a fast-paced world, where our hobby time is limited, the invasion
of Almost-Ready-to-Fly planes (or ARFs) has been a real blessing
for many R/Cers. These models allow us to assemble something
beautiful, very quickly, and spend quality time flying at
the club or just down the street. We no longer have to be
master builders or too afraid to fly our creations.
models like this 1/3 scale clipped wing Cub from World Models
(right) look great right out of the box. By adding just a
few simple scale enhancements, these models start to look
models are so popular that they may get lost in a "sea"
of similar ARFs at the local flying field or R/C event.
only a minor change, here or there, your plane can stand out
from the rest. My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D will
not be to convert an ARF to compete with the Scale Masters
or Top Gun craftsmen, but rather to inspire your imagination
to create your own simple model changes that will help scale
are one of the most popular R/C models for scale enthusiasts. Some
models like the Hangar
9 Corsair and Hangar 9 P-51D
look and fly fantastic right out of the box. These ARF designs allow
many people to fly a piece of history that would not otherwise have
the skill or time to build one from a set of plans or even a kit.
With a little imagination, the experience can be enhanced by making
small changes where it counts.
my stock Hangar 9 Corsair retracts worked fine, the plane
would bounce on occasion when I had a less than perfect
landing. I decided to replace the skinny wire gear mains
(left) on my .60-size Corsair with some Robart 653 series
struts, which I purchased from Tower
Hobbies. The Robart struts will eliminate this problem
and cost less than replacing the entire retract mechanism.
They were too long to fit in the Corsair wheel wells so
the strut needed to be shortened to fit properly. This cut
into the spring chamber, which required that the spring
be shortened to about 2/3 of its original length.
are a few factors to consider for the final length of the
spring. You want the spring to be close to fully extended
when just holding the weight of the airplane. It should
compress a little bit. You also want the maximum compression
to require about 3 times the weight of the aircraft. This
will absorb the shock of most landings; good or bad.
modified gear mains, using the Robart struts on my Hangar
9 Corsair, not only looked better than the skinny stock
wires, they worked superbly to eliminate bounce!
Painted Pilot and Cockpit
pilot for the Hangar
9 P-51D is from Century
Jet Models. The lower torso was easily removed with a
craft saw as it was originally pieced together at the waist
area. I added my own touch-ups to the pre-painted pilot figure
and cut the stock plastic cockpit seat from the P-51D detail
kit. By adding half of a shoulder strap to the back of the
seat, it enhanced the scale look. The control stick was made
from a rubber grommet base, grey control tube section, and
a hand-cut rubber handle.
dash gauge decal was transferred to a piece of cardboard before
gluing into the cockpit. This created a clean smooth look
on the gauges. The canopy is screwed in place (instead of
gluing it) so further scale details can be added in the future.
The canopy screws were colored black with a fine tip marker.
Adding simple details like this is a great deal of fun and
adds to the scale realism of the warbird.
4-blade wood prop can be transformed into a scale beauty
that functions well and looks much better than a 2-blade
prop on the appropriate model. Joe Zingali will even make
the hub hole to fit your needs (by request) for a perfect
fit. The $57 pre-assembled prop costs $67 including shipping.
The Zinger 2, 3, and 4 blade props can be purchased in many
sizes. Remember to specify the "pro" blades as
shown painted because the older standard blades shown (unpainted)
are not efficient by today's standards.
Zinger 4-blade prop was painted black with yellow tips by
my friend, Paul Weigand. He also added the Hamilton Standard
decals made by Major Decals for an added scale touch. These
decals are available from Horizon Hobby, Tower Hobbies,
or your local hobby shop. The finished prop and stock spinner
looked great on the ground and in the air!
Scoops and Pipes
many ARF warbirds, you'll often find a plastic scoop that
just doesn't look right. If the plane is electric-powered,
you can usually cut away the opening (upper right) to create
a realistic air intake that helps cool the components. If
cooling is not needed, a simple black felt-tip pen can give
the scoop (lower right) an open look.
pipes can be painted black to enhance the look. Adding something
simple like sticky-back rubber pads can change the shape a
bit for a unique scale look on your model.
Rockets and Missiles
rockets, missiles, bombs, and drop tanks for scale warbirds
is not only fun but can save you money over buying them
already built. If you are not adventurous enough to make
them yourself, visit a toy store and find the appropriate
scale size you need from the numerous plastic toys available
Model Rockets and accessories are available at most hobby
shops and craft stores. With a little spray paint and glue,
you can tailor the design to fit almost any application.
