Republic Aircraft P-47 Thunderbolt may not have been as sexy as
the P-51 Mustang, or had it's own television series like the
F-4U Corsair, but with over 15,000 of them produced, it was
definitely a work horse during World War II.
Powered by a massive 18 cylinder, 2000 HP, supercharged Pratt
and Whitney radial engine, the Thunderbolt could reach speeds of
430+ mph and climb at nearly 4000 feet a minute. Primarily flown
by the US Army Air Force, the P-47 proved adept at both aerial
combat and ground attack.
Despite it's higher than average weight, the eight wing mounted
50 caliber machine guns helped the Thunderbolt live up to it's
name. The P-47 would relentlessly pound ground targets,
raining down armor piercing and incendiary rounds on lightly
armored ground targets. The bullet proof windshield and
armored cockpit gave pilots confidence that they could safely
make it home despite taking heavy opposing fire. The heavy
armor plating earned the P-47 the nickname "the Jug".
The Parkzone BNF (Bind and Fly) war birds include everything you
need to fly except for a DSM2 capable transmitter. Bind it
to your favorite radio and the Thunderbolt can be in the air in
about the time it takes to fully charge the battery and set the
CG and control throws.
Parkzone listened to what their faithful customers wanted and
delivered a model that not only looks great out of the box but
can be upgraded with optional flaps and retracts with very
little extra work. We installed both the flaps, and the E-Flite
no fuss retracts, so read on as we take a closer look at the
Parkzone P-47 Thunderbolt BNF.
Parkzone P-47 Thunderbolt BNF. Price: $249.99 Wing Span: 42.2" (1070mm) Flying Weight as tested: 43 oz
(1219 grams) ESC Used: 30Amp (Included) Motor Used: 15 size 950kv
BL (included) Battery used: 3S 2200Mah LiPo
(included) Radio used: JR 11X 2.4 Ghz
DSM2/DSMX 4 channel radio (minimum)
channel DSM2/DSMX radio (optional) if you want to install
optional functional flaps and retracts
Phillips screw driver
12 volt power source
Sharp hobby knife (if installing flaps)
I've always loved war birds, so when I was asked to review the
Parkzone P-47 Thunderbolt BNF (Bind and Fly) the decision took
all of about 2 seconds. In days gone by, to fly a model
war bird you really had to LOVE war birds. The planes were
heavy, flew fast, and the resulting high wing loading made them
a real challenge to land.
Since a war bird really wouldn't look like a war bird with the
wheels hanging down (unless of course it's a Stuka) you just
"had" to install retracts which could be a nightmare in
themselves. Each time I covered Top Gun I saw more
problems with retracts than engine, radio, and other problems
combined. E-Flite's electric retracts make installing
retractable landing nearly as easy as bolting servos in an ARF.
No linkages, no air lines, just screw them in, plug the special Y harness
(provided) in to your receiver, and flip a switch.
Parkzone has come to the rescue with a line of ready to fly war
birds that fly as good as they look. The Z-foam
construction makes for a sturdy but very light airframe.
Plenty of room
When the P-47 BNF arrived I unpacked everything and was very
impressed with the packaging. All of the Parkzone planes
that I have handled have been packaged to survive all but the
most traumatic shipping. The container was segmented and
the airframe pieces were fitted into pockets with form fitting
foam parts holding the fuselage and wings securely in place.
Anywhere that the shipping materials met the model surface the
surfaces had a layer of bubble wrap so they were untouched by
tape or wire ties.
have come to expect a well written and nicely illustrated
instruction manual from Horizon products and the P-47 booklet
doesn't disappoint. Everything that I consider essential
including a full kit inventory, safe battery handling, clearly
written steps, clear photos and illustrations, repair parts
listing, and support contact information are all included.
