Home Parkzone Airplane Reviews Parkzone Albatros D. Va Review
Parkzone Albatros D. Va Review Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 19 June 2012 20:12


History

The Albatros D.V was a fighter aircraft used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. The D.V was the final development of the Albatros D.I family, and the last Albatros fighter to see operational service. Despite its well-known shortcomings and general obsolescence, approximately 900 D.V and 1,612 D.Va aircraft were built before production halted in early 1918. The D.Va continued in operational service until the end of the war.

The D.V entered service in May 1917 and, like the D.III before it, immediately began experiencing structural failures of the lower wing. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that the D.V was even more prone to wing failures than the D.III. The outboard sections of the upper wing also suffered failures, requiring additional wire bracing. Furthermore, the D.V offered very little improvement in performance. As of May 1918, 131 D.V and 928 D.Va aircraft were in service on the Western Front. This number declined as the Albatros was replaced by Fokker D.VIIs and other types during the final months of the war, but the D.Va remained in use until the Armistice (11 November 1918).

The Albatros D. VA was powered by 1 Mercedes D.III piston engine that produced 200 hp and gave the bird a top speed of 116 mph. The plane had a flight time of 2 hours.



Intro

After last year’s release of Parkzone’s SE5A, I figured it was only a matter of time until they released a counterpart plane. Last week that day finally came, the hotly anticipated Albatros D. Va was finally released and in my hands.

   

Kit Contents

The kit arrived at the RC-Hobbies store in perfect condition and sustained no damage in transit. The Albatros comes in two flavors, either a Bind-n-Fly which includes a receiver, charger and 1800mah 3S battery or a Plug-n-Play which includes the plane and electronics, but no extra receiver/charger/battery.  For the purpose of this review I chose the PnP since I have plenty of batteries and receivers. The Albatros was securely packaged and each part was individually wrapped or protected. The kit included everything needed to assemble the plane including the wings, fuselage, landing gear, motor/esc/servos (all pre-installed), an accessory bag and a highly detailed manual written in 5 languages, so if you’re feeling saucy you can assemble the plane like a Frenchman. Oui!

   

Assembly

The first step in assembly is soldering deans plugs on the ESC. The 30amp ESC is fortunately secured by Velcro instead of glue so it was easy to take out of the plane and get the deans on. I do this to make sure all of the servos, motor and electrical parts are working BEFORE putting the entire plane together and discovering a problem. Believe me, it is better this way. It’s important to arm the Albatros and make sure things are working because one of the immediate steps is to secure the bottom wing which covers up the rudder and elevator servos. Once the bottom wing was secure it was time to move onto the landing gear.

   

Parkzone is known for ease of assembly and the motto “Just Fly” and most of their models fall well within this rule. Their motto for the Albatros should be “Assemble the Landing gear and then think about flying”. The landing gear seemed a little over-complicated for what they were. There was a bunch of little pieces and it is not too hard to figure out but it took me a little while to get everything together. Talking with other members at the field I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. Their drawings can be a tad bit confusing at times and after a while I began to wish they would just show me a photograph of how it should be.

   

   

With the front gear intact I moved onto the tail and slid on the elevator. The elevator is a big wide piece of foam and is only held on by a flimsy little screw. The kit includes double-sided sticky tape to help secure the elevator to the underside of the rudder but I didn’t feel it would do the trick. With the elevator in place I took a few dabs of foam safe CA and lined the edges of the rudder/elevator connection. This extra security gave me relief when flying the WWI bird.

   

Once the elevator was secure I opted to install the tail wheel instead of the included skid. I know the skid is probably more historically accurate, but I like having more control on the ground and for that the tail wheel is the way to go. Once again I spent a few minutes pouring over the detailed drawings of the tail wheel section before figuring out what they wanted me to do. To install the tail wheel a section of foam must be cut from the rear left side of the tail. It’s a perfect little square and easy to see where it needs to be cut. With the square removed, the wire end of the wheel gets pushed up through the elevator. The wire end then goes BENEATH the rudder control horn. This part was confusing in the diagrams, but is not too difficult to figure out. You’ll have to remove the control horn to get the tail wheel wire beneath it.

   

After the tail wheel was attached the top wing was ready to screw into the plane. The top wing not only screws into the side of the fuselage, but it also attaches the lower wing via outer wing struts.

With the wings attached the plane was completely assembled!


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 Features

In a world where electric retracts, lights, flaps, sounds and tons of ‘extras’ are found on the latest and greatest RC airplanes it is nice to pull back and go back to the basics. Even though the Parkzone Albatros is a model of a simpler time, the plane is still loaded with features. The D. Va has a wingspan of 42.3” and an overall length of 35”. The plane is constructed with the latest Z-foam and honestly the foam just keeps getting smoother and smoother. The wings are decked out in bright red that ‘pop’ in the air while the body is smothered in a smooth creamy tone that is pleasing to the eye. The model includes a semi-realistic pilot complete with a white scarf. The model engine on the front of the plane is quite impressive and received several ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ at the field. The plane is powered by a 480-size 960kv brushless motor that pushes out 25 amps and 250 watts on the 10x8 electric prop. Four digital servos control the ailerons, rudder and elevator and the 30amp ESC runs the show with ease. The model also features very large wheels that roll well in grass making it capable of landing and taking off in areas where there is no pavement.

