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Written by Greg Gimlick
This classic civilian aircraft is fun to fly
Product Review
As seen in the July 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.



Bonus Video


Specifications

Model type: Semiscale ARF
Skill level: Intermediate to expert
Wingspan: 62.2 inches
Wing area: 663 square inches
Airfoil: Semisymmetrical
Length: 46 inches
Weight: 7 to 9 pounds
Power system: Boost 50 or 60 electric motor combo; .46 two-stroke or .72 four-stroke engine
Radio: Six-channel; two standard-size servos for elevator and rudder; four mini servos for ailerons and flaps; one additional servo for throttle if using a glow engine
Construction: Wood, fiberglass, preprinted covering
Price: $239.95


Test-Model Details

Power system: E-flite Power 52 brushless outrunner motor; Castle Creations Talon 90-amp ESC; Turnigy 5S 18.5-volt 5,000 mAh 40C LiPo battery
Propeller: APC 14 x 10E
Radio system: Spektrum DX9 transmitter; Spektrum AR9030T receiver; two Spektrum A6150 HV servos; two Spektrum A5040 servos; two 12-gram EMAX ES08MDII servos
Flying weight: 9 pounds
Wing loading: 31.3 ounces
Flight duration: 7 to 8 minutes


Pluses

• All-wood construction.
• Fiberglass cowl and color scheme.
• Detailed cockpit.
• Mounts for electric or gas power.
• Ready for optional retracts.


Minuses

• Optional retracts require considerable work.
• Wing joiner tube too long.




The author uses full flaps for landing. The Bonanza flies well and stands out in the air.



Product Review

I was looking forward to getting the VQ Warbirds Beechcraft Bonanza because it has been a while since I’ve had a nice civilian scale aircraft. As I unwrapped the pieces, I was excited to see the color scheme that VQ Warbirds chose for US distribution.

The covering looked good and the preprinted markings aren’t overdone. The hardware package looked to be fine and everything was there for either glow or electric power. I was happy to see that the wells for the optional retracts were already cut out.




The parts as they come out of the box.



Assembly

As with any ARF, begin by carefully inspecting all of the parts then spend some time with a covering iron. Go over everything, even if it looks tight when you unpack it. This will be rewarded when you take it out on a 90° day. This is especially true with models employing a preprinted covering.

Read the instructions and get a good feel for the assembly steps. The wing servos and controls are the first, and probably the biggest ones. Servos are mounted into the surface of the wing halves using precut slots. I had to open mine up slightly to fit the servos, but there is plenty of room for that.

I changed the position of my flap servos by moving the arm away from the flaps. They fit the other way, but there was little room to adjust the control rod. I found it easier to flip the servo around. I used the provided hardware. Be sure to use threadlocker after you have set everything up.

The optional electric retracts turned out to be more work than I initially anticipated. All of the wheel holes were too small and some of the framework interfered with the struts. A Dremel tool and sanding drum made quick work of opening up everything for a proper fit.

Because I’m discussing retracts, I’ll mention the nose gear. The challenge was getting it to fit and still having the steering control rod reach the rudder servo without interfering with anything. Plan to spend some time and go slowly. It can be done, but you will have to work for it. My nose gear strut also fell apart. I managed to put it back together and secured it with CA adhesive, but trust is an issue for me now.

The tail surfaces are next. It’s been a long time since I’ve put pieces like this together and didn’t have to do any shimming or sanding to get them perfectly true to the wing and each other. What a great surprise to find that these were so accurate!

The tab-style control horns go through slots in the stabilizer and are secured with a slotted retention piece on the other side. I used CA glue to secure them. I’ve used this style of control horns on smaller airplanes, but wondered how they would work on an airplane of this size. They are holding strong though, so I try not to worry.

Mounting a motor or engine is no big deal. VQ Models has worked both methods out to the letter and the job posed no challenges. I had a Power 52 motor on the shelf and because it was close in size to the recommended motors, I chose to use it. I paired it with a Castle Creations Talon 90 ESC, which is overkill, but I had one and it provided enough BEC power for me to feel comfortable.




The motor and ESC are installed and adjusted with threaded rods to fit perfectly.


If you use a smaller powerplant, you might wish to use a receiver pack or at least upgrade to a stand-alone BEC unit. You’re powering six servos and three retracts. Measurements are shown for firewall-to-propeller distance and the mounts are infinitely adjustable. Again, remember to use threadlocker after you’ve established the distances and tighten them down. When you’ve established the motor’s position, you can drill and mount the cowl to fit.




