The World Models Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
23-24, 10/F, Kowloon Bay Industrial Centre,
15 Wang Hoi Road, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2707 9783 www.theworldmodels.com
The World Models 50CC Commander is a Giant Scale sized Practice Pattern / Sport Aerobatic Airplane, designed by Fai Chan and the World Models engineering team. It's primarily designed for sport aerobatics and 'Pattern Training'. The reason for the 'Training' Moniker: there currently are no AMA sanctioned events which allow this size airplane and which has no full scale counterpart. Nonetheless it is a very capable and FUN aerobatic airplane with superb handling characteristics and quite neutral stability. This airplane goes where you point it and keeps going there until you point it elsewhere.
The Commander is a well thought out and purposeful design with very few missed opportunities. The Commander goes together very quickly, has no bad habits (that I could find) and promises to become a favorite at the local Flying field.
Top quality balsa and plywood construction
Covered with genuine ToughLon and LighTex coverings
Wingspan: 85 in / 2160 mm Wing Area: 1319 sq in / 85.1 sq dm Length: 87.5 in / 2220 mm Flying Weight: 18.7 lb / 8500 g Engine Required: 50cc gasoline engine Radio Required: 4-channel radio w/ 6 high torque (140 In/Oz) servos Radio Used: Spektrum DX8 Channels Used: 4 Total - Elevator, Ailerons, Throttle, and Rudder
Items Needed To Complete:
50CC Gasoline Engine
4-channel radio w/ 6 high torque (140 In/Oz) servos
(2) 24 Inch Servo Extensions
(2) 48 Inch Servo Extensions
My Commander had been shipped from ABModel's facility in California, and took less than 5 days to arrive. I was immediately thankful for the heavy duty double boxes, as my UPS driver isn't always delicate. There were three boxes in total, and two of them looked as if they had been airdropped sans parachute. Thankfully after opening the sturdy outer boxes, I found three inner boxes which were absolutely pristine with colorful photos and general information about the Commander. One box contained only the wings and horizontal stabilizers, one contained the fuselage and the third smaller box contained all the other parts, hardware, manual, decal sheet etc. After a quick inventory I was relived to find every item accounted for and in perfect condition. The covering was as close to perfection as I've seen. There were very few noticeable wrinkles in the covering and after the airplane had sat for a couple of days no new ones appeared. The Hardware was also better than I expected. Normally with an airplane of this size I expect that I'll need to replace most (if not all) of the hardware. With the Commander there was no need. Even the spinner was of high quality, Carbon fiber with an aluminum backplate. Real live PNEUMATIC TIRES! Carbon Fiber Landing gear... Wow.
The Assembly Manual was adequate, in typical fashion for this type ARF there were very few printed words but rather there were photos, diagrams and various icons indicating what to do when. It was accurate and complete, although the lack of any descriptions led me to scratch my head once or twice during the assembly process. Personally I don't mind scratching my head, banging it against the wall however is not my idea of a good time. I was glad that there was no head banging as the assembly progressed.
Another good point about the manual, The World Models keeps them up to date and downloadable from their website.
The assembly process was fairly straightforward. One of the first things I noticed was the high quality hardware. The Commander is not an inexpensive airplane, but considering the old adage 'you get what you pay for', in terms of quality and VALUE, the Commander will not disappoint. Nowhere did I feel the need to replace hardware. Small details like quality clevises, nuts, bolts even the (pre-assembled) tailwheel assembly were top-notch. I found the nylon clevises are much easier to work with if you first run a 3MM screw through each clevis. Another thing I've discovered over the years specifically regarding gasoline powered airplanes: Thread Locker. Absolutely EVERY nut, bolt and screw, must be secured in some manner. Most of the fasteners on the commander are of the Nylon Insert 'self-locking' type, however this type fastener isn't always feasible. For all metal to metal joints, use threadlocker.
Assembly begins with hinging the primary flight controls. After I had looked over the assembly manual I realized there was no reason not to hinge all the flight surfaces at once. The hinges are a typical bayonette style, but they have an additional 'half moon' of material that gives the hinge a bigger surface on which to apply glue. The included servo arm extensions are also a very nice method of ensuring that regardless of the brand servo you use you'll get the correct amount of surface deflection and will have the smoothness of ball bearings to attach to the pushrod clevises.
