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Hobby People Phase 3 U-2 EDF Glider Review

Phase 3 continues to expand upon their lineup of military EDFs with the release of the classic U-2 spy plane.

Splash

 
Wing span: 66 1/2 in (1690mm)
Length: 40 1/2 in. (1030mm)
Battery: 3S 1650mAh lipo
Motor: 480-sized 960Kv
Fan: 64mm
ESC: 40A BL ESC
Distributed by: Hobby People
MSRP: $239.99
 
As a big fan of the Phase 3 F-16, I was curious to see how the designers at Phase 3 would do with the classic Lockheed designed U-2. Available in 3 different flavors including the RTF, iBind, and kit form, pilots can choose the version that suits their needs best. Phase 3 intended their version of the U-2 as a simple to build, easy to fly EDF plane with a glider feel to it; Something you can take to the park in just about any decent weather condition, and fly without worrying. Let's take a closer look and see just how well they did.

History

The Lockheed U-2 has quite a colorful history. The U-2 was designed by the great Kelly Johnson, and was essentially a F-104 starfighter with glider wings grafted onto it. The first flight was at the famed "Area 51" on August 1, 1955 and happened much by accident. The initial plan for the day had only called for high speed taxi tests, but the plane became airborne at 70kts during the days testing. The U-2s capabilities we're unrivaled when it was first released, and it has only been refined over the years. As a matter of fact, the plane still is in an operational status today and recently had its service life extended until at least 2014. More information on the U-2 and the 1960 Francis "Gary" Powers incident are available here.




Kit Contents

My U-2 arrived double boxed without any damage and within a couple of days. Upon opening the box, I noticed each of the EPP foam pieces were individually wrapped and that the charger, lipo battery, and transmitter were neatly packaged in their own compartments as to prevent any damage in shipping. The first thing I noticed when taking the parts out of the box was the size of the wings. As with the rest of the components, the wings are painted black and are relatively light. After inspecting the fuselage (which houses the pre-installed fan unit and motor), I noticed the canopy hatch is held in place with two very strong magnets. Everything is already in place underneath it, including the 40A ESC and Airtronics compatible receiver. The 'wet and slide' style decals provided are very colorful, and appeared to be of decent quality. Moving on to the accessories box, the provided charger appeared adequate and was setup to work with the provided 1650mah lipo battery. The last box I opened contained the Hobby People 2.4ghz transmitter. For more details on that, keep reading.

 
Mike Greenshields of Hobby People goes over some of the U-2s highlights
 




Kit includes/features:

  • Pre-painted EPP foam construction
    (wings, fuse, etc.)
  • Pre-installed 64mm fan unit / brushless motor
  • Removable wing
  • 3s 11.1V 1650mah lipo
  • Pre-installed servos (3x)
  • Pre-installed ESC (40A)
  • 5ch 2.4ghz Aero-Sport transmitter
  • Pre-installed Aero-Sport 5ch 2.4ghz RX
  • Instruction manual
  • Decals

Kit requirements:

  • Transmitter batteries

Assembly

This is an RTF version of the aircraft, which includes everything you need to get into the air short of batteries for your transmitter. Phase 3 has gone to great lengths with the design on this version to ensure that the amount of time to get you to the field and be flying is minimal. As a matter of fact, you could easily assemble this plane at the field as long as you remember your transmitter batteries. No screwdriver is required either. The wings simply plug into place, and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers are held in place with double sided tape (which has also been pre-applied). That's right, simply charge up your battery, pull off the backing on a couple of pieces of double sided tape, hook up your linkages and go fly.

Wing

Those modelers with smaller cars need not worry, Phase 3 has designed the wings to be removable on the U-2. Each wing half has a series of 3 carbon spars protruding from its root. These spars simply slip into pre-drilled/reinforced holes in the fuselage. Out of the box, the spars had some burrs on them and didn't want to slide in/out too well. I ended up lightly scuffing the spars with some sandpaper to smooth them out, and it made a world of difference. The servo is pre-installed in the wing, and all that is required to make it operational is to plug it into the servo extension located on the fuselage.

 




Fuselage

The fuselage is completed at the factory with the RTF version, and has the 64mm fan, motor, ESC, and servos pre-installed.



Tail

As usual, the tail consists of two pieces, a horizontal stab, and a vertical stab. The horizontal stab has the elevator assembly pre-installed, and utilizes a piece of piano wire to deflect both control surfaces. Assembling the tail starts by removing the double sided tape backing and sticking the horizontal stab into place. Once secured, simply slip the nylon link over the control horn to finish it up. Installing the horizontal stab is just about as simple. Remove the tapes backing and align the 'locating pegs' with the pre-moulded holes, then press into place. Visually verify things are squared up, and that's it, your tail is complete!



