RCU Review: Fan-Tastic Models AT-6 Texan - EP

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: February 2004 | Views: 45901 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Greg Covey

    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    (615) 373-1444

    Watch video of the AT-6
    4.19 MB

    • Excellent Indoor or Outdoor Flight Characteristics
    • Uses inexpensive GWS IPS components
    • Innovative foam Motor Mount prevents damage
    • Good manual instructions

    • More building required than other similar ARFS
    • Yellow foam color needs plenty of paint to cover

    Supplies Needed:

    • foam-safe CA glue with accelerator spray, or 5-minute epoxy
    • white glue, such as Elmer's Glue-All or Aleene's Tacky Crafting Glue
    • masking tape
    • Scotch brand glossy clear tape
    • 120 and 220 grit sandpaper
    • sharp X-acto knife
    • scissors

    Fan-Tastic Models (FTM) has designed a new electric indoor/parkflyer--a scale version of one of the most important aircraft of all time. From 1937, when North American Aviation won a U.S. Army Air Corps contest to design a new trainer, the "Pilot Maker" AT-6, in continuous production for more than ten years, was used to train thousands of combat pilots in countries all over the world. The primary advanced trainer for the Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy (where it was designated the SNJ), the Texan has seen service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and numerous conflicts around the globe. More than 9,000 of the planes were built at North American's Dallas, Texas plant after 1941.the reason for the "Texan" name.

    The AT-6 is designed as a parkflyer for moderate winds but is equally at home in a standard basketball-sized gym. The model is designed to used the inexpensive GWS IPS DX-A power system and features a uniquely molded extruded polystyrene foam fuselage, wing panels, and stabilizers.

    The FTM version of the AT-6 Texan is distributed by Hobby Lobby Int. and features easy-to-assemble components with lifelike detail. The decal sheet has enough variety to customize your Texan in many of the historic design schemes that were used on this plane.

    The kit does require a bit more assembly than other FTM planes but it looked like a fun project. Since it requires the builder to determine the finished look, I choose to customize my AT-6 similar to my .60-size Hangar 9 AT-6 mimicking Fred Johnson's "Miss Appropriation of Funds" full scale plane.

    Kit Name: AT-6 Texan
    Fan-Tastic Models

    165 sq./in.
    Aileron, Elevator, Throttle

    Kit Parts:

    Plenty of parts are contained in the kit for the true scale enthusiast to assemble

    Don't be intimidated by all the parts that come in the kit. The foam parts require very little sanding and glue together well with either epoxy or tacky white glue. The custom plastic molded parts must be cut out and lightly sanded before use. The instruction manual is excellent and the provided decal sheet allows for a number of various scale schemes to be followed.

    Components Used:

    The GWS "Dream Starter" radio system and power system provide true plug-n-play

    Hobby Lobby supplies a complete plug-n-play system for the AT-6. By using the recommended GWS "Dream Starter" radio system and GWS IPS power system, you are well on your way to a successful project. The 2-cell, Kokam 1200mAH pack plugs right into the GWS electronic speed control (ESC) and provides over 45 minute flights!

    Safe charging of your Kokam Lithium packs is insured by using the dedicated 2-cell FMA202 Automatic Lithium Charger from FMA. The FTM001AP Accessory Pack provides additional items needed to help complete the kit like epoxy, solder, and a connector for the battery charger.

    As always, play it safe, so be sure to charge your Kokam Lithium pack on a non-flammable surface and never leave it unattended while charging.

    Wing Assembly:

    The wing halves are lightly sanded and then reinforced along the leading edge with a wooden dowel. When the two wing halves are glued together, an aluminum tube is used to connect the dowels for added strength. Any flat surface can be used to automatically set the correct amount of dihedral when gluing the wing halves together. This eliminates the guesswork.

    Aileron Assembly:

    After the ailerons are cut out and taped to the wings, special hinges are made from styrene tubing and sheet. The supplied thread is routed from the servo arm to the top and bottom sides of the aileron hinges via an opening in the wing.

    Aileron Hookup Detail
    A single thread is routed from the servo
    arm to both ailerons
    The resultant aileron control line and hinging provides a very light and accurate swing. In fact, the throws were excessive on my ailerons during flight and I reduced them by using the center holes on each side of the servo arm.

    Elevator Assembly:

    The horizontal and vertical stabilizers are cut from a foam sheet that is pre-marked. The elevator halves are then cut off and joined with a piece of wooden dowel.
    I aligned my elevator halves and joiner by using the stabilizer as a guide during the gluing process. A ruler kept the other side from moving out. I used Aleene's Tacky Glue for most of my foam parts. It initially holds the parts together well and sets fast.

    The elevator is attached to the stabilizer with a few pieces of clear tape.
    The elevator rod is created from two pieces of wire and a stick. The finished assembly is very strong yet light. I CA'ed the wires in place and then covered the ends with shrink wrap tubing.
    Instead of using the supplied tie wrap end for a control horn, I used a Dubro (#848) micro horn. Either technique will work fine.
    The elevator servo placement is shown here. After first centering the servo electronically, I then attached to rod to the servo arm and stuck the servo to the fuselage inside wall with servo tape while watching the elevator for perfect centering.

    Canopy and Fuselage Painting:

    I painted the fuselage and cowl to match my Hangar 9 AT-6 scheme. l debated whether or not the stock yellow foam was close enough for me and decided not to paint it. If you decide to paint your fuselage, don't worry about the extra weight. This AT-6 flies plenty slow!

    It has been fun building so far. The little AT-6 is plenty cute already!

    Motor Mounting:

    The GWS DX-A motor mounting scheme was very innovative! I mistakenly made a 3-layer plank from the spare foam instead of the plastic sheeting but it works just as well. I merely needed to cut my foam opening a bit.

