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Great Planes Gee Bee R-1 EP Tx-R Review

Great Planes has a Gee Bee Racer that almost anyone can fly, and it's Tx-R! AnyLink connectivity will let you fly it with your existing transmitter.

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Introduction

Great Planes Gee Bee R1 EP Tx-R

Wingspan: 38.5 in
Length: 27 in
Wing Area: 241 sq in
Weight: 34.3 oz
Wing Loading: 20 oz/sq ft
Servos: 9 gram micro
Receiver: Tactic 2.4GHz SLT
Battery: FlightPower 3S 11.1V 2200mAh 30C Lipo
Motor: 1000 kV Brushless Outrunner
ESC: 35 Amp Brushless ESC
Propeller: APC 10x7E
Power WOT: 27 Amps = 335 Watts = 156 Watts/lb
Transmitter Adapter: Tactic AnyLink Module
Transmitters: JR 9503, Spektrum DX18, Spektrum Dx5e, Futaba 8FGA Super, Futaba 6EX, Tower 4TH
Manufacturer: Great Planes
Available From: Hobbico Dealers and fine Hobby Shops
List Price: $249.99
Street Price: $179.97

In 1932, after only three days of wind tunnel testing at NYU, the legendary Granville brothers emerged with a revolutionary design for a Thompson Trophy racer. That design would be called the R1. The plane sported a teardrop shaped fuselage that flowed back from a huge Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine all the way to a tiny cockpit and tail. The rearward pilot location was supposed to afford the pilot a better view of the race course when rounding pylon turns, but I think it may have had more to do with offsetting the weight of that giant radial engine up front. The famous Jimmy Doolittle piloted the original Gee Bee R1 to victory in the 1932 Thompson Trophy Race and then set a new world speed record of 296 mph in the Shell Speed Dash. Doolittle said the R1 was "the sweetest ship I've ever flown." Unfortunately the R1 would later develop a darker reputation due to a number of fatal crashes at the hands of less proficient pilots.

Lucky for us, Great Planes has set out to lighten that reputation. They have created a beautiful scale model of the Gee Bee R1 that is actually easy to fly. The new Gee Bee is available in both Rx-R and Tx-R configurations. Now almost any RC pilot can fly this legendary racer.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes:

  • AeroCell foam fuselage with pre-installed rudder
  • 1-Piece AeroCell wing with pre-hinged ailerons
  • AeroCell cowl
  • 2-piece elevator assembly
  • 4 - 9 gram servos pre-installed
  • Tactic 2.4GHz SLT 6-channel receiver
  • 1000 kV brushless outrunner motor
  • 35 Amp brushless ESC
  • Landing gear with wheels and fairings
  • Tail wheel assembly with wheel
  • Prop adapter and propeller
  • Pilot figure
  • Flying wires
  • 16-Page photo-illustrated Instruction Manual

Kit Requires:

  • AnyLink SLT 2.4GHz radio adapter with AnyLink cables
  • 2200 mAh 3-cell Lipoly battery
  • Lipoly battery charger
  • Minimum 4-Channel radio Transmitter
  • Phillips and Common screwdrivers
  • Crescent wrench
  • Medium CA and activator

Recommended by Great Planes and supplied by Hobbico for this review:

  • FlightPower 2200 mah 3-cell 30C Lipoly battery
  • AnyLink SLT Module and standard adapter cable set
  • TACM0005 AnyLink adapter cable

<b>Tactic TR624 Receiver</b>
Tactic TR624 Receiver
Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
Type: FHSS Spread Spectrum
Number of Channels: Six
Antenna: Single Antenna
Range Classification: Park Flyer (1000')
Size 45mmx25mmx13mm
Weight with case: 8g/0.28 oz.
Power: 4V - 6V

<b>FlightPower 30C LiPoly Battery</b>
FlightPower 30C LiPoly Battery
Type Lithium Polymer
Number of cells 3-cells
Capacity 2200 mAh
Voltage 11.1 Volts
Weight195 gm
Dimensions (L x W x D) 107 x 36 x 26mm
Maximum continuous discharge 30C
Maximum continuous current 66 amps

Assembly

The 16-page Instruction Manual includes numerous illustrations and pictures and helpful building tips. All the hard parts have already been done, so assembly takes less than an hour. Stringing the elastic cord "flying wires" through their various locations is the most tedious part of the build, and it's optional. I have to admit, I skipped this step, but the cord is included and the "wires" certainly add to the scale looks of the Gee Bee.

Fuselage

The assembly process begins with the fuselage. The elevator halves slide together and are held in place by magnets. The bottom of the stab has a ridge and the bottom of the fuselage slot has a groove to help with orientation.