Radio Installation

The 2.4ghz 5 channel receiver is installed in the nose section of the airplane and has been done at the factory. All of the servo leads are already plugged into it as well, so literally nothing is required of us in terms of radio installation.

Transmitter

Bundled with the RTF version of the U-2 is the Hobby People branded Aero-Sport 5 channel 2.4ghz transmitter. All of your basic 2.4ghz transmitter functionality is present, such as servo reversing, bind functionality and a trainer port. Hobby People designed the Aero-Sport as to be compatible with Airtronics receivers. This is a great feature, in my opinion, as it allows for future use of the transmitter independently from this particular model. The Aero-Sport has a decent balance to it and overall feels good in my hands. Instructions are provided, and to get up and running all that is required is 4x AA batteries.

 



Completion

Completing the U-2 consists of applying it's decals, verifying the control throws and their direction of travel, as well as checking the planes center of gravity. As usual, I recommend using the instruction manuals suggestions for throws and CG for your maiden flights.

Flying

Basics

The U-2 has a wide envelope of flight, and performs well both under power and while gliding. Climbouts under full power are adequate on the stock power system, but anything short of full power for a prolonged climb will have you pushing forward on the stick to get some momentum sliding back your direction. Most of my flights consist of climbouts to about 600ft, shutting off the throttle and making a few low and silent passes in front of the flight line before bombing back up to 500-600ft and repeating the process again. This lasts for about 4-5 minutes until I've got to come back to terrafirma for a fresh battery pack. While the flight time might seem a little on the short side, remember, it runs on a medium sized 3s pack, so having multiple packs available doesn't hurt the pocket book quite so bad. My first flights ended up being nose heavy and no matter what I did, when I shut the motor off, the nose would drop and up elevator was needed to keep the plane level. Eventually I realized I didn't have the pack seated as far back into the battery compartment as possible as the servo wires were preventing it from sliding all the way back, so make sure you check that on your setup.

A little more power??

For those of you thinking about getting a little bit more from your stock power system might want to consider upgrading their battery pack. Unfortunately, after just a few flights on my U-2, the stock lipo dropped a cell on me. While waiting for my replacement pack from Hobby People, I decided to try out a Thunder Power 45c 3s 1750mah pack that was available to me. Once we plugged the Thunder Power pack in and ran it up, it became apparent the extra juice from this battery really woke things up! The first flight with the new battery saw the U-2 climbing out of my hands with much more authority, and the overall top speed of the plane increased as well. Needless to say the extra power made the U-2 more enjoyable to fly, and I find myself waiting for the 45C pack to charge before I fly the U-2 anymore.

Taking Off and Landing

As the U-2 is not equipped with any form of landing gear, it's required that it be hand launched. For my first flights, I had my good friend launch the plane for me, as I was uncertain if the plane would need any trim, and how well the power system would propel the plane out of my hands. It turns out that having my friend launch the plane was nice, but really was not needed, as the plane makes good thrust and needed very little trim out of his hands. In subsequent flights, when launching the plane myself, I simply select full power on the transmitter and give the plane a firm level toss towards the horizon. Let the plane "get on step" a little before you start asking her to climb, otherwise your ascent might look like you're climbing a step ladder.

Landing the U-2 is easy, but because it likes to float it can take a bit of practice to hit your targeted touch down point. I find myself killing the power very early on the approach, and then using short bursts of power to carry the U-2 to the touchdown point. Overall the U-2 is very easy to land, and once you have figured out how to slow it down to land it close to your target, there is nothing to it.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Aerobatics

Looking at the U-2, one might ask themselves not only if the U-2 is even capable of a loop or roll, but should one even be attempted given the length of the wings, and the fact that no glue is holding them in place. Being inquisitive in nature, it was only natural that we had to find out just what the U-2 was capable of. After a decent powered climbout, I brought the throttles back to the zero and pointed the nose down. After a few seconds of building up momentum, I started feeding in back stick, and before I knew it, the U-2 was over and through the loop. As a matter of fact, I even had enough momentum left over to pull off an aileron roll as well!! Its worth noting that there is a considerable amount of wingflex during these maneuvers, and while they are possible (and extremely fun), I'm not certain how conducive this type of flying is to the longevity of the U-2's life span.

Gliding

The U-2 has a long slender wing which allows it to float fairly well, but I find that unless a good amount of forward momentum is kept up it likes to sink fairly rapidly. I really don't see the U-2 being used to run down and hunt thermals, so those of you looking for more of a traditional glider might want to keep that in mind.

