RCU Review: Hangar 9 Miss America

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: February 2005 | Views: 86248 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Mike Buzzeo (MinnFlyer) Email Me

    Hangar 9
    Distributed through
    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Phone: (217) 352-1913

    Window Media Player
    Miss America P-51 ARF

    Ease of Assembly:
    Completeness of Kit:
    Covering Quality:
    Basic Flight:
    Advanced Flight:
    Stall Characteristics:

    • Excellent Flight Characteristics
    • Well Engineered
    • Ultracote Covering
    • Quality Hardware
    • Pre-installed Retracts
    • Prepainted Fiberglass Cowl
    • Prepainted Canopy

    • Engine Mount bolts too long.
    • Weak Landing Gear Struts (See Text)

    I have to admit that I have always had a fondness for the P-51 Mustang. No doubt a lot of that is due to the fact that my dad was a P-51 Crew Chief with the 357th in England during WWII. He was awarded the Bronze Star for never having one of his planes abort a mission due to mechanical failure.

    The last Mustang he was assigned to was a P51D whose pilot, Jesse R. Frey, named it "Ain't Misbehavin'. To this day, every P51D that anyone in our family has built carried Ain't Misbehavin's markings.

    Ain't Misbehavin' of the 357th Fighter Group
    Piloted by Jesse R Frey (Click for actual photo)

    To digress a little further - I was born on the 4th of July (really), so Red, White and Blue color schemes have always been a favorite of mine. With these things in mind, I have always thought that if I were ever going to build a P-51 that WASN'T done with Ain't Misbehavin's markings, my only other consideration would be to copy Brent Hisey's P-51D Mustang race plane, The Miss America.

    Brent Hisey's P-51D Reno Racer
    Miss America

    Needless to say, when RCU asked if I would be interested in reviewing Hangar 9's new Miss America P-51, I jumped at the chance!

    The Miss America is the same airframe as Hangar-9's popular 60 size "Marie" P-51, but it boasts a new, stronger set of retracts (and of course, a cool new color scheme). So without further ado, let's dig in!

    Name: Miss America P-51D

    Price: $254.99

    65.5 in (166.4 cm)

    Wing area: 754 sq in (48.1 sq dm)

    Length: 55.75 in (141.6 cm)

    Weight per Mfg: Total: 7.0 - 8.5 lb (3.2 - 3.9 kg)

    Actual Flying Weight: Total: 8.5 lb (3.9 kg)

    Skill level:Advanced

    Radio Used:
    Futaba Sky Sport Transmitter
    Futaba R127DF FM Rx

    (5) Futaba S-3004 Servos for Elevator, Rudder, Ailerons (2), Throttle

    (1) Futaba S136G Retract Servo

    Channels Used: 5 total - Elevator, Aileron, Rudder, Throttle, Retracts

    Battery Used:
    1 NoBS 6V 650 Mah NiMH

    Prop Used: Graupner 13.5 x 8

    Required to Complete:

    • 5-channel radio with 5 Standard Servos and 1 Low-Profile High Torque Retract Servo
    • Servo Wire Extensions
    • CA glue
    • 30-Min epoxy
    • Loctite thread lock
    • Fuel Tubing
    • Silicon Sealant
    • 91-100 class 4-Stroke, or 60-100 class 2-Stroke Engine, and Propeller
    • Standard building tools

    Inside the full-color box all of the parts were individually wrapped, and everything was well laid out. Once I saw that there was no shipping damage, I started to admire the color scheme. It's beautiful! The Red, White and Blue is very eye-catching, and the stars really set things off. I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy this.

    The Miss America sports a sturdy fiberglass cowl, and the retracts are pre-installed (That's a big time-saver!). The covering job is top-notch, and the canopy is pre-painted. All in all, everything is quite impressive.


    The Manual that comes with the Miss America is actually for the Hangar 9 "Marie" version of the P-51 as they are the same plane with different color schemes. The manual is excellent, although I did notice one typo that could cause trouble for some. In the instructions for installing the Elevator and Rudder Control Horns, both say to mount the horn on the left, while the Elevator horn should go on the left and the Rudder horn on the right.


    We start out by attaching the ailerons with CA Hinges . Next, the Aileron Servo Mounting Blocks are epoxied to the Hatches, and the Servo Hatches are installed with the aid of a string that is built into the wing.

    The covering is removed from the exit hole, and the Servo Wire is drawn through the hole. With the Hatches in place, the mounting screw holes are drilled, and the Hatch is secured with four wood screws.