(You'd be happy too if you got to pilot the Albatros)

First Flight

I love summer. The majority of days are good flying days around here, we don’t get too much wind or rain or thunderstorms. It’s not summer (yet) but Saturday felt like the perfect summer morning. I loaded up the Albatros and headed to an empty flying field. The only other person there was a member “Ron” who was in the process of maidening his Albatros.

I checked over the surfaces stuffed in a 3S 2200mah battery (more on that later) and taxied the plane out to the tarmac. In my excitement I completely forgot to check the CG of the plane but fortunately the RC airplane gods were smiling on me. With a push of the throttle the Albatros rumbled down the strip and after 20 feet the plane easily rose from the runway.

   

After a couple of circuits I could feel the Albatros need 2 clicks of down elevator and it felt like it was rolling to the right ever so slightly so I clicked in 2 beeps of left aileron. At this point I revved the plane up and down all through the air. The Parkzone Albatros was an absolute joy to fly. Even with only having two ailerons on the four wings the plane has plenty of maneuverability and the power to weight ratio is enough to make a WWII buff smile.

The entire flight was a ton of fun and I never felt like the Albatros was getting away from me or that I had to be careful when flying slow. The extra wings provide extra lift making the D. Va solid at slow speeds.

I flew for five and a half minutes on the first flight on a 2200mah battery and had about 3.80 left in each cell after landing.

Flight Characteristics

The Parkzone Albatros has very sweet flying characteristics with a little extra punch. Overall I found the airplane to be predictable with no nasty surprises. Even though there are no big surprises there are a few nuances that are particular to this plane. The Albatros has a great power envelope and plenty of juice left on the sticks if you desire to turn and burn. For most of the flying I was at ½ throttle and for super slow flying I could bump it down to 1/3 and still stay in the air. The Albatros has excellent slow flying abilities when flying in a straight line, but when turning the plane it really sinks, feels heavy and needs added throttle. It is imperative to keep the speed up in the turns as the plane will sink and if you’re not careful, stall. The good news is the stall speed is very slow and the stall itself is completely controllable with absolutely no tendency to tip stall. Inverted flight surprised me and it showed how well balanced the plane was. While upside down the plane needed hardly any down elevator and the miniature pilot seemed happy flying either way. On the stock setting the rudder has a nice amount of throw and sharp stall turns and knife-edges are possible. Amazing!

Takeoffs and Landings

The Albatros does best when given a nice soft throttle, gentle rollout and eased back on the elevator. Even when taking off in this manner the plane needs 20 feet or less to get up in the air. If slow and low is not your style the plane has more than enough power to shoot up like a rocket, a big clunky rocket (as shown in the video). The steerable tail wheel is not too sensitive on the ground so steering is easy.

   

Landings are docile and floaty given the extra set of wings that keep the plane in the air. A couple of times I had trouble getting the plane to come down the last 2 feet, but this is easily managed by backing off the throttle.

The large wheels are excellent for grass runways, but there still may be a tendency for a nose stand if the grass has any clumps or rough patches.  

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

The Parkzone Albatros D.Va is a 4-channel, barebones RC airplane. It certainly could be flown by a beginner but I’d hate to see it get thrashed by newbie mistakes. Make this your second plane.

Batteries
A quick note about batteries. The Parkzone Albatros calls for an 1800mah 3S lipo battery and I suspect they did this because the battery space is awfully tight. I found ¾ of my 2200mah batteries could fit in the tray, but several would not fit as they were too tall or slightly too long. No matter the battery I always made sure the lipo was as far forward as I could get it while still being able to close the battery hatch.

Conclusion

The Parkzone Albatros D.Va is a delightful RC airplane that surprised me in its simplicity and elegance. The plane may not have all the bells and whistles of other warbirds, and it shouldn’t since we’re going farther back in time. But, the D. Va performs just as well as other planes of this size. I am attracted to planes that look cool, have fast lines and are mean. The Albatros has none of those characteristics yet I can’t get over how aesthetically pleasing it is. The colors really work and make it easy to keep orientation while in the air. The price point is just about perfect and the flight times run 6-8 minutes. The characteristics are spot on and this would make an awesome addition to any hangar.

GRADE: A

Pros

  • Smooth Foam, Killer Paint Job
  • Easy to fly
  • Large Wheels for easy landings and grass rolling
  • Good Power

Neutrals

  • Detailed manual is great, but a little unclear in a few spots
  • Landing gear could be of better design

Cons

  • None Noted!

 

 Media and FLIGHT Time!

   

   

   

   

 

 

 

Thanks to Mike at RC Hobbies!

Special thanks to Ron for his video help!

 
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