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Multiplex Tucan

The Multiplex Tucan is based on the head turning, super sleek lines of the full sized Embraer Tucano jet trainer and as luck would have it, the Tucano is one of my favorite modern day airframes of choice. It was my review of the Multiplex Park Master that convinced me that you could get a well-designed and quality constructed foam aircraft that flew better than good, so I’m hoping to get a lot from the Multiplex Tucan.

What is the Multiplex Tucan? On opening the heavy cardboard carton and horror of horrors! Those of you who have read my previous reviews will know my hate of cut out, then stick on decals! Hiding the Tucan from my view are two of the biggest self-adhesive trim sheets I have ever seen, and straight away I know I’m not going to be able to apply these trim sheets as perfectly as shown on the box. With everything out of the box and the protective bubble wrap removed from the eight white Elapor foam components that make up the airframe, and I’m pretty impressed by the comprehensiveness of the kit. The fuselage is two moulded Elapor foam shells with cut outs and interlocking ridges that act as an internal building jig for the fuselage reinforcing M frame that will be built from one of the three laser cut plywood sheets. The semi symmetrical wing is made up from three moulded sections, with recesses for the fixed landing gear or optional retracts, the carbon reinforced plastic spars and servo mount pockets. All moving surfaces are also moulded into the flying surfaces and only need to be slit along their ends to get them to move. The hardware packs are typical Multiplex high quality, and also includes the motor mount and alloy stand off posts. The tinted canopy will need to be cut down to fit the moulded cockpit that is the access and battery hatch witch is fixed in place with a magnet retaining system. The standard landing gear is a fixed tricycle type, with 55mm rubber wheels and well-designed plastic mounting plates. Last of all is the instruction manual with very easy to follow text and diagrams. The Multiplex Tucan is available as the airframe only, or as was my preference, with the complete Multiplex power set and servos. The power set contains a Himax 3528-1000 motor, 55Amp ESC, 12×6 APC propeller with adaptor and all hardware. In the servo pack are four tiny S servos, one tiny S MG servo, four 30 cm extension leads and comprehensive instructions.

On the bench. Multiplex have used a very strong and clever design that will make for fast assembly. Superglue can be used on the Multiplex Elapor, but I like Loctite Go2 glue for its slower curing but quick tack time and easy clean up. The plywood M frame is the backbone of the Tucan; it carries the motor and nose wheel mounts, ESC, servo and battery trays. This ply frame will give the Tucan a superior fuselage by virtue of its interlocking design adding more rigidity to the airframe over any cheap all foam model of this size. Using the left hand side fuselage shell as a building jig, the M frame is aligned precisely and all joints are tack glued in place. With glue applied to the M frame, the two fuselage halves fit together with a glue line that resembles a panel line, the fit is so precise. I used rubber bands to hold everything in place while the glue dried.

Tail group. Fitting the tail group is so simple. I first glued on the control horns with epoxy to their respective surfaces for added security. The two fibreglass spars are cut to the length of the spar channels in the horizontal stabilizer and glued in place, and will stiffen this area substantially. With the spars fully dried, glue was applied to the tail group and it was then fitted to the fuselage. This is basically self-aligning and a double check of the surfaces showed a perfect fit. The Multiplex servo pack is supplied with four 300mm extension leads and I used heat shrink tubing on the joins to guard against them coming apart in flight. Both servo leads for the tail group feed through the rear of the fuselage and the servos are then glued into their servo pockets.  

The wing. The smaller laser cut plywood sheet builds into the wing reinforcing frame and carries an 8mm carbon fibre wing spar and the wing bolt tee nut. Like the M frame, everything just slots together and I glued it into the foam centre section and everything lined up perfectly! The wing panels and centre section have interlocking tabs and glue together for a very precise fit at the joins. It was disappointing that retracts weren’t available at the time of this review, but the fixed landing gear mounts in the same position and is well secured to the wing. On to the underside of the wing, and two more 8mm and 1.3mm spars are glued in place, as well as the control horns. The tiny S servos were joined to their extension leads and glued in position. A bead of glue was dropped into the servo lead channels and a small hole was made to get the servo leads inside the airframe. Once the glue has dried, the wheels can be installed.

