RCU Review: Lanier RC Christen Husky

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    Contributed by: Dick Pettit | Published: August 2007 | Views: 49473 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    • Very complete kit

    • Parts suitable for use on a plane of this type and size

    • Very nice application of covering.

    • Wingspan not 106"

    • Flap hinge holes mis-drilled on one wing panel

    • Some of the lock nuts on the pushrods are the wrong thread

    • Solid metal pushrod shown when using a gas ignition engine

    • Difficult to remove both bottom clevises on wing struts

    • No instrument panel or other interior details

    • Trim color stripes on cowl do not line up with the ones on the fuselage

    • Clevis holes in wooden flap horns wear quickly

    Kit Name: Christen Husky 106
    Price: $719.95
    Wingspan: 104.5"
    Wing Area: 1696 sq.in
    Wing Loading: 23.44 oz/sq.ft on wheels
    27.58 oz/sq.ft on floats

    Flying Weight as tested: 17-20
    Engine: 1.6 to 2.2 2-Stroke, 1.2 to 2.2 4-Stroke, 20cc to 43cc Gas
    Radio equipment: 5 Channel system with 8 Servos 70 oz. min.

    Items needed to complete kit

    • Engine

    • prop

    • spinner

    • engine mount

    • gas fuel line

    • 8 HD servos

    • 5 channel radio system plus 2 more servos for the floats


    • THOR 45cc gas engine

    • Lanier 48" ARF Floats

    • DuBro Scale Cub wheels

    • DuBro Heavy Duty Servo Arms

    • DuBro Fill-It fueler

    • Tru-Turn 3" spinner and prop adapter

    • Attempt #1: Hitec Eclipse PCM radio system (see text)

    • Attempt #2: Spektrum DX7 2.4 GHZ radio system

    • 7 Hitec HS-645MG servos, 3 HS-425BB servos

    • 2 1650 maH 5 cell NiMH batteries

    "The Aviat Husky utility has the distinction of being the only all new light aircraft designed and placed into series production in the United States in the mid to late 1980s. "

    "Similar in configuration, appearance and mission to Piper's venerable Super Cub, the Husky is a much later design, being first conceived in the mid 1980s. The Husky was originally designed by Christen Industries, the company also responsible for the kit built Christen Eagle aerobatic biplane and previous owner of the Pitts Special aerobatic biplane series (described separately, Aviat now owns Pitts and Christen). "

    "Initial design work on the Husky began in late 1985, the aircraft being one of the few in its class designed with the benefit of Computer Aided Design. The prototype Husky flew for the first time in 1986, and the US FAA awarded certification the following year. Production deliveries followed shortly afterwards. "

    "Design features of the Husky include a braced high wing, seating for two in tandem and dual controls. This high wing arrangement was selected for good all round visibility, essential for the many observation and patrol roles the Husky is suited for. Power is supplied by a relatively powerful, for the Husky's weight, 135kW (180hp) Textron Lycoming O360 flat four turning a constant speed prop. The good power reserves and wing also give good field performance. Unlike most current light aircraft the Husky's structure features steel tube frames and Dacron covering over all but the rear of the fuselage, plus metal leading edges on the wings."

    "Options include floats, skis and banner and glider hooks."

    "Husky has been one of the best selling light aircraft designs of the last twenty years, with more than 450 sold since production began. Many of the aircraft are used for observation duties, fisheries patrol, pipeline inspection, border patrol, glider towing and a range of other utility missions. Notable users include the US Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and the Kenya Wildlife Service which flies seven on aerial patrols of elephant herds as part of the fight against illegal ivory poaching."

    The instructions start out at the same place all the other ARF manuals start, by adding the control surfaces to the wing panels. I used a heat gun and a soft cloth to locate and remove a few wrinkles I found in the covering, and it appears to be either UltraCote or Oracover. By the way it responds to the application of heat. The ailerons are attached using the supplied CA type hinges using thin ZAP adhesive and the flaps are installed using the point type hinges and Pacer Hinge Glue. I found that the pre-drilled holes on one wing panel were located incorrectly by almost ?", but I could re-drill the holes in the right place easily. I did notice that reversed servos are not needed for the flaps because the pre-installed horns are offset to the same side of the wing panels.


