Normally, when I write an introduction for a review plane, I try to start with a short description of the full-scale plane itself.
The North American P-51 Mustang needs no such introduction- it seems as though anybody with any knowledge of airplanes knows what a P-51 Mustang is. The plane has a rich history full of heroic battles from WWII. A few planes went on to service in other countries' air forces, and yet a few more went on to race in places like Reno. No, the North American Mustang needs no introduction at all.
What I would like to introduce to you is the all-new Tower Hobbies P-51D Mustang EP RxR. This is a new plane put out by one of the largest hobby distributors in the United States. The plane has great lines, assembles quickly, and includes everything (short of a battery, receiver, and transmitter) you'll need to get the P-51 in the air in very short order!
Let's get this box open and find out what we've got!
Price: $114.98 Stock Numbers: LW3290 Wingspan: 40 in (1016 mm) Wing Area: 303 in² (15.2 dm²) Weight: 29.7-32 oz (840-905 g) Wing Loading: 14.1-15.2 oz/ft² (43-46 g/dm²) Length: 34 in (864 mm) Radio Used:Futaba 7C Motor & ESC: Included Battery Used:Hobbico Flyzone 1800MAh LiPo Channels Used: 4 total - Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, Rudder
The P-51 comes in a white box with one large decal on the cover, and the packing job is first-class. The contents are all secured in bags and smaller boxes taped inside, and nothing is free to move. My Mustang arrived with no shipping damage at all. Make sure to look inside the cover, as parts of the plane are taped in place there!
After pulling all of the parts out of their boxes and bags, I was surprised to see surface details! The foam injection nubs have been removed from the top of the wings and the fuselage prior to painting, making for a clean, smooth surface on the plane. All the parts are evenly painted, and look very nice.
Some of the features I liked included the pre-installed, brushless motor and ESC, the pre-assembled top hatch, and the pre-installed servos, push rods, and hardware. I removed the cowl to see the motor installation, and found the motor and frame to be secured to the airframe and all the motor frame glue joints fit very well. For those of you that pick up one of these Mustangs, you can just leave the cowl on from what I can see!
The pre-installed pilot, instrument decal, and canopy are attached to a large fuselage hatch that makes getting at the battery effortless. With all the servos and hardware installed, it should take very little time to get the P-51 in the air!
Manual and Addendum
The manual is very straightforward and leaves nothing to chance. Although the P-51 itself is not a beginner's plane, a novice could assemble the Mustang with no trouble at all! There is an illustration for every step, along with written instructions that are easy to understand.
The included addendum gives the correct control throws for high and low rate settings.
The wing goes together so quickly and easily, I'd hardly call it a step. Simply slide the two wing tubes into the holes (the longer tube goes in the back) and slide the wing panels together. No glue, no screws, that's it!
The horizontal stabilizer and elevator assembly goes in almost as fast as the wing goes together. Slide the stab/elevator assembly in from the left side of the fuselage, center it, and push in the foam plugs. Make sure to orient the angle of the plugs in the correct position to follow the profile of the fuselage. All that's left now is to connect the elevator push rod to the control horn using the pre-installed clevis.
Secure your receiver to the servo tray (using the included hook-and-loop tape) right in front of the servos in the fuselage, and route the servo wires accordingly.
Use the rest of the white hook-and-loop tape to secure the battery to the servo tray. I stick the hook side to the tray and the loop side to the battery. I do this the same way on all my electric aircraft so the batteries can be changed between planes. Loop the black battery strap though the slots and stick them together until the battery is installed.
Now it's time to connect all the servo wires to the receiver. Loosen all the screw lock connectors on the servo arms, and plug in the battery. As a safety precaution, I'd recommend pulling one of the motor leads apart to prevent the motor from inadvertently starting up. The ESC does have a safe-start program, but a mechanical separation of the lead is always the safest. Once the servos have all centered, the screw lock connectors can all be tightened with the control surfaces in the neutral position.
The 7C sits squarely in the middle ground in computer systems. It's a system that offers much of the 9C's set-up versatility matched to 4-channel ease of use. Like all other computer systems on this page, it offers Dial n' Key simplicity for programming, and the 2.4GHz FASST system for an unparalleled RF link.
A few of the features:
Dial 'n KeyTM programming
Mode 1-4 selectable (modes 3 and 4 available via transmitter software)
Large 72 x 32 LCD screen with adjustable contrast
6-character model naming
Digital trims, trim memory, EPA, subtrims and servo reversing (all channels)
Dual/Triple rates* (aileron/elevator/rudder)
Adjustable throttle cut
Advanced Programming Features Specific to Airplanes or Helis
The wing is held in place by plywood and foam tabs at the leading edge of the wing, and a single nylon bolt at the trailing edge. Tower Hobbies came up with a great idea when designing the wing bolt plate. There is a plywood tab in each of the wing halves, and they overlap in the middle to make one hole for the wing bolt. This is truly a neat idea!
