Name: Model Tech Magic
Area: 725 sq in
Weight As Tested: 3.6 lbs
Loading: 11.08 oz/sq foot!!!
Used: Thunder Tiger Pro 36
APC 10 x 5
Used: Airtronics RD 6000
(4) Hitec HS-225, (1) HS-81
Used: 2 - Ailerons, 1- Elevator, 1- Rudder, 1- Throttle
Fun Fly Aircraft
by Jim Langley
- Quick building
- Light wing
- Solid Construction
- Pull-pull controls.
- LOTS of decals
- Great flight performance!
in the instructions
- Missing hardware
- Tank does not fit
a great looking AND flying plane! The plane is 95% assembled
for you with a beautiful shrink type covering and loads of decals.
Assembly is quick although you will need to suffer through a
few mistakes in the instruction manual. With the huge thick
wing and solid construction, the air frame will support a variety
of engine types ranging from .32 to .46 2 stroke or a .40 to
.61 4 stroke. The real fun of this plane is assembling it light
and flying low and close to the ground. Good hovering ability
and large control surfaces redefine the words "fun fly".
is manufactured by Model
Tech, Inc. and distributed by Global
Hobby Distributors. The plane has made a big splash this
side of the pond over the past year with fun fly enthusiasts
all over the country. This kit is a very complete ARF. I think
part of that is due to its simplicity, no wheel pants, no cowl,
simple and sweet!
When I received
my Magic, it came in double packed box shipped from Quantum
Models in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I was very excited when
I finally opened the box and found everything neatly packed
and bagged in a logical order. Upon removing the contents for
a close inspection, I was happy to see that everything arrived
in one piece and there was not one wrinkle on the plane, none!
Out of habit, I ironed over all of the edges for good measure
and checked all the glue joints that I could see. Now I was
ready to start putting this thing together!
Thunder Tiger Pro 36
The Thunder Tiger Pro 36 was my choice for an engine as I wanted
lots of power, but very light weight. The TT is right at 11.3
oz. compared to strapping a 16 oz. .46 type engine on this plane.
Remember "light is right" when it comes to close in.
I was pretty sure the TT would hover this plane, it was just
a matter of figuring out what prop to use.
- Balsa and Plywood Construction
- Fully Covered with Red, Yellow and Blue shrink covering
(lighter than Oracover)
- Pull-pull control rod setup
- Tall wire landing gear
- Glass Engine Mount
- 10 Oz. Fuel Tank
- All Necessary Hardware
- Detailed 16 Page Instruction Manual with Pictures
- Engine (.32 - .46 2 Stroke or .40 to 61 4 Stroke)
- Propeller (To match engine)
- 2" Spinner
- 5 Standard Servos
- RX Battery and Switch
- Foam for Wrapping Battery and Receiver
- Fuel Tubing (medium size)
- Thin and Thick CA
- 15 and 30 Minute Epoxy
- Standard Building Tools
- Used micro servos instead of standard.
- Dubro Pull Pull Kit for Rudder
Make sure to trial fit the wing
half before gluing it together
Attach the wing
tape on one side, then to the other half while stretching.
This give you a very tight fit. Do both the top and
should have quite a bit deflection in your control surface.
The original Magic shipped
with a one piece wing, but for whatever reasons now, it comes
with two wing halves that you need to glue together. Model Tech
has included a one page supplement to the manual to cover this
A nice touch is that they have installed a string
in each wing half. This makes it a lot easier to pull your servo
wire back through the wing to the center. Use masking tape to
keep the string ends out of the way when gluing the wing halves.
Make sure you trial fit wings together to insure a tight fit.
I took a hint from a Super
Kraft review in RCU Magazine by Erick Royer and used a wood
pecker to create some holes in the ribs for extra bonding power.
The instructions tell you to epoxy, (30 minute), the plywood
joiner into one half of the wing, and then apply epoxy to the
remaining half. I pressed the two wing halves together and applied
1" masking tape along the lines of the wing to create a
stretch clamp. It is amazing how tightly masking tape will hold
a wing together. Use alcohol soaked paper towels as you go to
clean off any excess epoxy.
Next, attach the ailerons. They have already installed
the hinges into the the control surface side. Insert the hinges,
line them up, deflect the control surface to about 60 degrees
and add 3-4 drops of thin CA to each hinge. Turn it over and
do the same on the other side. You will have a small gap between
the aileron and the wing, this is good as you are going to seal
the hinge gaps anyway. If you get it too close, you will have
very little throw.
