Home RC Airplane Reviews Blitz RC Works A-1 Skyraider Review
Blitz RC Works A-1 Skyraider Review Print E-mail
User Rating: / 12
PoorBest 
Monday, 03 October 2011 18:55

History

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider (formerly AD) was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter.  The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career and inspired the straight-winged, slow-flying, jet-powered successor, the A-10 Thunderbolt II ("Warthog").

It was operated by the United States Navy (USN), the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF), and also saw service with the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force, the Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam (VNAF), and others. The Skyraider carries a crew of one, and is powered by a Wright R-3350-26WA radial engine capable of producing 2,700 hp and pulling the plane through the air at a max speed of 322mph. The Skyraider can carry up to 8,000lbs of ordinance on 15 external hard points. A virtual tank in the air!


Intro

Banana Hobby has always been hit or miss for me, but when I saw the A-1 Skyraider on the front page of their site I knew a review would be in order. I did not know of any other mass produced RC Skyraiders and I thought with all of the features contained within the Banana Hobby bird it should be a cool plane. The price tag was a bit steep for a plane that could either be awesome or sucky; regardless I took the chance and ordered one.

   

Kit Contents

The Skyraider arrived in less than a week and in perfect condition. The plane was double boxed and secured with plenty of packing tape. All of the pieces contained within the box were found in good order and wrapped in plastic. The kit included the fuselage, wings, elevator, rudder, tons of missiles and bombs, a huge 4-bladed prop, electric retracts, miscellaneous accessories, glue and a fairly detailed manual instructing how everything goes together.

   

The Skyraider was very large and although the kit contained a bunch of small parts the build looked easy considering all of the servos, motor and ESC were already installed.

Assembly

As with most ARFs, the assembly begins with installing the control horns on all of the moveable surfaces. This includes the flaps, ailerons, elevator and rudder. The control horns are a good size and the plastic is a bit ‘soft’ making the task of threading the screws through the base of the horn quick and easy. After the horns were on I moved to the tail of the plane and screwed the elevator into the tail using the provided metal screws. The rudder sits on top of the elevator and screws in from the bottom creating a tail-fin sandwich that is secure and easy to break down.

   

   

After the tail fin sandwich I focused my building skills onto the electric retracts. The retracts are as simple as lining up the holes and screwing them in. The manual is actually very detailed on this section and it explains what steps must be taken to install the wheel covers and retracts.

With the retracts installed my building skills transitioned over to the wing assembly. In the end I had to set my building skills aside and pull out the big guns. My muscles received a workout like they never have before while assembling a foam airplane.

   

The wings are long and wide and in order to ensure they don’t flap in the wind like a seagull at the beach, Blitz RC Works included a large wooden wing spar that the wings slide on. Before attaching the wings to the fuselage they must be pulled onto the spar. Easy enough eh?

Not so fast.

The spar is a tight fit, which is a good thing but after sliding only 10 to 12 inches into each wing, the spar stopped. I jiggled and wiggled the stick to get it on farther but to no avail. Finally I realized it was going to take pure brute strength to get the wings onto the spar. I squatted down like a sumo wrestler before a big match and set the wings on my thighs. With a flash of controlled aggression that would make Sylvester Stallone proud I pulled with all of my might to coax the wing onto the stick. My muscles were shaking and sweat was pouring off of my brow as my lovely assistant just sat in a chair laughing and cheering me on. Finally after 3 minutes of struggling, the wings were together without suffering any damage. It was a small victory but I declared that it was time for an ice cream break.

   

With my belly full of mint chocolate chip ice cream I came back to the plane. The wings were together with all of the wires hanging out, begging to be installed into the fuselage. The hole in the bottom of the fuselage is adequate and makes threading the wires towards the receiver easy. Once the wires were out of the way I pushed the wing onto the fuselage and secured it with the two metal screws. The system is ok, but for such a large wing span I would like to see something that is more secure or at least the addition of 2 more screws. Nevertheless, the stock setup did not show any signs of excessive play.

Attaching the wheels covers to the landing gear requires a few extra ounces of patience. The kit includes the wire that is needed for the task as well as a small grommet looking thing that is crimped once the wires are adjusted and installed. The wire can be fussy to work with and a few adjustments may need to be made before you crimp so be sure and check everything twice. In the process of building the wheel covers I dropped and lost one of the small grommets that hold the wires in place. I was working on a twisting them together when my lovely assistant came over and gave me the perfect alternative; a small bead that is used to connect jewelry together. These beads can be found at bead shops or possibly craft stores; they held the wires in place much better and were smaller (more discrete) than the included hardware.