Is This For a Beginner?

While the U2 is a pretty tame handling aircraft, it's not for the first time R/C enthusiast. It would, however, be well suited for someone looking to take their first steps into Electric Ducted Fans. It's simple flying nature, combined with it's slow speed characteristics makes it easy on the nerves, and allows one to just enjoy flying.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery




 




 




 




Conclusion

The folks at Phase 3 have something quite unique on their hands in my opinion. The U-2 represents a cool blend of EDF technology, easy flying, and scale looks in the air. Now it might not win any awards for any one of those things individually, but combined together Phase 3 has put together a model that stands out at the local flying field, and in the market today.

Likes:

  • Available in 3 flavors kit/ARF/iBind
  • Awesome presence in the air
  • Removable wing

Dislikes:

  • Paint flakes/chips easily
  • Flight times are a bit on the short side

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 27, 2011 at 01:06 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 07, 2011, 06:54 PM
Mike
i12flyrc's Avatar
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Joined Jul 2003
937 Posts
I ordered mine yesterday. Looking forward to flying it!
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 11:06 AM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
762 Posts
Great review! Is that at the Travis Aero club?
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 12:27 PM
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duck69's Avatar
france -Lyon
Joined Jun 2006
42 Posts
Great review !
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 05:24 PM
Registered User
chip.greely's Avatar
Carlsbad, Ca
Joined Mar 2007
3,062 Posts
Great presence in the air!

I was going to ask if you'd classify this as an EDF version of a Hotliner, but after watching the video I'm guessing it's more like an EDF Warmliner
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 09:09 PM
DELTAS RULE
corsair nut's Avatar
tehachapi, CA
Joined Jan 2006
22,101 Posts
awsome review don!

damnit jon does some great media!
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 12:31 PM
Registered User
Joined Nov 2004
101 Posts
Great review Don, thanks for posting it.

Did you notice any problems flying the U-2 without a rudder? With all of the flex in the wings I wonder how they will hold up. Trying now to decide which option would work best for me (RTF/iBind/Kit).

Looks like a great model!

Brian C.
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 01:47 PM
Lipo abuser ... smoke on!
gp125racer's Avatar
Joined Feb 2005
1,916 Posts
Thanks fellas. It really is a fun plane, and looks awesome in the air.

I didn't have any issues flying it with out a rudder. Watching the wings flex takes a bit of getting used too, but they have held up just fine for me.

Don
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 06:50 PM
Registered User
Brownsburg, Indiana
Joined Aug 2005
1,014 Posts
I received the basic arf in white foam for Christmas. Good looking molds for sure. My only beef is lack of instructions if you didn't buy the full blown, charge the battery and fly, version. If you go this route, and plan for removeabe wings, plan on cutting and soldering your wing servo wires to fit their routing. Normal servo wires are too short and the connector will be mid wing. Other than that it looks like a dream come true. I can't wait for it to warm up enough to paint. My father sent me some Krylon H2O water based spray paint from California in semi gloss black. That's about the only good thing to come out of CA and their smog laws.
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 10:20 PM
Registered User
capt soap's Avatar
dallas tx
Joined Jun 2003
2,879 Posts
Ive flown gliders for years before flying eletric/edf jets. Those wing rods look Very puny.Other than that great looking jet.
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Old Feb 10, 2011, 11:30 AM
Registered User
Joined Nov 2004
101 Posts
Don,

Was the flight video made with the upgraded 45C battery? I could not tell from the photos what the "C" rating is on the stock battery.

Brian
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Old Feb 10, 2011, 12:13 PM
Crashing but learning...
Wildweasel09's Avatar
Brazil, São Paulo, Sao Paulo
Joined May 2009
463 Posts
Don,
Nice review !
Here is my U2 ready for the first flight (kit version), I did install one lg and lights.
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Old Feb 10, 2011, 08:22 PM
A Global Force For Good
jmpdgs's Avatar
USA, OH, Cincinnati
Joined Jun 2009
730 Posts

View from the landing chase car.

I like the HP model but I kept looking at it and couldn't figure out what was bothering me about it. I remember now that I got to review some clips on YouTube.
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Old Feb 11, 2011, 10:13 AM
master of the universe
captaingeek's Avatar
USA, CA, Novato
Joined Jul 2008
3,076 Posts
Coool concept. Turning a death machine into a toy always makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
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Old Feb 11, 2011, 10:21 AM
Vampyre Inc
HoverDown3K's Avatar
Rochester, New York
Joined Nov 2004
2,562 Posts
Nice review, but the price is killing it for what you get the model looks like cheap foam.
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