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-   -   Spitfire arf 95" phoenix assembly (https://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/rc-warbirds-warplanes-200/11641960-spitfire-arf-95-phoenix-assembly.html)

samparfitt 09-26-2017 12:31 PM

Spitfire arf 95" phoenix assembly
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Since there are no threads for assembling this plane, I thought I'd start one.
Not sure when I'll start on this plane as, with the exception of two meets left for the season, I'm transitioning into my other hobby for the winter (model railroading).
UPS delivered the package today. Total weight about 30 pounds.

The box arrived undamaged.
The usual packing: lots of bubble wrap and everything is taped together. A utility knife works best for me for removing the wrapping.
A nice thick instruction manual comes with the ARF.
The covering is very well done with lots of details printed on it. Some people don't like it and call it shelf paper but I'm happy with it. It looks a lot better than monokote.
Everything is as one would build a plane: all balsa and ply with FG cowl, etc.
Tail surfaces are built up.
I'm impressed with how smooth the surfaces are on the tail surfaces and wings: no bumps or cracks.
Only checked one servo hatch and servo mounts are already on them.

samparfitt 09-26-2017 12:38 PM

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unpacking (cont)<br />2nd level in the box.<br />One box has the gear and air system.<br />Retracts look very sturdy and should hold up to normal landings. <br />The air cylinders aren't as large as what Darrell would use but should meet the gear's needs.<br />Festo fittings are provided. I was told to replace the air valve so I'll use a robart one.<br />Nice engine standoffs and hardware are provided.<br />The usual foam wheels are provided and the hardware looks good.<br />Aluminum tubes and pushrods.

samparfitt 09-26-2017 12:46 PM

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Spitfire (unpacking):

The fuse is also a very smooth surface.
A top hatch removes for easy access for servos, receiver, etc.
The canopy slides back and a side door drops down: there's a screw securing the canopy which needs to be removed to operate.
More hardware, exhaust stacks, pilot, cockpit details. I was told the pilot needs some painted to look good (at least we get one in the arf).
Gear doors, extra covering material and antenna mast.
Main gear door wheel wells, cannons, more cockpit details and radiator covers.

samparfitt 09-26-2017 12:52 PM

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spitfire ((unpacking))

The spinner is plastic but very thick plastic. I was told to replace it. I understand tru-turn has a 6" but it's 250 bucks: more than I want to spend on this plane since it's an ARF. Dave Brown has a 100 dollar one but it's a P-51 style. I may go with Dave's or may use the plastic one since it seems very sturdy. There are 4 screws used to secure it (which may be a problem). Will have to see if they are wood type screws and whether some machine screws with nuts can be used.
Cowl is very nice and matches the fuse.
Fire wall already painted.

I'm impressed with the initial view of this plane and getting retracts with it for only $670 is, in my opinion, worth it.

This will now give me 3 ARF's that I can fly at smaller fields when I can't fly my big stuff. It also allows me to do more aerobatics which I'm more hesitant to do with my big stuff (just a big wus). Also, it's nice to be able to actually be able to pick up these lite ARF's that weigh about half of what my other planes weigh.

I'll be using a DLE-61 for power. The plane probably only will weigh around 25 pounds so it should be sufficient. The muffler is going to stick out the side and a rear exhaust would be ideal.

Not sure what version the spitfire is but I'm calling it an M14.

Shaun Evans 09-26-2017 02:37 PM


So why do you suppose you need to replace the spinner?

samparfitt 09-26-2017 03:38 PM

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The 4 screws are only about a 1/2" long and wood type screws. I've seen planes get severely damaged from a spinner coming off.
The last time I used a plastic spinner was about 10 years ago, back in the 'glow engine' days. I remember those wood screws would 'drill out' those holes or the sides would break from the screws. A nice bolt screwed in from the front always seems the best, and easiest.
Manual: read the manual: looks similar to a top flite manual. Everything is in MM which, of course, I hate!
Interesting way to do the CG: they give you some ply that goes between the wings with a string on it that you hold, inverted (plane, not you).
They don't 'skimp' on the pin hinges; each surface has more than 'enough' hinges. It appears all of them have to be epoxied as none appear to be pre-glued.

