When you think of the Reno Air races, what images come to mind? Super Corsairs and Mustangs? Well, you're right! These two are the first ones I thought of as well. But there are other classes of racing at Reno, such as the sport class. There are many different planes that race in the sport class. These are smaller, lighter planes, but they can produce the same great thrill during a heat as the 'big guys'.
So why am I writing about Reno in an RCUniverse review? Well, I'm introducing you to one of the planes of the sport class - the Radial Rocket. Sporting the only 'round' engine in its class, the Radial Rocket has a sound all its own!
One of the many new planes from Seagull Models in 2015 is the Radial Rocket 10cc ARF. Seagull has captured the look of this modern aircraft, and put it together as an ARF for all intermediate and experienced pilots to enjoy. A few short evenings of assembly should have this round bodied plane looking as good as the original!
This is the first in a series of Seagull aircraft that I will be reviewing for RCUniverse. Like the rest of the models that will be coming in the next few months, I received my Radial Rocket as a pre-production sample - I was honored to help 'de-bug' these airplanes and find any and all items that needed to be addressed by the Seagull Factory. So grab a cup of coffee or your other favorite beverage, and take a few minutes to check out my review of this great looking rendition of the Radial Rocket!
All Wood Construction
Covered in Red and White UltraCote (OraCover)
Pre-hinged Control Surfaces
Fiberglass cowl and Wheel Pants
Large Hatch for Easy Access to Battery
Electric Conversion Parts Included
Sport Scale Model of a Real Aircraft
Main Landing Gear Wire is Slightly Soft
No Airflow Exit in the Fuselage for Electric Setup
Channels Used: 6 total - Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, Rudder, and Flaps (x2)
Control Throws: LOW (Per Manual)
Elevator, up/down: 10mm
Ailerons, up/down: 10mm
Rudder, right/left: 20mm
Control Throws: HIGH (Per Manual)
Elevator, up/down: 12mm
Ailerons, up/down: 12mm
Rudder, right/left: 30mm
Items Needed To Complete:
5 Channel Radio (minimum) and Receiver
6 Standard Servos
5S-6S 3000-5000 mAh LiPo Battery and LiPo Charger
1200-1500 Watt Brushless Outrunner Motor (500-800 kV)
60-80 Amp ESC
2 - 12" Servo Wire Extensions
2 - 6" Servo Wire Extensions
1 - Y-Harness
Thread Locking Compound, CA, and Epoxy
Various Shop Tools
Glow Engine Setup:
4 Channel Radio (minimum), Receiver, and Receiver Battery
5 Standard Servos
.46-.61 2-Stroke Glow Engine OR
10cc Gasoline Engine OR
.63-.91 4-Stroke Glow Engine
2 - 12" Servo Wire Extensions
2 - 6" Servo Wire Extensions
1 - Y-Harness
Glow Engine Field Accessories
Thread Locking Compound, CA, and Epoxy
Various Shop Tools
Because the Radial Rocket was delivered to me as a pre-production sample, I received it before the box art was completed. By the time you read this, the box will be in full-color! Inside, I found Seagull's standard packing - all parts were bagged and taped in place. After travelling in a container across the ocean, on a train, and in a delivery truck, I am pleased to say that the Rocket arrived unscathed! I immediately liked the vivid UltraCote color scheme - it matched the full scale #105 Sport Class Reno Racer.
One of the very first items that Mike Gretz (VP of SIG Mfg. and head of the R&D Dept.) addressed was the lack of a hatch on the fuselage. As a result, a new fuse was designed, assembled, and sent to me for my review - the new fuselage has a HUGE hatch that will make electronics installation and battery changes easy! The painted fiberglass cowl is a work of art - the lines matched the UltraCote covering nearly perfect. The Radial Rocket has flaps to help slow it down - I have a feeling that the plane might need them!
Also molded in fiberglass are the large wheel spats/pants. The fixed wire gear have a unique yoke and axle to hold the wheels, and the tail wheel bracket arrived fully assembled. The four-color trim scheme is carried on to the tail, and looked very nice! A resin cast painted pilot figure is included as well, and looks up to the job of 'piloting' the Radial Rocket.
One other nice feature is that Seagull has included all required items for gas, glow and electric power options. I really like this feature, as it really gives the modeler a choice on how to make the most of their plane!
