Rage R/C Golden Age Series Beechcraft Staggerwing RTF
Amazing micro RC with flaps and retracts
Amazing micro RC with flaps and retracts
The most iconic biplane of all time has to be the Beechcraft Model D17 “Staggerwing.” With its negative stagger configuration (upper wing staggered behind the lower wing), the Staggerwing was the brainchild of Walter Beech and was highly sought after by the military and by civilians alike. Because of its stretched fuselage, retractable landing gear, and clean aerodynamics, the Staggerwing had awesome speed and was used in a lot of races, such as the 1933 Texaco Trophy Race, which it won. In 1937, Jackie Cochran set a women’s speed record of 203.9mph—not too shabby for a biplane! If you ever see a Beech Staggerwing on the flightline, do yourself a favor and check it out; you’ll understand why this iconic plane is still highly coveted and sought after today.
The Rage Golden Age Series should also include “museum-scale” in its title as the
Beechcraft Staggerwing is a gem in the micro world, and it provides exciting flight performance that’s ideal for indoor or outdoor calm air conditions. Like Rage’s other offering, the Spirit of St. Louis, the
Staggerwing is a highly detailed model, ready to fly right out of the box. Molded out of Depron-type foam, the Staggerwing weighs in at an astonishingly light
2.4 ounces completely assembled, and— get this—it includes working flaps and retracts! Everything needed to fly the model is included in the box, so you can be airborne as soon as the battery is charged.
The Staggerwing comes fully assembled. Everything needed is in the box, which also doubles as secure storage. The electronics include a 4-in-1 board, and individual servos for the ailerons and retracts. Powering the biplane are two brushed motors that are geared together.
The 5-channel 2.4GHz transmitter has normal 4-channel control for rudder, elevator, aileron, and throttle, plus a 2-position switch on the top left for the combined flaps/retracts. That’s correct: Hit the switch and both the flaps and retracts work up and down at the same time—pretty clever and one less switch to keep track of! The transmitter is also used to charge the included 1S 200mAh LiPo battery. Other items such as the fully detailed dummy radial engine, symmetrical airfoil with rib detailing, flying wires, counterbalances on the elevators, and a realistic trim scheme make the Staggerwing stand out in a crowd. The top half of the cowl is removable for access to the battery—just be careful handling it as it’s delicate. The complicated retractable landing gear is a work of art in itself, and I don’t ever recall working retracts in a model of this size—and they work very nicely. Just like the full-scale Staggerwing, the flaps are on the bottom wing and the ailerons on the top wing. Rage also provides a scale-shaped propeller and spinner.
But the finishing touch is the graphics, which are factory applied. Instead of the usual stick-on vinyl that you normally see, Rage uses water-slide decals. The detail and sharpness of them makes you think that they’re painted on. Just amazing!
When I unpacked the model, it was obvious that the plane was ready to fly: All components are installed, and you only need to place the supplied AA batteries in the transmitter. The Staggerwing is powered by a 1-cell LiPo battery, and you charge it by using the built-in charger in the transmitter; it takes approximately 20 minutes to fully charge the battery. The battery is installed in the nose under the cowl and uses a magnet to keep the cowl in place. The two brushed motors are geared together and provide good thrust and flight-time duration; I was getting six to seven minutes, easily. Spare parts are readily available should you have an incident with terra firma. When you power up the model, the control surfaces will wiggle to let you know that the receiver and transmitter are bound, so don’t be confused into thinking that there are any gyros onboard.
IN THE AIR
For its light weight, the Rage Staggerwing is a spirited flier, and it easily handled the gentle breeze we had to deal with. Being that my main flying area is grass, hand launches were mandatory and easy since there’s plenty of power on tap. I did use our club’s starting stand as a makeshift runway, and takeoffs from a hard surface were easy. Landings required some power all the way to touchdown, and I landed the model in the tall grass alongside the runway, with the landing gear retracted to prevent any damage. You’ll need a fairly large indoor venue for the model as it really zips around. I did try flying the plane in some moderate wind, and while it was doable, this plane is best suited for calm conditions or flying indoors.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: Given its generous wing area, the Staggerwing is pretty stable. The model doesn’t have any gyros onboard, and I really didn’t feel a need for any.
Tracking: The Staggerwing tracks true and is mesmerizing as it flies by. You would think that, with its small size, the Staggerwing would be “flighty,” but nothing could be further from the truth.
Aerobatics: The Staggerwing isn’t meant for aerobatics, and I didn’t attempt to do any. Flying in a scalelike manner suits the model well. It does, however, have enough power for loops and steep climbouts.
Glide and stall performance: Being a very light scale model, the glide performance requires that you keep the nose down some to keep some airspeed up. Stalls are gentle and easily flown out of with the application of power. The flaps are effective, and with the added drag of the landing gear, you need to fly the model to terra firma.
The Beechcraft Staggerwing from Rage is a great-flying micro-scale model. It has plenty of power to handle mild wind conditions at the flying field.
Considering how small and lightweight the Staggerwing is, it has excellent detailing and features.
In the closed position, the gear doors clean up the belly of the plane.
The landing gear are not only retractable but also realistic and scale-looking.
The included transmitter is a 5-channel radio, and there’s a switch to activate the gear and flaps.
The flight battery charger is built into the transmitter.
Right: Magnets hold the upper part of the engine cowling in place to act as the battery-compartment hatch.
Left: When the landing gear are down, so are the lower wing flaps.