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Combat with Electrifly Fun Force Sport Fighters

Michael Heer and friends explore Electrifly's new Fun Force -- really three different planes in four different paint schemes so far. While the planes feature a flat fuselage they have a fully symetrical wing and come with streamers for combat. They're considering these for club combat -- see what you think! There is also a bonus video showing the P-51 set-up for 3D control throw by J. David Johnson.

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Introduction

Glamour shot of the P-51 Mustang
Glamour shot of the P-51 Mustang
The Focke Wulf-190 has the same wing and measurements as the P-51.
The Focke Wulf-190 has the same wing and measurements as the P-51.
Wingspan:33.5 inches
Length:35 inches
Wing Area:301 sq in
Weight:13.75 ounces
Wing loading:6.57 oz sq ft
The Zero has the lightest wing loading at 6 ounces.
The Zero has the lightest wing loading at 6 ounces.
Wingspan:34.5 inches
Length:36 inches
Wing Area:354 sq in
Weight:15 ounces
Wing Loading: 6 oz sq ft
The Hellcat has the longest wing and surprisingly the highest wing loading at 34.75 inches and 6.6 ounces respectively.
The Hellcat has the longest wing and surprisingly the highest wing loading at 34.75 inches and 6.6 ounces respectively.
Wingspan:34.75 inches
Length:35 inches
Wing Area:339 sq in
Weight:15.5 ounces
Wing Loading:6.6 ounces
Airfoil all planes:fully symmetrical
Battery all planes:11.1 volt 3s 1500 8C lipoly
Radio all planes:4 channel receiver and transmitter
Motor all planes:370 Brushed motor 5:1 gearbox
Propeller all planes:10.4.7
Escape all planes:brushed controller 15 amp continuous
P-51 servos:3 Futaba S-3110
P-51 receiver:Berg 4L
P-51 escape:Castle Creations Pixie 20
P-51 transmitter:JR 9303

These are some fun looking, fun flying, "lets get into combat without spending a fortune but with something that actually looks like a real airplane" planes! Let's jump right in and explore the fun our club members have had with these cool combat babies!

The first two planes in the Fun Force series were the P-51 and the FW-190. These kits with an included geared motor list for just under $50.00. The Zero and Hellcat have different measurements from each other as well as from the two earlier planes. They list for just under $60.00 each with the same geared motor as the first two.

Since I bought the P-51 it will be the featured plane for the assembly process but they all assemble the same way. Pictures of all the planes will be included in the photo gallery so you can get a good look at each. Let me explain that the reason we have two Hellcats in this fight is that we have two former navy guys who both wanted the Hellcat. They were asked to figure out how to tell them apart between the two of them and they were reminded that there was no team ("There is no team in I!") flying in this combat.

The P-51 kit

As mentioned above a Speed Force 370 brushed ballbearing motor is included with a 5:1 gearbox, a 10 x 4.7 prop as well as a prop saver that allows the prop to deflect back at landing. The plane includes the hardware for connecting the control surfaces to the plane and the wire control rods that connect your servos to the control surfaces. These EP foam parts are flat with the exception of the wing that is fully symmetrical and is a mid-mounted wing in all of the planes. The planes come prepainted/covered with markings for a final touch. The servos can be seen with two in the back and one above the wing mounted in the fuselage. The battery is hidden in the front of the fuselage behind the motor and covered with an access panel. The escape is just above the panel and the receiver is behind the wing in the fuselage. There is a twenty page instruction manual and each plane has it's own manual with pictures of the plane you are assembling. All parts come bagged and taped into the box. The tape was strong so I used scissors to cut the part bags free.

Additional Items Needed to Finish the Plane

The following items were needed to finish my Mustang and all of the other planes.

