Ripmax Messerschmitt BF109

Willie Findlay - Dec 2010

This has been a quiet year on the acquisition front, having purchased only two models over the term. On the plus side it must mean I am crashing less! (or getting better at repairs!!)

I thought I was about ready for a bit classier glider so early in January I went online to Puffin and after a few clicks had a Filip 600 Thermal on its way to Cove.

Suffice to say the Filip was a good buy and did a decent job over the summer, but is not what I'll review here.

ME109I always fancied a warbird and there are more than few out there to choose from, however I really wanted something that was a bit different from the crowd. I do actually have a Mosquito which I built in 2008, but it has never got beyond its unsuccessful test flight in July of that year. That's the 'before' picture left. (That Mossie was passed to Neil Davidson and is now in the hands of Jim Jamieson who made it fly!)

I surmised, after two launch attempts, it was underpowered and ended up breaking the nacelles. The rest of the model is okay and as I have the bits to get it repaired really must get round to doing so with bigger motors. That can be this winter's project (again).

Anyway, back to the here and now, and my quest for a warbird. As luck would have it Ripmax brought out a Messerschmitt Bf109 during the summer to go along with their fairly popular Spitfire and Mustang. I did like that they were of wood construction rather than foam so that would be the one for me. I also hadn't seen one been flown up our way so that was another attraction.

(Info) The Bf109 was the stock fighter of the Luftwaffe during WWII with over 31,000 built. It also recorded more air to air victories than any other fighter of the time. Improvements saw later variations use the Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine and along with fitment of larger 13mm guns in the nose, saw bulges appearing on the cowling leading to its nickname 'Die Beule' or The Bulge. (Info end)

So once again on tinternet and browsed until I dropped - a far more pleasurable experience than following someone around Union Square, Trinity Centre, Bon-Accord Centre, Trinity Centre, back to Bon-Accord then Union Square again. Even if there are pseudo model shops there now. 'Gan doon ih toon' is and always should be a pastime for the other halves. Moor Models came out on top of the price checks and my Pal who Pays (I wish) did the rest.

I was a bit miffed when the box arrived to find that hangar rash was pre-applied when I always thought that was my privilege. Somebody had even gone to the bother of touching up the scratches with a Gem marker (other permanent markers are available). At the end of the day it was £15 quid cheaper than everywhere else and by the time I had got it together there would be a whole new set of scratches on it so what the hell.

The woodwork inside the fuz was a wee bit ropey with ply delaminating etc etc, so epoxy and aliphatic were liberally applied all round to all joints and structural points.

I must plug Poundland's cyano here at 5 bottles for a quid: it's very thin and great at penetrating wood and reasonably strong to boot. Ideal for this belt and braces purpose.

Here's another fact about cyano you may not know - it's what we in the 'trade' use for developing fingerprints on plastic surfaces and the like. Pour some into a receptacle and place it in a sealed environment along with the item and in a wee while, hey presto a nice set of daubs appear. It sticks to and hardens the otherwise invisible fatty deposit left when you touch something. You may have seen this if you have left the cap off in your kit box and is why you don't use cyano for fitting canopies.

I digress, so back to the model. The suggested high - you can never have enough -powertrain is a 2820/05 outrunner, 40 amp ESC and a 4S lipo. I had earlier found a damn good supplier who runs an Ebay shop selling Turnigy kit (look up Nilesinstall). The quality is great and the prices fantastic.

I obtained a Turnigy 3542C 1100kv, which is the Axi 2820 equivalent motor, along with a 45 amp ESC and a pack of 4 MG90S servos to kit out the inside of the 109.

Installing all of that was a fairly straightforward process with no major issues. I did mess up the spinner which is a plastic cup you have to cut and glue onto a ply plate. Not great if you need to remove it and given it's so thin it breaks easily. A conventional SLEC replacement does job though. The way I laid everything out left me a bit short on wire between ESC and battery so I made a detachable extension to keep things comfortable. More of that anon, so no more ado than wait for a fine day to take her up to the park.

Now what I haven't mentioned thus far, is that not long after the kit arrived from MM, I was all chuffed and excited and just happened to be flying with Terry up at Calder Park.

As we all seem to do at the end of a session, hanging about the cars and chewing the fat, I mentioned I had just taken delivery of a Ripmax 109. "Derek got one the other week" says Terlach. "Dastardly and Muttley" says I, so not unique after all. Anyway, as it so happens, that turned out to be a blessing.

I'm sure he won't mind me relating his experiences here and tough if he does anyway, but he was flight ready ahead of me and in our conversations that occurred he explained the following.

Derek went for a fixed rudder saving a servo and when launched, the plane climbed away twisting over sharply to the left and nosing into the ground before recovery could be made. Even taking it up Brimmond the model had the same tendency although he did get it away.

Research on YouTube saw other owners have had the same fate, Wally2uk demonstrating a particularly fine example. Derek felt the motor mount was not well fitted with enough relevant offset and put in some of his own on repairing, alas to little effect.

To cut a long story short he deduced the rudder was required and full right necessary for a clean get away. Thanks Derek - saved me a lot of pain!

He also advised that the finger holes needed strengthening as the wood just collapsed when launching. Some thin ply did the job here. ME109My first flight was a real bicycle clip job, probably because of Del's Tales, but more because I just didn't fancy going home with it in bits. Well, bugger me I managed to get away first time with Derek's assistance in the launch. It flew alright even allowing for me being a bit heavy with the controls forcing some very unscale like turns. If the full size did the same Spitfires would have had no chance!

Just when I thought all was well and I had just about stopped shaking, the thing flicked damn near inverted, but I was high enough to recover, cut the throttle and land safely.

Next flight had the same problem it was glitching everywhere. I suspected the extension I had fitted between ESC and battery as causing spikes and duly removed same, but bench testing still had the servos bouncing.

Next the Rx was changed for a dual conversion with no change. Lastly the ESC was swapped and that has calmed things down although it is still prone to the odd glitch, it is now comfortably flyable. I still need to test the removed ESC in another model to confirm if it's faulty or just not happy with my setup.

To conclude I'm more than happy with my 109. I'm only using 3S lipos, but the performance is good and keeps it to scale speed.

With two 109s now in the ADS fleet Generalfeldmarschall Davidson will be keen to get Geschwader Calder Park in the air !!

The BF109 is pictured below flying at LoS having completed a dogfight with its stablemate the Ripmax Mustang