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Hobby Lobby eRC 90mm F/A 18E Super Hornet EDF

Hobby Lobby's newest eRC 90mm EDF offering is the ever popular McDonnell Douglas F/A-18. With electric retracts, thrust vectoring and an LED lighting system included, is their second 90mm EDF jet twice as nice?

Splash

 

Wing span: 37 3/8 in
Length: 52 in
Weight: 72 oz
Battery: 6S 3850mAh lipo
EDF Power System: 90mm (1750Kv)
ESC: 85A BL ESC w/ BEC
Distributed by: Hobby Lobby
MSRP: $389.99

Hobby Lobby's second 90mm EDF airframe is the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet. It uses the same 90mm EDF power system found in their 90mm Eurofighter EDF and features a similar thrust vectoring setup and Midnight Flyer LED lighting system. Unlike the original eRC 90mm Eurofighter EDF however, the Super Hornet comes equipped with servo-less, electric retracts that are touted as being heavy duty and capable of enduring the abuse thrown their way by modelers with grass fields or rougher runways. I was duly impressed with the 90mm EDF power system in the Eurofighter and was glad to see the same system used in this second 90mm offering from Hobby Lobby. This also facilitated me using the same Thunder Power G4 Pro Power 45C 3850mAh 3S lipos that I used in the Eurofighter review.

Read the Ezone review of the Hobby Lobby eRC Eurofighter 360 Thrust Vector 90mm EDF ARF HERE

Brief History

The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multi role fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets (the F/A prefix stands for Fighter/Attack). The fighter's primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support and aerial reconnaissance. The previous iterations of the F/A-18 Hornet provided the baseline design for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is a larger, evolutionary redesign of the F/A-18. The Super Hornet is larger and heavier but at the benefit of improved range and payload capability. The Super Hornet 's airframe is 25% larger, with rectangular air intakes and more powerful GE F414 engines and an upgraded avionics suite. Australia is the only other nation flying the Super Hornet besides the US.




The four in-flight photos in this part of the review were taken by me at the 2010 Wings over Wine Country Air Show, held at the Charles M. Schulz airport in Santa Rosa, California on August 21 and 22, 2010. The F/A-18s have been making appearances at this air show for quite a few years now and I never tire of seeing their amazing flight display. Reviewing the many photos I took of them really made me excited to be involved with this review project!

Kit Contents



The big eRC F/A-18 comes ins a very colorful box, with bright artwork that REALLY gets you pumped to open the box and have at the build ASAP. Contained inside the cardboard lid is a compartmented Styrofoam box/tray, into which the various Super Hornet components are nestled. Each and every piece is entombed in it's own protective plastic bag. A small package of epoxy is included in the box, as is a small Phillips blade screwdriver. My F/A-18 made its journey from Tennessee to California with no damage noted, no doubt thanks in large measure to the heavy duty cardboard over box that Hobby Lobbby ships it in.

In The Box:

  • Fuselage with EDF power system, LED lighting system, thrust vectoring system, six servos (9g)and servo-less electric retracts pre-installed
  • Two wing halves, with aileron servos (9g) pre-installed, ailerons pre-hinged, control horns pre-installed
  • Horizontal stabilizers/elevators assemblies, with control horn pre-installed, elevators pre-hinged
  • Vertical stabilizers (2)
  • B3553 brushless outrunner motor (1750Kv)
  • 90mm electric ducted fan unit
  • 7-LED Midnight Flyer lighting system pre-installed
  • Carbon wing spars (2)
  • Dual 360 degree thrust vectoring nozzles
  • 14 page black and white photo-illustrated assembly manual
  • Spare hardware pieces
  • Elevator push rods
  • Foam filler blocks for flying stabilizer mounts
  • Two way and three way servo y adaptor cables
  • Bombs, missiles and drop tanks
  • Weapons rails
  • Small package of epoxy
  • Small Phillips blade screwdriver







Required for Completion:

  • Minimum six channel radio system
  • 6S 3700 to 3850mAh lipoly battery
  • Lipoly charger



Provided for review:

  • Thunder Power G4 45C 3S 3850mAh lipoly batteries (Two in series, to create a 6S power system)


Assembly

The included 14 page black and white photo-illustrated assembly manual does a good job of explaining and illustrating the build, as well as setting up the radio programming and mixes on a Spektrum DX-7 transmitter. Some of the photographs in my assembly manual were somewhat "bleached out" and difficult to see, as if the printer used to generate it needed a new ink cartridge? It caused me little to no inconvenience, as Hobby Lobby maintains an on line version of the assembly manual (and with the bonus that it is in color) and the photos which suffered from this washed out appearance were mainly the ones of the Spektrum DX-7's programming screens.