  • Epoxy glue
  • Foam safe Cynoacrylic glue (CA)
  • CA accelerator (kicker)
  • 4 channel micro receiver and transmitter
  • 3 sub-micro/ Nano servos such as Futaba S 3110, Hitec HS-55 or GWS Naro servos
  • Great Planes C-25 escape (I used a Castle Creations Pixie 20)
  • 11.1 volt 3S Great Planes 1500 8C lipoly battery pack
  • 1 six inch servo extension wire
  • 1 twelve inch servo extension wire
  • Soldering iron and solder and any connectors you want to use
  • Stick on lead for balancing your plane might be needed

Assembly

Assembling the wing, stabs and control surfaces

POST FLIGHT CONSTRUCTION RECOMMENDATION

Charles used epoxy to glue on his elevators and one side came loose during his first flight. Gordon used CA on the top and sides with the elevator on the rod and had the control side elevator come loose on his second carrier style landing. (The one shown in the video below.) We jointly recommend that builders lightly sand or somehow rough-up the carbon fiber rods (other than where they go through bushings) to give the glue more surface area to attach to. If you have thick and thin foam safe CA we would recommend that you put some thick CA in the groove in the side of the elevator where the carbon rods fit in the elevator (and do it with the ailerons as well.) You have almost no working time for the glue so trial fit everything first and be ready to snap it onto the rod as soon as you have added the the thick CA into the groove. After that glue has set then use the thin CA from above on the rod on the sides and hit it with kicker. If you don't have thick foam safe CA you could try a thin layer of epoxy in the grove but still use the thin CA and kicker on the top sides and be sure to ROUGH-UP the carbon fiber!

Additionally, Ed and Gordon had to add some glue to the motor mounting stick on their Hellcats as both were a bit loose. Ed tried foam safe CA but ended up using some epoxy.

In looking at both the parts and the instructions it became obvious that the build was very straight forward and the most interesting assembly feature was the hinging system for the control surfaces.

The "hinges" come preinstalled on the horizontal stabilizer. To install the elevator sections I simply slid the carbon fiber rod into the circular tubes they refer to as "hinges" mounted on the horizontal stabilizer and glued one side of the elevator to the rod using foam safe CA and avoiding getting any glue into the tubes/"hinges." With one side installed I repeated the process and installed the second half of the elevator, making sure it was level with the first half I had installed. The rudder comes prehinged to the vertical stabilizer so I simply glued the vertical stab to the fuselage top and back as shown in the picture below.

Having installed the smaller elevators to the carbon fiber hinge system I now repeated the process first gluing one rod with the "bearings aka hinges" to each side of the wing and then gluing the ailerons to a second rod you slide into the "bearings" without getting any glue in the bearings. The confidence from doing the elevators makes the ailerons less daunting so it was good organization of assembly to have it done that way.

I did have to put household transparent tape over the invasion stripes on the top and bottom of the fuselage as those wanted to peel off when I first got the kit. The transparent tape held them in place.

Installing the radio gear

I purchased three Futaba S3110 servos for this project. They will supply 22 oz of torque. With the size of the control surfaces and the amount of throw I wanted to exceed the torque recommendation (15 ounces of torque recommended.)

While my S3110 servo fit the space perfectly for the aileron cutout they were shorter than the space supplied for the elevator/rudder. I used some small pieces of cardboard to fill this extra space in the rudder/elevator area.

The aileron servo hole was open and visible. The elevator and rudder holes had been cut but were covered and had to have the covering material removed. The receiver box was also covered and had to be cut out as shown below in the bonus section photo by J. David Johnson.

Larger servo arms are included, and needed to get the extended throw required for combat. My plane's control surfaces have extensive movement as you would find on a 3D plane.

There was a little preparation work for the servos that is well handled by the instructions:

  • I cut off the mounting tabs on the ends of the servos with my Dremel drill using a rotating saw blade.
  • I roughed up and then glued the supplied servo extension arms from the kit on top of the servo arms that came with my servos. (I also used micro balloons when the CA was wet (Baking soda could also have been used) and those two servo arms were now one forever as seen in the photo below!

I used a Castle Creation Pixie 20 for my escape and I shortened the motor wires to match my needs for this plane. I added female 2.5mm connectors that matched the male connectors that came already installed on the geared motor that came in the kit. I used Sermo connectors for the battery connections on the escape and the 1500 3-cell Lipoly battery pack. The Pixie 20 is a great escape but it is much smaller and lighter than the one recommended and I suspected some lead might be needed to add the weight up front that it lacked. But it later turned out my plane balanced perfectly with the components I used.

I glued Velcro inside the escape space and the hidden battery box behind the motor to hold the escape and battery pack in their respective places. The escape and my Berg 4L receiver easily fit in the spaces provided for the equipment in the fuselage as they were smaller than the spaces as you can see in the photos below. The wires easily fit in the precut channels in the fuselage. The Center of Gravity (C/G) was given at being 3-1/4" from the leading edge of the wing near the fuselage.