Fitting the fan. Using the standard Multiplex power set makes installation straight forward. Screw Loctite is used on all metal to metal threads to guarantee thing stay where they should. For electric flight you can’t beat real time battery telemetry, and the Hitec SPC system works well to monitor and set warnings, so I tapped into the power feed from the ESC and as per the Multiplex instructions I connected the ESC to the motor, then fed everything in through the front of the fuselage. The supplied cap-screws hold the motor in place and last of all, the prop and spinner adaptor are fitted. For safety I leave the propeller off for the time being and the nose leg housing screws straight onto the M frame. Now the metal geared steering servo is glued to the side of the M frame at the full length of the steering push rod.

Radio gear. With all the radio gear installed, a check of the centre of gravity showed the Tucan was slightly nose heavy, so the receiver was mounted in the rear of the M frame and extra extension leads were added to the ESC and steering servo to reach the receiver. With the plane now powered up, the servos were centred and the push rods were adjusted as needed. The standard radio set up as per the instruction with a Y lead from the steering servo to the rudder servo will work fine, but I wanted more travel on the rudder for knife edge type manoeuvres and the like, so I used an Optima 7 channel receiver and mixed the steering channel to the rudder at 50% of the end point adjustment. All transmitter rates were set as per the instructions, but the Hitec 9X has triple rates and I set the top rate to a higher end point for some extra fun!

Final fit off. The moulded two seat cockpit gets a quick coat of black paint and looks good but, it’s disappointing that Multiplex doesn’t s included pilots that would set off the awesome look of the Tucan. The canopy needs to be cut to the mould lines and the foam exhausts also get a coat of black paint and are then glued in place. Okay here we go, the ever painful trim stickers. There is plenty of brightly colour sticker and typical for Multiplex, these are the easy peel and stick type; no painful cutting out. Even though the some stickers are large, they were really easy to apply and no bubbles!  What a relief.        

To the flight line. After all the lousy weather the east coast has experienced the last couple of months, we finally got a dry day with only a 10 kph breeze and straight down the strip. Doing the usual range check and once more checking for the correct directions of all moving surfaces and telemetry voltage, all was good to go. After a short and impressive taxi test I pointed the Tucan into the wind. I eased the throttle forward and gained speed very quickly whilst tracking straight down the strip, and in a blink of an eye it was airborne! Only a small amount of down trim was need for level hands off flight, and after just a few circuits I felt at home flying the Tucan. Despite its 1.3 metre wingspan, the Tucan feels like a larger model as it’s solid and predictable with a very good turn of speed. After gaining some height I tested the stall, and was pleasantly surprised by how slow I could go before it would drop the left wing. Still on low rates and the Tucan groves well in the turns and inverted flight requires just a bit of down stick. Loops and rolls were all done with no effort. On high rates the rolls are fast, and loops were tight and knife edge flight was just okay. Inverted flying was a lot better and Cuban eights were very smooth and tracked well. With plenty of height I went to my triple rates with 50% expediential and WOW… you need to be on your game with this setup! Rolls are supper fast and you can knife edge ‘till you die. Snap rolls are awesome and inverted flat spins look really good. Pointing the Tucan straight up and the climb rate is good but not out of sight. Back to the high rates for normal flying and you can really just mush around the sky. This is one fun plane and after six minutes of fun the transmitter alarm signalled the flight pack had reached the limit and it was time to land. I eased off the throttle and going back to low rates I lined up the strip and headed for home while still carrying a little speed and the landing was a non-event. Phew, another maiden flight out of the way.

Conclusion. This is no el cheapo foam kit, Multiplex have done their homework on the Tucan and it shows, from the great instructions, and the easy way it assembles, to the wide speed range that inspires you to fly better and try new manoeuvres . The power set is a good match for the airframe, but I think it would be an absolute weapon with the performance pack and retracts. And it looks faster just sitting on the ground. Kit supplied by world hobbies.com  It’s a keeper!

Hits: The completeness of the kit. Being able to buy a matching power set. Knowing you have the right servos. High quality Elapor foam. Flies great with no surprises in the air. Well thought out design. Easy to assemble. Option of retracts. Stickers make it look very cool.

Misses: Having to apply stickers. Yep that’s all! The stickers, it’s that good.

SPECIFICATIONS: Wingspan: 51.2″ (1300mm) Overall Length: 43.7″ (1110mm) Total Weight: 65.2oz (1850g) on my scales 1780g Wing Area: 496 sq in (32 sq dm) Wing Loading: 19 oz/sq ft (58 g/sq dm)

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