Hangar 9 Meridian 10cc ARF Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Evolution 10cc Engine
- 2x LIFE 2s batteries (2100 and 1900mah)
- Futaba 14SG & R7008SB rx
- 7x JR 821 servos
- Fourtitude 8oz tank
- 12x6 prop
- Beautiful looking plane
- Good price for it’s size
- Flies very nicely
- Capable of very slow flight
- Big presence in the sky
- Fun to fly
- Low quality hardware
- No template included or precut cowl
- Nose wheel pant does not hold well
- Heavy plane for the small 10cc engine
- Fitment of wings is not flush to fuse
Intro: (Updates in red)
So last year, after a long winter, I finally got my planes fired up to start and enjoy the new flying season. I had practiced with a few of my smaller planes over the winter, but I was so happy when the weather warmed up and the field dried out.
Unfortunately, on my first day of flying, I misjudged where my plane was and slammed my favorite Saratoga with my Evolution 10cc engine into a tree. I was devastated, so I salvaged what I could and went to my local hobby shop and picked up the Hangar 9 Meridian. I hoped to build it and have it ready within a week or so.
Upon opening the box, I saw that EVERYTHING needed a good ironing and my pilot figure had come unglued. It took quite a while to iron and reglue my pilot but I proceeded. After hinging all of the control surfaces, I went onto the next steps of placing the horizontal stabilizer. As usual, you need to put the wings on to measure the distance from wing tip to tip of the stabilizer. When I fit the wings on however, I noticed the wings did not sit flush to the fuselage. One was relatively close, but the other side was almost a .25” away on part of it.
I called the wonderful folks at Horizon Hobby and sent them pictures. They informed me of ways that I could fix the wing issue, but didn’t hesitate to send me a new fuselage. Build went on hold for a while. New fuse arrives and my wife calls to tell me there is a big flattish box from Horizon Hobby on the doorstep. Sadly, when I got home, the flattish box was not supposed to be flattish and contained a very smashed in replacement fuselage. Ugh. Of course, again, the wonderful folks at Horizon Hobby offered to send another fuselage. Alas, when stock was checked, they were back ordered and would not be arriving for some time. They finally settled on sending me a new plane altogether.
The new plane not wrinkled, and the wings were more flush. One wing is still not PERFECTLY flush, but the gap is tiny and not noticeable. So once again, I started the build process. Hinges were fine, tail installation fairly simple, though I wish they’d predrill holes into the stab so the tail could bold down over it like a few other Hangar 9 and E-Flite planes do. Servo installation was pretty straight forward, though the small screws strip easily… so you may have to replace a few. Also, the main landing gear didn’t go in easily. The slot cut out for the main gear isn’t wide enough, so you pretty much have to force it is and hope for the best. When I went to install the nose gear, I found that the axle collar that the nose gear goes through and gets held in place with a grub screw was stripped. I had to remove the collar from inside the horn and spin it around to it’s other hole. Luckily that side was not stripped. Adding the wheel pants was a easy, but I noticed the nose gear wheel pant did not feel secure. I flew it like that, and as I suspected, it wobbles around a bit and sometimes even gets turned off to an angle even though the nose wheel is properly aligned. I will figure out a fix for that before my next outing with it.
Now to the engine installation. The ARF comes with a nylon engine mount that you have to drill out yourself. Such a basic plane shouldn’t have these extra steps, but okay, I didn’t let that stop me. I followed John Redman’s build on Horizon’s facebook page and installed the engine 132 mm from the firewall and not the 136mm the manual suggests. If you follow the manual, you won’t get the cowl to overlap the canopy when put in place. Also, the recommended placement for drilling the firewall for the pushrod to come through is not accurate. You have to see what works best for you as I’ve seen a few guys drill them in different locations. As for the cowl, since this plane is called the Meridian 10cc, it should either include a precut cowl or at the very least, include a template. No such luck.
Before you assume I hate this plane, I don’t, but I’ll get to the good part later. There are no precut holes in the cowl or holes to guide you in the fuselage. I expect that from a small plane, but not from one this size. So now onto balancing. If the manual is correct, in order to balance the center of gravity, you’re going to need a fair amount of weight up front. To balance my Meridian according to the manual, I needed to move both my 2s1900mah and my 2s2100mah LIFE batts up to the front under the tank AND add 5oz of lead weights. Programming my transmitter was easy enough, just a matter of setting a few endpoints and adding dual rates.
