I have been flying RC aircraft for over twenty years now, but there are manufacturers, still in business, that make my twenty years look like a short span. SIG Mfg. is one of those companies. From their humble beginning in 1951, Sig has grown into a large, US-based company, covering a huge portion of our hobby!
Most of their products are made here, with a few of them out-sourced. Though the newest ARF planes are manufactured overseas, they are held to the very high SIG standards.
While attending the Toledo Expo this year, I got my first look at the latest offerings from SIG, and I was really impressed! I saw the planes and a couple of representatives (Mike and Mike) at WATTS over Owatonna, in July, and we got to talking about the new lineup. At this point, the Mikes decided to have me review a couple of their new planes, and I jumped at the opportunity to do so!
Now, if you're more than an absolute beginner to RC, you've heard of the famous 4-Stars. They've been around forever, and it seems that almost everyone has had AT LEAST one of their own. SIG has re-introduced the 4-Stars with some very nice updates! The 4-Star 40 has become the new 4-Star 54, and the 4-Star 60 is now a 4-Star 64. The 54 and 64 represent their respective wingspans, which have both been 'clipped'. This review will cover SIG's new 4-Star 54.
Price: $169.99 (Price at Review Publishing Date) Stock Number: SIGRC44EGARFY (Yellow) Stock Number: SIGRC44EGARFR (Red) Wingspan: 54" (1372mm) Wing Area: 585 in² (37.7 dm²) Weight: 5-5.5 lbs. (2268-2495 g) Length: 47.5" 1206mm) Center of Gravity (CG): 2-3/4 - 3-1/2" (70-89mm) from the leading edge where wing meets the fuselage Radio Used:Tactic TTX650 Receiver Used:Tactic TR624 Battery Used:TrueRC 14.8V 4000mAh LiPo
Channels Used: 4 total - Elevator, Aileron, Throttle and Rudder
Control Throws: LOW (Per Manual)
Elevator, up/down: 5/8" - 15-50% Expo
Ailerons, up/down: 5/8" - 15-50% Expo
Rudder, right/left: 3/4" - 15-40% Expo
Control Throws: HIGH (Per Manual)
Elevator, up/down: 1" - 50-70% Expo
Ailerons, up/down: 7/8" - 50-70% Expo
Rudder, right/left: 11/2" - 50% Expo
Items Needed To Complete:
4 Channel Radio (minimum) and Receiver
4 Standard Servos
3S-4S 3000-5000 mAh LiPo Battery and LiPo Charger
500-800 Watt Brushless Outrunner Motor (800-1000 kV)
50-75 Amp ESC
Thread Locking Compound, CA, and Epoxy
Various Shop Tools
.40-.46 2-Stroke or .40-.54 4-Stroke glow engine
4 Channel Radio (minimum) and Receiver
5 Standard Servos
Thread Locking Compound, CA, and Epoxy
Various Shop Tools
Glow Engine Field Equipment
The 4-Star 54 comes in a very nicely adorned box, with a TON of information and brightly colored pictures. Inside, I found that all the pieces were individually bagged and taped together, to prevent the parts from sliding around during shipping. Upon inspection, I found no damaged pieces, and everything looked great! All of the major building is done, so I suspect a couple of lazy evenings will have this plane assembled.
There are a lot of great features on this re-designed plane. The 4-Star 54 gets its name from the wingspan - it has been clipped by one bay on each wing panel (something many owners of the original kits have done to make the plane more spirited), giving it a span of 54 ". Even better, I found that the wing is a two-piece design, with a stout, aluminum wing tube to carry the load!
SIG has added a large battery/fuel tank hatch to the forward fuselage section - this makes battery changes or fuel tank installation a breeze! The large hatch is held in place by a tab at the front and two strong magnets at the rear.
Another really nice feature is that almost all of the decals are pre-applied.
