FMS Model Votec 322 3D
A scale quick-build, aerobatic monster
A scale quick-build, aerobatic monster
FMS is known for its wide range of great-flying foam models. The company really made its name with its jets, but its latest offering is geared more toward 3D aerobatics. I have always loved the looks of the Votec 322, and I was excited to hear that FMS was bringing a Votec to market. This plane is made out of molded foam, which is painted in a highly visible orange-and-black color scheme. There are a few parts that are not foam, like the preinstalled Lexan canopy and various ABS plastic inserts, designed to add strength along with a solid surface for screws to be attached to.
Everything you need to complete the Votec is included in the box; just add your receiver, flight pack, charger, and transmitter. The metal landing gear arrives with the axles and wheels preinstalled and ready for final mounting. As far as hardware is concerned, there is one bag with everything you will need. There are four screws for the wing, four screws for the horizontal stabilizers, one screw for the rudder, and three for the landing gear. The wing halves and stabilizers are plug-in components, with carbon-fiber spars for rigidity and strength. There are also two pushrods with ball ends for the elevator and rudder servos. All servos are preinstalled and ready for flight.
This plane is sturdy and durable, and with its large control surfaces and extreme throws, it is an agile and aggressive airframe. For this reason, I would recommend this plane for the intermediate and above pilot.
One major time-saver when building a new model is when the manufacturer prehinges your model for you. On the Votec 322, FMS prehinged everything for you. The ailerons and elevators are hinged with flat pin hinges, which allow you to setup your Votec with a lot of throw if you so desire. The hinge system used on the rudder is clever and makes assembly and disassembly a simple process. On the vertical fin side, there are posts that point upward; on the rudder side are barrels that fit around the posts facing downward. To install the rudder, you simply slip the rudder down onto the posts and put one screw in the bottom, which tensions against the tiller arm on the tailwheel to hold everything in place—great job on this design, FMS!
This plane is your basic 4-channel aerobatic configuration. There are no flaps or retractable landing gear to complicate things, and most things arrive preassembled. The molded pilot and clear Lexan canopy are preinstalled and ready for flight. The elevator halves are joined together by molded ABS parts that slip together when installed. There is also a nice set of aluminum landing gear, which mounts quickly and easily to the bottom of the fuselage.
The color scheme on the Votec is very nice. The orange and black contrast nicely, and FMS added some other lettering and markings that look like a watch to resemble the full-scale MSW Aviation Votec. All paint and decals are preapplied out of the box. All the hardware needed to assemble the Votec 322 is included. Everything is metric thread, and there is also a nice set of rubber wheels, which should hold up to plenty of abuse.
I made no modifications to my model. I flew it exactly as it came, and I was very happy with it. One thing that I did make sure of was that the pushrods were connected to the farthest hole on the servo arm for maximum throw. This made tumbles, spins, and 3D maneuvers fun to perform.
I did have one issue with the preinstalled speed control. In troubleshooting the issue (a bullet connector had become unplugged), I got to check out how FMS assembled the front
of the cowl. The forward part of the cowl is held on with two magnets, which makes accessing the motor and speed control a breeze and will be helpful if you ever need to make some repairs or swap out your electronics.
IN THE AIR
The Votec can be flown from any RC model field. The included wheels are a good size and should perform well off manicured grass as well. Ground handling was solid, and the plane taxis with ease. The tailwheel is effective and gives you almost tricycle gear–like control.
For takeoffs, I aimed the Votec into the wind and slowly brought up the throttle. The plane was airborne and climbing within about 30 feet, and it took minimal trim to fly straight and true. Landing was also a nonevent. The plane slowed down nicely and didn’t have any noticeable tendency to bounce on touchdown.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: The stability of the Votec 322 was impressive. Most small foam models have a heavy wing loading and don’t fly well slowly, but the Votec was solid at slow speeds; even in high-alpha maneuvering, it was controllable with no bad habits. Tracking: The Votec is a short-coupled aircraft. This, plus the fact that mine seems a little tail-heavy, made for a model that was “hunting” for a straight line. To resolve this issue, I plan to try some flights with larger batteries to add more nose weight. The plane was just a bit pitch sensitive, and I found myself working to keep it on a straight and level path. Aerobatics: The full-size Votec is an aerobatic airplane, and this model shares that characteristic. Knife-edge flight was great, and with the large surfaces set up for a lot of throw, anything is possible. I can’t wait to spend some time figuring out this model to see what it can really do. Highalpha maneuvers were controllable, and I was impressed with the 3D capabilities of this model. Flat spins were something that really stood out for me; it was so flat that the plane almost looked like it wasn’t coming down. Glide and stall performance: The Votec carries its energy well when gliding, and the stall is gentle. In the event of lost power, you should be able to easily get it back to the field.
Aerobatics is what this plane is all about. If you are looking for a good, inexpensive plane with which to hone your 3D skills, the Votec is a great choice.
The installed metal-gear servos have long control arms for plenty of throw for 3D aerobatics.
The rudder attachment method is robust and well thought out.
Left: The preapplied graphics are a nice touch. Right: The hatch area has plenty of room for your receiver and flight battery.