Electronics Used for Completion
From the ground, I will be using my trusty Hitec Flash 7 transmitter. This 7-channel transmitter is very quickly becoming one of my favorite! It feels good in-hand, and the sticks and switches are where they should be. A very nice LCD display makes programming a breeze, and shows me the telemetry readouts as well!
A Hitec Optima 9 will be installed in the Radial Rocket - I really like these receivers, as they give me lots of options for channels and servo configuration. I have come to like splitting my elevator and flap servos into separate channels, as it gives me the opportunity to 'fine tune' my control surfaces.
Speaking of control surfaces, I will be using Hitec HS-485HB deluxe standard servos. These are great servos, and available at very reasonable prices. With a ball bearing on the output shaft and 83 oz-in of torque (@ 6.0 V) these servos are great for aircraft up to 12 pounds!
A Hitec Energy Sport 80 Amp ESC will be mounted inside the cowl to control the motor and provide power to the receiver and servos - These new ESCs from Hitec are great, and affordable as well! With a retail price of under $60.00, the Energy Sport ESC gives me peace of mind, knowing my plane is backed by a great company!
Spinning a Falcon 12x8 propeller will be an Electrifly Rimfire .60 Brushless Outrunner Motor. With a kV rating of 650, this 50mm motor will provide plenty of 'oomph' for nearly every need!
Because I assembled one of the pre-production samples, I had an opportunity to help edit the manual. While some of the manuals written overseas are 'less-than-desirable', the Radial Rocket's final manual came out pretty well! There are more illustrations than written instruction, but the manual does a good job of helping the modeler assemble the aircraft.
Assembly began with the wings. One of the first changes I made to the manual was to put ALL of the wing assembly steps in one location - I think it's a good idea to finish one area of assembly before beginning another. The flaps were installed first using CA hinges. A T-pin through the middle of each hinge helps keep them centered when installed. A few drops of thin CA secured the hinges.
The ailerons were installed like the flaps, using CA hinges and thin CA.
I installed the aileron and flap control horns next - these horns are made of a stiff fiberglass material, and were simply epoxied into pre-cut slots in the control surfaces. 30-minute epoxy gave me plenty of working time. While the epoxy was curing, I attached the four wing servos to their respective hatches. The Hitec HS-485HB servos will provide plenty of torque for the ailerons and flaps! One thing I always change is the servo mounting screws. I have been using DuBro servo screws for several years - I like the Allen head on the screw, as they provide a non-slip grip when installing! I attached a 12" servo extension to the aileron servo wire and pulled it through the wing using the pre-installed string.
With the servo hatches placed in their respective mounts, I drilled a hole in each of the four corners of the mount. The hatch was then removed, a screw was threaded into each hole and removed, and thin CA hardened the wood in the mount - this will help keep the servo hatch screws secure. When the CA had cured, each hatch was installed using the included screws.
I assembled each of the aileron and flap pushrods (four in total), connected the steel clevis to the control horns, and taped the flaps and ailerons in a neutral position. Each pushrod was then bent at the proper location, cut to length, and secured to the servo arm with a snap-keeper.
Moving on to the landing gear, I started by cutting and removing the covering from the gear mount. The landing gear leg was slid into position in the mount, and I drilled holes for the nylon landing gear strap. A quick drop of thin CA in each of the strap screw holes will help keep the screws tight! I then slipped the gear leg back into the mount and secured it. One thing you'll notice about this landing gear is the large aluminum yoke for the wheel. These are plenty robust, and should keep the wheels in place!
A grooved hardwood block was epoxied to the landing gear leg - I made sure to use plenty of epoxy, as these blocks will hold the fiberglass wheel pants in place.
Before installing the wheel pant, I had to remove a portion at the top of the pant. Per the manual, I measure from the bottom of the wheel pant to the top of the leg, and marked it at 7-1/8". The leg was cut off at that mark. I then rotated the pant leg 90° and slipped it over the wheel yoke. With the yoke inside the wheel pant, it was rotated back to the correct orientation.
