KIT REVIEW | Semi-scale utility aircraft
PC-6 Porter
It’s great to see an
unusual subject like
this from one of the
larger ARTF
Although designed
for i.c. or electric
power, expect to
remove plenty of
material from the
cowl if fitting a glow
PORTER.indd 14
o you ever crave something a
bit different from all the
Edges, Extras, Yaks and
Sukhois that seem to abound at flying
sites these days? Something with a
bit more character? If so, then the
latest release from Seagull Models
might be right up your street. Granted
it’s no all-out aerobat, however the
company’s Pilatus PC-6 Porter is well
made, sensibly-sized and packs more
than a little character.
Taking to the sky for the first time
more than 50 years ago, the Porter
(which very quickly received an
engine upgrade and became the
Turbo Porter) was designed as a
multi-purpose STOL (Short Take Off
and Landing) aircraft. Over 550 have
since been built and it remains in
production to this day. The
PC-6 is a
very capable aeroplane that can carry
large or awkward loads; Mel Gibson’s
character flew one in the film Air
America and other examples are
often seen servicing remote - and
sometimes ridiculously inclined third world landing strips. All told,
you just have to love the Porter’s
distinctive styling, especially that
no-nonsense fin and stabiliser.
Seagull’s 63” (1600mm) span
version is based on PH-JFL, a stunning
photo of which can be seen on the
Pilatus website: www.pilatus-aircraft.
com. The model is made from
laser-cut balsa and ply, designed for
electric or i.c. power, and is covered in
a very effective printed, aluminium
effect Oracover that includes rivet and
panel line detail.
Now, it’s normally fair to say that
electric-powered models don’t sound
as good as their four-stroke, i.c.
powered equivalents, but if you’ve
ever seen and heard a turbo prop
aircraft then you’ll know that a nice | September 2010
19/7/10 18:13:27
words » David Ashby | photos » Graham Ashby
I fitted standard size
sport digital servos
all round but
analogue units
would do just as
Don’t fit the
screw-in aerial
supplied, it’s far too
big. Make
something more in
brushless outrunner is audibly closer
to the real thing. If that wasn’t enough
to tempt you, the instruction manual
alludes to the fact that a rather large
amount of material must be removed
from the cowl if an i.c. engine is to be
squeezed inside that slim nose. The
tapered front end is one of the Porter’s
notable characteristics, and with a
two- or four-stroke silencer adding
little to enhance it, I’d imagine that,
like me, a fair few will turn to electric
power for this particular model.
The kit itself is good standard
ARTF fare that shouldn’t present any
problems for the intermediate flyer,
for whom it’s intended. In terms of
quality Seagull are up there with the
very best of ‘em, and this effort does
nothing to alter the impression. The
instruction manual is neither Premier
League nor Sherpa Van trophy but
somewhere between the two. It
clearly didn’t quite keep up with the
model’s development, as there are
one or two (minor) omissions.
Similarly, a little more explanatory
text wouldn’t come amiss in places.
Anyway, having built the thing, what
follows is a list of the noteworthy
observations I made along the way:
September 2010 |
PORTER.indd 15
z Add a little cyano to secure the
pre-fitted aileron servo mounting
blocks, and drop a screw down
into the blocks from the top side
of the cover just for extra security.
z The rudder post that passes
through the fuselage should really
have a tube to guide it towards the
underside exit hole. You’re literally
groping in the dark here, so be
patient at the fitting stage.
z The instructions suggest using
epoxy to mate the electric motor
mount to the fuselage. Mounts like
this are usually bolted in place,
although I’ve done the deed as
directed and, so far, all’s well.
Needless to say, roughen the
surfaces before mating. The (faintly
etched) marker lines on the mount
will help with precise location.
z I wedged the adjustable motor
firewall in place using hardwood,
then carefully tacked it with cyano,
and secured it with epoxy to finish.
z The cowl air intake should be
opened out to allow cooling air to
pass by the ESC and battery.
Remember, also, to cut away the
centre covering area on the
underside battery hatch.
z The kit includes a short metal tube
that doesn’t seem to have a home.
Personally, I think it’s an additional
wing support that fits in front of
the main wing bearer, holes for
which are pre-cut.
He may be a bit
glossy but on the
whole the pilot
chappie isn’t too
bad at all.
My powertrain
10-minute flights
using 3800mAh 4s
The whine of the
Power 46 outrunner
nicely resembles
the sound of a
19/7/10 18:13:33
KIT REVIEW | Semi-scale utility aircraft
The struttery is
what lets this model
down. The tubes
have flattened ends
which are positive
weak points.
Any shock
absorbing qualities
the undercarriage
may have had has
been killed by the
larger strut. This in
turn puts pressure
on that flattened
end - a poor design.
The aluminium
effect Oracover
scheme is very
Don’t you just love
the Porter’s
distinctive outline?