    Aileron and flap servos were installed using the wooden blocks epoxied to the hatch covers, and linkages were made up using the supplied 4-40 rods and clevises. I used Hitec HS-645MG servos on flaps and ailerons because I have had good luck with them in the past. The flap linkage is hidden within the wing while the aileron linkages are outside. The flaps have wooden tabs with holes drilled for the clevis pins, so I'll be looking for possible wear as time goes by. I made up some extension cables for each servo using locking connectors, labeling them as to their purpose. The aileron horns are bolts and plastic fittings that are perfectly usable for this purpose. Even though the bolts are quite long, I did not shorten them until I check and adjust the control surface throws. I used DuBro Heavy Duty control horns on the aileron and flap servos for extra servo travel.

    The main landing gear is installed next, using plastic straps and wood screws. The main wheels are probably fine for average use, but I had a new set of DuBro quarter scale CUB wheels hanging on the wall and I used them. They add to the "bush plane" look of the Husky. The tail wheel bracket is attached using some rather small wood screws that I replaced with ones that are a bit larger. The main gear fairings are simply covered wooden plates that tie wrap to the wire gear. I would have tried to do this another way, but the ones in the kit are usable.


    With the Husky up on all three wheels, the wing panels are attached using the aluminum wing tube and nylon retaining bolts. The locating pin hole locations needed to be adjusted slightly to allow easy assembly. There is a removable hatch with a window on the top of the cabin that gives access to the radio equipment, servos and for installing wing root bolts. The horizontal stab is then slipped through the slot in the fuselage and aligned to the wings both horizontally and vertically. The covering is then cut away at the fuselage area and the stab is attached permanently. The manual recommends epoxy, but I have had excellent results using thin ZAP if the joint is tight enough, which it was on the Husky. Don't go overboard here with the ZAP because a little goes a long way, and I'm talking about down the side of the fuselage. (No, I didn't)

    The tail braces are made up using the thin cables, threaded fittings and plastic connectors in the kit. They are adjustable, but you'll need to take the attachment bolts and nuts off and use a pair of pliers to make adjustments.

    The elevator halves and rudder are now installed with the CA hinges and thin ZAP. The control horns are the same as used on the ailerons, and are easily installed. The holes are pre-drilled, even though the manual says to drill the holes at a particular location.

    The 2-56 wire elevator pushrods slide through plastic tubes and are probably heavy enough for use on a plane of this type and size. The elevator servo location, however, forces the user to reverse one elevator servo or make other arrangements, like relocate the plastic tube to the other side of one servo. It was a simple task to reverse one elevator servo, wire it up to the other elevator servo and plug them into the receiver. The rudder pull-pull wires are then threaded from the tail to the servo area, not a very easy task, but if you follow the manual and use an elevator pushrod to guide the wires forward, it can be done. Again, Hitec HS-645MG servos were used for elevator and rudder control. Several of the lock nuts to be used on the pushrods were the wrong thread and needed to be replaced.


    Since I did not have an engine for the Husky at this point in time, I jumped ahead in the manual and mounted the wing struts to the fuselage and wings. Metal tabs are bolted to the fuselage floor, not an easy task because the bolts go under the servo tray. More metal tabs are bolted to recessed slots in each wing panel and the wings are mounted to the fuselage. I found it easier to turn the entire plane over and work on the struts where I can actually see them. The clevises at the fuselage end of the struts are difficult to attach to the metal bracket because they are solidly mounted to the struts. They cannot be spread apart from one another to fit into the holes.

    I made a bit of an "engineering improvement" to make it easier to take the struts off the fuselage. I drilled out the clevis pin holes in the fuselage brackets to fit 4-40 bolts. I made up a new clevis plate from scrap aluminum sheet that has holes for both the clevis pins and ones that match the 4-40 bolt holes. The new clevis plate is bolted to the fuselage bracket with a pair of 4-40 bolts and safety nuts. After adjusting the length of the struts to fit, the clevises are clipped into the new holes on the clevis plate for the last time. The struts can be removed by removing the 4-40 bolts, keeping the clevises in place. The photo shows the details a lot better than I can write about them.

    The interplane struts (actually called Jury struts) are then assembled, but mine were already put together and mounted to the wing struts. Once the main struts are attached to the wing and fuselage, the jury struts are adjusted, bent, wiggled and magically installed in place. They're weird looking but all they have to do is keep the main struts from flexing. The one downgrade is that they mount into the wing structure with a single wood screw into a piece of wood. I would have expected to see at least a bolt and blind nut arrangement, but it's too late to change things now.