I drilled a 5mm hole in the inside of the wheel pant - this is how the axle as installed. While sliding the axle through the hole in the wheel pant and yoke, I slipped a wheel collar in place, followed by the wheel, and then another wheel collar. The wheel and axle are held in place by the two collars INSIDE the yoke. A pair of wood screws secured the wheel pant to the hardwood blocks epoxied to the wire gear leg. If you look closely, you'll see a gap between the top of the wheel pant and the wing - this allows the landing gear to move without damaging the wing.
The root rib of each wing half was coated with epoxy, along with the aluminum wing tube. The wing tube was slipped into one wing half, followed by sliding the other wing onto the tube. I used a few pieces of masking tape to hold the wing halves together until the epoxy had cured.
Motor, ESC, and Cowl Installation
The motor box assembly was next, and consisted of mounting the Rimfire .60 motor. I used four aluminum standoffs (NOT included) to set the motor's prop hub at the correct distance from the firewall. Because of the standoffs, the hardware included with the Radial Rocket was too short - a quick trip to my local home improvement store provided me with adequate hardware. I made certain to use plenty of ZAP blue thread locking compound on the hardware.
The motor box assembly was attached to the plane's firewall using the 4mm machine screws and washers. Pre-installed blind nuts in the firewall and access holes in the motor box made this an easy task! The Hitec Energy Sport 80 Amp ESC was secured to the side of the motor box with adhesive backed Velcro, and a zip-tie was added for extra security. At this point, the two battery straps were installed, along with the battery.
I installed the top hatch, secured it with two nylon bolts, and slipped the cowl in place over the firewall. Using four pieces of card stock (thick paper) I pre-drilled the four cowl mounting screw holes. The front hole of the cowl was enlarged to allow airflow to the motor and ESC, and a large hole was cut in the bottom to let the air out. A Falcon 12x8 beechwood propeller and the included plastic spinner were then installed.
I started the tail section by epoxying the elevator joiner wire into the elevator halves. When the epoxy had cured, the elevator assembly was hinged to the horizontal stabilizer using CA hinges and thin CA.
The fiberglass control horns were installed next, again using epoxy. With a center line drawn on the stab and the stab mount, I installed the wing and checked the fin and stab for correct angles. Everything lined up nicely!
I traced along the edges of the fin, cut the covering just inside the lines drawn, and removed the covering. A batch of 15-minute epoxy was mixed up, and applied to the horizontal stabilizer and fin. While the epoxy was curing, I checked alignment a few times to make sure the alignment was still correct.
When the epoxy had cured, I attached the rudder to the fin and fuselage using CA hinges and thin CA. The elevator and rudder pushrods were assembled and installed - there are guide tubes pre-installed in the fuselage, which made installing the pushrods easy!
Tail Wheel Installation
The pre-assembled tail wheel bracket was attached to the fuselage with two wood screws and the nylon clasp. A 2mm machine screw and nut keep the clasp in place.
Elevator and Rudder Servo and Receiver Installation
The elevator and rudder servos were installed and their respective arms were centered. With the control surfaces taped in a neutral position, I bent the pushrods at the proper locations and cut off the excess rod. Nylon snap-keepers were used to secure the pushrods to the servo arms. I used a zip-tie to attach the Hitec Optima 9 receiver to the servo tray in front of the servos, and mounted the two antennas. Because of the receiver's placement, a 6" servo extension was required to connect the ESC to the receiver.
We're nearing completion! The pilot was attached using epoxy, and I secured the canopy using six #4 x 3/8" wood screws. Epoxy or canopy glue can also be used to attach the canopy, but I really like using screws - it makes it much easier to remove the canopy later, if needed.
The wing was once again attached to the fuselage, and secured with a pair of Nylon bolts. With a little bit of trimming inside the belly pan, I got it to fit nearly perfect. When I was satisfied with the fit, I taped the belly pan in place and traced its outline on to the wing.
With the belly pan out of the way, I removed a thin slice of covering from the wing before attaching the belly pan permanently using epoxy.
All that remained was to balance the Radial Rocket - I found that the battery had to be placed as far back as possible to balance the plane at the recommended 88mm CG location. The battery ended up touching the front of the servos, but there was enough of the battery on the tray to secure it with one strap. The rest of the battery sat on top of the wing, so it wasn't going anywhere.
