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Aerobeez 48" EPP/Balsa hybrid Sbach 342


We all love our profile foamies for their light weight and crash forgiveness. But they are limited to indoor venues or calm days (which we don't seem to get many of). Here's where the hybrid EPP planes come into the picture. They are reasonably crash resistant and the good ones can almost measure up to the traditional film covered balsa planes when it comes to flight characteristics. We have been looking for a good EPP hybrid that we can use to practice those pesky rolling harriers and to help us get confidence when going low and slow, so we were excited when the Aerobeez 48" EPP/Balsa hybrid finally showed up!

[h=1]Unboxing and kit quality[/h]
The kit comes in a single (not double boxed) heavy duty cardboard box and the pieces are neatly packaged in separate compartments.

The finish of the airframe is close to perfect! We found a small issue with a glue joint toward the tail section, but a small string of contact cement took care of that. The build manual is adequate and if you have a couple of ARF builds under your belt, you won't have any problems. However, there are some steps, such as assembling the pushrods, that are not covered in the manual. We put together a detailed build thread here that will hopefully clarify some of those steps.

Everything in the kit fits together nicely and the the fuselage, wings and all control surfaces are straight and free of any noticeable warping.

The control linkage hardware consists of carbon fiber pushrods with high-quality ball links on the control surface end and "ez connects" barrel type connectors for servo horn side. Assembled correctly, these are very reliable and durable. However, care must be taken when gluing the pushrod end to the ball link connector. We recommend you use thin CA and gently sand the ends of the carbon fiber pushrods. Also, the barrel type servo pushrod connectors need to be checked for slippage periodically.

All graphics are printed to the foam and seem very durable. However, make sure you are careful with any glue, as glue on your fingers will rip the paint off (as it would on any EPP plane).

Overall, the build quality of the plane is close to perfect and all structural details are solid, yielding a straight and true airframe.

The Aerobeez Sbach is a good-looking airplane. Of course, an EPP plane will never have the looks of a film-covered balsa plane, but this one comes pretty close! As we mentioned before, the finish is really nice and it has that typical "Sbach look". Initially, we were worried that the top and bottom of the wings looked too similar, but once in the air, we didn't have any problems with orientation. Simply put: This is a nice looking plane that will get noticed at the field.
IMG_6040.JPG IMG_6057.jpg

[h=1]Flight performance[/h]
Finally the big day is here! Maiden day! We had some fairly unpredictable 10-12 mph gusts on a sunny August day.

For the maiden, we went with the following setup:
* Servos: 4x Hitec HS65MG
* Motor: SunnySky 2820 920Kv from EP Buddy
* ESC: ZTW Gecko 65A from Altitude Hobbies
* Propeller: Xoar 14x6 Electric
* Receiver: Spektrum AR6115 DSMX

The CG was set up so the plane balanced on the wing tube. This is just a tad aft of the recommended forward CG limit. Control throws were around 45 degrees for all surfaces and we had about 75% expo on the ailerons and elevator and slightly less on the rudder. This turned out to be a good setup. The roll rate was very good and the plane had a slightly tail-heavy feel to it with a strong elevator authority and a hint of "pitchiness" that can be eliminated either by moving the CG a tad forward or adding some expo, depending on your preferences and flying style. On this plane, we liked the slightly tail heavy feel, so we left it alone.

The takeoff was from a slightly rough grass runway. We had to hold a little bit of up elevator while taxiing to keep the plane from flipping forward. We needed a fair amount of runway to get the plane airborne, most of it because the wheels seemed to dig into the grass a bit. However, the takeoff was not difficult at all and the plane didn't have any significant torque roll tendencies.

[h=2]Pattern aerobatics[/h]
Although the winds were quite gusty and turbulent, the plane tracked straight and handled big loops and Cuban eights nicely. You probably won't win any pattern contests with any EPP plane, however we were very satisfied with the pattern performance of this plane.

With our CG setup, the plane just needed a touch of down elevator in inverted flight.

[h=2]Harriers and hovers[/h]
This is where this Sbach is going to excel! To be honest, we weren't really sure what to expect as we hadn't had much experience with EPP planes from Aerobeez. The airfoil looked like it would perform nicely post stall without too much wing rock, but there's no way of knowing for sure until you've tried.

