RCU Review: E-Flite F-15 Eagle DF ARF


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: September 2008 | Views: 50804 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    E-flite F-15 Eagle

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring
    Video Pilot: Paul Weigand

    Navigation


    Dealer Info

    E-flite Models
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:


    Horizon Hobby, Inc
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Ph: (800) 338-4639
    Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    www.horizonhobby.com




    Hits

    Complete Kit with retracts
    Great ARF value and looks
    Mating Power System
    Superb Flying Performance
    No Painting or Decals Needed
    Pavement or Hand Launch
    Pre-hinged Control Surfaces
    Spare Parts Available




    Misses
    Some Soldering Required
    No Rudder Control
    Stabilizer Bushings Misaligned
    Control Horns too thick for clevis
    E-flite F-15 Eagle DF ARF

    E-flite has replicated the F-15 Eagle as a sport, scale twin EDF model. This military fighter model boasts the scale Edwards Air Force Base Safety Chase trim scheme making it a very attractive and highly visible jet. Since the F-15 Eagle is a highly pre-fabricated foam ARF, you will spend less time building and more time flying. The model comes out of the box fully painted red and silver on white foam with custom decals applied. It even includes the retracts!

    This high powered model was designed around the use of two E-flite BL420 DF 3800 Kv motors to match with the included ducted fan units. The low wing loading and twin ducted fans allow superior maneuverability and acceleration to perform basic aerobatics. While this plane is capable of flying a tight flight pattern, it can still be flown at your local park. The wings are each reinforced with a carbon fiber tube spar for added stability. This model also has full flying horizontal stabilizers for pitch control and stability.

    The flight characteristics and response of E-flite’s F-15 Eagle mirror those of the full size McDonell Douglas Eagle, down to the aerobatic capabilities. This model was created for the ambitious sport scale, advanced pilot looking for a versatile electric model capable of park flying.

    Specifications:

    • Wing Span:36 in (915mm)
    • Overall Length:47 in (1195mm)
    • Wing Area:400 sq in (25.8 sq dm)
    • Flying Weight:40 - 50 oz (1135 - 1420g)
    • Motor Size:420 Ducted Fan 3800 Kv (EFLM1340DF) (2 required)
    • Radio:6+ channel
    • Servos:Sub Micro (5 required, 8 with retracts)
    • Trim Scheme Colors:White base molded EPS foam with orange trim
    • Hardware Included:Yes
    • Speed Control :40 Amp Brushless ESC (2 required)
    • Recommended Battery:2100 3S 11.1 V Li-Po (2 required)
    • Retracts:Yes, included
    • Approx. Flying Duration:8 - 10 minutes

    Key Features:

    • Sport, scale F-15 Eagle military fighter model boasts the scale Edwards Air Force Base Safety Chase trim scheme
    • Ducted Fan units included
    • Retracts included for enhanced flight performance
    • Injection-molded EPS foam airframe that’s lightweight and easy to repair
    • Full molded and painted airframe
    • Full carbon wing spars
    • All flight control surfaces are prehinged
    • Molded servo pockets makes radio installation a snap
    • All decals applied at factory
    ARF Contents :

     

    The main fuselage, wings, and stabilizers are pre-painted and ready to install.

    All the loose parts are bagged and the retracts packed separately. The 35-page manual is accompanied by additional decals for covering the main wing after installation. .

    A closer look at the fuselage reveals that the hatch latch is pre-installed. The battery tray, straps, and ducted fan units also come already installed.

    Power System :

    To power the F-15, you need two sets of these items below.

    • E-flite EFLA312B 40-Amp Brushless ESC (V2)
    • E-flite EFLM1340DF BL420 Ducted Fan Outrunner
    • ThunderPower THP21003SPL 2100mAh 3-Cell 11.1V LiPo Pack
    You also need up to eight E-flite S75 Sub-Micro Servos if you plan to use the retracts. Five servos are needed if you don't use the retracts.

    Assembly:

    The assembly starts by installing the horizontal stabilizers. I found that the pre-installed outside and inside plastic bushings did not line up properly so I simply drilled through both of them with a 7/64" bit and the stabilizer fit fine. The S75 servo was held in place with a few drops of medium CA as they already had a snug fit into the fuselage opening. The servo arm hole was opened with a 5/64" drill bit and then again slightly with a razor knife until the pushrod connector fit properly. Note that the other stabilizer servo and linkage faces the same direction so only a "Y" adapter is needed to connect both halves to the elevator receiver channel.

    The EDF unit and supplied 2mm x 6mm motor mounting screws are intended for the original E-flite 420 motor. Since I am using the improved Ducted Fan 3800Kv 420 motor from E-flite, the mounting screws (not supplied) need to be 3mm x 6mm. I drilled the motor holes in the EDF unit larger with a 7/64" bit and also slotted them toward the outside as the DF 420 motor mount spacing is further apart. Note that the DF 420 motor comes with the 3 connectors already soldered on the long wires.