The removable landing gear legs simply push into slots in the bottom side of the wing, but make sure you orient them correctly. They are bent slightly to rake the gear forward to help prevent nose-overs on takeoff and landing. Also, make sure that the wheel collars face toward the center of the wing.
I really like this next feature a lot! The front half of the belly scoop is held in place with two strong magnets. Simply line up the scoop and it is pulled into place. The nice part about this is that when landing without the landing gear installed, the scoop will pop off, and not be damaged.
The tail wheel assembly is held in place by a single screw and clip. Remove the screw, slide the two pins into the holes, and reinstall the screw and clip. I did find that I had to remove flashing (from the plastic molding process) to get the two pins to slide easily into the two holes. A little sand paper will remove this or, if you're careful, a hobby knife or single edged razor blade will easily trim off the flashing. I chose to use the razor blade, and it worked very well. (Best of all, I have all of my fingers yet!)
Since the motor and cowl are pre-installed, the only things left to install are the propeller adapter, propeller, and spinner. The adapter fit well on the motor shaft, so installation of all parts was simple and the spinner lined up nicely with the cowl.
At this point, the assembly is complete, but don't forget to balance the plane. The center of gravity is located at 3" from the leading edge of the wing at the root. I made a small mark at that location on both sides of the fuselage, installed the battery and canopy, and balanced the plane.When I had found the correct location of the battery, I made another small mark on the top of the fuselage where the canopy sits. I then drew a line on the battery decal so I could place the battery in the fuselage in the same place after every charge!
Including taking all the pictures for the review, it took me approximately 35-40 minutes to put the P-51 together. Now let's add the decals and get a few pictures of the completed P-51 and then take it out for a test flight or two.
The day finally arrived for the maiden flight. It was a cold January day in Minnesota- so cold that only the brave native Minnesotans and a few other crazies would venture out! Being that I'm a native Minnesotan, I didn't think it was too bad.
After securing the battery in the fuselage, the canopy/battery hatch was snapped in place and ready for takeoff. The Tower Hobbies P-51 Mustang has great ground handling thanks to the steerable tail wheel and the wide stance of the main landing gear.
Once the Mustang was lined up on the runway, I pushed the throttle stick forward. The tail came off the ground very quickly, and shortly thereafter the P-51 was off the ground. I was surprised how quickly the plane took to the air, and only slight rudder correction was required to keep the plane going straight down the runway. My first thought, as the P-51 took to the sky, was that this is going to be FUN!
After a pair of laps around the pattern to check trims, I added a little down elevator trim and she was flying as straight as an arrow. Once trimmed, I decided to pour on the coals and see what the Mustang could do. The P-51 moves out quite nicely and high-speed flight is very predictable. With the throttle pulled back, the Mustang will cruise around very nicely with no bad habits.
The P-51 can perform scale aerobatics with ease. The roll-rate is very scale-like, and the plane looks beautiful doing a victory roll at the end of a low altitude, high-speed fly-by. Loops are big and round, and the brushless outrunner motor has more than enough power to pull the Mustang up and over the top, without being over-powered.
After flying around for 8-10 minutes, I lined the Mustang up on the runway and pulled the power back to one-quarter throttle, the P-51 settled in nicely, and touched down. For a warbird, the wing loading is relatively light, making it easy to land without incident.
I then called my good friend Mike Buzzeo and asked him to shoot some video for me. Mike is NOT a native Minnesotan, so his reply was, "In this cold? Are you NUTS?" But Mike had a great suggestion: He was leaving for Florida a week later, and since the Mustang uses no glue in its assembly, he suggested I repackage it in its original box and ship it down there. Once in Florida, Mike got his friend Jim Record to fly the P-51 while he shot some video for me.
Check out the video to see her in action!
Tower Hobbies P-51 Mustang EP RxR Or, Download the Video (XXmeg) CLICK HERE
The Tower Hobbies P-51 Mustang RxR has now been assembled and flown. It goes together quickly and easily, and flies just as nice. The P-51 looks great on the ground and in the air, and at less than $115.00 for a Receiver-Ready plane, it's a great deal too! Tower Hobbies has a real winner with their new P-51 Mustang RxR.
Futaba Corporation of America
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
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.