Corsair rocket uses an aluminum tube and hardwood clothespin
for a simple yet secure mounting scheme. The tube is held
to the rocket by a piece of carbon rod that is slid inside
and then tacked in place with CA. The clothespin is attached
on one side to the plane's wing using servo tape which can
be removed if no longer needed.
of your "masterpieces" can be made fun with a
old Kodak camera case protects my finished rockets for transport
and "unauthorized" use.
The rockets slid onto the painted clothespins with a snug
fit. During flight, the air flow keeps them pressed against
the back stop.
result of a few simple enhancements creates an added realism
that can best be described in the photos below.
flying photos by "Papa Jeff"
Realistic Scale Sound
is the sole distributor of the exceptional Benedini R/C aircraft
sound systems for the U.S.A. and Canada. These sound systems,
perfected by Thomas Benedini of Germany, are truly remarkable.
Many installations in electric powered aircraft have already
been done, and I have added the TBS Micro Soundmodules to
my Hangar 9 1.50-size P-51D and .60-size F4U Corsair for incredible
scale sound effects.
Benedini sound system will make the difference between just
another electric-powered model and a model that looks and
sounds like a real aircraft. The TBS Micro digital sound units
(right) reproduce original recorded engine sounds at a 22.050
KHz sample rate for the highest sound quality. The engine
range covers starting, engine idle, acceleration, speed dependent
engine sound, returning to idle and engine shut down. With
many types of engine recordings to choose from you can now
add realistic sound to any R/C aircraft.
powerful amplifiers are available to give an incredible volume
level in a wide range of applications. Imagine the rumble
of a Rolls-Royce V-12 Merlin engine as you taxi out to the
runway or hear the Doppler Effect on a fast flyby!
my airplane power system used a 10-cell Lithium pack, I choose the
50v audio amplifier so I could connect it right to the ESC power
lines. The engine sound control is either connected in-line to the
throttle channel or to a spare channel for additional scale control.
The photo below shows only one speaker for my initial testing setup.
I later added the second speaker in series as shown below.
to stuff the metal frames of the two 4" speakers in the small
scale nose of my P-51D. A small portion of the frame protruded from
the bottom of the cowl. I used a Dremel tool to cut the fiberglass
Aerosound 4" speaker is custom manufactured for Aerosound with
selected components and a powerful neodymium magnet to be as light
weight as possible yet deliver the best possible sound at high decibel
levels. They measure 4" in diameter by 1.69" deep and
weigh 6.6oz. each. The sound level produced on my setup is about
98dba. Up to 102dba has been achieved using two 16oz speakers.
flew the P-51D with the Aerosound module at a local electric R/C
show. It sounded great and the audience really loved the added scale
effect of hearing a Merlin V12 in an electric conversion. The video
below shows the realistic scale sounds with the various sequences
like starting, engine idle, acceleration, returning to idle and
engine shut down. You can hear the P-51 sound in my review video
below or on the 2007 NEAT
from SKS Videos.
further details on my Hangar 9 1.50-size P-51D with the Aerosound
system, read the review here
on RC Universe.
also added a second AeroSound system to my Hangar 9 .60-size
F4U Corsair. This lower voltage system has the Pratt &
Whitney Wasp engine noise as well as machine guns.
amount of air flow across the Power Amplifier (PA) module
dictates how much additional cooling you may need. The
unit is designed to shutdown if it gets excessively hot
so if it cuts out on you during a flight, this is a flag
for improving the cooling.
I did not mount my PA in the air flow, I have mounted
it to an additional metal heatsink and removed the shrink-wrap.
Alternatively, it could have been mounted, as is, inside
the cowl to the metal motor mount. This would put it directly
in the air flow.
can hear the Corsair sound in the video below.
overall performance of the Aerosound systems approach realism
and give a great scale effect to these models. I think this
product will add a new dimension to electric flight...especially
competitive scale applications. Although you cannot create
your own sounds, you can reprogram them into the TBS Micro
Sound Module and there are many real recordings to choose
from at Aerosound
RC. The whole sound system draws less than 4 amps with
both speakers connected so it does not adversely affect the
Benedini sound system made my P-51 and Corsair sound like real
aircraft. Many of us have been waiting a long time for this
technology to make it into the R/C market. That time has arrived
and it is exciting to be a part of it!
has created an
unusual and unique effect for making the cockpits on giant-scale
aerobatic planes very realistic!
