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E-flite Beechcraft Bonanza 15e with Electric Retracts Review

E-flite commendably chooses to model one of General Aviation's most recognizable planes, the Beechcraft Bonanza.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:48"
Wing Area:410 sq. in.
Weight:4.2 to 4.5 lbs. (Review model at 4 lbs 1 oz.)
Length:41.9"
Wing Loading:19.7 to 21.4 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:JR Sport MC35 Micro Servos (7)
Transmitter:JR X9503 2.4GHz transmitter
Receiver:Spektrum AR7000 seven channel receiver
Battery:E-Flite 3200mAh 3S 11.1V 20C LiPo
Motor:E-Flite Power 15 Brushless Outrunner Motor (950Kv)
ESC:E-Flite 40-Amp Pro Switch-Mode BEC Brushless ESC
Manufacturer:E-Flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Prices:Plane:$179.99 Retracts: $119.99
Flight Duration:7-10 minutes

I LOVE all things aviation related, from models to the real deal. It doesn't matter where I am or what I am doing, when I hear the drone of a motor in the sky above me, I stop and look up to see what it is. Unfortunately, I have never considered myself one of those people who is able to name just about anything and everything that flies overhead. And that is especially true when it comes to General Aviation aircraft. To my untrained eye, they are all similar enough that I often cannot tell a Mooney from a Maule! However, one aircraft that I can usually pick out in a crowd is the V-tail version of the Beechcraft Bonanza. This iconic classic is almost instantly recognized when equipped with the unique V-tail, although it is also available with a conventional tail configuration. Interesting Bonanza errata includes the fact that there are still an estimated 5,000+ V-tail equipped Bonanzas flying, in spite of the negative press the V-tail has received over the years due to notable crashes. (Legendary singer Buddy Holly was killed in a V-tail Bonanza.)


Though production of the V-tail Bonanzas was dropped in 1982, those that are still flying command a premium on the used aircraft market. A variant of the Bonanza even saw duty in the Vietnam war under the project name "Pave Eagle". It was used in much the same capacity as the Lockheed YO-3A, as an electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft with a drastically reduced noise signature to avoid enemy detection as it flew over the enemy at very low altitudes.



A common sight at many airports nationwide!

General Aviation aircraft are not commonly modeled, as the more exciting war bird and jet airframes have already proven their popularity with radio control enthusiasts time and again. E-flite thus breaks new ground by venturing into this genre of model aircraft with a 15 sized ARF constructed of light ply and balsa. E-flites version of the Beechcraft Bonanza is somewhat akin to the full size "Pave Eagle" version in that it comes out of the box configured for clean, quiet electric flight. Add in the options of E-flites exciting new electric retracts and the optional signature Bonanza V-tail and you have a General Aviation ARF worth taking a very close look at.

Notable Features


Included conventional tail or optional V-tail



Included fixed gear or optional E-flite electric retracts



Flaps, with concealed linkages, and optional cockpit kit

Kit Contents

The Beechcraft Bonanza comes built up and pre-covered in three colors of Hangar 9 Ultracote covering (White, Flame Red and Deep Blue). Included in the box are the required components to build a Bonanza with fixed tricycle landing gear and a conventional tail. Items worth considering, depending on how detailed you want your model to be and the number of dollars you have to spend, include an optional V tail, a cockpit kit and E-flites slick new electric retracts. All control surfaces come pre-hinged and pre-attached, with the control horns already installed. This feature alone saves a considerable amount of time in the total build time required to get the Bonanza from the box to the blue.


In The Box

  • Built up wings with pre-hinged flaps, ailerons
  • Built up fuselage, with ABS canopy
  • Conventional tail set, pre-hinged
  • Fiberglass cowl and tail cone
  • Fixed landing gear set
  • Complete hardware pack
  • Push rod set
  • Belly pan
  • White plastic spinner
  • 59 page black and white, photo illustrated assembly manual
  • One sheet of Horizon Hobby house brand products decals




Required for Completion

  • Minimum six channel radio system, seven channel if using both retracts and V tail options
  • Seven micro servos
  • Electric power system (Motor, speed controller and lipoly battery)
  • Propeller
  • Servo extensions: two 12 inch, three 9 inch, two 6 inch, three Y cables (two if using V tail)

Included for Review

  • E-Flite 10 to 15 Size tricycle electric retracts
  • E-Flite Power 15 brushless outrunner
  • E-Flite 40-Amp Pro Switch-Mode BEC Brushless ESC
  • E-Flite 3200mAh 3S 11.1V 20C LiPo
  • Spektrum AR700 seven channel 2.4GHz receiver
  • JR Sport MC35 Micro Servos (7)
  • V-tail option
  • Cockpit kit option





Assembly

The included assembly manual is a good representation of what a perfect set of instructions should look like. Though I have always found Horizon’s assembly manuals good, they continue to evolve and improve. They leave almost nothing to chance, and if adhered to closely, a successful build is certain. The Bonanza manual takes on the extra tasks of showing how to install either tail option, as well as containing instructions for installing both the included fixed tricycle gear or the optional electric retracts. The manual also includes a section on assembling and installing the optional cockpit kit.


