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Banana Hobbpy 63" P-51

    While I predominately enjoy building what I fly from time to time I will go out and purchase an ARF aircraft. I have been wanting a warbird (with retracts) since I started this hobby 3 years ago and decided upon Banana Hobbies 63" P-51 Mustang. After all even a 63" warbird with retracts at $200 even if it is painted foam is hard to beat. I didn't go into this under any illusions and wasn't expecting a top notch highly detailed scale aircraft. In essence I got what I expected with some nice and some bad surprises.

    First off I have just built the craft and have not maidened it yet. I will append a flight performance review and video once that has been done. With that said lets hit some of the high points first. The best one its a large warbird for cheap! It does have a good look of a Mustang with panel lines, rivlets, and even red and green wing tip lights. The paint scheme most closely matches the one sported post WWII. I like the fact that retracts are added and that they move slow and thus being more realistic than many ARFs with retracts that almost literally snap up and down. Additionally the tail wheel also retracts.  The Canopy hatch is attached with a nice strong magnet that appears to be sturdily attached, time will tell on this. I also like the quality of the prop it wasn't a cheap light weight thin plastic prop that many cheap ARFs come with. Additionally all servos and motors where securely mounted when it arrived. I was a bit worried about that as I had heard that this frequently wasn't the case with BH products. Inside there is a liteply component tray that is glued into a channel that was formed in the foam.

    Now some of the things that I do not like. The paint job the cowl white squares are off colored and tainted pink.
 Additionally some areas that I felt should have been painted were not like the sides of the rear vent. The decals while a fair representation of one of the paint schemes this bird sported they are oversized and items are running into each other, while others are already flaking off. In speaking of flaking off so is some of the paint on the rudder . Many of the other details are also oversized for this scale such as the exhaust ports and rivlets details.  All cosmetic and frankly somewhat expected (except for the flaking of paint and decals) for this price point.
Now there are a couple more serious agressions in my book and they both revolve around the CG. As anyone who flys planes should know CG is life or death. To far back and your new plane is a guaranteed goner to far forward and it may survive but won't fly well. Particularly with tail draggers the CG needs to be behind the forward most landing gear so the aircraft doesn't nose over from the momentum during landings. That is something this version fails to do with its marked location which at best puts it in line with the wheel axels. Additionally, To even obtain that spot one would have to add significant ballast to the nose >2oz or move the battery significantly further forward. So far in fact that it would need to be placed in front of the component tray where it would be near inaccessible. The line in the photo below shows the rear most point that my 4 cells 5000mah battery could be place. If any part of the battery was further back than that part then the specified CG would not be met.  Neither complete show stoppers but also not things I like seeing coming from an ARF at any price point.

So where does this leaves us? For a $200 model of this size it is a fair bargain. The electronics may not be the best but I think they will handle the job ok. And really I think you get what you pay for here. The real test and verdict will come from how it flys and will it handle the rigors of a sport flyer. The maiden will happen later this week once weather and schedule permits, Until then Happy Landings!

- Ducktape

3/8/2011 UPDATE - Well tomorrow evening is supposed to be a reasonable weatherwise for a maiden. So I spent the evening going back over the setup in a pre flight. As this is my first flight with this model I attached a watt meter to see the run time I could expect. As I was bringing up the model to about 3/4 throttle the motor stopped and the esc started smoking!! NOT GOOD. I have pulled out the ESC and will be contacting Banana Hobby tomorrow in regards to this. I did happen to have a spare 80A ESC around so after a bunch of soldering I have a working plane ready for its Maiden!! Video will certainly be grabbed and dumped.
3/14/11- Did the maiden flight on Friday afternoon then flew it again on Sunday. The P-51 flys nicely is highly resoponsive in the air performing all maneuvers requested and as expected is a bit tipsy on the ground (aside from pilot handling). This model is not for a grass field though if someone holds down the tail until enough airflow is over the tail it can work. Below is the you tube video of the maiden. No loops or rolls really just getting a feel for it. I will post another with some more aerobatics sometime soon. Another thing to note was that the retracts can be seen starting to give at the end of the first flight and wouldn't even work on one main gear on the next flight. Additionally the other main retract seemed to be a good inch, inch and a half from fully retracting. Right now my verdict is Buy the foam pieces to make your own P-51 but leave the electronics. Its more hassle than its worth.

YouTube Video



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