RCU Review: Venom F86-70 Sabre ARF

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: October 2010 | Views: 57373 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Venom F86-70 ARF

    Venom F86-70 Sabre ARF
    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: Kim Covey
    Video Pilot: Greg Covey

    Venom Group International

    Dealer Locator

    Customer Service Phone: 1-800-705-0620

    Complete ARF Model
    High Quality Construction with a great looking finish
    Excellent Flying Performance with stock Power System
    Three Versions Available
    Great detailing and added features
    Air up / Spring down retract system
    Speed Brakes and Flaps
    Airfoil-shaped vertical fin and rudder
    Pavement or Hand-launch

    Manual Illustrations and text are too small
    Initial Kits Required Product Alert for rigid air Lines and Weak Struts

    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:
    10-15 Hours

    Frustration Level:
    Slightly Annoying

    Degree of Difficulty Explanation


    Venom F86-70 Sabre ARF

    The Venom Group International has released the F-86 Sabre in a 70mm Almost-Ready-to-Fly (ARF) Electric Ducted Fan (EDF) jet airplane. It is available in three striking scale color schemes and is made from tough, yet lightweight EPO Foam. These jets come pre-painted with all graphics pre-applied making the time from bench to flight line very minimal.

    A powerful 70mm Ducted Fan and 2836kv Brushless outrunner motor provide plenty of thrust for scale fighting action. Major features include working flaps, scale airbrakes, pneumatic / spring retractable landing gear, and scale external fuel tanks. All servos are pre-installed, as is the 45-amp ESC with a 5-amp external BEC. Simply install your own 6-channel receiver, 4S 3200mah LiPo battery, and you are ready to fly!

    Key Features:

    • 70mm Ducted Fan (Included)
    • Powerful 2836kv Brushless outrunner motor (Included)
    • 45-amp ESC with 5-amp external BEC (Included)
    • All micro servos are pre-installed
    • Working flaps
    • Scale airbrakes
    • Air Retracts, struts, and rubber wheels (Included)
    • Scale external fuel tanks
    • All decals pre-applied


    • Age Rating: 14+
    • Wingspan: 43.4" (110.3cm)
    • Length: 42.7" (108.5cm)
    • Flying Weight: 52.9oz. / 1.5kg
    • Motor: 2836kv Brushless Outrunner
    • Fan: 70mm EDF
    • Radio System: 6-channel minimum (Not Included)
    • Battery: 4S 3200mAh-4500mAh LiPO (Not Included)
    ARF Contents :


    The F-86 parts were well secured in the box by custom compartments. Each plane part or group of pieces was sealed in plastic. The wings each had the metal air retracts installed as well as the servos and control surface hinges. All the parts were pre-painted and ready to install.

    Notice the red servo is reversed for the opposite flap and the metal struts come with pre-assembled rubber (not foam) wheels. A set of servo extensions and a painted pilot figure were even included!

    The 14-page manual has a very condensed set of instructions but the photos and text look clear. The multi-step QC sheet shows a good commitment to quality and consistency by Venom.

    Not shown are the two plastic gray wing fences that I decided not to use. The wing fences were used on later F-86 full-scale jets.


    A closer look at the Venom F-86 fuselage reveals that it is loaded with extras. The tail servos are already installed for the rudder and elevators. The cockpit hatch is held in place by four strong magnets and a front tab to keep it from coming off in flight. The retract control servo and linkage are pre-installed as is the battery bay and holding strap. A nose wheel steering servo is also installed.

    The motor, ducted fan and ESC are already mounted. The air lines and tank are all in place and need only be connected to the main retracts.

    Even the thrust tube is already in place!

    Product Update Alert:

    Venom Group International is providing updated parts to those customers who are not satisfied with the landing gear alloy struts and the harder air lines. Please contact them for a free replacement by calling 1-800-705-0620 or e-mail Customer Service.

    The updated landing gear struts are now simple light weight wire parts. The air lines are softer and clear. These parts will be available by September 1st. Future production of the Venom F-86-70 will include these updates.