    The gearbox is glued to the plank and then soft-mounted in the custom cutout foam piece by pressing it into the foam fuselage. The process was very easy and worked great! It should make for easy repairs, if needed.

    After the cowl is press-fit into the fuselage nose, it is easy to set a little bit of right and down thrust, if desired, and it will still pop free if you crash it on the gym floor, or on the ground outside.

    Cowl Ring and Mounting:

    A rubber band is used to create an even circle on the cowl

    I painted the red ring on my cowl to match the color scheme of my Hangar 9 AT-6. To make a nice circle, I decided to use a rubber band and hold it in place with masking tape.

    For my canopy, I decided to mask off the windows and spray paint it dark blue to match the fuselage. After the paint dried, I carefully peeled off the masking tape. Alternatively, you can also cover the window frame area with Pactra Trim Tape.

    To mount my cowl, I used a few pieces of double-sided Scotch tape. The cowl just pressed into place and held securely.

    Battery Access:

    The ESC battery connector is routed
    through a hole cut in the wing
    A battery tray (which I spray painted)
    was then taped into position

    The 2-cell Kokam 340SCH pack is a perfect match for the AT-6 design and the power system for indoor flying. For outdoor flying, the 2-cell Kokam 1200HC pack provides over 45 minute flights!

    Finishing the Model:

    Optional gear mains are added that remove easily for flying over grass

    I modified a set of Wattage (01962) Micro Removable Mains gear by replacing the stock white plastic wheels with a pair of old foam ones from my Kyosho Ferias. It gave a closer scale look to my AT-6. You can also use a pair of Dubro Ultra-Lite 1-1/2" wheels (#150MW) for a similar look.

    Although the plane should fly fine with the gear attached, I plan to remove them for my maiden voyage. The metal wire simply pulls out from the plastic base with a squeeze from a pair of pliers.

    I decided to deviate a bit from my scale plan and try the (FS305) 3-blade prop from Hobby Lobby. I mounted it with the supplied bushing and then used a red prop hub from an old free-flight rubber-powered model.

    A Wattage steerable tailwheel assembly was added to the rudder
    I wanted a steerable tailwheel on my AT-6 so I used the Wattage (01953) Micro Tail Wheel Assembly. It installed easily after drilling a hole into the foam rudder and slicing the fuselage bottom flat. I used 5-minute epoxy and a thin balsa spacer.

    Not shown are the air intake and exhaust header that I will paint and glue to my fuselage after a few test flights are completed.

    For the proper balance point, turn the plane upside down and measure approximately 2-¼" from the leading edge of the wing, measured from the point just outside of the landing gear bulge.

    The aileron and elevator throws are approximately ½" up and ½" down.

    The AT-6 waits on the frozen tundra for the next young eager pilot to be taught.

    My little Fantastic Model's AT-6 poses next to its bigger brother, the Hangar 9 AT-6 Texan.

    I needed to make some custom decals to copy my "Miss Appropriation of Funds" scheme from Fred Johnsons full-scale Texan. Although close, I had not yet finished my detailing before writing the review and test flying the little AT-6.

    Flight Testing:

    This is my 3rd Fan-Tastic Models plane, and, as expected, it flew like a dream! From takeoff to landing, I was in full control of the plane with only partial throttle. Once, I even managed to tip the plane onto its nose when landing--how scale is that!

    Initially, I balanced my AT-6 for test flying with the gear installed but without a rudder servo. Eventually I will add the rudder servo and typically fly it outdoors with the main gear detached for landing in a grass field.

    The AT-6 was ready-to-fly with landing gear but without battery at 5.6oz. The gear mains weighed 0.3oz so it would be an equal swap with my future rudder servo. The Kokam 2-cell, 340 pack weighs 0.8oz and the 2-cell, 1200 pack weighs 1.8oz. I was "all up" at 6.4oz for my flight tests. For an additional ounce in weight, you can triple your flight time using the 2-cell, 1200 pack. Optionally, a 7-8 cell, 300mAh NiMH pack would also work well.

    This is my 3rd Fan-Tastic Models plane, and, as expected, it flew like a dream! From takeoff to landing, I was in full control of the plane with only partial throttle. Once, I even managed to tip the plane onto its nose when landing--how scale is that!

    Watch video of the AT-6 4.19 MB

    The Fan-Tastic AT-6 Texan is a great flyer for either indoor or outdoor areas. Although not required, the addition of a working rudder makes the AT-6 highly aerobatic! The FTM AT-6 flew true to its full scale counterpart.

    Although I didn't get any photos, I did test fly my AT-6 indoors with the landing gear on and using the 2-cell Kokam 340mAh pack. Even without rudder control, it flew superbly! I had no problems with any aspect of flying in a basketball-sized gym area.

    For indoor flying, the lighter 2-cell Kokam 340SHC pack worked best. For outdoor flying, the 2-cell Kokam 1200mAh pack provides much longer flights and is a plug-n-play solution for the GWS ESC. The additional ounce in weight is not noticed outdoors.

    The model can suffer from a little adverse yaw at very low speeds when flying indoors. You can mix a bit of rudder in with the ailerons (if your transmitter supports this feature electronically) for racing and it will provide cleaner turns.

    The EPP foam motor mount/firewall was a nice design that allows the model to take a nose hit without damage. The model is a very easy build but it has many more parts than previous similar designs like the Rare Bear and Strega P-51.

    You will want to paint it for customizing your own color scheme. I found that the Testors Enamel spray paint worked very well without damaging the foam.

    It's time for me to finish up my scale detailing. Good luck with your AT-6, it's Fan-Tastic!


    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    (615) 373-1444

    Comments on RCU Review: Fan-Tastic Models AT-6 Texan - EP

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    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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