RCU Review: Vmar Extra 300L

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: April 2005 | Views: 53680 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Mike Buzzeo (MinnFlyer) Email Me

    Distributed by Richmond RC








    Phone: 604-940-1066

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    VMAR Extra 330L ARF

    Hardware: See Text
    Ease of Assembly:
    Completeness of Kit:
    Covering Quality:
    Basic Flight:
    Advanced Flight:
    Stall Characteristics:

    • Fast Easy Assembly
    • Very Good Construction
    • Colorful, Seamless Graphics
    • Plug-in Wings!
    • Excellent Control Horns
    • Pre-installed Pushrods
    • Pre-installed Canopy With Painted Pilot
    • Removable Firewall Allows Easy Tank Access
    • Fiberglass Cowl, and Wheel Pants

    • Manual - See Text.
    • Plastic Aileron Servo Covers.

    Until I came to RCU, I had never even heard of VMAR- and some of the first things I heard were less than kind. However, as time went on, I started hearing more and more good things about their product, so my curiosity was piqued when I was asked to review their new Extra 330L.

    This new 56" Extra boasts Plug-In wings, which is something you don't see very often on planes of this size, but it's a great feature that I hope to see more of! Another surprising feature is the "Power Module". This removable Engine/Firewall/Fuel Tank assembly is really a brilliant piece of engineering. It's one of those things that makes me say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

    The VMAR Extra 330L comes in either a Blue or Red color scheme, and they are covered with a shrinkable film called POLYCOTE - ECS - ECS (Enhanced Covering System). POLYCOTE is a polyester covering similar to the "Heat Shrink" coverings that we are all used to using, but it has one big difference - POLYCOTE has the graphics embedded right inside the polyester. I see this as a good/bad thing. The good news is that there are no Decals to lift, very few seams, and you can really get some graphic color schemes. The bad news is that if you need to make a major repair, you will need to replace it with a matching piece. However, VMAR makes the covering sets available on their website.

    In any case, the covering is interesting. The one thing I didn't like about it was the advertisement on the Stab. If VMAR is the exclusive user of POLYCOTE, why the commercial?

    Price is another attractive feature of VMAR planes. The Extra 330L not only has an affordable price, but if you purchase a Vmax Engine with the plane, you get a $20 discount. And as if that's not enough, if you buy the plane and engine together, you can order a Pitt's style muffler FREE (Note: This offer applies to all VMAR Cowled planes).

    Ok, time to see what VMAR has to offer.

    Name: EXTRA 330L 45-61 ARF ECS (Blue)

    Price: $159.95

    56 in (1422 mm)

    Wing area: 590 sq in

    Length: 49 in. (1245 mm)

    Weight per Mfg: Total (Dry): 6.25-7 lbs (2800-3200g)

    Actual Flying Weight: Total: 6.5 lbs. (dry)

    Skill level: Intermediate-Advanced

    Radio Used:
    Futaba Sky Sport Transmitter
    Futaba R127DF FM Rx
    (5) Futaba S-3004 Servos for elevator, rudder, ailerons (2), throttle

    Channels Used: 4 total - elevator, aileron, rudder, throttle

    Prop Used: APC 11x6

    Required to Complete:

    • 4-channel radio with 5 servos
    • 2 Servo Wire Extensions
    • "Y" Cord for Ailerons
    • CA glue
    • 30-Min epoxy
    • Loctite thread lock
    • Fuel Tubing
    • 40-61 class 2-Stroke Engine, and Propeller
    • Standard building tools

    One thing for sure, VMAR didn't spare any expenses on graphics. The full-color box tells about all you need to know, and it looks great. Inside there was plenty of packing material, and all of the parts were nicely laid out and protected.

    A further look showed that the construction was definitely not lacking in the quality department, nor were the materials. With the firewall removed, you can easily see the construction, and as you can see, it looks great! (More on the removable firewall later.)

    There is also a fiberglass cowl and wheel pants - the cowl looked great, but one of the pants was slightly distorted. Another nice feature was a block to hold the tail alignment for shipping, which gets removed before installing the Stab - At least, I would assume it gets removed, the manual never said a word about it. I was also curious about the "E-Z" style connector on the aft ends of the pushrods. More about that later too.


    The Manual is a very professionally printed piece of material. When I first saw the quality of the paper and the layout, I was very impressed. But then, as I read it, I noticed that Steps 1 and 2 were switched around (IE, Step 1 - Attach wings making sure to route the servo wires into fuse. Step 2 - Install servos in wing). Ok, I can understand that a few mistakes are going to happen, but as the manual progressed, it gave less and less information. Fortunately, (Or maybe I should say "Hopefully") anyone planning to fly something like an Extra 330 will have enough experience under their belt to figure out how to assemble this without the manual.


    The first step (Step 2 - see above) in the assembly is to install the aileron control horns. I want to say here and now that VMAR gets a "Triple A" rating for these control horns! It is about time that manufacturer's starting supplying this type of horn with 40 size planes. And VMAR sells these Control Horns separately on their website!