SIG has also included a very nice fiberglass, pre-painted cowl. The paint matches the covering perfectly, I might add! One of the new design changes incorporates a 'cut-down' canopy - another modification many 4-Star 40 owners made. In addition to the fiberglass cowl, there's a pair of beautifully crafted, fiberglass wheel pants and aluminum landing gear. The tail wheel assembly is already put together, and is of very high quality as well.
I really like this pilot figure - he has a certain vintage look, and is really cool! It appears that a lot of time and effort has gone into painting the pilot at the factory. The 4-Star 54 comes with parts for both glow engine AND electric power options, opening the plane up to a variety of pilots! I will be 'electrifying' my review plane.
SIG has always had great manuals, and the 4-Star manual is no different. The illustrations are clear and concise, and the written instructions are VERY informative, leaving nothing to question!
Assembly began with the wing. After attaching an extension to the servo, the manual stated to hold the wing upright and drop the extension through the wing rib holes. While this is an effective method, I used an old piece of flexible (braided wire) pushrod with a hook bent into one end. I fished it through the ribs, from the open end of the wing, and 'hooked' the end of the extension, and pulled it through.
The servo was then mounted, followed by inserting the five CA hinges in the wing and aileron.
After applying thin CA to each side of the five hinges, I installed the aileron control horn. The pushrod was assembled next and, with the servo centered, marked for the bend.
After bending the pushrod at a 90-degree angle (at the mark made in the previous step), I installed the snap-keeper and cut off the excess rod. The pushrod was then installed and adjusted, to properly align the aileron with the wing.
The servo extension was then pulled through the small, round hole in the top of the wing, followed by sliding both completed wing halves onto the aluminum tube. That's it - the wing is done!
Main Landing Gear
Main landing gear assembly was the next task, and could not have been easier - well, unless it was done at the factory. The two axles were installed on the aluminum gear, paying close attention to the axle nuts. The nuts MUST be tightened so that two of the sides are parallel to the gear.
Editor's Note: It is a good idea to use thread locking compound on all metal-to-metal connections - especially where there may be high stress, such as the landing gear.
Second Editor's Note: I found it rather difficult to accurately measure the 1/8" space between the outer axle nut and the wheel collar, so I used a 1/8" drill bit as a spacer - the drill bit made setting the correct 'gap' easy!
The wheel pants were then attached with a pair of machine screws, and the gear assembly was installed on the fuselage (again, using thread locking compound).
Moving on to the tail, I started by making sure the stabilizer and wing were parallel. After measuring and pinning the stab place, I traced the center slot in the stabilizer. That made it easy to get it back in place once the epoxy had been mixed and applied. I mixed up a healthy-sized batch of Z-poxy, and secured the horizontal and vertical stabilizers at the same time. When everything was in place, I used masking tape to hold their respective positions while the epoxy cured.
The elevator and rudder were installed using the same hinging method as the ailerons.
Tail Wheel Installation
The tail wheel assembly was attached next, and was secured to the bottom of the fuselage using two wood screws. I first ran each screw into its hole, removed them, and added a couple of drops of thin CA to each hole - this hardened the wood and will help the screws stay in place. The steering clasp was then slid onto the tiller arm, and secured with a small machine screw and nut.
Elevator and Rudder Servo and Pushrod Installation
Next, I installed the rudder and elevator control horns - I must say that I was pleased that the pre-drilled holes (in the rudder and elevator) lined up perfectly with the three holes in each of the control horns! The elevator and rudder servos were then installed in the fuselage, and the pushrods were assembled and installed in the same manner as per the aileron pushrods - these two are just a little longer.
Using a piece of adhesive-backed hook-n-loop tape, I secured the receiver to the inside of the fuselage, where it would not interfere with either of the servos.
Motor and ESC, and Cowl Installation
Moving on to the business end, I started by marking and drilling the four holes for the motor mount, followed by installing the blind nuts. I then attached the motor mount to the firewall using the included bolts and pre-installed firewall blind nuts.