   

When the Skyraider arrived there were two problems with the plane that I knew I would have to address while assembling everything. The first problem was that all of the clevises for the cowl flaps and bay door were completed busted off. At first I thought that the clevises were just not hooked up, but unfortunately they were broken. Not cool. Secondly I immediately noticed that the wooden tray in the middle of the fuselage that has the servos mounted to it was loose. The tray sits in a groove along the edges of the fuselage and there was a healthy amount of play from all directions. To remedy this I centered the tray as good as I could and carefully ran foam-safe CA all along the edge of the tray until it stuck. Not a big fix but just indications of the sloppy build from Blitz RC Works.

   

The third problem I did not discover until I installed the prop on the motor. The prop is huge, heavy and awesome. It connects on the front of the motor with a large nut and everything about it feels very secure, unfortunately the motor mount is not very secure. Like the wooden tray in the middle of the plane, the firewall is a thin piece of plastic that is only held into place by the edges of the foam!! This is a terribly sloppy design! When I first spun up the prop I noticed it had a significant wobble and at higher RPMs it produced a loud buzz. The motor mount was a bit loose on the firewall but the bigger issue was the firewall itself. I figured my options were to either tear into the front end of the plane which I didn’t want to do or epoxy the edges and grooves of the firewall. I opted for option two. After slathering the edges with 5 minute epoxy the firewall was much more secure but it wasn’t perfect.

   

Even now the motor wiggles a bit more than I would like it to, but with the entire thing secure with epoxy I don’t think it will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Once the motor and prop were completely installed all that was left were the guns, missiles and antenna. I glued all the guns on the plane but left the missiles off as I have a strict first flight/no missiles policy.

Features

The Blitz-RC Works A-1 Skyraider features a 63” wingspan and a 48” fuselage. The bird is big and fairly heavy weighing in at 2800 grams. The good news is the motor is up to the task of pulling the Skyraider through the air with authority. Behind the 4-bladed prop sits a 400kv motor that produces 1,021 watts running on a 2200mah 30C 4S lipo! The included 70 amp ESC stays cool and has plenty of juice left to control the 9 servos as the plane only produces 61 amps. The electric retracts are smooth during operation and the steerable tail-wheel makes ground control sharp.

The included ordinance gives the Skyraider a menacing, authentic look whether on the ground or in the air. I thought it was a nice touch that the missiles were actually painted as opposed to some planes that show greatly detailed pictures online or on the box, but the missiles come plain white.

First Flight

I had the entire field to myself for the first flight. It was a random weekday and the sun was shining so I decided I should be flying rather than being cooped up inside. Prior to the first flight I checked the CG and amazingly with only a 2200mah battery it seemed to balance almost spot on at the 75mm point. I used such a small battery since it had a 30C (60C burst) rating and I was concerned that my larger 4S batteries would not be up to the task. After running through the pre-flight checks I determined all systems were a ‘go’.  

With the plane on the tarmac I slowly throttled up and the Skyraider immediately rolled forward. With the throttle at ½ the plane shot down the runway and even though it had only been rolling for 12 feet the warbird practically took off by itself! It really shocked me what little effort it took to get off the ground. Here I was concerned that the motor/prop/battery would not have enough juice to fly the plane!

   

I took the plane up high and discovered it wanted to dive. Once everything was trimmed out I was thoroughly surprised at how well the plane flew. It felt almost ‘floaty’ and I never even had the urge to go past ½ throttle. The plane was a bit more maneuverable than I had anticipated and on the lowest setting the elevator produced plenty of throw for snappy loops.

At certain RPMs the motor produced a noticeable buzz, but this was a result of loose mount/firewall.

The first flight was happily uneventful and I thought the Skyraider performed well. Since I was running a smaller battery I landed after 4 minutes and unfortunately the landing was harder than I would have liked. This in turn damaged one of the retracts which was very disappointing, but more on that later.

