|Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: October 2007 | Views: 67050 | Email this Article
E-flite P-38 Lightning
by: Greg Covey
Photos: Papa Jeff Ring
Pilot: Paul Weigand
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:
Horizon Hobby, Inc
4105 Fieldstone Road
Champaign, IL 61822
Kit with hardware
Great ARF value and looks
Superb Flying Performance
No Painting or Decals Needed
Magnetic Held Hatches
Pre-hinged Control Surfaces
P-38/F-5E Lighting 400 ARF
new E-flite P-38/F-5E Lightning 400 ARF is a highly pre-assembled
replica of an F-5E variant that served in the European theater
during the invasion of Normandy. This long-range interceptor also
earned popularity in the Pacific flying reconnaissance missions
with specially equipped cameras. It includes many details like
invasion stripes, cockpit details, appropriate squadron markings,
removable drop tanks, counter-rotating props and spinners, functional
scale elevator mass balances and much more!
P-38 ARF has multiple easy-access magnetic hatches that allow
you to get to the elevator and rudder servos as well as the nose
hatch for quick access to the battery, ESC and receiver without
the need for tools. The kit comes highly prefabricated with all
parts factory painted, along with hinges and control surfaces
installed, so you don't have to wait long to get flying. The wing
panels slide easily in and out of the booms using the factory-installed
carbon tube spars. Each panel is secured with just two wing screws
making assembly easy. All that's left is about 2 to 4 hours of
minor assembly and electronics installation to get flying, making
this one of the most detailed and quickest to assemble P-38 models
Wing Span: 48 in (1219mm)
Overall Length: 35 in (889mm)
Wing Area: 307 sq in (19.8 sq dm)
Flying Weight: w/Battery: 33-40oz (936-1134g)
Motor Size: Park 450 BL 890Kv (EFLM1400, Requires 2)
Radio: 3-channel w/3 sub-micro servos (4 channel w/6 sub-micros
w/optional rudder and landing gear)
Servos: Sub Micros
Speed Control : 25 Amp Brushless (EFLA1025, Requires 2)
Recommended Battery: 3S 11.1V LiPo (EFLB1035)
95% factory built, painted and assembled
Can be flight ready in just 2 to 4 hours with little to no glue
Fully detailed, factory-installed cockpit, pilot and canopy
Factory installed hinges, control surfaces and control horns
Plug-in wing panels for easy transport
Functional scale elevator mass balances
Includes 10 x 8E counter-rotating props and spinners
Factory-assembled, optional landing gear with steerable nose
Flyable with a single 3S 11.1V 2000-2200mAh Li-Po pack
light foam parts were well secured in the box using bags, tape,
and some custom cardboard fittings. As usual with E-Flite designs,
the ARF comes with a very well written manual that leaves little
to no guesswork. Very few parts exist in the kit as the P-38
is highly prefabricated and nearly finished right out of the
closer look at the P-38 fuselage reveals some amazing detail
and completeness. E-flite has thought of just about everything,
including multiple easy-access hatches. Getting to the elevator
and rudder servos is a cinch with the easy-access magnetic hatches
located on the bottom of each tail boom, while the magnetically
secured nose hatch offers quick access to the battery, ESC and
receiver without the need for tools.
hinges, control surfaces, and horns are all pre-installed. The
wing panels slide easily in and out of the booms using the factory-installed
carbon tube spars. Each panel is secured with just two wing
screws making assembly easy. The factory-installed cockpit,
pilot, and, canopy, are fully detailed and ready to fly!
The power system for my P-38 will be made from two E-flite Park
450 Outrunners, two Castle Creations Phoenix 25 Brushless Motor
Controllers, and a single ThunderPower eXtreme Series 25C 3-cell
2070mAh LiPo pack. Note that the Park 450 motor comes with mating
connectors for the ESC and a collet prop adapter.
electronics are completed with high-tech, low weight parts like
the Spektrum AR6100 receiver (3.5 grams) and E-flite S75 Sub-Micro
The elevator installed with ease. Once the servo wires are connected
to a 12" extension, they can be fed through a hole in the
servo bay to the wing opening and on to the center pod via the
access panel attached with hook and loop material.
the clean installation using the Spektrum AR6100 receiver.
The outrunner motors are attached to the supplied plastic motor
mounts using spacers and machine screws. Before pressing them
onto the sticks, they are first cut to a 1-1/4" length
for the Park 450 motors.
ESCs are prepared for installation by soldering 12" extensions
on each power wire and also adding a 12" extension to the
control line. On my Phoenix 25 amp controller, no programming
is needed before flying since the standard settings will work
for most applications.