BobH 09-26-2017 08:07 PM

Sam, good reporting job.
The thick spinner may be just fine so long as the engine/prop is balanced. I'd give it a try.

TomCrump 09-27-2017 04:18 AM

I suggest that you get the covered parts out, in the sun.

I watched this model bake in the sun, at a flyin, a couple weeks ago. The covering was starting to blister.

I believe that the guy who assembled it, used a Dave Brown spinner, if that helps you out.

Shaun Evans 09-27-2017 04:51 AM


Have you had a chance to inspect the gear? Put pressure to them or disassemble them for fod?

Thanks for the pics!

Hot Rod Todd 09-27-2017 10:42 AM

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I too just got one of these. The covering looks ok now, but as mentioned it may get ugly in the sun. With some airbrush help it should look pretty good, for a while anyway. I didn't like that a some locations the seams are mismatched, most likely I'll try to match up some paint and make it look better. The nomenclature isn't as gaudy as some Phoenix models and appears to be about the right size. The font is not right though. I'm glad it has 1/8" pinned hinges. I can glue in some robart hinges and know they will be good.

Hot Rod Todd 09-27-2017 10:51 AM

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The firewall looks pretty good, has some angle wood glued in and the like. It's already drilled for a DLE-61. Good if that's what you're using, not so good otherwise. This plane is large for a 60cc, so we'll see how much drag the large wing has in flight. It will be fairly light if you keep it stock. I'm just not sure I'll like it if it's slow. It would be a good candidate to glass and detail, except that would make it even heavier. I'm not sure it could take the vibration of a larger engine (like an 85cc) even if you glass it.

The retracts are large, air cylinders could be bigger. Struts seem sturdy enough at the stock weight. The wheels provided are too small (like 4.25"), but it looks like you could fit 5" wheels in and still have some clearance. The axles are 6mm, so they will be a bit loose if you put on wheels made for 1/4" axles. Tailwheel looks like a decent piece, if the plastic doesn't break. There's a nice little hatch on the back for access. I would say this is a Mk XIV, so it should have a retractable tailwheel. Not a big deal though.

Hot Rod Todd 09-27-2017 10:59 AM

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The cowl seems to be thick and sturdy. It doesn't mount flush though. It will need some detailing to match up to the covering. The exhaust stacks provided look OK, but are a bit small to be scale. The radiator scoops for the bottom of the wings are made of plastic, and could cause issues. Most likely I'd strengthen them a bit prior to installing. I still doubt they could survive a belly landing. The gear doors provided are also plastic. Mounting system seems good though, so I think they'll work OK.

The cockpit has some nice touches. The sliding canopy works well, but seems fragile for the vibration a gas engine will provide. The gauge panel is a bit funky, clear plastic over the whole thing. The opening door will look ok, but the big sliding latches will always be an eyesore. As for the pilot, no amount of paint will help that big melon head (although you could get rid of the melon green color). I'd say a different pilot is a must.

Hot Rod Todd 09-27-2017 11:54 AM

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I was worried about the plastic spinner, but it's actually a heavy nylon material. It may work as long as it spins true. I would never put a starter on it though, hand start only.

The wings seem to mount OK. Two aluminum tubes, then you screw the wings to the fuse via the metal tabs. Wing tubes fit very well in the wing and fuse, and the wings match up nice on the bottom, could be a bit better at the wing saddle.

The wing has split flaps, but they're quite small. I'll try to get all the throw I can to make them effective. Servo mounts are provided on the hatches, appear to be good enough.

Hot Rod Todd 09-27-2017 12:00 PM

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For the money this seems to be a nice plane. Some things were better than expected, others not quite what I hoped. The scheme looks good, even though it's not quite right for this plane because it's from a currently flying Mk XIV that has clipped wings and the bubble canopy. The invasion stripes on the bottom will make it easier to see The profile appears to be quite accurate to me, but I'm no Spitfire expert. The dihedral looks correct, something you don't get from many ARF's, especially Top Flite. I'll post more info as I get around to putting it together.

