Owners have been stretching their 450 class helicopters for a while with good results, but with airframes not designed for it there are always issues that have to be taken into account. The main problem being able to maintain a center of gravity while extending the tail out further. Also, pilots found that running 450 size 3S batteries weren’t as powerful as they would like and would also have to change over to a 6S battery. Motor and battery selection grew with demands and eventually it became feasible for manufacturers to release out of the box stretched 450 class helicopters running 350+ mm blades and designed around 6S power systems.
The first to market was Compass with the release of the Warp 360. Although it was contained several innovative design features, the overall look sis not appeal to all users. There were some first run kit issues that were quickly addressed. Even with these initial problems it quickly gained momentum as there was no direct competition. Customers were happy to have a new size of helicopter and the change in flight characteristics that came with it. It didn’t take long for other brands to realize the potential market and brought their own brand styles to the table.
Hot on the heals of unveiling their upcoming and now released X4II, Gaui revealed they were coming out with the X3. The model featured design elements from the rest of the X series lineup; red anodized aluminum, battery tray slider and release pins, one piece aluminum tail case, and other features. It was met with rave reviews. It followed along more classical helicopter looks from the unique Warp 360 and gave a flexible platform for power system of the user’s choice while allowing a balanced center of gravity.
A couple months later, Align revealed images of their helicopter the 450L Dominator, a reboot of the 450 Pro. The design had moved the motor up and the battery down between the frames on a removable tray. Although the design changes were bringing in elements from other models within their brand and following a direction they had already been taking, the new design was very similar to the X3. Coupled with a history of implementing design features from other companies, they were quickly accused by Gaui and their fans of copying. This was likely just an example of converging evolution, especially as there were other added design elements that were soon after revealed on other models in their lineup.
Also on the horizon in the near future is a 480 from SAB as part of the Goblin lineup. SAB has gone on record as saying they are working on a helicopter in this class. Many fans waited with bated breath for what they would be unveiling this year at the IRCHA Jamboree. They did reveal their new competition editions of their existing size helicopters, but unfortunately no new sizes at this time.
Another option for consumers is the Thunder Tiger e360. Initially released as a conversion kit for the existing Mini Titan v2, it is expected that it will be released in a kit form in the near future. An added note on the conversion is that it is designed around a 4S power system so may be considered lacking by demanding pilots when compared to other options in this class.
One thing is for sure, a wider selection in this class is a win for the consumer wanting something a little different. For manufacturers it is a chance to compete against low-cost alternative brands crowding the 450 class market. The fall releases will give a chance for early adopters to add to their fleets before end of the season and for late adopters to have any initial first-run bugs to be ironed out before the new season begins in the spring.