RCU Review: E-Flite F-86 Sabre 15 DF ARF

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: September 2010 | Views: 39424 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    E-flite F-86 Sabre 15 DF ARF

    E-flite F-86 Sabre15 DF ARF
    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: Papa Jeff Ring
    Video Pilot: Devin McGrath

    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

    Complete Kit with hardware
    High Quality Construction with a great looking finish
    Fast Flying Performance with Mating Delta V Power System
    Three Finishing Decal Sets
    Molded Fiberglass Fuselage
    No Cheater Holes
    Full Ducting Included
    Airfoil-shaped vertical fin and rudder
    Detailed Manual Instructions

    Tail Control Rod Binding
    Fixed Gear Only

    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:
    10-15 Hours

    Frustration Level:
    No Problem

    Degree of Difficulty Explanation


    E-flite F-86 Sabre 15 DF ARF

    E-flite’s new F-86 Sabre uses design principles that feature top-of-the-line glass and balsa construction techniques to recreate the famous jet fighter with extreme accuracy. In the jet arena where performance reigns supreme, this E-flite ducted fan jet hits on all cylinders with its performance - a fully designed intake and exhaust ducting. When outfitted with E-flite’s own Delta V fan and motor and a 4S Li-Po, the Sabre will hum with power and speed. As always, E-flite has gone above and beyond to fashion a model in which the aviation aficionado can take great pride.

    Unlike many EDFs in its class that only provide aileron and elevator control, the F-86 Sabre 15 DF provides authoritative rudder control so you can execute point rolls and knife-edge flight with precision. The fan ducting has been designed to achieve superb efficiency without sacrificing a scale-looking intake or requiring the need for speed-robbing cheater holes. Swapping batteries and accessing electronics is easy with the generously proportioned magnetic hatch.

    Key Features:

    • Designed for the E-flite Delta V 15 DF for great power and performance
    • Lightweight fiberglass fuselage provides minimum weight to this accurately detailed scale model
    • Factory-finished scale trim scheme with 3 unique nose art/squadron decal sets included
    • Magnetic battery hatch allows for quick access to the airplane's electronics
    • Hyper-efficient ducting with no "cheater" holes
    • Airfoil-shaped vertical fin and rudder
    • Full 4-channel control
    • Optional pilot figures sold separately


    • Wingspan: 33.8 in (860mm)
    • Overall Length: 35.4 in (900mm)
    • Wing Area: 256 sq in (16.5 sq dm)
    • Flying Weight: 53 - 55 oz (1500 - 1560 g)
    • Motor Size: 15 DF 3200Kv Brushless Motor
    • Radio: 4+ channels
    • Servos: Sub Micro (4 required) & Micro (1 required)
    • Speed Control : 60-amp brushless
    • Recommended Battery: 4s 14.8V 3200-3300mAh Li-Po
    • Scale: Warbird
    • Experience Level: Advanced
    ARF Contents :


    As expected with E-flite products, the parts were well secured in the box and sealed in plastic. The covering on the sheeted wing and tail pieces was flawless and most of the decals were pre-applied except for the choice of three finishing schemes that were provided on a separate sheet.

    The 44-page manual is packed with photos, tips, and instructions to provide a successful assembly.


    A closer look at the F-86 fuselage reveals exceptional quality in both the construction and finish. The attention to scale detail really brings out those Sabre looks!

    The magnetic battery hatch is already finished and allows for quick access to the airplane's electronics. A bottom hatch is provided for easy access to the DF and ducting. The clear plastic exhaust tube is pre-cut and assembled. The control rod tubes also come pre-installed. The airfoil-shaped vertical fin and rudder are both made from fiberglass. The rudder comes taped to the fin for safety during shipping.

    Power System :


    My power system components and completion parts are as follows:


    When I started the assembly, I was happy to see that all the parts were appropriately separated into their own resealable bags.

    Aileron Servos:

    The assembly begins with aileron servo installation. The clever mounts are glued in place on the bottom piece and then use the top piece to secure the servo. I had no issues here and found the instructions to be excellent.

    The plastic servo covers look like an improvement to the original covers taken off the wing. However, this does require you to add the decals back on from the included extra set as shown on my left wing bottom with the "USAF".


    The wings installed just as described in the manual. I sanded the glossy fiberglass finish on the fuselage sides where it meets the wings and then glued them in place using 20-minute epoxy. The two carbon fiber support rods were also coated with epoxy before inserting them into the wing channels.

    The fit was perfect without any modification needed. I taped the wings in place on the bottom side and let them dry overnight.