Construction conclusion

The Fun Force P-51 could be assembled in a one day session but I took three evening sessions to assemble mine...one to assemble the plane and one to install the motor and escape, then the final session was making the large servo control arms and installing and connecting the servos with the supplied prebent wires. The control wires were a bit brittle so I installed them carefully.

My plane balanced on the recommended location with a forward most placement of the battery inside the hidden battery box. Gordon and Charles used heavier receivers than my light Berg 4L and had to add 3/4 to an ounce of lead to their plane's noses to obtain proper C/G balance for their first flights. Charles chose to move his receiver forward to eliminate the lead. As explained in detail in the flying section, this resulted in radio noise issues, so we do not recommend moving the receiver forward of the recommended location.

By the time my plane was ready to fly, after waiting for the servos to arrive, Gordon had already flown his Hellcat and Charles his Zero so let's get to the flying portion of this review.

The recommended control surface throws for: High Rate/3D Rate

  • Elevator: 3-1/2" up and down
  • Rudder: 3-1/2" right and left
  • Ailerons: 3" up and down

The recommended control surface throws for: Low Rate/Sport Rate

  • Elevator: 1-1/2" up and down
  • Rudder: 2" right and left
  • Ailerons: 1 5/8" up and down

Flying

First Report by Cub Reporter, Charles Eaton

"Gordon is first up! We went to the lake in the morning to test fly his Fun Force Hellcat. All went well. I threw it into the wind as Gordon manned the controls. A few clicks of up and right aileron and she was flying straight and true. We both did loops, roles and inverted flight with no problems. It looked great in the air and flew realistically. After about 10 minutes Gordon brought it in for a nice slow landing and that was that. Nothing broke and no surprises. It was a little under powered but we think that was caused by the inferior 3-cell battery he had in it. The good 3-cell will be in the next time it flies. We both think it will fly realistic combat using a streamer. None of that flitting around like a butterfly stuff. Should put on a real show with a few in the air at the same time."

Second flying session

I was still waiting for my servos and Charles for his speed controller when I offered to loan him my Pixie 20 controller and he installed it at the field. This way I was able to video both the Zero and the Hellcat in flight. None of us are proficient 3D pilots so they set their throws for Sport Rate and after the maiden flight Charles set his for even slightly less throw. Both planes flew and handled very well with the Sport Rate. The pilots were able to do controlled loops and axial rolls. Although they could fly their planes fine they didn't match throttles very well so formation flying didn't really make it. It was during this session that the elevators came loose from the carbon fiber rods and that lead to the construction recommendation concerning them above. I was well pleased with how they were handling and that was with a good cross breeze to boot.

Downloads

Modifications to the Zero

During the second flying session Charles found his plane was not tracking the way he felt it should and that was forcing his plane's nose up during a turn. He added a second ounce of lead to the nose and moved his balance point 3/8s of an inch forward from the recommended location of 3 1/4 inches. He was now at 2 7/8 inches from the leading edge. He wasn't used to using ailerons and rudder as he primarily flies rudder, elevator spoiler gliders and uses the right stick for the rudder and elevator. So he dialed in a 30% rudder/aileron mix for his turns and that was better but 40% proved to be perfect for him. He was using a somewhat heavy Hitec 555 receiver without case and afterwards he moved it forward to the battery compartment. It required some cutting and fitting but he got it in there and was able to remove most of his lead. This put it near the motor where there might be interference.

To use less lead to balance, we recommend using a light receiver like the Berg 4L. Use the glue you need to connect the elevators and rudder to the plane. Don't try and save weight there. If you need to add a little stick on weight to the nose that is OK as the plane handles it fine but don't have the balance point go behind the recommended C/G for normal flying. Several of our pilots moved it forward a bit.

I prefer to use the Berg 4L receiver in the recommended receiver location. It has full range and yet is small and light. Using the recommended location the receiver is away from the motor and the escape and the possibility of interference from motor sparking etc is greatly reduced. Additionally, as mentioned above my plane balanced without lead with the components I used.