F/A-18E Super Hornet PDF Manual

This EDF requires very little preparation to ready it for flight. Many pilots would be able to assemble it with nary a glance at the manual, so obvious are the steps that need to be undertaken. All servos are pre-installed, all control surfaces are pre-hinged, all control horns are pre-installed and the 90mm EDF power system is also in place right out of the box. Assembly is essentially limited to attaching the wings and tail surfaces. I was especially glad to see Hobby Lobby include spare thrust vector ball link connectors and spare clevises (more on why I was glad to have them a bit further on in the review). Also packed inside the box is a three way servo Y adapter. This three way servo Y adaptor is required if you intend to use a six channel receiver instead of a seven channel one. Using it facilitates connecting a total of four servos to the elevator chhannel. The two up/down thrust vector servos and the twin elevator servos (which are connected together via a standard servo Y adaptor) plug into the three connections on this three way adaptor, which then plugs into the elevator channel.


There are a grand total of eight servos that come pre-installed in the eRC F/A-18. The only four that are really obviously visible are the twin aileron and flying full stabilizer elevator servos. The balance of them are embedded in the fuselage. Hobby Lobby provides a nice graphic on line to inventory the servos, describe the type that each one is and provide a part number for ordering replacements.

Fuselage

Fuselage assembly steps already completed at the factory:




The largest piece in the eRC Super Hornet box is the fuselage. 97.5% of the assembly work has been completed at the factory. The list of items already completed is lengthy. There are six servos pre-installed in the fuselage. They are 9g class servos. They are the one used for steering the nose gear, the three servos that control the thrust vectoring quadrants (all of which are buried inside the fuselage and hidden from view), and a pair of elevator servos. The Freewing EDF power system, complete with 90mm fan, brushless outrunner motor and 85 amp ESC and BEC are also pre-wired and pre-installed in the fuselage. Five of the seven LEDs that make up the Night Flyer lighting system are already wired and installed in the fuselage. The electric, servo-less tricycle retracts are also already mounted and in place. Finally, there is an abundance of decals and aircraft markings applied to the fuselage before it leaves the factory.



Access to the radio and battery compartment is via a hatch, held in place by a spring loaded release mechanism. There is quite a jumble of servo wires and lighting wires in this compartment, along with the little control module for driving the LEDs. The LED lighting system can actually be easily switched on and off by means of a little slider switch on this module. Whilst inspecting my fuselage, I noticed that one of the small plastic pieces used to hold a piece of white string in place across the width of the nose gear bay (used to pull the nose gear doors closed when the nose gear retracts) had broken off. I fabricated a replacement out of scrap plastic I had on hand and formed it as best as I could to look the same as the other one.


With that long and impressive list of fuselage assembly steps completed at the factory, the question begs to be asked: what remains to be done by the builder to complete the assembly of the Super Hornet fuselage? The sole step that must be done to finish the fuselage off is to epoxy the long, gray nose cone to the front of the fuselage body. That's it!

Wing

Wing assembly steps already completed at the factory:




The two F/A-18 wing halves are stubby when compared to the dimensions of the fuselage. They come out of the box fully assembled and ready for attachment to the fuselage. The aileron servos are already mounted and in place, as are the aileron control horns. The aileron push rods are already made up and installed. The ailerons are hinged and attached to the trailing edges of the wings. The remaining two LEDs of the full complement of seven are mounted outboard on the wings and are pre-installed and pre-wired to the wing roots. One thing that is lacking almost 100% of the time in this generation of foamy ARF kits are secondary clevis retention devices (read as small pieces of silicon fuel tubing used to secure the clevis' in their locked position). I would like to see manufacturers add these to their kits, especially these larger 90mm air frames. For the cost of what is assuredly only a couple of pennies, they provide a dependable secondary line of defense against clevises popping open in flight.