    Now the Wing Joiner is epoxied into the wing, and the two Wing halves are joined. Once the epoxy has cured, the Aileron control horns are installed, and the pushrod is cut to length and connected.


    The Retracts are pre-installed in the wing, so all that is needed is to attach the Strut Covers. These are simply aligned and attached with gear straps and bolts. I was concerned about the fact that Hangar-9 was using 4mm (5/32") wire for the Struts. I have used retracts many times, and I have always felt that this size wire was too weak for even a 40 size model. My suspicions were confirmed on the first flight. More about the retracts later.

    The Retract Servo gets mounted to a cradle in the forward wing area. Although I was using a low-profile retract servo, it was bottoming out in the wing, so I added 1/8" strips to the cradle sides. This worked great and allowed the servo to sit correctly in the wing.

    Once the servo was installed, the pushrods were cut to size and attached with E-Z Connectors.


    The ribs on either side of the Retract Servo have clearance slots cut in them for the Gear Pushrods. The slots are spaced so that they line up with the pushrods when the servo is halfway between up and down, but when the servo is at full up or down the material between the slots will interfere with the pushrod. To correct this, all that is needed is to remove the plywood tab between the two clearance slots.


    The Manual recommends installing the wing bolt blind nuts by squeezing them in place with a pair of pliers. They also recommend using a piece of scrap on top, as the blind nut will protrude through the top of the mounting plate. I found that the nuts protruded quite a bit, so I used a different method to install them.

    Instead of using the pliers, I placed a ¼" drive socket over the nut, and pulled it through with the wing bolt. It worked like a charm!

    Then the holes are located, covering removed, and the wing bolt plate is epoxied in place.

    More covering is then removed to make room for the P-51's trademark air scoop.


    Once you have removed the covering in the glue area, the tail feathers get epoxied in place. I had to sand the Stab Saddle slightly to get the right Stab-To-Wing alignment, but nothing major.

    With the tail feathers attached, the holes for the Elevator Joiner Wire could now be measured, drilled, and the Joiner epoxied in place.

    Before the epoxy set, I CA'd the hinges, and clamped the two Elevator halves level with each other.

    The Tail Wheel is then inserted into the bracket, and the wire is bent and cut to size. The Fuse can now be drilled and the wheel assembly can be screwed in place.

    Now the covering can be removed from the Rudder where the Tail Wheel Wire gets inserted, the wire is epoxied in place, and the Rudder Hinges get a shot of Thin CA.

    With the addition of the Control Horns, the Tail Section is complete.


    The Tank goes together like any other, however, when it came time to install it, I found that the neck wouldn't go through the Firewall like the instructions mentioned. This was due to the fact that the engine mount screws were too long, and were protruding far enough through the firewall to interfere with the tank. I had some shorter screws in my shop, so I switched them. Once the Tank was in position, I held it in place with some foam padding.


    Horizon provides an Adjustable Engine Mount (The type with slots milled into the rails) for the Miss America, and the mounting holes are predrilled in the firewall.

    With the Engine in place, the hole for the Throttle Pushrod can be drilled, and the pushrod installed.

    Finally, the Cowl is cut out for the Engine, and screwed in place. (Note: I lost 3 of the 4 Cowl Screws on the first high-speed engine run, so you may want to replace the supplied screws with longer ones.)

    Engine Spotlight
    Saito 100

    1.00 Power in a .91 Size!

    The FA-91 is one of the most popular selling engines in Saito's extensive line of four-strokes. The .91 fits perfectly into most airplanes designed for .60-size two-strokes offering the ability to swing larger diameter props with more thrust than the two-stroke. Many pilots simply prefer the powerful sound of a four-stroke. Now Saito™ is offering a new engine that offers even more power than the .91 but that's similar in size and weight.

    Saito's new FA-100 will turn an APC 14 x 8 prop 300 to 700 rpm more than either the Saito .91 or O.S. .91. At only 19.2 ounces (less muffler), it weighs nearly 2 ounces less than the O.S as well! The Saito FA-100 is not just a punched out .91. It features a newly tooled case that shares the mounting dimensions of the O.S. 91. This allows it to be used with the many after-market engine mounts already available to fit this engine.

    • Bore: 29.0 mm
    • Stroke: 26.0 mm
    • Displacement: 1.05 cu. in. (17.1cc)
    • Practical RPM Range: 15% Fuel, 2,100-9,300
    • Weight: 19.4 oz. (550g)

    The Saito 100 will use a wide range of fuels. It is suggested to break them in with a fuel containing 20% oil, which I did, but then I switched to 15% Cool Power, and with the Graupner 13.5x8 prop, this engine provided PLENTY of power!


