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MS Composit 'Hornet' electric helicopter


The kit - Step A - Step B - Step C - Step D - Step E - Step F - Step G - Step H - Step I -
Installation - Flying - Conclusion - Specification

Anyone who knows me, or is familiar with my various writings, will be surprised that I have bought a 'Hornet' - my first new heli in some 5 years. My Kalt 'Whisper' is now some 12 years old and has worn out a set of servos. It was clear that I needed a replacement. I had flown the 'Whisper' extensively indoors and wanted something that could make better use of the available space.

The 'Picolo' seemed very attractive at first, but it was clear that the separate tail drive produced more problems than it solved.

I first saw the 'Hornet' on an American web site (Todd's Models) and decided immediately that this was it. Shortly afterwards, a friend flew an early UK import and reported that he was highly impressed.

A lot has appeared on the web about the 'Hornet' in the recent past and this prepared me for some of the potential problems. Most reports indicated that it flew better than the 'Picolo', but was a lot more work. That sounded fine, so I bought one (a 'Hornet', that is)!

The kit

I bought the complete package from Midland Helicopters. This was their 'Deal 3' which included everything necessary except the transmitter and a pair of crystals. Originally, this included a CSM gyro, but I knew from the aforementioned web information that the GWS gyro was considered to be a better bet and specified this instead. I also added a second 700mAh NiMH battery.

First impressions were very favourable. The whole thing is enclosed in a stout cardboard box which is big enough to carry the complete model. Construction follows the well established 'numbered bag and manual' approach (actually, letters are used instead of numbers). The manual was better than I expected and is adequate but sparce.

There's no point in giving a complete blow by blow account of the assembly, but lots of things came up which are worthy of mention:

Step A - Main Body Assembly

For 'body' read 'chassis'.

Having got the undercarriage and chassis together, most people recommend that you place the assembly on a piece of glass and set it so that it does not rock. However, this does not ensure that the skids are parallel to the body, nor does it mean that the main shaft is vertical. Both of these are important. Put the smallest possible amount of cyano on each joint then check both of the above before proceeding further.

The manual suggests that you ensure that the rear undercarriage legs are not blocking the hole for the boom. If you insert the boom to check this - as I did - ensure that you remove the boom before adding any cyano. Nowhere have I seen it documented that the boom is smaller at the end that fits into the chassis. Maybe this was new on my kit, but there was a shouldered section about an inch long at one end which was smaller than the rest of the boom. The other end is a very tight fit in the chassis.

If you have been paying attention you may now have realised that I managed to glue this larger end into the chassis while gluing the undercarriage. Getting it out was quite a problem!

In my book, there is no such thing as a debonder for cyano. The nearest thing that I know of is nitromethane. Others suggest acetone, which I haven't tried. The point is that all any of these will do is to allow you to remove cyano from a surface by means of friction. They will not penetrate a joint and loosen it. Get it right first time! Then check at least three times before adding more cyano.

Step B - Motor/Canopy Support

Having mounted the motor you now have a handy stand for running it in. I ran mine for about 5 hours on a glowplug supply (2 volt).

Step C - Tail Drive & Gearbox

When you have finished assembling the tail drive you will have a flanged bearing at each end of the boom with the flange outside the boom. On the tail end of the boom will be a black bevel gear and on the front (smaller) end will be a small white gear. The only bearing which is actually glued to the boom is the one in the centre. This is actually better than you will find on many IC helis.

It needed a lot of effort to move the bevel gear on the tail rotor shaft along the shaft and I cleaned the inside of the hole slightly to help here. Note that none of these gears is actually attached to their shafts by anything other than friction. This means that you can easily adjust things. The manual suggests that when you have finished the next step, the tail rotor shaft should be flush with the tail rotor hub and the tail gearbox bearing at its two ends. In my case, I found it necessary to have some shaft protruding at the bearing end to get proper movement of the pitch slider.

From what I had read on the web it was immediately clear that the pitch slider has been modified since the early kits. Mine had a modified outer part with material added to prevent it from pulling over the bearing. The inner part which goes through the bearing has been made longer and the end has been spread, using heat, so that it cannot pull out of the bearing.