    The side windows, windshield and top hatch window are now installed into position after cutting them to size. I used Pacer Canopy Glue for the side and top windows and used small screws for the windshield to allow removal if necessary. The window material is tinted, which may keep prying eyes from seeing the lack of any sort of cabin interior inside the Husky. For the price of this kit, I would at least expect to find an instrument panel decal, but none was included. I found an instrument panel sticker that was cut to fit.

    The last thing to be done is adding the receiver, battery and power switch, but since I still don't have the engine, I'll hold off doing these steps. I may have to locate the battery elsewhere in case the balance of the plane requires it.

    Finally, after several false starts, the engine I planned to use on the Husky arrived and was set up on my test bench. It's a THOR 45 gas engine that is distributed by Hobby People and will turn a 20-8 prop at about 7500 RPM, plenty to pull the Husky around, even on floats. The THOR engine is rather short and required some additional spacers to get the prop drive washer out where it needed to be. Along with the metal spacers that came with the engine, I made up a set of 1" wooden spacers made from 1" diameter hardwood dowel, drilled them for 10-32 bolts and attached the engine to the firewall using fender washers and safety nuts.

    The throttle linkage and fuel tank were then added, but I chose not to use the solid metal throttle pushrod supplied in the kit. It was replaced with a plastic tube type pushrod to minimize the transmission of ignition noise from the engine back to the radio system. The cowl was then trimmed to clear the cylinder head and muffler outlet and attached to the fuselage with small screws. The ignition box was mounted to the front of the firewall and the battery was placed directly behind the firewall as far forward as possible to keep the ignition system as far away from the radio system as possible. I added a tee in the carburetor feed line to allow filling and draining the tank using a DuBro Fill-It system. The cowl was then mounted after cutting clearance holes for the cylinder and muffler. It was mounted using small servo screws. I then found that the color trim stripes on the cowl would not line up with the ones on the fuselage. I could have one side match and the other side be way off, or just center both of them. I did the latter.

    With the engine installed and the cowl mounted, I checked the balance of the Husky only to find that it was actually nose heavy. It balanced just ahead of the forward point listed in the manual and this prompted me to install the radio system as far back in the fuselage as possible. A plywood base was installed behind the cockpit on the floor of the fuselage and the Hitec FM receiver and 5 cell battery was attached to it. Wiring was made up to connect the flaps, ailerons and other control surfaces to the receiver. The antenna was run outside the fuselage to the tail and the receiver switch was installed on a ply plate I had to add to the fuselage side because there was no other place to mount it.


    With just about everything complete, I took the Husky outside to run the engine on the airframe. I had installed the floats on the fuselage and found that the plane again balanced a bit on the nose heavy side, about the same as when the wheels were installed. I estimated that 4 ounces of lead was needed at the tail to bring the balance to the middle of the suggested balance range, and this was the 29% point according to my calculations. I attached sufficient lead to get the desired balance point.

    Engine running was attempted and the THOR 45 spring to like after a few priming flips and 2 or 3 starting flips. There was plenty of power available and I was actually able to taxi the plane on the damp grass in my backyard. I then made a radio range check and found that there was definite glitching at less than my standard distance from the airplane. I replaced the receiver with another one, only to find that the glitching was still there.

    I went to the trouble of setting up a separate radio system consisting of a receiver, battery and several servos on a small table that I placed more than 3 feet from the running engine. There was still interference with this arrangement so it was time for some drastic measures. I took out the 72 MHZ system and installed a Spektrum DX7 receiver and programmed the transmitter for all the control surfaces. I then checked the radio range and found that I could not get the system to glitch at twice the normal range check distance.


    The second part of the review is the installation of the Lanier 48" ARF Floats. The Husky manual has a section that deals with this process, so they must be thinking that most Husky purchasers will also be using the floats. The latest Lanier advertisement on their web site has a special price on a combination of the Husky and the floats. These floats seem to be wood construction with a layer of fiberglass cloth on the bottoms of the hull sections. They're covered in a plastic heat shrink material that handles like the covering on the Husky when heated. The floats also come with a rear strut that mounts to the fuselage on the Husky. These floats can be used on other models, but the geometry between the floats and the airplane's wing must be set up accordingly.