I did deviate slightly from the instructions while attaching the servo arm extensions: I installed the screws from the bottom with the nuts on top. This ensures that the screws will not interfere with the servo body, and makes it much more obvious in the (unlikely, ASSUMING you used THREADLOCKER) event a nut falls off. The aileron servos are a pretty standard install, first drill pilot holes in the servo tray/hatch, install the servo and attach the hatch with 4 wood screws each. I found that each aileron requires a 24" extension, while the elevators used a 48" extension for each servo. I should also point out that on the elevator servo's, it's easiest to first install the servo, THEN add the control arm to the servo, remembering to use threadlocker on the screw that secures the servo arm. For the ailerons, first install the control arm, then install and tighten the servo to the servo tray.
Next up are the control horns on the flight surfaces. They are also of very high quality, including ball bearings. I found the mounting holes to all be perfectly straight and sized exactly right, making installation a breeze. Included are also some small aerodynamic fairings which cover up the bolt head and nut. I'm not sure how many knots of airspeed you'll gain by using them, but they certainly make the installation look neat and professional with only a few minutes spent installing them.
The ailerons and elevators use the same type of pushrods: very short carbon fiber rods with 3mm diameter threaded portions on either end. Their short length is such that flexing of any kind is virtually eliminated. You must however be careful not to grip the carbon too tightly with any sort of tool. (This is where you'll appreciate threading a bolt through the clevis first)
Once the elevators, ailerons and rudder have been hinged, the servo arms, control horns and the aileron and elevator pushrods assembled and installed, I moved onto installing the removable horizontal stabilizers. This was the single step where the manual ALMOST led me astray. The stabilizer halves are attached with two spars, one acting as a proper structural spar and one acting as an anti-rotation device. A single sheet metal screw is supplied to prevent the stab from migrating outboard. Somehow I managed to get the nutty idea that the sheet metal screw should go into the stabilizer at an angle. (I promise, no glue fumes were present!) After I had realized my mistake I emailed ABmodels to confirm. Yup, I blew it. In hindsight it was pretty obvious that all I needed to do was to drill a (vertical!) pilot hole through the stab and into the carbon tube. On further inspection, I discovered that the hole was already drilled in the stab. It seems there is always something I miss, I was happy that my mistake caused nothing more than a blemish in the covering.
Since I had hinged the rudder at the same time as the other flight surfaces, all that was left was to epoxy the vertical fin/rudder assembly to the fuselage. I was happy to see that the wings, horizontal and vertical stabilizers all aligned perfectly without any adjustment.
Now it was time to install the rudder's pull pull system. Here is an area where a little patience and forward thinking pays big dividends down the road. I've had several airplanes over the years that used pull pull cables for the rudder and have been very happy with their performance and long term durability. It's imperative that the cables are installed correctly the first time. I used a simple ball chain you might find on a bare light bulb fixture. Tie the chain to the end of a piece of kite string, and thread it into the rudder cable exit hole. You can then tie or tape the end of one pull pull cable to the other end of the string. Stand the airframe on its firewall and carefully push the weighted string through the hole. Repeat for the other rudder cable then attach the cable to the rudder's control horn by crimping the supplied brass tubing in standard fashion. REMEMBER TO RUN THE CABLE THROUGH THE CLEVIS before crimping.
After the cables are crimped at the rudder control horn end, you can install the rudder servo and control arm, then attach and crimp the servo ends of the pull pull cables. As long as you remember to first run the cables through the fuselage, THEN cut the cables to size and crimp (measure three times, cut once!) you'll end up with a very robust rudder control system.
With the major assemblies completed, it was time to move on to the landing gear. The landing gear itself is very well made, constructed of Carbon fiber and very nicely finished. I did find it easiest to first fully inflate the tires with the included 'needle type' air fitting. It's the same sort of device you'd use to inflate a football. The needle that came with my kit had an extra hole in its side. After confirming I didn't get a bad one (I didn't) I used a piece of tape to cover the extra hole, and inflated the tire with a bicycle pump.
