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Written by Fitz Walker
Moustache Model Works 20cc DHC-2 Beaver
As seen in the FEBRUARY 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

in the air the beaver has easy and stable flight characteristics
In the air, the Beaver has easy and stable flight characteristics.

THE DE HAVILLAND DHC-2 BEAVER is one of those classic aircraft that is beloved and instantly recognizable among aircraft aficionados. First flown in 1947, it was designed to meet the needs of a Short Takeoff & Landing (STOL) utility aircraft and it continues to see wide use worldwide. Acclaimed actor Harrison Ford owns one. It proves that radial engine aircraft can still be practical to use in the modern era.

The humorously named Moustache Model Works company’s first kit, the Beaver, is a 91-inch wingspan, balsa and plywood, laser-cut scale kit. It is designed for 20cc gas engines or equivalent electric power. (E-flite Power 60 motor and 6S 5,000 mAh battery are recommended.) I chose to use a RCGF 20cc rear-exhaust gas engine for my build.

Construction

Even before opening the box, I was impressed. Its heft was substantial. Normally that might mean an overweight model, but when you open the box, it’s obvious that there is an impressive number of parts included.

I counted 28 sheets of laser-cut wood in addition to 34 pieces of stock wood. Add numerous bags of hardware, as well as vacuum-formed and fiberglass parts, and you end up with a complete kit. Three rolls of plans that are nearly large enough to wallpaper a small room are clearly printed.

The manual is 38 pages of step-by-step instructions, with accompanying black and white photos and a detailed parts list. A downloadable PDF file features high-resolution, color photos. This came in quite handy because I was able to zoom in on construction pictures, which helped to clarify some of the steps. Both US customary and metric units of measurements are referenced for convenience, although the hardware appears to be metric.

The quality of the laser cutting is superb. Even plywood and thick balsa parts can be easily removed from the wood sheets. All of the parts were either engraved with part labels or had labels adjacent if no room was available on the part. The wood selection was also very good.

the kit includes hardware many prefabricated parts and excellent-quality laser cut wood
The kit includes hardware, many prefabricated parts, and excellent-quality laser-cut wood.

the core parts are ready to be covered
The core parts are ready to be covered.

Construction starts with the tail surfaces, and the kit provides a nice introduction to building techniques that will be used throughout the build. I was nearly able to complete the tail without needing to place the parts on the plans. The self-aligning, interlocking structure fits together well. The built-up tail surfaces are fully sheeted, and some of the sheeting is even laser cut for convenience.

Wing construction is not difficult, but it does have some nuances that might not be immediately obvious. Several steps need to be read in full before gluing because there is some test-fitting involved. Be sure to pay special attention to the details in the written instructions. Several times I nearly made a mistake—and a couple of times I did—because I did not read the steps carefully. A couple of steps could have been more descriptive, but anyone with some kit building experience should not have problems working things out.

Plans are needed for wing construction, but I noted no significant alignment issues. After I started on the wing, I really began to notice the extent of the engineering that went into the kit. Nearly every part was laser-cut, including many minor parts that normally would be fabricated out of scrap balsa. The only items I needed to make were the custom-fitted rib capstrips.

I had an issue with the inner wing tube circular caps. They were cut too small, so I made my own using scrap wood parts. I used a mixture of Hitec HS-5496MH and HS-430BH high-voltage, standard-size servos. The kit provides wing servo-mount parts for both standard and mini servos.

The ailerons and flaps are built-up structures, as was the tail. The flaps are offset and hinged with hidden clevises. Quite a bit of carving and sanding was needed for the leading edges of the flaps and ailerons, but a micro plane and sanding bar quickly get the job done.

The wing struts were custom fabricated from the included streamlined hardwood parts, which was a simple task with the help of a Dremel and cutoff wheel. Be sure to use threadlocker on the clevis threads and use fuel tubing to prevent them from coming loose during flight.

Constructing the fuselage is probably the most involved and time-consuming, although it is not difficult. It is also built without needing to be placed on the plans—just hang the plans on a wall for easy reference. Four large sheets of laser-cut light plywood make up the basic box structure, with balsa stock sanded and shaped to round the corners. The bottom of the fuselage uses precurved balsa sheeting. One of the curved balsa sheets was slightly harder than the other, so I used some window cleaner to help bend the wood.

Most of the parts up to this point were glued using medium or medium-thick CA from Starbond Adhesives. The exception was the motor mount area where I elected to use 30-minute epoxy for extra strength.

The fuselage top has an optional lightening hole outline that is engraved but not cut all the way through. Leave it solid for better scalelike looks or cut it out to save a small amount of weight. I left it in.

At the front end, various motor/engine mounting options are included. Because I chose gas instead of electric power, I was partially able to use the precut holes for DLE engines. Although the RCGF hole spacing is the same, the width of the crankcase is not. I needed to use one of the included blank rails and drill the remaining two holes.

There are provisions on the fuselage for mounting floats. This appears to be a future option being developed by the manufacturer.

The cowling is fabricated from gel-coated fiberglass with embedded panel lines. It is attached to the fuselage using blind nuts. I found the surface finish good, and the quality is quite durable.

