RCU Review: Great Planes Waco YMF-5D

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: August 2011 | Views: 76828 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Great Planes Waco YMF-5D
    Mike Buzzeo

    Email Me

    Great Planes
    Model Manufacturing Company

    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    What has two wings, a round nose and a radial engine? Ok, I guess a lot of biplanes can fit that description, but eventually, you'll land on the name "Waco". Originally produced by the Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio, they officially changed their name to the Waco (Pronounced "Wah-co", not "Way-co") Aircraft Company in 1928. Among their designs were some of the most widely produced civilian aircraft between World Wars I & II.

    The Waco company went belly-up shortly after WWII, but the design was too good to let die, so in 1986, the Waco Classic Aircraft Company (no relation to the original WACO) began producing an upgraded version of Waco's model YMF.

    While it's really only a stand-off scale model, the new Great Planes ARF looks terrific with loads of scale features and will make an excellent platform for anyone who wishes to add those extra details to really trick it out!

    • Excellent Construction
    • Painted Fiberglass Cowl with Hidden Ring Attachment
    • Scale Fiberglass Gear Fairings and Pants
    • Many Other Scale Details
    • MonoKote? Covering

    • Tail Wheel location is not to scale

    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:

    Frustration Level:

    What do these ratings mean?

    Name:Great Planes Waco YMF-5D

    Price: $479.99
    Stock Number: GPMA1295
    Wingspan: 72" (1830mm)
    Wing Area: 1384 sq in (89.2 sq dm)
    Weight: 12.75 - 13.75 lb (5.78 - 6.23 kg)
    Wing Loading: 21 - 21oz/sq ft (64 - 70g/sq dm)
    Length: 56.5" (1435mm) Center of Gravity: 5-1/4" [133mm] back from the leading edge of the top wing
    Radio Used:Futaba 10CG
    Engine Used: DLE 30cc
    Channels Used: 5 total - Aileron (2), Elevator, Throttle, Rudder

    The full-color box looks great and the parts were very well packed and supported. Construction looked excellent and there were many outstanding features, like the fiberglass cowl, struts and landing gear covers. There is also a fiberglass disc included should you decide to cover the forward cockpit for a single-seat version.

    Everything was present and accounted for, so it was on to the build.


    The manual was very well written with clear pictures to guide you through the assembly process. The only thing I found unusual was; while they give you instructions for the Side-Carb version, there was no information for installing the throttle pushrod on the Rear-Carb version of the DLE engine.

    Download the manual


    We start out not unlike any ARFs by attaching the aileron servos to the wing hatches, but on the Waco, they have you install the servo onto the blocks first, and then glue the blocks to the hatch. After the epoxy cures, you add a small screw into each block for good measure.

    There is a string for pulling the servo wires through, and once the hatches are screwed in place, the aileron horn is attached and the pushrod is bent to size and connected with a clevis and Faslink.

    Next a dowel is glued into the leading edge of each lower wing half.

    Each of the 4 wing joiners consist of plywood and aluminum plates which are epoxied together. Once that joint has cured, I glued them into the wing with Epo-Grip #30 paste, but 30-minute epoxy will work here also.


    The same routine is done for the top-wing aileron servos, but the top wing has a center section, so one servo requires a longer extension so they can both exit the same hole near the forward, left cabane.


    The aluminum landing gear with fiberglass covers is really a work of art. After the gear is bolted in place, a fiberglass fairing is glued to the strut only using RC-56. The axles are cut to length and flats are ground for the wheel collars. When the wheels are on, we're done with the gear for now - the spats will come later.


    The two stabs are epoxied onto a set of aluminum tubes. The elevators are already installed, and the two stabs are interchangeable, which made installing them a snap. The control horns were attached and the pushrods connected to the servos.


    A plywood cradle is provided for carrying. At first I thought, "Oh, that's cute", but I wasn't really impressed. However, as I continued through the assembly process, I was amazed at how handy that cradle became!

    The cabane is attached to the fuse with metal brackets and once the cradle is bolted in place, it not only secures the cabane struts, but it also makes for a very stable platform when you flip the fuse up-side down.


