I know it's not the flashiest plane, and it's not new, but I just got mine today and I figured I'd write about my experience so far with the plane.
I have been flying RC planes for a little over 30 years, although I was somewhat away from the hobby for about half of that time (never all the way away, but not as active as I have been for the past few years). Until 2006, the majority of my experience was with sailplanes and soarers. Although I learned on gas-powered planes, I didn't return to powered flight until my wife bought me a PZ Mustang (good ol' Frankie) in 2006. I was able to fly the plane successfully, but I felt I needed something slower to get me back into flying and into powered flight, so I bought the old yellow PZ Cub (not to be confused with the HZ Super Cub). I flew the heck out of that little Cub and with only a few rough landings, the plane is still in my hangar and will soon be flying again soon with a new ESC and 2.4 GHz Spektrum receiver. I then moved on to the Super Cub (the red and white brushed version) and then I got a Raidentech Predator. The Predator was the last plane I flew for a while due to a job change, breaking some ribs (while launching my Mustang!) and a move. Since returning to active flying, I bought and fly the PZ P-47D and the UMS Mustang.
Most of my planes have been PZ or HZ with the exception of the Raidentech. My experience with that plane was less than optimal; I lost the spinner and a wheel on it's maiden flight (even after tightening everything down). The nose gear on that plane was mess! I'm in the process of converting it to a brushless setup with a new receiver and should have it repainted and flying within a month or so. I was leery about stepping outside the PZ box, but I figured for the price at hobbyking.com, I might as well give the Art Tech Spitfire a chance.
I'm no expert, but at my skill level, the plane is easy to fly and actually a lot of fun. It's not as powerful as the PZ Jug, but it comes in second only to my PZ Jug of planes I like to fly now.
I would rate myself an advanced intermediate skilled pilot. I do basic acrobatics but not any of the advanced 3D stuff. Maybe some day, but I guess I'm just weird and I like to fly my simple acrobatics and do touch and go's.
. I ordered from the USA warehouse and received my Spitfire within a week. The box arrived with no damage, and the plane was intact except for a crack in the rudder that was quickly and effortlessly repaired with foam-safe CA. I took all the parts out and found they were very nicely detailed. The only issue was the lack of instructions, but if you've built a few planes, it's very simple to figure out how this one goes together.
The first order of business was to replace the Turnigy power connector with one that would mate with my PZ batteries, so I used clipped the Turnigy connector off and soldered the blue eFlite connector to the ESC. I then connected an OrangeRX 2.4 GHz Spektrum-compatible receiver and binded my DX6i with it. Wings are attached with nylon screws and go on pretty easily. Everything lined up fine (wing-fuselage mating) and the tail assembly was pretty firm, too. Assembling the rest of the plane was a snap, and it took about 45 minutes (including the soldering).
The clevises didn't come with any sort of rubber fuel tubing to keep them attached and secure, so I had to add my own (no big deal).
I had some 3-cell 1300 mah batteries charged, so I put one in the plane and took it out front for some taxi tests. I found the plane to taxi well and decided to go ahead and maiden it. I gently added power and the plane took off with authority; on full throttle, the plane climbed dramatically albeit not vertically. I found that the elevator needed a lot of down trim and some left aileron trim, so I set that on the radio and then flew around for about 6 minutes.
The three-blade prop makes a neat sound as it bores through the air, although it felt a bit less responsive than my PZ P-47D. The three bladed prop seems to be less effective than a two-bladed prop. I will try to put a two-bladed prop on and then test to see how it handles it. I heard that the PZ P-51D props work well on the Spitfire.
Rolls are quick and the plane looks great flying in the air. It needs more rudder in the turns than the PZ Jug, but it's a great plane for practicing coordinated turns. Climbing is a bit slower than the PZ Jug, but again, I attribute that to the three-bladed prop.
I decided to see how quickly the plane would sink at idle and the plane sunk as expected; this is not a plane you want to dead-stick. I then made a few slow powered passes at altitude to practice for my first landing in this plane. Coordinated turns were more important at slow speeds, and I found myself using more rudder than aileron.
I set up for my first approach but I felt the plane was still too fast so I went around. On the second approach, I went ahead and put her down and made a pretty decent landing although the roll-out was long and she ended up on her nose. No damage, just scuffed the prop a bit (it was already stopped thankfully).
I pulled out another 3-cell 1300 mah battery, this time a PZ branded battery. This one is lighter than my other 3-cell battery, and the weight difference wasn't apparent until it was time to land the Spitfire. The CG had obviously moved back with the lighter battery as I found the plane to be very floaty and more difficult to control as I came in to land. I had to make three approaches before I felt comfortable with the approach and I put her down.
All in all, after the two flights (for a combined 14 minutes of flying) I have made the following conclusions:
Things I like
1. The plane is fun and looks great in the sky!
2. At WOT, the plane can climb and do some great aerobatics.
3. At half throttle, the plane flies rather slowly and looks quite real in the sky.
4. Battery hatch is easy to open/close.
5. Plane is easy to get setup.
Some things I found that could use improvement are:
1. The prop. I know some people prefer the scale look, but performance suffers a bit much for it, I think.
2. Instructions. Not that I needed them, but they would be nice to have on-hand for things like finding the CG, proper mounting of radio gear, etc (I figured it out on my own).
. I have watched more than a few videos on Youtube of people crashing these planes. Every time, the fuselage snapped. This plane is not for beginners or anyone who is not used to flying warplanes. It needs airspeed and power on approach, and can tip stall quickly and easily. There is no washout on the wings to compensate for the tip stalling tendencies so it's incumbent on the pilot to be aware of airspeed, especially when close to the ground. With that said, the plane is a blast, and flying it is a rewarding experience. If you love the Spitfire and want one to fly around that is very reasonable on the wallet, check out the Spitfire at hobbyking.com. (I understand Banana also sells these planes).
A good looking plane with some amazing detail molded into the foam. This is not the large-cell EPO like the newer PZ planes. It looks great but seems to be a lot firmer and possibly less damage-resistant.
This is the nose area of the Spitfire with the nose cover removed. The brushless motor and motor mount are visible here as is the battery cage. Also visible is some missing paint from the top of the wing on the landing gear mounting hardware.
A view from the front with the battery cage open. The Orange RX receiver is visible from this angle as is the eFlite blue battery connector.
This is the engine cover. It's a light piece of plastic that has magnets taped to it. It holds onto the fuselage very well.
The bottom of the plane. The details are pretty nice although I am not sure if the manufacturer forgot to put reinforcement into the wing (there is a nice slot provided) or if the slot is there for the user to put reinforcement into.
The tape that attaches the ailerons seems to be coming off. I will be replacing this tape with better tape soon.
One more overall shot of the Spitfire. It really is a nice looking, good flying little plane!
I have no affiliation with hobbyking.com, Banana Hobbies, Art Tech, or any other manufacturer or vendor. This review was written solely based upon my own personal experience with this plane and as a community service to RCG. I have found many of the official and unofficial reviews at RCG to be of great value and I thought I'd try to repay that with a review of my own on a plane I haven't seen much info on.