    The entire float assembly weighs 3 pounds 14 ounces, including the water rudder servos, which is not bad for a set of floats this size. They will add to the total weight of the Husky, which is why I've decided to use an engine at the upper end of the power range.


    There's really not much to do as far as assembly on the floats, but we can bolt on the nylon bracket for the gear legs and the water rudders, assemble the rudders themselves and add the pushrods to the rudder servos. Yes, I did say servos, because each float has its own servo to steer its own rudder. The rudder post requires soldering to the rudder bracket, which may be a bit of a problem for modelers with limited soldering experience.

    The rudders feature a "kick-up" design, meaning that they can pivot vertically if they hit something in the water, like a rock or a tree. This prevents the stern of the floats from being ripped off. The water rudder servos can be standard size units and are sealed inside the floats using some sort of a sealant on the hatch covers. The servo leads and extensions are then run up the rear struts to the fuselage where they have to be tied into the rudder channel of the radio system. I found that the water rudder servos move in the opposite direction as the main rudder servo moves, so I had to reverse the rudder servo and then reverse the rudder channel on the transmitter. Adjustment is made possible by a V shaped bend directly behind each servo. Open or close the V and the rudder moves accordingly.

    The pushrods that are supplied with the float kit do not flex enough to allow sufficient water rudder movement. I replaced them with 1/32" wire to allow a bit of sideways motion when the rudders were deflected.

    There is a fuselage sub-fin that is supposed to minimize adverse yaw due to the addition of the floats. The mounting plate has to be screwed to the underside of the fuselage at the rear, but that requires the removal of the tail wheel assembly. I made another "engineering improvement? to allow the installation of the sub-fin without removing the tail wheel.

    The last thing to be done is to measure between the centerline of the floats at the front and rear to make sure they are aligned with one another. Mine were within 1/16" and I left them there. There is no mention of checking the alignment of the top of the floats to the fuselage, and I can only assume that Lanier has done their homework on this bolt-on installation.

    I'll add one more thing here that is really important to any model that has had floats added. The airplane with the wheels attached must be balanced to fly correctly, but the addition of floats may cause the balance point to change. Do not, under any circumstances, add weight to the aircraft itself to correct a balance problem after installing the floats. If this is done, and the floats removed, the balance of the airplane will be incorrect. Instead, add weight to either the bow or stern of the floats themselves. This way, when you go back to flying off dry land, the balance point will be correct.

    I'll take the Husky on wheels to my favorite flying site to make the first land-based flights, and then replace the wheels with the floats and head over to another club field that just happens to have a really large lake just off the end of the runway. See y'all then.

    It was a magnificent day for flying, so I got with my assistant test pilot, Rick Cawley and made arrangements to take the Lanier Husky to the flying field. I also put the floats into the car just in case we had enough time to go to another field that happens to have a huge lake off one end of the runway. I assembled the Husky, took some ground photos and filled the tank with gas mix. The THOR 45 engine started very easily and after I made a radio range check and had Rick in place with the still camera, I was ready for the first flight.

    Power was added, a little bit of right rudder was needed to keep the plane headed in a straight line and the Husky was off the ground in a few hundred feet. I circled the field and checked the trims, finding only a tiny bit of aileron trim was needed for hands-off level flight. I also noticed I had only used half throttle to get the plane into the air.

    I then flew around a bit, making loops, rolls, stall turns and other basic aerobatic maneuvers. All were completed easily and with plenty of control left over. I then tried a low and slow pass with half flaps and low power, and the Husky could be made to fly at a fast walking pace. But with full flaps and lower power, I could be made to hover in the air, not moving forward at all. This was really cool!

    I realize that I have not done many of the maneuvers that some other pilots would have tried like knife edges, snap rolls and the like, but since the full scale Husky is designed to be a short field bush plane, those maneuvers would be entirely out of place. What it does, it does very well.

    I set up for a full flap landing, lowered the power to a high idle and pointed the nose to the left end of the grass runway. The Husky didn't speed up at all and it seemed like there was a parachute attached to its tail. Once over the runway, I flared the Husky to a nice wheel landing and taxied back to the pit area to check for loose or missing parts. The first flight was a 100% success, but the next one will be done by Rick.