The bottom of the wing shows the installed retracts and servos.


The tubes for the tail surface control rods are installed, but they are not cut to length or secured. As you work through the process of setting up the controls, trim them to length and secure them at the rear and in the fuselage formers. The dual elevators use a “manifold” to join the two rods to the single one attached to the servo. Use threadlocker again!

Setting up the rudder wasn’t a problem, but connecting the nose wheel steering arm was challenging. Don’t interfere with the area where you’ll be mounting your motor battery. I tried a couple of routes before getting mine to where I was happy with it.

Mounting the wing is done with two locator pins and an aluminum tube. I had to trim approximately 3/16 inch off of the tube so the wing halves would pull flush with the fuselage sides. It’s not a big deal, but if yours doesn’t quite fit snugly against the fuselage, this is why. A retaining screw holds the wing firmly in place.

The nicely detailed cockpit/canopy provides huge access space to work inside of the fuselage. It’s held in place at the front with a tab and two thumbscrews through the sides of the fuselage into blind nuts that are mounted in a preinstalled hold-down.

This is one area where I didn’t follow the instructions. I installed five pairs of magnets to provide solid holding power and avoid unsightly thumbscrews on the side of the fuselage. There is nothing wrong with the factory method, but because I fly electric power, I like quick, easy access to the battery compartment. The magnets hold the canopy firmly and still let me remove it quickly if I need access.

I went for overkill on my receiver. You can certainly fly with a six-channel radio and Y harnesses, but I like setting each aileron and flap up on its own channel. I do this with my larger airplanes because it allows me to individually adjust them. I mounted the two satellites in the back of the fuselage and secured the wires to the formers.


Control Throws and CG

I ran into a bit of a challenge getting the center of gravity (CG) to the recommended position. I moved the receiver back as far as I could and ended up making an extended battery tray to move the 5S battery pack aft. Even with this, I had to add an ounce of weight at the tail to balance it.

If I extend the battery tray any farther, it interferes with the nose wheel steering rod. One option might be to install a separate servo below the battery deck for the steering.




There is plenty of room in the cockpit for everything. The flight battery and receiver were placed as far back as possible.


All of the controls were set to the values listed in the manual and they work fine. I increased the throws slightly on all surfaces to suit my preferences. I suggest you set it up per the instructions and maybe add an additional rate for each one, increasing them slightly. My final controls use the company’s recommendations as low rates and a bit more for high. I have 25% exponential on all surfaces.


Flying

Test-flight day brought balmy temperatures to North Carolina, but gusty wind. It wasn’t terrible, gusting to roughly 15 mph, but it was a crosswind nonetheless. The Bonanza handled the conditions well, so that wasn’t a concern in the end. The airplane tracked true down the runway and lifted off with more than enough power. The retracts held up well on all of the flights, despite my initial concerns after repairing the nose wheel strut.

A spirited climb to altitude and a trip around the pattern didn’t show any need for worry, so I went up high for a stall test and some aerobatics. The stall was more of a mush than a stall. It mushed along straight ahead without a tendency to break to either side.

Loops and rolls were strong and nicely axial. My CG could probably be moved slightly more aft, but I will sneak up on that as I become more comfortable with it.

I would like to get more flap throw, but I am at the maximum right now; they hit the wing’s trailing edge with full deflection. I tend to land slightly faster than necessary, but that is getting better with each flight as I get used to how much the aircraft will slow down.

Because the Bonanza wasn’t designed to be an aerobat, I’m not terribly concerned with doing more than scalelike maneuvers. It certainly has no problem with any of that and passengers get sick flying upside down anyway.

It has more power than necessary and flight times are good. I will try a few three-blade propellers, but for now, the two-blade APC 14 x10E is working well.


Conclusion

I like the Bonanza. It presents itself well on the ground and in the air. It hasn’t shown me any bad tendencies yet and I don’t expect to find any. It has full aerobatic capability, but I like flying it in a scalelike fashion.

I had to shrink the covering a second time because it loosened up considerably in the sun. This just seems to be the way it is with these preprinted, sticky-backed coverings. For the price, I think the VQ Warbirds Beechcraft Bonanza is a great buy.




The VQ Warbirds Bonanza has an attractive color scheme and takes off comfortably from a grass runway.


—Greg Gimlick
maelectrics@gimlick.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

VQ Warbirds
info@vqwarbirds.com
www.vqwarbirds.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com

E-flite
(800) 338-4639
www.horizonhobby.com/content/e-flite-rc

APC Propellers
(530) 661-0399
www.apcprop.com






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