Vintage RC Helicopters - Hirobo Shuttle helicopter
Hirobo Shuttle Original (1985)
August 1985, Hirobo introduced a whole new concept in model helicopters and presentation. It was a basic pod and boom trainer following on from the 'Falcon' range but was made significantly of plastic and presented in ARF (Almost ready to Fly) form; not the first ARF as this was the Kavan Alouette in 1978 however, the first to be at such a level of completion that apart from fitting the radio gear and the skids, nothing else was required. The Head fitted to the shuttle followed the norm at the time in having individual 'flapping' blades with tail driven by a belt. What was unusual was that an autorotation clutch was fitted as standard thus giving the Shuttle aerobatic properties in the right hands. Because of this relatively high specification, it was expensive when compared to 'training' models from other manufacturers. Little did anyone know at the time but even 25 years later the 'Shuttle' (albeit having been upgraded a number of times) would still be one of the best 'learner' helicopters on the market.
Hirobo Shuttle build manual - 1985 Original Shuttle with parts list
Hirobo Shuttle beginners review - 1985 'beginners' review from RC Helicopters.
Hirobo Shuttle Pro review - 1985 'Experts' review from RC Helicopters.
Hirobo Shuttle 2 (NS) (1987)
The model was upgrade in 1987 and called the shuttle 2 or NS (new shuttle) version. Many upgrades were carried out based on the previous models two years of use and feedback; namely tail rotor control and a revised main blade holder assembly incorporating a through spindle shaft thus holding the blades in a common rotational plane. The blades still 'flapped' but now equally because as one moved up, being linked, the other moved an equal amount down. This removed one of the problem with flapping heads of oscillation due to unequal flapping movement. The basic model was very easy to fly but lacked positive control due to the amount of 'backlash' in plain bearings of the control system. In order to provide better response, the XX version was introduced incorporating 18 ball bearings in the control system thus significantly reducing 'slop'. The magazine reviews below cover in great detail all aspects of both the standard and XX models including changes and the flying characteristics.
To complement the updated version of the Shuttle, Hirobo marketing department decided to up the ante and sell the model as a 'complete' package; another first? So, apart from a gallon of fuel, everything else was in the package.
The shuttle had proved to be a very good 'all round' helicopter, stable but with positive control; ideal scale flying qualities. As a 'pod and boom' machine, the mechanics only required a few minor changes to be suitable for use in a 'hang-on' fuselage and so three models were brought out utilising these mechanics.
Hirobo Shuttle Mk2 review - 1988 from Radio Helicopter International with high resolution colour pictures.
Hirobo Shuttle Z, ZX (1989)
Once again the Shuttle was further upgraded in 1989. The (Z) version being the base model with plain bearings in the control system but now equipped with the newer FZ rotor head giver a more 'sporty' response. A number of other changes were carried out including changing the tail rotor assembly from 'pulling' to 'pushing' by moving the assembly to point to the right, a longer boom and longer main blades plus an enlarged fuel tank from 190cc to 230cc to increase duration. An uprated version was also produced (ZX) which included 20 ball races in the control system for improved response, an all metal cutch instead of the normal 'plastic' type, different paddles to further increase performance plus all metal landing gear.
Just to make things interesting the standard and XX versions of the shuttle were NOT superseded and so with the inclusion of the top of the range Supreme in both standard and ZX forms there was a choice of six versions to chose from.
Below is the specification listing for versions available in 1992 - note that all versions could be supplied with the hand operated 'recoil' starter though this was not often chosen.
Hirobo Shuttle parts listing NS and XX - 1991 parts listing with cross reference to other models.
Hirobo Shuttle parts listing Z and ZX PDF - 1991 parts listing with cross reference to other models.
To follow on and enhance the shuttle models 'hang' on fuselages were offered catering for those who preferred there helicopters to emulate the real thing.
Hirobo Shuttle Gold
Further upgrades were developed and called 'Gold' options, finally Hirobo produced the 'Gold' spec Shuttle which incorporated all of these upgrades.
Hirobo Shuttle Z (Top start update)
Hirobo introduced a modification to the Shuttle range Z / ZX / ZXX plus a new model called the ZTS (Top start). As the name implies, all machine's could now be started from the 'Top' of the model by a 'wand' with hex adapter than ran past the rear of rotor head. This removed the need for a belt along with all the associated problems of the belt catching on starting or where to store it in flight. Additionally, a one way bearing was located in the clutch assembly for the starting shaft allowing the engine to run up to speed without removing the starter thus making starting an extremely simple process.
Hirobo Shuttle build manual - 1996 edition covering Z / ZX / ZXX / ZTS models
Hirobo Shuttle optional parts instructions - 1996 covering many options for Z / ZX / ZXX / ZTS models
Hirobo Shuttle RG
The Original Gold was further developed into the RG version of even higher spec (rotor diameter 1240mm). Many of the design feature of the SST-eagle 2 WC model were incorporated in its design and its 'heritage' is obvious by the layout and 'look'; features included -
Hirobo Shuttle RG review - 1998 and unknown reviewer
Hirobo Shuttle Challenge (1998)
Hirobo had previously brought out a 'trainer' called the 'Hovermate' as a specialised learner machine. From experience, the basic shuttle if 'sympathetically' set up had proved to be near enough the ideal learner and Hirobo reasoned that if this 'sympathetic' set-up was built in along with a dedicated training undercarriage this would provide a wider appeal. Unfortunately, the Hovermate did not sell because being a radically modified Shuttle it was much too expensive to update once the initial 'hovering' phase had been mastered; so people continued to by the basic Shuttle.
As a 'halfway house' Hirobo introduced the Shuttle 'Challenge' in both ARF and Kit version; basically a ZTS model with the most obvious change being a dedicated training undercarriage. This training gear was fully articulated and made of carbon fibre thus being able to absorb the punishment that could be expected from learning especially if used by clubs as a dedicated teaching helicopter. The rotor head featured new geometry in the mixing arms to 'soften' the characteristics and provide even more positive stability. The helicopter thus had a similar trainer capability as the 'Hovermate' but only required minor changes to return to full ZTS specification.
Once again, even though well commented on by the modelling press, it did not become popular as it was much more cost effective to strap a set of aftermarket training legs on a basic Shuttle and then removed them once past the initial stages of learning.
Hirobo Shuttle Challenge build manual - 1998 edition covering the Challenge equipped trainer model
Hirobo Shuttle Challenge review - Unknown reviewer.
Hirobo Shuttle SXX
Hirobo Shuttle SXX review - Unknown reviewer.
Hirobo Shuttle Plus
Stronger frames with improved access for switch and glow plug.
Hirobo Shuttle Plus build manual - 2002 edition
Hirobo Shuttle Plus +2
Length 1075cm / Rotor Diam 1244mm / Weight 2300 grm / Motor 32-36 size
As the model that
created the 30 class of model
helicopter, it's hard to imagine how it could be improved but the latest Shuttle
Plus +2 is better in several key areas.
Shuttle EP conversion
Good conversion but the Shuttle was designed for glow and as such was heavily built this meant that performance was OK for a trainer but more modern lightweight electric machines had significantly better performance.
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