1st day of Flying:
My first flight was about a minute long. The engine seemed tuned on the ground, but in the air, it felt a little rich. Brought it back down, made some adjustment and back up she went. I’m not used to using as much runway as the Meridian takes. Not that it’s a huge amount, but my other planes are either overpowered or bush planes. That said, it does make for a nice scale looking take off. Also, before using my 10cc engine in the Meridian, I had it in the now discontinued Saratoga. That plane was much lighter so it took off faster, weighed less and flew light. Because of that previous experience, the Meridian felt a little heavy and sluggish. Rolls were okay, but not the corkscrew I was used to from the Saratoga. For it’s weight, it glides really well, so be sure to give yourself ample space to approach the field or you’ll glide on by. Inverted flight is a cinch, very few planes are this easy to fly inverted.
My first few flights were fun, but as I mentioned, aerobatics lacked a little oomph. The more I flew it, the more responsive it felt. By my last few flights, it felt a little closer to my Saratoga, just heavier. As I packed up for the day and opened the canopy, I noticed that a few ounces of my weights had come unglued and had worked themselves to different areas of the fuselage. Two ounces or so stayed close to the back of the firewall, about an ounce was a few inches back sandwiched between my batteries and the sidewall, and the rest was back toward the middle of the plane sitting on the floor of the fuselage. I have no idea when these weights moved around, but I suspect their ungluing is the cause of the plane feeling more agile the more I flew it. I have now epoxied the weights back to achieve the center of gravity recommended in the manual. My prediction is that the recommended CG is a little conservative. After my next few flights, if it is back to feeling a little sluggish, I’ll remove some weight.
2nd day of Flying:
So on my second day of flying, my 5oz of weight was back on and secured. It felt really stable, and rolled a little slower than it had when the weights had unglued themselves on my previous outing. I considered removing some of the weight, but my near hands-off inverted flight really illustrate how well I have it balanced.
As I continued flying, I kept feeling that I wasn't getting enough power. My engine felt a little hotter than usual, so I richened it up again to factory settings. It flew okay, but a little sluggish. After a few tiny adjustments, I found the perfect needle setting at about 2.5 turns (I live in Northern VA, 312 feet above sea-level). With the engine running beautifully, with flaps down, take-off was actually pretty short. Speed now feels quick, climbs are really nice and knife-edge holds better than it had been. I really love this plane now. I flew it several more times and got that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know you have a great flying airplane.
After 9 Months:
So I flew this plane for the rest of the season in 2015, and only recently (June) brought it back out. Weather and other commitments have kept me from the field. Anyway, I left the engine really well tuned and the plane has not needed even one click of the needle adjustment. Also, I did take a little more than half the weight I had added back off. It doesn't need it. The plane is way more responsive, yet still a kitten in the air. Hangar 9 is being really conservative with their recommended center of gravity. Take-offs really need very little space to get airborne and landings continue to be predictable. I find I don't even use the flaps most of the time. I really must emphasize, that despite the gripes I had with this plane, it truly is an awesome airplane, I love it and it is one I will keep for as long as I can. I'm pretty certain that any experienced ARF builder would have made short change of some of my issues, but it was one of the first ARFs I had built since one of my good friends had built most of my other planes. BTW, new video down below.
The Meridian is a beautiful, well-designed sport plane that flies quite nicely. It attracts attention at the field and is an awesome plane to have in the hangar. I believe my love for this plane will keep growing with every flight. Where it gets low points is in the hardware and fabrication. A plane marketed as a intermediate sport plane and a first time gasser should go together a little easier and not have to rely on the owner to figure out workarounds. Also, because it is built around the 10cc, a template or precut cowl should be included… at the very least, a precut cowl should be available as a separate part. My frustration levels got pretty high during a few parts of the build process, but I got through them. I am relatively new to building this size ARF, so perhaps some of these issues won’t bother you more experienced modelers. Should you buy it? Yes, yes you should. The ARF is inexpensive enough that you’ll forgive some of the lesser quality parts. What I do advise, is immediately fitting the wings onto the fuselage to see if there are substantial gaps between the wings and fuselage. If so, stop there and call Horizon. It goes without saying, (though I’ll say it here), that Horizon Hobby has some of the best customer service in the industry.
Final score, Plane rating: A- | Quality rating: B- | Ease of build: B | Value: A