The steps involved in assembling the wings to the fuselage involve installing the carbon spars, gluing the wings to the fuselage and connecting the wing tip LEDs and aileron servo connectors to the mating connectors stubbed out at the wing root. The first thing I did was to glue the carbon spars in place in the pre-cut channels in the wing halves. I used five minute epoxy. The same epoxy was the adhesive of choice for me when making the super critical wing-to-fuselage attachments. I again went with five minute epoxy, as the total area of the wing to fuselage joint is not that substantial and it is easy to get the area covered before the epoxy starts to set up. It is not purely a butt joint, as there is a mortise and tenon type joint which aids in getting the wings aligned properly. I did one wing half at a time.




I am not sure that the extra technique that I used really adds anything strength-wise to the joint but for many kits and years, I have been using a bamboo meat skewer to poke dozens of small, shallow holes into both surfaces before applying the epoxy. I theorize that the holes create another axis into which the epoxy can flow and adhere to. I think that these holes also provide outlets into which excess epoxy can ooze, instead of oozing out along the wing-to-fuselage joint and necessitating a quick clean up with alcohol. Using too much alcohol on the paint will most definitely alter it's hue, so in my opinion it is worth a little effort to minimize the amount of epoxy which needs wiped up. It is important to make sure that both wings are properly aligned to the fuselage. The mortise and tenon joints all but guarantee that they will go on perfectly. Once these joints are dry, the aileron and wing tip LED connections can be made. I use a butter knife to carefully press the wires down into the narrow cuts made in the foam for them. The excess wire is then tucked down into the main gear retract wells.



The eRC Super Hornet comes with a full complement of missiles and drop tanks. I knew that adding all of them to the underside and tips of the wings would come with the expense of a little speed at the top end but do they look so cool! A nice feature implemented on them by eRC is that most of them are removable, making it possible to easily fly either with them or without them. The only armaments that are permanently attached are the white wing tip missiles. A pair of weapon rails must first be attached to the wing tips. I was impressed when I noticed that the left and right rails were keyed by means of a different size block and mortise joint. This makes it impossible to attach the wrong rail to each wing tip. Once the rails are in place, the missiles can be glued to them.


The gray missiles/bombs and drop tanks get attached to the underside of the wings. They utilize a snap type connector, which conceivably means that they can be removed and reattached numerous times. The assembly manual does mention that it may be advisable to glue them on for a more secure fit, which verbiage caused me to ponder if the snap type connections were up to the task of holding them in place at wide open throttle or not? I decided to trust them, as I wanted to fly mine both with and without the armaments in order to be able to compare any differences in speed and performance.

Tail

The assembly of the tail components involves attaching the pair of flying full horizontal stabilizers (they attach with screws) and then attaching the two vertical stabilizers (they attach with adhesive). The twin horizontal flying full stabilizers come out of the box with the control horns already attached, and a polished metal rod protruding from their root. This rod has a very subtle and almost indiscernible flare or flange at it's tip. The metal rods get sandwiched into a plastic pillow block of sorts, which is attached with a couple of small screws to an inlaid wooden block located in the aft section of the fuselage.


I threaded the screws into the wee pilot holes pre-drilled into the wooden blocks before I actually committed to mounting the two horizontal stabilizers. The pilot holes are pretty small and it takes a fair amount of force to seat the screws. Thus, I thought it best to minimize the chances of my screwdriver slipping off the screw heads and damaging the fuselage or stabilizer foam while bearing down on my screwdriver on this initial first insertion. I was pleased at how freely the stabilizers pivoted on their mounts after assembling them to the fuselage. A couple of filler foam blocks are provided to cover over and dress out the rear of the F/A-18 fuselage. I used but a drop or two of CA, lest I need to remove them down the road for access to the elevator servos or shaft mounts. These foam filler blocks fit into the cut outs quite tightly. The elevator push rods are attached via a z-bend at the servo end and a plastic clevis at the control surface end. The diameter and composition of these push rods seem a little on the small and flexible side to me, given that they are controlling full flying stabs on a 90mm EDF.




The twin vertical stabilizers each come with an LED each pre-installed on their outside surface. These LEDs must first be attached to their mating connectors located in the rear of the fuselage. I thought it best to secure the connections with a piece of tape, given the fact that they will be entombed in the fuselage and not easily accessed after the vertical stabilizers are glued in place. I used five minute epoxy to attach the stabilizers, paying careful attention to ensure that they were both properly positioned before the epoxy set.


