RCU Review: Top Flite P-47D Thunderbolt ARF

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: September 2009 | Views: 118616 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of Top Flite 1/7 Scale P-47 Thunderbolt
    Mike Buzzeo

    Email Me

    Distributed through:
    Great Planes
    Model Distributors

    2904 Research Road
    Champaign, IL 61826

    Top Flite P-47
    Gold Edition ARF

    • Pre-Hinged Ailerons and Flaps
    • Pre-Installed Wing Servo Blocks
    • Sturdy, lightweight Construction
    • Accurate Flat MonoKote® Finish
    • Detailed Cockpit and Radial Engine
    • Excellent Flight Characteristics

    • Retract Servo Sits High

    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:

    Frustration Level:

    What do these ratings mean?

    Built in greater quantities than any other US fighter, the P-47 was the heaviest single-engine WWII fighter to go into production and the first piston-powered fighter to exceed 500 mph. The Thunderbolt performed 546,000 combat sorties between March of 1943 and August 1945 and is considered the real forerunner of today's multirole fighters.

    Now, the Republic P-47 is the latest of the Top Flight Gold Edition Kits to be produced in A.R.F. form. It is an all-wood, fully-sheeted reproduction of this famous WWII classic.

    This 1/7 scale version also features a true-to-scale flat MonoKote® finish and it sports flaps and retracts with an option for installing pneumatic retractable gear. It also includes markings for any of three different nose art options and a very nice cockpit interior.

    I don't know about you, but I can't wait to dig in!

    Name: Top Flite 1/7 Scale P-47D Thunderbolt ARF

    Price: $319.98

    Wingspan: 63" (1600mm)

    Wing Area: 730 sq in (46.5 sq dm)

    Length: 56" (1420mm)

    Flying Weight (advertised): 9.5 - 10.5lbs (3970 - 4540 g)

    Flying Weight: (actual) 10.2lbs (4626 g)

    Radio Used:Futaba 10C FASST

    Engine Used: (2)O.S. 91 Surpass II

    Channels Used: 6 total - Elevator, Aileron, Rudder, Throttle, Flaps, Retracts

    Items Needed To Complete

    • 6 Channel Radio (Minimum) w/ 7 Standard Servos and 1 Retract Servo
    • 24" Servo Extensions (2)
    • 6" Servo Extensions (2)
    • "Y" Servo Extensions (2)
    • Thin and Medium CA Glue
    • 30-min Epoxy
    • Various Standard Shop Tools

    The packaging is up to the usual Top Flight standards (which is first-rate). All major components are individually bagged and the box is nicely compartmented to separate them.

    Some of the noticeable features are the sturdy fiberglass cowl and the dummy engine kit that gives a nice scale appearance to the nose (I especially like the little red ignition wires). The P-47 also comes with retractable landing gear and wheel doors and a very attractive instrument panel.


    Another great manual! There's nothing like having a step-by-step guide to get you through the assembly process. The manual leaves no guess work and is well written and clearly illustrated.


    We start out by making sure the covering is well adhered. For the most part, the covering was excellent, but there were a few minor wrinkles. A place to pay close attention with any ARF is where tape has been removed - like, in this case, where the tape holding down the servo hatches was. I also like to make a point of marking each hatch cover, as well as inside each opening to be sure that they go back in the right place.

    Two things stuck out here - First, the flaps and ailerons were pre-hinged and second, the servo mounting blocks were pre-installed on the hatch covers. This alone saved a lot of time! Using the servo warranty card as a spacer between the servo and the hatch cover, I mounted the servos (I finally found a use for those warranty cards!)

    Next, the servo leads are pulled through the wing (with the installed pull string) and the holes in each servo arm is enlarged to accept the pushrod wire. Then the hatch cover is screwed in place and removed again so the holes can be hardened with Thin CA glue. This can get to be redundant at times, but it is good insurance that these holes will hold up!

    With the cover in place, the control horn can be aligned and drilled, screwed into place and removed again to harden the holes. Due to the fact that the horns do not use a backing plate, hardening these holes is a MUST! I was a bit concerned the first time I used this method, but after many successful flights with a wide variety of planes, I have come to the conclusion that it works just great (and you don't have to wrestle with those #%&@ backplates!)

    Now it's time to join the wing. The massive wing joiner fit like a glove as did the rear alignment pin. You want to use at least 30-minute epoxy here. I used Epo-Grip #30 paste - I really like this stuff for joining wings!

    Product Spotlight

    I have been using a new epoxy lately called Epo-Grip from Newton Supply Company, Inc.. Epo-Grip is produced for the Taxidermy and Furniture Repair industries, but after some extensive tests I have found that it works great for many of our modeling applications. It comes in many varieties including a fast and slow-setting formula.