    I am using a DLE 30 engine. The installation went exactly as described in the manual, however, the manual shows a side-mounted carb and mine has the carb in the rear. It took a few attempts before I got a throttle pushrod that I was satisfied with. So for those of you who are using this setup, here's how I did it: I started by removing about half of the threads from a piece of pushrod wire and screwing a ball-link socket to it. Immediately after what was left of the threads, I bent the rod almost 180 degrees and placed the pushrod tube on the outside of the plywood engine spacers.

    On the inside, I moved the throttle servo down to where the receiver is supposed to go (You'll have to cut a servo opening in the receiver plate). This gave me a nice, clean installation with a smoothly-moving pushrod.

    The receiver can be mounted forward of its intended location and I mounted the switch in the rear cockpit.

    DLE-30 - A Closer Look

    Convenience and power for quarter scale!

    With the DLE-30, you get the economy of a gas engine in the size of a glow engine. Electronic ignition provides the spark for fast starting. Timing automatically adjusts for peak power throughout the rpm range. And a made-for-flight design ensures the best power-to-weight ratio for performance. A rear-mounted pumper carb ensures easier installs and smooth idling before you fly - and dependable fuel flow while you are flying.

    Displacement: 30.5 cc (1.861 cu in)
    Bore: 1.42 in (36 mm)
    Stroke: 1.18 in (30 mm)
    Weight: 2.4 lb (1.10 kg)
    RPM Range: 1,600-8,500
    Output: 3.7 hp @ 8,500 rpm
    Requires: unleaded gasoline, oil, ignition battery & propeller
    Includes: electronic ignition, muffler, spark plug, gasket, bolts, machined aluminum standoffs, throttle arm extension & mounting template
    Suggested Propellers: 18x8, 18x10, 19x8 & 20x8
    Suggested Break-in Prop: 18x8

    Technical Data:
    Ignition Battery: 4.8-6.0V NiCd or NiMH, 6.6V LiFe or 7.4V LiPo pack (LiPo use requires voltage regulator.)
    Compression Ratio: 7.6:1
    Gas/Oil Mix: 30:1
    Replacement Spark Plug: NGK CM6 (DLEG5510) or equivalent
    Weight Breakdown: Engine: 32.1 oz (910 g); Muffler: 2.1 oz (60 g); Ignition: 4.2 oz (120g)

    Recommended Options:
    FPWP4195 FlightPower® EON-X Lite 7.4V 2100mAh 25C LiPo Pack
    FPWM0290 FlightPower 5A Voltage Regulator (if FPWM4195 is used.)
    HCAM6415 Hobbico LiFeSource? 6.6V 1100mAh 10C LiFe Pack
    HCAM6525 Hobbico LiFeSource 6.6V 1800mAh 10C LiFe Pack
    HCAM6435 Hobbico LiFeSource 6.6V 1100mAh 10C LiFe Pack
    XOAQ1810 Xoar PJA 18x10 Beech Propeller
    XOAQ1908 Xoar PJA 19x8 Beech Propeller
    XOAQ2008 Xoar PJA 20x8 Beech Propeller

    Download the manual in PDF format - Click here

    Reviewer's Notes: I was impressed with the DLE-30 right out of the box. The casting, machining and workmanship were excellent. It includes a muffler, electronic ignition and stand-offs, virtually everything you need (minus prop and battery). It has a straight, 10mm shaft and the prop is held in place with a 4-bolt arrangement. The front plate can be used as a template for drilling the mounting holes in the prop. I used a Xoar 18x8 prop for break-in and after about ten flips (choked) she popped. With the choke off, she fired after about three more flips and ran like a champ. I added about -60% expo to the throttle setting on the transmitter to get a smoother transition and she has been running great ever since!


    The cowl is attached using two hidden plywood rings which need to be fuel-proofed before mounting. So the day before installing them, I gave them a coat of epoxy which was thinned with alcohol. The first ring gets bolted into blind nuts which are pre-installed in the sub cowl (Note: for the DLE-30 you'll need to remove a section of both rings).

    After cutting a cardboard template, a plywood "Cowl Centering Tool" is assembled and bolted to the front of the engine.