As luck would have it, I finished the Radial Rocket just a week before heading to WATTS over Owatonna. If you've never been to this event, I highly recommend it! WATTS is an all-electric event that has become the Midwest's largest electric fly-in. WATTS 2015 saw approximately 150 registered pilots over the three days, with many more spectators! There are on-site vendors and a great concession area, and even camping and room for RVs!
Friday brought with it some early morning storms and high winds, so the Radial Rocket's maiden flight was delayed until Saturday morning. Joe Vermillion, Mike Gretz, and I arrived at the SMMAC (Southern Minnesota Model Aircraft Club) field at the break of dawn to start getting the Radial Rocket ready to fly. For the maiden flight, a 5S 4500mAh LiPo was strapped in place and the hatch/canopy was secured with two nylon bolts. With that, the Radial Rocket was ready to go! We did a static test, and the Rimfire .60with a Falcon 12x8 wood prop produced a whopping 11,900 RPM! We were feeling confident that the plane would perform well!
Joe was at the sticks so I could shoot video for the maiden flight - the video you'll see in this review. The second flight was done a little later with a 6S 4350mAh Lipo replacing the 5S, but we'll get to that in a bit?
The plane was taxied out on to the runway, and turned to head out. There was no wind to speak of, so we were able to see exactly how the plane would fly.
The throttle was advanced, and the Radial Rocket started moving - a very short time later, the plane lifted off nicely without any indication of tip stalling. Gaining altitude and speed quickly, we were very impressed by the Rocket's performance. At a safe altitude, the trims were checked - she needed two clicks or right aileron trim and a few more of up elevator. The rudder was spot-on, and required no trim!
With a couple of circuits around the field complete, it was time to pour on the power. The Hitec 80Amp ESC responded accordingly and helped the Rimfire .60 move the Rocket right along. Though we did not have a radar gun, I would have to guess that the Radial Rocket was pushing 70 MPH on the 5S battery - I felt this to be a respectable speed for its first time out!
Aerobatics were attempted next, and the Rocket didn't disappoint - basic maneuvers were performed well, but we felt that the plane could have used a bit more throw on the ailerons - I felt that the roll rate was a little sluggish, but nothing to be concerned with. I decided to add a little more throw for the next flight.
Pleased by its aerobatics, it was time to slow the plane down. I had set the flaps on a two-position switch, so they were either up or down. Apparently, I guessed correctly, setting them to drop about 20mm. At this setting, the Radial Rocket slowed nicely and didn't balloon a lot. I was very happy! As long as the plane was flying slowly, we decided to stall the Rocket to see what she'd do. Surprisingly, the nose mushed over and the Rocket stayed in the air. No tip stalling was apparent, which was a relief - the double-tapered wing gets pretty thin at the tips!
I set the timer for 6 minutes on the first flight. When the alarm sounded, the Radial Rocket was brought down - without the flaps! It turned out that they weren't needed to perform a very nice landing! Now, on a shorter field, they might have been needed, but the grass runway at the SMMAC field is 1200 feet long. The main wheels touched down in the grass without so much as a bounce, and a touch of up elevator kept the propeller out of the dirt. With that, the maiden flight was complete, and we couldn't have been more pleased with the results! Back in the pits, I removed the hatch to pull the battery - it was quite warm - warmer than I like to see my LiPos get. I would recommend a cooling hole be added to the fuselage behind the wing. There's already an inlet in the firewall, so adding an exit will allow airflow through the fuse - this should make a difference in the battery's temperature.
For the second flight, we switched to a 6S 4350mAh LiPo battery, and the plane really got going! Again, we didn't have a radar gun, but I'd put money on it that the plane broke 80 MPH easily! The extra weight of a sixth cell in the battery wasn't noticeable when flying either. Flying on 5 or 6 cell batteries made little difference, other than the top speed. This plane is definitely a lot of fun to fly!
Models Radial Rocket 10cc ARF
Time to wrap up my review - I really like the new Radial Rocket from Seagull Models. The plane was easy to assemble with no major faults, and it looks great. It also flies really well and is capable of nice flight characteristics on both 5S and 6S batteries - this is a definite plus in my book! The Radial Rocket gets a lot of attention sitting on the ground, and even more in the air! Well done, Seagull. This one's a keeper!
Distributed by: SIG Manufacturing
P.O. Box 520
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.