|A Versitile Model For Both Electric & PSS!|
The Hercules C-130 transport aircraft is the stalwart of many military and civilian air forces around the world, and affectionately know as Fat Albert. The 'Herc' was first built and flown from the Lockheed Company's Burbank runway in August 1954. The 'Herky Bird' has gone on to see service in every corner of the globe. More exotic uses include space recovery, polar survey, and surveillance and coast guard duties. So it shouldn't be difficult too find a colour scheme to please you!
This semi scale rendition of the 'Herc' from Combined Ops Kits (HFM Marine Aviation & Mellor Aviation) has been designed to be almost as versatile as the prototype on which it is based. This 54-inch span model can be built as a slope soaring PSS model and as a twin Speed 480 powered electric model. You can even alternate your flying depending on your mood. Just ensure that the C.G. is correct when you take out the electric power pack, before you go slope soaring with it! The 'Herc' is a two channel aircraft using elevator and ailerons (or three if you use an electronic speed controller for the throttle).
So what do you get for your money? Well, an awful lot is the answer. The kit comes with a completely moulded and joined fuselage, pre-cut and shaped balsa for the tail feathers and wing ribs, piano wire joined elevator and a comprehensive hardware pack with horns. Sheathed piano wire for aileron push rods, bell cranks, nuts and bolts, screws, wing bolt and bracket plywood, and threaded pushrod ends and hinging materials.
There are three sections to the wing. The leading 'D' box sections come complete with obeche covered foam cores and main spars, these are already fitted at the Mellor Aviation factory. All that remains to be done is to join the outer panels to the centre section with ply braces and fit the balsa leading edge. The complete wing building process is explained on a full size plan and backed up with a three-page instruction sheet.
Once the main 'D' box sections are joined you next add all the very accurate pre-cut half ribs, triangular reinforcements, trailing edges and false trailing edges where the ailerons are housed, plus wing tip blocks. I would advise that you pre-cut holes in each rib to accommodate not only the aileron push rods but also any electrical wiring that you might want to install. This is a lot easier than trying to drill holes in the ribs of the completed wing.
A ply mounting plate takes a 90º-bell crank and is inserted between two outer wing ribs. This bay is then sheeted both on top and underneath the wing. An exit slot is then cut on the underside to accept a wire push rod. The sheathed piano wire push rods return to the centre section where a single standard size servo is mounted to activate the aileron controls. Ailerons are then hinged and added to the wing. All that remains is to cover the wing. This I did using standard Solar Film.
The front cabin section is detachable and gives access to not only the interior of the main fuselage but also, in the nose section, to an internally moulded receiver battery box. This is required to get some weight into the nose for those slope soaring expeditions.
A wing bolt bracket is bolted to a hardwood bearer and is then glued across the wing seat aperture. This is best done after completing the wing, so that you carefully line up the bolthole in the wing and the bearer in the fuselage. Apart from painting and fitting your elevator servo there's only the tail feathers to fit into the fuselage.
After the stabilisers and elevator have been inserted, secure them with polystyrene cement. Now you can join the elevator and stabilisers together via their appropriate hinges. The elevator is controlled via a push rod snake. This exits through a hole in the side of the fuselage. At first viewing, I thought that the elevator looked awfully narrow. My concerns were totally unfounded as the first flight soon proved. There is more than enough control authority and the size of the elevator is just right!
Once completed the nacelles are then screwed to underside of the wing via small ply mounting plates. Other details like the drop tanks were joined and glued to the wing. These little extras should not be omitted as they do give 'Fat Albert' its distinctive look!
I decided to reproduce the colour scheme of the United State Coast Guard. After some searching on the web (where else!) I found several sites with pictures and information on the US Coast Guard. The red, white and blue colours make an attractive scheme. After spraying the fuselage white, I masked off the main fuselage red stripe area and again sprayed this with car aerosols. The cockpit windows were masked and then sprayed black.
The narrow blue stripe is applied from Model Technics Trim Line. The rest of the stickers, stars and bars, logos, door edges and lettering were made up on the computer and printed to ink jet sticky black vinyl, supplied by Overlander. After applying the stickers to the model, I gave them a light coating of clear lacquer, just to seal them from dirty fingers.
The Speed 480 motors were fitted with 7 x 4 props and powered by an Overlander Sanyo SC1900 mAh eight-cell battery. Controlling the power was a Jeti 350 speed controller. All up weight, including the power pack was only 3lbs.12oz. The weight of the PSS version is of course a lot lighter, by about a pound and a half, making it's all up PSS weight around 2lbs 3ozs. Ideal for a wide range of slope condtitions.