     

    The JR Sport line provides excellent quality radio systems, servos and other electronics at a great price! Here are some JR Sport products that can be used on the F-15.

     

    EDF Installation:

    After soldering your favorite power connectors to the battery pack and ESC, I used Dean's Ultra connectors; the next step is to test the direction of rotation of the EDF before mounting it into the fuselage. This is done by connecting the ESC control line to the throttle channel of your receiver and then connecting the battery pack. When using a Spektrum radio system like my DX7 transmitter and AR6100 receiver, it doesn't matter if you plug in the battery first or turn on the transmitter first.

    Note that since the factory defaults of the E-flite (EFLA312B) 40-Amp Brushless ESC are set to Auto Li-Po voltage cutoff and brake off, no programming is needed. Further, the BEC's on both ESC's can be used at the same time, via a Y-harness to the throttle channel of the receiver, to give the ability to run more than 4 servos. This saves weight and ensures trouble-free radio operation.

    The elevator control lines are taped to the EDF units and routed as shown so that the fan cover can be mounted without pressing on the wires. I used a JR Sport (JSP98020) 6" Y-harness to connect the two elevator servo wires. All the wires and ESCs are routed between the fan tunnels into the main fuselage area topside. The fan cover is held in place by two of the supplied 2mm x 22mm sheet metal screws.

    Retracts:

    The E-flite F-15 Eagle comes with both fixed landing gear and retracts for enhanced flight performance. The retracts require 4 additional S75 servos; two for the rear wheels and two for the front steerable nose wheel.

    Since I am using a 6-channel Spectrum AR6100 receiver, the AUX1 (Flap) channel was used to mix with the GEAR channel instead of the recommended AUX2 channel (which is only available on 7 channel, or more, receivers).

    To install the S75 servos for controlling the retracts, you need to cut away the fuselage foam going into the duct. The servo protrudes slightly into the duct area and is held in place with 5-minute epoxy.

    The main swing position of the control linkage is adjusted by the set screw in the servo arm quick link. The servo linkage swing is fine tuned by the individual channel travel adjust on the DX7 transmitter. Note that the AUX1 channel is reversed from the GEAR channel to make the retracts travel in the same direction; up or down.

    To help minimize the air interference, I routed the retract servo wires back into the ducted fan area. The wires were taped flat with clear shipping tape and routed through the fuselage center using JR Sport (JSP98040) 24" servo extensions.

    Most of the servo wires were routed under the battery tray for a cleaner look and less interference with the batteries. The two ESC control lines were routed along the outer edges of the battery tray. I held the AR6100 receiver in place with servo tape.

    Nose Gear:

    The nose gear is mounted in a similar manner to the mains. Since it is steerable, two servos are used up front.

    On my setup, the nose gear retract servo was connected to the AUX1 channel via a Y-harness and the steering servo into the rudder channel. The nose retract servo has a similar swing to the AUX1 retract servo so they can be connected together. If this doesn't work for you, simply change the hole used on either servo until they match.

    I cut a notch in the foam to allow the axle to retract higher into the nose. I also mounted the pushrod connector inverted on the retract servo for a straighter run on the wire.

    Aileron Servos and Wing:

    The aileron servos were installed before gluing the wing panels to the fuselage. I needed to cut the servo opening a bit for a better fit on my S75 servo. Once again, I found that the control horns needed to be made thinner for the clevis to properly snap shut before additionally securing it with the rubber ring keeper.

    Once the aileron servos were installed, I could not find the supplied tape to cover them so I used some white sticky back trim covering that I had picked up at my local hobby shop.

    Instead of routing the servo wires into the duct area as the manual suggests, I choose to route them along the outside (via a slice I made in the foam) into the fan assembly area. The two servo wires were then connected together via a Y-harness and fed through the center to the receiver using a single 24" extension cable.

    Canopy:

    I glued the canopy onto the hatch with some Bond 527 multi-purpose cement.

    Balance:

    The last step in assembly was to install the batteries and check the balance. In addition to the supplied hook and loop straps that come with the F-15, I used some Velcro strips on my battery packs and tray. This technique keeps the packs from shifting in flight as well as being secured from lifting up off the tray.

    To balance my F-15 at the recommended 3-3/8" back from the wing leading edge at the fuselage, I needed 1oz of sticky-back lead weight under the nose. I also secured the lead weight with some Bond 527 multi-purpose cement.

    Clean-up:

    Although there is likely to be little ill effect from the left over foam cylinders in the duct, most EDF enthusiasts cringe upon seeing anything that perturbs the air flow so it is best to remove them. A hack saw blade made this an easy task.

    Ready-To-Fly:

    My E-flite F-15 Eagle was Ready-To-Fly at 43oz using two of the ThunderPower THP21003SPL 2100mAh 3-Cell 11.1V LiPo Packs.

    Test Flying

    After first testing the F-15 Eagle in my driveway and street, everything looked ready to go. My first test at the flying field ended up with a "flame out". We were trying to see if it would take off grass so we didn't have to hand-toss it. The F-15 starting taxiing and then suddenly both rotors came off the motor shafts. I decided to take it home and fix it properly.