    The assembly starts by gluing the wing halves together and routing the servo extensions for the ailerons and flaps. The manual is sketchy here so you need to take a look at what is trying to be accomplished. I found it easier to first glue the wing halves together, using the supplied glue, and then route the servo extensions. Notice that the extensions should end up on the same side where it can be fed through the channel inside the fuselage wall.

    Before screwing the wing in place, you need to also route the air lines and attach the ends to the cylinders on the retract mains. Note that the servo extensions use one channel on the wing bottom and the air line to the opposite side uses the other channel. I added some small washers to the long screws before securing the wing to buffer the metal screw head on the pre-attached wooden washers. The wing seated perfectly when all the extensions and air lines were properly in the channels.


    The air up / spring down retracts required a little work for proper operation. Since there was some binding on the retracts, I sprayed them with a light coat of silicone lubricant and worked them up and down until they could spring freely. I also needed to cut away some of the foam on one of the wheel wells to keep the retracted wheel from sticking. A slight cut was also done on the nose wheel bay to eliminate the wheel from hitting the foam when retracting.

    I also discovered a leak in the main fill valve. After several attempts to determine where the leak came from, I gave up and replaced it with a Robart fill valve which matched all my other planes anyway. By connecting the servo to the gear channel on a live receiver, you can slowly dial in the correct positions on your transmitter for up and down so that no air escapes. To monitor the air pressure, I simply leave the Robart pump connected and watch for a change in pressure. I left the pump connected overnight and saw little change in the morning so I knew my air system was intact. The retracts seem to operate flawlessly with 60lbs to 100lbs of pressure.

    I'm using a Spektrum AR7000 dual receiver on my F-86. I tested all the servos, except for the vertical stab, for proper operation. I got big kick out of my first functional set of air brakes!

    The strut wires on the mains had a nice flat spot to tighten the set screw. The nose wheel strut is different so the steering cables will need to be hooked up before it is ready to go.

    Vertical Stab:

    The vertical stabilizer has the rudder servo pre-mounted so all you need to do is plug it in and test it before gluing the fin in place. I used the supplied glue and hooked up the linkage to the second outer most holes on both the servo arm and control horn. The servo arm holes needed to be opened up a bit to accept the Z-bend on the control rod.

    I replaced the stock battery connector with a Dean's Ultra which allowed me to use some pre-enjoyed ThunderPower 4s eXtreme V2 and Pro Power 3300mAh packs.

    Nose Wheel and Steering:

    The manual was very poor on the nose steering assembly but with a little common sense it can be made to work well. In general, you always want the steering servo arm parallel to the control arm so by cutting the servo arm ends shorter, you can mount it sideways to the control arm.

    The nose strut already had a flat spot in the rod so the control arm doesn't end up perfectly parallel to the servo arm. When tightening the set screw on the strut, allow the wheel to be able to spin freely without pulling out. I used the second hole from the inside on the servo arm and the steering came out just about perfect.

    When the nose wheel is retracted, the steering wires get loose and stay out of the way. Note that the control arm wants to be mounted one way so that it can nestle into the plywood cutout when retracted.

    Horizontal Stab:

    The horizontal stabs were glued in place using the supplied glue. The control horns hooked up easily with the only issue being the need to drill out the servo arm holes a bit to accept the Z-bend. I used the second hole from the outside on both the servo arm and the control horn.

    At this time, I connected the aileron and flap linkages as well. The fuel tanks were glued into the wing seats using the supplied glue. The wing seats provided easy alignment for the tanks. All linkages were connected to the second hole from the outside except for the flap control horns, which used the outer most hole.

    Pilot and Canopy:

    The pilot and canopy were the last steps of the assembly. I glued the pilot in place using the last of the supplied glue and then glued the canopy onto the hatch with a similar clear foam-safe glue of my own.

    To balance at the 180mm point recommended in the manual, I needed to move the 12.5oz ThunderPower pack slightly forward as shown. The strap just covered the back end of the pack.


    My Venom F86-70 Sabre was ready to fly at 55oz (3.4lbs) including the 12.5oz 4s ThunderPower pack. I measured 670 watts at 45 amps for a power level of 195w/lb. The jet should fly nicely!

