[Courtesy of Klaus Weiss - kkw1 "at" bigpond.com,
GLOBAL QUALITY KITS RAVEN A.R.F. by Klaus Weiss.
In the world of full size aerobatic aeroplanes, the Raven of Wayne Handley, with its striking colour scheme of red, white and blue, with a black raven over the red upper fuselage and wings, is second to none. Handley exhibits a great amount of skill whilst flying this plane, and the stunts are described as awesome. He currently holds the world record, during official competition, for completing 67 revolutions during an inverted flat spin manoeuvre.
Global Quality Kits has the exclusive licence to manufacture models of the Raven, and has just released its latest version, the Almost Ready to Fly Raven .40. This all wood model, is reputed to be one of the best, and most complete kits on the market. Global also manufactures a .60 - .90 size, stand off scale, all built up version, and a .40 size Fun Fly profile model as well.
The latest offering, the ARF .40 Raven, is the subject of this review, so let's have a look at it. THE KIT. Packaging always catches the eye of a potential customer, and the picture on the box of this kit, is no exception. What you see on the outside, is what the model looks like on the inside.
Everything is packaged separately, and the Raven kit is practically completed, leaving little for the owner to do. A lot of folks think this is the way to go, and in this age with all the pressures of work, and the apparent demands on our leisure time, I kind of agree. It would be nice however, for newcomers to learn the art of building model aircraft, and also to understand basic principles of why and how they fly.
The Raven ARF is handcrafted, and the workmanship is extremely good. The hardware package is very comprehensive and complete. A very pleasant surprise, and one which enhances the quality of this kit, is the fact it is already covered in *Carl Goldberg Ultracoat*, in the Handley full size colours. The covering is streets ahead of the usual contact adhesive types of plastic found on most other ARF models, and can be re-shrunk if it begins to sag at any time. The covering job on my kit was first class, and drum tight. The decals are included in the kit, as is a well written, 34 page instruction booklet, to help in the assembly steps. Clear photographs outline various stages of the assembly, so you can't really go wrong.
Global state that each Raven kit is unique in its construction, because it is entirely handmade. Mine was perfect, with excellent joints and everything fitted where it was supposed to. Well done, Global. The decals are not fuel proofed against raw fuel, nitro etc, so if there is any chance of spilling fuel onto them, it is best to spray them with a clear coat. Same goes for the cowl, as this paint is not 100% fuel proof either. I used *Lustrecoat* clear gloss, as it is easy to apply, straight from the pressure pack can. The firewall and engine mount box has been fuel proofed, which is another plus not found on too many ARF kits. Let's have a look at the assembly of the Raven .40, which should not take too much time to complete.
WING. The wing is manufactured from balsa and plywood in the traditional built up fashion, with balsa ribs, shear webbing and spar construction. The wings are very well built and free of twists and warps. The aileron servos are mounted in the wing and protrude from the underside, well away from the exhaust residue spray pattern, so they should remain clean (hopefully). It only takes a few minutes to cut the covering away from the servo mounting boxes, epoxy in the pine servo rails and cut the slots for the servo extension leads.
Next, using 30 minute epoxy, glue in the plywood wing brace and join the halves. Align the aileron tip plates and glue them on, then attach the ailerons to the wings as outlined. I left the main wing tip plates until the very last, so that if the model needed lateral balancing, after the engine and muffler were fitted, I could add the weight to the light wing tip and then epoxy the plates in place. The front of the wing already has the holes for the wing bolts pre-drilled, so all you need to do is seat the wing, line it up and drill through the holes, into the plywood mounting plates in the fuselage.
It is impossible to seat the tangs of the supplied blind nuts into the plywood plate, so I departed a little from the instructions and tapped the holes with a 1/4 x 20 tap, then hardened the threads with CA. I did the same with the trailing edge mounting blocks, using nylon wing bolts to secure the wing.
Next, align the stabiliser and affix it as instructed. I found that the elevator was a bit on the soft side, and the joiner was also made of balsa, so keep an eye on it, and if you feel it is too soft, maybe give thought to replacing it. I am keeping a close eye on mine.
The fin, rudder and tailwheel presented no problems, just remember not to epoxy the rudder in place before the tailwheel has been attached correctly.
The wheel spats are a bit fiddly, especially if you have big hands like me, but again fit very well on the forward landing gear. There are not enough wheel collars supplied in the kit, and I ended up using another brand, with hardened grub screws. One of the supplied wheels had a moulding defect in the plastic hub, so both wheels were replaced with *Sullivan* light weight units, which also gave me a little more space inside the wheel pant. Strut covers fit neatly and set off the landing gear nicely.
Servos and pushrods are no problem at all, and I used a nyrod and ball link setup for the throttle. Another slight departure from instructions. A Magnum XL .46 two stroke was used as the powerplant, and it fitted perfectly in the supplied motor mount. I also installed a *Dubro* Kwik fill refuelling valve into the side of the fuselage, as well as a *JR* charging socket for the receiver battery pack. This allows me to transport the model in its assembled state, saving the removal of the canopy and wings, each time.