The same manual accompanies the plug and play, and bind and fly
versions. If you have the bind and fly version without the
optional retracts and or flaps, there's about 7 pages of
instructions that apply to you. The steps for installing
the optional flaps and retracts are shown in the provided
instruction manual as well so you don't have to make due with
generic instructions, the steps to install them in the
Thunderbolt are clearly laid out.
BATTERY, CHARGER, and ESC
The P-47 comes with a Parkzone 2200mah 3S 25C LiPo battery
pre-soldered with EC3 style connectors. The kit also
includes a 2S/3S balance charger that will charge at up to a 2
amp rate. Parkzone obviously had in mind heading to the
field with minimum support equipment because the charger is
equipped with a cigarette lighter plug.
The charger connects the battery through the balance tap so that
you're balancing the battery each time you charge it. The
charger is also equipped with an externally accessible
automotive blade style fuse so you can change the fuse quickly
and easily in case you accidently short something out.
Charging the battery is as easy as plugging in the unit,
setting the charge rate, connecting the battery, and pressing the start button.
When the light comes on green you're ready to fly. As with
any LiPo charging, don't leave a LiPo battery charge unattended
and if you think the battery suffered any crash damage, replace
The supplied speed controller is an E-Flite 30Amp Pro brushless
ESC. The ESC is programmed with a Low Voltage Cutoff (LVC)
that shuts down and pulses the motor while still providing power
to the servos to let you know it's time to land. If you
want your battery to last however, I recommend setting a timer
and landing before the battery gets low enough to invoke LVC.
Like the battery, the speed controller comes with EC3 connectors
for the battery and bullet connectors for the motor
pre-soldered. I gave a tug on all of the soldered
connections to check for possible cold solder joints but didn't
find any problems. I really like it when someone else does
Attached the the business end of both the aircraft and the ESC
is a 15 size 950Kv (Kv = rpm per input volt) brushless outrunner
motor. Unless you're planning on reenacting Reno racing or
trying to out run the Space Shuttle in to orbit, the supplied motor is
plenty for this plane.
Fixed gear and
With the optional landing gear and flaps, the P-47 is easy to
assemble. If you stick with the out of the box version,
your little sister could put it together. Unpack the plane,
charge the battery, screw the fixed landing gear in place, and
secure the horizontal stabilizer/elevator halves (which is impossible
to misalign!). When the battery is charged, bind it to
your DSM2/DSMX compatible radio, verify the control throw directions,
and set the throws according to the manual. With the supplied
LiPo battery slipped into its form fitting pocket the CG is
Access to the fuselage is via the removable turtle deck and
cockpit. The whole thing is attached via two pins at the
front, and powerful small magnets at the rear. A clear tab
is provided at the rear of the cockpit to assist in getting it
open without hurting the foam airframe. The cockpit looks
good and as my roommate noted "this one even has a little driver
guy in it"; clearly she was impressed. The net result is
very easy battery access which is an important quality to me, I
don't like opening Chinese puzzle boxes to get flight batteries
in and out.
Honorable mention goes to the folks at Parkzone for the
horizontal stabilizer and elevator attachment. The way the
elevator halves attach is by a small square rod. Unless
your elevator halves are off by 90 degrees, which would surely
look funny, the square rod guarantees perfect alignment of the
elevators. Once the stabs are fully seated and the
elevators connected, there is no way for the tail to be
anything but perfectly square unless the entire back half of the
fuselage is warped.
Wing installation is accomplished via 3 screws. The
provided Y harness for the ailerons can be connected either way,
as can the flaps if you installed them. I have plenty of
room to transport the Thunderbolt assembled but even with the
plane broken down for transport, it can be assembled in just a
few minutes at the field.
Also, in the attention to detail department, Parkzone has
provided clear belly skids. If you opt to fly in the grass
you can leave the fixed gear off and do belly landings on grass
fields. The clear skids protect the foam on the bottom of
the plane without impinging on the visual appeal of the P-47.
