Dynam RC P-51D Mustang ARF
|Flying Weight:||38.8 oz (1100g)|
|Construction:||Expanded polyolefin airframe; composite propeller with spare; plastic servo control horns; plastic spinner with aluminum propeller collet; fiberglass wing support tube; steel pushrods; clear polycarbonate canopy; plastic and metal scale details; plastic pilot bust|
|Servos:||Four Detrum 9g analog; two Dia self-contained retracts|
|Transmitter As Tested:||Dynam five-channel spread-spectrum aircraft|
|Receiver As Tested:||Dynam 2.4GHz six-channel aircraft|
|Batteries As Tested:||Sky Lipo 2650mAh 3S 20C li-po with Dynam banana plug connector and JST-XH balancing tap|
|Motor:||Detrum BM3715A-KV820 brushless outrunner|
|Propeller:||Dynam 11x7E three-blade|
|Operator Skill Level:||Intermediate; age 14+|
|Manufacturer:||Shenzhen Dynam RC Industry & Trade Company, Building C-2, Nanshan Industry Park, Yantian, Fenggang Town, Dongguan City, Guandong Province, China 523000|
|Manufacturer's Catalog Number:||DY8939|
|Distributor's Catalog Number:||60A-DY8939-P47-ARF|
For those who remain in this great hobby long enough, there seems to be two models which he or she will almost inevitably own.
One is the Piper J-3 Cub or its military variant, the L-4 Grasshopper.
The other is the North American Aviation P-51D Mustang.
There is no shortage of great renditions of either model, but thanks to Bobby Guarisco and our friends at Nitroplanes.com, I have here a model which should help to make the choice a lot easier when it comes to the Mustang.
I've covered other P-51 subjects here at RCGroups and I do so again with a nod to my grandfather, Salvatore Squillace. Grandpa worked the line at the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, California, installing electrical wiring in the P-51 and the B-25 Mitchell bomber, both assembled at the Inglewood plant and which bordered present-day Imperial Highway as part of the south end of Los Angeles International Airport, then known as Mines Field. My father Ralph still owns the automatic wire stripper that Grandpa used on the assembly line. It still works, too.
Presented here at RCGroups.com for your pleasure is the Dynam RC P-51D Mustang ARF which, like the other Dynam offerings I've had the privilege of reviewing for Nitroplanes, is a very affordable, good looking and great flying EPO foam model plane. Four Detrum 9g servos, a Detrum 820Kv outrunner and a Detrum 30A ESC are installed, ready and waiting for the lucky owner's choice of radio system. Should one wish to rig the preinstalled LED navigation lights for operation at each wing tip, getting them glowing is a quick solder job away.
All this for 130 bucks.
Read on while I get this marvelous little model ready for takeoff.
The following comes with the P-51D:
Here's what is needed to complete the model:
Optional but highly recommended:
Interestingly, this most American of WWII fighter aircraft was originally designed for the British Purchasing Commision.
Introduced in 1940, the later P-51D variant with its distinctive bubble canopy, improved armament capabilities and redesigned wing fillets would become both the definitive version of the aircraft and its most widely produced, serving in military capacities around the world until 1984. In 1964, the aircraft lent its name to the now-classic Ford Mustang, an automobile in continuous production for nearly fifty years.
Power came from the Packard V-1650, a liquid-cooled V-12 built by the Packard Motor Car Company under license to Rolls-Royce Merlin.
A total of 6502 P-51D aircraft were built at North American Aviation's Inglewood, California plant, 1454 at the Dallas, Texas plant and 200 under license in Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Speaking of Mustangs, the Inglewood plant was in the same general area of present-day LAX where race driver-turned-car builder Carroll Shelby would later transform a handful of partially complete 1965 and 1966 Ford Mustang fastbacks shipped directly from Ford's now-defunct San Jose, California assembly plant into the formidable Shelby GT-350 and GT-350R.
Dynam tends to base their models on actual prototypes, and the P-51D is no exception - sort of.
It represents a 1944 P-51D dubbed Feeble Eagle. This particular plane, serial number 44-63607, was flown in 1945 by ace pilot Lieutenant Colonel Glenn T. Eagleston (March 12, 1921 - May 7, 1991) while he was Commanding Officer of the 353rd Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group in Rosières-en-Haye, France. Eagleston, who was from Alhambra, California, scored 18.5 kills in his P-51D in WWII and two in the Korean War in an F-86 Sabre.