Bonanza Assembly Manual

There are a few minor corrections I would suggest to the manual and the recommended order of build. The instructions would have you join the two wing halves before the landing gear gets installed. While this sequence poses no problems if using the fixed gear, doing it this way when using the optional electric retracts will make it a little difficult, though not impossible, to pull the retract wire into and out of the center section of the wing. Also, when installing the electric retracts, you will need at least a 6 inch servo extension for each main gear retract. It is possible to connect the electric nose retract without the use of an extension, thanks to the 3 into 1 servo Y cable included in the electric retracts box. However, using a short servo extension is almost imperative, as the point of connection is located in the nose gear wheel well and it is a bit difficult to routinely access.

The usual assortment of tools and adhesives required to assemble an ARF will get the job done here too. One item you will definitely need is canopy glue. It is used to attach the belly pan and to assemble the canopy kit. It dries clear and remains flexible and is the perfect adhesive for these items. I used 5 minute epoxy and a several different viscosities of CA in my build. A Dremel is also a must have, if you are going with the optional electric retracts. A razor saw will also come in handy for getting the electric nose gear retract fitted down into the fuselage. I suggest reading the assembly manual over a time or two before you actually commence the build. I find it always helps me if I am familiar with the project to come, so that I can visualize it.

Wing




The two wing halves come out of the box in an advanced state of pre-assembly. The flaps and ailerons are pre-hinged and pre-attached. All control horns are factory installed. Assembly involves little more than installing the servos and making up the control rods. The flaps have some pretty cool hidden control horns and linkages, which help keep the bottom of the wing clean.



A pull string is provided to assist the builder in getting the flap and aileron servo leads pulled to the root of each wing half. There is but one string, so I went ahead and finalized the installation of both flap and aileron servos in each half and then pulled both servo leads to the center section of the wing at the same time (which is the recommended procedure according to the assembly manual). It is a snug fit and I found it a little difficult to get the leads through some of the wing formers. I used electrical tape to make the bundle as streamlined as possible, offsetting the two plastic servo connectors one behind the other and in a line. I pulled them straight out through the end of the wing first and then routed them up and out of the small pre-cut hole on the top of the wing.


The servos are mounted in a very conventional manner. Short hardwood blocks get epoxied to the interior surfaces of the flap and aileron servo hatches. The servos are then attached to these clocks with their included mounting hardware. Though I used the recommended size bit to drill the mounting holes in the hardwood blocks, I still battled with the hardwood blocks splitting as I drove the screws in. Using a slightly larger drill bit or running the bit in and out multiple times to ream the holes out a little could help prevent this. I used medium CA to glue these splits in the hardwood blocks. The servo leads of the recommended JR micro servos exit the servo cases in a location that necessitates carving a relief out of one of the hardwood blocks. The plastic snap keepers used to secure the aileron and flap push rods to the servo horns work best if the push rods have a clean 90 degree bend. A bend with a radius can undermine the security of these connections. I did use 9 inch servo extensions on my aileron servos, securing the connection with a large piece of heat shrink. The flap servo leads would just reach to the servo lead exit holes on the wing halves. I therefore decided to forego extensions on the flaps servos. I like to minimize the number of connections since they also serve as potential points of failure.


Gluing the two wing halves together is the final step in the assembly of the wing. The recommended procedure in the assembly manual uses some innovative steps to hold it in position while the epoxy sets up. There is a technical bulletin on the Horizon Hobby web site in connection with the wing joiner. The manual shows a pair of wing joiners that are glued together to create a laminate. Initial Bonanza kits contained the pair of joiners, while successive batches saw these already glued together at the factory. My kit was in the latter group. I always use an epoxy brush when gluing up critical joints like this one. It allows you to spread a large amount of epoxy in short order. Paper towels soaked in rubbing alcohol make for a quick cleanup of any oozing epoxy before it has a chance to dry. E-flite includes a strip of white covering that can be used to conceal the wing joint after the epoxy dries.


Fuselage


The fuselage of the E-flite Bonanza is both chubby and cavernous. This bodes well for an easy installation of the various electronics that will need to be installed inside of it. Assembly steps involving the fuselage include the installation of the tail group servos (covered under the Radio Installation section below), the nose gear, be it the fixed gear or electric retract unit (covered under the Landing Gear section below) and the speed controller and battery (covered under Power System Installation below).




The stripes on the fuselage and canopy line up almost perfectly, and the colors on the two pieces match up very well. The clear windows on my canopy had a slight fogginess about them and I was unable to clear it up using either a damp rag or window cleaner. It is completely unnoticeable from a distance of a few feet however.




The removable canopy runs from the firewall all the way back to just behind the rearmost part of the passenger compartment. It is retained via a small dowel on the front edge that indexes into a hole in the firewall and by a strong magnet that secures it at the rear. Removing the canopy not only makes battery installation and removal a snap but opens up the entire interior of the model for easy access to everything.



