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Thursday, March 1, 2018

The 52" Class Is The Future of Mid Sized 3DXA Performance

I've written so much about the 52s it's hard to come up with something new to say. Instead, it's probably better to reaffirm my belief the 52s are the future of midsized aerobatic planes. While they are a little more expensive than the 48s, the economy is recovering to the point more people will be able to absorb this without too much pain. Even if it does hurt a little, the benefits of a better flying plane equipped with larger, more robust and reliable equipment is more than worth it.

In 2018 alone there will be two all new 3DHS 52s with a mind blowing new 57 that will use the same equipment. I have not heard anything about any new 52" Extreme Flight EXPs, but the Boss is so busy it's not hard to believe he's locked in the basement on the cad program churning out more world beaters.

The are a lot of reasons for going to 52" now. All of the equipment and batteries will work in all the upcoming 52s, so you will not need as many different size packs. Maybe even more important is that all the hardware is the same. In fact, all the pushrods are the same length, so everything is interchangeable. Even the landing gears have the same bolt hole pattern, and the wheels and pants are the same. This cuts way down on the amount of spare hardware and parts you need to keep on hand, and even less spares you have to carry in tour flight box.

So, with two of the fabulous 52s already available and many more to come, there's no doubt this is the future of the medium size aerobatic plane. If you are serious about quality and performance, now is the time to jump in.

While the Torque 2814 and Airboss are still more than up for the job, the poor little HS65MG just could not keep up with the demands we put on them with better batteries and more powerful motors, not to even mention much larger control surfaces and ridiculous 88 degree elevator deflections. This is so far past the original design limitation that it's amazing we weren't seeing servos bursting into flames all over the place. This size servo far exceeded any expectations a reasonable person could expect from them. Still, I fly my 48" MXS on the original 6 volt analog Hitec servos, and they are fine as long as I service them every 100 flights or so.

A better option was to go up to the next size servo and only upsize the plane enough to offset the additional weight. This is where the original 51" Slick came from, and it turns out we had the answer all along and didn't know it. We know now because not only do the newer HS5087mh servos work well, but I have had surprising success flying Hitec serviced HS85MG and new 5085MG servos. Without even talking about the upcoming new Hitec high end servos for these planes, or high end servos like MKS and Promodeler, what we already have works exceptionally well with tank like reliability and, tellingly, durability.


While the Torque 2814 served us brilliantly for well over a decade (ages in the rapidly developing 3DXA world), the heavier plane was going to require a larger, more powerful motor. Extreme Flight's new power division, Xpwr stepped up to bring us the radical new 3910. This motor is only a little heavier, but puts out an astounding 1069 watts on Thunder Power 4s 3300 70C packs. The 3910 has huge cooling inlets and exits, and the resulting lower operating temperatures not only makes the power system more reliable (remembering that heat is always the enemy), but less hot air also blows over your temperature sensitive Lipo batteries. Something we have taken for granted is when coupled with the Airboss 80ESC, the 3910 features the smooth running and perfectly linear throttle response of the legendary Torque 2814.

Here you can see how the Airboss nestles in between two carbon stringers to give you a nice, clean installation.

Another huge benefit of the 3910 is you can swing a Xoar 14/8 or a monstrous 15/6 propeller. The 14/8 gives you mind blowing speed, and the 15/6 delivers a little less (though still substantial) power with the benefit of about a minute's more run time, lower temperatures, and a lot less stress on the power system. I prefer the 15" prop for all those reasons, but the real benefit is a bigger cone of vectored thrust to bring you more control authority in post stall flight. Frankly, you have to experience this kind of difference in 3D control for yourself to truly believe it.


This is such an extraordinary amount of power that I will be dropping to Thunder Power's dead solid reliable 55C Elite series packs, which will save me a little weight and a lot of jack. You don't give up an appreciable amount of power with these packs anyway, so I can afford  that to get the advantages. While I would love everyone to run Thunder Power packs, everyone has their favorite and those will work well too. For now, though, it's probably going to take another summer of hard core 95 degree Florida blast furnace abuse to kill off my year old 70C Rampage packs.

So, with the planes now seemingly bulletproof, we now have more weight to deal with, and the best solution was to go up in size, and lift producing area. After all, the Pilot X for 60" planes is a perfect fit in the 52" Slick because the canopy is actually even wider than the 60" Slick.

 Essentially the 52 Slick fuselage has even more lift producing surface area per span than the 60" Slick, or at least enough to produce a smaller wing span plane that flies as lightly. If you think about that in terms of bigger planes usually being more floaty to fly than smaller ones, the 52s are startlingly light flying planes, which helps immensely in their 3D ability.

While few of the 52" class details can be considered "innovations," they are still things that make the entire built and fly experience a lot nicer. Check them out below.

One detail that sets the 52" Slick apart from other planes is it's unique self jigging (aligning) horizontal stabilizer. This is still the most stressful operation of the entire build because it's so critical to get it right, but this has now been reduced to jamming the stab in all the way forward and gluing it into place. The leading edge is notched and seat against a former. As long as you get the stabilizer seated all the way against this former, you just about can't get it wrong. On top of that, improved cad work and precision laser cutting makes the stab fit so well it almost looks like it is molded into place. No gaps or gagged edges or anything. It's just a tight, nice, quality fit that looks terrific and comes out straight every time.

 New to this series is the full line of Xcessories hardware. Especially nice are the bolts for securing the wings, cowl and landing gear. The washer is cast into the bolt, so you don't have to worry about losing them when you are working on the plane. I suppose you could still lose the entire bolt if you are clumsy and forgetful like I am, but you won't lose just the washer any more! These are also especially nice because almost all the annoying and cheap looking Phillips head screws are gone, and the new ones all fit the same size allen driver. The titanium colored anodizing is also a nice, high tech look.

Also so sweet it the use of mixed composites and carbon. While the original EXPs unashamedly used lots of functional bling, Chris, Ben and the factory have worked hard to engineer better wood construction and only employ expensive materials where nothing else will do. This way you still get a robustly built airframe that stays tighter, flies better and lasts longer, not to even mention the abuse these planes are surely going to see. Since carbon is so expensive, eliminating as much as possible with better engineering helps keep these planes affordable.

Her you can see the carbon reinforced servo mountings.

New for the 52" Slick are laser cut exhaust openings. While the Extra was released about a year earlier and may not get them, these slots are done so nicely there's no reason to believe the rest of the series won't have them.

Also useful are hooks cut into the formers to route the servo wires and stop them from slapping around so much in violent maneuvers. It's also not hard to believe his can also avert a lead accidentally pulling out of the receiver in violent snaps, cranks and tumbles.

 Using new quality Xessories twisted servo extensions, you simply untwist the wires a little until you separate the wires from each other, slip them into the hooks individually, and then twits it back up, Like this the will never slip out. You can also press the in, but you risk breaking the tab or wearing out the tight fit. Still, it's an easy operation that you do once and then forget about it. The radio tray has strategically placed holes to help you route the wires under the tray and give you a nice, clean and clutter free installation.
While the more durable equipment is easy to point out, you have to actually fly a 52 to appreciate it's next level performance. I've chronicled that enough in my other 52" reports, but club fields and parks will soon be so saturated with these planes that if you have not already seen this for yourself, it won't be long before you do. After all, these planes are the future of mid sized performance.

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