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Written by James   
Thursday, 09 July 2009 09:13

RC Lander F16 - Build and Flying Review

You know there is something quite bizarre about checking EMS parcel tracking numbers and guessing how long customs will take to check your parcel, this one was almost a record for me 8 days in customs then released without charge! Still the rest of the service was ace and despite what I can only guess must have been copious sniffer dogs and x-rays the RC Lander F16 arrived in tip top condition .......

Unwrapping the F16 was a task in itself, mail order models are often hit and miss, some arrive without any packaging, in fact some arrive in many more bits than they should but not this one, it was a veritable noah's ark, each item was double wrapped, even the box was inside another box ! After carefully unwrapping each item (there aren't many) I noticed a very nice touch, the retracts were pre installed with servos. I've previously spent many many hours toiling over mechanical retracts trying to remove the inevitable buzz but all the work had been done, I reckoned that the whole kit would take a gentle week of evening sessions. The included hardware was pretty good, the 4S 4375KV lander fan was smooth as silk and it was really good to find the bottles of 5 minute epoxy that accompany the kit, for those who haven't tried it its very good stuff !

First up was the elevators, I've been used to tailerons on previous EDF F16/S but the all moving tail on the Lander F16 was a pure elevator. Installation was easy, minimal slop from the linkages. Each elevator is controlled by an individual servo so if you are using Y leads then remember to use a reversed servo or a reversing Y lead.

The Fan and ESC installation required a bit of re-work, the recess for the motor wires required lengthening and some foam needed to be removed from the moulding to ensure a straight thrust line, my advice is take your time with this, although the fan is accessible afterwards a variable thrust line can make trimming next to impossible. I like to use cable tidy wrap from maplins to clean up the cables in the duct, as I use 2.4Ghz radio gear you don't suffer from interference that mixing the servo and battery leads can cause.

The wings are joined with epoxy, I always like to scabble the ends to ensure a good key. The recess moulding for the carbon bracing rod required a small amount of foam to be cut away for the wings to sit flush with the key locators. Note that the moulding's do allow for a tad of dihedral. I'm always very apprehensive about joining wings and tend to use 15 minute epoxy to ensure symmetry on both sides. I'd like to say its my vast experience of building models but alas I fear its old age creeping in !

The instructions propose a push rod to control the rudder, I fiddled for ages trying to get a smooth linkage but found the fan folding movement so I opted to install the servo into the rudder itself, I used a standard 9g micro servo worked well and when painted with some off the shelf paint blended in well. Note again if you plan to use Y leads for the rudder and nose wheel steering you will need a reversed servo or a reversing Y lead.

The nose cone is quite flexible and the instructions note that filling the nose cone with some packaging will help, this is a great idea, very eco friendly !, don't try to glue the nose cone in with a glue gun though the plastic is thin and will not withstand the heat !. The kit can with the famous storm trooper foam pilots built into the moulding, luckily Lander supply a number of pilots that can brighten things up !. I always use Zap canopy glue to fix the clear canopy over the cockpit, it was naive to see than no cutting was required to get a good fit.

The kit comes with a good arsenal of firearms which do make the model stand out from the usual F16's, some cutting is required to ensure the aileron servos don't snag the weapons. Note the sidewinders are fixed to the tips not the underside as shown on the photo but I hadn't glued them yet ! I set the C of G to 100mm back from where the wings meet fus, this is not as per the instructions but previous research had found this to be a good starting point.

I completed the F16 in about a week back in March but as i needed to fly her from Tarmac had to wait until the end of June for a suitable date. The day arrived though, conditions were cloudy but lights winds and no rain !. After a few static shots she was throttled up and sped off down the runway at good speed. The flight was good, the sound fantastic (excuse the pun) and she really did perform very well, rolls were axial and low passes fully loaded a scream. The landing appeared to be uneventful apart from when power was cut and she ballooned up, investigation found the most likely cause of this to be the thrust line as the EDF unit was at a slight angle (see above)

In early July I received the new metal sprung retracts from RC Lander, these are machined aluminium and only slightly heavier than the plastic ones originally supplied. They were a drop in replacement for the original retracts although some trimming to the plastic cover and foam recesses was required as they are slightly longer than the originals.

The modifications complete I quickly made for our club grass strip to see how the new retracts held up on grass. After more static shots she was throttled up and shot off down the runway, take of was exciting due to the swirling wind and bump half way down the runway. Once in flight it was noticed the two of the wheels would not fully retract (more on this later) but other than that and the momentary loss of orientation brought on by the silhouette outline of the F16 against the sun it was a another great flight. The all important landing approached and everything was looking good until the wind caught her at the final moment dumping her onto the deck. immediate examination had found that the front nose wheel had pushed through the foam but other than that it was OK.

Whilst repairing the damage to the front nose wheel I took the decision to reinforce all the retracts mounts and replaced the servo that controls two legs with a high torque metal geared servo, I usually forget to invert the plane when testing retracts (hence the problems above) but this time I tested in every configuration and found it to work... I'll post an update when she next flies, I am confidentthat grass take offs and landings will be possible.....