Taking a chance on the VMar Apache III

I recently decided to get another new trainer airplane expressly for
training students at the club. I have a wonderful Goldberg Protege .60 ARF
that survived a scare earlier this summer; I let a student pilot who was
close to soloing go a little too long with the Protege before I took it back
from him. I avoided a ground collision, but put the plane into a tree. The
damage is all repaired and the Protege is in good flying shape once again,
but I really like the plane and I'm hesitant to take students up on it again
because I can't readily replace it if it's lost.
I made a list of potential trainer ARFs that I wanted to consider:
1) Sig Kadet LT-40
2) Thunder Tiger Tiger Trainer 40 MkIII
3) Tower Hobbies Tower Trainer 40 MkII
4) VMar Apache III
5) Thunder Tiger Tiger Trainer 60 MkII
6) Tower Hobbies Tower Trainer 60 MkII
7) Goldberg Eagle II
8) World Models Sky Raider Mach I
I was curious about the 70" wingspan trainer ARF that Nitro Planes carries,
but it was sold out at Nitro Planes and at Raidentech. I liked the idea of a
.60-size trainer ARF for $69.99, but I have to be able to buy one to try it.
At the end of the day, I decided to go ahead and order the VMar Apache III
ARF from Richmond RC. I also ordered a Ramrod low-wing trainer ARF; you can
buy one for half price with the purchase of any other regularly priced ARF.
I've owned planes from most all of the other manufacturers I was
considering, and I simply wanted to try another manufacturer. I've ordered
other items from Richmond RC previously (covering, engine test stand, etc.)
and I've enjoyed dealing with them; I decided I'd rather make up my mind
about VMar ARFs on my own. I may be pleasantly surprised by my new Apache
III trainer ARF, or I may be secretly elated when I finally put the plane in
at some future date. Either way, at least I can base my opinion of VMar ARFs
on my own experiences.
The Apache III in particular was appealing to me for a few reasons:
A) It comes with heavy-duty landing gear standard. Straightening out the
gumby-style landing gear wire on a couple of other ARFs I've flown could be
annoying at times.
B) It's specifically designed to fly with a .46 ball bearing 2-stroke, and I
have a couple of nice ones to choose from. Many .40 size trainers are better
suited to flying with a .36 2-stroke or a .40/.46 plain bearing engine, and
I don't have one of those free at the moment.
C) The Apache III has a very distinct covering scheme and a 69" wingspan
that should provide excellent visibility.
At the end of the day, it was just plain old curiosity that got the better
of me. I'll try to take some pictures and post about my experiences with the
Apache III and the Ramrod at some future point. Anybody who has read the RCU
forums for any length of time may be familiar with VMar's sometimes-spotty
reputation. I did a quick search for "Apache" in the ARF forum and found
some of the following gems:
"VMAR apache lll arf: I know it has been posted about the VMAR planes but i
am going to do it once more what a piece of crap covering is loose right
from the box and will not stay tight preinstalled puch rods are of the worse
i have ever tryed to use even thow there steel but i am stuck with this low
grade plane tell i can buy one that is of higher grade" rustleruss
"Almost everyone will tell you to stay away from VMARs, I have seen 2 Apache
breaking their wing." tIANci
"I purchased the Apache Trainer last year and here are my thoughts:
- Their hardware is of poor quality. Mine came with rusted rods, connectors,
gear, screws, basically everything that is metal was rusted.
- The wood used was of poor-average quality. Instructions were spotty at
best. Several bad glue joints.
- Good graphics, but it faded fast.
- My suggestions: Spend a little more money on a quality ARF (like SIG),
stay away from VMAR, and you'll be much happier!
They had their one chance with me and I really don't care to try them ever
again. Especially with so many other better quality ARFs manufacturers
around." FlyNBHappy
If the planes show up and I'm really just not at all satisfied with them,
well, our club's annual auction is in mid-October.
Reply to
Ed Paasch
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My VMar Apache III trainer ARF and my VMar Ramrod ARF arrived from Richmond RC. If nothing else, I'm awfully impressed with the shipping packaging. Each ARF was shipped individually with its own external shipping box. Inside of each shipping box, the display box with the ARF was sandwiched between two sheets of wood veneer. I've never seen anything like it before, but it must be very useful for preventing punctures or small holes.
The ARF display box itself was completely bagged in thick clear plastic of not-inconsiderable strength. The ARF should be completely protected against the elements, and the heavy plastic should also minimize the airframe's exposure to changes in relative humidity. Richmond RC charges $15 per ARF to ship, but seeing the terrific job they do with packaging and protecting their merchandise, I'm inclined to believe it's worth it.
I'm hoping to find a little time to actually peel into the boxes and inspect the Apache III airframe sometime this weekend. I'll try to take a few photos and post some notes once I actually get to look at my new toy.
Reply to
Ed Paasch
I have to say that all of my initial impressions of the VMar Apache III are very positive right now. My first peek into the box marks the first time that I've ever been surprised at how much better the quality of a product was when compared to what I was expecting. The airframe and hardware were so well packaged inside the display box that it was almost annoying. Nothing would pop out easily and I had to go through and cut the packing tape and cardboard that was holding everything exactly where it was supposed to be.
The Apache III covering arrived in perfect condition. The covering, Polycote ECS, is nicer looking than I was expecting. It is a bit thin and the airframe can easily be seen underneath sections of covering that are meant to be opaque. The overall appearance is really first rate, however, and I'm looking forward to showing this beauty off once it's complete. I have no idea if this stuff will stay stuck onto the airframe for 100 flights or for 1 flight, but it looks great right now. My Nexstar Select and Tower Trainer 40 Mk II trainers shed striping frequently, and my Protege's Ultracote covering has only held up a little better. Having the trim details pre-printed into the covering is a good idea on paper, and I'm looking forward to testing it at the field.
The instruction manual appears to be first rate. The manual itself is all color, and features lots of photographs as well as lots of detailed text instructions. A special addendum detailing the covering material and the special VMar control horns was also included; as was a color catalog from Richmond RC. There are detailed instructions for installing a tail-dragger landing gear setup as well as tricycle gear; there are also detailed instructions for installing one aileron servo as well as dual aileron servos for flaperon use. It's really a terrific manual.
All of the hardware upon first glance seems to be of high quality as well. The tank assembly is nice, the tires included are all rubber rather than foam, and the ARF comes with a tail wheel assembly and nose gear as advertised. The nose gear even comes with a Cessna 182 Skylane-style scale strut to dress up the appearance of the plane if you choose the tricycle setup.
The clear windows for the cockpit are all pre-installed, as is the pilot figure. The pilot figure even has a cloth jacket and cloth safety belt straps over his plastic torso.
All of the control surfaces are pre-hinged and pinned from the factory. The pins are visible on the underside only of each of the control surfaces. Initial inspection indicates that they are snuggly hinged, but I'll be going over them more thoroughly during the assembly process.
I have an order of servos, switch and charge jacks, servo extensions, and other miscellaneous pieces needed to build the Apache III arriving on Monday. I know you can't judge a book by it's cover, but so far all of my initial impressions of my VMar Apache III ARF are better than expected. I think this is going to be a nice, smooth assembly that will result in a terrific looking, terrific flying airplane. I won't pull any punches if my expectations aren't met during the assembly and flying work that lies ahead, but it looks to me like VMar and Richmond RC have really put some thought and effort into improving the overall quality and customer experience of their airframes.
Reply to
Ed Paasch

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