Radio Installation and Programming

Releasing the latch on the radio/battery compartment hatch and removing the hatch revealed a veritable rats nest of wiring. Eight servos and a 7 LED lighting system can do that to the inside of a fuselage. The wires were all loosely wound into a ball and secured with a cable tie. For many, the factory cable arrangement may suffice but I for one prefer a neater wiring layout than what typically is done at the factory. But of course, whether the wiring is neat or messy will not ultimately affect the way an air frame flies. It is up to each builder to decide whether they prefer to invest any additional time into neatening the wiring or not.



As a first step to taming the wiring, I labeled each LED connection where it connects to the lighting control module and then removed the lighting control module. I decided the easiest way to make the radio compartment look neat was to fabricate a dummy floor, under which I could just hide the abundance of wiring. I used a scrap piece of white 3mm Depron and covered it with a piece of gray Ultracote so that it would somewhat blend into the gray color of the fuselage. I used hot glue to anchor the Spektrum AR7000 seven channel receiver to this piece of Depron and then cut a slot near the bottom of the receiver as a portal through which to pass the servo and ESC wires from the bottom of the compartment up into the top. I then mounted the lighting control module in the same fashion and cut two slots for the LED lighting wires. I was pleased with the end result and I do not think it took but an hour from start to finish.


A larger EDF jet like the eRC F/A-18 ultimately benefits from a seven channel radio system, though a six channel radio system can be used as well. For the latter, Hobby Lobby includes a 3 to 1 servo cable Y harness. This 3 way connection is used to connect the two up/down thrust vector units together, as well as the existing elevator Y cable, so that all four servos can then all be plugged into the elevator channel. I used a Spektrum AR7000 DSM-2 seven channel receiver, which allows plugging each up/down thrust vector into it's own channel. Using a Spektrum receiver also brings me the peace of mind that comes with using my faithful JR transmitter, which also speaks DSM-2. Hobby Lobby provides very clear direction in their assembly manual on how to properly program a Spektrum DX-7 transmitter. I provide several screen shots below that illustrate how to achieve the same programming using a JR X9503 transmitter. A total of four mixes must be configured in order to completely enable the thrust vectoring system.

Spektrum AR7000 Receiver Channel Mapping
Channel Function
1 Throttle
2 Ailerons (2 via Y cable)
3 Elevators (2 via Y cable)
4 Nose Steering/Vector 1 (via Y cable)
5 Landing gear (3 via triple Y cable)
6 Vector 2 (Aux 1)
7 Vector 3 (Aux 2)


Servo reversing selection screen



These two mixes slave the twin vector nozzles to the elevator control quadrant



These two mixes slave the twin vector nozzles to the aileron control quadrant

Accessing the Power System



The 90mm EDF power system comes completely pre-installed and pre-wired, 100% ready to fly. There is really no reason to access the power system components but for the sake of my curiosity and a few photos, I decided to remove the fan hatch. A pair of small Phillips head screws and plastic rectangular washers secure the thick foam hatch to the aft deck of the big F-18. The hatch fits snugly and must be carefully levered up out of its recess. The Freewing 90mm fan and 1750Kv brushless outrunner are securely mounted to the rails by means of a half dozen fasteners. I did not lay eyes on the speed controller, as it is buried forward of the fan and motor in the innards of the fuselage.


Completion

Recommended Control Throws
Low Rates High Rates
Elevator 1/2 in 3/4 in
Ailerons 1/2 in 3/4 in

The All-Up-Weight of my eRC F/A-18e came in at 79.5 ounces, RTF!

In just a couple short building sessions that were spread out over a few evenings, I had the eRC F/A-18 ready for it's maiden flight. Leave your camera in the bag when building yours and you will assuredly have yours complete in much less time! There are several important tasks and checks to be performed before heading out to fly a new model and the unusually inclement Northern California winter weather in December gave me plenty of time to verify that everything was in order. The big flying horizontal stabilizers need to be set for a proper neutral position and guessing at what that point needs to be is not the preferred way to do it. Hobby Lobby provides a photo that gives the exact position that they should be set in for the maiden flight.