Combat

Session 1

I was the only one to go home with a flyable plane so I must have won! Well my plane flew but I didn't. The score was the ground 4, pilots zero and one tie. Ed Holt crashed during his test flight when he learned how low he could not go. He did this before I arrived so there was no video footage of the carnage. Bernard had a great test flight but thought he was on the field side of a barb wire fence and he wasn't (video above). That had us down to Charles Zero, Gordon's Hellcat and my Mustang for the actual combat. After eight successful flights with his Zero, Charles crashed on hand launch at the start of combat for initially unknown reasons. This resulted in a loose motor mount. Gordon with his Hellcat and Ed with my Mustang flew all around the sky but seldom got very close to each other. Gordon made a carrier type landing at the end of the session and his motor mount stick came loose. My recommendation is that if/when the motor mount stick comes loose mix up a batch of epoxy with micro balloons and secure it as well as you can. It would probably help if the motor mount stick was a little longer to give it more surface area to attach to in the fuselage.

Combat was rescheduled to take place in two days on Labor day. Unfortunately, On Labor day the wind was very strong, one plane was still down for repairs and one pilot was unavailable. Our second session had to be postponed. Fortunately, I have gotten use to delays in reviews involving multiple pilots.

The cause of Charle's crash was later determined, but not until after he had repaired the Zero and crashed it a second time. He had radio interference from the motor. His placing the receiver up near the motor so he could remove lead proved to create a big problem. He had more repairs to make and went to a lighter receiver and moved the new receiver back to its designed location.

Benard's motor stopped working after his barb wire crash. He ordered a replacement motor. While waiting for the replacement he opened up the original motor. On opening it he found the brushes were crimped and not soldered in place. The crash had loosened them. He soldered the wire and his motor was working better than ever. Benard was the only pilot who added a little lead at the tail of his plane for balance. He used the recommended escape and it was larger than my Pixie 20.

Session 2

Before this round I had a brief pilots meeting and took some pictures of the pilots present with their planes. I also discussed that combat required more circling and less running from side to side of the field. This was important to make a more enjoyable video. I also decided I would video from a slight rise at the back of the field in hopes that position and my camera's zoom would give me better results than standing by the pilots. It would have the added benefit/disadvantage of being further away from their combat language. We assumed our positions and we were ready for a ten minute combat session. The combat video has been shortened to make it more watchable. Missing was Gordon (out on R & R) and a pilot for my Mustang as I was the camera person. Benard went out early after strafing and hitting the ground. Charles and Ed had a mid-air that I missed with the camera but they kept flying. The video is below. We need more practice but it was fun!

Downloads

This plane is not for a Beginner!

With no dihedral and a fully symmetrical wing and ailerons this plane goes where you tell it to go. Take your hands off and it keeps going where it was last headed. It has no hands off stabilization and thus is not for the beginner pilot. It wouldn't even be my choice for an aileron trainer. It is designed for streamer combat and has exaggerated (3D) throws so it is for the intermediate to experienced pilot. It is easy to control with the proper experience and is a good flying plane but it is not in my opinion a trainer.

Photo Gallery

Charle's Zero Gallery

Gordon's Hellcat Gallery

Mike's P-51 Gallery

Ed's Hellcat Gallery

Benard's FW-190 Gallery

Combat Gallery

Bonus Coverage

Author J. David Johnson provides this excellent video of the P-51 Mustang in flight. Since he had his controls set up for 3D style of flying, his rolls are much faster than mine. He also took an excellent picture of finding the radio compartment under the invasion stripes on the back right side of the fuselage. David shares his thoughts:

"Combat or no, the Funforce planes have very large control surfaces and this contributes to it's agility in the air. Mine was very well powered with an Electrifly 1250 11.1 volt Lipoly pack. It could easily perform loops from level flight and was capable of a fairly wide array of flight maneuvers. I can see how this would be a great deal of fun in combat with others. But even as a parkflyer, the Funforce provides a nice airframe, that's resilient and capable. It's even able to do some 3D maneuvers. If I were to keep it as a parkflyer only, I'd even consider one of the Electrifly Brushless motors for even more power. In summary, the Funforce line of combat planes are a great value for the money. If a club were to get together 3-4 guys and arm them with a Funforce design... there is sure to be lots of fun and laughter as the combat begins. "

Downloads

Conclusion

What FUN! We all REALLY enjoyed these Fun Force combat models.

