Phoenix Model A-26 In­vader ARF

Im­pres­sive per­for­mance and looks in a rare sub­ject

Model Airplane News - - CONTENTS - By Michael York

Im­pres­sive per­for­mance and looks in a rare sub­ject

Chances are that many of you are un­fa­mil­iar with the Dou­glas A-26 In­vader. This ground-at­tack and light bomber saw ser­vice from its in­tro­duc­tion in World

War II well into the late ’60s. De­spite be­ing a ca­pa­ble air­craft, only about 2,400 were built, and it never quite gained the pop­u­lar­ity it de­served. Thanks to Phoenix Model, this may very well change.

This roughly 1/9-scale model is built en­tirely out of balsa and light ply and is cov­ered in Ora­cover film. It’s a large model that can be pow­ered with ei­ther a pair of elec­tric mo­tors or in­ter­nal-com­bus­tion en­gines (mounts for both and fuel tanks are in­cluded).

A full com­ple­ment of hard­ware, in­clud­ing scale-type re­tractable land­ing gear, means that all you need to sup­ply is the pow­er­plant and con­trol sys­tem. Don’t let the over­all di­men­sions scare you; slide-on wing pan­els mean that you can still fit this big bird in all but the small­est cars.

An ex­cel­lent in­struc­tion man­ual has the per­fect mix of images and text to guide you from start to fin­ish. There are ex­ploded views of all com­po­nents and parts, which help you vi­su­al­ize where ev­ery­thing goes. The

A-26 In­vader is meant for in­ter­me­di­ate mod­el­ers who are com­fort­able fly­ing scale air­craft.

UNIQUE FEA­TURES

The box the A-26 comes in is an in­di­ca­tion of how big the plane is go­ing to be. I could lit­er­ally lie down in it and close the lid. Ev­ery­thing is ex­tremely well packed and pro­tected, with all small parts pack­aged ac­cord­ing to build se­quence. De­spite be­ing a large air­frame, it feels light in your hands. The Ora­cover is ap­plied quite nicely, and seams are placed in­con­spic­u­ously. Ev­ery­thing was taut, but it’s still a good idea to give it a once-over, just to make sure the film won’t sag when it gets hot out.

All hinges are flat CA type and come pre­in­stalled but not glued in place. I like that be­cause it lets me fine-tune the con­trol­sur­face side gaps. The sin­gle-bolt con­trol horns are all mounted onto re­in­forced spots on the con­trol sur­face and have molded tabs to pre­vent any ro­ta­tion. Fork/slot-type cle­vises let you re­move any po­ten­tial pushrod slop.

Over­all assem­bly of the In­vader is straight­for­ward thanks to the well-fit­ting parts. The only snag I no­ticed was with the tail-cone cover, which had a small piece of light-ply brac­ing that was block­ing it from pass­ing over the rud­der torque rod. It’s ob­vi­ous that it just needed to be trimmed away, but it wasn’t men­tioned in the in­struc­tions.

Whether you de­cide to go gas/glow or elec­tric, the man­ual cov­ers both in­stal­la­tions in great de­tail. One of only two places you need to use any epoxy for assem­bly is the cowl-mount stand­off rings (the other be­ing the hor­i­zon­tal tail). They al­low quick-and-easy mount­ing of the cowls and al­low for lots of air move­ment to pro­vide cool­ing.

Ra­dio in­stal­la­tion is clear-cut. All open­ings and mounts are a per­fect fit for stan­dard-size ser­vos, and if you use Futaba’s S.Bus sys­tem, you can se­ri­ously min­i­mize how much ca­bling has to be run to the re­ceiver.

Of course, no war­bird is com­plete with­out a nice set of re­tracts, and Phoenix Model doesn’t dis­ap­point. The air-op­er­ated, all-alu­minum and sprung tri­cy­cle land­ing gear mount with­out any fuss, and the op­er­a­tion is smooth, with pos­i­tive lock in both

the up and down po­si­tions. I had a chance to try them on a less-than-per­fect grass strip, and they didn’t wince a bit. One nice fea­ture of the nose gear is that it has a sin­gle ver­ti­cal cen­ter­ing spring, so even if there is a bit of slack in the pull-pull ca­bles, it stays straight while taxi­ing.

