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Tower Hobbies P-51D EP RxR Review

The Tower Hobbies P-51D is a sport scale rendition of one of the most famous long-range single-seat fighters ever produced. Constructed from EPO (expanded polyolefin) foam with a lite-ply fuselage support, the Tower Hobbies P-51D is durable and relatively lightweight. Up close, the P-51D boasts clean lines and near perfect paint. In the air, this foam fighter feels more like a balsa built-up kit thanks to its responsiveness and sport-plane wing loading.

Splash

Introduction


Retail Price:$159.99
Current advertised price:$114.98
Wingspan:40"
Weight:29.7 - 32 oz
Length:34"
Servos:Four micro, non-labeled
Transmitter Used:Futaba 10CAP 2.4g (not included)
Receiver:Futaba R617FS (not included)
Battery:Hobbico Flyzone LiPo 11.1V 1800mAh
Motor:Non-labeled, outrunner brushless @ 900kv
ESC:Non-labeled, 30 amp
Prop:Great Planes 9x4.5 Power Flow Slo-Flyer Elec Prop
Manufacturer:Tower Hobbies
Available From:Tower Hobbies

The Tower Hobbies P-51D is a sport scale rendition of one of the most famous long-range single-seat fighters ever produced. Constructed from EPO (expanded polyolefin) foam with a lite-ply fuselage support, the Tower Hobbies P-51D is durable and relatively lightweight. Up close, the P-51D boasts clean lines and near perfect paint. In the air, this foam fighter feels more like a balsa built-up kit thanks to its responsiveness and sport-plane wing loading (15.2 oz/sq ft).

The P-51D comes complete with an esc, brushless outrunner, and four micro servos. You'll need to supply a 3-cell lipo in the 1800mAh range, a suitable lipo charger, and a minimum 4-channel radio system. This kit goes together quickly, so let's knock out the build and get her in the air.

Kit Contents

As with most Hobbico aircraft, the packing job is superb; foam inserts are used to cradle the fuselage, and the wing halves are contained in their own separate boxes. The horizontal and vertical stabs are taped to the inside of the box lid, so don't throw it out without removing them... as I almost found out the hard way.

There's a number of scale features on the Tower Hobbies P-51D; the leading edge of the main wing bristles with six 50-cal. cannons and the molded plastic cowl has exhaust stacks built in. The fuselage and wing surfaces feature recessed panel lines with a paint scheme rendered in flat olive-drab and aluminum. The classic red/yellow checkered cowl and red rudder complete the paint, and with four different nose-art themes to choose from, I went with "Little Joe" for no particular reason other than I liked the colors.

The interior fuselage is accessed through the cockpit hatch; a foam tab locks it in place up front and three rare-earth magnet holds it securely in the rear. The cowl is easily removed by gripping the base of the clear canopy and pulling up, instead of prying it open where it meets the fuselage, which can eventually leave indentations in the foam.

Upon examining the fuselage, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lite-ply inner frame and motor mount. The inner tray provides a solid mounting surface for the tail servos and lipo battery, as well as providing structural support and enhanced airframe rigidity.

All control surfaces have been installed and pre-hinged from the factory. The servos are all screwed down, centered, and attached to the control rods. Even the control horns are installed and glued in for added security; this arf is very complete. The motor, esc, and servos aren't labeled with a manufacturer or specifications, but I'm fairly confident they carry the same quality as the Electrifly line of electronics.

The P-51D includes fixed wire landing-gear with black plastic hubs and foam wheels. They are easily installed and removed if you like to hand launch and belly land. The hard-foam tail wheel is attached to the fuselage and pivots with the rudder. It's held in place with a single Philips-head screw and, like the main gear, can also be removed quickly for hand launching and a more scale appearance in flight. For added realism, wheel wells are cut into the main wings; I can't help but think about converting to retracts when I see them. I'm sure some adventurous RCGroups member will tackle this very soon...

Assembly

As I stated earlier, the Tower Hobbies P-51D EP RxR assembles quickly and without any glue; the main wing bolts together and the horizontal stabilizer mounts with two foam dowels. We'll cover a few major steps of the assembly in this section, but please read the included instructions when building the P-51D. Consider this assembly section as supplemental reading to the included manual.

