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Electrifly Super Stearman ARF Review

With a 36 inch wingspan, this very pretty Super Stearman biplane is a perfect "Grab and Go" to get in more flying time. As nice as this plane flies i will be grabbing it a lot on my way to the park or field.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:36"
Wing Area:365 sqin
Weight:2.25-2.75 lb
Length:29.5"
Servos:4 Futaba S3114 high-torque micro servos
Transmitter:Futaba 7C FAAST
Receiver:Futaba R617FS
Battery:Electrifly Power Series 11.1V 2200mAh 25C Lipo
Motor:Electrifly Rimfire 35-30-1250 outrunner brushless motor
ESC:Electrifly Silver Series 35A brushless ESC
Propeller:APC 10 x 7 thin electric propeller
Manufacturer:Electrifly
Available From:Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price:$149.99

The original Stearman was designed and built in 60 days in 1934 and was purchased by the Navy as a trainer. The next model design in 1936 was purchased by the Army as a trainer, and both services bought them by the thousands in a variety of variants with the primary difference being different sized motors. After WWII was over these planes were sold off as surplus and purchased by civilians with many being used as crop dusters with improved Pratt and Whitney 450 HP motors being installed. Many were also used for air shows. Finally, there was a request for an even better, more powerful model for use in air shows and movies, and the Super Stearman was built to fit the bill. Since the Super Stearman was built for air shows it is completely appropriate that this model comes almost air show ready with a beautiful Monocoat covering as shown in the manufacturer's combination picture to the right.

Electrify has sized this plane to be a grab and go fly with the size to allow for easy transportation to the flying field with no assembly required at the field. Just install your battery, perform the pre-flight check, and fly.



Kit Contents

The Electrifly Ep Super Stearman Kit Includes

  • Monocoat covered balsa and plywood fuselage
  • Battery access through cockpit hatch cover with pilots and magnet lock to secure hatch
  • Two finished wings with hinged ailerons
  • Painted cabane struts and wing struts
  • Self-aligning fin and stabilizer
  • Landing gear with fiberglass wheel pants
  • Fiberglass cowl with dummy radial engine and secured with magnets and special aligning system
  • Control rods and assorted hardware
  • Velcro like material: with and without sticky backing










Electrifly Also Provided for This Review

Electricfly Provided

  • 4 Futaba S3114 high-torque micro servos
  • Electrifly Rimfire 35-30-1250 outrunner brushless motor
  • Electrifly Silver Series 35A brushless ESC
  • Electrifly Power Series 11.1V 2200mAh 25C Lipo battery
  • APC 10 x 7 thin electric propeller
  • 3 Hobbico Pro Series HD 6" servo extension wires with Futaba plugs (I only used two of them.)
  • 1 Hobbico HD Y-connector






Author Provided for the Review

  • Futaba transmitter
  • Lipo battery charger
  • Thin CA glue
  • 30 minute epoxy
  • X-acto knife with a new blade
  • Phillips 0 screwdriver
  • Phillips 1 screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Locktite
  • Tape measure
  • Canopy glue
  • Eight servo mounting screws
  • Drill and assorted small drill bits
  • Heat shrink gun & iron
  • Pair of regular pliers (tighten nut on the propeller)
  • Pair of wire cutters (Trim control rods of excess wire)

Promoted Features for the ARF Kit

  • Built for brushless power and air show quality aerobatics!
  • Spans 36" - Perfect size for "Grab 'N Go" flying and transportation ease!
  • Designed for beauty and ease with a balsa/ply airframe, MonoKote covering and painted fiberglass parts!
  • A self-aligning fin and stabilizer.
  • Hinged ailerons.
  • Formed and painted cabanes and outer struts.
  • A factory installed dummy radial engine.
  • A keyed cowl equipped with magnets, for fast align and lock installation.
  • Painted fiberglass wheel pants.
  • Magnet hatch with painted pilot busts and windscreens installed.

Assembly

Having looked over the instruction manual this is a final assembly and not a build review. The plane is truly an ARF.

