The Venus 40 ARF is a .40-.51 powered aircraft designed for F3A style pattern aerobatics. The construction of the Venus is all wood and covered in a multi-colored Monokote trim scheme. The Venus comes 95% prebuilt and includes a complete Great Planes quality hardware package.
Just by looking at the Venus one gets the quick impression that this plane is capable of running through the pattern. It’s tapered low wing and symmetrical airfoil plus moment length begin to tell the tale for how this plane will perform.
In this review we will take you through the assembly in detail for those who may wish to use it as an extra build guide (although the instruction manual is quite thorough and clear). I’ll show you a few build tips and whatever modifications were made that differed from the instructions and why. Next, I show you the completed Venus 40 ARF with my written review on the flight testing of the aircraft. Then finally, two video clips which show the Venus in the air doing its thing.
Kit Name: Venus 40 ARF
Wingspan: 55″ (1400mm)
Wing Area: 570 sq in (36.8dm 2)
Length: 54″ (1370mm)
Flying Weight per mfg: 5.1-5.6 lb (2320-2550g)
Flying Weight as tested: Wing: 19.4 oz
Fuse: 65.0 oz.
Total: 5 lbs. 4.5 oz (dry)
Wing Loading per mfg: 21-23 oz/sq ft (63-69 g/dm 2)
Wing Loading as tested: 21.3 oz/sq ft
Motor used: OS 50SX
Fuel Used: Wildcat 15%
Prop: APC 12×7
Radio and gear: Futaba 9C Transmitter Futaba R149DP Receiver
(2) Futaba S9252 Digital Servos for elevator, rudder
(2) Hobbico CS-55 Standard Servos for ailerons
(1) Hobbico CS-12 Mini Servo for throttle
Battery: Hydrimax 1650 Mah Nimh 4.8v cell battery
Channels Used: 4 total – elevator, aileron, rudder, throttle
Manufacturer: Great Planes
Distributor: Great Planes
- Fast easy assembly
- Superb instruction manual
- Attractive trim scheme & color
- Pre-installed pushrod tubes
- Strong & Lightweight Construction
- Fiberglass Cowl & wheel pants
- Excellent aerobatics
- Overall flight characteristics
- Wing bolt needed to be cut shorter (see text)
- Wheel Pant attachment method
- Fully covered wings, fuselage, tail
- Fuel tank, tubing, clunk
- Glass Filled Motor mount & bolts
- Pushrod tubes for elevator/rudder preinstalled
- Pushrods for throttle and ailerons
- Pre painted fiberglass cowl
- Pre painted wheel pants
- Aluminum Landing Gear
- Steerable tail wheel
- Wing bolts, control horns, clevises
- Other assorted hardware
- 4 channel radio with 5 servos
- 2-stroke .40-.51 cu in (6.5-8.5cc) or 4-stroke .52-.70 cu in (8.5-11.5 cc)
- Fuel Tubing
- CA glue, epoxy, loctite thread lock
- Standard building tools
ASSEMBLY OF THE VENUS 40 ARF
The Venus 40 ARF assembly is both easy and straightforward. The Great Planes construction manual covers each step of assembly and is superb in its detail. You can view it in PDF format by clicking here.
The photo on the below shows the major components already built and covered. Assembly begins with the wing so let’s begin.
TIGHTEN UP COVERING & HINGING
The instructions note that you should first take an iron or heat gun to the covering to tighten up any wrinkles or loose areas and to ensure they are tacked well to the airframe. I used a Coverite iron with a covering sock to smooth out a few small wrinkles. Once complete the next step is to install the CA hinges on the ailerons. The manual describes this method in very good detail so I won’t reiterate it here. (Note: We also have a “How To on CA Hinges” in the RCU Online Magazine if your interested in tips or techniques for gluing CA hinges.)
INSTALL WING SERVOS
The next step is to cutout the covering where the wing servos will be installed. I used a soldering iron to do this which works well to cut the covering but NOT score the wood which might weaken it. Next I sealed the cut edges with a Coverite trim seal tool.