PORTER.indd 16
z The instructions fail to note the
rectangular fin T-piece for which,
if you look carefully, there’s a
pre-cut slot.
z The scale-effect screw-in fuselage
aerial is far too big, so make
something sensible from carbon
tube. Have a look at the
aforementioned web shot of the
full-size aircraft to see what I mean.
z Hardware quality is good, not
least the nice metal clevises.
Some clever touches are apparent
too, notably the removable
fuselage servo tray that’s secured
with a sliding catch. This makes
elevator and rudder servo
installation simplicity itself. When
it came to the servos, I fitted
standard sport digitals all round.
My chosen power system was a
Power 46 outrunner coupled to a 60A
ESC and 4s 3300 - 3700mAh Li-Po.
Although the ESC is rated for 3 - 6s
Li-Pos and 4 - 5 digital servos, I
prefer not to take any chances and
always fit a separate Rx battery (a 2s
1200mAh LiFe pack in this case) and
switch harness.
Talking of Rx batteries, Seagull has
recognised the effect of the Porter’s
long nose on the C of G by placing a
hatch for the Rx battery towards the
rear of the fuselage, just under the
tail. My model balanced nose heavy
so this was the obvious place for my
2.8oz (80g) LiFe pack, indeed this has
proven sufficient to achieve the C of
G (measured at the wing tip as per
the instructions) without the need for
additional ballast.
With a 13 x 6.5” prop, my power
system measures close to 600W and
40A, so a little under 90W / lb. This,
then, has proved ample to help the
model deliver a sensible scale-like
performance while still having plenty
in reserve for appreciable aerobatics.
The supplied spinner is designed
for i.c. so may prove unbalanced
when spun by an electric motor. This
tends to be due to the backplate
flexing, so it may be worth
upgrading to a metal-backed version.
For control throw movements the
numbers annotated in the manual
relate to mm (obvious, really, but
clarified here just in case you’re in
any doubt!). Finally, note that you
may need a little expo’ dialled in on
the elevator. | September 2010
19/7/10 18:13:43
words » David Ashby | photos » Graham Ashby
Note how the
extended rudder
post drives the
steerable tail wheel.
This rear
(underside) hatch is
for access to the
receiver battery.
Take-off is simple enough. It’s just a
case of adjusting the ground run with
rudder and rotating after an
appreciable ground speed has been
achieved. The Porter’s slow speed
handling is excellent; I’ve found the
model to be gentle and benign and
while the tip will eventually stall,
you’ll be close to the hover before
this happens.
With a distinct and satisfying
appearance in the air, low passes are
really rewarding; the outrunner
convincingly imitates the whine of a
turbo prop and there’s a nice whistle
as air passes over the struts.
The model is capable of performing
a gentle sport aerobatic routine,
although scale flying is really what
does it justice. In this respect it feels
much like a faster, more agile Piper
Cub, indeed nice slow rolls and loops,
gentle passes and wing-overs are the
order of the day. Sometimes - and in
true Cub fashion - a little rudder helps
the tail through turns, but the ailerons
are pretty positive and generally the
Porter goes where she’s put. Loops
are easy, although rolls need some
help with elevator if you’re looking for
an axial response. Inverted flight
requires just a little forward elevator
pressure, yet the model feels safe and
steady with the wheels pointing
skyward. Meanwhile, spins are easy to
enter and surprisingly fast, too.
The model’s gentle nature means
landings should be uneventful - just
balance the throttle and elevator to
bring her in. Do it gently, though, for
that rigid u/c has absolutely no give
whatsoever, so anything other than a
real greaser will see the Porter bounce
ungracefully back into the air.
Just a couple of final thoughts then.
The first relates to flaps, or rather, the
lack of ‘em. This is a STOL aeroplane
after all, and while their absence does
no harm, it would still be nice to have
some to play with, just to shorten and
slow down take-offs and landings.
Second, the wing and dummy u/c
suspension struts are tubes with
flattened ends which have quickly
started to show signs of wear. I’ve
just replaced my wing struts with
stronger tubes and the u/c struts
won’t be far behind. A factory
revision is required here.
Notwithstanding, I like this model.
It’s well made, strong and with good
flying qualities. It looks great, makes
a fine canvas on which to add some
scale detail and, above all, has
terrific character.
Pilatus PC-6 Porter
Model type:
ARTF semi-scale
Manufactured by:
Seagull Models
UK distributor:
J. Perkins Distribution
Tel. 01622 854300
63” (1600mm)
Fuselage length:
53.7” (1364mm)
Wing area:
5sq. ft. (0.5sq. m)
All-up weight:
6 lb 16oz (3.1kg)
Wing loading:
21.5oz / sq. ft. (6.6kg / sq. m)
Rec’d engine:
.46 - .55 two-stroke
.72 - .82 four-stroke
Powertrain used:
Power 46 outrunner, 60A ESC, 4s
3300 - 3800mAh Li-Po, 13 x 6.5”
APC-E prop
Functions (servos): Aileron (2); elevator (1);
rudder (1); throttle (via ESC)
September 2010 |
PORTER.indd 19
19/7/10 18:13:54