Parts as they come
out of the
The L-19 Bird Dog comes
out of the box very complete, requiring only a
couple hours to assemble and get into the air.
The covering had a couple minor bubbles, which is
common as these models are shipped half way around
the world to arrive here. It was nothing
that a couple minutes with a heat gun could not
included manual is very detailed with a lot of
nice colored pictures to walk you through the
assembly process. In addition to the manual
there are a couple of warning sheets and some
"read this first" addendums. You should
really take a moment to read through these as
there are some corrections and additions to the
manual that will save you some frustration if you
know about them ahead of time.
The first step in the assembly process
is to assemble the two wing halves. This is
done by using 30 minute epoxy and the included
wing joiner. To assemble, simply draw
a line in the center of the wing joiner and place
some epoxy on one half and insert it into the
corresponding wing half and allow to cure.
Once it is cured, apply more epoxy to the other
half and join the two wing halves together.
I used some masking tape to hold them tightly
while they cured. Once complete, use
the included trim tape to cover the seam.
The leading edge dowel pins are already installed
which is a nice touch. All of the
control surfaces come pre-hinged and glued from the
factory, thus saving another step.
installed in one wing half
halves taped together
installed the two aileron servos in the wing.
The servo pocket openings are already cut out from
the covering and they have installed a tunnel
inside the wing for routing the servo wires.
This is a very nice feature thus making less of a
headache in routing the wires. My kit
came with the Power Pack Combo, which I will be
referring to throughout the review.
This combo comes with the required micro servos
and the aileron Y harness. Note:
The servo leads are not long enough to make it
through the wiring tunnel, so I fed one side of
the Y Harness though the tunnel and connected the
servo at the servo opening in the wing. I
used some tape to hold the connector together and
then pulled it through the wing. Then I
repeated the process on the other side.
They did not give you a whole lot of extra wire,
but rest assured there is enough to do it.
for wooden control
fastened with thin CA
servo control horns are attached to the pre-assembled pushrods. Only minor trim
adjustments will be required. The
control horns on the wing are different than what
they show in the manual for all the control
surfaces. The manual shows plastic
control horns that you screw onto the control
surface. Where as the included
addendum shows wooden horns with a round base that
you glue to the control surface.
However, the addendum instructs you to mark the
location and cut the covering. Happily, this
has already been done for you so all that is
needed is to simply glue the wooden control horns
in the correct position and connect the push rod.
Aileron Y Harness
note on the included CNC clevises... Most CNC
that I have seen in the hobby are either plastic
or spring metal with a a pin that snaps the CNC
shut and you usually use a small piece of fuel
tubing as a backup to ensure they do not come
apart in flight. Well, VMAR uses a metal
CNC clevis with a screw rather than a pin to make the
connection. I was not to sure about
this at first, but I used a drop of thread locker
on all the connections to ensure that they would
not vibrate loose in flight. Time will
tell, but I think this is a good solution.
fuselage assembly starts with attaching the
stabilizer and vertical fin to the tail of the
aircraft. This is a standard process for
most ARF airplanes on the market, where you slide
the part in place, make sure it is aligned and
mark the area of covering to be removed. I
used a sharp blade to remove the covering being
careful not to score the wood. Once
both parts were prepped, I installed them in
position using 30 minute epoxy and some masking
tape to ensure they would not move.
The instruction manual is very detailed on this
procedure, in fact it is probably one of the most
detailed I have seen.
horizontal stab for the
covering to be removed
vertical fin for the
covering to be removed
next, step is to install the landing gear.
The gear comes preformed with the wheels and
mounting tabs already installed. To
attached to the fuselage, all I needed to do was
align the holes in the fuselage with the mounting
tabs and attach with the included bolts and nuts.
The fit was a little tight, but nothing to
wheel went on next. The manual tells
you to glue in the mounting tab and then bolt the
tiller arm to the rudder with a metal clip, but on
my kit, there was a plastic tube in place on the
rudder for the tiller arm to slide in, so bolting
it was not required. All I needed to
do was glue the tab to the rear of the fuselage
with some 30 minute epoxy.
my kit came with the optional Power Pack Combo.