One of the final steps in assembling the Bonanza involves gluing the belly pan to the wing. This creates a nice streamlined profile and transition from the leading edge of the wing rearward. The finish of this piece is nice and glossy. Canopy glue is the adhesive of choice but I was sure to give it plenty of time to cure before I removed the low tack blue painters tape used to keep it held in the correct position.

Tail


One of the reasons I was strongly attracted to this ARF was that it could be configured with a V-tail. I have never flown a model with this type of tail and I have always found the Bonanza equipped with the V-tail to be an eye catching airplane! The E-flite Bonanza comes with a conventional tail included in the box, while the V-tail is optional and extra. Using the conventional tail makes for a slightly better behaved airplane. The fuselage is designed to accept either tail and they are completely interchangeable. Two sets of push rod outer sleeves are pre-installed in the fuselage to facilitate using either tail. Both tails come with the control surfaces pre-hinged and all control horns already attached. The optional V-tail comes with a tail cone and another set of push rods.


Each tail comes with blind nuts built into its assembly. A pair of 4/40 cap head screws pass through two holes in the fuselage and thread into the blind nuts to secure the tail to the fuselage. I was impressed when the tail assembly lined up perfectly with the two holes in the fuselage. I really like when a manufacturer makes the tail feathers removable like this. Doing so means the airframe can be broken down into a much smaller size for transport or shipping, if necessary. Additionally, any unexpected damage to the empennage can be more easily repaired when removing a couple of fasteners is all that is required to separate the tail from the fuselage.



When using the V-tail option, the two push rods exit the push rod tubes right at the seam between the V-tail assembly and the fuselage. If using the push rods for the conventional tail, the push rods exit on the sides of the fuselage. To use the V-tail option requires a transmitter capable of doing the necessary V-tail mixing. Third party electronic V-tail mixers are also available should you own a transmitter without the necessary programming. A tail cone gets attached to the rear of the fuselage after installing your choice of tail. The tail cones for each type of tail are a little different and thus not interchangeable.




Radio Installation





The introduction of the Bonanza assembly manual says it is possible to use the Spektrum DX6i transmitter but that if you are going to use both the V-tail option and the retracts, it is necessary to go with a seven channel radio system like the Spektrum DX7. The V-tail option will require an extra channel. This is due to the fact that you cannot connect the nose wheel steering to the rudder channel with a Y cable when using a V-tail programming mix. Both elevator and rudder inputs will cause the nose wheel steering to operate when the V-tail mix is enabled. A custom mix must thus be programmed in the transmitter to operate the nose wheel steering. The Spektrum AR700 full range seven channel receiver has enough channels to operate a fully optioned out E-flite Bonanza.


There are three servos that get installed in the rear of the Bonanza fuselage. They are the rudder, elevator and nose wheel steering servos. Their position in the mounting rails is ultimately decided by aligning them with the push rod outer sleeves. These outer sleeves are pre-installed for the rudder and elevator surfaces, while the nose wheel outer push rod sleeve must be threaded through the firewall and several fuselage formers and then glued in place where it passes through the firewall and formers. The nose wheel steering push rod is of a braided cable composition. It attaches to the servo horn with a EZ link style of connector, which makes for easy tuning of the nose wheel centering. The rudder and elevator push rods are metal and require making a 90 degree bend in the end that connects to the servo horns. When mounting these three servos, I made sure I followed the recommendation to harden the mounting holes with CA.



The inside of the Bonanza fuselage is absolutely spacious. There is plenty of room for the potentially messy wiring that will inevitably result when you connect all seven servos and the retracts to the receiver. There are several Y harnesses that will also be used and unless the shortest ones are purchased, they will contribute to the ball of wiring inside the fuselage. If spending a little time to neaten the radio installation is not your cup of tea, you may wish to consider picking up the optional cockpit kit. This will not only add a little more realism to the appearance of the Bonanza but will also completely conceal the sum total of the receiver wiring. I used some wire ties and a little hot glue to make my radio installation as neat as possible. Doing so makes the interior aesthetically pleasing by decluttering it and it also simplifies connecting the six servo leads that are contained in the wing assembly.

Spektrum AR7000 Receiver Channel Assignments

Channel Function Notes
1 Throttle To the E-flite 40 amp speed controller
2 Ailerons Two aileron servos connected via a Y cable
3 Elevator One servo for either type of tail
4 Rudder One servo for either type of tail
5 Gear 3 into 1 cable if using electric retracts
6 Aux 1 Two flap servos connected via a Y cable
7 Aux 2 Nose wheel steering, via a custom transmitter mix

In addition to setting up a custom mix to map the nose wheel steering to the rudder stick, I was able to use several of the nice programming features on my JR X9503 transmitter. I set the programmable flaps delay to a maximum of two seconds, which has the effect of slowly deploying and retracting the flaps instead of just instantly snapping them up and down. Easing the airplane into and out of flaps down conditions slowly helps prevent any "upsetting" of the airframe that can occur when the flaps snap up and down quickly. I used all of the control surface throws that are recommended in the assembly manual, and added exponential of 30% on all primary control surfaces except for the low rate rudder. I like to use the low rate rudder for take offs and landings, as using high rate rudder will usually result in over controlling the ground steering of the airplane. It is best to minimize any exponential on the low rate rudder for the same reason. I will usually program a maximum of 5-10% exponential on low rate rudder.