Hobby Lobby provides a reference point on the fuselage for setting the elevator neutrals

The center of gravity must also be in a valid location for this elevator neutral position to be correct. Hobby Lobby also provides clear direction on the proper COG location. With the two Thunder Power G4 Pro Power 45C 3S 3850mAh batteries slid to the rear of the battery compartment, my Super Hornet came in just a smidge on the nose heavy side. The two batteries fit perfectly, if just a wee bit snugly, in the battery compartment. A short hook and loop strap locks them securely into place. The specified all-up-weight of the F/A-18 is 72 ounces. Mine came in at 79.0 ounces, possibly due to the slightly larger size of my lipos as compared to the recommended 3700mAh size packs?


CG is 2.5 to 3.0 inches (70-75mm) aft of where the leading edge of the wing meets the fuselage

I like to leave my transmitter sub trims and end point settings at zero and/or neutral when initially setting up a new model. I prefer to get everything dialed in mechanically as best as I can and once this is accomplished, I will revert to the electronic side of things to make final, minute adjustments. While attempting to remove the control rods from the thrust vectoring ball links for mechanical adjustment, I clumsily slipped and broke the little ball link piece! Instantly wishing I had kept my ball link pliers from my short stint in the world of RC helis, I dejectedly decided that I had just made a really stupid mistake that put me in a real pickle. How would I repair the broken piece?!


After musing about my dilemma for a few minutes, I suddenly remembered that a small plastic bag containing several small clevises and such had come in the box. I was thrilled to find that this little bag contained not only spare clevises but also included two different spare thrust vector ball link assemblies. Way to go Hobby Lobby!! In just a few careful and patient minutes, I extracted the broken piece and inserted the replacement assembly, securing it in place with a carefully placed drop of CA.



Another minor difficulty I encountered as I finished up the big foam Hornet involved the nose gear retract doors. The method used to close the doors as the gear retracts is not really very high tech but simple and effective. A short loop of string is strung across the nose gear retract bay and as the nose gear pulls upward into the bay, the strut collapses across the string and pulls the two doors shut. One of the little plastic string retainer clips that was glued into the foam doors was broken on my jet. I fabricated a new one using a servo horn and glued it into place. I also decided to use a drop of CA to affix the loop of string to both retainers, as without it I convinced myself that the string could possibly fall off of the retainers while the gear was down and the plane in-flight.

Once I had my F/A-18 completely finished, I was excited to take her out on the street in front of my house (in between rainstorms) for radio range checking, taxi testing, power system run ups and of course, more than a few photos! The eRC F/A-18 Super Hornet comes out of the box with an absolute abundance of sharp looking decals already applied. The foam air frame also comes with yards and yards of panel lines cast into the surface.






Flying

Taking Off and Landing

I have become accustomed to be "let down", pun intended, when flying aircraft equipped with mechanical or even pneumatic retracts. The cool factor that goes along with retract equipped model aircraft usually keeps me faithfully tweaking on them in an attempt to keep them as close to functional as possible but in all honesty, I am accustomed to experiencing some sort of problem on almost every outing. The eRC F/A-18 Super Hornet is the first EDF review project that I have received that came equipped with the relatively new electric (servo-less) retracts. The struts attached to the retracts are both beefy and sturdy looking in design. As I packed the big 90mm F-18 into the car for the trip to the field for the maiden flight, I was hopeful that a new era in retract dependability was about to dawn.




I have available to me two full size airstrips from which I prefer to fly larger jets like the 90mm F/A-18. One of the two is decently maintained but the other suffers from the disrepair and neglect that is commensurate to an abandoned field. This latter field however served as a very good acid test for the durability, dependability and bump handling capabilities of the F/A-18s landing gear. The winter rains here in Northern California set off a literal overnight explosion of super green vegetation. Many of the expansion cracks in the runway of this airstrip were thus lined with thick tufts of long grass but the Super Hornet taxied through and over them with no problems or failures whatsoever! The same was true of all landings and take offs performed through the entire course of compiling media for this review. Hallelujah!! And the people did rejoice!

