Flight Test – Thunder Tiger Raptor 50 Titan SE
Richard Budd takes the opportunity to reacquaint himself with one of his favourite model helicopters by building and flying the latest incarnation of the classic Thunder Tiger Raptor 50, the Titan SE.
I am no stranger to the Raptor range of helicopters, having had the original Raptor 30 many years ago, followed by a Raptor 50SE, a Raptor 60 and a Raptor 90SE. My Raptor 30 was sold to a club-mate a long time ago and is still flying, my 60 and 90SE are still in my collection, although the 90 is now a V-Max! One regret I have is that I sold my 50SE. Thankfully, thanks to Bob at Rossendale models, I have been given the chance to get reacquainted with the 50SE, albeit in the latest guise of the Titan SE – time will tell if I want to give it him back! The kit as supplied to me was the standard kit without the engine, silencer, governor and blades, but I was supplied with the Thunder Tiger Redline RL-53H engine, the Redline Hi-Flow 3D pipe, The Zero Alpha governor, and a set of RJX 620 main blades.
The new parts I noted were as follows: head block; main shaft; dampers; paddles; Bell-Hiller levers; flybar carrier; aileron bellcranks; tail belt guides; clutch bell bearing set-up; boom clamp; tail pitch yoke and slider; tail hub; tail grip bearings.
The rotorhead features an overslung flybar and 6mm spindle. Gone is the old centre pivot point and big damping rubbers, and in with a metal head block and new damping system. The plastic blade holders are supported on double ball-races and a thrust race and it should be noted that the thrust race is fitted in the middle of the blade holder not on the outside as more normally found.
Installation of the radio consisted of fitting three ACE 1015 servos for cyclic and collective, one Spektrum DS821 on the throttle, ACE DS0606 servo on the tail, CSM 630 Gyro, FlightTech 8 amp regulator (set at 5.8 volts), a FlightPower 2100 2S LiPo and a Thunder Tiger (TT) Zero alpha governor. The receiver used was the Spectrum AR9000.
After completing all the usual pre-flight checks, a range test and filling the tank with OptiFuel 20, it was time to start the engine. The model was carried out to the patch and advancing the throttle led to a smooth clutch engagement and the helicopter becoming light on the skids with a head speed of about 1,400rpm and with plenty of exhaust smoke. After a quick adjustment of the needle valve, the helicopter was lifted off with a head speed in the region of 1,600rpm. It was evident that the helicopter was very smooth and was happy to sit in a very stable hover, despite the gusty conditions of our typical UK weather. No tracking adjustment was required and nor was any trim. The cyclic controls were well harmonised and with plenty of response.
Despite not having flown a Raptor 50 for a couple of years, I found that I was immediately comfortable with this machine. The next few flights were used to run the engine in a little more before trying out manic mode. With half a dozen tanks under its belt, it was time to try the idle-ups. With the throttle curves adjusted for a 2,050rpm head speed and the needle valve suitably adjusted, the first attempts were tried without the use of the governor. The helicopter was lifted into the hover and was still remarkably smooth and stable. A quick shot of 12˚ positive pitch showed that this heli certainly does have the power. I was also pleased to see that the tail didn’t seem to kick out. Rapid application of negative pitch resulted in the expected head speed increase, but despite the wind, the helicopter climbed and descended like a lift and was remarkably true. A sustained 12˚ climb-out resulted in a very slight reduction in head speed.
Inverted hovering stability was just as good as the right way up, and there was no noticeable trim change when inverted. Roll and flip rate was brisk, but not uncontrollable and the rolls could be made reasonable axial within a few attempts. Fast forward flight showed no nasty pitching tendencies, although the elevator was slightly more sensitive when the helicopter was really being pushed. The collective response was far better than I was expecting, and was not to far short of what I have become accustomed to in my eCCPM machines.
I enjoyed the build, which only took a couple of evenings. With more electronics being fitted to our helicopters, the radio tray is lacking in space. I would also like to see the end of the plastic frame inserts and would prefer to see metal spacers used in all areas and not just adjacent to the bearing blocks. I am a metal fan addict and would like to see metal fans in all quality kits, although even I have to admit the engine cooling has proved adequate so far. The use of the special angular bearings in the tail blade holders is a first for me, but all flight tests showed that they are every bit as good as the more conventional thrust race.
Anyone who dismisses the Raptor 50 Titan SE as old hat, could be missing out on a very good machine. The changes made might appear to be quite minor, but do improve an already good helicopter. With so many aftermarket products available for the Raptor, you can quickly create your own unique model.
The Raptor 50SE is available from all good model shops priced from around £269.99. For full specs and more details visit www.tiger.com.tw