Virtual Cockpit photo graphics are the result of many
hours of extensive digital photo retouching and illustration.
Virtual Cockpit kit on the right can be modified
to fit almost any single seat aircraft.
pilot's arms, legs, and body in the photo graphic
line up perfectly with the bust that sits on top
of the graphic. The entire cockpit weighs only 1
to 3 ounces!
versions are already available for CAPs, Extras,
Edges, Lasers, and other aerobatic models. Two seat
aircraft and custom colors are also available.
the left, a Virtual Cockpit kit was installed in my 2-meter
Icepoint pattern plane. The cockpit was measured first
and the dimensions sent to Kregg
Wright. The result was a perfect fit virtual cockpit
that added a new dimension to this type of plane that
normally would be an empty cockpit or have a tinted black
Cockpit kits are lightweight and easy to install. Not
only can you eliminate empty cockpit on your giant scale
model but you can create an attractive custom scale representation
of the full size model.
Hubs and Wheels
easy way to scale up your model is to simply add a
hub onto the end of the prop adapter.
polished aluminum hubs come in both English and Metric
J-3 Cub wheels are available in 1/5, 1/4, and
1/3 scale sizes. Add
the realism and final detail to your J-3 Cub with
Du-Bro's Treaded Lightweight Cub Wheels. These J-3
Cub Wheels offer bolt together hubs and realistic
looking Cub wheel covers. These lightweight wheels
feature a foam interior, yet have a tough and rugged
exterior skin for durability.
photos by "Papa Jeff"
Ring and Richard Landis
of my favorite types of models to scale up is the foamie.
Often, only a few slight enhancements are needed to
transform a foamie into a much nicer looking model.
Sparks, the custom plastics guru, has a canopy upgrade
for the Twister that costs only $14 including shipping.
The kit contains the canopy, instrument panel, pilot
and ejection seat. The finished canopy upgrade looks
fantastic and you can use your imagination to make it
as detailed as you like. You can e-mail Keith at email@example.com
to order this canopy upgrade or any of his other scale
painting sections of the model, you can make your ARF
stand out from the rest and provide better orientation
in the sky. I often use Testors Spray Enamel or Krylon
H2O Latex Spray Paint on my foam
custom parts like this exhaust ring (right) from the bottom
of a 20oz plastic bottle of Gatorade is a great deal of
fun. You simply need to look around and use your imagination.
your models are so popular that they may get lost in a "sea"
of similar ARFs at the flying field, with a little imagination,
you can make your plane stand out from the rest. By adding
just a few simple scale enhancements, many of these newer
quality ARF models start to look very real. Contrasting
certain colors will also provide better orientation in the
month's issue of AMP'D merely scratched the surface of what
is possible when you make small changes to various types
of aircraft. It's a fun part of our hobby to create simple
alterations inspired by imagination knowing that you don't
have to be a master builder to scale it up!
you fly electric, fly clean, fly quiet, and fly safe!
Special thanks for contributions
"Papa Jeff" Ring, Paul Weigand, Lynn Bowerman,
and Richard Landis
section of AMP'D covers some of the questions that our
readers have sent in and I thought would be interesting
Toll of Norway asks:
read your thread about the V-pro MiG-15 over at RC Universe.
Thanks for sharing your experiences on the web like
question though... I noticed you use a Spektrum DX7
TX. Which RX did you use in the MiG? I've heard some
people say that the range on the 2,4GHz RX is reduced
in a glassfibre fuselage... But it seems to work well
You're right, I totally missed posting about my
receiver. I am using the Spektrum AR6100
receiver as in the link below. I use this receiver
in many different size planes and have never had
a problem with range. As far as I know, there
is nothing in fiberglass that will reduce RF radiation...especially
N. asks: "Hi Greg,
is a good product if I want to use my old ESC's that
do not have Programable LVC? Is there something out
there that will allow me to fly with lipo's and have
the proper cutoff ? (3.0 volts per cell)
Thanks for any info,
are several products on the market that allow you to
use LiPo packs with older ESCs.
are a few:
Automatic Cell Detect, Low Voltage Cutoff Device