Follow the instructions for sealing the hinge
gaps. I used clear Monokote cut to about 3/8" wide and
folded it over. Don't try to seal the whole thing at once. Do
one side first and then work your way slowly to the other. This
is an important step, don't skip it!
Add your control horns and servos and you are
done with the wing. Not including drying time, the wing goes
together very fast.
you see dimples
Attach wheel collar
servo tray with 30 minute epoxy
the guides to within 2-3mm
aligning the tail, use a weight to hold it in place
while the epoxy dries.
One thing I do to all
of my fuses is glass the firewall. In the interest of "keeping
things light", I used one piece of cloth on the back
side with thinned 30 minute epoxy. In addition, I coated the
tank compartment and servo bay with a epoxy/alcohol mix to
fuel proof. This adds a little weight, but protects the fuse
and adds some strength.
The landing gear that they provide is VERY tall.
Kind of looks like an SUV when attached to the plane and gives
you clearance for a 14" prop! (don't get any ideas...)
I had heard that the intent was to allow for a geared 14 "
electric prop. and it certainly has that! When attaching the
gear, make sure you mark where the plywood clamp plates are
and do not over tighten the screws. When you see a little
bit of a dimple in the wood, you have gone far enough.
Attaching the wheels is simple, but you will
need to JB weld the plastic collars in place before putting
the wheels on the axle. Mine were very loose. Then just tighten
down the provided wheel collars, (use a little Loctite),
and you're done!
Next comes the tail skid. Some people put Sullivan
tail wheels, (#S859). I like to keep things lighter while
keeping the challenge of driving with a tail skid. The skid
drops in a supplied hole and is screwed down with three supplied
brackets. Be sure to drill starter holes in the hardwood to
keep it from splitting. My kit was missing one of the brackets
so I just went with two instead of three. I also CA'd back
inside the end of the fuse for fuel proofing during this step.
Next attach the servo tray. I used epoxy and
reinforced it with four balsa strips. Use 30 minute epoxy
for this step and be sure to check the height of the tray
at 27mm. This lines your servo tops up with the supplied control
You then will need to trim the control rod guides
with a hobby knife. Leave 2-3mm exposed out from the rear
former. This is critical as when using the supplied control
rods, the closest servo control rod does not have a lot of
lateral play, so do not leave too much guide sticking out
of the former.
The manual shows this next step after the engine
mounting which is a good idea. It saves the stabs from the
hanger rash when mounting the engine.
When mounting the tail section, first CA the
hinges using the same technique mentioned above. You can use
a debonder dampened paper towel to wipe off any excess, just
don't get it in the hinge gap. Set the horizontal and vertical
stabs in place and mark the point where they intersect the
fuselage. You will need to make sure you are lined up correctly.
I started with a center line down the middle of the horizontal
stab and secured it to the middle of the fuse at the attach
point with a T-pin. I then checked the alignment of each back
corner, (stab, not elevator), with a 36" ruler to a centered
T-pin mounted just behind the firewall. Once this was done
with a equal distance, I stuck another T-pin at the rear of
the stab to hold the alignment while I traced the cut line.
Now carefully cut away the covering just inside
these lines. Do not cut into the wood as this will weaken
the joint. Put a little Vaseline inside the top elevator control
rod exit tube to keep the epoxy out and then glue the horizontal
stab in place with 30 minute epoxy. Check the alignment again
as per the instructions. Once this is dry, glue the vertical
stab and recheck the alignment with a setsquare. Use masking
tape to hold it in place and wipe off any excess epoxy with
Mount the 2 stroke engine at
225 degrees. This allows the muffler to hang out the
bottom of the fuse.
Reshape the tank
to fit with a heat gun. Hold the tank down with a piece
The engine installation
is pretty straight forward, however, you will need to install
the mount so that the cylinder head is pointing at 225 degrees.
This allows the 2 stroke muffler to clear the bottom center
part of the fuselage. Start by drawing a line on the firewall
54mm up from the bottom edge. Now create a second line 38mm
from the side. Where the lines cross is the center of the
I attached the engine
to the mount with mini clamps and held it up to the firewall,
centering the prop shaft on the cross hair. You should have
a little clearance at the bottom for the muffler. Heat a scrap
pushrod with a torch and push it down through the center of
the mounting hole and burn a mark in the firewall. Now drill
through this mark and attach the engine mount with one of
the supplied screws and blind nuts.
