UNDERSTANDING GAS RC HELICOPTERS

Vario Benzin Gas RC Helicopter

Gas RC helicopters (also called "Gassers") are commonly confused with the much more popular nitro RC helicopters . They are however completely different; or to be more precise, the engine is completely different.

RC gas helicopters themselves are more or less exactly the same as similar sized nitro, turbine, or large electric. Gas powered RC helicopters are fairly big with the smallest being roughly the same size as 90 size nitros or 600 to 700 size electrics. 

Century RC's Radikal 20 Gasser seen below spins 600 to 660mm rotor blades, weighs in at about 4.5kg, and is powered by a 20cc two stroke gas/petrol engine. 

Century RC Radikal G20 Gas RC Helicopter

These 2-stroke gas engines used in gas RC helicopters are very similar to all single cylinder two stroke gasoline engines, just like what you might find in your gas leaf blower or chain saw.

As far as fuel, they use regular gasoline/petrol mixed with a high quality racing two-cycle engine oil. The sizes of these two stroke engines are also similar to what you might find in a gas powered weed whacker or small chain saw. The most popular 2-stroke gasoline engines for model aircraft are usually in the 20cc-30cc range.

Gas powered RC aircraft engines have some interesting differences over the garden tool variety. Click on that link to learn more about these engines and discover the advantages they have over nitro engines. When choosing your gas model engine, you will also be faced with what kind of ignition system to use.


Gas RC Helicopter Performance

Because gas powered RC helicopters are fairly large, and powered by rather heavy two stroke petrol engines, the power to weight ratio of Gassers is fairly low compared to that of nitro or electric. You won't find a gas powered heli for example performing the hard core 3D smacking you see the new electric stuff doing these days. That certainly doesn't mean you can't still throw them around, and for sport or light 3D, they are very nice fliers.

The big advantage with gassers is the flight times can be fairly long (up to 30 minutes with some of them), fuel costs are easily half to 1/3 that of nitro, and unlike electric, you don't have to cart a bunch of big expensive LiPo packs around for back to back flights. With a gas RC helicopter, you just land, refuel, and go flying again.

Lastly, if you want a large fuel powered RC helicopter and don’t want to spend many thousands of dollars on a turbine RC heli – gas is the way to do it.

As seen below on Century RC's Radikal G30; gasser mechanics are not much different than nitro. Perhaps the biggest noticable difference is most gasser engines have side mounted carburetors allowing easier carb tuning access and the ability to fit an air filter if you wish.

Century RC Radikal G30 Gas RC Helicopter Mechanics

A large gas RC helicopter is obviously not your best choice for your first RC heli because of the higher cost of the kit, complexities involved building it, and dangers involved when flying a large model. Gassers (due to the large reciprocating piston mass in the 2-stroke engines) are also vibration prone; so you have to understand how to deal with that on a model RC helicopter as well.

However, once you have mastered a nitro or larger electric helicopter, a gas powered RC helicopter makes a lot of sense for some folks.

If your goal is large scale RC helicopters, gas power is also a very viable option. You don’t need the high power to weight ratios to perform scale type flying where your most extreme maneuver won’t be anything much more than a steep stall turn.

In fact, the added weight of the gas engine actually makes your heli fly a lot more scale like. More weight means more stability and longer, more pronounced cyclic commands to slow or change directions. The inside of your fuselage and windows won’t be covered in nitro oil residue either – a nice benefit.

Gas Powered Vario Benzin Scale Jet Ranger

As far as the equipment you will need for a gas RC Helicopter, it is pretty much identical to a nitro model other than not needing a glow plug power panel or driver. The radio equipment, gyro, or flybarless unit will be the same as in a large nitro or electric model. You will usually have the option of starting a gas powered helicopter engine with an external electric starter (like on a nitro heli), or with a pull start recoil cord (like on a typical gas powered garden tool).


Gas RC Helicopters On The Market

Unfortunately, gassers due to their narrow niche market are becoming harder and harder to find. No question, the direction of "main steam" RC helicopter manufacturers is toward hard core 3D leaving the gasser pilot with few options. That said, there are still options out there...

Century Helicopter Products

Perhaps the most common brand that is still offering a gas RC helicopter line is Century RC with their two Radikal Gassers. The 20cc powered G20 and the larger 30cc powered G30.

Century RC Radikal G20 Gas RC Helicopter
G30 Gas Powered RC Helicopter





Bergen RC Helicopters

Bergen RC Intrepid Gas RC Helicopter


Bergen RC offers the 26cc powered Intrepid Gasser.



Vario Helicopter

Vario Benzin Gas RC Helicopter

Vario Helicopter offers their line of Benzin gas powered RC helicopters.


These are the three most popular RC helicopter manufacturers (at least here in North America), that offer gas powered RC helicopter options; so sourcing parts is not an issue. I just placed a small parts order with Bergen RC this morning as a matter of fact and it's already showing as being mailed :-)

Bergen Intrepid Gasser In Action






RC Heli Help e-Books

Setup & Tips For RC Helis

Click Image For Details

The Setup & Tips For Electric Collective Pitch RC Helicopters e-book is all about setting up a collective pitch RC helicopter with a computerized radio to turn it into the perfect trainer. Click on the image of the book to find out more about what information is covered in this, my most popular & #1 selling e-book.


Beginners Guide To RC Helicopters

Click Image For Details

The Beginners Guide To Flying RC Helicopters is an e-book that goes over the basics of getting started with RC helicopters. Click on the image of the book to learn more about what's inside.


Swash Setup & Leveling

Click Image For Details

The 120/140 Degree Swashplate Setup & Levelling e-book shows how to properly setup and level a 120,135, or 140 degree electronically mixed swash to attain perfect interaction and a trimmed out bird off the bench. Click on the image of the book to learn more about it.


Getting The Most Out Of Your mSR/X & 120SR

Click Image For Details

Getting The Most Out Of Your mSR/X & 120SR is an e-book that focuses on the Blade mSR, mSRX, & 120SR. Click on the image of the book if you want to find out more about it.


How To Build Training Gear

Click Image For Details

RC helicopter training gear is the essential training aid used when learning to hover and fly most RC helicopters, this e-book shows how to build them. If you want to learn more about what's inside, click on the image of the book.


Beginners Guides Combo Deal

Thinking of getting into planes too, or trying to decide between RC helicopters or RC airplanes? If so, the Beginners Combo deal which includes both the Beginners Guide To Flying RC Helicopters and the Beginners Guide To Flying RC Airplanes e-Books, represents excellent value for anyone looking to get started safely and quickly in either or both forms of radio control flying.


RC Heli Magazines