RCU Review: Tower Hobbies Razor 3D

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    Contributed by: Burc Simsek | Published: October 2011 | Views: 18351 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Tower Hobbies Razor 3D


    P.O. Box 9078
    Champaign, IL 61826-9078

    You may recognize the Razor 3D from a few years back when it was a Lanier ARF. In fact we have two articles of the original Razor3D here in the RCU magazine, one of the ARF review and one electric conversion by Greg Covey.

    Well Lanier RC is no more and you cannot get your hands on a Lanier ARF, but Tower Hobbies has now brought back the Razor3D in a new attractive trim covering that can be setup as glow or electric right out of the box.

    The original Razor3D was almost a blend between a pattern and an acrobatic aircraft that also had surfaces large enough to allow it to 3D.  Just looking at the Tower Hobbies Razor3D, I would venture to say that it would fall in the same category. It has a long tail and resembles a pattern ship but one look at the huge control surfaces will tell you that it means business in the 3D department as well.

    So without further delay, lets put the Razor3D together and see what she is capable of.

    • Great sports performance
    • Attractive new trim scheme
    • Electric or Glow option
    • Direct linkages
    • Magnetic canopy for quick battery change (electric)

    • None Found

    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:

    Frustration Level:

    What do these ratings mean?

    The Tower Hobbies Razor3D is shipped in a sturdy box that does not have much in the way of eye candy.

    The double boxed shipping container does a great job of protecting the contents. The single piece wing is placed on the top of the box with the rest of the components secured in a compartment beneath it. All of the components of the ARF are individually wrapped and taped down. 

    With all of the components removed from the box, you can see that the Razor3D looks like a very common 40 size build which should only take a few hours to assemble.

    Tower Hobbies Razor3D

    Price: $149.97 

    Key Features

    • Painted fiberglass cowl, wheel pants and painted composite landing gear.
    • Lightweight, all-wood construction is expertly covered with Top lite MonoKote, for lasting looks.
    • Short, direct control linkages simplify set-up and deliver fast, precise movement.
    • Includes Generous hardware package.


    Take a ride on the cutting edge of 3D performance with the Tower Hobbies Razor, an almost ready-to-fly aerobat whose large control surfaces supply maneuverability with a capital MAN! Short, direct control linkages make control movement quick and precise while also helping to simplify set-up. The Razor’s lightweight, all-wood construction comes expertly finished with Top Flite MonoKote film. Its fiberglass cowl and wheel pants and composite landing gear also arrive already painted. Tower Hobbies includes a spinner and hardware, leaving very little else for you to buy before adding your choice of radio and electric or glow power system.


    Wingspan: 52 in (1,320 mm)
    Length: 54.5 in (1,385 mm)
    Flying Weight: 5-5.5 lb (2,270-2,490 g)
    Wing Area: 579 in2 (37.3 dm2)
    Wing Loading: 20-22 oz/ft2 (61-67 g/dm2)
    Radio Requirements: Minimum 4-channel, 4-5 servos
    Recommended Engine Sizes: .46-.55 2-Stroke, .70-.81 4-stroke
    Recommended Electric Motor*: ElectriFly RimFire .55 Outrunner
    Recommended ESC* : 60A 
    Recommended Battery*: 22.2V 6S3350mAh Battery

    Gear used in review

    One of the first things that you will notice as you open the box is an an addendum to the manual and some wing foam/tape which is intended to sit between the wing and the fuselage. As you take a look at the rest of the components, you will notice the magnetic canopy hatch which also features a clever latching mechanism. The firewall is pre-drilled and blind nuts have been installed to receive a glow or electric mount. A small section has been pre-carved in the firewall that can be removed if going the electric route to get cooling inside the fuselage.

    The painted cowl looks great and has a nice big cooling opening in the front. A .40 size motor mount is provided along with a nice blue spinner. The landing gear also looks pretty sharp and it is nice that the wheel pants are attached using machine screws instead of going into wood. 

    The tail sections once again shows you those huge control surfaces. The Elevator is composed of two halves that will be joined together by a metal U-shaped rod allowing for a single servo to control both halves. The wing is a single piece and has flat tips. I have also been supplied the Tower Hobbies TS-160 digital servos for this review which should be more than plenty to power the control surfaces for both precision and 3D flight.


    The Tower Hobbies Razor3D manual is very nice and describes the assembly with great detail . Installation steps are clearly documented and illustrated to help in assembling the ARF as quickly and correctly as possible. The CG location (130mm back from the leading edge) and the recommended control throws are clearly documented.