The wires are fed though the pod and into the center section
as before. I soldered both red and black wires to a single Dean's
Ultra connector. The control cables are plugged into a Y-harness
and fed to the throttle channel. Note that you must disconnect
one of the red (+) wires on the ESC control cable going into
the Y-harness so that only one BEC is used to power the receiver
and servos. The BEC from the other ESC is not needed. In other
words, one ESC's BEC will power the servos and receiver in my
P-38. The other ESC, with the clipped red wire, will power itself
from the battery connection but have a common ground to the
receiver for monitoring the throttle line. Also, when using
a separate Rx. battery pack, you need to disconnect BOTH red
wires from the ESC before connecting them to the Y-harness.
motor to ESC connectors were left accessible at first so that
I could swap any to wires, if needed, to get the proper rotation
as described in the manual. The plane's left side motor spins
counterclockwise when viewed from the front.
drilling the props and back plates to fit the adapter shaft
that comes with the E-flite Park 450 motors, the installation
was quick and easy. I tested the motor rotation before mounting
the props and again afterwards. Both props spun very evenly
and in the proper directions.
final wire run was a E-flite (EFLRYH3) 3" Y-Harness plugged
into the aileron channel of my Spektrum 6100 receiver and a
JR (JRPA096) 9" servo extension added to each end of the
Y-Harness. The long ends are routed through the bottom channels
to the outer pods to connect to the plug-in wings.
wires are covered with a custom plastic piece and held with
hook and loop. I added some clear tape to seal the leading edge
so air would not force it open during flight. The fuselage bottom
looked very clean when finished.
servos are press fit into the foam bays after applying some
pre-cut servo tape squares from the kit. The panels come with
double-sided tape and a few hook-and-loop areas already installed.
You simply pull of the paper covering and stick the panels
wing is pressed into the fuselage opening while aligning the
carbon rod into the tube. Each wing half is secured by two
long metal screws.
E-flite P-38 has several options that you can choose from
depending upon how you plan to fly it and over what type
of terrain. Since I fly over grass, I choose to not install
the landing gear and optional steerable nose wheel. I have
also seen feedback from other P-38 owners suggesting the
need for rudder control in certain situations.
choose to initially install one rudder servo on the opposite
side of the elevator servo. In this manner, the plane will
be very light and maintain a side-to-side balance. Optionally,
you can install both rudder servos, one on each side, if
desired. I'll reserve this option if one rudder does not
provide sufficient yaw control. Note that with all the optional
parts installed, like dual rudders and steerable nose wheel,
you can expect to use up to six sub-micro servos.
the pre-installed elevator hinges, the rudder must be cut
away from the fuselage and have the supplied hinges glued
in place. I really like the two-piece fitted control horns.
They are easy to install and create a secure controlling
arm on the foam surface without using any glue.
choose not to install the landing gear since our local
flying fields are mowed grass. The small foam wheels require
a harder surface like dirt or pavement. I also felt that
the P-38 would look more scale in the air without the
thin wires and wheels showing.
I did not install the landing gear, I needed to add 1/2oz
of lead to the nose to make up for the steerable nose
wheel. This made my P-38 balance perfectly in the middle
of the recommended CG range. Note that you could also
use half of the supplied 1.1oz clay that comes with the
kit. I also decided to install the drop tanks.
drop tanks seem strong enough to support the whole plane with
the battery installed and are easy to reinforce if needed.
They will also help keep the large 2-blade props from breaking.
I spread some Aileen's Tacky White Craft glue along the bottom
surfaces that will skid on the ground. The glue is much like
Elmer's Glue-All in that it dries hard and clear. The resultant
finish ends up being a bit glossy on the hardened areas.
P-38 Lightning was Ready-To-Fly at 36oz. (2.25 lbs). I measured
32amps and 340 watts at full throttle. That's 340w/2.25lb or 151w/lb
which will provide an awesome power level for the P-38.
ThunderPower 25C 2070 eXtreme Series LiPo pack can deliver up
to 52amps continuous so the 32amps needed at full throttle is
a good fit that will last for hundreds of charging cycles.
On the maiden flight, the E-flite P-38 flew fantastic! I hand-launched
it and found that it doesn't need a strong throw. It simply
flew out of my hands at about half-throttle. The only issue
we had was that the canopy flew off on the maiden flight which
may have been caused by the rather thick ESC wires pressing
against it. On the second flight, as a simple field modification,
we used a rubber band to help keep it secure.
counter-rotating props eliminated the roll torque during take-off
and our high speed passes. The wing loading was incredibly light
which allowed the P-38 to slow fly much like a kite (watch the
video). We were surprised that the P-38 could fly so slow without
any signs of stalling. It simply lowered its tail and remained
The P-38 did not show any bad tendencies and tracked very well,
even in windy conditions. The power level was incredible!
The E-flite P-38 Lightning looks great right out of the box! No
decals or paint are needed and the pre-hinged control surfaces
help make it a quick build. Removable panels hide the servos and
wires to create a true scale appearance.
P-38 flies for about 7-10 minutes depending upon wind conditions
and aerobatics performed.
few parts were missing from the Required Parts section of the
Brushless Motor Installation. I found that I needed a Y-harness
and two 12" servo extensions to properly connect the Phoenix-25
ESCs to the receiver throttle channel.
would recommend that the hobbyist have intermediate building and
flying skills for a successful experience. The two ESCs must be
wired together and there are several Y-harnesses needed to combine
servos and control lines.
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:
Horizon Hobby, Inc
4105 Fieldstone Road
Champaign, IL 61822
235 South Kansas Avenue,
Olathe, Kansas 66061
ZAP Glues On-line at Frank Tiano Enterprises
Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker
Pacer POLY ZAP(tm)
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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