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Hobbico Flyzone P-38 Lightning Review

Twin engines, twin booms, twin tails in Flyzone's P-38 Lightning... does it add up to double the fun? Read the review, watch the video and judge for yourself.

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Flyzone Micro P-38 Lightning (1 min 22 sec)

Introduction


Wingspan: 21"
Weight: 2.5 oz.
Length: 16"
Transmitter: Tactic SLT or AnyLink equipped transmitter
Receiver: Tactic SLT
Battery: 3.7V 250mAh LiPo
Motor: 2 brushed motors
Propellers: Counter-rotating 3-blade props
Manufacturer: www.flyzoneplanes.com/airplanes/flza2310/index.html
Available From: Fine Hobby Stores Every Where
Price RTF: $139.99
Price Tx-R: $129.99

I have had a tremendous amount of pleasure flying the previous Flyzone single engine micro releases. I still have all of the World War I Flyzone fighter planes and was excited to get a chance to review the twin engine P-38.

From the pre-release publicity still photos and video I loved the looks of this micro flyer! I was also very happy to confirm that she has counter rotating propellers. This is important because when powering up and taking off she tracks straight forward from the motors. The torque of the motors balance each other out. If both turned in the same direction the torque would pull strongly in one direction and would require counter ailerons to control the plane. Thanks to the counter-rotating props no defensive aileron input is required. This will make takeoffs and acceleration jumps up in speed straightforward. Both propellers turn in towards the fuselage from the top. The prop on the right wing turns to the left and on the left wing to the right.

Historical Notes On the P-38

The P-38 was the first US interceptor. The term "interceptor" was used by the young army officers drawing up the specifications for the plane to get around rigid army requirements then in force for all "Pursuit Planes." Clarence Kelly Johnson was one of the designers of the plane, and it was just one of many tremendous planes he designed for Lockheed. It was the only US fighter in production throughout the war as it was being made at the Time of the Pearl Harbor attack and through the Victory over Japan Day. Its most famous mission occurred on April 18, 1943 when 16 of them were involved in shooting down Admiral Isoroku Yamato when he was making inspections at a forward base. The plane was much more successful in the Pacific than in the European Theater but it was the Luftwaffe that nicknamed it: "The Fork Tailed Devil."

Charles Lindbergh, while touring the Pacific war theater, made tests and calculations about what speeds and throttle settings (engine-leaning techniques) could improve the performance and range of the P-38. His work was critical in letting pilots get the range they needed for many of the P-38 missions. It also let the engines run cooler and perform better when conditions allowed for flying at those settings. Before getting to the actual combat zone. For more on this plane's problems and successes look her up in Wikipedia.

Kit Contents

The Tx-R Kit contains

  • A fully assembled P-38 ready for transmitter
  • 3.7V 250mAh flight battery
  • Flight battery charger
  • 5-AA batteries to power the flight battery charger
  • Instruction manual
  • Comes in a storage/transportation box to protect the P-38

The RTF Version Differences

  • Comes with the Tactic TTX402 2.4GHz transmitter/charger
  • There is no stand alone charger as the transmitter charges the flight battery

Selecting a Transmitter

If you buy the RTF version you have a transmitter to control your P-38 and you can move on to the next section of this review.

I have the Tactic TTX650 transmitter with 20 model memory and I will be using that transmitter to control my P-38. Any Tactic 2.4 GHz transmitter can be used to control the P-38. To link my Tactic transmitter to my P-38 I selected an unused model memory position on the transmitter and had the transmitter on with the throttle stick down. I removed the nose cone from the P-38 by pulling it forward and I installed the flight battery into the nose of the plane connecting it to the battery connector wire in doing so. The plane and transmitter where now linked. I replaced the nose cone and proceeded with my pre-flight check list.

If I had not wanted to use my Tactic transmitter I could have controlled my P-38 using the AnyLink adapter with my Futaba or JR transmitters. When using a Futaba, Hitec of Tower Hobbies transmitter the Anylink must be in normal mapping and gives 1-beep when activated. Used with a Spectrum or JR transmitter the AnyLink must be in alternate mapping and 2-beeps are heard when activated. The linking procedure is the same using AnyLink as described above with my Tactic TTX650. If you have any question about AnyLink consult the AnyLink manual or visit the AnyLink Website.

The Controls

The Four Channel Controls

  • Throttle
  • Ailerons
  • Elevator
  • Steerable front wheel with the rudder control

The in flight controls are throttle, ailerons and elevator. The rudders are not controlled on this micro flyer. It does however have a steerable front wheel controlled by the rudder stick so I can taxi around on a smooth surface. At this time I checked that all of my controls were working properly and in the correct directions. I moved the aileron stick to the right and the right aileron went up and the left down. CHECK! I pulled the elevator stick back and the elevator went down in back and it went up when I pushed the stick forward. OOPS! Holding the plane firmly I advanced the throttle and I had nothing. DANG! I went into my Tactic TTX650 and into the servo section and reversed the throws for 1 and 3. Now the elevator and throttle were working correctly. CHECK! To check the steering I placed the plane on our tile floor and taxied around just a little bit but confirmed the front wheel turned correctly to the right and left when directed to do so using the rudder control. CHECK!