Now recheck the alignment
and mark the remaining holes. Drill and mount the rest of
the blind nuts by tightening the mounting screws. You can
take the engine back off and use the engine mounts to keep
the screws from tearing into the front of the firewall. Do
not mount the engine at this time as you will need it later
to help balance the plane after all the radio gear is installed.
Cut off the excess mounting
screws that stick out the back of the firewall as they will
keep the tank from mounting correctly. Use Loctite to hold
them in place.
The tank positioning is kind of a pain. The
engine thrust line is so high up on the firewall, that it
elevates the carb and the tank is supposed to fit in a pre-drilled
convenient hole. The problem is that the rubber band dowel
gets in the way. I used a heat gun to reshape the tank so
that it would sit in the saddle area without hitting the wing
hold down dowel. I then installed some foam and used a piece
of Velcro to hold the tank in place, neat! Don't forget to
pressure test your tank before you install it!
micro servos required a few modifications to the servo tray
tray shown with servos mounted and elevator control
- Pushrods and Servos
The next few steps in the manual involve installing
the servos, locating the throttle linkage and the pull-pull
The openings that they made in the servo tray are just the
right size for most of today's standard size servos, however,
I chose to use mini servos to save weight. I also used a micro
on the throttle. This saved me approximately 4 ounces.
I made some modifications to the tray to allow the fit of
the smaller servos. Now it's just a matter of screwing the
servos in place. I use socket head servo screws available from Micro Fasteners.
I hate stripping Phillips head screws!
The pull pull control rods will slide through the pre-installed
guides. You may need to trim a little epoxy off of the top
guide, (did you remember the Vaseline?). Follow the easy instructions
for setting up the servos, control horns and servo arms. The
rudder servo is elevated to allow clearance for the pull pull
setup. I used a Dubro
pull pull cable on the rudder as I wanted a faster response
over what the control rods could give me as they tend to bind
Unfortunately, some of the supplied hardware did not match
size wise. Besides using the Dubro pull pull, I had to supplement
with some of my own. Otherwise everything that was supplied
with the ARF worked fine.
When using a 2 stroke engine, you will need to add a little
"Z" bend in the throttle linkage to clear the cylinder
head. This was simple enough to do. I created a "Z"
bend at the throttle arm side and used the provided adjustable
servo connector for the servo side. When mounting this, be
sure to not tighten the bottom nut all the way as it will
cause binding. Make sure it is snug and then add a drop of
CA to keep the nut from coming loose. It's now easy to adjust
the throttle linkage by sliding the control rod forward or
backwards and then tighten the set screw to hold it in place.
Flat pack fits under the servo
tray on Velcro and allows fine tuning of the CG
Ready for some
SUVin' with that high landing gear.
Final Setup and
The instructions tell
you to balance the model at 115mm behind the leading edge
of the wing. This is a good starting point and will provide
great fun, yet docile flight when desired. I previously had
a Magic and decided to move the CG back to 120mm. This would
give me better hovering stability and make for nicer tumbles.
I marked the bottom of the wing with masking tape at the balance
point and used my home made balance while adjusting the engine
on the mount. I used heavy rubber bands to hold the engine
in place while I slid it around to achieve balance. After
marking the mounting holes, (remember the technique above?),
I drilled the mounting holes and attached the engine with
the supplied screws and lock nuts.
One thing I tried out
with this plane was a new flat 850mAh NiMH from OnlyBatteryPacks.com.
This allowed me to use a higher capacity receiver pack, it
slides under the tray and with Velcro allows me to easily
fine tune the CG by sliding it forward or back.
If you are using a .46 sized 2 stroke engine,
you will have to add weight in the rear to offset the bulk
up front. Note however that this wing supports the weight
easily, but you will be adding upwards to 8-9 oz. with the
engine, fuel and tail weight. "Light is right"!!
I connected the fuel line to the carburetor
and the vent line to the muffler using standard size Sullivan
fuel tubing. I also attached a Dubro exhaust deflector to
try to minimize the "goo" on the bottom of the plane.
I may take this off later if I want a little more performance
from the engine. Now I'm ready to setup my radio!
The manual states the following control throws.