Servos are mounted to the floor of the fuselage with provisions for rudder, elevator, and throttle servos. Because I wanted to be fancy, I cut an additional hole to mount the engine choke servo. I also elected to scratch-build a small platform for the fuel tank to fit over the engine servos.

Probably the most difficult parts are the gear strut fairings. These fiberglass parts form a clamshell enclosure around the aluminum landing gear and greatly add to the scalelike look of the model. Balsa ribs are glued onto the gear struts and must be carefully sanded and finely shaped to fit the inner fairing profile.

It took some patience and lots of test-fitting before I was ready to glue them on. Although I was generally happy with the final look, I was never completely satisfied with the fitting. I used 4.5-inch Du-Bro inflatable wheels for extra ground clearance and that "bush plane" look.

Except for the ailerons, all of the other control surface controls are hidden from view and use clevises and L-bend control rods. I found the included 3 mm control rods slightly difficult to bend sharply, so I elected to use smaller-diameter 4-40 rods instead for the tail surface controls.

I was very happy with the doors. Both sides have working doors that use included magnets to stay closed. The extra work to fabricate the doors is well worth it. They add not only scalelike looks, but also offer extra access to the interior and servos.

Of course, big doors mean it is also easy to see the interior. To address that, the kit also included a set of four seats. Constructed with a combination of vacuum-formed plastic chairs and a balsa base structure, the two rows of seats also cleverly disguise some of the servos and have space underneath for the receiver and battery pack. More magnets hold everything in place. The interior was painted using gray latex house paint.

Installing the vacuum-formed windows completes the construction. These are clear and fit the precut outlines in the fuselage like a glove. Generous amounts of canopy glue hold the windows in place.

I used red and white Hangar 9 UltraCote iron-on covering to cover the model. Instead of covering the plastic wingtips, I used matching red paint. The livery detail is based on Alaskan Civil Air Patrol Beavers and uses a combination of trim sheets, paint, and custom vinyl decals.

The manufacturer estimates that it should take roughly 150 hours to build the kit, which is approximately as much time as it took me. I should also note that the model required 9 ounces of lead weight plus a 5-ounce propeller hub for balance.

After running out of excuses, it was time to fire up the RCGF engine to break it in a little before flight. The carburetors in these engines are typically dry and have trouble being primed when new, so I enlisted my electric starter to "get the juices flowing."

After it was primed, the engine fired right up into a consistent, high-idle growl. Within a couple of tanks of fuel, I was able to adjust the settings for a strong, if slightly rich, full throttle and steady idle powering a 16 x 6 two-blade Master Airscrew propeller.

Flying

The weather gods were smiling on me! On the day of the maiden flight, it was a cool 70° with light wind mostly down the runway. Taxi tests found the pull-pull tail wheel setup working well with good steering control and turning radius.

The first flight ended with the engine richening up shortly after takeoff, but that wasn’t an issue. I quickly noticed that the Beaver didn’t need much airspeed to become or remain airborne. Despite the slightly balky engine, the model tracked true and felt stable in all axes.

On the second flight, I replaced the 16 × 6 two-blade propeller with a Master Airscrew 15 × 7 three-blade propeller. Full-scale Beavers are often seen with three-blade propellers and I like the look.

After a quick changeover and a tweak to the lean engine mixture, it was time to wring out the big Beaver more aggressively. With partial flaps and a better-running engine, the aircraft was up in roughly a dozen feet and climbing briskly. Performance with the three-blade propeller was more than adequate and I’m unlikely to change it.

Aerobatics match the type of aircraft. Loops and rolls were easy, although rolling to the left was noticeably faster than to the right. Snaps, spins, and stall turns were quite majestic. Stalls—with or without flaps—were straightforward with no tip-stalling tendencies. The Beaver also likes a bit of rudder in the turns, which is duly noted in the manual. Inverted flying is okay, but I could tell the aircraft was happier in the upright position.

the engine mount is designed to accommodate both side and rear exhaust gas engines
The engine mount is designed to accommodate both side- and rear-exhaust gas engines.

the hitec elevator and rudder servos are cleverly hidden under removable seats
The Hitec elevator and rudder servos are cleverly hidden under removable seats.

the large working doors and removable front hatch provide easy access to the interior
The large working doors and removable front hatch provide easy access to the interior.

Landing is a nonevent, although it needs a little bit of throttle on final. I suspect the flaps and radial cowling act as effective air brakes. At full flap deflection, the model slows to a virtual crawl that would rival any trainer. In general, the Beaver is easy and relaxing to fly.

Conclusion

Although it’s not a beginner’s kit, the Moustache Model Works DHC-2 Beaver is an enjoyable build for those who have a couple of kits under their belts. It would make a great first scale build.

The kit design is thoughtful, and the aircraft’s flying qualities are wonderful. The DHC-2 Beaver offers near-competition scalelike looks at a great price.

Moustache Model Works 20cc DHC-2 Beaver


SOURCES:

Hitec RCD

(858) 748-6948

www.hitecrcd.com

Starbond Adhesives

(213) 382-7788

www.starbond.com

Master Airscrew

(916) 631-8385

www.masterairscrew.com

RCGF

(818) 930-2055

www.rcgfusa.com

Du-Bro

(800) 848-9411

www.dubro.com

Hangar 9

(800) 338-4639

www.horizonhobby.com

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