The cowling is very easy to install, but make sure you measure the location carefully. The needle valve needs to be removed from the engine, as does the muffler, to be able to slip the cowl in place. I made a hole in the top of the cowl, with a Dremel tool, to give access to the needle valve. I also toyed with the idea of removing a large amount of the cowl to fit the standard muffler, as per instructions, but opted to fit a Pitts style muffler inside the cowl instead. It makes the front of the model look so much better. Trial fit the cowl with the engine bolted in, and fit the propeller and spinner with everything nipped up tight. Mark where the screws for the cowl will go, ensuring that you leave a slight gap behind the spinner backplate and the front of the cowl. You don't want the spinner rubbing against the cowl, or too large a gap, so measure carefully.
After searching for a suitable muffler, I found that the standard Custom Model Products, side mounted muffler system to be ideal for the purpose. The C.M.P. Pitts style mufflers have been developed for side mounted engines in any sport or scale application, and include all mounting hardware and pressure fittings. The muffler is manufactured from aluminium alloy and is of welded construction, with a matt black, high temperature coating. It fits nicely into the cowl of the Raven and has twin exhaust tubes which slope to the rear at an angle of 30 degrees, exiting out the bottom of the cowl and keeping oil residue to a minimum. The only other holes I had to make in the cowl were for the exhaust pipes and the engine head. Both these holes are very unobtrusive and neat.
I have to admit to making a mistake in the installation of the canopy. It was a case of rushing in and not reading the instructions. I cut off too much from the front radius, and had to build up a fillet on the canopy crutch. Actually the canopy and crutch gave me the most problems of all, and it was entirely my fault. Take care when mounting the canopy to the crutch, that you do not press down too firmly when securing it, as I did. The `back rest' moved slightly and the crutch didn't fit properly over the wing and fuselage, so I had to start again. This is not a reflection on the kit, but only to my rushing in. I guess everyone makes mistakes. I actually replaced the 'back-rest', which was plywood originally, with some 6.5mm hard balsa. This was done so that I had some additional width of timber to glue the canopy to, as well as adding some strength.
The decals are easy to apply, when following the directions, and turned out very well. They sure finish off the model, and attract the attention of everyone who has seen the Raven.. I found that the tailwheel is a bit on the flimsy side and flexes to either side when there is any weight placed on it. This proved to be annoying when taxiing, taking off and landing, so it was replaced with a stronger unit.
Set up the Raven at the recommended CG, with the control surface rates of travel as shown for initial flights, then head off for the field. I had to add 115gm (4 oz) weight to the tail of my Raven to get it to balance at the recommended point. Flying. Fuel up the Raven and do the pre-flight checks and a range check before committing to the take-off. The Raven is fairly short coupled, which will benefit aerobatics, and the high wing loading is not a problem. The Raven was checked for lateral balance during the assembly stage, so aileron trim was not envisaged as being a problem during take off. The run was smooth with no tendency to nose over. The tail came off the deck as the model approached flying speed, and a little up elevator deflection saw it lift off smoothly and climb out with authority.
A few laps showed that no trim adjustments were required, so the throttle was opened up to see how it handled at speed. Man, this model really covers some area and goes where you point it. Aerobatics can commence almost as soon as you leave the ground, and the Magnum .46XL has more than enough power for the Raven. Because of its clean lines and proven pedigree in full size aviation, the Raven responds very well to any inputs you send its way.
Landing approaches are adjusted by careful throttle control and there are no nasty surprises. Response and tracking are solid at all speeds, just remember that this is no "glider". Stalls are a non event, with the Raven just losing altitude as the throttle is reduced. Application of power has the model flying again almost immediately. The Raven is under full control at both high and low speeds. The Raven .40 ARF is designed as an aerobatic model, and I am sure that it will do any manoeuvre in the book. It certainly performed my small repertoire no problems at all. I would love to see it put through the paces by a better pilot. The highly visible colour scheme leaves you in no doubt as to where the model is, or the attitude it is in. The large 'Raven' decal really stands out and gets the magpies in an aggressive mood. Inverted flight is as stable as normal flight, and rolls, spins, loops, knife edge etc were all performed with little effort. The stability of this little model is quite impressive.
The Raven .40 is a winner for Global Quality Kits, being well constructed and good value for money. It flies well; the covering material is first rate; it has a high level of pre-fabrication, a fibreglass cowl and clear building instructions, all of which add to the attributes of this attractive model. It is one of the best A.R.F. kits which I have come across, to date. If you are looking for an aerobatic model with that little bit of extra, look no further than the Raven. Review model supplied by L.W. O'Reilly Pty Ltd. 42 Maple Ave Keswick, S.A. 5035.
Specifications. Fuselage length: 107mm (42") Wingspan: 132mm (52") Wing area: 362 sq. in. Wing loading: 32 oz. sq. ft. Radio: 4 ch (5 servos) Engine: .40 - .53 two stroke Radio used: JR3810 & 5 x JR511 servos. All up weight: 2.3kg (5lb 2 oz)