Joining the wing on the Tower Hobbies P-51D has to be one of the easiest in my tenured career of building ARF's. The wing connects with two spars and uses no glue or epoxy. Instead, each half interlocks at the rear and utilizes a single wing bolt to keep them together. Up front, a molded foam tab locks into the fuselage for a tight and secure fit. The front half of the wing at the root features a ply reinforcement plate as well as recesses cut for the aileron servo wires. Unless you're transporting the P-51D in an ultra-compact car, the wing can probably stay bolted together for the remainder of its service life. Once you have the wing bolted down, the last step is to attach the foam oil-cooler. This small block of foam fits over the wing bolt with magnets, effectively concealing the bolt and completing the Mustang's distinctive fuselage shape.

The vertical stabilizer and rudder are pre-installed, which leaves the horizontal stab and elevator as the last major fuselage installation step. Almost as easy as the main wing joining, the horizontal stab gets inserted through the space in the rear of the fuselage until it's even on both sides. As a very unique approach to securing the stab, two foam dowels are pushed into the bottom of the fuselage, through the stabilizer, until they are flush with the fuse. Take note of the installation of the dowels in the manual because they must be inserted in a specific direction or they won't be flush. Once inserted, they aren't removable. Now that the stab is secure, attach the control rods to their respective control horns on the elevator and rudder.

Next, install the main landing gear and tail wheel. The wheels are already mounted on the wire gear and fixing them to the wing is as simple as pushing the u-shaped end into the plastic base. Make sure the wheels are facing in, towards from the fuselage, and the landing-gear wire enters at the front of the mount. When installed, the gear should have a slight forward rake in order to prevent nosing-over. The tail wheel installs with a single screw and attaches to the rudder for ground steering. You may need to bend the wire slightly to adjust it for tracking, which I suggest not doing while attached to the rudder. It's easier to fit the tail wheel, eyeball it, then remove and adjust.

To finalize the build, install the propeller and spinner, and your receiver of choice. Center your servos and adjust the control surfaces at the locking screw on the pushrod connector. A piece of hook and loop material is included, which is routed under the battery tray, and secures the battery at the front of the tray. An additional piece of sticky-back hook and loop should be used to keep the battery from sliding around in flight. Don't forget to balance your prop and airframe before your first flight. My plane was almost perfectly balanced but the prop required some attention to get it right.

Flying

Basics

If you've ever flown the infamous ParkZone T-28, then you have an idea of what the typical low-wing foam airplane flies like. The Tower Hobbies P-51D, however, is unlike your typical foamy park flyer in the air, feeling more like a balsa sport-plane. Coming in at 32 ounces fully loaded, it not exactly a heavy weight, but for some reason feels like a classic fighter with high wing loading characteristics. This isn't a bad thing, because we can all benefit from an airplane that needs to be hand flown.

The included brushless outrunner provides plenty of power for quick takeoffs, and tracking during takeoff was easy, which surprised me because of the general turning tendency of tail draggers on the ground. Once in the air, the P-51D flies straight and true with little bobbing or yawing around its axis. High speed passes are uneventful, but slow flight requires a little throttle and elevator management to stay up. This is where the aforementioned "heavy" feeling comes into play; the P-51D is no glider, and sinks rather quickly in a power-off configuration. Slowed down to the point of a stall, my P-51D seemed more apt to drop the nose rather than drop a wing, which can be a blessing on short final turns.

The Tower Hobbies P-51D is one of the few planes in my fleet that requires generous throttle management during landing. Three-pointing the plane onto the runway is possible, just use throttle to control the sink but be prepared to work the elevator to prevent it from getting into a nose-high situation. If you keep your speed up, landing on the mains is also fun, and results in a nice long roll-out. I found that landing the P-51D was refreshingly challenging and very rewarding.

Advanced Flight

The P-51D can perform all the typical warbird maneuvers and a few extras. Inverted flight was super easy and required only a hint of down elevator to maintain level flight. Aileron rolls were pretty standard; no high speed rolling or painfully slow response, just an average roll rate to be expected from a fighter. In a vertical climb, the P-51D kept a good speed until it finally lost momentum and hung on the prop for a few seconds before torquing over. The brushless motor seems to have a lot of grunt and can muscle the airframe around easily.

Is This For a Beginner?