After assembling and disassembling the tire and wheel pants a few times I worked out the easiest sequence: Assemble the axle, wheel pant bracket and inner wheel collar first then add the wheel pant loosely. Add the wheel and outer wheel collar, then tighten the wheel pant. Finish by securely tightening the wheel collars. Threadlocker is used everywhere except the (self locking) nut securing the axle to the carbon landing gear. Once you're happy with the wheel and wheel pant assembly, screw the Carbon landing gear legs to the fuselage with the included screws and (of course) threadlocker.
The steerable, shock absorbing tailwheel installation was quick and simple too, sturdy and rugged. After mounting the tailwheel and its control assembly the Commander was ready to stand on its own feet!
Next up: Fuel tank assembly and engine mounting. The fuel tank and hardware is of very high quality, fits perfectly and does its job well. I went with a three line system, only because I had a pile of spare 'clunks' but not one single 'T' fitting. One line goes from the clunk line directly to the engine's carburetor, one line which also has a clunk is used strictly for fueling and defueling and the third is the vent. I looped both the vent and refuel lines to prevent inflight siphoning and ran the respective lines out through the firewall and cowl.
With the tank mounted I checked the length of my DLE-55 with its standoffs attached and discovered its length was a perfect fit for the Commander. The Firewall has two vertical lines scribed into it. Remembering that the aircraft has right thrust built into the firewall I realized why there are two lines: The one on the RIGHT (when viewed as if you are sitting in the cockpit) is the firewall's physical centerline, the one on the LEFT (again when viewed from inside the airplane) is where you actually center the Engine. The result is that the spinner lines up exactly where it should for a perfect Spinner / cowl alignment. I made my own paper mounting template with centerlines, taped it to the firewall aligning its centerlines and carefully drilled the 4 holes. I wouldn't know for sure until after mounting the cowl, but the engine alignment was absolutely perfect.
Now it was time to work out the minor but important details: Mounting the ignition module, ignition battery and ignition (cutoff) switch. For these tasks I use hook and loop fastener securely screwed and glued to the firewall. I want these items to be easily removable, but ONLY when I want to remove them. Not much will ruin a good flying day quicker than an ignition module or battery that decides to bail out during flight. I chose to keep all the wiring forward of the firewall, making it unlikely to get the ignition wiring anywhere near any wiring required for the radio. This method does cause the switch to be mounted on the engine cowling, so make sure the wires on the switch have the appropriate connectors. The first time you need to remove the cowling you'll be happy you spent the extra 3 minutes getting the ignition wiring right.
The Commander is ready to accept Canister type mufflers, (both front and rear exiting) and Tuned Pipes. You could probably use a Pitts type muffler, but you'd need to cut some big holes in the cowling, and of course this would leave a big open spot in the bottom of the fuselage. I went with a flexible header and forward exiting canister type muffler. Because the installation sequence will likely vary based on the type muffler used, the instructions don't specify the sequence. The muffler mounting system is very robust and relatively straightforward, but patience and a little trial and error go a long way. The only issue I had was that due to the vibration cancelling shock mounts' design, I was not able to get any tool on the nut securing the muffler's clamp. As a result, I had to tighten the clamp on the muffler before mounting the muffler itself. This issue did not cause me any trouble down the road, but it's a good thing to know before assembling (and threadlocking) everything. Once I had the clamp tightened to the muffler, everything else fell into place.
I found the following sequence to work best: First lay out the entire muffler system next to the fuselage, to get an idea where the 2 clamps will be located. (There are several possible mounting points; depending on the length of the muffler used you may not use them all) Next mark the position of the forward (header) clamp's holes on the lower forward fuselage. Then working from back to front secure the muffler clamp to the muffler, mount the muffler clamp to the fuselage, connect the muffler to the header, tighten the header clamp and finally secure the header to the engine exhaust. Whew! That sounds a lot more complicated than it is. More importantly, once the installation was complete I have had no need to touch it again except to check occasionally for looseness. It's remained rock solid since.