I normally do not use dual rates but rather setup exponential
with full rates. I typically use around 25-35% expo. For the
sake of the article, I setup the controls as specified in
the manual. If you so desire, on the RD6000, you can setup
expo for each rate. In this case you would use 35% on high
and 25% on low.
I also programmed in a little flap to elevator mix to help
with slow harriers. With the light wing loading, this plane
will slow down to a crawl and you can easily "Walk the
dog" down the runway!
TESTING AND EVALUATION
Here in central Pennsylvania,
we have been having a lot of hot and windy days, not my idea
of perfect weather conditions to test fly a 3.5 pound plane,
but with deadlines approaching, what the heck, I decided to
go for it.
I took the plane out to
the field with some 15 MPH winds blowing across the runway.
After a range check with the antenna down and verification
that all control surfaces were moving the right way, I was
ready to test run the engine.
The wing is held down
with rubber bands. Be careful not to put too many on as you
can crush the wing sheeting. This plane would fly with six,
I used 6 fat and four thin, more than enough for my wild flying.
The Thunder Tiger had
already been setup and run on a test stand so I fueled her
up and primed the engine. One flip and the Pro 36 started
right away. I let the engine warm up a bit and then ran it
up to full throttle adjusting the engine with a tach for max
RPM. I then richened the needle for a drop off of 500 RPM and
I was ready to go. This engine turned the APC 10 x 5 easily,
but I will probably move to a 10 x 4 later. This will give
me more power out of a hover.
Let me say this. This
Thunder Tiger engine is one of the best behaved engines I
have ever had. Throughout the day it started on the first
or second flip and idles beautifully. What a great value!
I went back and fueled her up and started the
engine. I must admit that I was a bit nervous as the wind
was starting to gust a bit and the wind sock looked kind of
scary. My brother in law John reminded me that "the wind
is your friend", so out we went.
I taxied around a bit and then advanced the
throttle to full. This little plane jumped off the ground
in less than 5 feet, wow! The wind was buffeting me around
a bit, but with all that, I only need one click of right aileron
trim. I did a fast fly by and then shot up into the air to
test the vertical, wow again! The little TT really responded.
I decide to test the plane out on low rates.
It was pretty much what I expected, tight loops, snaps, even
sloppy flat spins. Inverted flight was pretty easy to maintain
with a tad of down, (remember the plane is setup for a slightly
rearward CG). With the wind, it was almost impossible to test
the tracking, but from what I could see, it tracks very well.
It was then time to switch to high rates. The
tumbles were tighter, snaps were snappier, (is that a word?),
and the flat spins were paper thin. I would guess that if
the wind wasn't blowing the plane away from me, I might even
get it into a climbing flat spin as I could almost maintain
altitude with the wind. I did try a hover, but the wind would
blow the plane away from me in about 15-20 seconds, so that
will have to wait for a calmer day. In landing I lined the
plane up in a harrier, perpendicular to the runway and let
it sink at idle. Just before touchdown, I goosed the throttle
for a smooth landing, cool!
The Model Tech Magic is
a great plane, with just a few annoying things that are typical
of most ARF's. The covering is terrific looking and they give
you lots of decals to spruce the plane up with. The low wing
loading makes for a great "low and slow" aerobatic
flyer, (if the weather ever clams down, I'll let you know).
With high rates, the plane really wakes up. Low rates calm
the plane down so that it could easily serve as a second plane.
The Thunder Tiger Pro .36 powers the plane easily and will
hover it with no problem. It does not have the ultimate power
of the .46 class engines, but saves a lot of weight. The neat
thing about this plane is that the weight envelope that it
supports is very large, so you can put a .46 or even something
like the Magnum .61 4 stroke which weighs only 15.3 oz. on
it. Now that would be something to see!
searching around and you will find a ton of conversation about the plane on
as well as other web sites. Here are a few interesting
that people have made to the plane:
At $99 for a quick building quality ARF, the
Model Tech Magic scores high on my fun factor chart. The plane
will fly docile or wild and with the low cost, it takes the
fear factor out of flying aerobatics low to the ground. While
I did make some substitutions to the hardware in the kit, I
would rate the overall quality very good. One thing to note
is that this plane is in very high demand so if you buy one
and do not like it, chances are that you will be able to sell
it for what you paid for it, not bad huh?
(1=Not so good,
5 = Excellent)
2 3 4
2 3 4
Quality of Manual:
2 3 4
Ease of Assembly:
2 3 4
Completeness of Kit:
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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