    Test Flying

    After a perfect pre-flight check, we thought the Venom was ready to go but the rotor blew out when we were taxiing for take-off on grass after about 20’. I’m not sure if something got sucked in the nose (nobody saw anything) or if the distortion from bouncing on the grass made a rotor blade strike the fan unit. I had the power system up to full throttle 3 or 4 times at home without issue. It was actually quite smooth running at full throttle.

    I sent an e-mail to VGI and received my replacement rotor in about a week. The rotor was actually quite easy to replace. After removing the four screws holding the wing, it could be set off to the side while the rotor was swapped out. I did notice some slop in either the stock outrunner motor or DF mount that may have allowed the rotor blades to strike the sides. Otherwise, there was no evidence of what caused my blade failure. Once again, I ran it up to full throttle 3 or 4 times outside and it sounded smooth with little vibration.

    The weather was great today so I finally got a chance to test fly my Venom F86-70. My usual crew was not available so my wife, Kim, helped me out with the video and photos. My first attempt to fly off grass with the gear down didn't work and the soft struts that were never replaced on my earlier review unit managed to bend a bit. As I tried to bend the nose wheel forward, the strut just snapped off. All the newer kits should have these struts replaced by now (as well as the rigid airlines) so it won't be a problem for kits purchased after August 2010.

    I decided to hand toss the F-86 and land it on the tips tanks on grass. This plan worked out great as the F86 was easy to hand toss and slowed down to a crawl without using the flaps or air brakes. The scale model EDF really flies great! Flight times were about 5 minutes and I could perform just about any maneuver without bad tendencies. The stock CG seemed dead on and I used the recommended control throws with about 35% exponential. No mixing was used.


    Since I fly off grass, I will likely remove the retracts and air tank to reduce some weight. The Venom F86-70 appears to be a very versatile and stable flier. When landing, I simply reduced power and increased elevator until it slowly landed in the grass. Although the tip tanks didn't even scratch, I will likely protect them with some clear foam-safe paint now that I know I can easily land on grass.

    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!



    The Venom F86-70 Sabre is a highly-integrated ARF making the time from bench to flight line very minimal. Although it comes with retracts, air brakes, and flaps, the plane flies and lands very well without using these features. The sport scale jet and has very honest and predictable manners while providing plenty of added frills. Since no mixing is required for the control surfaces, the F86-70 provides a good trainer platform for many aspects of EDF jet training. The plane can be flown or landed relatively slow so only intermediate flying skills are required.

    All that is needed to complete the kit for flight is a six channel radio system and a 4-cell 3200mAh to 3600mAh LiPo battery pack. The stock power system provides excellent power for the F-86 providing speeds of about 65mph. The power system is easily accessible for either replacing the rotor (like I did) or other maintenance upgrades.

    Whether you fly off pavement or off grass, the Venom F86-70 can adapt to your needs. The model jet is designed for the person who appreciates scale jets and is interested in learning more about EDF and flying with flaps and retracts. I recommend this model as a good first step toward larger and more expensive electric jets and a great start for Venom in the EDF market.

    Venom Group International

    Dealer Locator

    Customer Service
    Phone: 1-800-705-0620
    E-mail: customerservice@venom-group.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: Venom F86-70 Sabre ARF

    Posted by: cirrus4string on 10/24/2010
    Looks nice, to bad about landing gear, and did not see speed brakes or flaps
    Posted by: killervtwin on 10/25/2010
    I blew my fan on take off also ,i replaced the unit with a Rc lander unit,and modified landing gear during assembly
    Posted by: Greg Covey on 10/25/2010
    On these smaller foam models, features like the air brakes and flaps are usually just for show. While they do work on the Venom F-86, and add some cool factor to the model, they are not needed as the jet lands like you would expect a foam parkflyer to land...slow and predictable. I have had no issue with my replacement rotor over three flights so perhaps some of the rotors were defective.
    Posted by: jpt1205 on 05/27/2011
    Can you easily replace the air retracts with e-flite e-tracts? Maybe .10-.15 size?
    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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