Blackridge & District Model Flying Club

Electric flight projects

GWS A-10 Thunderbolt (Warthog) - kit review

GWS manufacture a large range of 'park fliers' or 'foamies' which are designed to help the modeller make an easy introduction to electric flight.

The A-10 Thunderbolt (the Warthog) was chosen as it can be built as a fair representation of the full size 'tankbuster' and is reasonably priced. So far, two GWS A-10 kits have been built by Club Members and these are pictured below 'strafing' our flying strip.

 

Buying the kit

The kit itself is currently priced at £49.99, but a 'package deal' is available for £104 which includes the kit, 2 sub-micro servos, a micro receiver, servo extension lead and an 8.4v Nicad flight pack (from Sussex Model Centre). The only other item required to complete the model is a crystal priced at £5.99.

All the bits arrive in a large box which contains a comprehensive kit of parts including foam fuselage, wings, tail and nacelles, twin electric ducted fan units (EDFs), all hardware required, glue and a huge decal sheet.

Fuselage

The fuselage and wings are one piece items, injection moulded with panel lines included and are of good quality.

It was decided to leave out the undercarriage as it is a flimsy affair, would not work on our grass strip and some weight was saved as a bonus.

Assembling the fuselage involved fitting the mini 'snake' for elevator, gluing a 'bamboo' stick to the inner fuselage spine and feeding the EDF power Y-leads through the fuselage sides. All very straight forward.

Ducted fan units

Next the foam EDF duct shroud assemblies were fitted together with the 2 EDF units glued in place.

Wing

Then the wing was assembled by separating and hinging the ailerons, fitting the aileron linkage hardware, mini snakes and wing mounting plates. Again very simple and trouble free.

The elevators were separated from the tailplane and hinged, fins fitted then the assembly was glued in place making sure of alignment with the wings.

The EDF duct assemblies were glued in place on the fuselage mounting points making sure they were aligned evenly on both sides and power wires connected.

Radio gear

The radio gear was then fitted, servos and the Electronic speed controller held in place with double sided sticky pads (after masking tape was applied to the servos where the pads are stuck) and connected up with the wire pushrods provided.

Finally, the canopy was decorated with the frame decals provided (a little tricky with patience and a steady hand required) and fixed to the fuselage.

Finishing

All that remained to do was to paint the model. The kit is available in 3 pre-painted colours, sand, green and grey. The sand coloured model was painted in 'Desert Storm' colours and the grey coloured model in US camo colours of 3 shades of green. Take care to use enamel or acrylic paint as cellulose melts the foam (no, we didn't find out the hard way!)

The correct C of G position was easily obtained by adjusting the flight pack position and the stick of clay supplied for balancing was not required.

The model was assembled exactly as per instructions, no modifications of any kind and the materials provided were used including the quaint bamboo strengthener sticks and the GWS glue which seems to stick anything to anything!!

Flying

First flight was made with the supplied 400 mAh flight pack. A firm hand launch (by a helper) was all that was required to achieve a steady climb out and some leisurely circuits before landing safely. The model handles well and no trimming was required with the C of G correctly placed.

The kit box states that the model is recommended for 'advanced/expert' flyers and this is probably due to the flight characteristics which are somewhat different form the average ready built IC powered sport model. With the power being supplied from the rear of the model, turns require careful coordination, being slow to start then requiring some opposite aileron to prevent 'oversteer'. Turning too sharply results in a serious loss of height. Power is just about right for the model but there is little to spare. After getting used to these quirks, the model flies just fine and looks extremely realistic on a low pass. Flights are normally within the confines of the flying site and at a fairly low altitude. With the 400 mAh flight pack supplied the model seems to find a 'ceiling' at which height it is happy to stooge around and float in to land on its underwing 'pods'. Average flight times are about 4 minutes although to date all landings have been made before the flight pack ran down (before the BEC cut in).

Although the initial flights were carried out using the supplied Nicad flight pack (8.4v 400 mAh) a second flight pack was purchased to save waiting for a full charge time at the flying site. This was a Kan low resistance NiMH cell, 8.4v 1050 mAh pack and this transformed the model flight considerably with more power available and a more sprightly performance all round. Flight times are around 7 minutes with the Kan flight pack.

Summary

In summary, this is a very complete and very easy to assemble kit. Although classed as a 'park flier' it builds up into a very realistic scale looking model of the well known Tankbuster aircraft. Everything went together well with no problems when following the excellent colour instruction book.

Highly recommended as an introduction to electric flight providing some proficient aileron experience has been acquired.

Model specification

Length 872 mm (34.3") Flight pack 400mAh Nicad
Wing span 968mm (38.1")   730 mAh NiMH
Flying weight 360g - 410g (12.7oz- 14.5oz) Servos 2-3 sub micro
Power EDF55 twin ducted fans ESC ICS-100/ICS-300
Receiver 4ch sub micro Radio 3/4 channel
Links to suppliers of items purchased to build this A-10 model...
GWS - A-10 Kit manufacturer
Sussex Model Centre - Supplier of A-10 kit

 

BG/JM - November 2004

 

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