Wings

The top and bottom wings came assembled and covered. I only had to do a few steps starting with the two aileron servos (Futaba S3114 servos). I added a 6" servo extension wire to each servo and secured them together with supplied heat shrink wrap. I cut off three off the servo control arms after drilling the hole in the middle hole on the control arm to be used per the instructions. I next installed the two aileron servos onto the servo covers of the bottom wing per the instructions as pictured below. I pulled the servo wires to the center of the bottom wing using the string that came inside the bottom wing for this purpose. I installed the supplied aileron control horns as shown in the instructions using CA glue. I then installed the aileron control rods to the servos and the aileron control horns using the supplied Z-bend push rods and the pair of aluminum screw lock connectors that went onto the control horn. I next glued an aileron linkage horn into the back of each aileron (this will serve to connect the upper and lower wing's ailerons). I glued a matching set of aileron linkage horns into the ailerons of the top wing and set it aside. Finishing the bottom wing, I glued the supplied two nylon pins into the front center of the wing where indicated. I secured the two aileron servo extension wires into a Y-connector using the supplied heat shrink, and I glued two plywood wing bolt doublers to the top center of the bottom wing over the wing bolt holes. When the glue was dry, I temporarily bolted the bottom wing onto the fuselage.

In the instruction manual there is a break here to work on the plane's tail assembly and most of the other assembly described below. I will pick up with the wings where the manual does later in this review.

 Futaba S3114 Servo
Futaba S3114 Servo
Type: Sub-Micro Servo
Operating Speed (4.8V): 0.10 sec/60
Operating Speed (6.0V): 0.09 sec/60
Stall Torque (4.8V): 20.8 oz-in.
Stall Torque (6.0V): 23.5
Weight: 0.27oz (8g)
Dimensions: x 0.43"x 0.78"
Connector Wire Length: 6.29"
Gear Type: All Nylon
Operating Voltage: 4.8-6.0 Volts
Price: $14.99

Tail

I test fit the control horns into the slots for them at this point on the rudder and elevator. They should be a tight fit. It's much easier to work on the rudder and elevator slots if needed before they are installed onto the fuselage. (But only test fit now. do not glue until the instructions say to and then be sure the Z-bend of the control rods are already connected to the control horns before inserting and gluing in place.)

With the bottom wing temporarily bolted onto the fuselage the tail assembly is started by sliding the wire elevator joiner into the stab opening at the back of the fuselage. Next I slid the horizontal stabilizer into the stab opening after removing the elevators that came taped onto it. Using the vertical stabilizer I fit it into the fuselage and the slot in the horizontal stabilizer and measured the distance from the wing to the back of the horizontal stabilizer as clearly shown in the instructions. When satisfied I had it properly aligned, I removed the fin and rudder and using CA, glued the horizontal stabilizer in place. Be sure to measure and not just eyeball this alignment as proper positioning of the stabilizer will allow for precise aerobatics when flying. I just followed the instructions to install the elevators, steerable tail wheel wire assembly and then the fin and rudder. I oiled the tail wheel wire where it goes through the bearing per instructions because past builds taught me this makes for much smoother operation and serves as a protection against gluing these pieces together by accident. I used 30 minute epoxy to secure the tail wheel wire mount per the instructions because some working time is required to do the job correctly. I trial fitted before gluing, and I was glad I did. When the above described assembly was finished I removed some covering from the back of the fuselage and glued the tail cone in place at the back of the fuselage and in front of the bottom of the rudder using epoxy and set it aside to dry. Next I installed the Z-bends of the control rods into the control horns and slid the rods into the fuselage as shown in the instructions. I repeat: The rods were attached to the control horns with the Z-bends (very important). I installed and glued the control horns in the slots provided on the rudder and elevator. After the glue dried I installed the tail wheel and wheel collar. It locked in place with a an Allen set screw and not the little screw mentioned in the manual.

The last step in this section was gluing on the turtle deck on top of the fuselage from just behind the cockpit to in front of the vertical stabilizer. I used canopy glue for this and taped it down tightly in three places while the glue dried.

Fuselage

Landing Gear

Obviously I was working with the fuselage when I was installing the stabilizers with the elevators and rudder as described. Per the instruction manual the next step is assembling and installing the landing gear onto the fuselage. The manual covers the process very well with text and pictures. See my pictures of each completed step below.

Electronic Speed Controller

Using the Silver Series 35A speed controller, no soldering was required. It came with motor and battery connectors already installed. I merely added some Velcro to the bottom of the speed controller and the inside of the fuselage as shown in the instructions. I snaked the motor wires forward to connect with those from the motor when it gets mounted. I ran the battery connector wires and the receiver wire up to the next deck in the fuselage where they would be used. (I loved not having to solder.)

Motor Mount

Four small bolts secured the motor to the X shaped motor mount and the motor mount was secured to the firewall with four more bolts, washer and lock washers supplied in the Super Stearman kit. They screwed into four T-nuts installed in the fire wall The propeller adapter supplied with the motor was bolted onto the front of the motor with bolts that came with the motor. I supplied some Locktite to keep all the bolts and screws nicely tightened.