Capt Midnight 09-28-2017 07:54 AM

Hey Sam... Your observations about Phoenix's quality parallels my experiences with another Phoenix product. I have the 126" Westland Lysander, and I've found the over-all quality to be very good. Yes, you will see some covering sag or bubbles up the first time out in the sun, but nothing that a heat gun or iron can't handle.

Regarding the plastic spinner, the Lysander came with one also. Just use #3 x 3/4" socket head servo screws, and it be OK. Just check the run-out, and don't use a starter on it. I'm using an EME 70cc Electric Start Twin on the Lysander with no problems.

I'll be at Streator this weekend. See you there. ~ Bob.

samparfitt 09-28-2017 08:27 AM

Hey guys,
Thanks for posting all the good info on this plane.
As with my other two topflite ARF's, I plane to re-enforce the front end with FG cloth and resin: also the wheel wells.
I figured those radiator vents would be weak so more FG and resin on those, as well. I'm thinking of just screwing the covers on so, on a belly landing, the covers can be removed and repaired. Some FG cloth over the gear doors, also.
Might be able to toss the plastic wheel well inserts, cut the sheeting larger and just line it with some 1/64" thick ply so larger wheels can be used!
I haven't checked the gears, yet, with air.
Sounds good using some socket head screws for the spinner. Will go with the original, for now: if it doesn't 'hold up', I'll just replace it. No starter sounds logical.
As with the topflite ARF's, I let them sit in the sun in the backyard and used a heating iron to fix the wrinkles.
I don't own any previous 'plug in' wings but that 'set up' looks like it will work well for transportation and ease of 'set up'.
The plane should only be around 25 lbs so the DLE-61 should handle it. The only negative is the big hole that's going to be needed for the muffler in the side of the cowl.
I'm hoping she flies as well as my old yellow spit: was real easy to taxi, take off and land.
Had over 300 flights on her: was getting ugly so I sold her, cheap.

Hot Rod Todd 09-28-2017 11:43 AM

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After further review I think I'll go a different direction. I know I'll never be happy with the wrinkled covering. I put a wing out in the yard in the sun. It's a cool day, but it still wrinkled badly. It's not as easy to remove wrinkles from this sticky back covering as it is from normal shrinkable film. They don't go away easily. I'm going to take the leap and strip off all the covering, and glass the plane. It will add some weight, but I'll be able to detail it out and I won't have to worry about it looking ugly from wrinkles.

I cut open the film off of the retract mounts and I'm impressed by the quality of the mounting system. In addition, the angles look correct to allow the gear to be forward enough, and have a somewhat scale stance. I won't know for sure until I get it on the ground with the gear on, but I'm liking what I see. Also, if I ditch the wheel wells it will be easy to enlarge the size of the wheels and not worry about clearance. There are no spars or anything that would interfere with enlarging them.

Hopefully after all the work I do making this plane look much better, it will fly good and have enough power with a DLE-61. I may not be happy with it in the end, but I know I will not like the way it looks with the sticky back covering. It's worth the risk to me. Since I'll have a much nicer plane in the end, I expect to take extra steps to build it better during the build. In addition, I'll get to paint on the scheme of my choice.

Here's the scheme I'm leaning towards. This is a current full size Spitfire, I'll use the accurate WW2 version of this same scheme, Grey and green.
Stay tuned, I'll be posting as I bash this ARF.

samparfitt 09-28-2017 11:48 AM

Sounds like a good plan.
With none of the pin hinges epoxied, it should make it pretty easy to strip. It'll definitely be stronger and take fewer hanger rashes. Post 'em as you progress.

Hot Rod Todd 09-28-2017 12:06 PM

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Here's a better photo illustrating the color scheme.

Shaun Evans 09-29-2017 04:40 PM


This one showed up. Well packaged, no damage except the back end of the underside of the cowl. The gear look pretty cheap to me, but I'm used to pretty high-end landing gear so this Hobby King level stuff isn't exciting. If you try to compress the struts with any side-load at all, they stick (which is par-for-the-course with cheap gear). That having been said, the package seems very well worth the price. The gear held 110 psi up and down with no loss for an hour so far.