Retracts and Y
Ready to cut
Since we here at RCUniverse in general, and this editor in
particular LOVE war birds, there was no way I wanted fixed wire
landing gear hanging out the whole time I was flying this
gorgeous plane. Being as this isn't an unusual condition
for owners of this style of airplane, the P-47 was designed to
accommodate both working retractable landing gear and wing
flaps. Take note to order the proper part number for the
recommended flap servos as they have leads long enough to pull
through the wing and connect without extensions.
Pockets for the flap servos are already cut into the bottom of
the wing, oriented so that you can use a Y harness for the
flaps. To install the flaps all you have to do is free the
control surfaces, add the servos, and connect the linkages.
Using a fresh blade in your favorite hobby knife so you don't
pull the foam while cutting it, remove the wedge from the hinge
line hear the aileron. Then remove the bridge near the
wing fillet to finish freeing the flap.
can either use hot glue or double sided servo tape to install
the servos. I used 3M Outdoor Mounting Tape, available at
most hardware and Walmart type stores. I've used this in
the past to mount gyros to my helicopters and when properly
applied you can pick up the helicopter by the gyro. Clean
the servos with a bit of alcohol before you apply the tape and
it will stay put for a long time.
Parkzone even provides strips of silver adhesive back trim so you can cover up
the wiring installation when you are done.
fixed gear mount on the P-47 is designed to accept the
E-Flite 10-15 size electric retracts. Indeed some of
the hardware from the original installation is used to install
the retracts. Like the flap servo pockets, the wheel
wheels are already formed into the bottom of the wing.
Even the outline for the gear doors is molded in.
Installing retracts was clearly a design goal from the start.
you have wanted retractable landing gear but were afraid of the
fuss, these electric retracts are definitely the way go to.
Each landing gear leg has a small electric motor directly
attached to it. This does away with the long linkages
required for servo activated landing gear and the special servo
needed to drive them. A special Y harness plugs into the
gear channel on the receiver and you're done. Flip the
assigned gear switch and the landing gear cycle from lock to
lock. If something happens and they jam they shut down
automatically so they don't deplete your flight battery.
only thing better than seeing your pride and joy climb out with
the gear retracting, is knowing for certain they are going to
come back down when you flip the switch to land. I decided
to test the current draw so I ran a Hangar 9 inline amp meter
between the Y harness and the retract units. The added
draw during retraction or extension was between 200 and 300mah
and at that, only for a few moments.
If you really want to
be lazy they have pre-bent struts for the P-47 but the struts
supplied with the landing gear only take a few moments to cut to
length. Grind or file flat spots for the set screws, and
put all of the set screws together with a dab of thread lock and
Gear down and
the battery was charged it was time for the Bind portion of Bind
and Fly. I cleared out a model memory in my JR 11X 2.4
DSM2 radio, installed the supplied binding plug and powered up
the AR600 6 channel receiver. When the receiver light
starts flashing, press and hold the bind button on the
transmitter and turn it on, when the light on the receiver comes
on solid, turn everything off, remove the bind plug and that's
working with electric models with the battery connected, always
assume the speed controller is armed, restrain the model, and
keep removable parts such as fingers well clear of the propeller
Setting up the radio is pretty easy. A couple of the
channels have to be reversed and you need to pick where you're
going to put your flaps if you have a radio with that offers
choices. Users of radios such as the DX6i are pretty
limited, put your flaps on the three position switch and the
gear on a toggle. On my JR 11X I have a bit more
flexibility so I assigned the slider on the back left of the
radio to the flaps so I have proportional flap control.
Control throws and linkage locations are specified in the manual
and work perfectly for the Thunderbolt. In fact, after the
first flight the only changes I made to the radio were to add 35
percent expo to the ailerons and elevator and 45 percent on the
rudder for ground hanlding. I personally
prefer high rates and expo over using low rates but you should
find out what works best for you and your style of flying.
