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Hobby-Lobby Kyosho aiRium Piper J-3 Cub VE29 Readyset RTF Review

One of the most popular subjects in aeromodeling history makes an appearance as a high-tech micro model. Read on as we put this three-channel sweetie through its paces!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:27.6" (700mm)
Wing Area:126.33 sq. in. (8.15dm2)
Weight:7 oz. (200g)
Length:21" (524mm)
Wing Loading:.9 oz/sq. ft. (24.5g/dm2)
Scale:1:13
Speed Range:Visually estimated 30 mph (50km/h) top speed
Servos:Kyosho KS-21 5g analog micro
Transmitter:Kyosho Perfex KT-21 four-channel park flyer-only spread-spectrum
Receiver:Kyosho Perfex KR-21 six-channel park flyer-only spread-spectrum
Battery:E-sky 7.4V 800mAh 2S 20C lithium-polymer (000173, EK1-0181)
Motor:Kyosho AF400 B/07/15 outrunner; Kv rating not listed by the factory
Propeller:Kyosho 7x6 proprietary; spare is included with the model
ESC:Kyosho Sky Victory BLS10 10-ampere
Typical Flight Duration:12 minutes with a 450mAh battery per factory claim
Manufacturer/Distributor:Kyosho Corporation of America, 20322 Valencia Circle, Lake Forest, California 92630 USA
Catalog Number:10931RS
Available From:Hobby-Lobby International Inc., 5614 Franklin Pike Circle, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027 USA
Retail/Average Selling Price (USD):$269.99/$129.99

What could be a more friendly and fun subject than the iconic J-3 Cub? It's as great a modeling subject as you're likely to find with its easy flying characteristics, light wing loading and of course, that bright yellow finish with the black lightning bolt down the side, the exposed engine cylinders and the little "teddy bear" on the tail. The prototype was produced between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Nearly 20,000 of these simple, tandem-seat aircraft were built during that period and helped train countless pilots, including military pilots during World War Two. Even the color is unique and has come to be known as "Cub Yellow" or "Lock Haven Yellow."

Meet the Kyosho aiRium Piper J-3 Cub VE29 Readyset from Hobby-Lobby International. Introduced on December 26, 2009, this small, 1:13-scale model with the really big name is part of Kyosho's aiRium line of micro-sized aircraft which includes WWII warbirds and more modern civil aviation subjects. There are two versions of each model available. The "Readyset" version which is the subject of this review comes with a pre-installed Kyosho Prefex 2.4 GHz four-channel park flyer radio system, with receiver and transmitter bound at the factory. Should you ever need to rebind the transmitter and receiver, a binding plug is included. The receiver-ready "plug-and-play" version is the same model less the Readyset's supplied transmitter and receiver and is covered in a separate review. Construction is of finely beaded, expanded polystyrene foam similar to Styrofoam with plastic-sheeted wing and tail surfaces and a painted fuselage with silk-screened decals. The decals on the wing and tail are silk-screened as well.

If you prefer using your own radio, let me reiterate that a plug-and-play version is available as well. This by itself sets the aiRium line apart from many other micros which either lack a PNP option due to proprietary electronics or which give you the advantage of a bind-and-fly option, but only with the manufacturer's own brand of radios. Discrete electronics are the order of the day, giving modelers tremendous flexibility in their choice of guidance.

There are a slew of Cubs of all shapes and sizes on the market, but no one told that to Kyosho. As you'll learn, this is a good thing. Kyosho has a well-deserved reputation for creating some of the finest diecast and radio controlled models in the world. Take the simulated Continental cylinder heads, for example. Some manufacturers would have been satisfied with a so-so one-piece molding; at least one uses plain, flat decals in lieu of engne detail. Not so Kyosho. The cylinders, cylinder shrouds and exhaust pipes are three separate pieces.

Will the rest of the model live up to the promise of the cylinder head detail?

We're about to find out!