    Download the manual

    The assembly start by hinging the ailerons. CA hinges are provided and the manual recommends that you drill the hinge locations which will create a channel for the CA to run down and penetrate deeper to allow for a stronger bond.

    Four CA hinges are used per aileron. I used some T-pins to get the hinges ready for installation.

    The hinges inserted nicely into the pre-cut hinge slots and I was glad that I did not have to widen or rework any of the slots.

    Tower Hobbies TS-160 Servos

    Price: $42.99

    Key Features

    • For glow or electric powered helicopters, cars, boats and .20-1.60 size airplanes
    • Standard size servo has dual ball bearings and metal gears and is great for applications requiring both high torque and high speed delivered with Digital precision
    • One year limited warranty


    Speed: 0.17 sec@60o  (4.8V) - 0.14 sec@60o (6.0V)
    Torque: 110 oz-in (7.92 kg/cm) (4.8V) - 131 oz-in (9.43 kg.cm) (6.0V)
    Length: 1.6" (41mm)
    Width: 0.8" (20mm)
    Height: 1.5" (38mm)
    Weight: 2.1oz (60g)

    With the CA hinges in place, I used some thin CA to set them in place making sure that I was able to get full deflection on the surfaces before hand. The ailerons are controlled by individual servos that install in pre-cut locations in the bottom of the wing. There is a string that runs through the interior of the wing which comes in very handy to route the servo extensions. The TS-160 servo leads are actually long enough to run the entire length of the inside of the wing and come out of the hole in the middle. I did install 6" extensions to each aileron servo to allow them to reach the receiver. Installation of the servos are straight forward and described in great detail in the manual. Once the servo leads have been routed, the servos are attached by drilling the wing, tapping the holes and installing the servos in place with four screws.

    With the servos in place, the control horns for the ailerons have to be installed. This is achieved by locating the hard mount inside the aileron, then marking and drilling the location to allow the two sheet metal screws to screw into the control horn backing plate on the other side. The connection to the servo arm is then made by using a 90 degree push rod connector. 

    With the servos completed, two nylon wind dowels are epoxied in place. These will hold the wing in from the front where a single nylon bolt holds it in place in the rear. To attach the belly pan, I mounted the wing and taped the pan in place before I marked it.

    A section of covering has to be removed to attach the belly pan and the manual describes how this can be achieved using a soldering iron. I opted for a sharp exacto knife made quick work of removing the covering before using Epoxy to glue the belly pan in place. Before I glued the belly pan, I did mount the wing back on the fuselage to make sure that the pan was aligned with the fuselage as nicely as possible. 

    With the pan glued in place and the wing still on the fuselage, work on the tail section can start by installing the horizontal stabilizer. I was pleased to see that I did not have to do any further sanding to get the stabilizer level with the wings.

    A steel U-shaped connector is used to join the elevator halves together. Make sure you insert this before you glue in the stabilizer. The short vertical stabilizer is secured in place by wicking some thin CA between the fuselage and the stabilizer. With both stabilizers glued to the fuselage, the elevator halves are attached using CA hinges. Epoxy is used to make sure the steel joiner makes a good bond to the elevator.

    The rudder is attached using two CA hinges and a nylon tab that houses the tail gear. I made sure I was able to get full deflection on all of the surfaces with as minimal gap as possible then used thin CA to set everything in place. I also attached the tail wheel at this time using a single wheel collar.

    The assembly of the main landing gear is quite quick as well. The provided axles are attached to the landing gear and the main wheels are held in place using two collars. The manual recommends that you file flat spots where the set screws will connect with the axles to make sure that they do not rotate back off. The wheel pants are secured to the gear using two sheet metal screws and the landing gears are then attached to the fuselage using six screws.

    One of the new features that the Tower Hobbies Razor3D has over the old design is the use of direct linkages in the tail vs the bell crank type of assembly. The servos for the elevator and the rudder are prepared in the same fashion as the aileron servos (using 18" extensions) and attached to the fuselage in the pre-cut slots. About the only gotcha here is that the rudder control horn has to be modified a bit (which is covered in the manual) to clear the fuselage at full right deflection. One other nice feature on the rudder servo linkage is that Tower Hobbies has provided a nice carbon fiber tube to help stiffen the rather long control linkage. Once inserted in the control rod, the carbon fiber tube can actually thread on the control rod to make sure it does not move around during flight.

