RCU Review: Hangar 9 Extra 330S ARF

RCU Review: Hangar 9 Extra 330S ARF
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1 Active For-Sale Ad! Discussions on this Product Show user ratings Check for Retailers Contributed by: Erick Royer | Published: July 2004 | Views: 33226 |
Review by: Erick Royer
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Photos by: Walter Sidas & Erick Royer
Extreme aerobat with power to spare
The Extra 300 is without a doubt one of the most recognizable
of all competition aerobatic aircraft. The full-scale Extra 330S
was introduced in the late 1990s with a newer, more powerful
Textron Lycoming 330 horsepower engine. The “S” designates
a single seat cockpit. The Extra has the prestigious honor of
countless first place wins in aerobatic competitions throughout
the world.
In the RC world, there have been more models of the Extra
than any other aerobatic plane. In RC aerobatic and freestyle
competitions, more pilots choose the Extra 300 series of planes
than any other because of their excellent stability, extreme
maneuverability, and excellent 3D performance. It only seems
natural that Mike McConville, who competed at multiple TOCs,
would choose the Extra 330S as his showcase product for the
Hangar 9 aerobatic aircraft line.
At first glance, it’s hard not to be impressed as you look at the
components of this model. The model is expertly covered with
UltraCote and features balsa and liteply construction. Much
care was taken in the design of this aircraft to keep the
airframe light and very strong. No hardware is included with
airframe light and very strong. No hardware is included with
the model; however, you can purchase a complete hardware
kit from Hangar 9 if you choose. I have certain preferences
regarding the hardware I use, so I turned to Du-Bro Products
for most of the hardware, including the fuel tank, wheels,
control horns, and axles. All pushrods are carbon fiber with
titanium ends from Art’s Hobby, and I used an Ohio Models
tailwheel assembly.
(2) 12" servo
(4) 18" servo
(5) 24" servo
The recommended engines according to the manual were the
Zenoah G-62 and GT-80. After speaking with Mike McConville
regarding my flight intentions with the aircraft, we agreed that
a 100cc gasoline engine would be a good choice. I decided to
use the ZDZ 100NG from RC Showcase because of its light
design and its ability to produce tons of power. The ZDZ 100NG
actually weighs over a pound less than the Zenoah GT80! I like
fast, crisp control responses in my aerobatic aircraft, so I chose
JR 8417 high speed, high torque digital servos for the ailerons
and elevator, and the new super high torque JR 8611 for the
rudder. 1/8" light plywood
(2) Y harnesses
(4) JR Matchboxes
8 high-torque servos,
standard servo for
throttle and choke (If
Hangar 9 Hardware Kit
(or equivalent)
PLANE: Extra 330S
DISTRIBUTOR: Horizon Hobby
PRICE: $849.99 TYPE: Giant Scale Aerobatic/3D
FOR: Advanced
WINGSPAN: 97 in.
WING AREA: 1,750 sq. in.
WEIGHT: 24.9 lbs. (398.4 oz.)
WING LOADING: 32.8 oz./sq. in.
LENGTH: 83 in.
RADIO: 4-channel with 9 servos required; flown with JR 8103
transmitter, JR 8417 (ailerons, elevator), JR 8611 (1) for rudder,
and JR 537 for choke and throttle; installed Slimline Showtime
smoke system in addition.
ENGINE RANGE: 62–80cc gasoline
ENGINE USED: ZDZ 100NG 100cc from RC Showcase; Engine
Specs: 2-cylinder, 6 ci displacement, 42 mm bore, 35mm Stroke
In, 2 ball bearings/1 needle shaft, 50:1 gas/oil fuel ratio,
1500-8200rpm range, 4.7 lb. bare ignition weight (without
PROPELLER/SPINNER: Mejzlik Carbon Fiber 26x10 (provided
by Desert Aircraft), Tru-Turn 4.25 in. Ultimate Spinner TOP RPM:
6,400 (still breaking in)
FUEL USED: 87 Octane Gasoline (50:1 mixture)
FUEL TANK USED: Du-Bro 32 oz. with gas stopper (not included)
ONBOARD BATTERY: Skyborne Electronics Powerflite
Lithium-Ion 4400 with adjustable regulator for the radio system
and Powerflite 2200 with 6-volt regulator for the ignition
Hangar 9 is well known for their high quality, easy to understand manuals, with pictures that walk you
through assembly step by step. However, because this kit does not come with hardware, depending on
what you use there can be some variance from the manual.