With its sport plane flying-style and handling, the Tower Hobbies P-51D isn't a great choice for a beginner. Even as a first low-wing, it might be a little much to handle because it has no self-righting tendencies.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Tower Hobbies P-51D assembles quickly and flies like a fighter should. The included electronics may not have the Electrifly name branded clearly on them, but that doesn't affect the performance or overall quality in the least bit. With a price tag under $120, you get a lot of airplane for a little money, and I would recommend this bird to anyone wanting a great flying low-wing sport scale fighter without breaking the bank.

Pluses

  • Good quality electronics, building materials, and airframe workmanship.
  • Airplane builds surprisingly fast with no need for epoxy or CA glue.
  • Great performer at all speeds
  • Current advertised price of $114.98 includes all electronics w/ the exception of a 3-cell battery and radio.

Minuses

  • None worth mentioning, this plane is a winner.

Credits

A big thanks goes out to Bradley Bauman for flying and video assistance during the review. Thanks to Angela H. of RCGroups.com, and Hobbico for making this review possible.

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 13, 2011 at 02:48 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 17, 2011, 12:35 PM
Registered User
Renton, WA
Joined Jan 2010
99 Posts
great review on a awesome p-51d, i picked one up late last year and absolutely love it! the quality is fantastic and its a lot of fun to fly.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 06:53 PM
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Joined Jun 2009
28 Posts
Great review. So the quality is pretty good?
Andy
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 08:50 PM
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USA, TX, Houston
Joined Jul 2002
488 Posts
Thank you for the great review! Looks like a very nice alternative to the PZ P-51.

Paul
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Old Jan 20, 2011, 06:42 PM
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United States, CA
Joined Jul 2010
4,366 Posts
How does this compare to the parkzone mustang?
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Old Jan 20, 2011, 11:47 PM
WIFE HAND LAUNCHED MY PLANES!
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Joined Jun 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese5 View Post
How does this compare to the parkzone mustang?
I know someone that owns both. He said "DEFINITELY" this is better than the Parkzone. As far as durability, VERY STRONG BIRD AND CONSTRUCTION. It comes with rudder and removable landing gear, unlike the PKZ.
He had crashed it (BIG time) a couple times, and fixed it back. Still flies like it's new. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Long flight times as stock!
The only CONS he gave me is the parts availability. Parkzone parts are virtually available anywhere.

-Tower price is only $114.98 which INCLUDES: Tower Hobbies P-51D Mustang with propeller, prop adapter, decals,
motor, ESC, four servos, spinner and instruction manual.
PLUS they have a FREE SHIPPING GOING ON PLUS HERE IS A CODE FOR YOU FOR EXTRA $20 OFF:
Save $20.00 Instantly Off Your $149 Order
Hurry, order today and save $20.00. Place at least a $149 order through January 31 and we'll take $20.00 off the total. All you have to do to claim your savings ad number 014ET
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Last edited by Spyro37; Jan 21, 2011 at 12:06 AM.
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Old Jan 21, 2011, 07:59 AM
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Joined Jul 2010
395 Posts
What a coincidence. I had bookmarked this plane at Tower Hobbies' website recently. Now I am feeling more confident about it.
Thanks for the review!!!

(Later in the day: Mine is on order. I'll post the maiden flight here.
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Last edited by cmerighe; Jan 21, 2011 at 09:38 AM.
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Old Jan 21, 2011, 07:57 PM
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Cheese5's Avatar
United States, CA
Joined Jul 2010
4,366 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro37 View Post
I know someone that owns both. He said "DEFINITELY" this is better than the Parkzone. As far as durability, VERY STRONG BIRD AND CONSTRUCTION. It comes with rudder and removable landing gear, unlike the PKZ.
He had crashed it (BIG time) a couple times, and fixed it back. Still flies like it's new. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Long flight times as stock!
The only CONS he gave me is the parts availability. Parkzone parts are virtually available anywhere.

-Tower price is only $114.98 which INCLUDES: Tower Hobbies P-51D Mustang with propeller, prop adapter, decals,
motor, ESC, four servos, spinner and instruction manual.
PLUS they have a FREE SHIPPING GOING ON PLUS HERE IS A CODE FOR YOU FOR EXTRA $20 OFF:
Save $20.00 Instantly Off Your $149 Order
Hurry, order today and save $20.00. Place at least a $149 order through January 31 and we'll take $20.00 off the total. All you have to do to claim your savings ad number 014ET
How does it fly compared to the Parkzone mustang?
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Old Jan 21, 2011, 08:56 PM
WIFE HAND LAUNCHED MY PLANES!
Spyro37's Avatar
Joined Jun 2009
2,169 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese5 View Post
How does it fly compared to the Parkzone mustang?
I never flew it myself. But my friend says nothing much different compared to PKZ. They are both so stable, which is almost impossible to tip stall. As you see on the video, pilot can slow it down very slow with NO worries. This plane will glide with no throttle, unlike other low wings.
I asked him if he were to choose among the 2, what would he choose?
He said he likes the Tower better. WOW, that was a plus, you get more for your money.
Like I mentioned, the only cons he said was, PKZ parts are available anywhere.