    O.S. .55AX

    Price: $169.98

    Key Features

    • Same mounting dimensions as the O.S. Max .46 AX
    • Advanced Bi-metallic liner process uses a double layer of plating material rather than one thick layer. This help the metal bond to the cylinder and makes the plating mode durable. 
    • Power box positionable muffler.
    • Angular head design offers increased surface area for better cooling.
    • 40J Carburetor with diagonally placed Needle Valve eliminating remote needle valve placement.
    • Two year limited warranty.


    Displacement: .545 cu in (8.93 cc)
    Bore: .906" (23 mm)
    Stroke: .846" (21.5 mm)
    Practical RPM: 2,000 - 17,000
    Power Output: 1.75 ps/16,000 rpm
    Weight: 14.29 oz (405 g) w/o muffler
    18.52 oz (525 g) w/   muffer
    Recommended Props: 12x7-8, 13x6-7
    Crankshaft thread size: 1/4-28
    Default Needle Locations : High Speed: 2 turns out from fully closed
    Low Speed: 3mm gap between the needle and spray bar at full throttle.

    The engine mount has to be trimmed of excess plastic and can be attached to the fuselage using four bolts.

    The manual recommends that the opening of the lower part of the cowl be opened up for glow installation. I used a rotary tool to make the hole a little larger so that it would clear the carburetor. 

    The throttle servo is installed in the fuselage and the control rod routed through the fuselage. The throttle linkage is made by using a screw-lock type connector which makes it easy to adjust the center location and end points overall.

    When it came time to attach the engine, I noticed that the recommended distance of 4-7/8" from the firewall to the front of the collar was too far out. I initially did not pay attention and drilled out the mount at the recommended location only to find out later that the cowl did not fit properly. With a replacement engine mount, I decided that I would place the cowl on first and adjust the location of the engine from there. What I ended up with was about 4-1/2" from the firewall to the collar which resulted in a very nice small gap between the spinner and the cowl. With the engine in place, I installed the tank in the front of the fuselage using two Velcro ties. I also installed a third line in the tank to allow for easy filling and emptying of the tank.

    The manual does not show you how to make these cuts so you are pretty much on your own here. I decided that I would install the muffler after I installed the cowling so I had to make a large enough hole on one side and smaller holes on the other to get to the screws afterwards. I also opened two large holes in the bottom to get access to the glow plug and allow for cooling of the head. On the other side of the cowl, I opened an elongated hole to allow access to the high speed needle and installed a fuel DOT. 

    As far as the electronics, I installed the receiver and receiver battery in the recommended locations and wired everything down with the intention  that I would not be taking the wing off again. Luckily the 50" wing fits nicely in the back of my SUV so I do not have to deal with field assembly. At this point, I also applied the wing tape that had been supplied as an addendum to the manual and bolted the wing in place. With all of the main installation completed, I installed a 13x4 (regular) APC propeller on the nose. The cuts on the supplied blue spinner had to widened slightly to fit the 13x4 prop.  

    When it came time to balance the Razor3D, I noticed that with all of the recommended components in their recommended locations, I was about 10mm on the nose heavy side (balancing at 120mm) although still within recommended range. I decided that I would fly it first like that before I started to shift the CG around. After setting the control surfaces to low and high rates with the recommended exponential, it was off to the field for the maiden flight.

    For the maiden flight of the Tower Hobbies Razor3D, we went out to Scobee field (named after the late Richard "Dick" Scobee, commander of the Shuttle Challenger) in Houston on a hot but calm summer day. As I can carry the Razor3D without having to take wing off, field assembly was non existent. However for those that will have to take the wing off, all that needs to be done is to attach the servo leads and then seat the wing and attach it in place with a single bolt. 

    Since the OS55AX was a brand new engine and needed to be broken in, I placed the Razor3D on the engine break in stands at the field and proceeded to start the engine. With the glow plug attached and the engine primed, it did not take too much effort to get the OS55AX started and running at a fairly rich setting. The manual for the OS55AX documents a very detailed procedure to break in the engine which I followed to the letter. After running a tank through on the ground and heat cycling the engine, it was time to get the Razor3D airborne.