    The horizontal stabs are glued in the correct angle using a supplied jig. After marking the correct position in the fuselage with a black marker, the covering is removed so that it can be glued in place. I used 5-minute epoxy for a secure hold.


    Elevator and Rudder:

    The elevator and rudder installation used different techniques. The elevator hinges fit into the pre-cut slots of the horizontal stabilizer and were secured with thin CA. Remember to let the thin CA soak into the hinges and dry without using any kicker. Once dried, I wiped off the white residue with some debonder.

    The rudder used three pin hinges that were first cut to length and then glued to the rudder only. Once dried, I glued the rudder to the vertical stabilizer using V-poxy from Bob Violet Models. The thicker aircraft-grade epoxy doesn't run so I did not need to coat the hinge joints with petroleum jelly. However, it is still a good idea to use some petroleum jelly just in case the glue gets on the hinge.

    The tail feathers looked great and I really think this is a beautiful looking model by E-flite!

    Elevator Servo:

    The JR Sport MC35 Micro Servo was used for the two elevator halves. Note that holes are provided in the fuselage to allow a screwdriver to access the servo screws closest to the side.

    When installing the control rods per the manual, I noticed some binding on one side so I cleaned the metal rods and sprayed some silicone on them before pushing them through the nylon tubes.

    The control horns were CA'ed into position after first cutting away some of the covering underneath. The elevators seemed to work fine but I had a slight hesitation on one side so I may revisit this area before test flying the Sabre.

    Rudder Servo:

    The rudder servo and linkage installation used a similar technique to the elevator. I used an E-flite S75 sub-micro servo per the manual. Again, I had more resistance on the control rod than desired so I coated the metal with some silicon lubricant.

    Since there was a small amount of slop in my servo, the rudder did not return perfectly to center from one direction. I reduced some of this by gluing the end of the nylon tube to the wood support. The support hole was slotted and allowed the nylon tube to move until it was glued.

    I ended up replacing the S75 servo with a more capable JR DS285 digital servo which eliminated the centering issue.

    Landing Gear:

    The landing gear installation went without issue. The wing holes were pre-drilled to install the latches using the supplied screws. The wheels spun freely on the axles and the mains fit well in the notches under the wings. The steerable nosewheel, fuselage mount, and bellcrank all seemed solid and turned nicely.

    Although I'm not a fan of fixed gear during flight, the F-86 Sabre really started to look nice on the ground! Perhaps after the initial test flights off pavement, the gear mains can be replaced with tanks for grass landings and the nosewheel can be replaced with a hook for a mini-bungee launch.

    Steering Servo:

    The steering servo and linkage were very easy to install using the pre-bent rod and included servo mount. I really like the simple design of these sub-micro servo mounts included in the F-86 kit.

    Instead of using the recommended 4th hole from the servo center of the arm, I used the 2nd hole due to several reports of high gain on the steering control. I still had plenty of nose wheel turning when using the 2nd hole and it allowed the rod to run parallel with the fuselage bottom.

    ESC Mounting:

    The E-flite manual offers two positions to mount the 60-amp Pro Brushless ESC. When I saw the bottom mount scheme for a cooler running ESC in a hot environment, I jumped at that option. One of the key areas for keeping an EDF power system running well is to keep the ESC cool.

    A Dremel tool makes quick work of this task. I simply traced the ESC on the bottom of the fuselage and cut the proper size opening. I'll likely hold the ESC in place with a hook and loop strap across it.

    I also see no need for an On/Off switch in small EDF applications. Simply plugging the battery into the ESC is sufficient. The E-flite 60-amp Pro Brushless ESC makes it easy by providing a fail-safe mode of operation. If the switch is open, the ESC is on. I simply cut the switch wire off to about 1" in length and covered the end with a piece of shrink wrap.

    Receiver and Intake Tube Mounting:

    The Spektrum AR6200 receivers were placed in the locations and orientations per the manual using the supplied hook and loop material. I also secured the ESC in place using some of the supplied hook and loop material and my own 3M Velcro black strap. Additionally, I glued the four corners of the ESC to the fiberglass bottom with small dabs of epoxy that could be broken away, if needed.

    The fiberglass intake tube was fitted into position after first surrounding the center with a hook and loop strap. The strap is put on first so that it doesn't accidentally get wrapped around the steering rod later on.

    Delta V 15 DF Assembly:

    The E-flite Delta V 15 DF assembled very easily. Two screws hold the BL15 brushless motor in place and another two screws hold the fan fairing. Thread locker was used on all four screws. The rotor is held in place with a collet adapter. I used an Allen wrench to tighten the spinner while holding the rotor blades.