Assembly begins with the main wings. I installed the two JR 8417 high-speed digital servos in each
wing panel. To fish the wires through the wing, I used a nut that was tied to a piece of thread. Prior to
installing the ailerons on the wing, it is necessary to drill the holes for the control horns. The manual
shows the installation of the hardware from the Hangar 9 kit. I used Du-Bro heavy-duty control horns,
which installed in the same manner; however, the Du-Bro system includes socket-head cap screws,
which made it necessary to countersink the top hole so the screw sits flush. Be sure to use a lot of
epoxy on these bolts to prevent them from coming loose or breaking free in the future.
I chose Robart heavy-duty 3/16 inch Super Hinge Points for hinging all surfaces. The holes have all
been predrilled to accept these hinges. You can use epoxy to attach them, but a fellow modeler on
www.rcuniverse.com produced a how-to video on installing these hinges with Gorilla Polyethylene glue.
The neat thing about this glue is that it expands as it cures, creating a very tight bond with the barbs
on the hinges. Be sure to seal the hinge gaps from the bottom with red UltraCote to prevent any
chance of flutter in flight.
I used carbon fiber pushrods with titanium ends from Art’s Hobby to connect the servo arms to the
ailerons and elevators. These pushrods are extremely strong and very light. A JR Matchbox (a device
for centering and adjusting the endpoints of multiple servos that deflect a single control surface) is
necessary for each wing as it allows you to adjust the center and endpoints of each aileron servo to
prevent binding during operation. I first set up the inner servo using a Du-Bro heavyduty servo arm and
ball links. Then I adjusted the second servo with the Matchbox until everything lined up without binding.
I installed the elevators to the stabilizer using the same process as I did with the ailerons. To attach
the stabilizers to the fuselage, the kit comes with two aluminum wing tubes. I dry-fit the stabs on the
plane and discovered that there was some play in tail that allowed the whole stab to move side to side.
To fix this I wrapped a layer of packing tape around the longer tube and slid it back into position. The
result was a very sturdy, slopfree tail.
I drilled and tapped two 4-40 holes in the longer tube to secure the stabs in place. The elevator servos
were installed in the precut holes in the tail. Again, I used carbon fiber pushrods, Du-Bro servo arms
and ball links. They installed exactly like the ailerons. I used a third Matchbox to reverse one of the
servos, allowing them to both move in the same direction and to set the endpoints at the extreme
Next, the manual instructs you to install the rudder and control horns. However, because I was using
an engine that differed from the manual, I was unsure of the weight and what effect it would have on
the center of gravity (CG) so I decided to wait until the very end to install the rudder servo and control
horn. I drilled the hole in the rudder for the control horn with a drill press to make a perpendicular hole.
Then I installed the rudder, again using the same method as the elevators and ailerons. LANDING GEAR
The landing gear, wheel pants, and belly pan were installed next. There were no surprises here. The
manual could not make this process any easier. It was necessary to cut away some of the foam on the
belly pan to allow clearance for the landing gear. I used Du-Bro 3 1/2 inch wheels and Du-Bro 3/16
inch axles. Be sure that the gear sweeps forward when you install it, as this was the only area where
the manual was not clear.
I installed an Ohio Models Super Tailwheel assembly next. I chose one that was rated for up to a
30-pound aircraft. The assembly installs easily with two selftapping screws. I attached the 1 1/2 inch
tailwheel but I was unable to connect a steering linkage until I determined what type of rudder control
horn I was going to use.