Flight Characteristics

The A-1's flight characteristics can be described as docile and forgiving. The plane is definitely a low-winged warbird, but given the weight, size and wobbly motor I was certain the plane would have issues in the air. To my surprise it performed very well. The roll rate is of average speed on the lowest setting, but the elevator is very responsive. The A-1 is capable of inverted flight but needs some down elevator to maintain a level pattern. The flaps do their job superbly and slow the big beast down to a snail's pace while in the air. I was definitely surprised at how well the plane stalled, but I probably should not have been given the fact that the Skyraider's frame is a near cousin of the Trojan T-28. Full throttle passes were loud and fast, but for the majority of the flight the Skyraider had no troubles staying in the air with only 1/2 throttle.

Takeoffs and Landings

On the ground the Skyraider is not too squirrely or dicey. The tail wheel is a bit sensitive which is to be expected from a tail-dragging warbird, but fortunately while taking off the tail-wheel doesn't stay on the ground too long. After powering on the 4-bladed prop, the plane will roll for about 8 to 10 feet before the tail-wheel pops up, once the wheel is up it is only a few more feet before the large plane is ready to take off. With all the wind and power generated from the big 4-bladed prop the plane practically lifts off of the ground by itself.

   

 The Skyraider can be landed in a controlled manner by using the flaps and giving yourself a long approach. The plane is not really too difficult to land which is why I am still kicking myself for botching the first landing. Despite the weight, it floats down relatively gently towards the ground and 'gently' should be the theme when landing this beast. The gear is not strong and a bouncy or hard landing could easily damage them. I found this out the hard way. Keeping a steady speed while the plane declines will bring it in smoothly.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

No, this plane it not suited for a beginner. It is a 4-channel low-winged warbird that can float through the air better than some I have reviewed, but it needs a wide open space and capable hands to do so. Make this the 3rd or 34th bird in your hangar.

Weak Landing Gear and Parts

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the A-1 Skyraider from Blitz RC Works is that it feels very cheap in some parts. This is frustrating coming from something that is expensive, big and actually flies so well. As stated earlier, all of the clevises for the cowl flaps and rear door arrived broken. In addition the clevises in general are softer and weaker than other plastic ones available on the market and I would recommend changing them or securing them with rubber tubing so they don't fail mid-flight. I could live with soft clevises but I was not happy with how incredibly weak the electric retracts are. They move fluidly and seem strong until you have a less than stellar landing. I'll be the first to admit that for some stupid reason I stalled on my first landing, but it was only a foot or two off of the ground and in my opinion the gear should have withstood the impact. Instead, the left retract stopped working. Donning my Sherlock Holmes hat I took it apart and investigated why.

Ripping everything apart it was clear that the threaded rod the gear connects into was bent and not allowing it to rotate effectively to move the bar back and forth to extend or retract the gear. The bar seems much too weak for the size and weight of the gear and I assume even over time these threaded bars that the gear rest on could be a cause of failure. I love a plane that is loaded with features but it can become more of a burden when those features or weak, broken or cumbersome.

Conclusion

The Blitz RC Works Skyraider flies beautifully and with authority while in the air. The 400kv motor has more than enough power to blast the plane through the sky and even on a smaller 4S battery, flight times of 5 minutes are possible. The inside of the fuselage is huge and capable of storing a very large 4S battery; just make sure the CG remains the same. The foam and skin of the plane is smooth and looks great with no blemishes. This plane could really shine if it weren’t for the few weak spots that are holding it back. Loose firewall, soft clevises and weak landing gear are all disappointments. None of them stop the plane from flying (and flying well) but I am curious what kind of longevity can be expected from a plane that has these issues. It is highly advisable that some extra time is taken to shore up these parts on the plane so it lasts for a long time. A much higher grade would have been given had there not been so many issues.

GRADE: C+

Pros

  • Nice Detailed paint
  • Tons of missiles
  • Strong motor
  • Big, thick prop
  • Loaded with features
  • Fairly detailed manual

Neutrals

  • Clevises seem a touch soft/weak for moving such large surfaces

Cons

  • Firewall is not very secure
  • Battery/servo tray was loose
  • Electric Retracts are too small/weak for the size of the plane
  • Cowl Flap Clevises arrived broken

 

Media and FLIGHT Time!

     

     

   

   

   


 

 
Copyright © 2017 rcairplanereviews.com. All Rights Reserved.
 

Helpful Links

What is your favorite type of RC airplane to fly?

What is your favorite type of RC airplane to fly?