    With the muffler removed, the cowl can be put in place and aligned and the template is used to draw the opening you'll need to cut (You'll need to make a small opening first for the cowl to fit over the head).

    When you are satisfied with the fit, the second ring is bolted to the first with a piece of plastic between the rings (I used a piece of MonoKote backing) and glue is applied to the forward ring. The manual says to use 30-minute epoxy mixed with milled fiberglass, but I used Epo-Grip Model matrix - However, it should be noted the Model Matrix has a VERY short working time, and once it starts to set, it hardens very quickly, so I had to work very fast! Once the Model matrix had hardened, I removed the cowl and added more of the glue to the front of the ring.

    Next came the dummy radial. After cutting out a few holes for cooling, you need to drill some 1/8" holes for the pushrod tubes. Once they were installed, I glued them in with RC-56 Canopy Glue.

    Then the dummy engine was placed in the cowl and aligned so it could be glued in place. The addition of a Xoar 18x8 prop really made the "Business End" look complete!


    The finishing details start by adding the wheel pants which are secured to the landing gear with two 4-40 cap screws. The pants have blind nuts pre-installed and, like ALL of the screw-to-metal connections on any gasser, I used Loc-Tite thread locking compound. Remember what I always say, "Use Loc-Tite... or your nuts will fall off!"

    The windshields and fiberglass turtle deck are added using RC-56 and the instrument panels are assembled and glued into the cockpits.

    Next, the belly pan and wing fillets are also secured with RC-56. Be sure that the belly pan fits over the plywood wing bolt doubler. In fact, I was able to fit the doubler inside the inner flange and used it as a clamp to hold the pan in place while the glue dried.

    I connected a "Y" cord to channel 6 and slaved it to the ailerons then, as per the manual, routed it through the holes in the fuse and secured it to the left cabane with the supplied nylon ties. Now the top wing and the "N" struts can be added.


    I originally installed the "N" struts as per the manual, but as I did, a few thought came to mind. First, I should tell you that I HATE field setup and breakdown, and the thought of having to install and remove twelve, tiny bolts every time I fly wasn't very appealing to me (not to mention the chance of losing said bolts and/or nuts and washers).

    That said, their method of the bolt orientation didn't sit well with me. In their version, the sockets are on the acute side of the angle between the strut and the wing, forcing you to approach the screw at an angle with a ball-end driver. Plus, you will need a pair of long-nose pliers to hold the locknut. So I did a little reconfiguring.

    In my method, I reversed the direction of the bolts in the "N" struts so that I could insert the hex driver straight into the cap screws. Then I used JB Weld to hold the locknuts to the struts. On the cabane, the nuts were glued to the metal brackets. Now I only need one tool, the screws are easier to reach and field setup is a little less frustrating!

    The maiden flight took place in mid-April, which for Minnesota is late winter. The snow had only been gone for about a week or two and there were still some signs of it where the larger piles had been. With the spring thaw at hand our field was a soggy mess, so I decided to take the Waco out to our "auxiliary field" which is an abandoned airport. After spending a little time with our weed-whackers, my buddy Geoff and I had cleared a good portion of the vegetation that had sprung up through the cracks in the no-longer-maintained runway.

    The DLE-30 had had only one tank of fuel through it, but this engine is so strong that a good break-in period really won't be needed to power this plane. So with no further ado, we cranked her up and sent her down the runway.

    I don't usually use less than full power on take off, but since the Waco had plenty to spare I thought that holding back a bit was at least worth considering. Since we had more than enough runway, I decided to do a half-power taxi run and be prepared to either fly or abort depending on what the plane did.

    It really came as no surprise when she lifted gracefully into the air in a very scale-like manner. I held the power at half and entered a broad, left turn. "A real pussy-cat" I thought as I leveled her off on the back side of the pattern. Any trim adjustments were minor and after her first pass, she was flying "hands-off".

    Ok, now it's time to crank it up. I pushed the throttle forward and she responded with authority! Wow! I started yankin' an' bankin' and doing some serious "stick wiggling" and the Waco followed my every move. She doesn't give you the immediate response you might expect from one of the modern aerobats, but neither is she supposed to. This is a classic biplane of the "Golden Era" of aviation - one that was so popular that many full-scale versions are still being built, and with good reason!