With the Engine and Muffler installation complete, it was time to begin on the cowling. The Commander comes with clear plastic templates which you can use to finalize what holes need to be cut into the cowling itself. The cowling of course was constructed of heavy duty fiberglass, beautifully finished and pre-drilled. I was happy to see that the only real cut I would need to make would be to clear the header. Had I installed a rear exhaust DLE-55, I would not have needed to cut the cowling at all. Once I had the size and location finalized I laid the clear template over the cowl, cut the hole and installed the cowl. The little rubber grommets work very well for preventing the cowl screws from becoming loose, and to protect the fiberglass and prevent the mounting holes from wear. The upper and lower cowlings are held together with 4 plastic 'rivets'. I was worried at first that the rivets might not be up to the task, but those worries were completely unfounded. The little rivets have held up very nicely and do make removing the lower cowling quick and easy.
The final 'under the hood' tasks are at hand! The only items remaining were the throttle servo and pushrod, and the choke. It's a well-known convention that the throttle linkage on a gas / ignition engine must not be electrically conductive. I'm not an electrical engineer but I have been flying gas engines with ignition for a couple of decades. Since the entire ignition system was completely forward of the firewall, I used the included metal pushrod for the throttle linkage, but used a heavy duty plastic clevis to attach to the throttle arm. The system worked out perfectly: I did a range check with the engine running and noticed no abnormal servo movement. After getting a couple dozen flights on the airplane, the pushrod has not caused any noticeable interference. I installed a manual pushrod for the choke, which exits the cowling air intake on the left side of the engine. Finally I added the Propeller and Carbon Fiber Spinner.
The Prop (a Falcon 23X8 Beech wood) was furnished by Steve Thomas of Falcon Propellers and Bob's Hobby Center in Orlando Florida. Falcon is an up and coming brand, I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them at the field in the coming months. When combined with the carbon fiber spinner, the front end of my Commander is a thing of beauty!
The final assembly steps are now upon us! I used a pin to gently poke some holes in the covering around the area where the Plastic canopy meets the hatch structure. I taped the canopy loosely in place to prevent movement and added some 20 minute epoxy with a toothpick along the seam. After an hour I removed the tape. Done.
The last assembly step was to mount the wing incidence adjusters. What a great idea these little gadgets are. They allow you not only to exactly match the wings incidence relative to each other, they also allow you to 'tweak' the incidence to your own personal preferences. Let's face it, not everyone needs perfect down lines. Some folks prefer to adjust the wing's incidence to reduce rudder/elevator coupling during knife edge. Some guys even prefer some positive incidence to allow a more nose-high landing approach attitude. Whatever your preference is, you can adjust the wing incidence to your liking. They seem to work well, and are simple to use. They install with four screws each, making sure to install them with the adjusting screw facing UP (otherwise you won't be able to get a hex wrench on them to adjust) and that's it.
Each aileron servos requires a 24" extension to reach the receiver, while each elevator requires a 48" extansion. The commander has pre-installed string to help pull the extensions through the structure. I did not require any other servo extensions for any other servo. Reciever and switch installation was pretty much a non event. Fastened with hook and loop, I prefer a simple wire attached to the switch, routed through a tiny hole in the fuselage side.
The wings attach with a carbon tube, but they have a pretty ingenious device to prevent the wings from migrating off the carbon tube. The tube has an elongated slot near each end. To Install the wings, put the carbon tube through the fuselage and remove the small hatch cover on the top of each wing. Slide the wing onto the tube and rotate the tube until you can see the slot. The 'self-tightening wing latch' is inserted through the slot, and has a spring that attaches to a pre-installed screw under the hatch, preventing the latch from coming loose in flight. Snap the hatch cover back onto the wing, and repeat for the other side. Solid: no muss and no fuss.