Kit Contents

Assembly

You will need very little in the way of getting started:

  • Eight AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Kyosho 71815AF 7.4V 450mAh lithium-polymer battery or equivalent
  • Suitable lithium-polymer battery charger

Assembly is pure and simple; all the work except for installation of the landing gear and wing has been done at the factory.

The first eleven pages are dedicated to very comprehensive safety warnings and an explanation of the radio system in several languages, punctuated by cute, anime-like drawings typical of Japanese brands. It's common sense for all and common knowledge for experienced pilots; new pilots would do well to take a few minutes and read the warnings.

The landing gear goes on first and is retained by the supplied 1.5x8mm screws. Don't worry about digging out a screwdriver; Kyosho packs a very nice, magnetic-tipped phillips screwdriver with the Cub. Next is the wing, beginning with snapping one of the two o-rings supplied with the screws onto a tab on the rear underside of the wing. After the wing is secured in front via the mounting tab, the hooked tool supplied along with the screwdriver is used to attach the o-ring onto a hook in the fuselage via an opening in the fuselage's underside.

This rather brilliant bit of engineering firmly secures the wing without destroying the scale detail with the use of rubber bands or screws. Attach the preinstalled wing struts to the underside of the fuselage with the remaining screws, tighten the screws holding the struts to the wing and you're done. Just that simple.

I'd hoped to be able to get pictures of the AF400 B/07/15 outrunner, but the cowl is pretty much on to stay. In addition to the screws, the tips of the simulated exhaust pipes along with a hearty dollop of double-sided tape hold the whole works together. I'd further hoped to get a look at the motor's label in hopes that it would list its Kv rating (or RPM/volt). Incredibly, there is no online listing of this important rating anywhere including on Kyosho's own website.

Kyosho claims that the J-3 can be mistaken for a display model. That's a bit of a stretch to be sure, but the finished product is darn nice looking and I daresay, kind of cute. Details like the three-piece simulated cylinders on the cowl complete with rivet detail, the machined aluminum propeller nut, molded ribbing on the wing, simulated linkage access panels near the tail and the beautiful silk-screening really add a visual punch. The scale proportions look perfect in typical Kyosho fashion; only the landing gear shock absorbers, "CUB" hubcaps, vertical wing struts and air filter details are missing and the color itself is a bit brighter than the prototype.

What are present and accounted for are a couple of big Kyosho advertising banners on either side of the model. For a company that prides itself on scale detail, these marketing ploys are inexcusable. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for brand names and such all over non-scale subjects. They have no place whatsoever on a scale subject and the brand could surely have been placed in an unobtrusive spot or at least have been supplied as separate decals. Since Kyosho does in fact sponsor a full-scale aircraft, namely Tom Aberle's Reno Air Race champion Phantom biplane (of which Kyosho makes a stunning but very pricey .70 four-stroke nitro model), one can rationalize that this is a model of a real Cub sponsored in turn by Kyosho.

One has to look on the bright side, after all.

Completion

Installing eight AA alkaline batteries in the Kyosho Perfex KT-21 park flyer transmitter pretty much completes the Cub while the remainder of the manual deals with details of the transmitter operation and setup, speed control programming and preflight instructions. You won't need to really do anything at all to either the ESC or transmitter unless you have some preferences as to how the speed control functions or unless you'd prefer a switch from the North American Mode 2 stick function (elevator and aileron on the right stick, throttle and rudder on the left) back to the European Mode 1 where each stick performs the same function, but on opposite sides.

There's a battery recharging jack on the side and a second, somewhat cryptic miniature phone jack on the back marked "SIMULATOR." There's nothing in the manual which suggests how this is used; I'm surmising that it can be used to interface with a computer sim not sold in the US market. It might be useable with freeware like Flying Model Simulator, but you'd have to find an interface cable with a mini phone plug at one end and a USB at the other.