A replica of Feeble Eagle is currently on display at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.
Here's where the "sort of" part comes in: Eagleston's plane never wore invasion stripes. All of my research shows the plane without the stripes. Nor did his plane have a yellow rudder.
Normally, it would be a simple matter of shooting some silver on the tail and omitting the stripes, but the stripes at the rear of the fuselage are painted on and the nose art of the eagle on the port side is applied by the factory which rule out a repaint of the silver areas.
This makes for a cool-looking model, but one that basically never existed in this livery. After a bit of thought, I decided to commit "scale heresy" and apply the invasion stripes.
I'm sure Lt. Col. Eagleston wouldn't have minded.
When this P-51 was introduced back in about 2011, it had fixed landing gear and removable plugs in the wings allowing for the addition of retracts. So, step one which entails the installation of the fixed gear is pretty much useless since this 2013 version has electronically controlled landing gear already installed. They look great either up or down with their metal covers, an attractive and realistic touch.
As far as plugs go, a pair of easily removed plugs allow the addition of operating flaps; all one would need are a pair of nine-gram servos, a couple of servo extensions and a couple of servo horns, not to mention a six-channel radio with flap capability.
Since we're talking about the landing gear: During the course of my review of the Dynam/Nitroplanes P-47D, I discovered the retracts used are incompatible with the Airtronics SD-6G radio system I'd hoped to use. The model also calls for a three-cell battery with Dynam's banana plug-styled connector; I only had four-cell packs. Since this is the ARF version less radio and battery, Bobby Guarisco was kind enough to forward both a Dynam receiver which I could use with the radio supplied with the RTF Messerschmitt BF-109 I'd previously reviewed and a near-new Sky Lipo 2650mAh 3S 20C battery which the Nitroplanes techs had set aside for use in bench testing.
Bobby said this battery would be a perfect fit in the P-51D and he was right. They're only marginally more expensive than the recommended 2200mAh unit with the added benefit of increased run times. Trouble is, these batteries seem to be out of stock more often than they're in stock. Still, they can be ordered here. If they're in stock - which at the time of this writing, they are - they're worth foregoing the 2200's at only US$21.00 each.
On then to steps two and three, where the fiberglass spar tube is inserted, the wing halves joined together and then attached to the model with four 2.3x20 phillips head screws. Since there's no diagram showing the size of the hardware, allow me to point out from experience that the screws are both long and skinny. Easy to spot in the hardware bag, too. The leads for the servos, gear and optional LED nav lights need to be fed through a hole in the fuselage before the wing is screwed down and while the manual makes no mention of that fact, it's obvious once one begins installation of the wing.
I had rigged the LEDs on the Messerschmitt to be powered via an unused slot on the receiver, but they don't light brightly enough to be seen in daylight. Quite the disappointment, I might add, so I opted not to get them wired and working here. Pity, since working nav lights just look cool.
What utterly fails to look cool are the dozens of mold injection marks on the underside of the wing and horizontal stabilizer, something I'd lamented over in past Dynam reviews. Other manufacturers seem to be getting the hang of minimizing or even eliminating the marks; here's hoping Dynam follows suit with newer releases. They certainly have a history of doing so; the finish on the Gee Bee Sportster Y was virtually free of marks.
Installation of the tailwheel with the aid of the supplied 1.5mm allen wrench (I used my own Dynamite brand driver) takes only a moment, completing the only real work on the fuselage less the tail.
Before the tail is installed, I'd like to make a recommendation:
Take the pinned elevator and rudder control horns and walk them to the nearest trash can. The holes for the pins in both the elevator and rudder are too large, meaning that if these were actually used, they'd be held in place with nothing but glue. There's no backing plate, either.
At only US$1.19 a pack, two packs of Great Planes Small Nylon Control Horns (GPMQ3900) will take care of all four control surfaces. So too will some Great Planes Screw-Lock Pushrod Connectors.
I'd discovered the issue with the horns only after I'd attached the tail. It's possible to install the horns and the connectors with the tail in place, but it's easier to do before the tail is installed.