The wings come with a string installed so you can route your servo wires easily through the cutout in the center of the wing. I brought the wires through the wing and out the hole on the top for each wing half. I then mounted each servo (I used Hobbico CS-55 standard servos for the ailerons) into the cutout. (A tip is to install the servo and then pull it out and put a drop of CA in each hole to harden it. Once dry you can reinstall the servo and screws.)
INSTALL CONTROL HORNS
Next I installed the control horns into the ailerons. For this step I substituted Dubro Adjustable Control Horns as I’ve found them easier and faster to install. Standard control horns have 2 holes and I always have a very tough time lining them up and especially so on tapered surfaces. The Dubro horns require only one 1/8″ hole to be drilled and for me always install faster with fewer mistakes. One additional plus is that the Dubro horns are fully threaded so you can infinitely adjust them whereas a standard control horn has just 4 or 5 holes. The Great Planes provided horns are of excellent quality but it is just my preference since half the time my holes are drilled out of alignment making installation frustrating.
Once the control horns were installed I used the supplied hardware to connect the servo to the aileron control horn per the manual.
JOINING THE WINGS
The next major step is joining the wing halves together. This is done by mixing up some 30 minute epoxy and applying it to a hardwood joiner as well as the root ribs and pushing the wings together. I used masking tape and clamps to hold the wing together while the epoxy cured.
Next I installed the 2 wing dowels which are used to hold the front of the wing in place. I sanded the tips to round them just a bit and marked 1/4″ down from the tip so their depth could be determined when inserted. I used some Titebond wood glue and installed these into the predrilled holes.
WING BOLT MOUNTING PLATE
The supplied precovered wing bolt plate which is used to reinforce the wing bolts is installed next. First I marked the centerline of the bolts and the centerpoint between the bolts (see picture) and then used a soldering iron to cut the covering where the plate will be epoxied onto the wing. After the covering is removed I applied some 5 minute epoxy and glued the plate into place. Once cured I turned the wing over and drilled through the holes in the wing to make the holes in the wing bolt plate.
Next I used some grommets I got from my local hardware store to finish off the servo exit holes in the center of the wing. These prevent the leads from falling back into the wing and give a nice finished touch.
To install the belly pan the wing is bolted to the fuselage. I then lined up the bellypan and taped it down. I used a Top Flite Panel Line Pen to mark the edges of where the pan meets the fuse. Next I removed the belly pan and cut away 1/2″ of the covering (again w/the soldering iron) using the lines as a guide. I mixed up some 30 minute epoxy and glued the pan in place. I applied some masking tape to hold the bellypan in position and put some “weight” onto it while it cured (see picture below to the right).
END OF WING ASSEMBLY SECTION
Assembly of the fuselage begins with the tail feathers. I first cut away the covering on the sides of the fuse where the horizontal stabilizer will fit into. I then placed the stab into the slot and aligned it so it was even on both sides and true to the fuselage. Once I was satisfied it was on perfectly straight I used a Top Flite Panel line pen to mark the edges of the covering. I removed the stabilizer and carefully cut away the covering just inside my marked lines. Use a soldering iron for this and let the heat do the work so you do not score the balsa.
Once the covering was removed I used 30 minute epoxy to glue the stab in place. The manual describes a method of using a string to check alignment which works well. Once alignment was triple checked I placed the fuselage onto my tool chest to note if either side was higher. The left side was just a bit high so I used a bottle of CA activator as a weight to keep it even while the epoxy cured overnight. This can be seen in the picture below.
The vertical stabilizer (also called the fin) was installed next. Like the horizontal stabilizer the fin is inserted, marked and covering stripped. Once that is done I glued in place with some 30 minute epoxy. I made sure the fin was square while the epoxy cured. Some masking tape was used to pull the fin over keeping it square.
The tailwheel is assembled by bending the end of the wire 90 degrees after it is inserted through the tailwheel bracket. Next I installed it to the fuse with the 2 supplied sheet metal screws.
