I have read this thread from beginning to end and have gleaned a ton of information from all of you who have decades of experience andthank you for taking the time to post this critical information. I am new to this hobby and unfortunately didn't find this thread until I was already half way into the build. I had to filter through all the posts and have copied and pasted the information I thought to be critical into a Word document. For the guys who are new to building ARFs (like me) this may be of value to you, email me and I will be happy to send you the doc. Please keep in mind there is way more info in the thread than I kept, I basically kept the info I could use either for my application or building skills.
I acquired the Hellcat from someone who was getting out of the hobby and began various builds on her; I wish I could have done it all but the price was right so I can't be choosy. He installed the retracts and the wings were epoxied together by the time I got it, everything else was pretty much incomplete. I started on her and glued the stab on while I waited for my Saito 100 to arrive; it wasn't until the next week I found this thread and read about the stab failures. Because I have very limited experience on covering a plane (like next to none), I opted to remove the covering only to expose the portions of the stab I needed to enforce and recover it with the same color. Ideally I would have opted to change the color of covering to the Midnight Blue like some suggested on this thread, butI didn't want to try to recover the area between the elevator and the stab if I tore off all of the covering - my skillsjust aren't there. So, I left about half an inch along the fuse and rear edge of the stab and recovered the rest of the stab in the same color.
I also opted to put the retracts on a separate battery. I read the pros and cons and although I usually like to keep things simple aligning myself with the "KISS" philosophy, I thought this to be good idea. This is my first plane with retracts and thought the second battery would add a measure of safety.
The belly portion of the wings section didn't align quite right with the fuse - I hope this doesn't deter its handling significantly - see pic.
I know the vent holes for the engine in the cowl are small; this issue is probably the biggest issue I wrestled with. I got emails all over the board from pilots who haven't cut any vent holes at all and others who practically removed the bottom quarter of the cowl. I mean, how much is enough? I may open it up more, I really haven't decided yet and because the weather has been so bad here in Seattle Ihave time before my maiden.
Last, I am a bit confused about obtaining the CG of the plane. Some say with the gear up, some say down... I'm confused. What you see in the photos is the way I have it set up for the CG at 5 1/4" like the manual says with the gear up. Note I built a small box for the retract battery to slide into adjacent to the fuel tank, didn't add more than ounce to the total weight. I'd like the plane to fly like it should; being new to flying (about 8 months) I don't do snap rolls, fancy loops, etc.; I guess you could say I'm conservative. If any of you have input about the CG, please pass it on.
So for my contribution to this thread below are photos of the finished product. I hope this helps someone as inexperienced as me, pictures are worth a thousand words. I'll post when I finally am able to put her up!
Guys, thanks again for your posts and answering my questions.