After determining the correct location of the adjustable motor mount, I epoxied the sliding section of the mount in place, added small pieces of the included tri-stock to the motor mount, and installed my 3548 1100kV brushless motor.
The 70Amp ESC was attached to the underside of the battery tray, and two strips of the 'hook' side of the included hook-n-loop tape were applied to the top of the battery tray. I always apply the loop, or 'fuzzy' side of the hook-n-loop tape to my batteries - this way, any of my batteries can be used in any of my planes. I then cut the additional cooling vent into the bottom of the cowl using my rotary tool and the guidelines provided in the manual.
The cowl was then slid into place, and I installed the prop and spinner back-plate - this allowed me to get the proper spacing when I marked the fuselage sides using the pre-drilled holes in the cowl. With the cowl attached, I installed the rest of the spinner.
Per the instructions, I removed a small section of the covering at the bottom of the fuselage, near the tail. This was done to help with airflow through the fuse to prevent motor, battery and ESC over-heating. Although not shown, I also removed the small, pre-cut oval section of the firewall, to provide an inlet for air into the fuselage.
The battery straps were added next, and finally the battery.
Time to finish the 4-Star! After tracing around the pilot figure, I cut and removed the covering to expose the wood. The pilot was then secured using epoxy - to gain a little more surface area , I drilled a few extra holes in the bottom of the pilot - this ensured that the epoxy would 'flow' into the holes and keep him in place. I then glued the canopy in place using Formula '560' canopy glue. I really like using it, because it goes on white, dries clear, and cleans up easily with a little water.
That's it! Assembly is complete. Let's head to the field with my trusty Tactic TTX 650 transmitter and a 4S 4000mAh LiPo from True RC!
TrueRC Inc. is an importer and distributor of rechargeable li-polymer batteries. They specialize in building battery packs for radio controlled models for hobby, commercial, research and military applications. TrueRC was started in 2004 in hopes of providing li-polymer batteries to hobbyists everywhere at affordable prices. Since then, their company has become one of the trusted names in the industry. Their goal is to keep li-polymer packs affordable, with main focus on Quality and Safety.
As luck would have it, the night chosen for the maiden flight was nearly perfect! Though the days were getting shorter in late-August in Minnesota, there was just enough light left to get some great pictures and video. After a quick range check and double check of the control surfaces, I taxied the 4-Star down to the end of the runway. I was very pleased with the ground control provided by the steerable tail wheel!
I started pushing the throttle stick forward, and got ready for any needed steering corrections - to my surprise, the 4-Star tracked very nicely with very little control input! The plane left the ground easily and headed upwards at approximately 2/3 throttle.
After reaching a safe altitude, I adjusted the trim for straight and level flight. Three clicks of left aileron and two clicks of up elevator had the 4-Star tracking through the sky very nicely. I flew the plane at wide open throttle, and as slow as I dared, and the trims were spot-on with no changes needed!
Time for some aerobatics! If you can think of it, most likely the 4-Star can do it - everything I tried was done easily, though the CG was a little too forward for a good flat spin. On the third flight, I moved the battery back a bit and the plane felt much snappier! Unfortunately, it was too dark, at that point, to catch a good spin on video.
For the first flight, I set the timer on my transmitter for 6 minutes - when the timer started beeping, I made my final turn and guided the plane down to the runway. "That was too easy", I though as the plane touched down, so I went around and tried a second landing. Again, the plane settled into a nice glide and just came down - almost no correction was needed, and just a momentary 'blip' of throttle was added right before touch-down. I am pleased to say that this plane has NO bad habits, and it's a lot of fun to fly!
Time to wrap it up: Sig has re-introduced the 4-Star. The new and improved version assembles easily, looks great, and flies very true! I do believe that my 4-Star will be going to the field a lot - well at least until the runway is covered by a foot of snow. . . But, hey, there's always next year!
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401-7 South Front Street
Montezuma, IA 50171-0520
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.