I used some masking tape to secure the gear at the correct height. The rudder is lined up to the wire and marked. I then drilled a hole in the rudder to accept the wire. A Great Planes Groove Tube tool was used to make a groove in the edge of the rudder so the rudder could be placed flush against the vertical stabilizer.
ELEVATOR & RUDDER HINGING
I completed the tail feathers by hinging the elevator and rudder with the supplied CA hinges using the same technique as the ailerons. The tailwheel wire is epoxied into the rudder.
Landing Gear, Wheels & Wheel pants
The wheel pants come pre-painted red and are constructed of a solid fiberglass material. The assembly method for the wheel pants outlined in the manual made me concerned about them rotating so I used another method that was described in the RCU forums.
The method used in the manual involves using the 2 nuts, a washer and a bolt. With just one hole in the wheel pant it would be prone to rotating. What I did was cut a slit in the pant and enlarge the hole on the outside of the pant so I could insert the bolt. I then used the following sequence to install the pant. Pant, bolt, wheel, nut, landing gear leg, pant, washer, nut. I used some loctite on both nuts to keep them from vibrating.
This method which has the landing gear going through the wheel pant itself will prevent it from rotating. Last I bolted the landing gear to the fuse with the supplied socket head bolts.
MOUNTING THE ENGINE
I mounted the motor following the instructions. First I cut out the engine mounting template from the manual and taped it to the firewall. The lines on the template line up with those on the firewall. I then drilled the holes for the mount using the guide. The mount is then screwed onto the firewall using the supplied 6-32 bolts, lock washers, washers and blind nuts. The tick marks in the Great Planes mount are centered to the lines on the firewall for proper alignment.
Since I was using a motor in the higher end of the range for the Venus I decided to mount the engine just slightly back from the recommended distance of 4 15/16″ (as measured from firewall to thrust washer). I moved it back about 3/8″ behind this point. Next I marked the holes in the mount using a Great Planes Dead Center Hole Tool. This is my 2nd time using this tool and it makes perfect marks in the mounts every time. I drilled out the mounts and tapped them for 6-32 bolts. The motor was then secured with the bolts, lock washers and washers.
The throttle pushrod was installed next. I drilled a hole in the firewall to insert the outer covering of the pushrod through it. I epoxied the pushrod guide in the firewall and inside the fuselage. The pushrod itself is fed through the outer guide. Because the throttle barrel moves in and out of the carb I used a Dubro ball link on the end of the 2-56 throttle pushrod instead of a clevis. This ensured there would be little friction in the throttle action which could be caused by the lateral movement of the throttle arm (barrel slides in and out of carb).
FUEL TANK INSTALLATION
The fuel tank was assembled using a standard two line system (one pressure, one supply/fill). I used the supplied tank and hardware and assembled the tank. I mounted the tank into the forward compartment using some P.F.M. glue around the neck where it protrudes through the firewall. I also glued in a piece of balsa behind the tank and glued it on with some PFM adhesive.
I used a Great Planes fuel filler valve and mounted it to the firewall with a Great Planes Handy Mount. This was done to make fueling or defueling easy with the 2 line system I chose.
CUTTING THE COWL
This step is my least favorite in the assembly of any model. However, taking it slow and marking the cowl carefully will produce a nicely finished product. I used a piece of the servo packaging backing to mark the areas to cut. The template was taped to the fuselage and I cutout the areas that needed to be removed from the cowl.
The cowl is then screwed into place and marked accordingly. I use a Dremel drum sanding wheel to remove the marked off areas. On the Venus I opened up the two vents on each side of the spinner, a large air vent underneath it for the motor and a small spot below the air vent on the left side to allow the throttle to move freely (pictured to the left). The manual instructs to cut the cowl on the side of the muffler so you can slide it over it but I did not want to cut it so I drilled 2 access holes for the muffler bolts on the opposite side of the muffler so I could install the muffler after the cowl was screwed on the fuselage.