    Since the Ailerons are pre-hinged, all that is needed now is to install the aileron servos. The servo mounts are preinstalled on the hatch, just cut the opening the outer plastic plate, bolt in the servo, and attach the pushrod. The pushrod uses a Clevis on the control horn end, and an "EZ" type connector to connect to the servo. I decided to just add a "Z" bend to the pushrod wire at the servo.


    Here is something else I liked… Plug-in wings! Slide the aluminum tubes through the fuse, add the padded "Bumpers", slide the wing on, and secure it with a Wing Nut.


    Mounting the Tail feathers was pretty standard, except for the fact that the shipping block needed to be removed (which was not mentioned in the Manual). Get them lined up, draw your lines, remove the covering, and epoxy in place.


    The Landing Gear was also a snap, although again, you'd better be prepared to improvise, as the instructions say nothing about where to drill the Axle holes in the Pants.


    I got the Vmax 52, which came with a Standard Muffler, as well as the Pitts Muffler. For this application, I'll be using the Pitts.

    The Extra 330L has a removable Firewall. The Firewall, Engine Mount, and Tank mount are a single unit (Known as the "Power Pod") that is easily removed for Tank access. This is another great feature, and another area where the Manual falls short, as the Tank Rails needed to be glued in place, but this was never mentioned. (I won't say anymore about the manual's shortcomings. Just assume that you're on your own for this build.)

    One small problem I had was that the Engine Mount Bolts hit the back plate long before the Firewall was seated, but I simply drilled two holes to allow the Firewall to seat. Note: I was later informed by Richmond R/C that the entire firewall could be moved forward by adjusting the position of the screws.

    Engine Spotlight
    Vmax 52 PRO

    52 Power in
    a 46 Case

    The 52PRO is based on the 46PRO. It uses the same crankcase. They are the same size physically and are bolt compatible. If a 46PRO fits, so will the 52PRO. The cylinder of the 52PRO has been bored out. The cylinder and piston of the 52PRO are slightly larger in diameter. The result is that the two engines are exactly the same physical size and weigh practically the same with the 52PRO weighing 1-2 grams less.

    The Operating Manual that comes with the each engine includes an Exploded 3-View and a case dimensions chart for reference. The Manual is quite complete, and takes you from setup and break-in to operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. It also includes a Prop Chart, and Tank location diagram. The manual can be downloaded here.

    While Vmax doesn't list the Specs on the Vmax 52 PRO, their website hosts a "Technical Knowledge Base" that holds a wealth of information from how to keep the Muffler tight, to how to disassemble the engine.

    But here's something that is really remarkable: When purchased with an appropriate sized VMAR plane, you get a $20 discount on a Vmax Engine. What's more, if you buy a cowled VMAR plane with an Engine, they will supply you with a Pitts Style muffler free!


    VMAR Supplies a very nice Servo tray that is very easy to use, and the clevises inside the Fuse use a screw to go through the servo horn instead of the typical nylon pin. That's the good news. The bad news is, they supplied "EZ" type connectors to attach the rear of the pushrods to the Control Horns. (Note: I got the one of the last of the batch that had this arrangement - All of these are now shipping with clevises.)

    Next, I attached the Rx and Battery to the Fuse Hatch using Velcro. This really worked out well and makes for very easy access to the "Important Stuff".


    With the cowl cut to fit the Engine and Muffler, I attached it with 4 screws in the location of my choice. The Manual said there would be a detailed description of the cowl installation on page 20 - Unfortunately, the Manual ended on Page 16. I also found it necessary to shim the Engine Mount forward 1/8" to get the Spinner to clear the Cowl (Same note as earlier: The adjustable firewall makes shims unnecessary).

    Vmar supplies a decal to cover the sides of the cowl with which matches the color scheme, and with my addition of a Du-Bro Charging Jack, the Extra 330L was ready for her maiden.

    Maiden Flight

    The VMAX 52 PRO was given a good break-in period. The Needle Valve was very tight at first, but once lubricated with some fuel, it was manageable. I was very impressed with the low end. The first time I tried to kill the engine using the radio, it wound down to a sputter and just wouldn't stop. I finally had to close the Carb with my finger to get it to quit. Once broken in, it responded very nicely in all RPM ranges.

    Finally, after months of winter weather, Spring arrived a little early in Minnesota. The winds were a little stronger than ideal, but I was anxious to get out to the field. It wasn't long before the Extra 330L was sitting at the end of the runway.

    I added power, and the VMAX 52 responded accordingly. The Extra tracked very nicely down the runway and left the ground smoothly. With minor trim adjustments, she was flying "Hands Off" - Then, I took a few laps of the field to get the feel for it.

    All in all, everything felt good. It tracked very nicely through loops and rolls, and showed no signs of and bad tendencies. As I brought her in, I noticed she wanted to drop while on low power, so I kept the RPM up a bit till she was over the threshold, then, I just let her settle in. All in all, it was a very nice maiden flight.

    My partner Josh was out at the field that day so we decided to shoot the video right then and there. You can see for yourself what a nice flyer the Vmar Extra 300L is.

    VMAR Extra 330L ARF
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