    About then, Geoff leaned over and said, "You should see the smile on your face!" I said, "Hell yea I'm smilin' - I'm having FUN!" Although I had flown a few times down in Florida this past winter, this was my first flight of the season in my home territory! Combine that with the fact that I was flying such a sweet airplane and I was in heaven!

    Ok, enough of this for now I thought, let's see how it lands. I powered down on the back leg and brought her into a graceful sweep to the left. I stayed high intentionally so as I approached the final heading, I cross-controlled the rudder to side-slip it down a bit. Sweet! She side-slips like a champ!

    With the maiden flight under my belt, I decided to crank up the throws a bit and add some expo to compensate. Subsequent flights were even better as the plane and I got more comfortable with each other.

    And on a final note, when it came time to pack up and go home, I was REALLY glad that I had modified the wing attachment. I simply removed the 12 bolts, replaced eight of them into the struts and used the other four to replace the carrying handle. So, aside from a screwdriver to remove the two nylon bolts that hold the bottom wing to the fuse, there was only one tool needed and the disassembly was done in a matter of minutes.

    Check out the video to see her in action!

    Great Planes Waco YMF-5D
    Or, Download the Video (24meg)

    Awesome! The Great Planes Waco YMF-5D is designed and engineered beautifully and the construction is some of the best I've seen. Combine that with great looks and outstanding flight characteristics and I can honestly say that this is one of the best ARFs I've ever seen. And I LOVE the way it flies!

    While it is not a true-to-scale airplane, it is close enough that it would make an excellent platform for anyone who wants to spend a little time to really "scale it out".

    The DLE-30 is more power than the Waco needs, but it doesn't really over power it either. More likely, it gives you that extra "oomph" if you need it. And the wing loading is so light that she can handle some payload of you so desire (I'm thinking of a smoke system myself).

    My hangar space is at a premium right now, but I will be making room for the Waco - This one is definitely a keeper!

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Futaba Corporation of America
    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com

    DLE Engines (DLE)
    3002 N. Apollo Drive, Suite 1
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Website: www.dle-engines.com

    Everything For The R/C Hobbyist
    Phone: 1-800-848-9411
    Website: www.dubro.com

    Epo-Grip Adhesives
    Distributed through Newton Supply Company Inc.
    13953 SW 140 Street
    Miami FL 33186
    Phone: 305-235-6503 1-800-888-2467
    Website: www.epogrip.com

    XOAR Propellers
    Distributed through Bob's Hobby Centre
    540 N. Goldenrod Road
    Orlando, Florida, 32807 Phone: 1-407-277-1248
    Email: derjager@msn.com
    Website: www.xoarprops.com

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Waco YMF-5D

    Posted by: Kmot on 07/31/2011
    Pic links are dead Mike.
    Posted by: funcubjay on 08/01/2011
    Nice review the waco is one of my favorite plane :)
    Posted by: airboss45 on 08/01/2011
    day job is keeping me from finishing my Waco ARF build. oh well maybe by october.
    Posted by: Kmot on 08/01/2011
    Glad the pic links are working now, thanks. Sure would have liked to see Hobbico supply you with the new 7-cylinder OS radial for this airplane! :)
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 08/01/2011
    Yea, I would have liked to see that too! :-)
    Posted by: Lifer on 08/03/2011
    Try a 20x6 on your DLE 30. Works great on my H-9 T-Craft. Thanks for the review!
    Posted by: lorenzofgrs on 08/08/2011
    fly this Waco with a saito radial 180 and feel the difference
    Posted by: aframe2 on 08/10/2011
    If you plan on using the adaptor on the DLE30 for a one hole prop, does it change the position of the cowl?
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 08/10/2011
    You would have to check the length of the engine before and after and adjust if needed
    Posted by: radcon56 on 08/26/2011
    Nice job on the waco mike. It looked like you could have used an iron on the covering before starting assembly but it still looks outstanding. Thanks for taking the time to put this all together and share it with all of us.
    Page: 1 2 >
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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