Once the cowl was cut and installed I substituted a special cut 2″ Standard Tru-Turn Spinner instead of using the supplied red plastic spinner. Since I was using a larger APC prop I wanted wider slots in the spinner to accommodate them so a call to Tru-Turn was made and I had them custom cut my 2″ spinner. You can see how pretty it looks on the nose of the Venus in all the pictures.
OS 50 SX 2 Stroke Motor – Closer Look
I had to choose between the OS 46FX and the OS 50SX for the Venus. In the end I chose the OS Engines 50 SX for two reasons. The first was that I had owned so many 46FX’s and had great luck with them so I sort of wanted to try this new 50SX that I had heard so many good things about. The second reason is that I wanted the extra power that the 50SX would provide to ensure there was plenty of reserve in case I ever needed it.
Compared to the 46FX it puts out 10% more horsepower and fits into the same mounting space. It has a one piece remote needle valve which can be positioned vertically or horizontally to adapt to different types of mounting situations. The motor is ringed for longer engine life and sports a 2 year warranty with parts and service provided by Great Planes.
The specifications of the OS Engines 50 SX are:
- Bore: 0.866 in (22mm)
- Stroke: 0.847 in (21.5mm)
- Displacement: 0.499 cu in (8.17 cc)
- Propeller: 10×8 – 11×7
- Power Output: 1.8 BHP
- Practical RPM Range: 2,000-20,000 rpm
- Weight: 13.8 oz (390g)
I chose to run the OS 50SX on Wildcat Fuel with 15% nitro and 18% synthetic oil.
For more info check out www.osengines.com
RADIO INSTALLATION & CG
I installed the elevator and rudder servos per the instructions. Two Futaba S9252 Digital servos were used here for a little extra torque and precision however the Venus is designed to perform well with even just standard servos. The elevator pushrods run from each elevator half and then back through the fuselage to the elevator servo where they are joined by two supplied wheel collars (see image).
Tip: At this time I chose to install a Hobbico Voltwatch meter on the cockpit dashboard. This little device keeps an eye on your battery and gives a great point of reference on the current state of your battery. Weighing less than 1/10th of an ounce and drawing under 10mah I have been putting it on all my aircraft as of late for peace of mind.
I used a Hobbico CS-12 Mini Servo for throttle since it was smaller and lighter than a standard servo so I figured I could save some weight there. I used a small piece of plywood to act as a mounting rail for the servo since the CS-12 is much smaller than a standard and would not fit into the precut throttle cutout in the servo tray. (see image)
Next I put the plane together and placed it onto the Great Planes CG Machine to check the balance and find out where to place my rx and battery (see image below). I found that the plane balanced at the recommended CG with the battery roughly around the center of the wing area and the rx near the front. This was good as it allows me to move the battery back later if I want to experiment with a more rearward CG.
I checked all control surface deflection using the Great Planes Accu-Throw Deflection Meter. I set all the low rates per the manual and the high rates about 1/4″ higher then what was stated in the manual.
I installed the Futaba receiver in front of the servo tray and battery on some foam and fastened it down with a rubber band. I installed the switch on the side of the fuselage. Last I put another piece of foam rubber down over the receiver which will be held in place by the wing when installed (see image lower right).
With the radio and motor installed the only thing left was to glue the canopy on. I used some clear canopy glue and glued the canopy to the fuse and let it dry for a few days. It was then time to charge everything up and wait for spring weather to put the Venus through some test flights.
POSING TIME Venus 40 ARF
Radio Setup, Flight Testing and Evaluation
Using the Futaba 9C transmitter I setup the Venus with both high and low rates on the rudder, elevator and ailerons. I did NOT use any mixing such as rudder to aileron to mix out any bad tendencies as my hope is that the Venus will fly with little to zero coupling and any minor issues can be simply “flown” out should they exist.
