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Horizon Hobby and E-flite's Rare Bear with AS3X Technology BNF Basic Review

E-flite's Rare Bear is bright, colorful and fast at 100 mph for those that feel the need for speed.

Splash

Introduction

Rare Bear by E-flite® (2 min 22 sec)


Wingspan: 34.6"
Wing Area: 287 sq in
Weight: 46.7 oz.
Length: 34"
Servos: 4 Spektrum 16 gram metal gear servos
Transmitter: Spektrum DX9
Receiver: Spektrum AR636A DSMX 2.4GHz receiver
Battery: E-flite 4-cell 3300mAh
Propeller:8 x 8 electric
Motor: 15 Size 1200 Kv brushless motor
ESC: 70 Amp, switch-mode BEC, brushless controller
Manufacturer: E-flite
Available From: Horizon Hobby
Price: $229.99 BNF

Sometimes you feel the need for speed! With E-flite's BNF Rare Bear that speed is ready, willing and available in the time it takes to charge the recommended 4-cell 3300mAh LiPo battery pack and drive to your flying field and take to the air. The Rare Bear has special meaning to members of my Stockton, RC Club, Delta Valley Modelers, as one of our members, Ray Din, was a mechanic and part of the crew for a number of years for this famous Reno Air Racer. It was more of a white with gold trim back then and it even had his name on it as one of the crew listed on a landing gear door.

The E-flite version is officially authorized to use the color scheme used on the Rare Bear for 2014. It is certainly an eye catching color scheme and that is completely appropriate for a model plane that can fly over 100 mph in level flight. I love this colorful paint scheme and it is very helpful in watching my Rare Bear in flight.

A few things you should consider before you run out to buy your own Rare Bear. This plane has no landing gear and every flight must start with a toss into any prevailing breeze or wind. You should know how to hand launch a somewhat heavy, short wingspan plane if you want to be successful. It isn't hard to do but if you have never done it I recommend you watch the hand launch video, later in this review, featuring my friend and expert pilot, Jeff Hunter. It shows Jeff launching this plane by himself several times by hand to show you his technique. Additionally, every flight will ideally end with a slide on grass into the wind. Pick your field wisely and especially for the first flight allow yourself a large field as this plane will really be zipping at full throttle and small fields are not compatible with high speed. Now a little history on the Rare Bear and then lets get her assembled and out to the flying field.

Kit Contents

Rare Bear Kit Contents

  • Fuselage: includes motor, ESC, Prop, spinner, receiver and two servos installed
  • Right and left wings with aileron servos installed
  • Carbon fiber wing and horizontal stabilizer tubes
  • Right and left horizontal stabilizers with attached elevators
  • Bolts and binding plug
  • Instruction manual in 4 languages

Key Features

Horizon Hobby's Promoted Features

  • Easy to complete final assembly
  • Capable of 100+ MPH (161 KPH)* flight speeds
  • Two-piece, plug-in wing and stabilizer with carbon-fiber joiner tubes
  • Officially licensed design, as seen at the 2014 World Championship Air Races
  • Spektrum™ AR636A DSMX® 6-channel receiver (installed)
  • AS3X® technology delivers rock-solid handling
  • Powerful 15-Size, 1200Kv brushless motor (installed)
  • 70-amp, switch-mode BEC, brushless ESC (installed)
  • Scale spinner with reinforced two-blade propeller (included)
  • (4) Spektrum 16-gram metal gear servos (installed)
  • Reinforced, lightweight Z-Foam™ construction

Horizon Hobby's in Depth Look at the Rare Bear

An In-Depth Look at the Rare Bear by E-Flite® (6 min 29 sec)