Well, this plane sure didn't disappoint. We started by putting the plane in an elevator maneuver. It needed a little bit of throttle to keep the nose from dipping. Then we gradually increased throttle and the plane immediately locked into a very stable harrier. Not a hint of wing rock, even with a gusty breeze.

Hovers also had a nice locked-in feeling. We needed a fair amount of right aileron and rudder to counter the torque from our fairly large propeller.

After a couple of minutes we felt ready to go low. Let's make one thing clear: This plane wants to go low! It invites and encourages you to go low; Really low! The fact that you probably won't do any damage to the airframe if you make a mistake when you're low and slow gets you the confidence you need. The tall weeds at the GCA Club provide an extra cushion, making it virtually impossible to break the plane in low hovers and harriers. Plus, dragging the tail through the weeds makes for really cool pictures...

We handed the radio to a pilot at the club who's never flown the plane before and he got comfortable with the plane after a few seconds (literally!) and got down in low harriers. If you're looking for a plane to practice post stall, this is probably it!

On our second flight, we just started to get downright silly with the plane. This plane wants to fly low. Of course all that silliness eventually resulted in some... durability testing. Not surprisingly, the plane survived it without a scratch.
IMG_6147.jpg IMG_6154.jpg

Here's another area where the plane gave us some very pleasant surprises! Blenders are fantastic and end in elegant flat spins. The KE spin is where the plane really impresses. It's almost like the plane does them automatically. We tried entering from a hammerhead as well as just a stall and it locked into the spin immediately. Recovery was equally straightforward. Transition to can be done to flatspin or just a punch-out. The plane doesn't really care.

[h=2]Knife edge flight[/h]
We noticed a minimal tendency to pull toward the belly, which could be explained by our slightly tail heavy setup. However, the coupling was very easy to compensate for. Overall, knife edge flight was very easy to maintain and control. Surprisingly little rudder was needed to maintain altitude.

[h=2]Tumbles and poptops[/h]
We likely made the wrong propeller choice for these maneuvers. The Xoar 14x6 performs fantastic in post-stall but lacks a quite a bit in speed with our setup. While tumbles and snap rolls were decent, but we couldn't get enough momentum with the plane to do good poptops. We're certain it's more a function of getting sufficient forward energy, than something that's inherent to the airframe. We will try again with a smaller diameter propeller with a little more pitch and see if we can get enough speed to perform nice pop tops.

Our airplane behaved very well on landings, making us look good! Floaty and slow with no bad stall tendencies at low airspeed. We even got a chance to try landings in some strong crosswinds with very satisfactory results.

We were really hoping for a plane that could fill the void between a foam profile airplane, and the full-fuse film coveted balsa plane... and this plane didn't let us down!! The post stall characteristics are truly remarkable and will help almost any pilot get the confidence to go low and slow. KE spins and blenders are sure to get you attention at the field, that is if you haven't already wowed them dragging the tail along the runway, through the weeds, or even a dunk in some water.

Overall, this is a very well designed plane and it shows in the flight performance.

* Very good build quality and hardware.
* Nice finish and great looks
* Fantastic post-stall performance
* Spectacular spins, especially KE-spins

If you are looking for a plane that will help you gain confidence and skill and look good while doing it, this may be the plane for you!

Special thanks to AeroheadTW for the photos!

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Some of items received by 3DRCForums for review were provided for free or at a discount.
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nice review. I want one. LOL

on the poptops that is one of the few complaints about epp planes you will hear about. just about everybody says they have a hard time doing them on the epp hybrids. I could do them on mine but not consistent, it was like everything had to be perfect. It seemed like 5/10 tries it would hit on them, but still not nearly as violent as a balsa. Me thinks the epp causes alil drag.


GSN Contributor
we hope to have to flight video to add to the review shortly! stay tuned....


Yeah, I guess the lack of poptops is the price you pay for the benefit of having an airframe you can abuse like that. I think this plane is going to be my platform for finally mastering rolling harriers.

Dr. Gonzo

70cc twin V2
Keep us posted on durability/ ease of repairs. The weak point of epp hybrids imho has been durability of the nose (for obvious reasons). This one looks to have more wood which will aid in making repairs easier. That may seem counter intuitive until you have rebuilt a few. The future in bright for these fun planes. More designs are coming down the pipe!