I installed the Du-Bro 32-ounce fuel tank with a gasoline stopper to custom rails that I installed just
forward of the wing tube. I would have preferred to install it over the wing tube for minimal effect on
the CG as the tank depletes, but there was no room. Two Velcro straps hold the tank in place.
The engine installation was next and I decided, after some conversations with Mike McConville, to go
slightly above the manufacturer’s specifications and install the new ZDZ 100NG twin gasoline engine for
power. Please understand that going above the 80cc recommendation does void the warranty and it can
overstress the airframe if it is not properly installed and if proper throttle management is not used. My
reason for choosing this engine was based on the recommended weights of the Zenoah GT80 engine.
The ZDZ 100NG weighs over a pound less than the GT80 and puts out almost 33 percent more power. I
figured that I could save the weight and have some extra power for those radical 3D maneuvers. Mike
agreed that there should be no problems with the airframe as long as proper throttle management was
used in flight—no full throttle dives!
Installing the ZDZ presented a couple of obstacles. For the prop hub to line upcorrectly through the
cowl, the engine would need to sit almost two inches off the firewall. The rear-mounted carburetor
would require a large hole to be cut in the firewall for clearance. I did some research on RCUniverse.
com and found that Chief Aircraft sells a mount for the ZDZ 80 engine that uses the stock GT80 holes
that are already in the firewall. I ordered the mount and was happy to see that it would accommodate
the ZDZ 100 with a couple of minor modifications. The distance from the back of the engine mount to
the prop hub are the same on both the ZDZ 80 and 100, so the standoffs that come with the mount
would be the correct length. The mount is rotated 90 degrees on the 100 as compared to the 80. I
would have to reposition the outer mounting plate and cut a notch in it to clear the throttle arm. Once I
completed that, the entire engine and mount fit right into position with four socket head screws. I could
not have made a cleaner mounting system if I tried. The best part about it is that I can easily switch
over to a ZDZ 80 engine in less than 10 minutes if I ever choose to.
I installed a JR 537 servo on either side of the interior motor box for the choke and throttle. I used
Du-Bro ball links and a 4-40 threaded rod for each. I did have to make special cutouts to accommodate
the servos, as the kit really does not have a standard location for them due to the wide variety of
engine choices.
I installed the plywood cap on the top of the motor box and gave the entire firewall and motor box a
coat of epoxy to fuel-proof it. I mounted the ignition and Powerflite 2200mAh battery pack along with
the 6-volt regulator to the side and top of the motor box, using foam and tie straps. COWL & CANOPY DETAILS
I made a couple of templates to determine where the muffler exits and spark plug caps would need to
exit the cowl, and using a Dremel tool, I carefully made the openings. It took a little while to get them
perfect, but it is always better to remove a little material at a time. The cowl attached with 4 40 screws.
It was a little tricky to fit in place, but boy, does it look cool when complete. A Mejzlik 26x10 carbon
fiber prop and Tru-Turn 4.25 inch Ultimate Spinner finished off the nose of this beauty.
The last step in the construction before I could balance the plane was to assemble the hatch and
canopy. I installed a 1/3 scale civilian pilot from HP Pilots and then attached the plastic canopy with
Pacer Canopy Glue. Once the glue cured, I attached the hatch to the fuselage and attached the main
To check the CG, I made two marks on the wing tips at 4 1/2 inches and 5 3/4 inches from the leading
edge of the wing. With the aid of a friend, we lifted the plane from the 4 1/2 inch mark and noticed
that it was nose heavy. I removed the hatch and placed the receiver and receiver battery in the
recommended location. I temporarily placed a single JR 8611 servo in one of the rudder servo openings
in the tail. This time it balanced at around five inches, which was perfect.
I knew the position of the receiver and battery, so I made a mounting plate using the template in the
back of the manual. I attached the receiver, Powerflite 4400mAh battery, Powerflite voltage regulator,
and the Matchbox for the elevators on the tray and secured them with foam and tie straps.