Just to let you know though, he received a faulty ESC. He was so dissapointed that tower wants him to ship it back to them at his own cost (postal return).
He was very upset with the CS rep. Considering that he is a frequent customer PLUS he is a TOWER Member who pays an annual membership. They will replace it only if physically returned.
He decided to purchase his own ESC, b/c tower will NOT work with him regarding the shipping cost, NOT even a store credit offer for the shipping.
He then said that he'll cancel his membership if they won't replace it without returning the BAD ESC, customer rep said, "OK, we'll go ahead and cancel your membership and take you off our email list".
But in fairness with the Tower P51, he'd highly recommend this to anyone.
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Last edited by Spyro37; Jan 21, 2011 at 09:16 PM.
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Old Jan 22, 2011, 01:44 PM
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Joined Jan 2011
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Will this work with a spectrum dx5e controller?
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Old Jan 22, 2011, 01:59 PM
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Cheese5's Avatar
United States, CA
Joined Jul 2010
4,366 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro37 View Post
I never flew it myself. But my friend says nothing much different compared to PKZ. They are both so stable, which is almost impossible to tip stall. As you see on the video, pilot can slow it down very slow with NO worries. This plane will glide with no throttle, unlike other low wings.
I asked him if he were to choose among the 2, what would he choose?
He said he likes the Tower better. WOW, that was a plus, you get more for your money.
Like I mentioned, the only cons he said was, PKZ parts are available anywhere.

Just to let you know though, he received a faulty ESC. He was so dissapointed that tower wants him to ship it back to them at his own cost (postal return).
He was very upset with the CS rep. Considering that he is a frequent customer PLUS he is a TOWER Member who pays an annual membership. They will replace it only if physically returned.
He decided to purchase his own ESC, b/c tower will NOT work with him regarding the shipping cost, NOT even a store credit offer for the shipping.
He then said that he'll cancel his membership if they won't replace it without returning the BAD ESC, customer rep said, "OK, we'll go ahead and cancel your membership and take you off our email list".
But in fairness with the Tower P51, he'd highly recommend this to anyone.
Ouch! The CS is pretty bad! Thats for the review of both!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gact View Post
Will this work with a spectrum dx5e controller?
Yes this mustang should work with the DX5e. Install a DSM2 reciever and it will work with the Dx5e.
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Old Jan 22, 2011, 03:59 PM
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United States, OK, Lawton
Joined Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gact View Post
Will this work with a spectrum dx5e controller?
I have installed a Spektrum AR600 and use it with a Dx7, not sure why a 5 would have any problems. Use it!
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Old Jan 23, 2011, 05:02 PM
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Joined Jan 2009
207 Posts
Hi everyone,

I just maidened mine today and I was quite impressed by it. A lot of fun to fly. Hardly any trim needed out of the box. CG was dead on. It was a bit of a windy day and I hadn't flown in a while so I took my PZ Corsair with me to fly first. I really like my corsair, but the P-51 seemed faster and handled the wind better than the corsair.
The review says it flies more like a balsa plane and I have to agree. I maidened it with one of these Super Tiger 1800mAh 15C huge and heavy bricks of a lipo battery. I really like that the battery mounts over the CG, so there are no CG worries when you change batteries. The plane flew beautifully with the heavy battery and was much more stable than the corsair. Plenty of power too.
A friend of mine took some pictures of the flight. I may post once I get them. Its a great little plane for the price. Especially if you get the discounts and free shipping. This will be a frequent flyer for me.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 05:25 AM
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Joined Jul 2009
745 Posts
ANOTHER P 51 ... !!! do we not have enough of these things already ??
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 04:09 PM
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395 Posts
Based on the video included with this review, I am wondering if it will be hard to land it!?
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