Some of the internal structure seems a bit light for the task (with hard balsa laminate versus ply), so I plan to get my CA out and do some saturating here and reinforcement with small balsa triangle stock there. These gassers sure can shake a plane, so an ounce or two of added reinforcement is OK I think.

I don't have a 60cc lying around, but I do have a DLE 55 and a 55RA. The specs indicate that the RA is bit weaker than the side-exhaust version. I wonder why? Anyway, the DLE 55 got my TF P-40 off in 60' with a steep climb-out, so I think it will at least 'fly' this size of bird.


samparfitt 09-29-2017 05:08 PM

Sounds like a plan to me. As with my TP F4U and P-47, I re-enforced the front end and gear area.
As for the gear, I don't like to put side force on any of my planes, even with Darrell's gear: F = V X M can put too much stress on any gear (ie: the full size also). I leave mine roll out to a slow crawl before turning them.

Shaun Evans 09-29-2017 05:53 PM

Originally Posted by samparfitt (Post 12371845)
Sounds like a plan to me. As with my TP F4U and P-47, I re-enforced the front end and gear area.
As for the gear, I don't like to put side force on any of my planes, even with Darrell's gear: F = V X M can put too much stress on any gear (ie: the full size also). I leave mine roll out to a slow crawl before turning them.


By 'side-load', I just mean that if you compress the spring by pushing the bottom of the strut, it works. If you push it by the head of the socket-head bolt that's used as the axle, it won't budge. I've only experienced that with CJM and the cheap stuff that comes in the box with Chinese EDF ARF's and such.

Anyway, you should've seen the look on my 12-year-old's face when he came home from school and saw the Spit all tacked together :).

samparfitt 09-30-2017 06:40 AM

Never tried that before. Hopefully, some grease on the oleo will help and maybe different springs from ACE hardward.

Shaun Evans 09-30-2017 02:02 PM


When I cut away the covering to install the main gear, I was a little alarmed by the absence of any real spar. What's your opinion on that?

samparfitt 10-01-2017 04:10 AM

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If I remember correctly, my Ziroli P-47 is the same way: two spars front/back to the wheel well and then one main one from the wheel well to the wing tip. I used aircraft ply on mine whereas this ARF has lite ply but four things:
1) I'll use heavy FG cloth from my local auto store to re-enforce that entire area
2) with the gear 'folding' outwards, there will be a lot less stress on the wings, being so close to the center of the fuse.
3) this plane is much lighter than my Ziroli's so stress will be a lot less
4) The rib's are double ply around the gear mounts.

The bottom side of the covering is very sticky, even in the dry state. Seems like some heating iron over the entire plane should hold the covering down (it worked on my two TF arf's). The balsa wood may also had a higher content of moisture when the plane was covered: leaving it sit in the sun with wheel wells, hatches open should dry out the wood and make the covering adhere better.

picture sequence: back, front, end

Shaun Evans 10-01-2017 05:17 AM

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the response. I took some similar pics and posted them to the other site [because I'll be damned if I'm gonna go upload pics someplace else so I can post them here since RCU removed that feature, but that's a story for a different discussion].

I've never seen the split (two-piece) spars before, and I've never seen what looks like balsa-laminate ply used on a large model like this before. The absence of shear-webbing is puzzling, too. When you say you plan to reinforce with glass, can you explain where? I'm contemplating glassing the bottom skin of the wing with heavy cloth exactly over the area covered with the invasion stripes, since I feel like the balsa sheeting is really the only tensile structure keeping the wing from folding in G's. Then I would just paint over that with black/white to mask the glass. Maybe I'm over-reacting and this is all fine, but my instinctive first-sight reaction was to be spooked.

samparfitt 10-01-2017 05:31 AM

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I did the just like you mentioned: the inside top sheeting of the wing around the wheel wells and also the front formers of the fuse as I've heard horror stories about fronts of ARF's falling off from engine vibration. The auto body FG cloth that I use is really thick and with ZAP resin, it, in my opinion, makes those areas pretty strong.
You only get shear webbing when you build it: these ARF's are made lite and cheap ie: 670 bucks for a 95" plane! These are my first arf's in a decade and, while I've only got about 20 flights on them, they seem to hold up well. The two aluminum wing tubes should also strengthen the wheel well area.