    According to the Manual, the Miss America can use Standard Servos, so that's what she got. Five Futaba S-3004's were used - 2 mounted in the tail, 2 in the wing, and 1 for Throttle. The only non-standard servo used was for the Retracts.

    I mounted the Receiver in a cutout in the Servo Tray, the Battery Pack went behind the radio compartment (Inside the Air Scoop), and I added a Du-Bro Switch/Charge Jack.


    It's time to cut out the plastic parts. I installed the dummy radio box, and Instrument Panel Decal, then added a Pilot and glued the pre-painted Canopy in place - but I left off the dummy Exhaust Stack. Read on to see why!


    Muffler Spotlight

    I happened to come across what has got to be the coolest P-51 muffler I have ever seen! KeLeo Creations of Gales Creek, Oregon manufactures professionally made, and custom built exhaust systems. One of the new products in their line is a semi-scale P-51 exhaust stack specially designed for the Hangar-9 .60 size P-51's (It fits both the Miss America as well as the 60 size "Marie"). When I saw this thing, I was blown away! I can't tell you how many times I have dreamed of seeing working stacks coming out of the sides of a model Mustang.

    Now, KeLeo has made this dream a reality!

    Saito 100 w/ KeLeo Exhaust Stack

    The muffler does not have a pressure nipple, but I often run 4-Strokes without pressure anyway so that's no big concern. Another fact to note is that Saito has stopped adding Chokes to their carburetors, and they recommend plugging the exhaust to prime the engine. Obviously, this could prove to be difficult with this manifold. However, an easy trick to priming the carb is to simply connect your fuel pump to the vent line and give it one or two cranks. The pressure you add to the tank will send fuel to the engine for priming.

    The custom P-51 Stack is presently only available for the Saito 100, but KeLeo will soon be releasing a version for an O.S. 91, so check with them if that's your engine of choice.

    A considerable amount of material needs to be removed from the Engine Mount to accommodate the KeLeo Muffler, but a Dremel Tool made short work of this.

    Engine Rail Mounts provide a secure attachment for the exhaust system.

    A slit in the bottom of the Cowl allows for minimal exhaust exit holes, and a Dave Brown Spinner completes the look. And that is one GOOD look!

    It's time to bring this little girl out of the basement, and into the sunlight!

    Maiden Flight

    The maiden flight was short, but it was not uneventful. I was very concerned with the condition of our runway. It's usually pretty bumpy - add to that the fact that it hadn't been mowed since the weather turned cold and you have a field that is going to be very rough on Retracts. So once the engine was running, I brought the plane out to the roadway in front of our field.

    As I taxied out, I could see the gear wobble. It was at least as bad as some of the RCU members had stated in the forum, so I did a short take off roll, and got the Miss America airborne.

    Once in the air she was a real joy to fly. I was delighted to see that it flies very scale-like, and that the Saito 100 combined with the KeLeo Exhaust stack sounded awesome (It didn't have that signature P-51 "Growl", but it's the next best thing!)

    Trims were good, and I put it through a few basic tricks. I was more impressed with how scale it looked than how well it did the maneuvers (and it did the maneuvers well!).

    Moment of truth… It's time to land.

    As soon as the gear touched, the plane did a quick jog to the right. I could see the gear wobbling like crazy, and I couldn't hold it straight, so I quickly aborted the landing before I wound up in the ditch. I managed to bring her in on the second attempt, but not without the help of some serious Body-English.

    Post-flight inspection revealed two things: The left gear had a considerable amount of play in it, and the strut could be rotated a few degrees. Time to head back to the shop.

    Back at the Shop

    After inspecting the retracts, I discovered that the set screw that holds the left gear's strut was slightly loose. That's what was causing the rotation, and the fix was as simple as tightening the set screw. But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why there was so much play in the same gear. The problem showed itself once I opened the second unit.

    There is a Strike Plate located inside the retract unit which is there for the adjustment set screw to rest against. Somewhere during that first flight, the Strike Plate in the left gear went bye-bye. I was able to fabricate a new one from a #11 razor blade with a disc sander, so I was back in business. The retracts were as good as new - so to speak. There was still the nagging "Wobbly" issue.

    I have been using retracts for over 20 years, and one thing I have learned about them is that standard 5/32" (or 4mm) wire is just not strong enough. The double-coil spring in the Miss America retracts only adds to the "Wobblies". So when I had the retracts open, I was delighted to see that the Hangar-9 units lend themselves very nicely to being modified to accept a larger gear wire. It's not tough to do either, and I'll walk you through the process.