    After removing the rotors, I balanced them using the Dubro Tru-Spin Prop Balancer. The rotors were a bit out of balance so this step can only help the power level.

    I then used my Dremel grinder to create a flat spot on the motor shaft and could feel that the adapter was properly over it when tightening the set screw. Pacer Z-42 thread locker was re-applied during the tightening of the set screw.

    The last step was to sand the duct using #220 grit in between the rotor blade and the inner duct wall. I did this until there was no rubbing on any rotor blade.

    We tested the F-15 Eagle on its maiden flight off a side street near a local park. Although the 10-15mph winds were a bit high, the F-15 performed very well. We learned that only a short take-off area is needed on pavement and that the F-15 can slow up nicely for easy landings. After a 5-minute flight, the batteries were still half charged.

    Since the F-15 does not have rudder control, when the nose gets light on take-off, you must have it pointed in the right direction. We reduced the nose steering servo gain by 50% for better control on paved take-offs.

    I forgot to warn the pilot, Paul Weigand, about the stabilizer tips protruding below the fuselage, so when we landed the F-15 on grass (with the gear up), it tore off one of the stabs. This can be seen in the video on landing. Fortunately, due to the ball link release, it was an easy repair with 5-minute Z-poxy. After gluing the stabilizer corner back on, the linkage was simply re-connected by pressing the ball link back on.

    My modification for runners on the bottom of the F-15 is shown below for landing in grass.

    E-flite F-15 Maiden Video (15 meg)

    I created some bottom runners (or skids) from a small 5" x 1-1/4" piece of floor padding sold at home improvement stores. The grey padding comes in 2' square "puzzle" pieces which I used to line the floor of my R/C trailer. It is very light, firm, and shock absorbing. Alternatively, EPS foam could also be used.

    The runners were glued in place with epoxy and will allow some elevator offset when landing in grass. They also keep the model very level when laying it on a flat surface for transport with the gear up. A simple razor slice will allow removal of the fan cover, if needed.

    We had an opportunity to fly the F-15 Eagle off a paved runway at an R/C event just South of Buffalo in Hamburg, NY. The F-15 performed very well with the stock setup. We could loop, roll, and fly inverted. My new bottom runners allowed it to land on grass as well as protect it on high-alpha landings on pavement. Although the winds were 10-15mph, we still managed to fly the F-15 for about 8-10 minutes while performing aerobatics.

    In the video, you can see that due to the lack of rudder, the plane must be lined up on both take-off and landing. Once the nose wheel gets light, you lose steering until you can fly with ailerons. When landing, you instinctively want to use rudder to correct the slow speed alignment but have no control until the nose touches down. Other than the lack of rudder control, this twin EDF model is a great performing flier!

    E-flite F-15 Pavement Video (8.6 meg)


    Summary

    The E-flite F-15 DF ARF was created for the ambitious sport scale, advanced pilot looking for a versatile electric model capable of park flying. I would recommend that the hobbyist have intermediate building and flying skills for a successful experience.

    The F-15 can be hand-launched and belly landed in grass or even landed in grass with gear down. When using retracts, it will cover all surface conditions and look better in the air. If you don't use gear at all, remember to add the runners so the stabs don't get pulled off when landing in grass. By lining the bottom of the fuselage with clear shipping tape, it will protect the foam from dents and scratches.

    Since the F-15 does not have rudder control, the plane must be lined up on both take-off and landing. Once the nose wheel gets light, you lose steering until you can fly with ailerons. When landing, you instinctively want to use rudder to correct the slow speed alignment but have no control until the nose touches down. Other than the lack of rudder control, this twin EDF model is a great performing flier!

    For those that feel the need for more speed, one hop-up suggestion is to replace the 6-blade stock rotors with the 3-blade rotors (EFL7007) used on the E-flite Super Airliner DF ARF and use 4-cell ThunderPower 2200mAh eXtreme V2 Lipo packs instead of the 3-cell 2100mAh LiPo packs.









    Manufacturer/Distributor


    E-flite Models
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:
    Horizon Hobby, Inc
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Ph: (800) 338-4639
    Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com

    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:
    Horizon Hobby, Inc


    ZAP Glues On-line at Frank Tiano Enterprises
    Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker
    5-minute Z-poxy
    Pacer POLY ZAP(tm)

    Comments on RCU Review: E-Flite F-15 Eagle DF ARF

    Posted by: AndyAndrews on 09/09/2008
    Make the F-15 Eagle a complete package with rudders I might consider buying one.
    Posted by: SitNFly on 09/10/2008
    Just read the RC Report test of this plane. Said they had to hold full down to even keep the front wheel on the ground. Basically said that E-Flite needed to pull it for a rework before it hurts the companies rep. Hmmm.....
    Posted by: Matt Kirsch on 07/06/2009
    Maidened mine yesterday. Not a speed demon, but it has plenty of power to come off the grass and loop from level flight. I really like it.
    Page: 1
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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