 Rimfire .10
Rimfire .10
Motor specsRimfire 35-30-1250
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Motor Weight 2.5oz
Diameter: 35mm
Length: 30mm
Output Shaft Size: 4mm
BATTERY: 2s-3s Lipo
Max Surge Watts: 390W max
Prop: APC 10 x 7 electric
Voltage Used: 7.4-11.1V
Continuous Current:
Maximum Surge Current: 35A
Speed Control: 35A Brushless
KV: 1,250KV
Price: $54.99

 Silver Series 35A
Silver Series 35A
Type: Brushless Motor Controller
Max power: 350 Watts
Output current: 35A cont: 40A Surge
BEC: 5V/2.0 Amp
Weight: 1.13 ounce
Length: 2.0"
Width: 1.02"
Height: .31"
Brake: On/Off
Price: $49.95

Radio installation

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 Futaba R617FS
Futaba R617FS
Type: 7 channel FAAST Receiver
# of channels: 7 + battery space
Band: 2.4GHz
Weight: .34 ounces
Dimensions: 1.6" x 1.1" x .35"
Modulation: FAAST
Voltage Required: 4.8-6.0V
Antenna: Dual
Price: $89.99

I installed the rudder and elevator servos inside the fuselage where shown by drilling 1/16th holes through the servo mounts into the wood. As with the wing servos I supplied four small screws to secure the servos in place as none came with the servos. I drilled out holes in the servos arms per the instructions and secured the control rod connectors in place and ran the control rods through the connectors and then installed the control arms in place on the servos and secured them to the servo with the supplied screw. I secured the control rods in the connectors with screws and later used Locktite on the set screw. Using wire clippers I trimmed off excess control rod wire. I applied some Velcro to the bottom of the receiver and the matching piece inside the fuselage where indicated in the instructions in front of the servos. I plugged in the ESC as well as the rudder and elevator servos and much later plugged in the Y-connector for the ailerons after the wings had been installed. I glued a strip of Velcro onto the deck inside the fuselage in front of the receiver to help secure the battery pack and glued the matching strip of Velcro to the battery pack.

Cowl

The cowl just slipped on over the motor and was held in place with three magnets. I was at first uncertain if there was enough clearance for the propeller at the dummy motor but when I slipped it on it fit perfectly. I secured the propeller with the supplied face plate and nut and used pliers to tighten the nut. A very nice cowl! Simple and easy to install perfectly while looking fantastic.

Wings Completion

I secured the four cabane struts into the proper position inside the fuselage with one bolt each per the instructions. I then bolted the top wing to the cabane struts. Next I insert the bottom wing in place and secured it with the two supplied bolts. I secured the outer wing supports to both the top and bottom wing using four screws per side. Next I Slightly widened the holes in the bottom aileron horns for the aileron connecting rods that connect the upper ailerons with the lower ailerons. I adjusted the clevises to the necessary length and installed and trial fitted them until all four ailerons were in the neutral position. I then plugged the aileron Y-connector into the receiver (I had earlier made sure the control arms were centered and the servos were centered.) My last piece of assembly was gluing the wing fairing onto the bottom center of the wing. I did this when the wing was installed on the fuselage and I used canopy glue to secure it. I taped the fairing in place while the canopy glue dried.

Completion

The last two items before flying were confirming or setting the proper control surface throws for the Super Stearman and making sure the plane was properly balanced on the Center of Gravity (C/G). The control throws for both low rate and high rate were clearly given in the instruction manual. The throws were measured at the widest part of the control surfaces for elevators, rudder and ailerons.

Low Rates

  • Elevator 1/4" up and down
  • Rudder 7/8" right and left
  • Ailerons 1/4" up and down.

High Rates

  • Elevator 1/2" up and down
  • Rudder 1 1/8" up and down
  • Ailerons 3/8" up and down

For the C/G location, the instruction manual was not quite as clear. Looking at the biplane's wings, they are obviously slightly staggered. However, the instruction manual merely stated: "Measure at the top of wing 2 5/8 inches back from the leading edge." But it didn't say top or bottom wing. Based on my past experience I was 99% sure to use the top wing and that and felt and looked balanced at 2 5/8 inches back from the leading edge. To balance there I simply placed the recommended flight battery pack all the way forward in the cockpit. I added no ballast to obtain the proper C/G.

