Flight Test – E-flite Blade Tandem Rescue

The incredibly successful Blade mCX range expands again, this time into a superb looking Canadian CH-113 Labrador replica, complete with twin rotor system and massively modified control software. Tom Stacey goes rescuing down the gym…

BladeTandem01

Rather than being branded as a completely new heli, the Tandem is actually a continuation of the Blade mCX family, and for good reason. The diminutive Blade has been an extremely important model, not just for E-flite and their parent company Horizon Hobby, but also for the industry as a whole.

BladeTandem02

Looking in detail at the frame design, you can clearly see the original mCX DNA that has been carried over. The front and rear rotorheads, blades, flybar and motors are all mCX parts and look to be interchangeable. The swashplate is a little different, only having one cyclic link, and the reason for this is that only left/right cyclic is physically controlled by servo and actually moves the swash plate. These links are operated by a long graphite link rod that is connected to a single surface mount servo on the main PCB. Also on this PCB are four speed controllers, gyro, power connector and 2.4GHz Spektrum DSM2 receiver.

A clever mixer system controls lift, fore/aft cyclic and rudder, and when we say clever, we mean really clever! To control all these movements in such a proportional manner involves some very precise motor control, and E-flite have pulled off the handling of this tiny machine in an impressive manner. The rest of the frame is pretty simple, consisting of two more graphite rods that connect the front and rear power units and provide mounting points for the landing gear, central PCB and fuselage moulding.

BladeTandem03

Being an E-flite means that the model comes fully built, test flown and ready to fly (RTF). The RTF package contains everything to fly out of the box, but at this stage there is no bind-n-fly (BNF) version available. We find this rather odd, as the onboard DSM2 system will bind with any DSM2 transmitter, including the mCX’s controller and the popular DX7. Speaking of the mCX controller, this mode two unit is bundled with the Tandem and is comfortable, but the sticks especially are a little small.

Let’s get to what is in essence one of the most compelling reasons to buy the mCX Tandem – the way it looks! Whereas the mCX was a simple pod and boom design, built for light weight and crash robustness, the new model really is quite a looker.

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Firstly, the fuselage itself is a very crisp and detailed little moulding, finished in signature mCX yellow and marked out like the search and rescue CH-113s of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Slung below are a very cute set of working rubber foam wheels, which spin freely allowing the machine free wheel on the ground (more on that later), and finally and perhaps coolest of all is the set of multi-colour LED landing navigation lights. Yes, unlike some other RTFs, these lights come included and fitted and really finish off the scale look. When our review sample was taken down the local hobby shop, the one thing that staff and customers commented on again and again was these little lights; it seems that E-flite really nailed it with these, and combined with the optional glow in the dark blades, the Tandem Rescue could be a lot of fun to fly in the dark.

Of course, being an mCX, the baby CH-113 also has to live up to the high standards of flight performance set by its brethren. So off, in usual Rotorworld style I went to the gym with my chief photographer to fly and catch a few snaps of the model. As you spin up the rotors, that familiar E-flite whine is audible once again, and with a quick jab of throttle it lifts up into a stable and controlled hover.

BladeTandem05

All the controls feel typically positive and predictable, but you do get the sense that the Tandem is that bit larger in the air than the mCX and maybe just takes a bit more controlling. Certainly, you’d want to fly it in a bigger area like a gym or sports hall as with four rotors spinning round it is sensitive of its own rotor swash when near objects or in ground effect. All that said, this is not a hard craft to fly and our photographer, who is usually only happy with the most docile of contra-rotators happily took it for a fly and commented on how pleasant it was.

The Blade family gets another new member, and this one doesn’t disappoint either. Perhaps we could pick E-flite up for their lack of a BNF version, but even with the transmitter, the package is competitively priced, considering what you get. I’m sure that hardcore flyers would prefer something that only has two rotors as opposed to four, but by having four rotors means parts compatibility with the rest of the mCX family and also predictable flight characteristics, even for the beginner. If you want an indoor flyer that goes a little further than an mCX, then you should add a Tandem rescue to your collection – it really is that good!

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The E-flite Blade Tandem Rescue is available from all good model shops priced around £129.99. Find out more about the E-flite Blade mCX visit UK distributor, Horizon Hobby UK’s website by CLICKING HERE To see the rest of the range and for full technical specifications visit the E-flite website by CLICKING HERE

 


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