Power System Installation







The recommended power system for this E-flite Beechcraft Bonanza includes the similarly badged Power 15 brushless outrunner, 40 amp pro-switch mode BEC speed controller and a 3200mAH 3S 20C lipoly battery.


Nylon spacers included in the Bonanza kit offset the Power 15 the proper amount from the firewall. I mistakenly tried using the motor mounting bolts that came with the motor. They are not long enough to pass through the spacers and the firewall. The longer ones included in the Bonanzas hardware pack do the job nicely. I always use thread lock compound on motor mounting hardware. This applies to both the short, counter sunk screws that affix the motor to its black X mount and the longer cap screws that anchor it to the firewall.



The speed controller sits on the ply shelf located behind the firewall. There is plenty of space for it there, as well as the 3S 3200mAH sized lipoly battery. Included hook and loop material is used to secure the battery. I would normally use a good size piece of the loop material on the battery and a similarly sized piece of hook material on the ply box. However, the battery barely clears the ply former that runs across the rear of the battery shelf and adding height to it with a piece of hook and loop fastener would make its installation and removal problematic. I instead used a wee piece of hook and loop at the front edge of the battery, where it butts up against the rear of the firewall. I also placed a piece of loop under the rear strap, so that wrapping the strap around the battery also engages this piece of loop material. The speed controller is also held in place with hook and loop material.



The included white spinner requires a little trimming where the recommended APC 11x8 prop blade roots pass through it. The large metal spinner nut that is included in the box with the E-flite motor is used to secure the prop and the lower plastic white spinner half to the motor shaft. The upper plastic spinner cone then snaps onto the lower plastic spinner piece to complete the prop and spinner installation. I did not feel comfortable with the feel of the spinner as it snapped onto its mating piece. It was not a very firm fit. A few pieces of my favorite tape, Blenderm, invisibly and securely solved this problem. The clearance from the back of the spinner to the cowl was pleasingly minimal.


E-flite lists as optional for their Bonanza a very nice looking 1.75" aluminum spinner. I had hoped to use this spinner on my Bonanza during the course of this review project but it was on backorder and I was thus unable to procure one in time.



Testing the E-flite speed controller BEC

It is not uncommon to see folks play it extremely safe when it comes to trusting the speed controllers built in BEC (battery eliminator circuit) to provide ample current for an aircraft with an abundance of servos. The Bonanza has a total of seven MC35 micro servos, plus the three electric retracts. At first glance, this would assuredly present a load worthy of an external high current BEC. It is not uncommon to find that many built in BECs are just not up to the task of supplying the current required to satisfy such a load. And when the BEC fails, the end result is often a spectacular crash that reduces your model to a plastic bag full of balsa dust and debris. The E-flite representatives that frequent RCGroups have repeatedly offered public assurances that the BEC circuitry in their E-flite Pro speed controllers is indeed robust enough to handle a full load of servos and that these BECs can be trusted to live up to their rated specifications. The Bonanza is unique in that it has the additional current load of the electric retracts. I decided to use my Eagle Tree vLogger to test the BEC in the E-flite speed controller. To conduct the test, I cycled the flaps and retracts concurrently and repeatedly, while at the same time waggling the sticks on all of the control surfaces. I was unable to get the current to register a reading higher than 1.48 amps during phase one of my testing. (See first chart above) For the second phase, I repeated the test in the exact same manner except that I intentionally placed obstructions in front of the nose gear retract and one of the main retracts. Maximum current draw rose to 1.66 amps. The E-flite BEC is rated at 2.5 amps continuous, at the complete range of input voltages that it is specified to operate at (3S to 6S lipo). Many BECs are derated as their input voltage goes up but not so with the E-flite Pro ESCs. As an interesting side point, my E-flite Deuces Wild has a total of 7 full size servos and it flies on the built in BEC of one of its two E-flite Pro 60 amp speed controllers.

Landing Gear - Optional Electric Retracts


One of the most exciting aspects of this new E-flite Bonanza ARF to me is that it can make use of E-flites new electric retracts. The Bonanza instructions commendably cover the installation of both the included fixed tricycle gear and the optional electric retracts. The former simply and quickly bolt onto the provided mounts in the wings and on the firewall of the Bonanza. The latter will involve a little more work but the end result is spectacular in my opinion!


Anyone who has used mechanical or pneumatic retracts is familiar with the shortcomings of each of those types of retracts. The new electric retracts promise to greatly simplify the setup and operation of model retracts as we know them. All of the necessary electronics are self-contained within the retract unit itself and the only connection to be made is to plug the three wire servo plug style connection directly into the appropriate receiver channel. There is no need to configure servo linkages or spend time fine tuning servo setups and throws, as is the case when using mechanical retracts, nor are there any ancillary items required, as in the air tank required with a pneumatic retract system. To borrow a phrase from Microsoft, they are truly plug and play!