Getting the eRC F/A-18 off the ground and into the sky is not difficult at all, thanks to the plentiful power produced by the 90mm Freewing EDF power system. I usually advance the throttle slowly at first and then, as the airframe begins to accelerate, I fully advance the stick to 100%. The big Super Hornet picks up speed nicely and is ready to fly in short order. I have noticed that just grabbing a bunch of elevator will typically result in a somewhat "explosive" type of rotation I.E. the F/A-18 will leap off the ground and assume a relatively steep angle of attack and climb out. To avoid this non-scale appearing style of takeoff, I instead feather in a small amount of up elevator and then quickly release the stick back to neutral. I do this several times in quick succession, which is usually enough to get the Hornet to release in a more gradual and scale looking rotation and climb out. A quick flick of my left forefinger on the retract switch and the electric retracts pull the tricycle gear up and into the fuselage, with the nose gear getting covered by the twin doors. On one of my first flights, the string that is used to pull the doors shut fell off one of the plastic retainers, leaving the doors wide open. As mentioned earlier, I had placed a drop of CA on each string to secure both ends of it to the door clips but I had evidently not used enough. I reapplied CA after that flight and have not experienced any further problems with the gear doors closing.



The two runways at which I flew my F/A-18 are both plentiful in length. Running out of runway is thus not a concern for me but when properly executed, the Hornet will land without the need for a lot of runway. The best landings for me have always been the ones that are executed in a manner very similar to a real jets landing approach. I usually pull the throttle back as I cross midfield and drop the gear, using this pass to verify that I have three green. I have yet to experience any situations where the electric retracts have not faithfully lowered all three gear into the down and locked position. I DO love these servo-less retracts! Once the gear down verification is made, I usually roll a little throttle back into the F/A-18 to inhibit it slowing too much with the added drag of the gear. I keep my approach and turns to base and final gradual and sweeping, all the while focusing on getting the approach speed dialed in. Once I am on final, I pull the stick back to about four or five clicks above full down and let the F/A-18 drop down the slope. I maintain some RPMS and approach velocity until I am entering ground effect, at which point I start slowly feeding in up elevator. If the approach speed is right, the long nose of the Super Hornet will respond to the elevator inputs by slowly rising skyward. Continuing to increase the elevator input will result in the aircraft flaring down through ground effect and onto the ground. I find it pretty easy to stick my landings with this plane by following this technique. One thing that is important to avoid is cutting the throttle completely, waiting to do so until after you have reconnected to the ground. Hold a little throttle all the way down and the F/A-18 will reward you with a beautiful landing every time!

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Though I was not able to send my Eagle Tree eLogger up for a data gathering ride due to a technical problem with it, I know from my Eurofighter review that this Freewing 90mm EDF power system is good for around 1500-1600 watts. The Thunder Power G4 Pro Power 45C 3850mAh lipos give me a solid 4 to 5 minute flight duration if I am willing to modulate the throttle setting a little throughout the flight. This F/A-18 does not come with rudders but instead uses the 360 degree thrust vectoring nozzles to supply the rudder authority. With rates set to high on both the full flying stabilizer elevators and ailerons, the F/A-18 will turn and burn and yank and bank like a fiend! I had a lot of fun pushing it through the turns hard at WOT, using the elevator to really tighten up the radius of the turns. The roll rate at full aileron stick deflection is quick but not insanely fast. The thrust vectors add a little of their own magic when mixed in as recommended in the assembly manual, with all basic aerobatics being not only possible but quite snappy to boot. The thrust vector nozzles also make high alpha flight possible but it is important to watch your airspeed closely when exploring this flight parameter. Allow the nose to fall off to one side and it will be difficult to get enough thrust quickly enough to avoid a crash, altitude dependent of course. I did notice that my fan had a noisy resonance in one particular RPM band near the bottom of the throttle stick. Moving the throttle up past 1/4 stick and beyond resulted in the fan smoothing out.

Is This For a Beginner?

Beginners should definitely not try to convince themselves that they are ready for this 90mm EDF. With the control throws set up as recommended, most beginners would find it twitchy and difficult to control. Add in the speed that this model can achieve and the recipe for making a costly mistake while trying to learn to fly radio controlled planes is complete. As a rule though, I find that F/A-18s usually all fly quite nicely. They tend to hold their lines very solidly and are very crisp in the air. Work your way up through the ranks of some of the smaller and more sedate 60-70mm EDFs before you tackle this intermediate to advanced EDF model. When you are able to handle some of the smaller models with repetitive prowess, transition into this large and luxurious model and enjoy the ride.