Done on the TF F4U ARF:

Lifer 10-01-2017 06:14 AM

I believe that the Top Flite giant Corsair ARF has a aluminum spar in the center section. I'm pretty sure that should be sufficient.

samparfitt 10-01-2017 06:16 AM

Yes it does, as well as the P-47, laminated with ply on both sides. That's one thing that impressed me while assembling it.
I'm guessing the other TF ARF's are the same.

Shaun Evans 10-01-2017 06:24 AM


The Corsair also has top and bottom spars running the length of the wing. On the outboard panels, they're tied into the hardwood spar that's connected to the metal spar receiver. I don't see anything like that in this bird. If others have seen construction like this in other birds of this relative size, let's hear about it because I need some reassurance!

samparfitt 10-01-2017 06:37 AM

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construction of my 110" blown up Ziroli P-47 with split spar.
50 plus flights.

Shaun Evans 10-01-2017 09:13 AM


That's definitely a split spar. Your spar system is more comprehensive by far, though. That middle spar goes from the root out past the gear mounts by several inches. That's way more legit than what's in this Spit, but it DOES make me feel a little better, so THANKS! Also, your Jug looks lame. Poor construction and ugly in the sky I'm sure. Go ahead and pack it up and ship it here. I'll do you the favor of taking that eye-sore off your hands for free. ;)

samparfitt 10-01-2017 01:12 PM

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Of the two, this my favorite!
My nine year old.

Hot Rod Todd 10-02-2017 05:11 AM

The aluminum tubes provide the strength of a spar at the root area of the wing. I imagine there is a spar of some sort beyond the tubes.

Hot Rod Todd 10-05-2017 10:15 AM

I started to strip the covering. It's not too bad, but a heat gun is needed to release the glue better. I got a little bit of grain pulled off if I wasn't careful.

I decided to go with the Dubro 5" wheels. With a bit of plastic and some paint I was able to make them look a bit more like the Spitfire 4-spoke wheels. I didn't want the weight of aluminum wheels since the retract pistons are not very large.

Hot Rod Todd 10-05-2017 10:17 AM

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Here's a photo of the wheel, along with a real spitfire wheel.

ninod 10-07-2017 03:05 PM

Just got one canít wait to build it.

Hot Rod Todd 10-09-2017 05:20 AM

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My Spitfire has been stripped naked. For the fun of it, I weighed all of the covering I took off and it totaled 21 oz. I was able to remove the canopy without any breakage, but the sliding part is tough since the hardware does not loosen easily. Prior to adding the glass I'll mount the retracts and the engine. I hope to flair the cowl into the fuse a bit better. I think the stock wheel wells would be a bit small for 5" wheels, so I'll be enlarging those just a bit. The DLE-61 dropped in easily. Much of the head sticks down through the cowl, which should help cooling quite a bit. I'll also be opening up some air outlet in the rear. There's a lot of room for the Pitts muffler, I should have bought the standard J'tek pitts instead of the compact version.

samparfitt 10-10-2017 11:45 AM

Wheel sizes.
I believe Yellow's 88" spit used a 5" and the Ziroli/Carf spit (both about 100") uses 5.5" so the Phoenix 95" probably can used either size and look good.

Hot Rod Todd 10-12-2017 10:01 AM

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I mounted the retracts, pretty happy with the way they line up. The angles are good so that they angle forward, but the wheel angle is correct so the tire lays flat in the well. I'm using 5" wheels, so I had to trim the wells a bit. I bought some new axles that had a bit more thread so that I could use a lock not as a spacer. This will keep the axles tight. If I tighten the set screw it could damage the threads. The gun's provided don't line up well with the wing leading edge. I'm filling the opening with balsa, then I'll cut down the guns and mount them. I still have to fill and sand the wood blocks in the photo shown.

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