Once the elevator pushrod was hooked up, the fuselage assembly was complete.

Wing

The one-piece wing only needed the wheels to be complete. Each wheel assembly had some nice two-piece wheel pants that were held together with magnets.

The finished look with the wheels in place was really sharp. The completed wing assembly attached to the fuselage with a single mounting screw.

AnyLink Radio Installation

All of the flight radio gear is already installed in the Gee Bee, so this section will explore installing the AnyLink transmitter module to six different transmitters. For a full list of compatible transmitters, check out the AnyLink compatibility chart for complete details.

Before I began any testing on my six different transmitters, I needed to observe several safety precautions. I needed to remove the prop from the motor, determine the correct travel direction for the throttle channel, and map the channels for the correct control sequence.

Gee Bee Preparation

Gee Bee AnyLink Intro (1 min 26 sec)

Once the plane was safely secured, I could begin testing the AnyLink module.

AnyLink Module on a Futaba 6EX Transmitter

Futaba 6EX w/AnyLink (2 min 16 sec)

AnyLink Module on a Futaba 8FGA Super Transmitter

Futaba 8FG w/Anylink (3 min 12 sec)

AnyLink Module on a Tower 4TH 72 mhz Transmitter

Tower TX w/AnyLink (2 min 3 sec)

AnyLink Module on a JR 9503 Transmitter

JR 9503 TX on AnyLInk (4 min 7 sec)

AnyLink Module on a Spektrum Dx5e Transmitter

Spektrum DX5e TX on AnyLink (3 min 45 sec)

AnyLink Module on a Spektrum Dx18 Transmitter

Spektrum DX18 TX on AnyLink (3 min 42 sec)

The AnyLink module worked Flawlessly with all of the transmitters! This technology now allows almost any brand of transmitter to operate any of the new fleet of Great Planes Tx-R models.

Completion

The completed Gee Bee weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces RTF. With a fully charged battery and the provided propeller, the 1000 kV outrunner pulled 27 Amps for a static power loading of 335 Watts. That's just over 155 Watts per pound of power.

I moved the battery all the way forward in the battery compartment to get the CG to the recommended 1-1/4" point. For the first flight I set the control surface throws at the recommended amounts for low and high rates and programmed in 25% exponential on low rates and 35% exponential on high rates. For later flights I moved the CG back 1/4" to improve aerobatic performance.

Flying

Basics

The original Gee Bee was a no-nonsense racer, so I was a little worried about how this model would fly. I should have known that Great Planes would tame down this little racer so mere mortals would be able to fly it with confidence. I was pleased to find that this Gee Bee was very mild mannered and even easy to fly.

Taking Off and Landing

With its narrow wheel spacing and the large gear covers, the Gee Bee needed a paved runway and a straight line into the wind for takeoffs. I needed to hold just a little up elevator to keep the tail wheel down and the nose tracking straight, to get the little racer airborne.

Landings were more challenging for me. I found that my best landings occurred when I carried a little airspeed all the way to touchdown and then kept the plane straight into the wind all the way to full stop.

Aerobatics

The Gee Bee was rock solid in the air and flew like a pattern plane. Low rates produced leisurely rolls and large loops. High rates were just about right for my normal style of flying. Knife edge flight was excellent due to the generous amount of side area from that teardrop fuselage. With the recommended CG location, the Gee Bee didn't want to snap or spin very well so I moved the battery back and improved both.

Is This For a Beginner?

Not so much. However, pilots with intermediate flying skills should have no problems.

Flight Photo Gallery

Flight Video

Here is the Gee Bee racer flown with a Spektrum DX18 Transmitter.

Gee Bee Flight Dx18 Transmitter (3 min 38 sec)

Conclusion

Great Planes has done an excellent job of developing and providing this new Tx-R technology for the RC enthusiast. The AnyLink transmitter module allows almost any transmitter to fly this new Gee Bee racer and numerous other new Tx-R aircraft.