Next I double checked to make sure the ailerons, elevator and steering wheel were all properly centered. If the surfaces were just slightly off I could try adjusting with the trim tabs on the transmitter. I allow a few clicks of trim tab at most to adjust these controls. These are not like normal servos so I won't ever use a lot of transmitter adjustment to center servos. For the elevator I could make a manual adjustment of the control wire by bending it as needed for more or less throw. Two pairs of needle nose pliers can be used to do this and I must remember to be gentle if I need to make any adjustment. Fortunately, my controls were all centered where they should be and I made no adjustments to them.

Charging the Flight Battery

The battery arrived with a partial charge and I was able to link and test the controls with the battery as it came slightly charged. However, I was now ready to fly and wanted a fully charged battery. I took the five AA batteries that came with my P-38 and placed them in the back of the included charger. I slid the battery in from above (It only goes in one way with the two plastic black guides facing forward.) and the battery started to charge and the LED on top of the charger was green. When the battery was fully charged the LED went out.

Flying

The first question is whether I want to fly with or without wheels. The landing gear pulls out and when at the park I will fly without the landing gear and will land in the grass being sure to have the throttle completely off before touch down on the grass. At my clubs field we have a paved runway and I will fly with the wheels on there.

Basics

As discussed above in flight this is a three channel plane with ailerons, elevator and throttle. This will allow most basic maneuvers but those that require rudder are out such as flying half pipes using the rudder to turn around and dive. A version of doing that with the ailerons has lead to a turn that looks like a jumping fish turning and falling back into the lake. Jeff did one as seen in the first video. On the ground with the landing gear I will need to use the rudder to steer the front wheel for direction correction when on the ground.

Taking Off and Landing

With gear off the flights must be started with a toss into any breeze and even with the gear on that remains a good way to start a flight. I advance the throttle just up to the mid-point and toss the P-38 into the wind nice and level and get my right hand onto the transmitter and advance the throttle to increase my speed and the rate of climb. She will fly with even less throttle but I like a good start to my flights.

Although I show a takeoff from a dirt infield in a video below; I also show the failed attempts due to small wheels in loose soil. A hard surface is really needed for takeoffs and outdoors that is a paved runway at my field and indoors it will be concrete or wood flooring. On a smooth surface the plane can taxi around and out to the runway. Takeoff runs are short and even advancing the throttle slowly she lifts off by 1/2 throttle. She handles nicely on both takeoffs and landings so long as they are into the wind.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The plane has the ability to fly on about 1/4 throttle on my Tactic transmitter. Maximum speed is reached at about 3/4s throttle and beyond that I don't notice an increase in speed. My initial flying was with half throttle and I was impressed with her performance. She handles well and looks very good in the air when I try to fly her in a scale like fashion. With her cambered wings she does not like flying upside down. If you want to perform extended flight inverted I recommend you try it outside and from altitude so you have recovery room if you have trouble. Aside from that she is a joy to fly. How slow she will go is what has surprised me and my friends that have seen her. After flying at the field I had the battery charging and went to an outside basketball court and flew her keeping within six feet of the court's outside lines. I would cross them but just barely. I found I could have a good time flying in my self imposed limited space but she is definitely more fun to fly with greater space. With some speed she does both large and small loops and she does a pretty nice axial roll for a P-38.

Her handling impressed two of my friends so much that they are going to buy their own Flyzone P-38 micros. They will have to go to the store or order from Tower because mine is not for sale. I described above a roll that I have done that looks like a fish jumping from the water. It starts with a climb as if flying a half pipe. Where i would normally apply full rudder to do a 180 turn and dive back down I apply ailerons and a little more up elevator and she rolls and fall backwards into a dive. She reminds me of a fish jumpting and falling back into the water. Something I saw pretty frequently growing up in Minnesota.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Maiden Flight Flyzone P-38 (2 min 51 sec)

Downloads

Flyzone P-38 Takeoff, flight and landing from a baseball infield (2 min 18 sec)

Downloads

http://http://youtu.be/_TBePTwy4BY

Conclusion

Flyzone has another winner based on the response of my friends when they have seen her fly. They want one, and I won't sell them mine! I have to admit that I am very happy with mine. I enjoyed the first flights so much I looked in my small battery box to see if my 200 mAh batteries from another company would work if I added a little lead tape to balance the plane. I was surprise to learn that although the battery connector looked to be the same as my other brand batteries it was actually a slightly different size battery connector that was very apparent when they were side by side. I didn't need to try and balance the battery's weight as it won't connect to the connector in the P-38. I will be ordering a couple spare batteries with the next order I place at Tower Hobby or I will see if our local hobby store has any in stock. I recommend picking up an extra battery with the plane, but be sure to let the motors and ESC cool down between flights.

