Notorious in the fixed wing world, the "Stick" has been the choice of aircraft for apprentices in search of the next level of flight, offering benign handling traits with sporty levels of performance for the ultimate big sky thrills. Designed for intermediate to advanced pilots, this 4 channel beast is purpose built and ruggedly tough, providing epic flying qualities that have endeared this machine to the hearts of many, both young and old alike.
Affectionately dubbed the "Ugly Stick" by many pilots over the years, the VMar "VStick 40" carries on the Stick lineage, drawing from the tried and true layout that is designed to get the job done. Constructed of durable balsa and ply with the trademark box style fuselage, the VStick 40 utilizes a robust tricycle landing gear system with three solid wheels that are designed to take the hits and keep on rolling - rough landings be damned.
Dressed in bright red, VMar emblazons the VStick with the unmistakable Maltese Cross design, drawing from the age old livery of the notorious Red Baron that prowled the skies of yore. Beautiful on the ground and in the skies above, the VStick 40 is easy to track thanks to its size and colors, with its vibrant livery a joy to behold in the bright blue skies.
Spec'd as an "ARF" (Almost Ready to Fly) with a 59" spanned two piece wing, VMar hits the nail upon the proverbial head with a well completed aircraft kit that is nearly complete and electrics ready. Fully covered in a PolyCote "Enhanced Covering System," the VStick 40 arrives completely covered, with only basic assembly required.
Installing servos was simple and straight forward, with the VStick 40 requiring (4) standard sized servos for the (2) ailerons, (1) rudder and (1) elevator. A 5th servo bay is ready & waiting for those with an affinity for glow power, offering throttle actuation of your favorite engine of choice. In my case, this was a full electric affair, with 1900 watts of brushless fury at the fore, providing double the spec'd power output suggested by VMar. Not recommended, but quite ideal for those hellbent upon a need for speed.
Arriving well packaged with a sensible instruction manual, the VStick 40 assembly process was fairly straight forward, with the few typical time killers common for any kit based aircraft, despite the brand. VMar states a build time of 3-5 hours, which seems on par if everything goes perfect. Aside from a few bits and bobs that required more attention than expected, the build was straight forward and simple, with a bolt on vertical stabilizer, amongst other "no glue required" assembly processes. Whether your 1st build or 100th, this kit shouldn't pose much trouble, with an assembly process that was quite basic, with few "outside of the box" solutions required.
As a kit only, full electronics are required, equating to (4) standard sized servos, a brushless motor, ESC, transmitter, receiver, battery and charger. Going the glow route? Add in a 5th servo and replace the brushless motor & ESC with your favorite 2 stroke / 4 stroke engine of choice, and you're set. The kit even includes a fuel tank with plumbing, so this kit is ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) ready for those akin to internal combustion power.
Having never fancied the ICE route, electric power was my preferred choice of propulsion, with a hideously overpowered T-Motor AT3530 700kV motor paired to a 12x6" prop that was available at short reach. Due to the tricycle gear layout, the VStick offers a maximum 13" prop size before clearance becomes an issue, so spec your Stick wisely to avoid digging trenches on power up.
Harnessing the 1900W AT3530 was a HobbyWing 120A ESC, being fed by a Pulse Ultra 45C 6S 3700mAh LiPo, equating to an easy 8+ minute flight time with generous levels of power throughout the flight. Overall, this power setup was the very definition of overkill, but since it was on hand and unoccupied, it fit the bill nicely.
"$4.99 servos - seriously?" That was my exact thought as I came across the TowerPro SG5010 servos for the very 1st time. I have purchased some budget based electronics in the past, but even my prop cost more than this servo! However, I was soon to be pleasantly surprised, as the TowerPro servos not only kept the build costs way below budget, but also provided excellent performance for this class of aircraft. Offering excellent centering, good torque and ample speed, the TowerPro servos performed exactly as I hoped, with no issues, drama or problems in any way throughout the build or flights. Simply put, these servos were the ultimate "bang for the buck" buy.
Birds of a feather flock together, and my hangar left the VStick 40 as the proverbial "odd duck" when compared to my current 3D aerobatic fleet. With a penchant for aggressive 3D stunt planes, the VStick is not the typical plane I pilot, yet I was curious to see how she would perform when compared to the high performance 3D machines I favor the most. At the bare minimum, I was hoping for a simple warm up / cool down plane with some big sky maneuvers, offering something "different" when the palate was in search of an alternate flavor.