Modified slider

Modified slider as supplied in latest kits

Step D - Tail Hub

The way in which the tail blade holders are meant to pivot is not clear from the manual. The point is that the blade holder is mounted on a grubscrew and is retained by friction. The grubscrew then rotates in the tail hub - hence the grease. I found it easier to screw the grubscrew into the hub until it was finger tight. I then screwed the blade holder onto the grubscrew until it touched the hub and then backed it off 1/2 - 3/4 turn.

Step E - Rotor Head

The easiest way to get this to pivot freely is to introduce a very small spacer between the pivot and the pivot support. Otherwise remove material from the inside face of the pivot support, leaving a slightly raised area immediately adjacent to the holes.

Step F - Flybar/Swashplate

Having had paddles move on the flybar with many helicopters, I do not like the paddle fixing used here. You simply cannot clamp things up tightly enough to stop the paddles moving. Once I had things lined up I added a drop of cyano. It's worth pointing out that the actual alignment of the paddles and flybar operating arm is not that critical, but you do want it to stay in one place.

My swashplate was already assembled, but fell apart when I placed it on the main shaft. As this is already a well documented problem, supplying it assembled only makes things worse! I reassembled with a small amount of 'Slo-Zap' applied to the inner and outer surfaces of the bearing.

Step G - Tail Boom/Motor & Drive

Having already had a struggle to remove the boom from the chassis I was very reluctant to glue it firmly back in place - even when it was the right way around. The shouldered end of the boom sets how much the boom can be inserted. At the inner end, there is a support saddle moulded into the chassis. I glued the boom to this only, which gave me some chance of removing it again if necessary.

There was a lot of friction between the main shaft (mast) and the main gear. Having read warnings about the possibilty of the shaft cracking, it seemed that the pin for attaching the gear to the mast was unnecessary and I left it out. This has not given any problems, although the gear has twisted on the shaft - possibly saving a crack.

As recommended by several people (see Brad Goodman's site), I didn't glue the mast stopper to the shaft, but added an 8mm length of silicone fuel tubing above it. (But see below).

Step H- Push Rods/Tail control & Fin

The links from the cyclic servos to the swashplate are too short and there is insufficient thread available in the joiner to make them any longer. I solved this by adding a packer under both servos. This was two layers of 40 thou plasticard (say 3/32" total). All three servos were mounted with thin servo tape.

The manual shows the tail servo mounted on the right side of the boom. Too late, I realised that the left side would give a much better set-up. My pushrod therefore passes under the boom. The tail pushrod is much too thin to be glued into the links. I added a piece of small heatshrink tubing to each end and then glued it.

Like others, I glued a plate to the boom for mounting the fin and used servo tape to mount the fin. The material supplied for this is too flexible and does not protect the tail blades in any way. If you plan to use your 'Hornet' to learn to fly I would suggest that you add a wire tail skid. This will be the most useful piece of extra weight you have ever added.

Step I - Servo, Gyro, Speed Controller Installation/Set-up

I agree with the manual that you should use the hole in the servo arm that is closest to the servo shaft. I have read in a couple of places that the outer hole gives better resolution. Sorry gentlemen, this is rubbish. The greatest resolution is given by the greatest ATV in your transmitter (largest number of increments). Reducing the ATV gives fewer increments and less resolution. Long servo arms also magnify the effects of any slop in the servo gears, or other servo deficiencies.

Assembling the canopy is a trying occupation. It would help considerably if it was tinted. Too late, I realised that I should have tinted the inside before I started cutting! Nowhere does it tell you what the material is, although the suggestion I saw somewhere that you use model car paints hints that it may be lexan. I hope not, I painted mine with enamel. I am far from satisfied with the finished result and another is on the way. This time, I'll take my time!

The decals supplied are very thin and have little colour density. If you intend to use them, think carefully before you paint the canopy anything other than white.

Fixing the canopy in place is left almost entirely to your imagination. There is no information at all as to how it is retained by two pieces of carbon rod across the chassis. A minor mystery is that Midland Helicopters list a set of 4 canopy retainers (MS-E061) which don't appear anywhere else.

It would seem that the lower mounting is intended to trap the lip of the canopy between itself and the front undercarriage strut. This works reasonably well provided you don't remove too much of the lip during assembly. The upper fixing would appear to be intended to go into the upper top corners of the canopy and is rather wider than the canopy. Presumably, the idea is that the canopy will spring into position. Once again, don't remove too much of the lip. In fact, this serves merely to spread the canopy an unsightly amount. I considered adding pads of balsa into the corners to give a better location, but eventually settled on pads made from the dense foam that lines the box in which the GWS gyro was supplied. The ends of the carbon rod can be pushed into this.