    Page 30 of the manual was a bit confusing because step 3 states, "Note that the fairing faces to the bottom of the fan unit.", and earlier it was stated in a diagram that the fan bottom goes to the fuselage top. In any case, the larger side of the fan when viewing the mounting lugs is considered the fan bottom so be sure to assemble the fairing so that it faces the fuselage bottom, not the fan bottom. The second photo shows the fairing on the wrong way for the F-86.

    After cutting the thrust tube to fit around the fairing, the Delta V 15 DF is installed in the fuselage with the 4 supplied screws. The 4 screw holes in the plywood mount will be visible if the DF unit is installed correctly into the intake tube. The intake tube will be firmly pressed into the nose so that it cannot move forward or backward once the DF is installed.

    The thrust tube is folded into a "U" shape, installed from the rear opening, and taped onto the DF unit. The aft end is then trimmed to match the outline of the fuselage.

    This elegant design was not just easy to install, it provides a very clean duct (without cheater holes) when viewed from either the nose or the tail.

    Canopy and Optional Pilots:

    The canopy assembly was quick and easy. It is also designed so that you can remove the cockpit at a later date for further scale-ups.

    After trimming the black cockpit along the guidelines, it simply gets taped into position under the canopy. You can add a pilot bust, like I did, or even some cockpit controls.

    I used the ParkZone T-28 PKZ4414 figure from the neck up. It was held in place with a small amount of Zap-A-Dap-A-Goo. You can also use the ParkZone Habu PKZ7003 pilot for a quick and inexpensive scale-up.

    Bottom Hatch and Battery:

    The bottom hatch is secured with the supplied clear tape. The intake tube is additionally secured with a custom plywood assembly. Once in place, the battery installation uses hook and loop material on the intake tube and LiPo pack. I used my own Industrial Strength Velcro instead of the supplied hook and loop material.

    The 4-cell ThunderPower LiPo pack is set on top of the intake tube and further secured by the hook and loop strap. The canopy fits right over the top of the battery pack. The position of the LiPo pack shown gave me a good starting CG of almost 6" back from the leading edge.


    My E-flite F-86 Sabre was ready to fly at 52.8oz (3.3lbs). The T.P. 4-cell battery pack weighed 12.6oz and the RTF plane was 40.2oz. I measured 761 watts at around 52 amps on full throttle after 10 seconds. This provides a power level of 231 w/lb on a very clean airframe so it should be some fun testing next weekend. I added the decals less the Huff dragon as I am a little superstitious. It will be added after the maiden test flight.

    Test Flying

    We test flew the F-86 Sabre yesterday off pavement. Team JR's Devin McGrath took the sticks and gave the F-86 a good workout. We were impressed with the speed but the scale model did get small in a hurry! The plane needed only 100' to 150' for take-off. After Devin trimmed out the Sabre, he performed some rolls, inverted pass, and some really fast fly-bys! The performance was excellent but the jet does land a bit hot and our 300' paved runway wasn't sufficiently long enough so it rolled over into the grass at the end of the runway...unharmed.

    In the F-86 test flight video below, you can see we had a slight problem with elevator throw on take-off. Although we needed just a bit more throw, Devin was able to keep it under control. Since the maiden flight, we have increased the servo throw to 120%, and added more expo, using the programmable JR 9503 settings. The F-86 Sabre has now earned the HUFF dragon!

    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!



    The E-flite F-86 Sabre 15 DF ARF is perfectly matched for the E-flite Delta V-15 (69mm) fan unit. I recommend using a good 4-cell pack like the Thunderpower 30C 3300mAh Pro Power pack to really bring out the performance of this beautiful fiberglass model.

    In our test flights, we only used about 1/2 to 2/3 of the charge for our 4 minute flights. The pack was only warm so I am not convinced that cooling is needed in our cooler Northeast climate. The E-flite Sabre has a built-in air cooling system for the battery pack except for the lack of air exit scoops which are needed just behind the canopy. If battery cooling becomes and issue, I would recommend these Exit Cover/Airscoops from Hobby Lobby and paint them grey.

    Overall, this is an excellent fiberglass EDF design by E-flite. The performance was supurb but the jet does land a bit hot so advanced piloting skills are required. Jet pilots will not only love the Sabre's scale appearance but get a real rush from its performance!

    E-flite AT-6 Texan

    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

    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-86 Sabre 15 DF ARF

    Posted by: GBR2 on 01/06/2011
    If only it had retracts.
    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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