Here are some tips that work well for flying combat with our Planes:
- Icarex Covering: While Ultracote is great for sport applications, we've pioneered a new and more durable covering that works great on our planes.
Click here for details on the "Icarex Method"
- Washout: If you want your plane to loop tighter, try adding some washout. Here's how:
Apply twist to the wing so that the wing panel tip is twisted down at the LE and the TE twists up. Take a covering iron and iron out wrinkles that appear in the covering while holding the twist -- especially from the center of the panel to the outer third section. Don't heat the other wing half yet. Remove heat and smooth covering while it cools. Don't forget the wing bottom covering either. Now repeat for other wing half.
Fly the plane and make sure you have not introduced roll trim imbalance. If so, then twist again and heat only one wing panel to add more wash out to the panel that produces the correct roll direction to even out the aileron trim. Fly again to check roll trim and then check how tightly you can loop without snapping. Within a few iterations you'll have a tighter looping plane.
Note : Wash Out becomes "wash in" for outside loops, so although your inside loops will get tighter, your outside loops will get bigger!
- Fleet Commonality: When going to a contest, it helps if you have many interchangeable parts. You may get unlucky and need to swap a whole plane between rounds, or maybe just parts, but it helps if you keep things as common as possible. Decide on a plane and engine combo you like, build two, three or more of them, and outfit them identically. If you need to, you'll be able to quickly switch parts to keep "your favorite" ready to rumble.
- Packing Tape: glass filament reinforced packing tape can lend stiffness to the wings, and improved impact resistance when run spanwise. Avoid using too much, as weight builds up fast. Scotch "extreme application strapping tape" # 8959 RD is a bidirectional tape and very strong -- available at Staples office supply store. It's great for patching holes or tears quickly between rounds. Seal edges with CA to keep it stuck down near fuel soaked areas when using over Icarex.
The bidirectional tape is perfect for repairs to elevon hinges. Seal with CA and Iron down well.
- Carbon Fiber: Beware! Some flyers put carbon kite spars in the leading/trailing edges. You get stiffer wings which makes your turns a bit tighter, and some measure of impact resistance. However beware! Carbon will eventually fail, and very often catastrophically when the resin get's stressed and beaten enough. The weakest point will let go, and often with very spectacular results! Carbon fiber is amazing stiff stuff, but when used on a plane that is designed to flex on impact, you really defeat the purpose and will probably get the exact opposite results you set out to achieve.
- Watch out for flutter! This is particularly a problem during dives when using higher powered engines (ie, if you decide to use a .40 on a Predator!) Be sure to use enough 3M77 on the wing in the brace installation and covering stages. Remember the the covering stiffens the structure well when shrunk tight. Also, install elevon servos outboard (near left/right wing centers) to actuate elevons near their centers-- making the elevon flex less at the ends under flight loads. Be very sure to round elevon and TE bevels well as indicated in the instructions. Also, all connections should be slop-free. Nylon to nylon clevis/control horn joints are good and wear well. Z bends at servo arms should be tight and have no slop.
- Lightening Holes: Be careful not to make too big. You save about an ounce when cutting out twelve 2" diameter holes, which doesn't sound like much, but you get a "snappier" rolling plane. The down side is a weaker wing for impact resistance. A sharpened "soup can" is a quick way to get the holes cut. Square holes are a bit more work, but may yield a slightly stiffer wing. If you want more durability instead of lightness, then don't cut any lightening holes!
- Metal Geared Servos: Use them!! The Hitec 225 MG is very durable, strong and fast. It will serve you well with a long life and is worth the extra bucks to avoid failures in the heat of battle.
If you're on a budget and must use standard servos, Airtronics standard servos seem to be the most resistant to gear stripping. Stay away from Hitec standard servos for combat, as they strip very easily.
- Fast rolls need strong servos: Our new Predator X comes with super big elevons -- 2" wide at the tips. To really take advantage of this area for fast rolls, you absolutely need strong servos (70-100 oz*in torque). If you use a 4 cell battery, this equates to about $100 worth of elevon servos. If you don't want to spend that much there is an alternative -- a 5 cell battery. 6 Volts will give your standard size servos the torque they need to get the job done. That big 72" wing needs big deflection to roll fast. If you put weak servos on the elevons, they will stall at high speed if you ask for too much deflection.