The E-flite electric retracts are not intended to be used only for the Bonanza ARF but can be used in any model that meets the weight criteria of 2.0 to of 4.5 pounds, as specified in the retract documentation. Current draw is a maximum of 150 milliamps, with a draw of 200 milliamps at stall. There is an included over current protection that can detect a stalled condition, such as would be the case if an obstruction prohibits them from either fully retracting or deploying, and thus protect the electronics from any damage or over current. To reset such a stalled condition, you simply clear the obstruction and then cycle the retracts again.


Preparing the retracts for installation into the Bonanza is covered in detail in the Bonanza assembly manual, and also in the electric retracts instructions. A Dremel with a cutoff wheel and sanding drum or stone will help keep the time required to prepare them to a minimum. The electric retracts include a trio of axles that can be attached to the bottom of the struts once they have been cut to the proper length and flats ground onto two sides for the set screws to bite against. As is expected when assembling metallic pieces that will be subject to substantial loads and vibration, the use of thread locking compound is imperative. The tire/wheel assemblies that are mounted on the included fixed gear are removed and remounted on the electric retract axles.




Preparation of the wings to accept the mains involves cutting the white Ultracote covering from the gear bays and drilling mounting holes for the retract units. The plywood mounting rails built into the Bonanza wings are thick and sturdy. I always use a new hobby blade to avoid tearing the covering. I also took a little extra time to paint the wood in the gear bay and retract mounting area white so as to better blend into the bottom of the wing.





The nose gear will require a little more work than the mains. The fuselage under belly just aft of the firewall will have to be cut open to provide a path for the nose gear to enter the gear bay. A paper template that provides the proper outline of the area to be cut out is provided in the rear of the assembly manual. I used a couple of sharp hobby blades and worked slowly when making this cut. A razor saw is best for cutting through the bottom of the ply firewall. Before mounting the axle to the nose strut, it is necessary to make an offsetting bend in the lower length of the strut so the nose wheel will not interfere with the prop circle. It is important to make sure the bend is made exactly as indicated in the manual. The strut is made of very rigid metal, with a polished finish, and the best way to make the bend properly is to use a vise and a large pair of pliers. (More on what can happen if you do NOT make the proper offset in the flight section below!)


Once all three retracts are installed, short servo extensions are required to connect the relatively short pigtails that extend out of the retract units to the 3 to 1 servo lead cable that comes included in the retract package. I used 6 inch extensions on the main gear. Though the 3 to 1 cable could theoretically reach into the nose gear bay to connect directly to the nose gear retract unit, it is probably best to use a short extension to bring this point of connection rearward, out of the cramped nose gear bay, and into the main radio compartment of the fuselage. This facilitates easy disconnection of the retracts and subsequent removal of the wing. Once the retracts are connected to the receiver, operation is as easy as flipping the gear switch on your transmitter. There is no need for any endpoint or sub trim adjustments in the transmitter at all! Another very nice feature of these electric retracts is that all three of them can be connected to one receiver channel. With mechanical retracts, I typically connect each retract to its own channel if at all possible. This permits easier set up and tuning of each retract servo. Being able to connect all three retract units to the same channel permits using a five or six channel receiver in airplanes where I would normally need to use a seven channel or greater receiver. And it offers the advantage of freeing up a couple of channels that can now be used for other functions.


Though the electric retracts do operate at a speed that is closer to scale than most mechanical or pneumatic retracts, they still seem a little fast for my preferences. For what it is worth, I tried lengthening the servo travel times in my JR X9503 transmitter in an effort to slow them further. I did not really expect this to work and my instincts were correct. Due to the internal electronics of the retracts, traditional methods of slowing servos down will not work.

Completion

I was a little perplexed to find I had a few seemingly important pieces and parts left over and unused as I completed the Bonanza build. Poking around on RCGroups turned up an explanation. The original fixed nose gear was intended to utilize a pull-pull cable steering system. Additional evidence that this is the case are the twin sets of parallel holes provided to route two cables forward to the nose gear. A revision was apparently made late in the product development cycle to a single flexible cable push rod nose gear steering system. The Bonanza kit includes a complete pull-pull cable steering system, most of which will not be used. Two clear tubes were provided in my kit, no doubt to be used as the outer sleeves for the pull-pull cables to be routed through. One of them is used to route the flexible push rod cable forward but its inner diameter is in my opinion too large for the provided flexible cable push rod. Excessive back lash is present in the steering setup due to this disparity in the flexible cable and outer sleeve diameters. The end result is a bit of sloppiness in the nose gear steering control. Another spare bit is a small keyhole shaped plywood piece that was provided as a mount for the valve used in a pneumatic retract system, should the builder opt to go that route. I theorize that future runs of the Bonanza kit will probably not include these items.