David, an accomplished 3D pilot, shared that he had a great time with his model on the 3D throws. Really, everyone was happy with the way their plane flew on the Sport style or normal rate control settings. (Benard will be working on his settings for more elevator throw than he had during combat.) For the non-3D pilots in our crew, the planes were pretty twitchy on the 3D setting and a bit of a handful. Fortunately, all of us have computerized transmitters and could use dual rate and try flying them both ways.

We wished they had spray painted the wings as the covering wrinkles or puffs up when the plane is out in the sun. Despite these blemishes in the appearance the planes continued to fly fine.

The elevators coming loose from the carbon fiber hinges was a little scary but we escaped any crashes and came up with our recommended remedy posted above (rough-up the carbon fiber).

The complete packages were great, and made them ideal for combat where the differentiators were pilot skill, not components. We wished they would have talked a little bit about their propellers that end with a 90 degree tip, so we could understand the aerodynamic design. But the propellers worked fine despite the unusual look to them.

Don't expect these planes to last forever. They are affordable and quick to build and they are designed to be used in streamer combat where mid-airs happen. They work very well for the purpose for which they were designed. Set up properly, they go where you point them, making the combat truly about pilot skill, not self-recovery of the model, or differences in components used.

WATCH YER SIX!

Post Review Note

We held the combat as scheduled at our club Fun Fly and the videotape of that event will be shared in a future review. A major mid-air was caught on tape. One plane crashed from that contact and one landed with a propeller stuck in its wing. Look for it in the Modesto Fun Fly review after the first of the year.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Oct 28, 2006 at 12:47 AM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 01, 2006, 03:09 PM
Too little play time...
WarrrEagle!'s Avatar
South Alabama
Joined Feb 2005
1,500 Posts
Now $29 at Tower Hobbies by the way...

Good looking and pretty good in the air but the motor mount setup is very weak and what's worse, very hard to repair...

In fact I have a P-51 sitting on the shelf ready to go as soon as I figure out how to fix the thing without totally destroying and rebuilding the nose. This after the second flight and the result of a shallow and not very hard strike to the nose at the bottom of an ill-advised loop.

Nice article, though and great videos. No one can deny that these planes look great in the air!
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Old Nov 02, 2006, 09:09 AM
Registered User
Joined Aug 2004
13 Posts
Great article and videos! I bought a P-51 and put an Esskay 400xt brushless from Hobby Lobby on it. I also used a GWS DD 9x5 prop. It flys very well with this setup.
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Old Nov 02, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Joined Jun 2005
132 Posts
Good flyer,weak structure.
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Old Nov 02, 2006, 06:37 PM
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macca68's Avatar
Murray Bridge.(Sth) Australia
Joined May 2006
117 Posts
Great review! What are they like for 3D? Can you get them to hover, will they do a flat spin?
I'm looking at getting into 3D and the bloke at LHS said it 'should' be OK.
Would a 150w Brushless outrunner be suitable?
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Old Nov 03, 2006, 11:53 AM
Registered User
Essex Junction, VT
Joined Oct 2003
7 Posts
Super article, nice pics and vids.

This article was well written and helps understanding how to make the most from the kit. Bravo!

One recommendation: You should refer to the Electronic Speed Control as an ESC, not an "escape".

I know the reference comes from the escape key on a computer keyboard, although, I wish it was a speed control on this old clunker of a computer!!

Sincerely,

Wayne.
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Old Nov 05, 2006, 05:57 PM
Registered User
Webster, Fl
Joined May 2005
92 Posts
Bought this P-51 last month.Didn't have the esc for a brushed motor so I ran my Himax 2025-4200,w/6.6:1,10x7 APCsf, TP Prolite 1320-11.1,and Electrifly SS 25esc.
Once I got the low rates down, it was sweet, and hit the high rate .. wow!!!!
It just climbs and climbs..I think THIS is what I'd call "unlimited Verticle". I fly it more than any other (electric) plane I have now.My bud is ordering one this week and I am ordering another,myself. Don't care so much about combat as learning formation flying.... One other thing...Some friends are into GWS Pylon racing,so I started a GWS P-51 and I find the Fun Force is the same weight,can use the same equipment,but it can out turn the GWS all day long..lol..I might see if they will allow it on the Pylon Course...Or start a FF Pylon Race.. Best Regards, Monkey Gutz
p.s.it did seem a little weak in the structure but I used some hot glue to re-enforce the CF body rod and added som balsa supports to key areas of the nose (inside battery box )
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