RCU Review: E-Flite Habu 32 DF ARF

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: November 2011 | Views: 49808 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    E-flite Habu 32 DF ARF

    Review by: Greg Covey

    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring

    Video Pilot: Scott Miller

    Intro & Specs
    In the Box
    Recommended Setup
    Test Flying / Summary
    Manufacturer & Dist. Info


    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


    High quality ARF package
    Matched power pystem
    Full ducting
    Optional retracts
    Easy assembly
    Excellent manual
    Superb flying performance


    Slight wing fit issues
    Wheel hub fit issue





    E-flite Habu 32 DF ARF

    E-flite?s new Habu 32 DF ARF takes ducted fan performance and engineering to new heights with a combination of the E-flite Delta-V® 32 80mm power system and the first Platinum Series E-flite® DF design. The Platinum Series delivers superior, enhanced features and meticulous attention to detail!

    Powered by the E-flite Delta-V® 32 80mm fan unit and 2150Kv DF32 brushless motor, its hyper-efficient intake and exhaust ducting allows this potent combo to produce large amounts of thrust when powered with a high-C 6S Li-Po pack. The Habu 32 DF ARF includes full intake and exhaust ducting resulting in a sport EDF with exhilarating speed!

    The Habu 32 DF also boasts a level of fit and finish that is every bit as impressive as its performance. Its sleek fiberglass fuselage comes pre-painted and integrates the vertical stabilizer. The fully-sheeted wings and horizontal stabilizers are reinforced with carbon blade spars and covered with genuine UltraCote®. The control surfaces are already pre-hinged for you! Just add the optional E-flite electric retracts (sold separately), and you've got a sport jet that truly stands out from the crowd.


    • Wing Span: 40.5 in (1030mm)
    • Wing Area: 392 sq in (25.3 sq dm)
    • Overall Length: 49.5 in (1250mm)
    • Flying Weight: 7.05 - 7.40 lb (3.20 - 3.35 kg)
    • Motor Size: DF 32 Brushless Motor, 2150Kv
    • Speed Control : 80 Amp brushless
    • Recommended Battery: 6S 22.2V 5000mAh 30C LiPo, 10AWG, EC5
    • Recommended Radio: 5+ Channel Radio system
    • Servos: Micro Servos (8 required)
    • Assembly Time: 10-15 Hours

    Key Features:

    • Painted fiberglass fuselage and vertical stabilizer
    • Sheeted balsa wings and horizontal stabilizers covered in genuine UltraCote
    • Wings and Stabilizers are removable using carbon blade spars and aluminum sockets for easy transport
    • Pre-hinged control surfaces and Flap Ready
    • Hyper-efficient duct design - no cheater holes
    • Bolt-on compatibility with E-flite Delta-V 32 Power System (sold separately)
    • Ready for E-flite 15-25 Size Electric Retracts (sold separately)
    • Machined aluminum wheels
    • Optional landing gear doors included
    • Access hatch for the fan unit and a canopy hatch for easy battery access
    • Quick-release access hatch/cockpit deck

    In the Box:


    The Habu 32 parts are well protected in its custom box. Each component was sealed in plastic and I found no damage or scratches on any part.

    I was elated to find all the control surfaces pre-hinged and ready to accept servos. Most of the decals have been pre-applied and a separate decal sheet is provided for final detailing. The 56-page manual is loaded with step-by-step instructions, clear photos, and E-tips for a successful assembly. It is also available on-line here.

    The ARF comes with fixed gear mains and machined aluminum wheels with rubber tires. I'll be using the optional E-flite 15-25 size electric retracts in my review.


    A closer look at the fuselage reveals why the E-flite Platinum Series delivers superior, enhanced features and meticulous attention to detail.

    The quick-release hatch makes swapping out batteries and accessing electronics easy. The sleek fiberglass fuselage comes pre-painted with an integrated vertical stabilizer. It also features an optimized intake and exhaust design that maximizes fan thrust without requiring cheater holes. The built-up wings attach to the fuselage using carbon fiber blade spars that can handle the incredible speeds and G-loads the Habu 32 DF is capable of.

    Recommended Setup:

    I'll be using the recommended Completion Guide which includes the following items:

    • E-flite Delta-V (R) 32 80mm EDF Unit
    • E-flite BL32 Ducted Fan Motor (2150Kv)
    • E-flite 5000mAh 6S 22.2V 30C LiPo pack
    • JR Sport MC35 Micro Servos (7)
    • JR DS368BB Servo for rudder
    • Spektrum AR8000 8-Channel DSMX Receiver
    • E-flite 80-Amp Pro Switch-Mode BEC Brushless ESC (V2)




    The assembly begins by gluing the control horns to all the control surfaces. This can normally be a fair amount of work but E-flite made it easy with pre-cut slots in the control surfaces and fiberglass control horns. After sanding the bottom portion of the horns, they were secured with 5-minute epoxy.