    The fast-set will give 6-10 minutes of working time, while the slow-set (Called "#30-Paste") has more of a two hour working time. Now this is a lot more working time than the 30-minute epoxy I'm used to, and to be honest, if it's a little cold in the room, it can take several hours to completely set up, but the one big advantage that I really like is that it is a paste, not a liquid. Once mixed, it has the consistency of Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline), so when you put it somewhere, it STAYS there and won't run all over the place. I have used it very successfully for gluing stabs/fins to fuselages and other typical joints that require epoxy, but two things I really like using it for are pinned hinges and for joining wing halves (Where you can smear the paste on the wing joiner and inside the slot and it doesn't all drip to the bottom). All in all, I'm very happy with Epo-Grip's adhesives and I'll continue to use them.


    The retract servo mount gets assembled in place. All seemed well on the surface, but I question the vertical placement. There is plenty of room to mount the servo lower, and I would recommend doing so. Beefing it up with some tri-stock on the underside would be a good idea too.

    The rest of the installation went well. The retract units were placed, the holes were marked and drilled, and the screws were inserted, and then removed so the holes could be hardened with Thin CA.

    Then the pushrods were installed on the retracts and inserted into the guide tubes.

    Now comes the real fun! Gear doors! When I read through the instructions I was a little apprehensive, but the manual lays it out so clearly that it really went a lot easier that I thought it would.

    You start by laying masking tape in line with the gear wire and marking the centerline of the wire on the tape. Now the gear door is taped in place and again a tape is placed and, using the line you already drew as a guide, a centerline is drawn on the tape on the door. Using the measurements in the manual, the nylon straps are placed and the holes are marked.

    The holes can now be drilled on the marks and the straps secure the doors to the struts. It worked! Both doors came out perfect the first time!


    Next, the wing is installed and the belly pan is laid in place, so it can be marked and removed to cut away some covering. Then it is epoxied in place.


    On to the tail! The stab installation is typical; place and align the stab, mark it, remove the covering, epoxy in place (don't forget the elevator torque rod!) and quadruple-check the alignment with the wing!

    Time to call it a night while the epoxy cures.

    The next evening, The torque rods were epoxied into the elevators and the CA hinges were installed. I found the hinge slots a little shallow, so I used my Great Planes Slot Machine to deepen them. If you guys don't have one of these, put one on your gift list. They're great!

    Now the control horns and pushrods can be installed. I also installed two of the servos at this time.


    Mounting the engine begins by removing the excess from the engine mounts. These act as both the channels for molding the mount and as support to hold the alignment before being installed.

    The mounts then bolt to the firewall with 8-32 cap screws that go into the pre-installed blind nuts. The mount allows for some adjustment to accommodate a variety of engines.

    With the engine in place, I used my Great Planes Dead Center Tool to locate the holes, then I removed the mounts, drilled and tapped them.

    Here's a little trick I use: Don't tap the holes all the way through. Stop just as the end of the tap emerges from the back side of the hole. This makes the tapped hole act as a lock nut.

    OS FS-91 II Surpass Closer Look
    O.S. FS-91 II Surpass

    The First Choice for Quality, Durability and Performance

    The OS 91 four stroke is a ringed piston engine which puts out 1.6bhp while weighing in at only 23 oz with muffler. It's practical rpm range is 2,000 to 12,000 rpm. Full specifications are below:

    • Bore: 27.7mm (1.09")
    • Stroke: 24.8mm (.976")
    • Displacement: 14.95cc (0.912 cubic inch)
    • Power Output: 1.6 BHP at 11,000 rpm
    • Practical RPM Range: 2,000 - 12,000 rpm
    • Crankshaft Thread Size: 5/16" x 24
    • Weight: w/o muffler- 21.3 oz (603g) with muffler- 23.0 oz (655g)

    The manufacturer recommends this engine be run on fuel containing 5% to 15% nitromethane and oil content at a minimum of 18%. I chose to use Cool Power with 15% nitro and 18% synthetic oil as I've found it runs extremely well in all my engines and especially the 4 strokes. The synthetic oil helps to keep the 4 stroke cleaner while castor can gum them up over time.

    Some of the advantages of the 4 stroke engines are fuel economy, their ability to swing a larger prop, and (My favorite) that cool 4-stroke sound!

    Props recommended by the mfg. for the OS 91FS are:
    Stunt planes: 11 x 11-12, 12 x 10-12, 13 x 9
    Scale models: 13.5 x 8, 14 x 7, 15 x 6, 16 x 6, (12 x 8 & 12.5 x 7-3 blade)

    The prop used for this review was a Graupner 13.5 x 8

    This version II of the OS 91 sports more power than its former model and comes with a full 2 year warranty from OS.

    O.S. 2-Year Warranty icon

    Download the manual in PDF format - Click here

    You need to flip the carb, then the engine can be bolted in place.

    With a screw lock connector attached to the throttle arm, you can insert a pushrod wire to mark the firewall for drilling.

    Now you can glue the outer pushrod tube in place and install the pushrod and servo. You need to put a slight bend in the pushrod for good alignment.