Unlike most other ARF models, the Cub doesn't come with a battery or charger. Since it accepts such a wide range of batteries, the eventual choice is up to the modeler. However, this meant that the model was inadvertently shipped less batteries and charger. I had some packs with the proper "JST" connector and rated capacity, but they didn't fit the battery compartment. That didn't stop me from doing a quick radio check. The transmitter and receiver are factory-bound to one another, the controls and throttle worked as they should and so to did the transmitter's dual rate system for "mild or wild" flying with a flip of a switch. The servos aren't particularly fast, but the work well and have a fairly quiet geartrain. The elevator was trimmed properly, but the rudder was ever so slightly skewed left. Easy fix; I simply unsnapped the full-sized clevis from the rudder's control horn and screwed the clevis down a half-turn. Reconnecting the clevis gave me a perfectly straight rudder, an important consideration for any model which steers via rudder only.

One quick e-mail to Jason Cole of Hobby-Lobby's marketing department was met with a cheerful notice that a couple of batteries would be on their way; I didn't need a charger since I have a suitable one.

Jason came through within a few days. And how.

You see, the recommended battery capacity is between 450 and 600mAh. What Jason sent were two E-sky packs of the proper general physical size to fit within the confines of the model, but these little monsters are rated at a whopping (by comparison) 800mAh. They're further rated at 20C, or short bursts of up to twenty times the rated capacity. Flight duration sure as shootin' won't be a problem since Kyosho claims flight times of around twelve minutes with a 450mAh pack.

Should you elect these high-capacity packs in your Cub, keep in mind that they are a very snug fit, made somewhat worse by the power and balance leads. I reluctantly shaved off some foam from inside the battery compartment and sanded the area smooth. The foam was easy to sand and the result was a rather neat modification which now allows the packs to be more easily installed and removed.

Control throws on both the high and low rates are shown on page 25 should one wish to double-check the control throw distance. More important are the preflight and center-of-gravity checks on page 26; the CG is between 29 and 35mm back from the leading edge with the battery installed. The CG was right on the button, even with the slightly larger battery pack. Once you've double-checked that the controls are responding properly and you've performed a radio range check per the manual, it's time to head for the wild blue yonder!

Flying

What better place to fly a park flyer than a park?

The Cub's maiden flight would take place on a glorious, calm autumn morning at Demuth Park, Palm Springs, California. The park features an open, grassy soccer field which is just the right size for a standard-sized park flyer, let alone one as small as the Cub.

After snapping a few initial "beauty shots," it was time to fly.

On came the transmitter, in went the battery in its rather snug compartment (I'll be doing some more trimming, believe me) and after making sure the controls were responding properly and the dual rate switch on the transmitter set to the low rate setting, I set the Cub on the grass with the notion that I'd try a ground takeoff.

Nothing doing. The Cub's wheels were too small despite the short grass.

The manual instructs that the model be hand-launched by a helper. Having none, I did what the gentleman in the Hobby-Lobby video did, that is, hand-launch it myself.

I took hold of the Cub from below, throttled up full and gave it a gentle javelin toss.

Like the model in the video, the Cub streaked away at an amazing clip, probably close to 30 mph (50km/h). It tracked smoothly, much as a larger model might. Micro-sized aircraft are not known for speed. I've flown a similar, smaller three-channel subject and a four-channel micro warbird and their speed was probably half of what the Cub was capable of.

That power meant that the Cub was going to gain altitude in short order, and so it did. After I throttled back, the Cub settled into a steady, eerily silent, scale-like cruise. The factory prop is a well-balanced little critter; there was virtually no vibration at full throttle and none whatsoever at lower speeds.

Even on low rates, the Cub banked readily, with quite a bit of requisite up elevator needed to keep the nose up. Just remember to keep the speed up as well; at very low speeds, the Cub threatened to keel over and tip-stall. Holding the rudder stick too long at any speed is guaranteed to do the same thing as I'll explain in a moment. There wasn't as much room as I would have liked to really wring out the model, so I kept the throttle back and steered it around the sky for a couple of minutes. Left turns were a tad on the mushy side compared to right turns; this is owing to the torque of the motor working against the yaw of the rudder. It isn't a bad trait and it certainly didn't detract from the fun I was having. Flipping to the high rate overcame that somewhat and actually imparted a feeling of better overall control, at least to me.

