RCU Forums - View Single Post - After your trainer, how long did it take you to fly a war bird?
Old 04-27-2009, 12:57 PM
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Default RE: After your trainer, how long did it take you to fly a war bird?

My trainer (a Hobbico NextStar) looked like it had been through a war when I was done with it. lol

I call it my trainer because it's the first plane that stayed in the air more than 10 seconds...and the first one that landed on it's wheels, in one piece. The first 5 planes (don't remind me) were high wing, so called, foam "trainers" (mostly foamie Cessna's)...and some cool looking small balsa warbirds I thought I could crash just as well as the cessna's. Yeah, I could have used some direction from experienced flyers...but the owner of my local hobby store seemed more concerned about selling what he had in stock, and emptying my wallet, than giving me any good advice. Of course, I buy nothing there anymore.

So like you, "hnflyer", and like many, it was warbirds like the P40 Warhawk that made me want to get into flying. I will say this: having purchased, built, and flown over a dozen warbirds from small foam RTF's to giant scale Yellow aircraft P40 and Spitfire Mk14, whether you choose gas or electric, as a transition from a trainer to a warbird or any low winged plane - RTF IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO. Here's why: No matter what, you're gonna crash eventually. RTF's minimize your investment, of time and money...and the right ones will give you a satisfying learning experience.


You're best bet for a gas plane is the Hangar 9 PTS Mustang. Here's my list of reasons why this plane is better than anything else on the market for your purpose.

1. Total Cost - Last I checked $399 for the whole rig - airframe, engine, servos, radio...all installed ready to go. You can literally unpack it at the airfield and be flying in 45 minutes. No effort sourcing anything no additional build time to lament when you stuff it...and it looks good (considering) in the air. When I first showed up with it the guys at my field who fly expensive large scale planes were remarking how good it looked...and seemed to envy the fact that there was little at stake if I crashed.

2. The general design/construction and PTS system - The wing loading is light. The engine is run in...ready to fly. The landing gear are rugged hardened steel, have solid attachment blocks, and are raked far forward to make landings really easy (easier than my trike trainer). The wheels are 3" low bounce rubber and oversized for the model, they'll roll nice on just about anything...even gopher holes. The tailwheel is steerable, fixed to the rudder, and gives very positive ground handling...and it will survive a tough landing. The plane has flaps installed! A lot of more expensive planes don't come with flaps. Add an extra standard servo and you've got flaps to play with...all the linkage is supplied. The clear plastic removable wing nacelles tame the tip stall considerably as well as the general handling...the 3 blade prop slows down the landing and overall top speed. Best of all...tear off the nacelles (5 minutes work) and put on a two blade prop...and it's a whole new plane. 3 succesful flights and you'll be ready to hop up and start flying aerobatics. And that is not just hype.

3. Survivability - Yes, I crashed...a LOT! Not because I couldn't fly the plane but, rather, because I could fly it so well...so quickly. I was doing aerobatics loops, rolls, the first day...pushing the limits of my flying skill. Unlike a foam plane, even my worst crash left me with a radio, set of servos, and a repairable airframe...yeah I buried the engine at full throttle 6 inches into the mud...it was a goner. The only problem is that at $399 you might rather get on the phone and order another rather than fix what you just crashed. I crashed a total of three...all pushing the limits...not because of any bad habit attributable to the plane.

In the end, it was the best money I ever spent in this hobby. All the electronics from my PTS squadron ended up in 60 size H9 birds, an AT6, Spitfire, and Sopwith Camel...plus a 50 size CMP P40...when I felt like dedicating time to build. And of the 4 PTS Mustangs I purchased over the last three years, I probably have parts for 2 airworthy planes, if I felt like doing a little recovering.

Heck...I just talked myself into ordering one. I miss flying without fear. []

My only CAUTION to the PTS Mustang...check the firewall for shipping damage and send it back if there is any evidence of such. The weight of the pre-installed engine can snap the firewall if the box takes a beating through shipping. (Maybe they've improved the packing since then) If it looks good...you should be OK to fly out of the box. Then, at your convenience, add a little epoxy inside the nose to reinforce the joint where the firewall attaches to the fuse...it's the plane's only weakness...light glue from the factory.

While the P40 is a romantic plane and one of the first arf's (the CMP) I ever purchased, both of the P40's I own are challenging to fly but for different reasons. Look around for p40 threads and I think you will see it is the widely held sentiment of most RC pilots that the P40 is not a good first warbird.


As for foamies or small built up balsa...take the same approach. The Parkzone RTF Spitfire ($179 radio included) will have you in the air in the same amount of time as the PTS Mustang but half the money. Of course it's three channel only - throttle, elevator and ailerons but this is plenty to get you going...rudder on a warbird, though it improves the overall flight envelope... is only critical for takeoffs and landings (with taildraggers) or crosswind landings (for all) A parkflyer is just that...land anywhere into the wind wherever it's coming from. The Spitfire particularly is an electric plane that models (flies) well at small scale. The Parkzone Spitfire flies very well indeed - better than the PZ Mustang or BF 109.

Granted there are other foam planes with better scale looks, (Alfa, Flying Styro)...but all will take more build time and be more expensive to get in the air, which means more to lose when you crash...

The PZ Spitfire is no frills, warbird flying, decent scale looks - certainly looks good in the air. Decent flight time off the stock, geared, brushed motor and nicad battery. The plane has such easy battery hatch access that you can fly almost constantly...to the limit of your spare battery supply and charger time. It is comparable to most foam planes in a crash...maybe a little better. It is a belly lander, though, like most foam planes so landings are really ditches. But unlike the alfa, flying styro, or small balsa planes, ready availability of replacement parts means you don't have to struggle with the LHS to get what you need to get back in the air after a crash. And you can always hop it up with a brushless/ lipo set-up later if you want.

The PZ Spitfire can handle light wind remarkably well (unlike a lot of smaller foamies) but as with all small planes the less wind the better...especially while you are learning. The Spitfire is a notorious floater on landing due to the big elliptical wing, so make sure you come in low and allow for a long glide in.

The plane's only real weakness is the tail plane attachment to the fuse. Unfortunately, any rough belly landing that tweeks the tail plane will probably snap the fuse in that area. In fact, if the rest of the plane wasn't so serviceable, this defect would make me give it a thumbs down. But there is a fairly easy remedy that takes less time than the building gymnastics of other foamies. While it can be repaired after the fact, my suggestion is to take apart the tail plane and reinforce it before you fly.

Simply, remove the plastic stabilizer attachment point (three screws), cut the fuselage along the seam and reinforce the inside of the tail section with glass strand packing tape or carbon fiber tape and glue the seam back together with foam safe CA. Start about an inch forward of the stabilizer, taping both fuse halves, right across the stabilizer slot, cutting out the openings for the stabilizer with a razor knife afterward. Keep the tape trimmed about an 1/8" away from the seam so as not to interfere with regluing the fuse halves. Use rubber bands, clothespins or miniclamps to hold the fuse together till cured. Then re-attach the hard plastic piece and tape the horizontal stabilizer in place per the directions. Check the CG...should balance OK with the battery forward if you use just one layer of tape. Otherwise, add nose weight...the plane can handle it. At max, it's a 1 hour project that can be completed while the battery is charging and makes the plane just about bullet proof. If you are really rough on planes...take minute and add the same tape to the dihedral area of the main wing under (or over) the edge of the plastic belly pan. This area also gets stressed in a bad landing. I wish Parkzone did this at the factory...but then they wouldn't sell so many replacement parts.

For what it's worth....happy flying "hnflyer."