Over the last few issues of Radio Control Heli Pilot magazine, I have shown you some of the hottest trends in 3D helicopters in Europe from my recent travels to various events. Switching gears from the fast-paced, intense 3D machines,
I wanted to highlight an amazing scale machine that really caught my attention. This giant-scale Eurocopter EC-145 was designed and built from Heli-Factory in Germany. This is a fantastic looking helicopter that can be purchased ready-to-fly directly from Heli-Factory, saving you hundreds of hours of construction time.
Heli-Factory specializes in making ready-to-fly, giant-scale RC helicopters powered by the Jet Cat brand turbine engines. They have over 20 different giant-scale helicopters that you can choose from. Each model weighs from 30 to 40 pounds and they come completely painted, detailed and test flown. They can even deliver the model with your favorite radio system. The helis are delivered to your doorstep in a huge, 10-foot long wooden crate. While these models are impressive; so is their price. Be prepared to spend between $20,000 to $30,000 to start.
As with their automobiles, Germans compete on quality and innovations and not on price. European models are not cheap and are not mass produced. Manufacturers try to give their customer a “pride of ownership” experience. The Heli-Factory ready-to-fly scale models cater to a small niche of clientele. Heli-Factory does not mass-produce these models; each is custom built to your exact specifications. You choose your own color scheme, level of scale details, working lights, etc. – the sky is the limit so to speak.
The Heli-Factory giant scale models not only look amazing, but they fly even better. I saw the Heli-Factory demo team flew them at the Rotorlive Airshow at Iffezheim, Germany. They flew their Eurocopter EC-145, Euro-copter Tiger attack helicopter, Blue Thunder, Agusta A-109, Bell Huey Cobra gunship, Eurocopter Twinstar and many others. They are each powered by Jet Cat turbine engines which are equipped with an onboard electric motor for automatically starting the turbine engine by flicking a switch on the transmitter. Because the models are massive, they hover solidly even in gusty wind. In cruise, they appear just like their full-scale counterpart. That unmistakable sound of the turbine engine makes the helis sound as real as they look. Occasionally, during startup, you will even see flames coming out of the scale exhaust ducts.
All the giant scale models have scale-looking main rotor and tail rotor systems. On the EC-145, it uses a 4-bladed main rotor and Fenestron tail rotor, just like the real helicopter. Because all the Heli-Factory scale models have multi-bladed, flybarless rotor systems; they all use a 3-axis SAS (stability augmentation system) to make the helicopter easier to handle. The EC-145 shown in the pictures has a HC3X 3-axis gyro system from HeliCommand of Germany. This is the same HC3X used for extreme 3D flying with 2-bladed flybarless models.
One extremely impressive detail on this particular EC-145 model is the MFD (multi function display) screens in the cockpit which are made of tiny LCD panels like the ones on your cell phone. Flight information is displayed on the tiny electric powered LCD screens that measure less than one square inch.
If you are really into scale helicopters and money is no object, you can save yourself hundreds of hours by seeking out Heli-Factory to custom-build your model. We will be taking a closer look at their giant Blue Thunder and Bell Cobra models in future issues as well as bringing you a tour of their facility in Germany.