Beginners should be careful not to overcontrol here; rudder-only models are prone to what is often referred to as a "death spiral." As you may have surmised, that means a very fast corkscrew straight toward the ground. Lots of fun if you have enough altitude and you mean to do so, but not so much fun if it happens while overcontrolling too close to the ground and not being able to recover.

If there's one thing Cub models of any size do well, it's landing. You can glide the Cub in as nice as can be with power off; power-on landings are just as easy with gentle application of throttle and make for some really impressive landings.

Since I was landing on grass, I kept some power on to grease the landing as smoothly as possible. The grass would have none of that; the little foam tires caught in the grass and somersaulted the model onto its back. No harm, no foul and boy, was I impressed with this marvelous little plane overall.

I returned to the park for another round that afternoon and as I was setting everything up with the battery pack I'd used on the first flights, a slight breeze began to blow. I was concerned that such a small model would be tossed hopelessly around, but the Cub took to the turbulence without the slightest loss of control. It was being batted around a bit in the air, but at no time did I feel that it was in any danger. A few more successful hand launches and somersaulting landings later, it was time to leave. There was a lot of oomph left in that li-po, by the way. It only took about 30 minutes to fully charge it back up.

Some video and more stick time were necessary, so I met my friend and videographer Ken Alan at the usual grass test site between Southwest Community Church in Palm Desert, California and the world-famous Indian Wells Tennis Garden across the driveway inside the Indian Wells city limit. Ken wanted to see how the Cub would do with a regular ground takeoff and so was I. The grass was being scalped and reseeded, but was still too long for the Cub to roll through.

Since we were alone with dead calm wind conditions (and I would never have done this otherwise), I took off from the parking lot behind what is generally considered to be the flight line.

The takeoff was remarkably scale-like with the tail raising first followed by the rest of the model. Unfortunately, I nearly sent the Cub into a death spiral during my first left turn to bring the Cub back over the field. Nothing wrong with the trims; I was unconsciously trying to fly it like a four-channel model with both sticks. In other words, I was trying to correct the yaw with what would normally be the rudder control and tring to add bank with what would normally be the aileron control.

I kept the speed down somewhat for Ken's benefit, but once again the model wanted to tip stall in turns. With a little bit of experimentation, I was able to find a good compromise of speed and controllability. I also took it out quite a bit further than I would normally do with such a small model to see how the radio would perform. The Perfex radio system responded without a hitch, but the all-yellow scheme , low-hanging sun and high cloud cover made the plane hard to see, even with coated prescription sunglasses.

I brought it closer for my benefit as well as Ken's and set up for a landing on the asphalt, culminating in a perfect three-pointer with a slight bounce into a minor noseover.

In short, it flies like a dream very much to scale if one remembers to take it easy on the rudder.

Aerobatics

Plenty of power is on tap for loops and thanks to the "Clark-Y" semi-symmetrical airfoil, inverted flight is possible. A caveat is in order here: Four-channel pilots who fly their models inverted do so with the ailerons functioning the same way and in the same direction as normal flight with the elevator and ailerons operating in reverse. One could easily fly it upside down and straight (I chose not to) but should be aware of the double control reversal. 3D helicopter pilots will feel right at home putting the Cub on its back.

Is This For a Beginner?

It is, but raw beginners with very little or no experience would be wise to follow the guidelines in the manual and seek help from an experienced pilot. This isn't a plane you can teach yourself to fly with nor is it intended to be since it's aimed at intermediate as well as beginning pilots. One bit of overcontrolling would be all it would take to send the Cub augering into the ground. This is not to say it's unstable; indeed, it is far more stable and forgiving than the size would suggest. It simply does what any three-channel model would do with excessive rudder input.

