.

This is one area that I was a little concerned with – the wing strut attachment points in the wing were located under the sheeting. To avoid crushing the wing sheeting around the mounting location, I dropped a small steel washer into the pre-cut hole in the sheeting. This proved to be a great idea, and kept the sheeting from getting crushed.

The wing struts were then attached to the wing and the fuselage mount. I added a drop of Blue thread locker to the blind nuts in the wings, but the machine screws came with nylon-insert locking nuts for the fuselage attachment. This is an area where you’ll want to take your time and make sure that each of the pre-bent struts is in the proper location – they all look pretty similar, but each of the four struts has a correct location.

OK, this step was unclear in the manual, so I came up with a way to attach  the strut covers. Before painting them, I drilled a hole in the center of each of the four covers. I then set each cover in place and marked the location of the strut cover hole on the aluminum strut end. These marks were then drilled and tapped for a 4x12mm machine screw (not included, but I got them at my local hardware store). After scuffing the outside surface of the clear plastic strut covers with a 3M Scotchbrite pad, I painted the covers with Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover spray paint. The color I found to match the Toughlon Cub Yellow covering the best was called ‘Gloss Marigold’. It’s not a 100% perfect match, but it’s closer than any other spray paint I tried! When the paint had dried, I installed the strut covers. Again, I added a drop of Blue thread locker to the holes I drilled and tapped to make sure the strut covers stay attached to the struts!

The elevator and rudder servos (Hitec HS-485HB Deluxe)  were installed, along with the Hitec Optima 9 receiver. With the elevator halves and rudder and their respective servos centered, the pushrod were bent and cut to length. A pair of snap keepers secured the pushrods to their servo arms. THe receiver is held in place with a small piece of adhesive-backed hook n loop tape (not included).

Here is a couple of photos of the included pilot in the cockpit. While he looks pretty good, I have always like to embellish my kits. Therefore, a new pilot was purchased to replace the included one.

Now, before you actuall see the new pilot, I’ll show you how I installed ‘him’. A small hole was drilled in the cockpit ‘floor’ and in the bottom of the pilot figure. A small piece of dowel was inserted (with some thick CA) into the hole I drilled in the pilot, and a couple small dabs of thick CA  were added to the bottom of the pilot as well.

The dowel was then inserted into the hole in the cockpit floor and the CA was allowed to cure.

Sure, he looks a little like a military pilot, but I thought he looked pretty good in the cockpit of the Pawnee. Once the thick CA had cured, I attached the canopy with four screws. Back when I was building the Pawnee, I glued four small plywood block into the locations where the canopy screws will be at this point.

The cowl has four pre-drilled holes that make installation easy – especially if you use the recommended motor system. Everything lined up perfectly! I marked the location of the four cowl mounting screws, drilled the holes, and turned a screw into each hole. With the screw removed, a drop of thin CA was applied to each hole to harden the threads in the holes.

The cowl was then installed after painting. Speaking of painting the cowl, I have to say this – the cowl comes pre-painted in white. Since my color scheme called for a blue cowl, I sanded almost all of the white paint off the cowl using water and 3M brand 400 grit Wet or Dry sand paper. Removing the white paint took about two hours of sanding, but the end result was well worth the effort! The Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover paint went on as smooth as butter in three coats – each a little heavier than the previous coat. I found a color that matches almost perfectly, called ‘Gloss Deep Blue’. Seriously, folks, the above photo doesn’t even come close to doing the colormatch justice!

A white spinner was included with the kit, but it didn’t look right with the blue cowl. I purchased a carbon fiber spinner on Ebay for around $20. It fit perfectly, and installed easily. To add a little scale detail, I applied some matte black sign vinyl to the top of the fuselage and the top of the cowl. This matte vinyl replicated the flat paint used on a full scale plane to reduce glare while flying.

With the spinner installed, the Pawnee was ready for a final Center of Gravity check – all looked great, so the Pawnee was ready to fly!

Photo Shoot

I absolutely LOVE the way the Pawnee looks! It was definitely worth the effort to cover and paint it myself! But, If you’re not into all the work of building and covering a kit, there IS an ARF version available by clicking here!

Flight Report

The day for the maiden finally arrived, and I was pretty excited! After all, this was the first kit I had built in close to TEN YEARS!

With the 4S 4000mAh LiPo battery pack installed and connected to the ESC, a final check of the control surfaces was done. With a visual verification that everything was in order, the Pawnee was ready to fly! With my trusted friend and video pilot, Jim Buzzeo, at the sticks so I could shoot photos and video,  he advanced the throttle and the Pawnee started to roll!

The maiden takeoff could not have looked prettier! Even with a breeze, the Pawnee rolled straight down the runway and gracefully lifted off – like it just wanted to fly! The climb-out was very scale like, and looked really nice. Once the Pawnee was at a safe altitude, Jim checked for trim adjustments – a few clicks of left aileron trim was all she needed for straight and level flight.

We next tried some high and low speed flight – as you may have guessed, the ‘high speed’ was not really all that fast – but then again, the real Pawnee isn’t meant to fly fast.

Dropping the flaps to 50% (about 15°) the Pawnee slowed nicely without a huge upward pitch in the nose. Dropping the flaps to full (about 30°) slowed the plane even more, but the nose pitched up a bit until some excess speed was bled off the airframe. The flaps are very effective, to say the least!

We tried some aerobatics on the maiden flight, but the Pawnee needs more aileron throw to get a good crisp roll – about a quarter of the way through the first roll, Jim aborted because he said it didn’t feel right. On subsequent flights, increasing the aileron deflection on a dual rate switch provided enough throw to get a decent roll rate, but it’s best to add a little down elevator to the roll while inverted.

One of the best things to do with the Pawnee is dropping low for a simulated spraying run – it looked pretty cool! The plane just looks so natural flying upright and performing large banked turns at the end of the field.

When it came time to land, we already knew what to expect for slow flight – landing the Pawnee was very easy! With the flaps at 50%, she came in as pretty as could be, and touched down nicely – there was even plenty of elevator to keep the tailwheel firmly on the ground even when landing in the grass.

Check out the video to see the Pawnee in flight!

Summary

Well, part three is going to wrap up the World Models 1/6 scale Piper Pawnee reviews. I greatly enjoyed every step of this review – from building and covering the kit, to final assembly and flying. This has been a truly fun project, and has reawakened my love of building kits. I can definitely see building more kits as time allows! I want to send out a huge thanks to Airborne Models for the opportunity to rekindle my love of kits – if you’ve never built one, you definitely ought to try it! The Pawnee would make a great first kit as well, thanks in part to some of the really critical work being done at the factory. All of the pieces fit together extremely well, and the instructions made most of the building really simple. Seeing the Pawnee take to the sky for the first time was awesome as well. The plane flew so well, and looked really great! Well done, World Models, well done!

 

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1 Comment

  1. great job on the Pawnee and the video guys. Can thank you enough for using and displaying the ZAP adhesive products used during the build. Please let us know if we can do anything else to support you.

    Paul Stenberg
    House of Balsa
    Western and Canadian ZAP distributor

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