In-Flight Media Gallery











Conclusion

Is it "twice as nice"? Well, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The incredible performance of the real F/A-18, as witnessed at the local airshow last summer, won the Super Hornet a special place near the top of my list of favorite aircraft. As such, I am really loving this eRC Super Hornet! In summary, if there is one feature of the eRC F/A-18 that really stands out in my mind, it would have to be the retractable landing gear. Though retracts of both the mechanical and pneumatic variety usually require a good amount of tinkering before you head to the field and possibly even while you are there, the servo-less electric retracts on the Super Hornet have functioned flawlessly for me. I have yet to experience any gear collapses on landing and the belly of my Hornet is still scrape and scuff free. The struts are a solid, beefy design and they do a great job of soaking up any runway imperfections. They are also capable of absorbing the extra impact that goes along with those less than perfect landings. To finally have a larger EDF that I can take out and fly without having to first spend an hour or two retuning the retracts is a big deal to me and I am jazzed about it! Fly it, take it home and park it in the hangar. When you are ready to go fly it again, just grab it and go!

The larger size of this 90mm airframe makes for a much larger "flying box", I.E. you can comfortably fly it out quite a bit farther than some of the smaller 60-70mm EDFs permit. The larger size also means you will need an appropriate vehicle with which to haul it to the field. Transporting it in anything less than a crossover or SUV could be problematic. Moving it around the hangar and loading and unloading it will also require a little extra attention, in order to avoid hangar rash or accidentally knocking the under wing and wingtip armaments off. The Freewing 90mm brushless EDF power system provides very respectable flight performance and sounds great doing it (my particular fan does have a minor resonance or imbalance issue in a limited RPM range, near the bottom of the throttle setting, but it smooths out nicely once the throttle is moved beyond one third of the travel on the stick). Flight times of four to five minutes are possible if you exercise a little restraint on the throttle but it looks and sounds so good at wide open throttle that it is hard to resist not just leaving it there for the entire flight. It is a very stable platform and flies very smoothly when set up with the recommended CG and control throws.

Grins:

  • Assembly can be completed in a couple hours, in an evening or two
  • Latched hatch for access to battery and radio compartment
  • Servo-less electric retracts and beefy gear struts are sturdy and take some abuse
  • Included spare clevises and ball links
  • Full array of armament included
  • Included LED lighting system

Groans:

  • Included hard copy of the assembly manual was so faded that it was difficult to read
  • Nose gear door plastic retainer broken

If you have been sitting on the fence trying to decide if a 90mm EDF is really for you, I encourage you to take a good hard look at the eRC 90mm F/A-18 Super Hornet. Many of the items that have caused EDF enthusiasts consternation and angst in the past have been addressed and refined in this F/A-18. The retracts are so dependable that Hobby Lobby has now released a revision 2.0 of it's 90mm eRC Eurofighter, which also now benefits from the same electric retracts used in the F/A-18. The build time required to complete this one is not more than an evening or two, as the vast majority of the work has already been completed at the factory. Every time I have taken mine out to a field where there are other pilots flying, most have stopped what they were doing and watched the big Super Hornet take to the skies. It has a commanding presence and looks convincingly real while in the air. If you are really on top of your game, the included LED lighting system can be used for flights at dusk and even beyond. I have seen videos of some pilots who have taken theirs up at twilight and beyond. The seven lights in the pre-installed LED lighting system provide needed visual cues that enable expert pilots to even fly it "in the dark".

A special thanks to Jason Cole, Angela H, Jason Merkle and Don S, without whom I could not have properly completed this review!



Last edited by Bajora; Jan 27, 2011 at 05:22 PM..

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Old Jan 28, 2011, 07:54 AM
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MRGTX's Avatar
United States, CT
Joined Aug 2005
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Many folks around here take your reviews as gospel....and with good reason.

Amazing pics... great info.

Which did you like better- this or the eRC Eurofighter Typhoon?
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 08:10 AM
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United States, NC, Garner
Joined Apr 2001
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Jon, a fabulous review as always. I totally agree with you about the electric retracts... mine have performed flawlessly, even when one of the units parted company with my jet from about 20 ft. up. One of them developed a problem going up and down, but further investigation showed to it be an issue with the y-harness. Again, the retract unit itself was not at fault.