I installed the JR 8611 servo in the tail. It produces over 250 oz.-in. of torque, which is plenty of power
to maintain good rudder authority even in violent 3D maneuvers. I installed a control horn in the rudder
that came out the same side as the servo and, using a pushrod and ball links, I connected
the servo arm to the rudder. I covered up the remaining rudder servo hole with white UltraCote. The
last thing was to install a pushrod for the tailwheel. I connected a 2-56 rod to the tailwheel and another
to an inner hole on the rudder servo arm.
I set up all the control throws according to the manual and gave everything a final onceover before
heading to the field. Flying this fantastic aerobat was a blast.
So, what it is like flying the 33% Extra 330S? Awesome! I was
completely blown away by how smooth and stable it flew even at very
low (approaching stall) speeds. I felt very comfortable after only a few
laps around the field, as though it was my 100th flight on the model. I
did notice that the plane seemed very pitch sensitive, which can be
attributed to the CG placement. But when I rolled to inverted, very
little down elevator was required to maintain level flight, indicating
that the CG was pretty close to optimum. There was also a noticeable
change in the CG as the fuel tank depleted. I am going to look at
making a mount in order to put the tank over the wing tube so it will
have less effect on the CG.
Flying a plane of this size in many ways feels like flying a trainer again. Wind has very little effect on it
and it can slow to a crawl without any noticeable signs of violent stalling. The engine was nothing short
of amazing, with gobs of power and fast response. The idle was a little tricky, but as I ran more tanks
though it and the engine began to break-in, everything seemed to settle out.
Take off
The takeoff roll was straight with only a
small input of right rudder needed for
correction. You only need a couple clicks
of power to get it into the air. How
powerful is this engine? If you advance
to full throttle from a dead stop, the plane
jumps into the air with only a 2-3 foot
Slow Flight and Landings
Landing approaches were smooth and stable, and three-point landings were easy and natural for the
plane. Since I’m used to smaller planes, when flying the Extra in slow flight it almost seems as if the
plane is barely moving and on the edge of falling out of the sky. To ease my concerns, I flew to one
mistake high and brought the power to idle while feeding up elevator to induce a stall. It seemed to
take forever as the plane started to fly a harrier. Eventually, when it stalled, the right wing dropped
slightly, as did the nose. A couple clicks of power and it was back flying.
Aerobatics and 3D
The airframe tracks very straight, and with all that power loops can be as large as you want with no
tendency to fall out. The rudder has enough authority for easy knife-edge and point rolls.
Hammerheads were flat, with little need for aileron correction. Snap rolls were surprisingly fast and,
once you release the sticks, expect a 1/4 turn rotation before the plane stops rolling. This was
easy to get used to and predictable. Spins both upright and inverted wrapped up very tight and, after
releasing the sticks, it needed almost a 3/4 turn for the rotation to stop. I could not get it to flatten out
at the CG and with the control throws we were using. I tried a couple of blenders, and it snapped right
into a tight inverted flat spin after three rotations. As I applied power, it began to climb in the spin.
Hovering was almost effortless. The engine has so much power that I could easily sustain a hover
with around 1/3 power. There is a ton of control authority from all surfaces and the plane remains very
responsive at low or stalled speeds. The large ailerons make it easy to counteract the engine’s torque
to sustain a hover. Torque rolls were easy, and the massive ZDZ 100NG will rotate the plane at very
fast speeds by blipping the throttle. But there is nothing more impressive than watching a 25-pound
plane rocket into space when you punch the throttle from a hover.
Moderate wing rock was found in harriers and
elevators. I was still working on breaking-in the
engine and I only attempted them a couple times
since I was not completely confident with low throttle
settings. I think the wing rock would be tamed by
using the spoileron settings that Mike talks about in
the manual.
There was really no time during general flight that I
felt the need to use more than 1/3 power. Heed
the warning about using throttle management when
using an engine larger than 80cc, as it really does
not take much to get this plane rocketing at speeds
much greater than for what it was designed. In 3D
flight, you will really like the extra power!
Watch the Hangar 9 33% Extra 330S in action
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