If you prefer a slower rolling plane for easier precise flying, then don't worry about this and set your throws to take advantage of a high mechanical advantage for the servo : push rod connected in close to the servo pivot, and far out away from the hinge on the control horn side.
- Tether Engine: The break away engine mount saves your plane by allowing the engine to depart in very violent collisions -- however, what if this happens in mid-air?! Try looping a short length of strong fishing leader (braided steel, or thin music wire) securely around the engine or engine mounts and to the plane by drilling a small hole through home plate. This way the engine will stay with your plane, and you'll be able to find it quickly to re-attach before the next round -- instead of looking in the weeds for hours after the contest.
This was largely a problem when folks were using rigid leading edges. If you follow our instructions when building, head on impacts won't eject your engine so you shouldn't need tethers.
- Plane Finders (Beepers): A really good idea for combat planes! You never really think about them -- until you need one. Even if your field doesn't have tall brush or trees, you may travel to combat with a club that does. Several companies make beepers that plug into your RX (either inline with a servo, or into an unused channel) and beep loudly when you turn off your transmitter. See the Lost Model Alarm (LMA) on our accessories page.
- Throttle Servo Saver (fuel tube linkage connection): Use it! It's described in the instructions, and works well. Your throttle servo will thank you, as it won't be ripped from the plane on impact. Use a metal geared servo for throttle! (ie, HS 85 MG) Be sure not to use too much fuel tubing for the coupler -- connection should be just snug enough to connect rods without slipping during normal motion. This saves servo gears.
- Glue In Servos: Some flyers think they can just push in the servos, or screw them in place into mounts of scrap wood that are glued in place. This sounds nice for easier removal, but you're really inviting two things:
- Increased chance of flutter: A servo will wiggle if it isn't glued to the foam every place it seats within the foam. You need a lot of glued contact area for the servo to resist moving under flight loads, yet you don't want to have a fully rigid mount for crash/impact resistance. Use Elmers Ultiamte polyurethane glue (formerly called "Pro Bond") for best results.
- Loss of servo : A violent mid air will dislodge the servo, you'll lose control, and possibly the servo as well.
- Check glo plug between rounds: This verifies your ni-starter and glo plug are ready. You don't want to be doing maintenance during the 90 second starting period. (you should be climbing and looking for stragglers, ready to dive and take their streamers!)
- Mousse Can Mufflers (or the "Kentucky Mousse Can"): For Open B class combat, it's difficult to beat a hot running engine with a tuned pipe "mousse can muffler." Flying Z Hobbies offers a great screw on can, ready made and mounted on a Macs header to fit your favorite .25 size engine. Tina and Jim Zieman are flyers and will get you a package to make your engine really scream.
- Practice -- There is no substitute: The best performing plane in the world won't do you any good if you don't get used to flying it. Know your weapon, and know how to use your weapon. There's only 1 way to do that, and it isn't on a simulator!
Note: You really don't need any construction mods if you're just sport flying, as the plane built 'stock' per the instructions will withstand nearly all crashes you can perform. The problem lies in getting hit by an opponent at odd angles and crazy-fast closing speeds. Remember, the more stuff (weight) you add to build a bullet-proof "tank" the worse it will fly, so if you want your hot rod to fly circles around everyone else, keep it light!
Very few, if any planes out there will survive a "T-Bone" hit directly to the wing top or bottom center, but the above mods will help minimize repairs between rounds when you start really mixing it up in close quarters.
Want to run your own combat event?
It's not as difficult as you may think
Learn from the experience we enjoyed during our first ever RCCA sanctioned combat meet at our home field. We had 14 contestants, lots of action, and plenty of fun!
Combat Over Cicero 7/28/01
Here are reports of successive meets:
Combat Over Cicero 7/27/02
Combat Over Cicero 7/26/03
Combat Over Cicero 7/31/04
Gentlemen, you have 90 seconds -- Start your engines!