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GREAT PLANES ULTIMATE BIPLANE
PRODUCT REVIEW

by Trevor Roper


Ultimate Bipe photo

Having returned to modeling after a five-year break via the silent flight side of the hobby, I thought it was about time to try a power model, but which one? After a phone call from Peter Dawson (editor) my mind had been made up for me. Would I like to do a kit review on the Great Planes Ultimate he asked? Well he didn't have to ask twice! When the box arrived it was so large I thought some nice person at RCMW had built it for me and put it in a box ready for me to fly! No such luck, the box was crammed full of balsa and ply. My first impression was it must have been the six pound claimed weight before I started building it. Only time would tell!

The Ultimate Build

I soon realized that my kitchen/building room wasn't the ideal place for a building project of this size. After a phone call to my friend Steve Vine he said I could use his brand new workshop and insisted he help me with the project.

The instruction book for this kit is thicker than some novels and these instructions are idiot proof (so that's why I got this review!). I needn't do the usual stick A to stick B in this review, as I couldn't improve on the instructions supplied. So I will just give an overview of the construction and any problems I found.

The tail plane and rudder are made of a simple balsa frame with eighth of an inch ribs. The fuselage is an interlocking type construction, the fuzz is built up dry and when complete you Zap it with glue. Do take extra care when fitting the rear decking it has a tendency to bow out of shape. The fuselage builds into a very strong structure that in my view is a little over engineered. The wings are of the built up variety and actually build up very quickly. You end up with a very light and strong traditional D box structure. And then you've got to do it all over again! The top wing is held to the cabane with nuts and bolts and the inner plane struts are a push fit into the wings. Plastic bolts hold on the bottom wing. This is where we encountered a small problem the instructions said to tap the wing retainers but the bolts had an American thread! I didn't have a quarter by twenty U.S. tap so a rummage through Steve's modeling box provided us with two British wing bolts and the problem was solved. The balsa bashing complete, it's on to the covering.

Ultimately Covered

To help keep the weight down, Solarfilm was my preferred choice of covering. Four meters of film is enough to cover the Ultimate. White was used as the base color with red, orange, yellow and black trim used for decoration. A solution of water and washing up liquid was sprayed onto the film and the pre-cut trim floated into place and was left to dry. Then, with a small brush, clear Solarlac was brushed around the edge of the trim to seal it. The 'piloted by LaaLaa' stickers were made by Steve on his computer and covered with diamond tape to fuel proof them. With the model covered it just left the fiddley bits.

The End in Sight

An O.S. ..46FX was acquired from the Paisley Model Centre (nice people, I just wish I could understand their Scottish accent!). The engine was bolted onto the front with an eleven and a half by six Bolly prop and dustbin silencer. The cowling and wheel spats are made of ABS and fit together accurately to give a very neat scale looking finish. Amazingly the spats have survived the first flights and are still fitted to the model, a first for me! Standard servos were fitted throughout and there's plenty of room for battery, receiver and switch, and with the battery in the forward position no lead was needed to balance the model. This is really a well-designed model.)

At this point in the review Steve gets his go, so over to 'im!

STEVE: 'Ere we go again—the Terrible Twins! Trev's review this time, he's just 'anded the proverbial pen over to me for my bit, so I'd better do it a bit of justice!

The deadline this time was a visit to a holiday house run by Trev's in-laws, our intention being to run the engine, do a range check and try some taxiing around the huge lawns followed by some R&R before the test flight on Sunday. Previously, we had spent a happy week or two in my workshop putting the model together. Nearing the end of the build, Trev brought a pilot for the model, something topical....a Tele-Tubby!

The Ultimate Test

We had been invited by the Blackdown Club at Smeatharpe to do our test flight. We arrived at twelve o'clock and were immediately made welcome by the club members. It was very chilly, but the sun was shining and there was only a light breeze, ideal conditions considering it was winter! We unpacked the van and put our models together, then went back to our long time discussion on who should make the test flight. You see, Trev has not long returned to the fold having taken a few years off to get married and increase the population. My argument was that flying models is like riding a bike...you never forget. His idea was that I did it! No arguing with that so I got on and test flew my own model for a warm up, had a cup of 'ot coffee and then got on with the checking out on Trev's model—the Great Planes Ultimate.

We finally got to that part where it says in the instruction manual "point into wind and advance the throttle". Incidentally, all the way through the build Trev's answer to "What is the next instruction?" was precisely that, and at last we were there!

The Ultimate was bombing across the tarmac toward the electric fence on the other side but no fear of catching it with an O.S. ..46FX nailed to the front. Up she went, down she went then up again. I really didn't believe the instruction manual where it said only 5/16" up and down movement on the elevator—stupid really, all the rest of the instruction book has proved to be exactly correct! Anyway, I made it safely into the air and started to feel my way round with an over sensitive elevator. Enough adrenaline, time to make a landing and do some adjustments to the elevator. Set up a nice long landing to avoid any quick pitch changes and safely down, wheel spats still intact—what a surprise!

The second flight was a doddle with all the correct control movements. The model was real lively with all that power, it was great! Vertical maneuvers were a cinch and I'm sure when the engine is finally set right, it will do creditable knife edge loops! All the usual games were tried and successfully completed as well as a number of 'ot doggin' maneuvers. All kinds of 'flick tricks' were done with the exit to normal flight being instant. Trevor now, sadly, decided it was his turn to have a go so I had another cup of 'ot coffee!

My view of the aircraft is that it suits the experienced pilot who is looking for an exciting and versatile model. It builds and flies very well and with that, reluctantly, I shall hand the proverbial pen back to my mate Trevor.

TREV: The flight clock is well into double figures and the spats are still there! Steve having trimmed the model out and the flying shots in the bag, I plucked up enough courage to have a stir on the sticks myself. Two things stood out when flying the Ultimate. Flying straight and level, I put on about five degrees of bank, the model didn't deviate from its course, just flew straight as an arrow. This machine goes exactly where you put it. The second flight characteristic that stood out is the flick maneuvers, a slow motion replay is required to find out what happened, and the Ultimate exits these maneuvers the moment you let go the sticks. Although this model is easy to fly and has no vices, it can get you into trouble. Things happen very quickly—you have been warned! I've subsequently flown the Ultimate from a grass strip (my thanks to the Wincanton Falcons Flying Club) and it handled these conditions without fault.

Ultimate Conclusion

When I started this project I had some concerns about the weight, these turned out to be completely unfounded, although the model turned out to be at the upper end of the weight range at six and a half pounds. I also wondered if it is worth the one hundred fifty odd quid asking price—are you kiddin'? It's worth every penny. The quality of this kit, the ease of construction, and the pure flying enjoyment make it easy for me to recommend you get a hammer to your piggy bank and rush off to your nearest model shop to buy this aptly named model "THE ULTIMATE"!

Reprinted with permission.
June 1998 R/C Model World
Editor: Peter Dawson

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