Flying

Basics

When it comes to control you get it all: throttle, ailerons, rudder and elevator. I recommend every pilot fly the first flight on the low throw settings or discipline yourself to use small stick movements; especially with the throttle. I found the plane was a nice flyer and very controllable on the low throw settings. Almost a Sunday flyer she was so smooth on those throws. Blending rudder with ailerons made here even smoother and removed the yaw sometimes seen when turning with just the ailerons. After running a couple of batteries through her and doing scale like maneuvers even on the low throw settings I started to fly more aggressively starting with rapid throttle increase from 3/4s to full throttle. I had no problems in straight flight but doing it while starting a roll or a turn would allow the motor torque a chance to really show what it could do. If you want to play with that do it with enough altitude to recover. It can be fun if you are expecting it. To avoid it don't move the throttle up to quickly. Other than that I have experienced only peaches and cream in my basic flying of the Super Stearman. A very enjoyable parkflyer.

Taking Off and Landing

I can easily hand launch the Super Stearman. It will virtually leap out of my hand but it is far more fun to do scalelike takeoffs running down the runway into the wind and watch the tail wheel lift off, and then giving a little up elevator watching the plane lift off. Landings are made by reducing throttle and watching the plane drop down to the runway. I keep the motor running all the way to the ground and then reduce greatly upon touchdown but leave some motor on for a scale like roll out on landing. With the steerable tail wheel it is easy to taxi the plane back on a smooth surface. It is also easy to correct for a slight cross breeze with rudder/tail wheel correction on takeoff.

As mentioned above the motor has some torque at full throttle so for takeoffs. I run it up with no sudden full throttle moves that might create too much motor torque and induce a spin. For hand launches I toss above 1/2 throttle but below 3/4s throttle and that has been plenty of power with a firm straight forward toss.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

SMOOTH when the pilot is smooth. WILD when the pilot is wild. The Super Stearman when outfitted as recommended has plenty or power to perform all the aerobatics that I could perform. She can make loops small or large and rolls tight or wide. I found the rudder was very helpful in making maneuvers look nice, crisp and controlled. The high rate throws let me really crank the plane around but if I abused it, the maneuvers didn't look real, scale or pretty. Done right they looked fantastic. That is why I say I have the choice of flying her smooth and very scale or wild and more aerobatic then a full size Super Stearman. She makes very nice spins and can be flown inverted until it is time to land. Although similar in size to the Electrifly World War I series of planes I found her to be a better aerobatic flyer then all of them (although the Fokker Dr-1 can do things with its rudder that the Super Stearman can't). I mean that as a big plus for the Stearman and not a knock on the World War Series planes which I still have and enjoy.

TIP! On page six of the instruction manual it said to center the servo arm in setting up the ailerons. I did that initially as discussed above in Assembly, but now I recommend setting it up with the servo arm tilted forward. This gives less down aileron and more up aileron and greatly reduces yaw that can be experienced with the centered servo arm position. My thanks to Jeff Hunter for the tip and reminder which we implemented at the field as it jogged my memory and made immediate sense to me and improved the planes handling.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! The plane is easy enough for a beginner to assemble but it is far too responsive for a beginner. Beginners tend to over control planes, and having a very responsive plane is a recipe for a beginner to crash. It is a very fun plane for the intermediate pilot or better. Just give yourself some space when making your first aerobatics on high throw as she is a very responsive plane to servo commands or sudden thrust increase.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery













Downloads

Conclusion

It was obvious from the picture on the box that this plane is a real looker. The assembly was easy and straight forward using the recommended components as discussed above. The tip given in the aerobatics section for setting the aileron servo arms in forward positions to decrease down aileron movement and increase up aileron movement made the Super Stearman an even better flyer by reducing yaw and requiring less rudder input for smooth turns and maneuvers. She is a nice size for easy transportation while keeping her fully assembled, and the large opening for access to the battery compartment under the cockpit makes switching the battery quick and easy. Everyone that has seen her has admired her looks whether on display or in the air. Of course looks without performance makes for a great display only plane. The Super Stearman backs up her looks with good handling and performance. This plane is going to get a lot of stick time from any pilot lucky enough to have one.

Pluses

  • Very nicely covered plane
  • No soldering required all connectors came installed
  • Easy and quick kit to assemble
  • Handles very nicely in basic flight or performing aerobatics
  • A very fun plane to grab and take flying

Minuses

  • I expect to see too many people flying planes that look just like mine

My thanks to Hobbico for supplying this plane for review and Jeff Hunter for his suggestion and help in getting the media for this review. My thanks to our editor, Angela, for helping make this review presentable.