The manual shows you how to assemble the motor to
the firewall with individual components if you
decide to use a separate power system. This
is very well detailed in the manual, but since I
used the Power Plus Combo and I strongly suggest
that you do as well, I will cover that procedure
and it's components.
Power Pack System
for the Bird Dog
Power Pack Combo comes with a brushless outrunner
motor preinstalled to the firewall with the ESC
mounted and wired. The first step to
installing the new firewall is creating the
standoffs using the 4 bolts with nuts and washers
as the manual shows. The dimension for
spacing is specified in the manual. To
ensure proper clearance for the cowl and proper
CG, you should adhere to this measurement.
firewall with motor
installed on stand offs
wiring is pretty straight forward with the
exception of a Fuse assembly that you must mount
to the bottom of the firewall with glue.
This fuse is placed in series with the positive
(red) wire and adds an element of safety for the
wiring system. The ESC comes
with an plug already attached to mate with the
Poly Pro battery. This whole
assembly of the propulsion system took less than
10 minutes. Talk about easy!.
If you are using your own power system, then you
can expect it to take about 1/2 hour more.
motor installed, I placed the cowl into position
and using 4 pieces of paper taped to the fuselage,
I marked the location of the screw mounting tabs
on the fuselage. Then I transferred those
locations to the cowl. I checked the cowl
for proper clearance for the prop and made sure
the prop shaft was centered in the opening and
fastened it in place with 4 self-tapping screws.
Paper used to
locate mounting tabs
propeller is mounted using a lock nut threaded all
the way down the shaft. The hole in the prop
was too large for the motor shaft, so the prop
sits on the lock nut and then a washer and second
lock nut are used to secure it in place.
The install was very simple. There is no
spinner to install.
battery is placed in the compartment with the
removable hatch just behind the firewall on the
bottom of the fuselage. The
compartment is removed with one screw.
I placed some rails in the opening and used a
Velcro strap to attach the battery in place.
Once the battery is in the compartment, there is
not much room for movement front to back which
left me concerned about CG adjustments.
But with the battery in place I temporarily
attached the wing and verified the CG and it was
right on. This is a true testament to
the engineering that went into this model.
Poly Pro LiPo
Radio System Installation
I already installed
the aileron servos during the wing assembly
process, so now all that was left were the
elevator and rudder servos and control horns.
The control horns for the elevator and rudder
install the same was as the aileron horns, as they
are wooden as well and attach with epoxy.
The pushrods are already installed in the fuselage
with CNC clevises on each end. I attached
the CNC clevis to both the rudder and elevator and
tightened the screw using a drop of thread lock.
rudder servos mounted
on their tray
control horn and CNC clevis
The two servos mount on a tray
in the orientation that is indicated in the
manual. From there, the tray installs
on the mounting rails in the fuselage using 4 wood
screws. I have pretty big hands
and this was probably the toughest part for me -
getting my hands inside to hold the screws.
Once the servos were installed, I attached the
receiver, and connected the wire from the ESC to
channel 3 (throttle). The ESC has a BEC
(Battery Eliminating Circuit) which will supply
power to the radio system. I attached
the battery and turned on my Futaba radio to
ensure that all the servos were centered and then
I connected the control horns to the servos and
finished the assembly by adjusting the CNC clevises so
that the rudder and elevator were in the neutral
component to install was the pilot figure.
To mount the pilot, I needed to install two rails
using CA to the side of the fuselage.
Then two smaller rails were glued on top of the
pilot base creating a slot to which the pilot can
slide in and out of. Two screws are
used to hold the pilot in place.
is attached to the fuselage by aligning the
two dowel pins to the front of the cabin top, and
then two screws in the rear hold it securely.
To complete the scale look of the Bird Dog, there
are two struts that are attached to each wing from
the fuselage side. They are attached
with 4 wood screws. That is
it!. A quick final check of the CG
ensured that it was ok with the battery installed.
So I put the battery on the charger and waited to
hit the field.