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Written by Jon Barnes
AVIOS Hercules C-130 PNF
Review
As seen in the December 2019 issue of Model Aviation.

Bonus Video

At A Glance

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Specifications

Model type: Semiscale multiengine electric

Skill level: Intermediate to advanced

Wingspan: 63 inches

Wing area: 404 square inches

Length: 47 inches

Weight: 78 ounces

Radio: Minimum eight-channel recommended

Construction: EPO foam

Finish: Factory painted with included waterslide graphics

Price: $320.60

Test-Model Details

Motors: Four 2627-1000 Kv brushless outrunners

Speed controllers: Four 18-amp brushless

Battery: Recommended 30C four-cell 14.8-volt 2,200 to 2,700 mAh LiPo (not included)

Propellers: 6.5 × 4 four-blade (2 CW, 2 CCW)

Radio system: Nine-channel Spektrum DX9 2.4 GHz DSMX transmitter; Spektrum AR8010T receiver

Ready-to-fly weight (using a Zippy Compact 14.8-volt 2,700 mAh battery): 88.5 ounces

Flight duration: 5 to 6 minutes

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Pluses

  • Exciting, scalelike EPO foam rendition of a rarely modeled multiengine aviation classic.
  • Satisfyingly long flight durations on a four-cell 2,500 mAh LiPo battery.
  • Remote-operated rear cargo door can be used to drop parachute-equipped items while in flight.
  • Factory-installed LED lighting system includes main gear-well landing lights that turn on when the gear is deployed.
  • Can be purchased in either a flat-gray military scheme or brightly colored Fat Albert U.S. Navy Blue Angels support aircraft scheme.
  • Retractable landing gear closely mimics the operation and appearance of the full-scale aircraft.
  • Inner and outer flaps enhance slow-speed performance.
  • Cool-looking, flat-tipped, four-blade propellers nicely re-create the appearance of those used on the full-scale Hercules.

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Minuses

  • The limited ground clearance of the scale landing gear can make operations from rougher runways problematic.
  • Landing gear sequencer electronics require pilots to cycle the landing gear multiple times when connecting a flight pack in order to get the gear doors and gear to fully synchronize with one another.

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Manufacturer/Distributor

AVIOS/HobbyKing

www.hobbyking.com

the avios c 130 brings the beef with an authentically scalelike
The AVIOS C-130 brings the beef with an authentically scalelike, impressive in-flight persona and appearance.

ONE OF THE MOST instantly recognizable multiengine airplanes that has appeared overhead in the skies of countries all around the globe is also known for its impressively long service life. Nicknamed the Hercules, the Lockheed-produced C-130 first flew in 1954. It remains in service to this day, having been produced in more than 40 variants.

With its 65 years’ worth of service in medevac troop transport, search and rescue, scientific research, aerial refueling, aerial firefighting, gunship, and a variety of other roles, the C-130 currently holds the record as the longest, continuously produced military aircraft! Nearly 70 countries have utilized this airplane in a plethora of roles throughout the course of its long service.

Although most would assume that an aircraft with such a colorful history as the Hercules would assuredly be the subject of many models throughout the decades, the reality is that the C-130 has been relegated to the role of a seldom-modeled aircraft. Factors that have probably contributed to this enigma include it being a four-engine model and the challenges of replicating the unique geometry and operation of its retractable tricycle-configuration landing gear.

Never to be dissuaded by a challenge or two, AVIOS stepped up to the plate in a large way with its decision to design and produce a modest-size, electric-powered, EPO foam-based model of the C-130! Multiengine modelers and scale aviation enthusiasts, prepare to be amazed!

The AVIOS C-130 Hercules is an EPO foam composition, plug-and-fly (PNF) model. With a 1,600 mm wingspan, this airplane boasts an array of features that most modelers have come to expect right out of the box—and more! Although dimensionally it’s on the large side of things, the Hercules is powered by four smallish 370-size brushless outrunner motors.

Given the technical challenges of supplying receiver voltage on multiengine, brushless, electric-powered models, AVIOS wisely chose to include a 5-volt, 3-amp universal BEC. The Hercules includes inboard/outboard Fowler-style flaps, with each set of flaps utilizing slightly different geometry and operation.