Spare bits that will not get used in the Bonanza build

E-flite makes an optional cockpit kit that can both dress up the internals of the cockpit and also serve to obscure any and all of the wiring and electronics stuffed into the fuselage. The kit contains several gray fuzzy pieces that serve as a pseudo cockpit floor, an instrument panel graphic and four seat backs. I was a little surprised to find that neither the cockpit kit nor the Bonanza ARF include a single pilot figure. A pilot and any desired passengers must be purchased separately. I managed to procure one out of another airframe in my hangar, although a little more torso on him would have kept him from automatically qualifying for the LMBAC. (Little Men that fly Bonanzas Air Club) The cockpit kit pieces fit into the canopy very nicely. Canopy glue (RC56) is the recommended adhesive for anchoring these pieces to the inside of the canopy. Use it sparingly and it will dry rather quickly. The same type of glue is used to glue the four seat backs to the cockpit floor. It serves the purpose well, for it dries clear and remains flexible.



Completion of an airplane kit involves a little quality time spent making sure of the more important things. The E-flite instructions leave nothing to chance, providing a range for an acceptable center of gravity, as well as recommended throws for all control surfaces. I like to soften up my primary controls with a little exponential. I dialed in 30% expo on elevator and aileron low and high rates. I normally will add a small amount of down elevator mixing with the flaps but only after first flying the airplane to see how it behaves as the flaps are deployed.


Recommended Center of Gravity = 3.5" to 4" from leading edge of wing at wing root

A quick trip across my hangar scales had my Bonanza weighing in at an All-Up-Weight of 4 pounds 1 ounce, which is a little on the light side when compared to the specifications provided by the manufacturer. With the E-flite 3200mAH 3S lipo mounted all the way forward against the front edge of the battery platform, my Bonanzas CG was exactly in the middle of the recommended range of 3.5" to 4.0". I always enjoy snapping some glamor photos of a completed model and the Bonanza is definitely a looker in my opinion. Something about the dual 45 degree angles of the V tail transforms the appearance of this airframe into a work art.





Recommended Control Surface Throws

Function Low rates High rates
Aileron 1/4" (6mm) 3/8" (10mm)
Elevator 3/8" (10mm) 1/2" (13mm)
Rudder 1.0" (25mm) 1 1/4" (32mm)

Function Takeoff Landing
Flaps 1/2" down (13mm) 1 1/4" down (32mm)

NOTE: Just in case you are wondering which way the V-tail surfaces should deflect when the rudder stick is moved, a friend gave me a very easy method to verify proper V-tail configuration. Tilt the plane so either of the V-tail surfaces is straight up and down like a conventional rudder. Apply rudder. The surface should deflect in the same direction a conventional rudder would deflect, when viewed from the rear. By way of an example, if you tilt the fuselage towards the right so the left surface is vertical and apply right rudder, the control surface should deflect towards the right as if it was a conventional rudder. (Thanks Kevin!)

Lets FLY!!

Flying

Taking Off and Landing



My first takeoff efforts were somewhat thwarted by an at first unexplainable hard pull to the left as the Bonanza accelerated. Although I was at first baffled, close investigation and discussion of the matter with my two flying buddies eventually revealed the causes. The first clue were the black smudges on the prop tips, which were a sign that the prop circle was evidently contacting the nose gear tire at times (thus the importance of properly making the offset bend in the nose strut). Due to the direction of prop rotation, this could conceivably cause the airplane to be pushed left. Add in the fact that I had accidentally reversed my V-tail rudder deflections at some point after I completed the initial radio setup and it is easy to see why the Bonanza was pulling left. The final contributing factor was found to be in connection with the flexible push rod used to connect the servo to the nose gear steering. The outer sleeve that this cable rides in has an inner diameter that is substantially greater than the cables outer diameter. This permits a fair amount of slop in the nose gear steering system.


Once I had mitigated these small problems to the extent possible, the tracking during the takeoff rolls improved substantially. My initial takeoffs were without any flaps. The Bonanza accelerates nicely with the Power 15 pulling it forward. Clim bouts are brisk. I was anxious to try a few takeoffs with the flaps deployed to the mid-position. Before I would venture a go though, I thought it best to take the Bonanza up a few mistakes high and explore the performance with the flaps at mid and full down positions.


The JR X9503 transmitter is capable of slowing the operation of the flap servos so that they take up to 2 seconds to move to position. Though that does not sound like much of a delay, it works very well to help ease the Bonanza into and out of different flight configurations without upsetting the airframe. I fully expected to have to push the nose down as the flaps dropped into position but was surprised to find no down elevator was necessary. Even at full flaps, the nose of the Bonanza does not balloon at all.




The full flap position really slows the Bonanza down nicely and landings in this configuration are very slow and controlled. I have yet to see any sign of a stall or a wing dropping on final but I am careful to manage my airspeed at all times, specially when the flaps are deployed. After experimenting with the two flaps positions, I have developed the habit of taking off with the flaps at the mid-position and landing with them in the full down position.





Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Power 15 does a super job of pulling the Bonanza through the air with authority. My initial impressions were that the power system was a little on the under-powered side but the more I fly the Bonanza, the more I see that my first impressions were wrong. The Bonanza air frame is slippery and the speed builds quickly. Rolls with the recommended high rate aileron throws are at a believably slow-ish rate. The Bonanza will loop with authority when at full throttle. Unlike many of the other planes I fly, the Bonanza is not as willing to drop its nose when coming out of a steep turn with the power on. High speed, low passes require you to push the Bonanza down towards the deck. The Power 15 and APC E prop make a very pleasing sound as they zoom the Bonanza by at full speed. The performance of this power system on a 3S battery is very pleasing. Exercising a little restraint with the throttle stick could easily push flight durations to ten minutes and beyond. My five to six minute flights usually only require 1,400 to 1,600mAH worth of current out of the E-flite 3,200mAH lipo battery.



A five minute flight, with nearly 400 watts of power, using just over 1,000mAH!

In-Flight data courtesy of Eagle Tree eLogger V3

Conventional Tail or V-tail?


A comparison of the two tail configurations available for the E-flite Beechcraft Bonanza is inevitable. Anybody who builds the kit and also purchases the V-tail option can at will switch back and forth between the two types of tails if they are willing to spend a little time reconfiguring the airframe. I would recommend copying the model in your transmitter and using an additional model memory for the alternate tail so the programming of your original model is not lost. I prefer the cool looks of the V-tail and thus have more flights logged on it than the conventional tail.



I was able to fly the two different tails on back to back flights during one flying outing, using two different airplanes. Another Northern California flyer and friend, Mike Simi, brought his newly built Bonanza out for its maiden and asked me to do the honors. His Bonanza was equipped with the standard configuration tail. After shooting a few stills of the two Bonanzas sitting on the ramp together, I took my V-tail equipped Bonanza up to give Mike a little preview of what he could expect with his. After landing mine, we prepared his and I then immediately took it up for its first flight. Though it would take a much more comprehensive series of comparison flights to draw absolute conclusions, I did notice that the standard tail equipped Bonanza seemed to hold its line in the turns a little better than the V-tail equipped one. I had at times noticed my V-tail equipped Bonanza doing a bit of a shimmy or waggle as it flew by, especially when the winds were up. Though the winds were light and variable while I was flying the conventional tail equipped Bonanza, I did not see that same characteristic manifest itself at any time.


I would not go very far out on a limb and aver that the differences between the two tail configurations are extreme or pronounced. However, a pilot more skilled than I would perhaps be able to better detect and expound upon any variations in flight performance between the two tails. Suffice it to say that my perception was that the standard tail just "felt" truer and more responsive, if only a little?

Is This For a Beginner?

The Bonanza would not qualify as a good candidate for a beginner pilot. Intermediate piloting skills are necessary and recommended to competently handle this low wing aircraft. The wing loading of this model is higher than beginner airplanes, requiring the pilot to more diligently manage his airspeed during all phases of a typical flight. The Bonanza will rip right along when its throttle is nudged fully forward to the stop. Using flaps on a model like this one also requires a little more know-how and attentiveness to the behavior of the airplane as you transition into and out of flaps deployed configurations. Though using flaps will effectively lower an airplanes rotation and landing speeds, it is important to pay very close attention to the throttle stick and stay ahead of the airplane at all times. Allow the Bonanza to get too low and slow on final and I have a feeling it could drop a wing!

Flight Video/Photo Gallery












Downloads

Conclusion

I am very excited about this General Aviation offering from E-flite and hope that it is a sign of good things to come. There are many other cool GA airplanes that could also be modeled should E-flite choose to continue their presence in this sector. The quality of the kit out of the box is noteworthy, reminding me of the several E-flite Platinum Series kits that I have built. The fit and finish is very good. The performance of the E-flite Beechcraft Bonanza in the air is even better than I expected it to be. The Power 15 does an excellent job of moving this 4 pound airframe through the skies. The new E-flite electric retracts ratchet the cool factor of this ARF up another couple notches. They install easily and and all that is required to get them operating is to plug them into the receiver. No tweaking of end points or endless tinkering such as is often required when using mechanical retracts. I cannot count the number of times I have spent hours ensuring that my retracts are dialed in for the next days flying, only to have them fail or require additional tinkering at the field. I am very impressed with the way the E-flite electric retracts have functioned thus far in the Bonanza and with the rumor that E-flite has a set of 60-120 sized electric retracts due out very soon, I am hopeful that complete liberation from endless tweaking on retracts is very near!

The sole weak component of the entire kit would have to be the canopy. The clear parts of mine, which serve as windows, were a bit foggy or cloudy. Though I had read of others receiving their kits with the canopy being cracked or damaged in shipping, I was happy to find that mine had suffered no such fate. Later however, while carrying the Bonanza across a flooded field after several flights, I stepped into a deep hole. This caused me to stumble a little. The canopy lightly bumped into my chest and the resulting relatively slight impact created a two inch crack across the top of it. While a piece of Blenderm tape served as a decent enough repair, I would still prefer the canopy thickness be upped a little to make it more robust.