    The OS55AX manual recommends that you run the engine rich, gradually leaning it out over the course of 10 tanks which seems like it is forever when you want to get down to business with your shiny new airplane. This did however give us the opportunity to take it easy on the first few flights and get some very nice photos of the Razor3D in low and slow flight. As we taxied on to the runway for the maiden, I noticed that the ground handling that the Razor3D provided did not show any bad manners and that it could be steered with the tail gear in a comfortable fashion. With the engine still fairly rich, we advanced the throttle to get the Razor3D rolling and within a few feet the tail lifted off the ground as the Razor3D accelerated towards a perfect lift off.

    Once in the air, I did not have to touch the trims and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Razor3D flew and tracked perfectly right out of the hole. For the first few flights, we took it easy doing nothing more than a few rolls, loops and some inverted flight, nothing that was too taxing on the engine. The Razor3D tracked very nicely through all of these basic maneuvers and was behaving like a good sport plane should with only a touch of down elevator required to keep level inverted flight.

    As we ran more nitro through the engine and started to lean it out, the OS55AX started to make more and more power and the muffler tone started to sing. Around the sixth tank or so I did my first knife edge low pass over the runway and noticed that I had to hold in a good amount of elevator and aileron to compensate for rudder coupling. On the next flight, I added some weight to the tail to bring the CG around the 130mm mark and the rudder coupling was drastically eliminated which made both David and myself very happy as the brought the Razor3D lower and lower in KE flight over the runway for still photos.

    As we flew some more basic sport patterns, we noticed that the Razor3D likes to track very straight due to its pattern like tail and can snap very nicely. Avalanches looked extremely well with the snap on the top of the loop not causing any loss of airspeed. The OS55AX is a power house that once broken in and leaned out started to pull the Razor3D with authority through everything we could throw at it.

    When it comes to 3D (after all, it is named Razor3D), the Razor3D did quite well but to be honest it is not what I would call an all out 3D machine. Upright harriers did have a bit of wing rock to them and the Razor did want to drop a wing at times when steering around with the rudder but nothing that was uncontrollable. The OS55AX provides enough power to hover the Razor3D and pull out with authority but since it is a two stroke, it does take some throttle management to keep it humming. I did notice that I had to input  a little bit more than usual inputs to try and keep hovers steady. Rolling harriers were also not that hard to perform but for some reason I just cannot get used to a low wing airplane doing rolling maneuvers, but that is probably just me.  To aid in the 3D performance of the Razor3D, we shifted the CG all the way back to 145mm and this allowed us to perform more stable harriers and hovers but resulted in rudder coupling creeping back in KE flight. I will probably keep the CG around 135mm going forward as coupling is more important to me than a tail heavy airframe.

    When it comes to landing the Razor3D, we did not experience any ill manners from the airframe and setup. The Razor3D has a very good glide ratio and can be landed on the mains or settled in for a three point landing without any problems.

    Check out the video to see her in action!

    Tower Hobbies Razor3D (Pilots, Stills & Video: Burc Simsek and David Smith)

    It is good to see some of the classic airframes of the past being revived with new face lifts. The Tower Hobbies Razor3D is a great remake of the original Lanier Razor3D and is now available with an electric option right out of the box. Although, I did not actually see the electric motor mount in the ARF, if I had the option, I think I would actually prefer this airframe as an electric since it would help in preserving the nice cowl. That however does not take anything away from the fantastic glow setup and with the OS55AX, you can have all the power you ever need for this airframe.

    I would classify the Razor3D as a hybrid pattern/sport/3D airplane which probably likes to be flown more as a pattern/sport type airframe than all out 3D. By shifting the CG rearwards, the 3D capability is enhanced but at an observed loss of precision especially on KE flight and increased landing difficulty. I personally like an airframe that can KE and track very well and in the recommended CG position, and the Razor3D absolutely delivers in that sense. It tracks through maneuvers with confidence and can snap very easily and stop when commanded. The supplied gas tank allows for flight upwards of eight minutes and possibly even more with conservative throttle usage. 

    Overall I was very pleased with the Razor3D and it will make a fine addition to my hangar of sport/3D airplanes.

    P.O. Box 9078
    Champaign, IL 61826-9078

    Comments on RCU Review: Tower Hobbies Razor 3D

    Posted by: kochj on 10/11/2011
    The color scheme looks really good...very surprised... would like to see a review with a new style os 4-stroke....
    Posted by: Ernie Misner on 11/11/2011
    Nicely detailed review - thanks! The extra effort on dialing in the CG will help a lot! Ernie Misner
    Posted by: Tom Nied on 07/29/2012

    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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