The included LED lighting system is more comprehensive than most. Wing strobes and a rear-facing, solid white beacon is supplemented by a pair of white LED landing lights that are mounted on the inside of the main gear doors and are synchronized to activate with gear deployment.

Another bonus feature that is included right out of the box is an operational cargo door. With the ability to open this fuselage-mounted door while in flight, pilots are free to dream and scheme up all kinds of clever cargo drops!

The AVIOS C-130 can be purchased in either a flat-gray military scheme, which can be customized using one of the multiple sets of waterslide graphics designs, or the colorful U.S. Navy Blue Angels logistics and support version of the C-130 known as Fat Albert. Both variants utilize the trademark Hercules square-tipped, counter-rotating, four-blade propellers.

Construction

Although pilots can certainly get by with a six- or seven-channel receiver for this model, going with an eight-channel receiver (throttle, aileron, elevator, rudder, landing gear, inboard flaps, outboard flaps, and cargo door) will allow pilots to fully utilize every feature of the aircraft and will simplify programming the flaps. The foam main airframe components go together conventionally and quickly using primarily fasteners.

Multi-pin electrical connectors simplify the wing and empennage electrical connections. Pilots will need to devote an additional block of time to selecting and applying one of the included sets of waterslide graphics. Alternatively, a variety of custom C-130 schemes printed on quality vinyl material is available from Callie Graphics.

AVIOS also includes a small selection of plastic composition scale details and bits. These include pitot tubes, wipers for the cockpit windscreens, and antennae. Pilots will need keen eyesight and a deft touch with their adhesive of choice when applying some of these wee pieces. Taking the time necessary to carefully apply them enhances the pleasing, scalelike appearance of this model.

this pnf kit comes prepainted in either a gray
This PNF kit comes prepainted in either a gray, utilitarian, military scheme or an assuredly colorful blue, white, and yellow U.S. Navy Blue Angels Fat Albert logistics and support scheme.

Several areas in the assembly of this model where pilots will want to pay special attention include mounting the scale four-blade propellers and spinners and the flap-to-receiver connections and related transmitter programming. The propellers and spinners are held in place on the motor shafts using a single hex-head fastener.

four small brushless outrunner motors are factory installed
Four small, brushless outrunner motors are factory installed in the Hercules’ slender engine nacelles. Pilots will want to pay particular attention to ensuring that the flat-tipped, four-blade propellers and spinners are securely mounted to the motor shafts.

the long slender c 130 wing comes equipped
The long, slender C-130 wing comes equipped with both inboard and outboard flaps. The latter closely mimic the operation of conventional Fowler-style flaps.

Although the assembly manual suggests using thread-locking compound on the fastener, pilots need to remember that threadlocker and plastic do not always play well together. Those who are confident that they can use a minimal amount of the compound and limit its contact to the motor shaft and fastener can follow the suggested procedure. I decided to play it safe and simply tighten them firmly in place wi thout threadlocker.

Pilots will need to remember that there are two different propellers included in the box and that they need to be mounted on the correct motors. The assembly manual illustrates the tops of all four propellers as rotating inward toward the fuselage.

The assembly manual provides a detailed, 13-step process for configuring the inboard and outboard flaps. Although there are assuredly several different ways in which to skin this cat when it comes to connecting the flaps to the receiver and programming the transmitter, I decided to connect each set of flaps to its own channel on the receiver.

Kudos to AVIOS for engineering solutions that closely replicate the operation and appearance of the fullscale aircraft’s main gear and nose gear …

Achieving the assembly manual’s recommended flap deflections provided for the outboard flaps in the manual, and then for both inboard and outboard flaps via a small illustration in the detailed flap configuration and programming section of the manual, was accomplished using a custom mix mapped to the flaps channel. A little fine-tuning of the servo travels for each flap channel was also needed.

Flying

Access to the battery compartment is uniquely gained through a large, removable, magnetically retained hatch on the forward port side of the C-130. Although the recommended battery is listed as a 2,200 mAh four-cell LiPo, a Zippy Compact 2,700 mAh pack was included with the review Hercules.