With the battery snug in its slot in the fuselage and the canopy
firmly attached I double checked the control throws and
directions and the center of gravity. The P-47 balanced right
at the recommended 60mm with the included battery. If you
use a different battery be sure to verify the CG because as my
favorite magazine editor used to say "Nose heavy planes fly
poorly, tail heavy planes fly once"
Taxi tests revealed that the tail wheel had a lot of throw.
I dialed in 45 percent expo and that seemed to do the trick.
On testing day the wind was 5-10 down the runway. I lined
up on center, gave some up elevator to hold the tail on the
ground, and smoothly advanced power. As the rudder gained
effectiveness I let off the elevator and made an uneventful
takeoff and procedure turn away from the pits.
Maiden flights always attract watchers and there was a lot of
interest in the P-47. After a few clicks of trim to get
her flying straight and level I made a slow pass down the runway
(to make sure everyone was watching) and flicked the gear
switch. The main gear disappeared and the Thunderbolt
looked great in the air as it visibly picked up speed.
took the P-47 up high, pointed it into the wind, and reduced
power and added elevator until it stalled. It didn't so
much stall as mushed straight ahead. At such low airspeeds
the ailerons completely loose effectiveness but until I was 90
degrees to the wind the wing didn't fall off. This might
look like a war bird but it definitely flies like a sport plane.
Since the battery only had one cycle on it, I cut the flight at 3
minutes and set up for the first landing. The wheels
reappeared as soon as I told them to do so and I dropped full
flaps to see what would happen. The Thunderbolt slowed
dramatically with the flaps at full extension but exhibited no
change in pitch.
approach with the light wind called for almost half power or the
Thunderbolt would have stopped in mid-air when I turned final.
Crossing the landing threshold I reduced power and the P-47
settled on to the mains and stuck to the runway until the
airspeed bled off and the tail wheel came down.
It didn't take long to really start enjoying the P-47
Thunderbolt. It tracks well through all of the basic
maneuvers that a P-47 should be able to do. It's got
enough power for large majestic loops and enough aileron for
crisp point rolls. The rudder isn't large enough for any
knife edge but dog fighting and ground attack runs don't call
for much knife edge flying.
The Thunderbolt is reasonably fast and with a stiffer prop I
suspect it would be even faster. It slows down well for
landings and with the flaps extended it will land at just above
walking speed. Since not everyone is going to install
flaps I did several landings without them deployed. As
expected it landed slightly faster but nothing the average sport
pilot couldn't handle. In addition, if the flaps aren't
installed it's likely the retractable landing gear won't be
If you choose to fly without the options the result will be a
reduced flying weight, so the no-flap landings will be even better
than my model and mine lands just fine without them. The
main reason I use them is because they are cool looking, not
because it needs them.
let friend and fellow club member Bill McNeal fly the P-47 for
the video portion of the review. We already have 3 of
these planes at the field that he has setup or flown so there
were no surprises as he put the P-47 through its paces.
The P-47 Thunderbolt looks like a
war bird but it flies like the average sport tail dragger.
I wouldn't recommend this as a beginners plane but anyone that
has mastered a trainer should have little trouble making the
As a P-47
owner you have a few choices. You can keep it simple and
fly the P-47 with a basic 4 channel radio (DSM2 required for the
Bind and Fly version) and fixed landing gear. You can add
the optional retractable landing gear and flaps either when you
assemble the P-47 or any time after the fact, like when you see
another one flying with the gear up. You can also omit the
landing gear entirely, install the belly skids, and fly from
grass using a hand launch.
There are two questions that I
must satisfy before highly recommending a model.
1. Am I planning on keeping the
model as my own at the end of the review? 2. Would I
replace the model with my own money if something happened to it?
The answer to both these
questions is YES so I can say that I highly recommend the
Parkzone P-47 Thunderbolt. I also encourage you to add the
optional retractable landing gear and flaps if your budget
allows as they really add the finishing touches to an already
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.