IN THE AIR

No mat­ter how many planes I’ve test-flown, I al­ways get a few pre­flight jit­ters (yes, even for sim­ple foamies), and the more I like the plane, the more no­tice­able they are. Well, I must re­ally like the A-26 be­cause I haven’t felt this way in quite some time.

As al­ways, I dou­ble-check the cen­ter of grav­ity be­fore any test flight, and Phoenix made it easy to do so with a handy jig that slips onto the joiner tube at the fuselage. With ev­ery­thing a go, the throt­tles were ad­vanced and the big In­vader rolled down the run­way, the tri­cy­cle gear keep­ing things right on cen­ter­line. Once fly­ing speed was achieved, it lifted off and started the climbout to a safe al­ti­tude. One thing to re­mem­ber with these war­birds is that you have to fly them on the wing; they are not over­pow­ered sport planes that lift off in a cou­ple of feet and have un­lim­ited ver­ti­cal.

Land­ing a plane like this does take just a bit of plan­ning, just as full-scalers do. Drop­ping the flaps and gear slows things down nicely, and the spring-loaded gear makes any­thing but the most ham-fisted land­ings look smooth. As ex­pected, my jit­ters were un­war­ranted.

GEN­ERAL FLIGHT PER­FOR­MANCE

Sta­bil­ity: With a typ­i­cal scale war­bird wing load­ing, the A-26 doesn’t get thrown around by gusts as much, so it looks and feels sta­ble. Track­ing: There is a lot of tail area to keep the In­vader go­ing where you point it. It likes hav­ing

a bit of co­or­di­nated rud­der in the turns—again, typ­i­cal for this type of plane.

Aer­o­bat­ics: The A-26 looks fan­tas­tic do­ing sta­ple war­bird ma­neu­vers, such as loops and wingovers.

Glide and stall per­for­mance: The A-26 has some mo­men­tum to it, so the glide is de­cep­tively flat un­til you hang out the gear and flaps. I did per­form a few straight-ahead power-off stalls from which it re­cov­ered just fine, but don’t let it get low and slow in a turn.

PI­LOT DEBRIEFING

As long as you re­mem­ber that this is a scale war­bird and fly it with that in mind, you will en­joy how the Phoenix Model A-26 In­vader per­forms. Its stance on the ground and in the air is stun­ning, and there is not much that com­pares to the sound of a set of props at full song on a low fly-by.

Here is the Phoenix A-26 In­vader as it comes out of the box: a nice scheme that’s beg­ging for some per­son­al­iza­tion. I’ll de­tail how I dolled up my A-26 in a fu­ture is­sue.

The air-op­er­ated re­tracts are nicely ma­chined, and the sus­pen­sion is ro­bust enough to han­dle rougher strips. Of note are the spring hose re­in­force­ments, which pre­vent kinks that could de­velop into cracks and leaks.

Rud­der con­trol is via a pull-pull ca­ble af­fair. This makes for pos­i­tive con­trol and keeps things light at the rear, pre­vent­ing any un­nec­es­sary bal­anc­ing weight. A re­mov­able tail cone al­lows any fu­ture ad­just­ments if nec­es­sary.

One beauty of electrics is the sim­ple and quick in­stal­la­tion of the pow­er­plant. The pro­vided stand­off mount is drilled per­fectly for the RimFire .32 mo­tor back­plate. Cas­tle’s Talon 90 speed con­trols use a clip-mount sys­tem, so you don’t have to rely on tape or straps. I hope this trend takes off.

Field assem­bly is speedy thanks to the sim­ple wing-re­ten­tion sys­tem and quick-re­lease re­tract T air con­nec­tors. Bat­tery ac­cess is made easy with the re­mov­able canopy hatch, and there is plenty of room in there for just about any-size bat­tery you’d like to use.

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