Unlike most electric-powered models, the battery in this aircraft is designed to be mounted transversely instead of inline. I found that a 2,500 to 2,700 mAh pack fit in the quasi-molded-in-the-foam battery tray, although it was slightly askew and aloft on one end.

Pilots need to exercise a little caution when loading and unloading a battery into position in the interior of the Hercules. The four-speed controller’s power connections employ small-diameter bullet connectors. Mussing about with one’s hands in the forward end of the fuselage can cause these connections to be jostled a bit and could potentially allow them to work their way loose.

Best practices require that pilots visually inspect these ESC power connections after loading a flight pack in place. The obvious second line of defense for any failure to visually notice disconnected ESC power leads will be when a pilot runs up the throttle to commence taxiing. The entire potential issue can theoretically be all but eliminated by securing the suspect bullet connectors with small pieces of electrical tape.

The AVIOS C-130 is endowed with some incredibly scalelike retractable landing gear. Kudos to AVIOS for engineering solutions that closely replicate the operation and appearance of the full-scale aircraft’s main gear and nose gear, including a full complement of gear doors!

Sequencing the retractable gear and gear well doors is handled by a small circuit board. Pilots will need to remember to cycle the landing gear once or twice each time a battery pack is initially connected. This allows the gear doors and retracts to synchronize with one another.

A limited amount of clearance between the landing gear and the belly of the Hercules could prove slightly problematic when attempting to operate the C-130 from rougher runway surfaces. Additionally, a fair amount of rolling resistance is inherent to this model’s wheels. This is most obviously manifested in the landing rollout. The net effect is not all negative; it actually serves nicely to help decelerate the C-130 after touching down.

although the transverse mounted battery positioning
Although the transverse-mounted battery positioning does not offer an abundance of extra space, four-cell batteries as large as 2,700 mAh can be wedged in place, with the added bonus of increased flight durations.

Although the cover of the digital instruction manual has the words "For Intermediate to Advanced Pilots" boldly emblazoned across it, I don’t feel the big Hercules is difficult to fly. It is not a small model but, in many ways, it feels and flies like a park flyer.

Although pilots need not fear the Hercules’ in-flight behavior, they should avoid letting it get too slow in the corners and when on the landing approach. The model tends to drag its tail slightly through the corners; pilots can remedy this by manually feathering in a little rudder or via a mix.

The C-130 can be pushed through simple aerobatic maneuvers, but it performs them with the agility inherent to a larger class of models. Clean aileron rolls will require a significant amount of compensatory pitch and yaw inputs, with loops requiring a shallow, diving entry in order to carry enough velocity up and over the top.

The synchronous sound of the four brushless motors at full throttle is splendid, but they do not necessarily propel the big Hercules forward with an abundance of gusto. None of these observations are meant as criticisms or indictments—this model stands tall as a fantastically scalelike, multiengine airplane that looks and flies great.

Flight durations, when using a 2,700 mAh four-cell LiPo battery pack, can be stretched to more than 6 minutes, although each pilot’s mileage will vary based on throttle usage habits and preferences.

Conclusion

Pilots interested in using this C-130 as a starting point for a Hercules with an even higher level of scale fidelity will want to check out the custom graphics available from Callie Graphics. If a pilot wishes to go with a scheme not yet listed on Callie’s website, the solution is as easy as sending a few quality images of the desired design. Callie will take care of the rest!

Spare parts are available through HobbyKing, although many individual landing gear-related components are not listed or available. Should a pilot suffer damage to the main gear or nose gear, most of the parts are only available as part of two different, preassembled landing gear modules.

If you enjoy multiengine, scale models, the AVIOS C-130 Hercules should be on your must-buy list for 2019!



SOURCES:

Callie Graphics

http://callie-graphics.com

A profile shot of the hercules reveals the limited ground clearance
A profile shot of the Hercules reveals the limited ground clearance of the tricycle landing gear. A pair of included magnetically retained drop tanks can easily be added to and removed from the wing at will.

2 comments

Very awesome model, very impressed, I flew in them a number of times in 1969/1970 in Thailand. What a rush the first time. Hope to have one soon

Gary Baecker

Hey,
I've got stuck in the radio setup of my DX9 with AR9030T RX.
Would you be so kind to send me the setup of the radio or download and send me the file?
Thank you very much!

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