I am constantly receiving positive comments about this jet, even though mine is fitted with "tundra-sized bush pilot tires" needed for takeoff from our grass runway. It flies smooth and it's quite fast on the stock setup. Thanks again for the review!
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 08:54 AM
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mavdriver's Avatar
United States, CA, Apple Valley
Joined May 2002
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Jon nice review on the F18 , they really looks mean when it is comming right by you , my friend wants to get this one , Ill point him toward this review .
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 09:38 AM
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Bajora's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRGTX View Post
Many folks around here take your reviews as gospel....and with good reason.

Amazing pics... great info.

Which did you like better- this or the eRC Eurofighter Typhoon?
THAT is a tough question for sure. The Eurofighter excels at high alpha flight, though the TV on the F-18 also makes it capable of the same, and I think the Euro slows down a little better for landing. I accidentally hit LVC several times on the Euro because I was having too much fun and didn't pay attention to my throttle setting and countdown timer. Even with the power off, the Euro is pretty easy to land. The 2.0 Eurofighter must be way sweet if it now comes with the same electric retracts. I am glad to see this retract evolution, or revolution maybe, taking place. I think the F-18 has a little more wow factor but that is for sure up to each person to decide.

Thanks for the comments folks. Another huge thanks to gp125racer for his assistance with the media in this review. I couldn't have done it without him.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 01:35 PM
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Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
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Tossing my own hat into the ring to say that this is indeed a marvelous review. I'm looking forward to having a bit more time to go back and reread it in detail.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 03:32 PM
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Motor City USA
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Nice Review....Love the plane.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 04:00 PM
hdkeney
Lanett, Alabama
Joined Feb 2006
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Jon,

I loved your review of the HL F/A18E Super Hornet. You do a fantastic job of reviewing, my friend. I have the F18 and my nosegear door retract string connector was also broken, but I fixed it much like you did. Thanks for all of the excellent reviews. I noticed that you and I have many of the same birds, but you are obviously a much more prolific builder than I am. I have saved a link to a listing of all of your reviews for future reference.

Mr. Barnes,I was wondering if you may happen to have a JR 11X Tx. I just bought one, and without very much experience with these new computer Tx's, coupled with the lousy-inadequate manual that came with the 11X, I am having a difficult time knowing how to do anything other than the sinple basic stuff which I could do without such a sophisticated Tx. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to remedy this situation?
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 04:16 PM
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Charlotte,NC
Joined May 2005
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C'mon, wheres the flat spins, the cobra's, the high alpha?? I thought this thing had t.v.??
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 05:23 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdkeney View Post
Jon,

Mr. Barnes,I was wondering if you may happen to have a JR 11X Tx. I just bought one, and without very much experience with these new computer Tx's, coupled with the lousy-inadequate manual that came with the 11X, I am having a difficult time knowing how to do anything other than the sinple basic stuff which I could do without such a sophisticated Tx. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to remedy this situation?
I fly with a JR9503. I think the 11X programming may be similar? And I think there may also be a review of that transmitter around here that may shed some light on it for you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonofagun View Post
C'mon, wheres the flat spins, the cobra's, the high alpha?? I thought this thing had t.v.??
Yeah, it does. Uh ... er.... my dog ate that part of the video?!
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 06:18 PM
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United States, OH, Parma
Joined Jul 2009
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Been waiting for this one to go live for a while now!
Very impressive review. great photo and video work as usual. Bravo!
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 10:17 AM
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50mph's Avatar
Tacoma, Washington
Joined Jul 2007
425 Posts
Now that is a review.......

Great work on your entire post.

HL should send you their next ????? EDF Jet and have you do the promo, they dont seem to capture all the details.

Again, fantanstic work
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 02:25 PM
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SoCal/NorCal
Joined Jun 2007
317 Posts
Jon,

Thanks for the excellent review. I bought one of these a month ago, have it together but haven't flown it. I like what you did with the depron deck to tidy up the wire mess, I'll have to add one to mine. If you're around in February, bring Don S. And come on over to TAFB and fly (weather permitting).

Mark
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 04:28 PM
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Great idea Mark. It would be pretty cool to get a pair of them in the air together!
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 05:26 PM
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How will the wheels handle a reasonably level grass field?
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