This was my first 'big' airplane in a couple of years, so when the weather broke (FINALLY) here in Minnesota, I was more than ready to wring this big ol' girl out. The Commander didn't disappoint me. My Flying buddy Geoff and I headed out to the field one evening, conditions were perfect, no wind, not too hot, not too chilly. After field assembly, we pumped some gas into the tank, and got ready to fire it up. The DLE-55 had run perfectly at home. Of course with a ton of onlookers, video cameras etc the Motor got a case of stage fright. Suuure it did. What REALLY happened was in my haste to make sure fuel would not syphon out through the filler (a concern which existed purely in my head) I blew the fuel back through the tube HARD. Then choked the engine and flipped the prop several times. Without realizing it I had badly flooded the engine. Fortunately it didn't take long for me to realize my own error, fess up, fix it and move on. Sure enough I removed the spark plug and a shot glass of gasoline came pouring out. Mystery solved, we put everything back together. Ignition: 'ON' CLEAR! The DLE-55 fired on the second flip. AHHHH... the sound of a big gas engine has an effect on me...
After letting the Engine warm up for a minute, I taxied the Commander to the end of the runway for a last minute photo op. Flight controls were checked and double checked.
I smoothly advanced the throttle to just over half; the Commander lifted off effortlessly and climbed gracefully. Three clicks of left aileron and one click down was all it took. After a couple minutes of Flyby's for the camera I was starting to feel like a kid again. I grew up flying old school 'Ballistic' pattern and the Commander felt like an old friend. A GOOD old friend. It reacted as if it knew what I was thinking, knew what I wanted from it, and certainly knew how to do it. Point rolls were as effortless as I've ever known. BIG round loops where the airplane didn't think of falling out. Long vertical lines. MMMM 'how the heck do I get this thing out of second gear?' I thought, realizing I still hadn't brought the throttle past half. I was as pleased with this airplane as I had ever been with any 'classic' pattern airplane and then some. None of those 60 sized glow fuel airplanes in the 60's and 70's had anything near the sort of power to weight ratio that the Commander has. We may complain (rightly so) about the cost of the gasoline we put in our cars, but for a model airplane 5 bucks a gallon beats the dickens out of 25 dollars a gallon! The DLE-55's flawless performance combined with the 23X8 Falcon Propeller makes for an incredible power plant, capable of pulling this 18 pound airframe vertical to the limits of your eyesight, radio equipment, or legal airspace, whichever comes first. After tossing the Commander around the sky for a few more minutes, it was time to bring it back home. I shot a couple practice approaches to give my mind's eye something to work with then flew the standard left hand pattern, reducing the throttle on the downwind leg. Turning to base I reduced the throttle further and the commander settled into a rock solid glide right where it should be. Everything looked right: speed, altitude, heading and attitude were all spot on target. The Commander crossed the (imaginary) runway threshold and as I brought the throttle to full idle it squeaked in on the mains and slowed to a halt in very short order. Wheel pants on a grass runway? NO PROBLEM! After a few more flights I was more than comfortable landing the Commander on our field's (Short) Fabric Textile Runway. The grass at our field isn't a golf green, but it's not a hayfield either. I've had issues with .40 or .60 sized airplanes with retracts or wheel pants in this grass, but the Commander's large diameter wheels, wheel pants and extra sturdy Carbon Landing gear makes takeoff and landing literally a breeze.
For this review, Geoff and I shot two videos: the first one below is the actual MAIDEN FLIGHT. Check it out!
The last thing on my list for this review: seeing how the Commander handles the F3A Sportsman sequence. Once again the Commander proved itself more than capable. It flew the pattern smooth and steady, like it was on rails. Even at slow speeds the Commander felt rock solid. Setting up for Landing, again the Commander felt like it knew what I was thinking. A nice smooth approach and the Commander gently touched down and rolled to a stop. Wow. I don't remember the last time I had this much fun! Check video #2 for the Commander flying the 2013 F3A Sportsman Sequence.
Check out the video to see the 50CC Commander's Maiden Flight!
Check the video below for the Commander flying the 2013 F3A Sportsman Sequence.
The World Models 50CC Commander
If you're in the market for a FUN, larger than normal sized airplane that's capable of ANY precision aerobatic maneuver, or if you're a sport flier with a big field looking for something a little different, The 50CC Commander is sure to fit the bill!
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.