    I took the video camera and with Rick at the controls, he got the Husky into the air a bit quicker that I had. He then made some slow rolls, a huge loop and then a really small loop. But the most fun he had was doing rudder turns in a vertical attitude. Not quite a stall turn but more like the type of turn that an agricultural spray plane would do when turning around. Rick commented that the rudder was very powerful and could be used with ailerons to make scale type turns.

    Rick then made a few low and slow passes and a pretty good touch and go with half flaps deployed. He was really enjoying himself flying really slow with the flaps hanging out the back of the wing. He commented that the engine ran very well also, and provided plenty of power without being the least bit noisy.

    Rick set up for his first landing with only half flaps deployed and it was a beauty. We checked things out once more and found that the flap linkage on one side was a bit loose. This turned out to be the holes in the flap horns wearing to a larger diameter as we flew the Husky. It was OK for now but I'll make a change to the flap linkage after I get home. We flew the Husky a few more times off the grass but then decided to take off the wheels, add the floats and head for the lake. See y'all there.


    The flying club with a huge lake was only about half an hour away and once I got there, the Husky was assembled, fueled and carried to the water's edge. The bolt-on ventral fin, used to offset the side forces generated by the floats, was also attached. I asked if it would be OK to fly off the water without interfering with the half dozen or so pilots that were "land locked". I guess it was OK since most of them stopped flying their planes and followed us to the lake. The THOR 45 was started, and the Husky was placed into the water, and according to one spectator, "it floats". That's a good thing too.

    I taxied to the left edge of the lake and advanced power slowly but steadily. The floats came up on the step quickly and the Husky was airborne. I circled the area and began to find that the Husky was yawing to the right when heading in one direction and to the left going the other way. I think the ventral fin on the bottom of the fuselage was catching too much of the cross wind and making the plane fly crooked. A little rudder input along with opposite ailerons fixed the problem easily, but I may take the ventral fin off next time.

    The Husky on floats flies with a definite pendulum effect since they weigh about three full pounds, and it's all hanging under the fuselage. It may take some learning how to get the Husky to fly in a normal fashion, but it's still fun.

    No aerobatics were attempted with the floats in place, but I feel the plane would look awkward doing loops and rolls with those floats in place. Tight turns, steep dives at low speeds and low slow flybys are the maneuvers that are in order for a plane such as the Husky.

    I had attracted several more spectators including a few that were out on the lake in their boats. I decided to make one more flyby and then set up for a rather normal approach. On the downwind leg, the flaps were set to the halfway position, the throttle reduced to a very high idle and the Husky responded by dropping its nose and reducing its flying speed. Just before turning to final, I added full flaps, cut the power some more and set up a gliding approach. When the Husky was about 5 feet off the water, power was cut to idle and the floats kissed the water, the plane bounced slightly and settled back to the lake with a very gentle splash from the floats.

    I found that the floats did kick up a little water during low and mid-speed taxiing, but not enough to harm the running of the engine. The water rudders were very powerful, but there was one time that the crosswind prevented turning the Husky to the left. I responded by making a 270 degree right turn and headed off in the direction I had originally intended. No water was found in either the floats or the fuselage. You can see from the small video that the Husky does just fine on the floats. And it does really well on wheels too.


    The Lanier Husky is a really nice semi-scale model of a plane that was designed to go where not many other planes would survive. It assembles quickly and easily, there are no major problems and everything fits where it was designed to fit. I think several important details were left off such as an instrument panel and something that would indicate where the door is located. At a price such as the Husky will cost the purchaser, those things should be included. I used the THOR 45cc engine because I wanted as much power as I felt necessary to get the plane off the ground and especially off the water. Smaller displacement engines could be used, but be prepared to take longer to get into the air.

    There are several prices listed on the Lanier web site and in various online resources that could make the Husky a very good choice for the modeler who wants the look of a scale high wing 2 place bush plane with good flight characteristics and rather low weight, all needing a moderate sized engine and barely larger than standard radio equipment.

    I like the Husky, both on wheels and on the floats and I plan to take it back to the lake as soon as they cut down some of the tall weeds on the entry path.

    Lanier R/C
    P.O. Box 458
    Oakwood, GA 30566


    Phone: 770-532-6401
    Fax: 770-532-2163

    Comments on RCU Review: Lanier RC Christen Husky

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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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