The plane looks great, flies very nicely, sounds cool with the twin engines and can slow down enough to be flown indoors. Except for inverted flight which is hampered by the cambered wing and the wheels are small so soft dirt doesn't work, everything else was great.

Pluses

  • Looks very nice, good paint scheme and finish
  • Nice sound with the twin engines
  • Impressive speed range from slow to fast
  • Good aileron rolls for a P-38 and loops large and small
  • Box is great for storage and transportation
  • Can be flown indoors, in front of my house or at the flying field
  • Fly with or without wheels, taxi around on hard surfaces

Minuses

  • Inverted flight difficult with cambered wing
  • Needs a hard surface due to the very small wheels

Thanks

I want to thank Jeff, Chris and my wife for helping me with the media for this review. My thanks to our editor, Angela for all that she does. Thanks to Hobbico and Flyzone for supplying this plane for review.

Last edited by Angela H; Sep 03, 2013 at 03:44 PM..

Discussion

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Old Sep 16, 2013, 04:37 PM
Registered User
Joined Feb 2007
1 Posts
Hobbico Flyzone P-38 Lightning Review

Great review. May add one to my micro fleet. By the way, regarding historical notes, we should add that America's top WW2 Ace was Richard Bong, who shot down 40 Japanese aircraft, apparently mostly with the P-38.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 12:49 AM
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United States, CA, Oceanside
Joined Apr 2011
4,437 Posts
I just got this plane and it is definitely a winner. I am also flying it with a Tactic TTX650 which is an awesome transmitter in it's own right.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 09:10 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,251 Posts
Hi Chuck:
I agree with you on both accounts. As the raffle guy for my club this year I took advantage of one of their summer specials and have a TTX650 with receiver for my club's Christmas party raffle. So far everyone has loved the P-38, especially when they see her in flight. I completely agree that both are WINNERS! Mike Heer
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 09:16 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Hi James:
I am honored to have your first post in my review responses. As for Richard Bong you are right. He is America's top ace and reportedly all of his kills were while flying the P-38. I have to limit the historical sections in my reviews as they are reviews of the model planes and not history articles but I do enjoy being able to give a touch of the history of the plane when possible in my reviews and I thank you for your addition. I am sure you will love the plane . Michael Heer
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Canada
Joined Nov 2000
6,630 Posts
That's Great! thank you.
Seems a wee bit abrupt in it's manouvering.. but then that could be simply Telephoto lens effects.
Also the silver paint looks too much like rattle can work.
Otherwise a Lovely model.
Don't quite understand why Flyzone doesn't Own the market.. they should, given the last few micros they've produced.
Hopefully even More Choices? on the way :-)
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 04:12 PM
foam, ailerons, brushless!
Joined May 2013
1,259 Posts
Wow, the gear on that thing is spindly looking. I'll also never understand why they make 1S planes... just too little voltage headroom.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 05:09 PM
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Joined Dec 2003
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Why the undercambered wings? I had the same question for the F 86. It seems a shame not to have a proper airfoil on a model of a high performance plane.
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Old Sep 21, 2013, 09:26 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,251 Posts
I flew the P-38 on Dawn Patrol this morning in front of my house. Just got in a second flight that was nice and slow. I have an all morning meeting today so I was glad to get in some flying early. I flew my Eurocopter while the battery for the P-38 recharged. Mike
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Last edited by Michael Heer; Oct 10, 2013 at 08:47 AM.
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Old Oct 10, 2013, 08:50 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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I flew the P-38 in an empty parking lot this morning in the dark. The parking lot lights were sufficient with the planes silver paint to track her all through the flight without a problem. I flew at all speeds but kept my altitude at 10-15 feet most of the time. Nice way to start the day.
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Old Oct 12, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Canada
Joined Nov 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OFFA 1 View Post
Why the undercambered wings? I had the same question for the F 86. It seems a shame not to have a proper airfoil on a model of a high performance plane.
Likely cuz they are simpler to mfg, also lighter.
Notwithstanding that curved plate foils work well at V low R numbers, often better than regular airfoils .
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Old Oct 14, 2013, 10:56 PM
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United States, CA, Oceanside
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Quote:
Originally Posted by failboat View Post
Wow, the gear on that thing is spindly looking. I'll also never understand why they make 1S planes... just too little voltage headroom.
The gear hold up just fine and as for the battery, trust me, it delivers plenty of power.
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 04:53 AM
Soaring Fanatic!
Joined Dec 2008
709 Posts
Just checking... has anyone used the P-38 with a DX8?
I've got reservations about opening the bird up and switching plugs....
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 10:39 AM
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Just get the AnyLink. It works fine on the DX8.
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