The method of attaching the battery is very fiddly and far from satisfactory. At the moment I am simply looping the rubber bands around the cross supports. I added small strips of plasticard to the battery which fit outside the supports and prevent it moving sideways.



I followed the manual on this, but there is no way that you can tidy up the wiring. Where I come from, we call this a 'Buggar's muddle'.

The positioning of the cyclic servos is quite critical to avoid introducing differential throw into the equation. As the links do not allow any real ajustment, you are left to trim via the radio, which will inevitably introduce offset arms and related problems.

The SuperTec servos are held together by a plastic sleeve, which then has labels applied over it. This makes it difficult to fix them in postion by means of servo tape because the surface is very uneven. I originally removed the sleeves and reapplied the labels. This didn't work because the adhesive on the labels was not very good. I then replaced the labels by suitably sized pieces of electrical tape, which works well - and there's no unsightly advertising!


I really should know better, but my early flights were in my usual 'Whisper' site, i.e. my front room (lounge) which is about 20' by 18' and is well lit in daylight. At 4am, when these things usually happen, the lighting leaves much to be desired. The usable floor space is much less with sundry objects (like the occasional .60 powered heli) in the way.

Needless to say, I was flying it without the canopy which was still unpainted. The result was that I really couldn't see it too well and I had forgotten the fact that fixed pitch helis tend to react very differently to cyclic inputs while in contact with the ground. I spent an exciting few minutes skating around norrowly missing everything, including myself. A couple of contacts showed that it was strong.

Following advice from others, both batteries had been charged at 50mA for around 12 hours. At this stage, I was surprised just how long they lasted.

Something had to be done before I broke it, so I made up a training gear from 1/4" square balsa. This was much better, mainly because I had more to see. The tail was absolutely solid, with the gyro set as supplied at 50% gain. It was also powerful, with lightning pirrouettes.

OK, so forget the brave bit and move the flybar weights out to the end and reduce the cyclic. I could now get a fairly stable hover, but the sticks were way off centre. Finally I got things sorted (I once wrote that fixed pitch helis need very little setting up!). Once at this stage, it would lift off almost hands off, but I still found it difficult to eliminate a persistent fore/aft oscillation.

While all of this was going on I finally tried the MS fast charger. I find that the batteries get very warm on this before cut-off, but the flight time is a surprising 8 minutes or so.

One other thing was a minor boom strike, which severed the boom. This seems about right to me because there was no blade damage and booms are much cheaper. I repaired it with cyano and added a small plate above the repair to reinforce it and give me a mounting point for a tailplane. I feel that this is necessary to give me more fore/aft visual information, because I think that the oscillation is pilot induced.

After 8 flights there was already an amount of white powder visible on the chassis adjacent to the motor pinion. Similar powder is also visible between the teeth on the main gear.

Experience now indicates that not gluing the mast stopper to the mast is not a good idea. The intention was that it would allow the tail drive gear to disengage in the event of a shock. It does, indeed, do so - and strips the tail drive pinion as a result! This wasn't my idea remember.


At this point I like my new heli a lot and I still have a lot to discover. I'm looking forward to forward flight - if we ever have a calm day.

At the moment it has had 9 flights and the longest was 8 minutes 9 seconds.


ManufacturerMS Composit, 252 65 Tursko 37, Czech Republic
Tel/Fax: +420 205 786 266 email:
UK ImporterModel Aviation Ltd., Unit 9, Londonderry Farm, Keynsham Road, Willsbridge, Bristol. BS30 6EL
Tel: 0117 932 3333 Fax: 0117 932 3359 email:
Main rotor diameter19.3 in. (490 mm)
Tail rotor diameter4.33 in. (110 mm)
Length23.6 in. (600 mm)
All up weight10 oz. (284g)
Main gear ratio18:1
Main to tail gear ratio1:4
Control requirements3 servos, speed controller and a gyro
Transmitter requirementsBasic 4 channel or above
PowerplantSpeed 300 electric motor (supplied)

Other items used

ReceiverMS Micro Rx 35Mhz
ServosSuperTec Pico
Speed ControllerMS Micro 5A / BEC
GyroGWS PG-03
Power PackMS NiMH 700mA 8.4v


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