A Brief History of the F8F Bearcat

The Hellcat had replaced the Wildcat but we wanted a plane that was faster with a better rate of climb and yet smaller and lighter so it could fly from an escort carrier which the Hellcat couldn't. The result was the F8F Bearcat which used the same Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine with 2000 horsepower. The Bearcat was 20% lighter, had a 30% better rate of climb and was 50 mph faster than the Hellcat. However she had a smaller internal gas tank and was an interceptor due to limited range. Built to chase and kill Zeros she was too late to the dance and saw no action in World War II. In 1948 the improved F8F-2 came out and 293 of them were built. One of those crashed in a field in the early 60s and was pulled out of that field in 1969 with a carcass stripped nearly clean of parts. She was restored and renamed "Phoenex 1" and eventually renamed the Rare Bear. She has set some world records and in 1989 set a speed record for a propeller driven aircraft at 528.33 mph. She also set the the record for climb to 3000 feet in 91.9 seconds on another occasion. In 2006 she was acquired by the Lewis Air Legends collection where she currently resides. Today's plane is 500 pounds lighter, 1,000 horses more powerful and nearly 200 mph faster than the original according to Lewis Air Legends. It is entirely fitting that E-flite's Rare Bear should be both fast and have an excellent rate of climb as the RC representative of this famous air racer.

Assembly

Wing

The plane has two piece wings that came fully assembled. No work needed on the wings. Just attach to the fuselage.

Tail

The vertical stabilizer and rudder came already attached to the fuselage, no work to do here. The horizontal stabilizer came in two pieces with the elevators already attached. They only needed to be mounted onto the fuselage. No assembly here.

Fuselage

I attached the horizontal stabilizers to the tail very quickly and per the instructions. I slipped the horizontal tail tube through the fuselage and centered it. I next slipped on the horizontal stabilizers and pushed them in against the fuselage. While doing this plastic parts connected to the elevators fit together allowing them to work together off of one control rod. The next step was securing the stabilizers to the fuselage with two 3mm x 10mm screws, one per side on top as shown in the picture below.

Next I installed the wing halves onto the fuselage and it was much like the tail assembly. I installed the wing tube through the fuselage and slid one wing half on and then the other. As the wings got closed to the fuselage I directed the servo wires into the large slot for them in the fuselage. With the wings up tight against the fuselage each half was secured in place with two 3mm x 25mm bolts for a total of four bolts with the two wing halves. This was well illustrated in the manual. I connected the wing aileron servos into the Y-harness in the fuselage that was already connected to the installed receiver in the #2 channel. (For correct operation of the AS3X the Y-harness needs to be used and installed in channel 2.)

Radio Installation

I connected the clevis for the elevator control horn on the outer most hole. That was the only clevis that I needed to connect as the others came already fastened in place. The manual has pictures of their recommended connections on the control horns and the servo arms for all three control surfaces in case it is needed. (I deviated from this on the elevator servo arm at the flying field as described below.

I installed the supplied binding plug into the receiver and connected the 4-cell flight battery to the ESC which powers the receiver with its BEC (battery elimination circuitry). I then bound the receiver to my Spektrum DX9. I disconnected the flight battery and removed the binding plug from the receiver.

Transmitter setup was given on page 3 of the instruction manual in English. I am using the Acro/Airplane setting. All servos are on Normal setting in the servo reversing programming option and all travel adjustment settings for all surfaces are at 100%.

The recommended flight battery is the E-flite 4-cell 3300mAh 50C LiPo battery (part # EFLB33004S50) I found this battery fit very nicely into the battery compartment in the fuselage. It is held in place with 1/2 supplied hook and loop material. The hook material came already secured to the bottom front inside of the fuselage. It would have given a non slip surface and there was also two straps to secure he battery in place. I added self sticking loop material to the bottom of my battery to give extra assurance the battery would not shift in flight. The plane is designed to be properly balanced using this recommended battery.

Completion

The recommended Center of Gravity (C/G) for the plane is 89mm back from the leading edge of the wing as measured next to the fuselage. The instructions said that this balance point would be obtained with the recommended battery all the way forward in the battery compartment and it was. With my 4-cell 3200mah 30C batteries I added a some lead to them near the front to properly balance my plane. My older 30C batteries did not power the Rare Bear quite as fast as the new 3300mAh 50C battery that was recommended. The speed trials discussed below were performed with the new 50C after a couple of flights and charges.

Dual Rates and Exponential

Dual rates were given on page three of the instruction manual with high and low recommendations.