    The dummy radial is slightly time consuming but it just looks so cool when it's done! If you want to skip the detailing you can, but the dummy radial with the cutouts should be installed for proper cooling.

    Once you make the cutouts, you need to drill about 15,000 holes (ok, I'm exaggerating)there's only 56.

    Aluminum pushrod tubes (2 per head) go into most of the holes, while a supplied piece of red wire goes into the others and everything gets glued in place.

    Now the "engine" can get glued to the front of the cowl (after carefully aligning it with the REAL engine) and it's done - and BOY does it look good!

    The cowl is drilled and screwed in place. You can see the mounting blocks, so locating the holes is pretty easy.


    Finally, the cockpit is glued in place and the canopy is attached with canopy glue. If you use CA to glue in the cockpit, don't make the mistake I did - I didn't allow sufficient time for the CA to cure before attaching the canopy and the next day, the canopy had fogged from the CA.

    A few decals and a Du-Bro Remote Safety Igniter later and she's ready to see the light of day!

    The maiden flight was taken at a Fun-Fly I was invited to at the TCRC field in Jordan, MN. Now, I have a rule when it comes to maidening a new plane - especially a review plane. That rule is: Don't do anything stupid! My usual routine is to take off and do three or four laps of the field to trim the plane out and get the feel for it. That rule went out the window with the P-47.

    I took off to my left, did a 180 degree turn to the right and immediately did a loop. I know it doesn't sound very daring, but it just goes to show how I was immediately comfortable flying it. If I had to trim it at all, I don't remember doing it, I was just enjoying flying this plane! It is SMOOTH and I felt as though I had been flying it for years.

    I wasted no time. Since I had my video camera with me, I asked TCRC member (and all-around nice guy) Scott Anderson to fly it so I could get some footage. Scott was having so much fun I could hear him narrating a Japanese Zero attack while he was strafing the deck!

    Check out the video to see her in action!

    Top Flite P-47 Thunderbolt ARF
    Or, Download the Video (24meg)

    I have now been fortunate enough to have reviewed most of the new Gold Edition ARFs in the Top Flight line up and I can honestly say that there isn't a dog in the bunch! The new P-47 Thunderbolt assembles beautifully and flies even better. The only thing I question is the height of the retract servo. It seems that if it were lower (and there is ample room to lower it), attaching the pushrods would have been much easier. But then I wouldn't have anything to complain about! :-)

    Distributed through Great Planes Model Distributors
    2904 Research Rd.
    Champaign IL 61826
    Phone: (217) 398-8970

    Futaba Radios
    Distributed through Great Planes Model Distributors
    2904 Research Rd.
    Champaign IL 61826
    Phone: (217) 398-8970
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com

    O.S. Engines
    Distributed through Great Planes Model Distributors
    2904 Research Rd.
    Champaign IL 61826
    Phone: (217) 398-8970
    Website: www.osengines.com

    Everything For The R/C Hobbyist
    Phone: 1-800-848-9411
    Website: www.dubro.com

    Graupner Propellers
    Website: www.hobby-lobby.com/grprop.htm

    Comments on RCU Review: Top Flite P-47D Thunderbolt ARF

    Posted by: VeeAte on 09/09/2009
    Great review as always Minn. The only question I have is regarding the 500MPH stated in the introduction. Is that in a dive? I always thought the argument was which plane out of the P-47 and the Corsair was the first to hit 400MPH in level flight. I have an ASP .91 here that would go great in the P-47. And good to know even the pro's forget about CA fogging. I did it to my last plane. :(
    Posted by: cobrajocky on 09/09/2009
    TCRC ??? Is that the Twin Cities Rose Club or the Tropical Crops Research Center?
    Posted by: Ralphbf on 09/10/2009
    I have several engines that would work in this plane. I'd like to know how much nose weight you had to add. I see the engine weighed 23 ounces and I'm guessing you added at least that much more. Thank You Ralphbf
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 09/10/2009
    I would guess that I added about 4-6oz. If you have a G-20, it might be an excellent match!
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 09/10/2009
    TCRC = Twin Cities Radio Club. Visit them at: www.tcrconline.com
    Posted by: taildrager on 09/13/2009
    very nice model ,in the hands of a good pilot it realy looks great, engine sounds nice to,
    Posted by: baumberger on 09/14/2009
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 09/14/2009
    4-Blade props look good, but they are very inefficient when scaled down to model size. You're much better off flying it with a 2-blade prop and using a 4-blade for static display only.
    Posted by: Ken6PPC on 09/21/2009
    Minn, did you mix in down elevator for the flaps? I have a KMP P-47 that I am about to maiden, and I was wondering how much down elevator might be required to mix in with the flaps. Looking at the photos, it kinda looks like you used very little, if ANY, down elevator.
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 09/21/2009
    I did not use any, but if you do, start SMALL. Maybe 5% to start and see how it goes from there.
    Page: 1 2 3 >
    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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