25th Anniversary J Perkins  Panic Biplane

If asked to name some of the best known models of all time one would come up with the Junior & Super 60, Mick Reeves's “Gangster” series and of course Chris Foss’s “Wot” series. Now these were airframes all with are certain elegance. Then in a class of it’s own was the “Panic”, it’s angular square cut functional lines and it’s tall lanky undercarriage made it a very distinctive if somewhat inelegant shape.
 But during the 1970’s and beyond few who visited model shows around the country could have missed these machines cavorting around the skies. I won’t go into the full history of the type as a full page of the instruction book covers it’s history well.



Great box art. Very full box, all parts well protected in plastic bags.

To celebrate the "Panics" 25th anniversary J Perkins have issued an A R T F version for the modern modeller. Now this not one of those lite ply airframes with nearly every bit laser cut away to give the lightest possible structure. It’s made of balsa, good old quarter sheet balsa, not sure how it’s cut out but there is little evidence of charring from laser cutting. Even the ply bits seem to proper plywood, again little charring from the laser cutting.

This is one very ready built model that can be assembled in an evening. All control surfaces already have the hinges glued into one part, worth checking though as I found a couple loose so gave them all a couple of drops of thin cyano as a good measure. A couple of lengths of string are already threaded through the bottom wings to pull the aileron servo wires through when installing them. That done the wings are nearly complete, the struts are held on to the wing tips using large metal poppers, and these are already fitted.

All the major components, superb covering job. Accessories in plastic bags, the only poor bit was the elastic bands!!

At this stage I also glued in flush the small plastic cups supplied to accept the ball joints connecting the push rods between the top and bottom wings. Don’t, it seems simple and easy at this stage but caused problems later. 

The tail surfaces already have film removed to allow gluing, and lock superbly with perfectly aligned into the rear of the fuselage, I used PVA glue to fix them in place. 

One has a choice of position for the rudder servo, on top of the fuselage just in front of the fin, or conventionally in the fuselage. I opted for the rear mounting simply because this allowed use of a very large servo arm to get lots of movement. In either location the rudder is connected by closed loop.


Nice touch, covering already removed on the area to be glued. 

Rear mounted rudder servo. Powerful servo, large arm & rudder = lots of fun!!

The elevator servo sits conventional in the fuselage with a chunky balsa push rod driving the elevator; this has to run just off the centre line to clear the fin post, which goes full length through the fuselage.

At this stage I had not decided how to power the Panic, but the arrival of a very modestly priced 600 watt outrunner motor from Robotbirds was just asking to be bolted to the front. 

I decided to make as little alteration as possible to the model so as to be able to convert back to IC if the electric conversion didn’t work. The conversion could not have been simpler, four holes in the front bulkhead to bolt the motor on. I stuck the Castle Creation 40 HV ESC (electronic speed controller) to the outside of fuselage with Velcro. The batteries 2 X Litestorm 3S1P 3700 mahr in series went in side the fuselage one either side of the tank bay with the small RX Nimh stuck to the floor. I removed the covering between the cabane struts to get the wires to the ESC. The conversion could not have been simpler. The downside is I have to remove the bottom wing to change the batteries, but will sort this out later.



Electric conversion could not have been simpler. You need that undercarriage to keep the prop clear of the ground.

The lanky undercarriage is already made up, removing the burrs to get the collets on shows this to be made of copper wire, however as the suspension is two large elastic bands it has proved more than adequate.

Rigging the model for the first time showed up the only problem area. Having already fitted the holders for the ball links to the aileron connecting rods flush to the surface meant they were binding at anything over half movement, they need to be installed at 90 degrees to the control rod not flush to the surface. I had to cut mine away to allow for adequate movement. 

All assembled the Panic balanced perfectly at the suggested aft limit, just as I like it. An all up weight of 2.65 kgs was only slightly above that suggested for the IC more version. 



One last pic before test flight

and the easily into the air.

The new Panic flew perfectly; the power train is more than adequate the six-cell pack more than adequate for normal flight but another cell would increase vertical performance.

As to be expected the Panic exhibits little in built stability. All controls work well, it is certainly capable of a large range of tricks, but it is very difficult to do anything nice and smoothly with it, even using a modern computer radio it is difficult to achieve smooth aerobatic flight. More modern designs achieve extreme maneuverability without sacrificing basic flight performance.



Does look good in the air.

The large area of the rudder combined with large movement 75% plus gives some interesting directional control problems. It has to take off and land directly into wind, it doesn’t handle cross winds well but with its STOL performance one can always operate into wind. But that rudder gives the Panic it’s main party trick, spinning, erect or inverted anyway you want, just experiment away, although I did find it difficult to replicate some manoeuvres twice? 



Back for landing, though not the easiest model to make a nice landing with


The Panic is great value for money it goes together quickly and easily plus that colour scheme just looks great. OK it’s a model for the more experienced flyer, it doesn’t quite handle like some newer model types but it is a whole lot of fun IC or power.

Will probably convert to IC in the New Year (2008) I have in mind the OS 70 FL, OS’s budget priced (115.00) four stroke. The conversion back should be very simple will post some pictures when done. 



Gloucester Model Flying Club