    The aileron and flap servo installation comes next. The only issue I had here was the residue that the cellophane tape left that was holding the servo covers in place. I used some CA Debonder to remove the residue.

    I didn't have any 3" servo lead extensions for the aileron servo leads so I used 6" extensions. Instead of gluing the servo blocks with 5-minute epoxy, I used medium CA.

    All the parts fit well and the hardware shown was included in the kit. E-flite did a good job on detailing which servo arm and position to connect the linkage.

    The carbon wing spars were sanded and glued to the wings after first checking the fit for orientation. There is a good tip in the manual for adding petroleum jelly to the fuselage area around the wing socket to prevent glue from transferring during the final fit process.

    The removable wings are held to the fuselage by two 8-32 socket head bolts on each side.

    I found the manual instructions and parts fit to both be excellent. If the wing doesn't fit flush with the fuselage, try using a #10 washer on the back pin to keep the leading edge flush with the fuselage. On my model, the left wing fit perfect while the right wing needed the washer.

    Habu Meets Habu 32:

    The E-flite Habu 32 is slightly larger than the ParkZone Habu. The older foam model was a great design that introduced many modelers to EDF. Although I typically hand toss my PZ Habu without the gear installed, it takes less than 5 minutes to change it over to fixed gear with a steerable nose wheel.

    My plan is to fly both stock versions off grass and pavement for a comparison.

    Rudder Servo:

    My E-flite electric retracts are on backorder so I skipped that step for now and moved on to the rudder servo. The JR DS368BB digital servo fit perfectly in the bay. The servo presses in place and is then held by the white plastic strap.

    I used a 24" extension here instead of the recommended 18" extension because that was all I had on hand. The rudder servo bay is well designed and I had no issue with the installation.

    You can use either Goo-Gone or Bob Smith Un-Cure to remove the residue from the cellophane tape used to hold the hatch on for shipping.

    Instead of taping the rudder servo hatch back in place, I tacked it in position using a tiny amount of medium CA.


    The stabilizer spar installation was similar to the wing installation in that it used carbon spars for alignment and they are both removable. When I glued the spars to the stabilizers, I made sure that the stab was forced up to favor no gap when viewed from the top of the plane. The result is a very clean look that enhances the hidden hinging and control cables.

    Although the fit of the stab onto the fuselage required some forcing, the instructions and photos in the manual worked perfectly.


    The elevator halves are controlled by two servos in the center of the fuselage connected by well-supported sleeved pushrods. A custom pushrod support is assembled for each side and the rods connect to the control horns and servo arms without any bending or cutting.

    Once centered by a live radio system, all the 2mm locking nuts were tightened in place after applying some threadlocker to the control rod threads. The well fitting parts and supporting hardware has made this an easy assembly.

    Ducted Fan Unit:

    When assembling and installing the fan unit, care and patience are required to ensure that it is done correctly. The E-flite 80mm, 5-blade rotor comes factory-balanced so there is no need to balance it yourself. However, I did verify my rotor balance using a Dubro Tru-Spin Prop Balancer and saw no issues.

    Since the adapter is mounted onto the motor first, before mounting the motor in the DF unit, it is a good idea to run the motor lightly and check for any wobble on the spinning adapter. Even a balanced rotor will wobble if the adapter doesn't have a true center. If the adapter wobbles, it needs to be replaced. Since I had no issues with my adapter, I completed the assembly and did a final light to medium test run before installing the DF into the Habu 32.

    One key issue in providing proper assembly is to mount the fan fairing so that the motor wires come out on the side of the fan unit with the E-flite label. When mounting the fan unit, care must be taken to make sure that it sits properly inside the fiberglass intake ducts. Likewise, when mounting the Mylar exhaust tube, the tube must reside outside the DF unit but inside the framework. I taped my exhaust tube in place using 3M clear tape.

    The exhaust tube can be trimmed on the back of the model, if desired, using curved hobby scissors. I added some 3M Scotchcal silver trim tape for added detail.

    Electric Retracts:

    My E-flite 15 - 25 Tricycle Electric Retracts arrived today so I got started on cutting away the covering on the wing bottom side. Note that the wheel wells are already installed in the Habu 32.

    The main retracts installed fairly easily but I did have some issues with the wheel hub adapters. The wire struts that come with the E-flite 15 - 25 Tricycle Electric Retracts are replaced with the stock wire struts. A Dremel tool is required to cut off the end of the strut (about 1/8") so that it fits flush in the well. I didn't have a 3" servo lead extension so I used a 6" extension.

    Although the adapters seemed to spin well on the axle when I first selected the right size (you get three sets of three sizes in the kit), they would no longer spin once inserted into either side of the wheel hub. I needed to carefully drill and sand the inner diameter of the wheel so that it would spin freely but not be too sloppy.