For experienced surface modelers interested in taking the plunge into that third dimension of height, this may be one of the finest ways to do it. With careful stick input, the Cub steers around the sky as easily as a car does on the ground.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Hobby-Lobby Kyosho aiRium Piper J-3 Cub VE29 Readyset RTF is proof of the old adage that good things do indeed come in small packages. This little miracle of engineering is scaled to perfection, flies as good if not better than the real thing, comes ready to fly with top-quality discrete and universal electronics already installed and perhaps best of all, Hobby-Lobby makes legendary Kyosho quality affordable. Replacement parts are as close as Hobby-Lobby's website or through any dealer which stocks the Kyosho family of fine models. Even the tools are a cut above the ordinary.

My only real disappointments start with Kyosho's decision to slap that advertising banner on either side of the empanage. It isn't legible in flight and it only detracts from the beauty of this model on the ground. You're also going to have to buy batteries and a charger, that is, if you don't already have a charger. That might keep the initial cost of buying the Cub down, but it's offset by having to buy things normally found with other RTF models.

Since a four-channel radio is provided, it would have been nice to have four-channel control but it isn't necessary. The extra weight may or may not have offset the benefits, but should anyone wish to try, the conversion to functional ailerons would be straightforward. Pilots experienced with ailerons need to be aware when flying the Cub in stock trim to avoid the threat of the death spiral.

Quibbles and opinions aside, the Cub gets a two-thumbs-up from me. If a micro is on your wish list, it's more than deserving of a place at the top and I'm looking forward to enjoying this example for a long time to come.

My thanks go to Jason Cole of Hobby-Lobby for the opportunity and privilege to review this great little plane. Of course, no RCGroups review would be possible without the intercession of administrator Angela Haglund. She's the one who pounds the pavement talking to manufacturers and distributors and no one does it better than Ang.

For all things radio control, you're invited to indulge in time well spent here at RCGroups,com, RCCars.com, Crackroll.com, Flyinggiants.com. RCPower.com, TheEZone.com and Liftzone.com.

Enjoy yourselves at the flying field!

There is so much to love about this model that it's hard to find a place to begin, but begin I must:

  • Marvelous flight characteristics if one is careful with the rudder
  • Long flight times on small, affordable li-po packs
  • Quality electronics
  • Quality construction and finish
  • Plug-and-play option for those with their own transmitter
  • Beautiful scale detail and proportions, especially the simulated engine cylinders
  • Outstanding manual in the Kyosho tradition
  • Outstanding product support
  • Affordable and easily ordered spare parts
  • Flies like a much larger model
  • Constructed like a larger model as well; no "meat tray" sheet foam fuselage here
  • Easily hand-launched
  • Ground takeoffs are incredibly scale-like
  • You'll never have to say you're sorry for displaying it in the open

Minuses, I'm pleased to say, are few:

  • Scary flight characteristics if one is careless with the rudder, typical of any three-channel plane
  • No flight battery, charger or transmitter batteries are provided unlike virtually every other RTF on the market
  • Fuselage prone to "hangar rash"
  • Odd propeller size which limits or eliminates off-the-shelf choices, but a spare is provided and replacements are readily available
  • Wheels are a bit too small for even the shortest grass
  • I've said enough about the big ad banners already...
Last edited by Angela H; Jan 04, 2011 at 09:08 AM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 04, 2011, 11:23 AM
If it flies, I can crash it.
sleb's Avatar
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Joined Nov 2003
1,497 Posts
Nice review, looks like a nice alternative to some of the other 3 channel small planes.
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 10:07 AM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,855 Posts
Thanks. That propulsion system really puts it in a class by itself. The more I fly it, the more I like it and I've come to learn that it likes some speed in turns depending on the wind. It sometimes yaws instead of turns flying into the wind, but adding a bit of throttle and the high rates take care of that. Turns fine when it flies with the wind.
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 12:35 PM
Registered User
Joined Aug 2008
5 Posts
Flew my J-3 for the first time yesterday

I've had the Kyosho J-3 Cub sitting on the back of an easy chair just looking at it since the first week of December 2010, not wanting to crash it and ruin the classic "clean" design. I've been flying rc helis for the last 3 years and wanted to try my hand at one of these rotorless aircraft. Imagine, wings instead of rotor blades!