The low rates were setup per the manuals instructions and the high rates I added an extra 1/4″ of throw. I typically find that most manuals give conservative (“read safe”) values for throws so I setup the low rates in the safe zone and increase my high rates but add around 30% to 40% expo in case it is too sensitive. That said my starting points were now set and all that was left was to range check the radio and fly.
Once the Venus was completed and setup I was the fortunate recipient of a severe and extensive Northeast winter which put the Venus’s maiden flight on hold for several months. Having waited through an entire winter with a ready to fly plane in my basement drove me nuts but finally in April I got my chance to test the Venus! It was a partly sunny day and about 65 degrees with 5-8 mph winds. Good for testing and breaking in the new OS 50SX I thought!
BREAKING IN & RUNNING THE OS 50SX
I setup the Venus and did a range check at the field and all was fine. I fired up the OS 50SX which started on the 3rd flip. I started the break-in process for the motor on the ground varying the needle setting every 10 seconds for one tankfull per the OS instruction manual.
After the 1st tank was through it I was ready to test fly the Venus. Worth noting was that the motor DID actually start and run perfectly on that 3rd flip. All subsequent starts on flight two and three were by use of a chicken stick and started on the 1st or 2nd flip respectively. Amazing to me was that this was on an INVERTED motor which often give headaches when trying to start them. Additionally, the transition of the OS 50SX was perfectly smooth and did not require any low end adjustment whatsoever. This was the best “out of the box” motor I have seen in 27 years of RC. I write all this because we all read how it “started on the very 1st flip…” and all the other stuff so often in product reviews so I figured I’d share what really happened during my testing.
MAIDEN FLIGHTS OF THE VENUS
TAKEOFF – With the OS 50SX running (still rich for the first flights per the instructions) I taxied the Venus out onto the field. I looked back and ironically I was the only one at the field this day which was ok by me since I was a bit nervous since I had not put in any flying time over the winter. The Venus taxied well without a tendency to nose over on our very rough field. I pointed her into the wind and pushed the throttle forward. I had to apply a slight amount of right rudder to keep the Venus tracking straight and in a very short distance she climbed out beautifully. Three clicks of right aileron were applied to trim out the aircraft and nothing else.
Before I pushed the plane through some demanding aerobatics I simply flew a few laps around our field to get a general feel for the plane and then started to go through the various aerobatic maneuvers to see what the plane could do.
The Venus is capable of performing very large graceful loops which track very well and require very little correction. I was flying in a stiff crosswind on my second test day and even under that condition the plane tracks well although it did need a tad more adjustment through the maneuver to compensate for the brisk 15mph-22mph crosswind.
Rolls were crisp and very axial requiring almost no adjustment throughout the roll maneuver. Slow rolls are equally easy to perform with only a bit of rudder and elevator to keep the aircrafts attitude level and axial throughout. You can do a slow roll across the length of the field with this plane!
Stall turns are a piece of cake for the Venus. Simply point the Venus up and cut the throttle and at the top use the rudder to kick it over. Uplines and downlines were straight.
I was curious to see how the plane would hold a knife edge and if there would be any coupling. I flew across the field and put the Venus into the knife edge and much to my surprise (I thought there would be a lot more) there was only a very small (and I mean small) tendency to roll to the belly. So little in fact that until you have covered some ground you don’t notice it and then simply apply the slightest bit of up elevator to correct it. In my opinion there was not even enough to warrant setting up any kind of mixing for it. I found there to be no roll coupling in the knife edge attitude. Having very little coupling is a great attribute for a pattern plane.
The stall characteristics were tested next. I cut the throttle pulled the nose up both upwind and downwind about 8 times and watched the planes reaction. Typically the plane doesn’t drop a wing tip but simply drops its nose, picks up airspeed and your out of the stall. A few of the attempts I did get a tip to drop a bit but the Venus just quickly picks up airspeed and flies right out of it. Overall excellent stall characteristics.
Inverted flight is a breeze. I flipped the Venus over and at low rate on elevator requires only the slightest (I mean slightest) touch of down to maintain level flight. I did a couple laps around the field inverted and the aircraft flies as good inverted as it does right side up.