DUAL RATES

  • Function:................. High.............................................. .....Low
  • Ailerons: 14mm up and 12mm down, 11mm up and 9mm down
  • Elevator: 5mm up and 5mm down, 3mm up and 3mm down**
  • Rudder: 10mm left and 10mm right, 8mm left and 8mm right

*Although I initially set up the elevator as recommended it was altered at the flying field before the first flight based on a recommendation from my friend, Jeff Hunter, who has been flying the Rare Bear with another friend and they found they needed more elevator throw to supply up elevator when they launch they plane. We moved the control rod out one hole on the servo arm from the innermost hole to the second innermost hole to center.

EXPONENTIAL

  • Exponential:...High...............Low
  • Ailerons: 15% high and 5% low
  • Elevator: 20% high and 5% low
  • Rudder: 5% high and 0% low

Timer

The estimated flight time for the recommended battery is given at four minutes in the instruction manual and they recommend setting the timer for three minutes. I did that with my DX9 using the throttle stick as the start and stop for the timer. The timer starts when the throttle is moved up to 25%.

AS3X Control Direction Test

This test is on page 9 of the instruction manual. To perform the test it is necessary to activate the AS3X system in the Rare Bear's receiver. This is done by holding the plane firmly and raising the throttle above 25% and the lowering it to off. I then moved the plane into climbs and dives, banks left and right and pivots left and right and watching for the AS3X to make corrections to return the plane to stable flight. The recommended test movements and the AS3X reactions were illustrated in the manual on page 9. After the test I unplugged the battery to turn off the AS3X system.

It was time to fully charge the battery and go flying. Range check and some simply flying instructions including had launching are given on page 10 of the manual to help with the flight.

Note: the nice pilot was secured in place with two screws.

Flying

The following is a quote from the instruction manual for the Rare Bear and is particularly appropriate when flying a fast plane.

"Always choose a wide-open space for flying. Due to the higher speeds of this aircraft, it does require more room to fly than average foam models. It is ideal for you to fly at a sanctioned flying field. If you are not flying at an approved site, always avoid flying near houses, trees, wires and buildings. You should also be careful to avoid flying in areas where there are many people, such as busy parks, schoolyards or soccer fields."

A larger flying area helps to keep the pilot more relaxed as a larger area is easier to fly in and doesn't create the added pressure often created when trying to squeeze into too small a field.

Basics

The Rare Bear is a very basic plane when it comes to control with only four channels: ailerons, throttle, elevator and rudder. I think it was especially important that I properly set up the dual rates and the recommended exponential discussed above. At high speeds a little control surface movement can cause big movement. I found I could fly her without any use of rudder. Turns were started with a bit of aileron and then easing off the aileron and adding elevator to raise the lower wing and then back to neutral with the right stick until it was time for the next turn. Turns were smoother when adding about 25% rudder to aileron ratio and I even programmed in aileron/rudder mix to use for basic maneuvers and to turn off for aerobatics as discussed below. AS3X assists in keeping the plane stable from wind gusts but did not in any way interfere with my control of the plane. I only noticed the AS3X in conditions where it was helping me keep the Rare Bear stable!

While the Rare Bear is capable of high speed with proven 100 mph speed right out of the box I want to say she can also be flown much slower than that with good control and she was still a lot of fun. Those of you familiar with my reviews know I like to fly with a mix of throttle. Flying between 1/2 and 1/3 throttle much of the time makes my high speed passes seem all that much faster. Doubling the speed from one pass to another at these speeds is very impressive even to this reviewer. When watching the videos I recommend you look at the slower turns and passes as well as the high speed turns and passes.