Pluses:

  • Easy Assembly
  • Gee Bee Racer Looks
  • AeroCell Foam Toughness
  • Magnetic Parts Retention
  • Power System has Plenty of Power
  • Spirited High-Speed Aerobatics

Minuses:

  • Cowl Finish Scuffed
  • Landings were not my best
Last edited by kingsflyer; Feb 26, 2013 at 10:50 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 27, 2013, 06:01 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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This post is reserved for future product updates.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 08:56 AM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,741 Posts
I really like your in-flight photos Mike. That last one, with the model just an inch off the runway, is especially nice.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:20 AM
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Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
Joined Jul 2009
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Great pictures, indeed!

the review is nice too
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:24 AM
We shall serve the Lord
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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Thanks guys. This new review format helps show the pictures better. As for the landing shot, my bud Jessie did a great job on that one. Early morning light helps too.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:41 AM
MN WATTS Master
Vintauri's Avatar
United States, MN, Mankato
Joined Jul 2003
7,385 Posts
Great review Mike. I've been loving this plane since early last year. Had it flying at SEFF in the wind too! Landings require the most attention and as you say you have to carry some power into it.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:08 AM
Proud RC Addict
United States, UT, American Fork
Joined Nov 2009
1,559 Posts
Nice looking. I watched the whole video waiting for the landing since these things are notorious for tipping forward. Guess we'll just have to speculate.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:36 AM
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Cute Creature!
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 11:34 AM
Registered User
United States, MO, Fenton
Joined Jan 2012
2,260 Posts
Nice review. This is one in my fleet. I have a 3 axis gyro installed and it helps tame it quite a bit. Landings are still the challenge. Some have replaced the rigging with carbon fiber or wire to stiffen up the wings and especially the landing gear. I speculate this will help quite a bit. Search the other thread for some examples.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Canada
Joined Nov 2000
7,154 Posts
Looks like a Gee Bee Z model ...painted up.. to look like an R1.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 01:37 PM
RC Airplane Designer
Soller, Mallorca, Spain
Joined Aug 2006
113 Posts
Actually, the Z and the R1 are completely different...this is an R1.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 03:03 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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Here is an earlier review of the Great Planes Gee Bee racer by Mike Herr:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1569120

Mike's review subject was the Rx-R version, but the plane is the same. You can check out the videos of the landings in that review if you like.

Here is the Great Planes promotional video that shows a landing:

Great Planes® ElectriFly® Gee Bee Rx-R™ (1 min 46 sec)


While my review subject was the Gee Bee R1, the AnyLink system functionality was a central focus for the review. I was trying to show the versatility of the AnyLink and the fact that it worked with every transmitter I tried. In addition to the ground testing for functionality, I have flown the Gee Bee racer with the Futaba 6EX, Futaba 8FGA Super, JR 9503, and the Spektrum DX18 transmitters. The AnyLink system was solid as a rock with all four transmitters.

Since I prefer exponential and dual rates for flying, I have not flown the plane with the Dx5e or Tower transmitters. Maybe I should give them a try. They might improve my landings.

McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Feb 27, 2013 at 03:35 PM.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:26 AM
Electric Coolhunter
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United States, TX, Fort Worth
Joined Jun 2000
14,622 Posts
Nice job on the review...well done.

However, I have to say that this model does not do the Gee Bee R-1 justice, with the stretched fuselage. Simply ruins it for me. I understand why they stretched the fuse, but it is too much of a deviation from scale to be enjoyable for me.

I have and fly the uMX Gee Bee (love it) and still have a venerable but nearly worn out FanTastic Model Gee Bee hanging up in the model room. Both are quite a bit more scale looking than the Great Planes foamie.

A well designed lightweight Gee Bee at the size of the Great Planes model simply does not need to the fuse to be stretched to fly well.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 07:35 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,136 Posts
Thanks Thomas. I was very impressed with the AnyLink technology that Great Planes is offering.

While I understand your concern for the deviation from exact scale, I appreciated the improved flight stability that the stretched fuselage gives this Gee Bee. So far, everyone that has seen the model at the field knows that it's a Gee Bee. To date, nobody that has seen my model in person has mentioned that the fuselage looks too long.

McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Mar 09, 2013 at 09:05 AM.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:37 AM
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Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,530 Posts
Thanks for mentioning my review Mike. Flyzone's new Corsair has a slightly stretched fuselage and it really helps make it a great flyer. I will take slight deviations for improved handling and flight characteristics. No one has mentioned that my Gee Bee was too long but comparing it with scale pictures I know Tom is right about size but it doesn't lower my opinion of the plane. In this hobby 100 people will probably have 60--75 different views. The video in my Arizona Electric Festival article has a nice video of the Corsair in action. I am looking forward to Dr. Dave's review of it when the approximate two feet of snow he got this week melt and he can get back in the air with it.
I am a fan of the AnyLink system and I am looking forward to their new transmitter, the Tactic TTX650 which is due out in March. It has a 20 model memory and works with the Tactic AnyLink receiver and is for both planes and helicopters. Tower is selling three of the receivers for $50.00 and I have mapped out a spot on a local mountain highway to do a scientific range check of the system. I have had no range problems with the AnyLink system but want to get some hard data for my review of the new transmitter when it arrives.
Enjoyed your review Mike! Mike H
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