My helper, 'PJ' had the launching honour. He pointed the Herc out over the cornfield and as I opened up the motors, she already wanted to get airborne. With a gentle push forward and with the nose slightly up, the Herc rushed away looking for home! The model climbed steadily and I fed in a little down elevator trim and reduced the throttle.
Bringing her around and downwind, she gathered speed and started to climb again, due to the flat bottom wing section. Remember to feed in a little down elevator. This not only keeps her level but also will maintain your airspeed. Back into wind now and she was looking every part of a winner. The bumpy wind conditions were no problem to her at all. A mark of her slope soaring pedigree!
Next I tried slowing her right down and proceeded to fly some low passes for the camera. Once again she handled impeccably. Now to try some high-speed stuff! Tight banking turns (more than 70º) she starts to drop her nose. This is nothing to worry about as she certainly doesn't want to drop her wing, but at the speed she's travelling it might catch out the unwary.
With careful use of the throttle, I managed to get over seven minutes duration out of the batteries. You really don't want to be blasting around the sky for the entire flight. Long slow passes up the strip do look most realistic. Do keep a check on the time however, as you will want to set her up for landing before the juice runs out. Our club flies from a tarmac runway, so I had to land her in the adjacent cornfield. The three-foot high wheat makes an ideal soft landing area and she came in without any problems at all. If you fly from a grass strip then you will be able to grease her into a fine landing.
This is a very complete kit. It's not quite an ARTF but one you can finish quickly with some building experience. It is also a very versatile model catering for both slope soarers and ower flyers. It's not a model for novices but a competent 'A' Certificate flyer will have no problems.
It handles a wide variety of wind conditions. I would certainly recommend it as a second or third model. I thoroughly enjoyed building and flying this one and the Herc is now one of my regular flying models. It certainly turned a few heads at our club, with several members asking where they could get one.
Now, it's off to the slope to chuck it off a mountain!
As is usually the case with all first flights the wind strength and direction were not quite ideal but we were all charged and ready to go. Standing on the edge of our hill, we both had that feeling inside of will it go or will it make a fool of us in front of the other seasoned flyers who had landed just to see the fun of another crash, and say "you didn't want to do that".
check, control check and one last look at the complete model in my hands.
"Would it still look the same after the first slope flight"?
"Launching". Out and up she went, just like the proverbial home
sick angel. "How does she feel?" were the first word I heard.
"Good so far" I said. Still gaining height brought her across
the slope to have a look at the attitude she was flying at. We both agreed
that a little weight was needed so a quick climb for height a fast run
down wind, turn and level out for landing. "I will bring her in fast
for the first landing so that we can fly through the rollover and turbulence."
What a landing straight and level. As we walked out to retrieve Albert
a round of applause from the assembled multitude greeted us. One wag piped
up. "They would be pleased with that landing at R.A.F. Lynham".
The second flight is more nerve-racking than the first because you are now a lot more confident so you tend to push the test envelope a bit harder.
Off she climbed again. "I will try to gain as much height as I can then we can test the stall" At a good height and into wind I started to pull back slowly on the stick, the nose started to raise higher and higher, "there she goes just dropped her nose after the stall and still remained in straight and level flight, that will do for me".
Now the confidence was there a quick tight turn and I had dropped down to deck level. "Terrain hugging that's what she is made for" at the end of the pass pull back on the stick and I was top of the stack again. "I wonder if she will loop? I've got enough height here we go". I put the nose down at a gentle angle let the speed build up and pulled back on the stick. "Wow she did it, that was great" There was no significant dropping a wing at the top of the loop. "What next? " "I will try a roll a roll" I pulled back up to the top of the stack straight and level, nose down and hey presto a beautiful slow roll. There is nothing wrong with this one; it flies like a dream with no vices. The rest of the test flight consisted of tight turns, slow low passes and high-speed dives. The 'Herc' fills you full of confidence so I want to try a loop and roll out". The manoeuvre was started with a shallow dive pull up for the loop and 2 rolls out at the bottom. That was enough for today, turning back and lined up for landing and she came in sliding to a halt. Makes you feel good, an all that in 2 flights.
Since this first PSS flight she has flown several time in varying conditions. Strength of wind is no problem; proving she is just as happy in a thermal as on the slope. 'Fat Albert' can be flown in conditions when all other aircraft were grounded. With the way our weather is reportedly going, with either too little or too much wind, the C130 will be able to fly whatever the conditions.