RCU Review: GWS F-3A Formosa - EP

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    Contributed by: David Johnson | Published: December 2004 | Views: 56567 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: David "Maudib" Johnson - email me

    GWS - Grand Wing Servo

    See the Formosa in action!

    Ease of Assembly
    Aerobatic ability

    Easy & quick construction
    Excellent price/value
    Various motor options available

    Fuse a little warped
    Supplied motor is just adequate

    The Formosa is a very interesting offering from GWS. A small, lightweight pattern ship, the Formosa has been reported to offer excellent flight characteristics and clean, pattern-like capabilities. As a small electric, you can take it to the ballpark or even fly in a large back yard, the Formosa could promise pattern fliers the opportunity to hone their skills while having a great time. But does it live up to expectations? Let's find out.

    Kit Name: GWS F3A Formosa ARF Park Flyer
    Price: $43.75
    Wingspan: 35.4"
    Length: 35.9"
    Flying Weight : 17-18 oz.
    Motor Included: EPS300C (370)
    Prop: GWS 8x6
    Transmitter: Futaba 9CAP
    Receiver: GWS Naro 4 channel single conversion receiver
    (3) GWS Naro
    Battery: GWS 8 cell 720 mah pack
    Manufacturer: GWS
    Carton contents
    Slight damage
    Pushrod tube install
    Opening the Formosa box presented me with everything needed to assemble the plane... no missing parts! The smaller pieces are packaged separately, though you do end up jumping around from bag to bag getting various pieces needed for each step. The fuse comes in two "half shells" that are glued together. I did notice that my fuse sides were a little warped and cracked and didn't meet completely around the seams. However it surely wasn't enough to prevent assembly or cause any problems with flight performance, so on I went. You first install the pushrod guide tubes in the fuse sides. I used the supplied GWS glue, and to be honest I didn't care for it much. Slow to set, I prefer 5 minute epoxy or foam safe CA.
    Cutting out the cowl
    Gluing the fuse together
    Motor Mount
    While waiting for the glue to dry on the tubes, I cutout the cowl. The fuse is now glued together... there are "pins and holes" molded in the sides for easy alignment, and I used low tack masking tape to hold them together until the glue had set up. The Formosa engine mount is the standard GWS wooden post mount. Great news because there are now a plethora of brushless motors with mounts made just for this setup.
    Aileron cutout
    Bevel the ailerons
    Aileron control linkage
    We cut out the ailerons now... a simple razor blade worked well. In order to allow for adequate throw both directions, we need to bevel the bottom side of the ailerons. The ailerons are controlled by a single servo... we need to now glue the torque bars in place.
    Glue only the bearings!!!!
    Hinge the ailerons
    Custom paint job :)
    Be careful not to get excess glue inside the bearings or on the rods themselves or you won't be able to move that surface. Finally we poke a hole in the aileron where it meets the torque rod, install the aileron hinges and glue in place. Now for a bit of "customization". The Formosa comes with some fairly attractive decals, but having painted a different foam plane in the past, I had some bright yellow craft paint, itching to be used again. Using a buddies airbrush, I applied a very light coat on the top of the wing and stab. It dries and adds almost no weight and requires so little on top of white.
    Spar and hold down plate
    Spar and hold down plate
    Glue in stab
    We can glue in the wing spar and hold down plate at this time. I noticed that the wing got quite rigid after this step... it should take some "G's" no problem. Also note that you can install the gear in the wings at this point... there are socket molded in for this purpose... I chose to skip this step however, because I mostly fly over grass and prefer to save weight and "belly her in" on landings. We can attach the wing now and align the stab with the wing, making sure it's parallel and square. I had to sand the stab slot a tab to get it parallel with the wing, then glued it in place.
    Square and Parallel
    Installing control horns
    Install servos
    While it dries, you may want to double check the measurements from the tips of the wing to the tips of the stab and eyeball that it stays level. Once dry we glue the control horns in place then move up into the fuse to install the servos. I don't like to glue in my servos or rely entirely on double stick tape to hold servos in place, so I opted to glue two small strips of 1/8" llight-plywood to act as rails and screwed my rudder and elevator servos in the bay.
    Setup pushrods
    Mount the receiver & ESC
    Aileron servo & pushrods
    Now we slip the pushrod Z-bend into the servo arms and run them through tubes ending by attaching the arms to the servos. I mounted the GWS 4 channel Naro receiver and ESC with Velcro. Next we'll install the aileron servo and attach the pushrods. Note, I used the Dubro micro pushrod adjusters... these are the bomb for these smaller RC planes.
    Cowl hard-points
    Cowl, spinner & prop
    Dubro micro hardware
    Small plastic squares are glued to notched in the nose of the fuse to act as hardpoints for the cowl mounting. The cowl is attached with screws and the prop and spinner are then added. Finally we attach and adjust the linkage of the rudder & elevator and we're ready to go. Let's go see how she flies!

    O.K., I added a couple vinyl graphics to the top of the wings and prepared for my first flight. An 8 and 9 cell, 720 mah NiMH pack were tested. They slide in a cozy slot under the removable canopy that is held on with the use of a magnets.

    I powered her up and tossed her into the wind. It needed a few clicks of every trim, but wasn't overly unruly at first. Once trimmed I found it to fly clean and graceful. The motor/prop/battery combo was just enough for decent flight.

    In knife edge, the plane would drop altitude, but hold attitude. Loops were possible and rolls were crisp, though at the tops of larger loops you could ask for a bit more power as it slowed down a good bit.

    It snap rolls quite well, but again, one is all you'll get until you build up some speed again. Flight times were fairly short too... about 4-5 minutes, with the last couple of minutes really dragging.

    This plane has a lot of promise, but really needs a brushless motor and lipoly batteries. While certainly not the best quality offering I've flown, it is a good value for the money, and has the makings of a fun, park flyer that will help keep your IMAC sticks in shape.


    See the Formosa in action!

    Overall, the Formosa offers a good value and is a nice alternative to the more "calm" offerings in the parkflyer category. I can't rave about anything exceptional, but neither can I say there were any great flaws. At a street price of well under $40, it's an offering that begs you to invest in a brushless setup.

    Having researched other owners' setups and garnered their flight reports, the Formosa properly powered is quite the pattern practice plane. Again... the stock motor is "just fine", but with the onslaught of new affordable drop-in brushless replacements and the ever lowering price of lipolies, you'll have a a great plane that you'll enjoy running to the local school yard or park to catch some enjoyable stick time.

    GWS: Grand Wing Servo
    Buford, Georgia
    TEL (770) 887-1794
    Website: U.S./English Website

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road, Wauconda, IL 60084
    Phone: 800-848-9411
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: Micro hardware

    Futaba Corporation of America
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com
    Products used: Futaba 9CAP transmitter

    Comments on RCU Review: GWS F-3A Formosa - 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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