    Other than the issue above, the electric retracts worked very well and the mounts were rock solid. E-flite includes rubber wheels with aluminum hubs which look great on the Habu 32!

    Notes: Instead of sanding the inner diameter of the installed plastic adapters, first drill the aluminum wheel itself slightly larger so that the adapter goes in with just a small press.

    The nose gear retract installation also requires you to swap the stock wire strut with the one that comes in the Habu 32 kit. I must have had a burr on the grub screw holding the stock wire on the retract because it would not come out, requiring it be drilled out.

    Once the desired strut was installed, I installed the steering servo and all went well as described in the manual. I had the same issue with the wheel hub adapters as before and needed to sand them out so the wheel would spin freely.

    After the retract is installed, the nose gear cover is screwed back in place. I needed to trim the cover a bit to prevent it from hitting the coil when steering the nose wheel. Although I programmed my JR 9503 to disable nose steering when in the up position, it is not required due to the design of the Tricycle Electric Retracts. The long cover sides were then taped to help secure it to the fuselage.

    E-flite also supplies a solid nose gear door for those that want to build a fully functional nose gear door. I will defer that option as well as the wheel pants until after I have a few flights on it.

    Receiver Installation:

    The receiver installation was pretty much by the manual. You need plenty of Y-harnesses and extensions for the Habu 32. I used 12" extensions and a Y-harness for the flaps, ailerons, and elevators. The E-flite 15 - 25 Tricycle Electric Retracts comes with a nice triple harness so you can plug all three retracts into the Gear channel. I used small black cable ties to secure the wires into groups and then secured them to the plywood posts that are on both insides of the fuselage. The cables were routed under the battery bay to the far side and I used foam wedges in between the ducting and fuselage top to keep them secure.

    I labeled both ends of each servo cable using green 3M Scotch masking tape. I also use it to secure extensions together. This tape sticks very well and can be found in most automotive or hardware stores. I haven't decided yet if I will keep the wings on or remove them for storage.

    Battery Installation:

    At first glance, the E-flite 5000mAh 6S 22.2V 30C LiPo pack looks like it has multiple connectors to choose from and the bullet connectors are shipped unprotected from shorting. Upon further inspection, the 6s pack is actually wired as two 3s packs where the final output voltage is on the blue EC5 connector and the bullet connectors are used to connect the two 3s sections in series. This is a clever arraignment that can use the bullet connectors as the final arming connection. However, when recharging the pack, you'll need to remember to connect the bullet connectors or the charger won't see all six cells.

    Note: Although not recommended by E-flite, I have become accustomed to always add a 100ohm, 1 watt anti-spark resistor to my applications of 6s or higher. The E-flite battery is first connected to the ESC and then the final arming connection is done by touching the resistor lead to the bullet connector just before plugging it in. The resultant spark-free arming saves the connectors from having to be replaced by sparks that can leave significant pitting. I also keep a foam cap on the male bullet connector until I am ready to arm the plane. If you are not proficient at soldering, don't attempt to add the resistor and simply use the pack as recommended.

    Since the canopy hatch ball is threaded, it is best to dab some thread-locker on it so that it doesn't vibrate free in flight.

    My pack is shown in a position where it aligns with the back of the battery platform which results is a CG of 115mm from the leading edge. It is well secured in place using hook and loop strips on the bottom as well as a strap. This is the stock configuration and all the material is supplied.

    ESC and Air Flow:

    Before I completed the last fuselage assembly step on the Habu 32, which is securing the bottom hatch, I noticed that the air flow exit from the battery bay is through the center of the intake ducts. Horizon has assured me that the E-flite 80-Amp Pro Switch-Mode V2 ESC will not have any problems with overheating when positioned as shown in the manual.

    E-flite also recommends programming the ESC to match the cell count of your battery pack, which is 6s on the stock setup. Since the default setting on the ESC is AUTO for cell count, you need to follow the steps below to change the setting to a fixed cell count of 6. These steps are also detailed in the ESC manual.

    The procedure is as follows:

    • Set throttle stick to full
    • Turn on transmitter, then receiver
    • After 5 sec and two sets of ring tones, move stick to center
    • ESC will beep 1 time for menu 1, which is the cell count menu
    • Move throttle stick to full, then back to center after the low tone
    • Move the stick back to full and wait for the number of beeps for your cell count
    • Move stick to center when your cell count is heard.
    • The controller will beep 2 times, indicating you have set the program selection
    • Power down receiver and move throttle stick to lower off position

    I sealed the leading edge of the bottom hatch with clear tape and marked the CG location ranges from 100mm to 115mm in 5mm increments.