    Start by working over a clean table! Remove the 4 screws that hold the case together, and carefully open the case. I say carefully because the tiny strike plate will come falling out, and you don't want to lose it! (Of course if you do, and you have a disc sander and a #11 razor blade… But that's another lesson).

    Now remove the set screw that is in one side of the bronze bushing. That will release the gear wire. Once the screw has been loosened, remove the strut.

    Follow the hole with a 3/16" drill bit. Don't use a very fast drill speed - Bronze is pretty hard and a fast speed could burn out your drill bit.

    Using the old struts as a size guide, bend a new set from 3/16" music wire. If you have the capability of winding a coil in the wire, go for it, but if you don't, you can just add a "Jog" in the wire to offset the difference between where the wire exits the retract and the bottom of the wing. You will also need to grind a flat at the top end of the wire for the set screw to rest on - again, use the original as a guide.

    To put them back together, simply assemble the Cam, the two sides and the pushrod. Once they are together, but before you tighten the screws, place the Strike Plate in position. Tightening the case will hold it in place.

    Once everything is back together, make sure the two units are mirror images of each other (One right and one left). A helpful tip to getting them back in place is to use a piece of inner pushrod tube to pull the wire back into position.

    Screw the retract in place, and replace the wheel covers and you're ready to go.


    As I said, I have a lot of experience with retracts, and one thing I have learned is that they are not an "Install and forget" item. As with other auxiliary functions - Like Smoke - they require "occasional" adjustment. "Occasional" can mean anything from once per month to once per flight.

    Ok, so why are they such a High-Maintenance item? There are actually several reasons. I will cover the main three. First, let's look at a standard Wire Landing gear:

    The "Torsion Bar" is more than just a means of strapping the gear to the plane. It is an integral part of the system. This bar acts as a shock-absorbing spring, so that when the gear is bent back, it has some relief. With a retractable gear, this important part of the system is lost. True, you can add a coil to the strut, but it won't work as well as that torsion bar does.

    Another factor is that generally, you need to use smaller wheels for retracts, both to relieve stress on the servo, and to be able to fit them in the Wheel Wells. Small wheels are more susceptible to shock, and therefore will put more stress on the struts.

    Finally, Standard Landing Gear Wires bend too, but they don't have to fit into an exact location (Like a Wheel Well) so you don't often notice that they have bent.

    So, what can you do about it? You COULD spend a lot of money for some Heavy-Duty, Spring-Loaded, Shock-Absorbing Struts, or you could plan on having to "Occasionally" straightening out your Wire Struts (See definition of "Occasional" above).

    The point of all of this is to let you know that modifying the Miss America's retracts to 3/16" struts will greatly improve their strength, but this is not a "Cure All" answer. Don't think that by modifying the gear you won't have any problems - Retracts ARE problems.

    So if Retracts are such a hassle, why use them? There's really only one logical reason to use them on a Model - Because they look so cool! If you're they type of person who just wants to throw a plane in the car and go flying (And I love those kinds of planes too!), I would advise you to avoid using Retracts. Fortunately, the more you use them, the more comfortable you get in dealing with them. And let's face it, if they were easy to use, everybody's plane would look that cool! Therefore, to me, they are well worth the extra effort - especially on a scale plane.

    Back at the field, I was a bit more confident as I sat the Miss America back on the Startup Table. She just had a much more solid feeling to her. The Saito 100 cranked right over, and the KeLeo Exhaust Stack was singing harmony.

    I set her down on the Grass Runway this time. I figured if it could handle our runway, in this condition, it could handle most runways. With the throttle advanced, the Miss America moved right along. I purposely kept ground time to a minimum, but the gear seemed to handle take off very well.

    Once airborne, I was finally able to relax and forget about the gear. Now it's time to have some fun - and FUN is the word! I was again impressed with the scale-like flight characteristics of this plane. Although it is only a Stand-Off Scale model, you wouldn't know it once it's in the air. It flies great, and looks even better. Loops are effortless, and rolls are so scale like, I kept waiting to hear the machine guns.

    I got 3 flights in that day, and each one was more fun than the one before it. I brought the Miss America out to the field two more times to shoot videos, and after a total of seven rotations of the gear (seven take-offs and landings), they were showing no sign of bending (Again, with the field being as bad as it is, I kept ground time very short, but the gear held up well).

    Hangar - 9 Miss America P-51D
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