Taking Off and Landing

Hand Launching the Rare Bear

All take offs are hand launches and should (must) be made into any prevailing breeze or wind. The Rare Bear has a built in grip on the bottom of the fuselage to help with holding and tossing her. I like to advance the throttle to about 50% and give a VERY firm forward toss that is just slightly above level with the ground. I set my elevator's trim tab on my Spektrum DX9 with TWO clicks of up elevator for my toss. I advance the throttle more as soon as I get my second hand on the transmitter and I remove those two clicks of up elevator using the trim tab. If I have a trusted friend who knows how to properly hand launch to my taste I will definitely get his assistance for the launch. I throw it 10 degrees above the horizon. This gives me the power of my toss and the glide from the basically horizontal plane to give it time to build up speed and climb on her own. Tossing the plane more vertically causes her to loose the energy of the toss much more quickly and she is at a stall angle and not a glide angle (Don't Toss Her Up! Toss Her Out!) My launching method is directly in line with that in the manual and it is the angle I have launched my sailplanes and landing gear free planes for years. I toss hard with authority but also with control. It is a combination that works well with the Rare Bear. She can be a hard plane for some to launch so I am going to cover this area with more than usual detail.

Mike's Launching Recommendations

  • 1) If you can launch from a slight rise and still into the wind take advantage of the rise.
  • 2) If you have a friend who can launch it for you have the friend launch it for you.
  • 3) If you can throw with either hand launch with your left hand and have the right on the elevator.
  • 4) If launching from level ground give two clicks of up with the trim tab and launch hard.
  • 5) The launcher must be committed to the launch, don't stop in the process.
  • 6) Launch at 50% throttle as more might cause torque problems before air is flowing over the controls.

Jeff Hunter did the very first launch of my Rare Bear as he has been launching our friend's Rare Bear. We had a ridge at the edge of the park and we took advantage of that rise in elevation and the launch was into a good breeze. I thought I had the elevator set for neutral, as did Jeff, but after launching level and immediately gaining altitude (Co quickly it looked like he threw it upwards but he didn't.) Jeff had to use down trim on the elevator. Later, upon reflection by me that up trim was incorporated by me into my solo launches from flat ground. In the still picture below Jeff made a hard forward toss. The plane didn't drop but rather started to climb quickly because of: the breeze, the firm toss, that up in the elevator trim, and 50% motor power. With the elevator trim properly at neutral two more hand toss launches were made by Jeff and captured on video by me for the Hand Toss Launch Video below.

Hand Toss Launch Video with Jeff Hunter

Hand Toss Rare Bear to Launch (1 min 47 sec)

My launches have been on made on level ground and into a slight breeze. I have had half throttle on all launches and several steps forward into hard, firm toss launches. I have had no torque roll problems with my hard tosses at half throttle. I have adjusted the elevator trim tab with two clicks of up that I remove after the initial climb from launch. I advanced the throttle after I got my launching hand back on the transmitter. My launches have all been smooth firm well controlled launches much like Jeff's last two in the video as to the toss but more footwork on my part.

Slide to a stop

Landings will hopefully all be made with a slide. I like to use a three leg approach and keep the Rare Bear level and descending when on final. I make no turns on final other than very minor direction corrections. I land with throttle off only at the end as I think a slow propeller helps slow her down. I like to perform a very slight flair about two feet before touchdown. I prefer to land on soft thick grass when possible. The Rare Bear has a protection plate on her bottom but it has its limits so I land on grass! I land at a low flying speed (for the Rare Bear) but I don't ever stall her into the ground. I don't really need that large a grass area but I do need a long approach to bleed off speed and prepare for the slide landing. I found nothing very difficult about this for an experienced pilot given sufficient space.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The really special performance of the Rare Bear is her top speed and her ability to make nice pylon type turns on her side. She can also make huge and medium loops. She can perform a series of loops but more fun as well as more impressive is doing a series of axial rolls. I have also performed split S and Immelmann turns at medium speeds. The plane is well designed and very responsive to my commands and handles crisply for the sport flying maneuvers that I tried. I think the most important variable in flying this plane fast is that the pilot have experience for honest confidence in the knowledge that they can handle this plane. Having sufficient space for the plane to maneuver in is also an important component as discussed above to help keep that confidence level high. After a few flights the experience with the plane will make new aerobatics easier and more fun to perform. I have not yet attempted the Rare Bearrel Roll but that attempt will be coming.