I tried a snap roll next since I was a bit caught up in wringing out the plane on its first couple of flights. I pulled back hard on the elevator and gave hard left rudder. The Venus performed a nice looking snap and then when I released the sticks it recovered quickly on its own. This along with the other maneuvers are shown in the video here in this review.
The last test for the day was the flat spin. With the CG in the recommended location I was not able to get the Venus to flatten out in a spin. I will attempt to move the CG back a bit and from what I’ve read in our own RCU forums this plane will flatten out with a more rearward CG. For purposes of the test flight I wanted to stick to the manufacturers recommended CG as they state that this CG will minimize coupling along with adding stability.
What’s a flight without a landing you ask? A crash? Fortunately not in this case! The Venus was brought around the downwind leg and the throttle cut to 1/3. I turned her around for final approach into the wind and cut the throttle. The Venus has a nice glide path and I actually underestimated how well it would float so I flew it a little past me and then greased it right in for a perfect landing. All test flights ended in perfect landings and the Venus shows no unusual tendencies at low speed while landing. The wheel pants also held up well on our very rough grass field with the modification I made.
The best part is below and that is the video footage of the first few flights of the Venus. Here is where you can see first hand why Great Planes bills the Venus 40 ARF as a “Sport flying plane that Excels at F3A Pattern Style Aerobatic flying.” I’m not a “competitive level” pattern flyer but the Venus certainly makes flying the pattern look really good even for the novice to intermediate skilled pilot.
The Great Planes Venus 40 ARF fills the 46 sized pattern plane space with an aircraft that not only looks good but performs well. The ARF exhibits overall excellent quality construction and the assembly is straightforward and easy. The best part about the Venus ARF though is actually flying it. This plane will absolutely make you look like a better flyer as you push it through all the pattern maneuvers. It is graceful, stable, attractive and its overall design exhibits little to zero coupling which is important in a pattern style aircraft.
The OS 50SX provided massive power for the Venus. Even during the break-in flights with the motor running rich the Venus shot straight up vertically and out of sight. I would suggest either the OS 50SX or the ever popular OS 46FX for the Venus as both motors would be capable of bringing out the best this plane has to offer. As stated in the text above this 50SX was the best out of the box motor I’ve owned. Even inverted it starts right up without being fussy. No kidding and no hype.
Aside from the slightly oddball wheel pant attachment method the Great Planes Venus 40 ARF gets an overall FIVE star rating from me. I rated it 5 stars across the board except for “ease of assembly” which got a 4 simply due to the wheel pant attachment method which I did not care for. At a very inexpensive street price of $159.99 the Venus 40 ARF is an easy and enjoyable to build model plus a true performer in the sky. This will be a plane I am going to hang onto for a long time!
For more information on the Great Planes Venus 40 ARF visit the Great Planes website at www.greatplanes.com. You can purchase the Venus by visiting your local hobby shop or online at Tower Hobbies.
Packaging Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
Construction Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
Hardware Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
Quality of Manual: 1 2 3 4 5
Ease of Assembly: 1 2 3 4 5
Completeness of Kit: 1 2 3 4 5
Covering Quality 1 2 3 4 5
Take-Off: 1 2 3 4 5
Landing: 1 2 3 4 5
Basic Aerobatics (loops, rolls, etc.): 1 2 3 4 5
Advanced Aerobatics (snap roll, spins, etc.): 1 2 3 4 5
Stall Characteristics: 1 2 3 4 5
Manufacturer & Distributor Information
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
Futaba Corporation of America
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Tru-Turn (Romco Mfg., Inc.)
100 West 1st Street
Deer Park, Texas, 77536
206 Stephens Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356
Phone: (888) 815-7575 Fax: (859) 885-8549
480 Bonner Road
Wauconda, IL 60084
Landing Products (APC Propellors)
Woodland, CA 95776
Phone: 530-661-0399 Fax: 530-666-6661