Pluses

  • Beautiful rendering of a lesser modeled General Aviation airplane
  • Optional E-flite electric retracts offer a simple and easy to configure retract solution
  • Several options available to dress up your Bonanza as you see fit
  • Alignment of components (wings, conventional tail or V tail, canopy) is perfect; tail is easily removable
  • All control surfaces pre-attached and pre-hinged; control horns installed at the factory
  • Concealed flap linkages
  • Spirited and economical performance on a Power 15 motor and 3S lipoly battery

Minuses

  • Clear sections of the canopy foggy; canopy somewhat delicate
  • Diameter of outer sleeve for nose gear steering push rod cable a little large, allowing excessive play
  • Would be nice if at least ONE pilot figure was included


Last edited by Angela H; Mar 08, 2010 at 07:09 PM..

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Old Mar 12, 2010, 04:51 PM
6 months to finish a rtf
pulsery2k1's Avatar
upstate ny
Joined Jun 2003
1,832 Posts
Great Review. I'm think about getting one , we owned a 1963 P model
that my father bought new in 1963 for $33,000 , I put many
hours and when alot of places in it , It still flying and in very good
condition. great plane and looks like model the model is too.
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 05:09 PM
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Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
Joined Jul 2009
4,817 Posts
your sped-up approach caught me off guard. I thought he was going to auger it in for a sec!
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 05:13 PM
Flutter-Bys are fun
Conehead's Avatar
United States, MI, Honor
Joined Dec 2005
5,028 Posts
Nice review. I am glad that they used you for the model of the pilot for the Bonanza. I can see you smiling all the way here in Northern Michigan. You are one happy guy!!!!
Sweet looking airplane. Video is great.
Conehead
Orrin Eldred
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 08:45 PM
DELTAS RULE
corsair nut's Avatar
tehachapi, CA
Joined Jan 2006
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great review jon. loved the vid. looks like a real sweetie.
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 10:05 PM
Always room for improvement...
der Oberflügel's Avatar
Schertz, TX
Joined Jun 2004
847 Posts
Great review!

I was wondering if you could help me with something though. I can't PM a picture, so I need to post it here it would seem. Can you measure the height of those retracts as in the picture below? (not sure if it is possible with them installed). Horizon can't seem to tell me for some reason. I'd really appreciate it!

EDIT: looks like you need to zoom my pic to see what I am asking
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Last edited by der Oberflügel; Mar 12, 2010 at 10:06 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 10:57 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,966 Posts
Great review Jon.

True Bonanza'a all have V-Tails! Looks like yours flies great.
I start My Bonanaza build as soon as the retracts are back in stock.
McD
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Old Mar 12, 2010, 11:13 PM
Registered User
Danville, CA.
Joined Feb 2006
106 Posts
It has been said but I add it here for the record. Thanks, Jon, for the maiden of my "straight tail". It is an impressive addition to E-Flite's stable and to my collection.
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 03:42 AM
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Joined Jun 2002
921 Posts
Retract upgrade

For those of you that may be interested, I make a retract upgrade. For the mains, I make a new aluminum actuator block that replaces the plastic one, and a shock absorbing strut, with scale like appearance. I also have air operated brakes that can be added to the mains. For the nose gear, I make a scale like shock absorbing strut, with the sloped back yoke. Any one interested can contact me on here for price and availablity.

Larry E.
SouthEast Model Products
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 06:54 AM
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Dora Nine's Avatar
United States, NH
Joined May 2005
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Nice work as always Jon. A very complete review of the plane. I'm excited to hear what other planes E-Flite has instore for these retracts and the up coming 60-90 size versions.
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 08:46 AM
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Nice review of a nice plane ! I recently assembled one of these aircraft and the assembly thread is in my blog . I feel kinda guilty to admit that the one good weather day Ive had here was spent flying , , , , , glow , But ive got plans of a maiden the next time the weather allows me some field time . Happy Flying
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 10:11 AM
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Super review!

Cheers--Stacker
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 02:34 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
14,473 Posts
Love it!!!

The fork-tailed Dr. killer....

I love the Bonanza and glad you did it with the V tail. It just is too cool.

A fantastic airplane - classic since the 40's. Amazing they are still produced today!

Mike
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 05:16 PM
Joined Jul 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by der Oberflügel View Post
Great review!

I was wondering if you could help me with something though. I can't PM a picture, so I need to post it here it would seem. Can you measure the height of those retracts as in the picture below? (not sure if it is possible with them installed). Horizon can't seem to tell me for some reason. I'd really appreciate it!

EDIT: looks like you need to zoom my pic to see what I am asking
This pic may help. Retracts from
http://www.windrider.com.hk/product.asp?id=166
They look identical but dont quote me.
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 05:44 PM
Always room for improvement...
der Oberflügel's Avatar
Schertz, TX
Joined Jun 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zootster View Post
This pic may help. Retracts from
http://www.windrider.com.hk/product.asp?id=166
They look identical but dont quote me.
Thanks for the value-able info Zootster.

And once again, thanks for the great review BARNESJONR!
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