The need for speed! I was out at a sod farm and I got permission to fly my Rare Bear so long as it was not near the road. The owner was interested in seeing it fly and called his neighbor to come over and watch. I was set up and ready and waiting for the neighbor when a squad car drove up and I wondered how the heck did he come here now? Turns out he was the neighbor and he had a radar gun with him. At his request no pictures were taken. My best recorded speeds in consecutive passes was 103mph downwind leg in about 1 -1 1/2 mph and 101 coming back for a 102 average. I also had a 101 and a couple at 100 and then she dropped into the high 90s. She was as stable as I let her be. The smoother I was on the sticks the better she flew. My spectators were impressed, hell, I was impressed! Three minutes went by all to quickly and she slid to a very nice landing with no damage to the sod.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! Absolutely NOT! NOT under any circumstances should a Beginner try and fly this plane! No exceptions! It is too fast and too responsive for a beginner or an early intermediate pilot. She is not hard to fly once launched successfully but she is for advanced intermediate and expert pilots.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

E-flite's Rare Bear Video Clips (5 min 56 sec)

Conclusion

The assembly was ultra easy and even with taking time to take pictures the assembly was done in under an hour. The instruction manual covered all of the assembly points with text and pictures and the recommended C/G and dual rates proved to be good as well with our elevator throw modification. The shield on the bottom of the plane has held up perfectly thus far and makes gripping her for launch easier as well as protecting her on slide landings.

I found the Rare Bear to be an excellent flyer once properly airborne! She is well designed, with great looks and precision handling. I found the AS3X to be helpful in keeping her nice and level and in control even on some gusty days. I think the plane should be very enjoyable to fly for pilots that are really ready for her. By being ready, I mean having the confidence that I can fly this plane. She is not a hard plane to fly. Some pilots love the adrenalin rush of a high speed plane and some find they are almost ready to soil themselves when it comes time to fly a fast plane. Experience based confidence is a very important factor in successfully flying this plane fast. If you have that confidence and a good size field to fly her I think you will really love flying the Rare Bear. If you are a good intermediate pilot you should be able to fly this plane at medium speed and develop the confidence to fly her fast. I found no bad habits in flying her for this review. But please pay attention to my launching suggestions.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Beautiful color scheme and easy to see
  • Quick and easy construction
  • Very fast as advertised (102 mph average)
  • Flies nicely at medium speed
  • Easy to transport and store fully assembled
  • AS3X is a nice assist with no interference in actual control

Minuses

  • Must be hand launched, an acquired skill
  • Very fast, possibly too fast for some
Last edited by Michael Heer; Jun 18, 2015 at 01:32 AM..
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Old Jul 28, 2015, 06:24 PM
DismayingObservation is offline
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I'll vouch for the hand launch part. One of our more experienced club members was out flying his new Rare Bear a few weeks ago and yup, he had another member launching it. I for one would definitely enlist the aid of a buddy. It's a very close coupled model and a bad launch would be, well, bad.

Ah, but once in the air, it's a sight to see. The pilot even did a few laps around the pylons.

This model has oodles and gobs of power and installing fixed gear wouldn't take a lot of effort. I doubt it would make a difference in the flight characteristics and/or speed.

Just too much fun to watch one of these and I hope to get some stick time someday.
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Old Jul 29, 2015, 07:13 AM
Bill Glover is offline
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Easy enough to make up a wheeled dolly if you have a problem with hand launching.
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Old Jul 29, 2015, 10:35 AM
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Curious whether the AS3X seemed to be overactive as the plane reached top speed? Would think that the gyro might start to oscillate causing increasing pitch and or roll changes unless the gain is reduced relative to actual airspeed...

This thought is one of the reason's I've not installed a gyro in any of the EF1 airplanes I fly (they reach approximately the same top speed).
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Old Jul 29, 2015, 01:34 PM
Michael Heer is offline
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None of us who have flown it or watched it go bye in high speed passes has noticed any such problem or condition.
We have had no troubled with hand launches using the methods I recommended in the article. Mike
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Old Jul 29, 2015, 10:55 PM
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Here is the link to the main thread on this plane:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2334924

Just over 6 months old and near 600 posts.



G.
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