I took off in the back parking lot of a local truck stop that didn't have many trucks parked there on a Sunday evening. The area I had to fly in was about 100 yards by 300 yards with most of it paved and surrounded by big stands of trees. That J-3 took off like a rocket since it has that brushless motor. I kept the dual rate off so I'd have full elevator and was glad I did it because even though I thought there was enough elevator trim there wasn't and most of the 10 minute flight was spent with my thumb on the joystick giving it enough up trim. No biggie, I just didn't want to land and take care of it yet.

The rudder needs to be eased into when turning and I used about 60 to 75 yards per slow turn then went about 200 yards up and down the parking lot at between 50 to 100 feet altitude. It needed to be throttled back most of the time unless I was doing a loop. It was full throttle going up and then reduced throttle coming down making nice BIG loops. Boy, that plane has power to spare.

When I landed I gave the elevator clevis 2 full turns lengthening the pushrod and when it took off again the trim was set dead in the middle and it was perfect. The first battery was a 500mah and the second one was the 430mah that came with the airplane. I was able to throttle back and enjoy a fairly slow flight most of the time on the second battery. We were running out of daylight after the second battery pack so I landed and called it a day. It is extremely nice getting to land on concrete (or asphalt) and not having the grass grab the wheels making the nose kiss the ground when it stops.

The only thing I didn't like about the Kyosho J-3 is the fact that the horizontal stabilizer/elevator has no hinges on it, there's only a crease in the foam and skin. The rudder has hinges, but not the elevator.

My elevator wasn't moving very much and it looked like the pushrod was bowing a little bit when the elevator was pushed up. I measured from the vertical stabilizer every 20mm and took an Exacto knife and split the skin over the foam in the crease in 2 of the 20mm marked sections relieving the pushrod bind and making the elevator move more. I didn't cut all the way through the foam, just split the yellow skin open in a total of 4 (2 on both sides of the rudder) of the 20mm sections that I marked in the crease. There are 5 - 20mm sections on each side of the vertical stabilizer/rudder for a total of 10 on the whole elevator.

I decided to teach myself to fly airplanes on one of Hobby Lobby's Micro Stik airplanes. My thinking was that at one ounce of weight it might not crunch too much during a crash. I knew that the heli gods would smote me for changing from rotors as a means to achieve flight to a fixed wing.
I was right.

I've got over 100 flights at around 11 minutes each giving me around 18 hours of actual air time with the Micro Stik. With shipping the Micro Stik delivers at about $85 "per ounce". So far I've gotten the flights down to less than a dollar per 11 minute battery pack and it's well worth it for the fun.

With the Micro Stik, make sure that you don't fly in winds gusting over 5 mph or the wind can take it away from you and give it to a treetop or someone walking half a mile away! Seriously, I'm glad I started on the Micro Stik as it gave me the knowledge on how a 3 channel airplane flys.

When learning to fly helis I started with a coaxial heli then went to a Fixed Pitch and finally a belted 450 Collective Pitch. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at flying helis there's guy that has a website that helps folks learn if you aren't near to someone who can teach you. It's "Radd's School of Rotary Flight" and it'll pop up if you Google it.

Thanks Hobby Lobby and Kyosho. I sincerely hope Kyosho wasn't damaged or lost people in the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
cw
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Old Apr 08, 2011, 04:20 PM
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Joined Apr 2011
1 Posts
hey
i have the same plane as you but it stopped working.
i think its because i left the batteries in the plane all night ...
so i was thinking i should buy a new set of batteries for it ...
which ones should I buy ?? and like i dont know what the specs are for the required batteries ...

if you could help me out that would be really great
thanks
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