Flight of the Bonanza Vtail…at last!
At the point I had finished the assembly of the VQ Warbirds Beechcraft Bonanza Vtail we were still on Coronavirus quarantine here in SoCal and all of our flying sites were closed. Well, when our fields opened up again I could not wait to get the airplane in the air! So, the first day out I brought her along and promptly logged 6 flights on the airplane. It took a few flights to get dialed in, and once tuned, I fell in love with the flight characteristics. It has great power and speed and looks awesome in the air with that characteristic vtail.
WHAT’S IN THE AIRPLANE
To recap from our Assembly review, the VQ Warbirds Bonanza Vtail is a nicely sized ARF of all wood construction coming in at a 62″ wingspan. At final ready to fly weight of 9.75lb the airplane flies beautifully and has a really wide flight envelope. The power from the E-flite Power 52 and Master Airscrew prop is awesome as the airplane is quick and maneuvers extremely well (and is happy performing any sort of non-scale high performance aerobatics). Here are the final specs and equipment that are in the airplane:
- SERVOS – Ruddervators Hitec HS5496MH, Flaps, Ailerons, Steering – Hitec HS5085MG
- RECEIVER – AR9350 9-Channel AS3X
- MOTOR – E-flite Power 52
- ESC – Spektrum Avian 100
- BATTERY – Spektrum Smart 6s 5000 mah
- PROPELLER – Master Airscrew 12×8
- RETRACTS – Robart Electric Retracts and Shock Absorbing Struts (used Robart 650 Robostruts for the mains and is separately powered with a 2s 1300mah lipo)
AIRCRAFT SETUP & CG
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it took a few flights to get the Bonanza Vtail dialed in. Most notably, the airplane wanted to carry down elevator for trim and also would climb at full throttle. I adjusted the CG and thrust line to try and mitigate those characteristics and ultimately they didn’t make significant enough differences to continue exploring (i.e. a much larger thrust line change would be required than I cared to explore as it would require realigning and remounting the cowl). Ultimately, I moved the CG a bit further forward than the recommendation (stock location definitely felt tail heavy) and then added an 11% throttle to down elevator mix to resolve the climb at full throttle issue. Once these items were dialed in, the airplane was an absolute joy to fly! The control throws I honed in on through flying the airplane are shown below. Please note that due to the AR9350 AS3X Receiver being used, all of the aircraft configuration information is taken care of within the receiver through the Spektrum Programming APP as opposed to the transmitter. As a result, my dx radio file won’t be useful if not using the same setup, so I’m not including it as a download.
- Elevator – 8mm up/down with 5% expo (11% throttle to down elevator mix to remove the tendancy to climb at full throttle)
- Aileron – 9mm up/down with 15% Expo
- Rudder – 9mm left/right with 25% expo
- Flaps – 15mm partial and 30mm full and no elevator mix required
Regarding the CG, for the first flight, I set the CG as recommended in the instructions. I found it to feel noticeably tail heavy, so I moved the CG incrementally forward. My final CG location equates to 115mm as measured from the wing root leading edge aft which is 13mm further forward than recommended. With this location, the airplane only requires a slight amount of down elevator in the inverted and feels rock solid in flight.
There is a ton of space inside the Bonanza fuselage based on the nice large hatch that it has. I’m using a Spektrum 6s Smart 5000mah battery which is placed essentially in the middle area just behind the nose wheel opening for where the nose gear retracts. Additionally, I have a 2s 1300 mah battery placed at the rear of the hatch as a dedicated landing gear battery. I highly recommend using a separate retract battery as this way it doesn’t put any additional load on the receiver power.
FLYING THE VQ WARBIRDS BEECHCRAFT BONANZA VTAIL
The reward for any project like this is finally getting it in the air and I have fallen in love with this Bonanza Vtail! The airplane is fast and maneuverable and flies like a fantastic sport airplane. Combine that with the looks of the vtail and it’s truly a unique beast that looks beautiful in the air. I was pleasantly surprised at just how effortlessly the airplane performs aerobatics as it tracks on rails easily performing point rolls, cuban 8s and the like. Those aren’t scale maneuvers of course, but you do learn much about a design and the aircraft characteristics by putting it through it’s paces like that. Additionally, with the flaps down, the airplane slows down and lands really nicely. The airplane has a really wide gear stance and so ground handling is rock solid and easy as well. Lastly, though the Bonanza takes off easily with neutral flaps, I have found that you get a little smoother rotation with partial flaps deployed during the takeoff roll. However, you need to carry notable amount of up elevator stick during the takeoff roll to ensure that the main gear don’t lift first.
With respect to the Vtail, aside from looking awesome, I found that the airplane doesn’t maneuver any differently compared to a conventional tail as the airplane is extremely stable and responsive. I did notice the tail would wiggle a little bit in some wind gusts (especially noticeable with an aft CG) which is also a characteristic of the full size. Otherwise, the aircraft response and feel wasn’t notably different to a conventional tail. With a little more rudder throw, I’m confident that the airplane will even do a legitimate knife edge maneuver fairly easily with minimal coupling.
Lastly, as mentioned previously, I did place an AS3X receiver in the Bonanza. Though the airplane doesn’t need a gyro at all, I did find that it responded well to some light rate stabilization. It seemed to help the airplane to cut through adverse wind conditions a little better. If you are planning to use a gyro, I recommend spending the time to set the rates as there is no one size fits all. For me, when I use a gyro (which is rarely), I prefer it to be setup quite passively only to provide mostly some light stabilization. I don’t want the gyro to be intrusive in my flying as I want to feel the airplane in the air and not fight the gyro as I maneuver.
Well, at long last, quarentine and all, there we have the VQ Warbirds Bonanza Vtail. Civilian airplanes aren’t typically my go to, but I tell you what this is a great everyday flyer and I really love the looks of it. The maneuverability, the power, and the flight characteristics make it an airplane that is sure to provide a great long term platform for practicing much more precision scale aerobatics. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this Bonanza and am looking forward to logging many many flights with it! Until next time, I’ll see you at the field!