What can I say? I love biplanes, and the GWS Tiger Moth is just
so pretty that I couldn't resist.
says it's really wind sensitive: don't fly
it on a windy day, be patient and wait for a calm day. But there
are no calm days here, at least not in winter. And besides, I've
been practicing a lot with the Pico Stick
on windy days, and that's even more sensitive to wind.
I built it almost completely stock, with three exceptions: I reinforced
the wiggly plastic wing struts with balsa, I changed to smaller but
beefier wheels and rubber-banded the gear wires to the wing dowells
because the landing gear was too wobbly as designed, and I moved the
battery into the front passenger seat since the plane wouldn't balance
with the battery in the stock location under the cowling. I may
modify it later, but I wanted to see how the stock Moth flew before
made a short test-flight at the local baseball
diamond to check the
trim settings, then took it to Baylands.
It flies beautifully, just as everybody says. Floats into the air
in two or three feet, flies as slowly as the Pico Stick, but with more
positive control and a bit less dancing in the wind. It doesn't
have a lot of power with the IPS motor, even with a Li-Po battery, but
it has enough to climb gradually to any altitude. It does nice
loops (if I dive first to gain speed) and is quick to recover from
stalls and wind gusts. Which is not to say that it's a good plane
in wind; it would be much better on a calm day, and when the wind got
really fierce, I retired the moth and went back to flying my Pico Stick
(which may or may not be more wind sensitive, but at least it's fairly
indestructible, easy to repair, and in any case it's already beat up).
And the Moth is pretty in the air! Though the dangling antenna
looks a little silly. I haven't figured out what to do about that.
Oh, a note about that dangling antenna:
the Tiger Moth can do really great hammerhead stalls (if you dive a
little first to get some airspeed). I made a particularly good
one, where the moth snapped around then dove right back down its
initial trail. Woohoo! except then I brought up the engine
again to fly around some more, and the engine stalled almost right
away. I glided it back (no problem, the moth floats easily and I
glided back to a landing right where I wanted it) and went to check on
it -- and burst out laughing. See, one of the problems in flying
your R/C plane right back down the path it went up is that that's
exactly where your antenna is. It got caught in the prop, so much
so that it took me a while to un-knot it. The motor was fine,
though, as was the plane.
People ask about the transparent cowling. Mine was an unpainted
Moth (which I bought by accident: I like GWS' paint scheme so well that
I copied it even though I could have done anything) and the unpainted
ones come with a transparent cowling. The instructions say to
paint it (on the inside so it looks shiny) but I think it looks neat
transparent, so I haven't painted it.
The Obligatory Pilot
course, the Moth had to have a worthy passenger. And Tux makes a
great pilot -- now it's an free open source biplane!
Dual IPS conversion:
It's a bit underpowered with the stock IPS. I finally got tired
of that (flying on a windy day where I couldn't keep up with the wind)
and decided to try a dual IPS.
Several people told me that I should have installed the stick 90
degrees from the stock position if I wanted to run a dual: in other
words, make the stick vertical rather than horizontal. I was
first told this less than a day after I glued the stick in horizontally.
The dual IPS slips onto the same motor stick, but it turns out that it
doesn't fit in the cowling that way, even aside from the thrust
direction being a bit off. But it seemed worthwhile for
testing. I unscrewed the cowling, slipped the IPS off and the
dual on, and I was ready to test. I thought I might have to move
the battery back to the rear seat, but it turns out the dual isn't that
much heavier: simply moving the battery back to the rear of the front
seat was enough.
It really does fly better with the dual, though. It still has the
same light character, but it has enough power to combat wind and to
climb to altitude more quickly. I flew around, did a couple of
loops -- then the engine slipped off the front of the stick, nicking
the front of the top wing with the prop as it separated.
Argh! If I'd had the cowling on, that couldn't have happened.
After landing (cleanly, even with engine dangling -- the Tiger Moth is
a really easy plane to land), I modified the stick: shaved a bit off
each side, then added some balsa to the top and bottom to make a stick
with the right orientation. Then slip the dual IPS on, a drop of
CA to help hold it in place, cowling back on, and it was ready to fly
really like to have a small, slowish
aerobatic biplane, and no one makes one. I'm tempted to try
cutting ailerons in the Tiger Moth's wing so that it can roll as well
as loop. Maybe after I crash it, so I don't feel bad about
cutting up a pretty plane.
I haven't glued the gear in, because I wanted them to be easily
removable since I often fly from grass fields. But it turns out
it lands okay on the wheels even in grass, if I'm careful, and it
hand-launches easily, so maybe I won't worry about that. For now
they're taped in, and the wires are rubberbanded to the wing struts.
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