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RCFW HELLCAT


Robert Vogel's build and flight review of the RCFW Hellcat


I’ve finished and test flown my Hellcat designed by Chad Veich. This is a great kit. Being an experienced builder definitely helped me complete this plane but I believe this would be a great first scale kit for the novice builder. Like any scale project you have to commit yourself to it or it will sit half finished for years. It is what it is, and what it is is straight, light, strong, and scale. The laser cut pieces fit exact with no large gaps to fill. The joints are so perfect you can literally assemble the entire fuselage and wing panels and then go back and glue the joints and you’re ready for sheeting. I feel I could have built the fuselage without the jig and still had a fuse that didn’t look like a banana. I jigged it anyway and used spruce longerons for extra strength, as this plane will be flown around pylons at speeds up to 150-180 mph. I used 3/32” sheeting as per the plans but feel that I could have come closer to my projected weight had I used 1/16” sheeting. (I concur with Robert here, 1/16” sheeting on the fuse and wing would be more than adequate.) I think the weight savings of the lighter sheeting would offset the extra weight of the spruce longerons and wing spars. All the plastic parts fit well and I obtained the first fiberglass cowl out of the mold. This fits awesome! I installed the cowl the same way I’ve done on my big IMAC planes. I glue an inner ring of plywood to the inside of the cowl which screws to the firewall. This makes the cowl bolts accessible from the opening in the front of the cowl and eliminates unsightly screws on the outside. A little more work but well worth it.

I built this plane for two pole warbird racing with the YS 1.40, retractable tailwheel, Robart main retracts, and all digital servos installed per the plans. Total weight came in at 10 lbs 6 oz balanced at 28% with the gear retracted. Final location of the battery pack is right on the wing spar, which is unheard of in a warbird! The YS 1.40 seems to be the perfect weight for the model but also is much more power than needed for sport flying. The maiden flight was done with 30% heli fuel. The tail wheel is non-steerable with the centering wire left in place for the maiden flight. It did not ground handle well with the centering wire. Next flight I will remove it so the tail wheel is full castoring. (The tail wheel has since been made fully steerable.) These race planes do very little taxiing so we set it in the middle of the runway and let it go. With a little throttle it rotated nicely onto the mains, required very little rudder correction, and lifted off with no elevator input. I should add that my helper said that the elevator had a little too much down trim so I added a bit of up trim. Once airborne I found that I needed down trim and three clicks of left aileron trim. After a couple of trim passes with the gear down and low throttle I thought all was well and pulled the gear up, which had no effect on the trim. Then I poured the coals to it! It is very fast on the 30% fuel and I had to go to low rates as you know with speed comes sensitivity. I brought it down and did about five laps on the course. I was very pleased with the performance and handling qualities. With hard elevator application there were not tucking or over-rotating issues. I always add aileron differential (more up than down) to my race planes to help prevent them from diving towards the ground in the turns. The airplane is very stable in the straight aways and requires very little rudder in knife-edge flight. I was enjoying it so much I lost track of time and it only has a 16oz tank in it! Races only last about 5 minutes so I save weight by keeping little excess fuel on board. It really needs a 20oz tank for sport flying with the YS 1.40. I decided it was time to drop the mains and land it. Gear down. No gear. No way! I must have cycled it 20 times the night before just to see how many cycles I could get. I flipped the switch repeatedly and tried shaking them down but still no mains. Gotta belly land it I guess. I did one more fly-by, turn out to set up for final, and guess what? No fuel! It quit going outbound at low throttle so I did a quick turn into the wind and it almost stopped so I straightened it out. Thankfully the Hellcat kept flying and didn’t stall. I managed to get it back to the end of the runway and slid it in with minimal damage to the underbelly. Turns out the nut on the air valve had worked loose and the valve had slipped out of its mount. I probably just finger tightened it and never went back and re-tightened it properly. It only took a few minutes to get the gear down and working again. We went ahead and ground ran the motor again with 70% nitro and gained 900 RPM. That should put it in gold class, we’ll see. Later that evening I checked where the elevator trim was set and it turns out it was at exactly neutral. Had I not listened to my helper and added up trim before take off the airplane would have been in perfect trim from the start. All in all it has been a great project. Chad was more than exemplary with redesigning parts and structure for my specific needs. I’m very happy with the final result. Great kit, hats off to Chad. He’s a great designer.


A big thank you to Robert for his review. I would like to add a few other insights that Robert has shared with me since doing the write-up above and as he gains more flight time on the airplane. First, and something that brings a big smile to my face, the airplane is proving to be very docile around the stall. This is proving to be the case at both low and high speeds. Robert reported that in one instance, in a high speed dive, he was forced to apply full up elevator and was quite surprised that the airplane completed a near square corner but without any tendency to spin or corkscrew. This tells me the wash-out incorporated into the Hellcat's big wing is working just like it is supposed to. On the other side of the coin, he has found that the rudder is very powerful and has a substantial amount of roll-coupling associated with it. This is not something that would present much of an issue when flying scale type manuevers. However, if you are attempting more precise aerobatic flight which requires the use of much more rudder input it is something to be aware of. Robert has been expiramenting with programming various mixes to reduce the tendency as it can be a hazard down low and fast while racing. I imagine most folks will not need to go to those lengths but just be aware of it as you begin to open up the envelope with your new Hellcat! I plan to do some testing in this area with my prototype as soon as I have it up and flying again and will report back. CWV