    Cockpit Doll-ups:

    The stock cockpit plastic must be cut to shape if you intend to use it. Once cut, it fits quite well inside the canopy. The ParkZone (PKZ4414) pilot can used, if desired, but needs to be cut lower to allow sufficient headroom. You can even dress it up to match the Habu 32 colors with a little paint as shown above.

    Alternatively, other options can be re-sized to fit in the Habu 32 canopy with a few cuts from a Dremel tool. Unfortunately, the large 6s 5AH battery in the Habu does not allow for anything to fit below the canopy. My solution was to make two cockpits since the spare parts are inexpensive. My "flying" cockpit is simply lined with black felt. It looks nice and is very light.

    Dolling up a jet cockpit is a great deal of fun and the design of the Habu 32 cockpit/canopy allows you do gain access for additional scale upgrades at anytime.

    My finished Habu 32 is decked out with its display canopy. With the black flying canopy installed, shown below, it weighs 85oz without battery. With the 30oz E-flite 6s 5AH pack installed, the Habu is ready to fly at 115oz (or 7.2lbs). All the control throws are initially set to the manual recommendations, including the elevator offset for both flap settings.

    E-flite reports the power system providing 1400 watts at 62 amps. This will provide 194 watts/lb on a very efficient design.

    The maiden flights of my Habu 32 went very well even though the grass was bumpy and we had a crosswind. The field is a full scale grass airport which made for some bumpy take-offs. That being said, the Habu 32 didn't look any different on take-off than a larger turbine BVM Mig 15 flown earlier. Pilot, Scott Miller, took the Habu 32 through the paces by checking the flaps, stall, and aerobatic capability. The Habu 32 is a clean and efficient design which performed very well. We had no issues with the stock gear mains on the grass field and the electric retracts worked flawlessly.

    My Habu 32 CG was around the 115mm mark and Scott commented that it was a bit pitch sensitive but not bad. We added a 2.5 second delay in the servo speed for both the flaps and elevator offset. On the second flight, we reduced the elevator down trim when flaps were enabled as the Habu 32 wanted to slightly descend on the first flight.

    Since the Habu 32 performed as expected on the first two flights, it was time to mount the wheel pants and test it on pavement!

    Habu 32 Maiden Flights on Grass Video (26meg)

    I installed the optional main landing gear doors using the procedure described in the manual. The supplied gear door blocks are sanded on one side to curve the doors around the main wire struts and on the other side to help center the gear while it is retracting. I painted the gear door blocks grey to cover the wood color and help them blend into the model scheme.

    We had more success today flying the Habu 32 off pavement. Pilot, Scott Miller, also brought his just finished model so we maidened that as well. The flights were 6 minutes long which left a good safety margin of 15%-20% in the pack. We were able to perform loops, rolls, and knife edge the Habu 32 without issue. As seen in the second video, it seemed to handle take-offs on pavement nicely. When landing, without breaks, the long paved runway at the full-scale Pine Hill Airport was a nice benefit!

    Habu 32 Flights on Pavement Video (20meg)



    E-flite?s new Habu 32 DF ARF, powered by the E-flite Delta-V® 32 80mm fan unit, takes mainstream ducted fan performance and engineering to new heights. Its hyper-efficient intake and exhaust ducting allows the stock power system to produce large amounts of thrust when powered with a high-C 6S Li-Po pack. The Habu 32 DF ARF includes full intake and exhaust ducting resulting in a sport EDF with exhilarating speed!


    The Habu 32 performed very well on both grass and pavement. Without brakes, it rolls quite a bit on pavement until you have some practice slowing it up with the flaps on and gear down.

    Just about any aerobatic maneuver can be performed, and, when you have enough speed for a knife edge, it seems to hold well but uses up the field quite fast.

    The E-flite electric retracts worked very well and I was impressed with how the gear handled both grass and paved surfaces.


    I have come to expect E-flite products to perform well and the Habu 32 did just that. The design is very efficient and has a recommended power system that perfectly matches the needs of the model. Even the ducted fan rotor is already balanced! If you have enough experience with flaps, retracts, and flying fast planes, the E-flite Habu 32 is an exciting choice for a versatile sport jet model!


    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


    Comments on RCU Review: E-Flite Habu 32 DF ARF

    Posted by: mghowell53 on 09/13/2011
    Greg, A great review as always.Keep up the good work,nice flying Scott!. Mike Howell
    Posted by: chetway on 12/03/2011
    Gregg, I have read that a lot of people are adding a seperate bec with the 80amp esc for safety. What is your take on this? Also I agree with Mike, nice flight.
    Posted by: Greg Covey on 12/04/2011
    Hi, my preference is to use a 2s 1100mAh LifeSource pack on this application but it wasn't allowed for the review. The LifeSource pack has two connectors that plug directly into the receiver and eliminate both the switch and regulator. There is no chance for a receiver reset to happen using this setup. Good luck!
    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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