Throttle up and into the blue skies above, the VStick climbed with ease, with 1900W of anger roaring up front. A few clicks of up elevator & left aileron, the VStick 40 was on trim and locked in, providing a balanced and smooth flight with minimal input required. With Bavarian Demon Cortex units gracing my fleet of 3D planes, the VStick was without the aid of a flight controller, yet required very little input to manage the light winds at play.
Although far from the surface area & throws of my aerobatic beasts at home, the VStick 40 offered surprising roll and pitch authority for sport style flying, leaving nothing lacking when it comes to the flying style this bird was built for. Rudder authority was limited, but hammer head stalls were still possible, with light knife edge passes that required some down elevator to mix out cross coupling behavior.
With a thick symmetrical wing chord at play, the VStick offers excellent low speed characteristics with a dose of up elevator & power to keep attitude in trim. Simply put, the plane had no bad habits, performing admirably in every attitude, and behaving very well in inverted flight thanks to its symmetrical wing design. Landings were an uncomplicated affair, with a nose down approach on final as airspeed decayed. A touch of power with some up elevator, and the VStick settles down nicely with no low speed drama at hand. Further this with an ultra stout landing gear system, even hard landings are shrugged off without regard, leaving this robust bird the perfect plane for those with less than ideal approaches and heavy handed flares.
Simply put, the VStick 40 is a great plane. The "Stick" design looks excellent in the bright afternoon sun, with the Fokker red livery that harkens back to the age of stick and rudder flight. Easy to fly with positive control rates, I was impressed by the amiable flight characteristics the VStick offered, providing a balanced flight that inspired confidence in every maneuver.
Never envisioned as a 3D aerobat, the VStick impresses with excellent roll rates and plenty of pitch to keep things interesting. And with generous inputs of rudder, barnstorming maneuvers are at the ready, making the VStick 40 a true pleasure to fly.
Whether you're a seasoned hand looking for a nostalgic thrill or a "newbie" in search of a 1st balsa build, the VMar VStick 40 is a bargain, and when setup right, can be fully spec'd for far less than traditional planes of this size. Excelling in big sky aerobatics, the VStick 40 looks incredible in the sky, and despite it's "Ugly Stick" moniker, the VStick's purpose built ruggedness makes it one of the most beloved designs on the flight line today.
Recommended Build Specifications:
(4) Standard Servos
(1) 800W - 1200W Brushless Motor
(1) 70A - 80A ESC
(1) 4S 14.8V - 6S 22.2V LiPo / 4000mAh - 5500mAh
.46 - .55 2 Stroke Nitro
.48 - .70 4 Stroke Gas
Utilizing full span ailerons with generous surface area for this style of aircraft, the VMar VStick 40 is constructed with a (2) piece symmetrical wing, offering ease of transport and storage. Covered in a bright red Polycote finish, the VStick is easy to track in the skies above, and looks great from every possible angle.
With a forward mounted battery tray that is easy to access, the VStick 40 makes it simple to swap out batteries with a secure spring loaded hatch, with the ability to handle substantial battery sizes to aid longer duration flight times. With my build, I utilized a Pulse 45C 3700mAh 6S battery with room to spare, equating to an easy 8+ minutes of flight. A larger battery (such as a 4100mAh 6S pack) would likely fit, although a touch of aft ballast may be necessary for proper CG.
Both fore and aft access bays provide plenty of space for access to all the electronics within, making build and setup a breeze. Both trays are robustly secured with (2) dual spring locking systems, keeping the hatches secure and free from separating while in flight, which can be typical of more commonplace magnetic hatch systems.
Dressed in a vivid red livery, the Polycote "Enhanced Covering System" is well finished and very durable. Requiring no covering or finishing by the end user, the VStick comes fully covered (no decal application required), and looks beautiful both in the air and on the ground.
Utilizing a total of (4) TowerPro SG-5010 standard servos, I was absolutely shocked at the $4.99 list price. Fully serviceable with replacement gears at the ready, these servos offered excellent centering, great torque and speed, and were ultra quiet with a light all up weight. Out of all the budget servos I have utilized, these servos were by far the lowest cost servos I have ever used, and they performed admirably. Shown with KST aluminum servo horns (that cost $1.00 more than the servo itself!), this setup worked great. However, the TowerPro servos include plastic servo arms, so the KST servo horns were not a necessary upgrade.