PS:The cat pictured above is Max. He is very interested in my planes and for reasons unknown loves to bit the rudders. So far he hasn't gotten the Stearman's rudder, but it is only a question of time.

Last edited by Angela H; Aug 31, 2011 at 05:11 PM..

Discussion

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Old Sep 19, 2011, 04:46 PM
Let slip the dogs of war!
Park_Flyer's Avatar
United States, VA, Virginia Beach
Joined Jun 2005
1,708 Posts
Nice review as always Mike! I picked up one of these a couple of weeks ago with $20 off and free shipping

Did you happen to run a watt meter on that Electrifly power system? I'm hearing that it runs a bit hot with the advertised components.
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Old Sep 19, 2011, 10:20 PM
Vacuum Tubes Forever BCT2/BCR3
MN AZ
Joined Oct 2006
115 Posts
Which side of the n-strut is forward, the long or short side.

Can you tell what the incidence of the top wing if the the bottom wing is set at zero.

Label on my arf, manufactured 06/2011.

JohnB
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 03:27 AM
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Coenraad's Avatar
Norway, Akershus, Frogner
Joined Jun 2010
920 Posts
Nice review, and a nice looking plane.
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 09:45 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
I will try and run the plane with my Watt meter tonight and also try and answer John's question as well. Mike H.
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 09:41 PM
Vacuum Tubes Forever BCT2/BCR3
MN AZ
Joined Oct 2006
115 Posts
Michael, thanks for the reply.

Here are some pics. I need to double check the cabanes. If you could check the incidence of the top wing, that would be much appreciated. Actually, all I need to know is it positive or negative incidence with respect to the bottom wing. I have something not right.

Thanks much.

JohnB
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Last edited by jiberk; Sep 20, 2011 at 09:49 PM.
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Old Sep 21, 2011, 06:41 PM
Balsa just crashes better
Cub Fan's Avatar
Bradenton, FL
Joined Nov 2004
599 Posts
Hi Mike
Great review- love this plane- just the right size. Looks like a keeper. It is on my short list.

Jay
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
Not home until very late last two nights. Will answer questions tonight as I have no outside activities tonight. Sorry for the delay. Mike H

Thanks Jay! She is a sweetheart to fly.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 08:57 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
Dear John:
The short side of the N is forward. My wing incidence was/is set by the mountings at the fuselage. My outer wing connections just firmed things up but did not set the angle. As near as my wife and I can tell the incidence on both wings is identical or so close we can't see a difference.

Dear Park_Flyer:
The flight pack is on the charger and the watt meter is out. i will report my results later this evening. Mike H
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 12:41 AM
Vacuum Tubes Forever BCT2/BCR3
MN AZ
Joined Oct 2006
115 Posts
Michael,

Thanks for the info.

JohnB
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 09:00 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
I got the battery charged and got out my Watt meter but was unable to test. My main wires have Sermos connectors and then i have adaptor wires for several different styles of connectors. I could not find the convert connector for the source side of the meter. I looked but I have so much stuff when not in the right place it can be impossible to find. I will look more this weekend and if necessary make a new conversion connector to plug into the speed controller. Sorry for the delay. Mike H
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Old Sep 28, 2011, 08:59 AM
Yes my name is Cessna.
USA, FL, Tampa
Joined Mar 2010
158 Posts
Nice review. I am sucker for stearmans. Hade the e-flite one. Currently have the Maxford USA one, but this one also catches my eye. How does this one fly in terms of level flight as you increase the throttle? Reason I ask is my e-flite certainly climbed some and I believe that would be expected to a certain extent. My Maxford climbs significantly even with multiple
thrust adjustments to the motor. How much does this one do it? Also how many minutes of flight time are you getting on this battery? Is there room for a little bigger battery in the plane?
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 03:56 PM
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mike early's Avatar
USA, KY, Ashland
Joined Oct 2007
3,340 Posts
I put a Small Saito in mine. I love this plane.
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Old Jan 05, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
I got a PM from an RC Group member who didn't think the prop would fit on his plane. I had that concern when first assembling my plane as I mentioned in the review. However, using the recommended parts mine went together although it is a tight fit it works perfectly. Here are some pictures of my Stearman. Mike Heer
If you have the right parts just try and fit it all together. It took no special work by me for it to fit and work perfectly.
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Last edited by Michael Heer; Jan 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM.
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Old Jan 06, 2012, 09:09 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,413 Posts
Seeing the above pictures the RC Groups member realized the importance of using the correct recommended prop with its longer back hub that creates the space for clearance. Mike Heer
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