As for the tail itself, the horizontal and vertical stabilizers are keyed for a snug, slop-free fit. After they're joined, two more of the 2.3x20 screws join the tail to the fuselage. I thought about using a dab of the supplied contact cement for insurance, but the tail fits comfortably snug within the fueslage and the screws have plenty of bite.
Should one go the route of using the Great Planes horns and connectors, the elevator and rudder pushrods should be clamped down not with the screws supplied with the connectors but rather a couple of 4-40 setscrews. The original screws are fine when a 6-32 pushrod fills the hole, but these pushrods are smaller and the original screws therefore have less bite because they're so short.
If I thought the wing had a bad case of mold injection rash, it was because I hadn't yet seen the tail. They're all over the place with two particularly large and ugly marks on either side of the vertical stabilizer. I realize this is an inexpensive model, but surely it can't cost that much if anything at all for better tooling.
All the hobby shop had in stock at the moment were packages of Team Losi 4-40 hardened setscrews. At US$2.49 for a package of ten, I now have a lifetime supply of the things.
I took the time to do the ailerons while I was at it. They use the same kinds of pinned horns, held in place with hot melt glue. They did put up a bit of a fight while I worked on removing them, but not much. I cut down a pair of 6-32 pushrods with pre-installed clevises which worked beautifully and to which I added some small lengths of silicone fuel line tubing as safety retainers around the clevises.
Here's a bit of before and after:
Something the manual fails to mention is the assembly of the canopy. The pilot bust comes with its own little tube of CA, but I used some of my own to attach him. He's an odd little fellow whose torso doesn't quite reach the floor of the canopy and whose face has a decidedly green tinge to it. He is, however, somewhat more to scale than the ubiquitous full-faced busts I've seen in other Dynam models.
He's a vast improvement over the civilian bust shown in Nitroplanes' video and on the box lid.
The factory took the time to apply the instrument panel sticker which is, to put it charitably, very much a stand-off scale item. It resembles a cross between something one might see in a contemporary civilian light aircraft and a GPS screen, even going so far as to tell the "pilot" that he's navigating toward Apple, Inc's headquaters in Cupertino, California!
The best possible way to install the canopy is with some Pacer Formula "560" canopy glue. It goes on white, dries clear, can be cleaned up with water before it dries and when it does dry, the canopy is on to stay. Some green chromate paint could be used to give the cockpit a somewhat more realistic look, but I'd thought of it too late or else I would have done so.
This version of the P-51D is more "plug and play" than "almost ready-to-fly," needing only the modeler's choice of suitable transmitter and receiver along with a suitable battery. Unfortunately, Dynam retracts are electronically incompatible with the popular Airtronics SD-6G radio.
Wouldn't you know that I have one of those terrific radios with some open memory slots?
As I'd pointed out earlier, Bobby Guarisco forwarded a Dynam receiver which I could use with my existing Dynam radio.
My research led to some discussions on the quality of Dynam's 2-into-1 servo leads; some users here on RCGroups splashed in some models which used these leads. Dynam Y-harnesses, on the other hand, work well from my experience. I had one left over from my review of the Gee Bee Sportster Model Y which even had its "AILE" tag still in place. A spare off-the-shelf Y-harness from the parts bin was pressed into service for the landing gear.
There is no indication of how the aerials on the Dynam receiver should be oriented, but experience led me to conclude that orienting them at 90-degree angles from one another works perfectly.
Once everything is properly wired, on goes the very definitely un-scalelike three-blade prop and its spinner.
Simple, but a problem arose. The rear of the spinner backplate was too smooth, meaning that the collet simply spun around and didn't allow for proper tightening since it had nothing on which to grab.
I'd considered the possibility of going to a two-blade setup, but I wanted to present this model in as close to as-delivered condition as possible. Ace pilot Rob Thomas over at Uncle Don's Hobbies in Palm Desert had the answer which might allow the use of the stock parts: Cut down and glue pieces of fine sandpaper or emery cloth on the collet and backplate with the abrasive sides facing each other.
Later that evening, the parts bin turned up a small piece of fine emery cloth. Before I attempted to install the prop and spinner, I took a tip from a thread somewhere online while I was researching alternate propellers and spinners.
An X-Acto will make very short work of opening the fuselage's simulated scoop beneath the propeller, allowing for a lot of cooling air to flow over the ESC while in flight.
Once cut and installed, on went the prop and spinner while I held my breath.
It worked! All that was left to do was to install the spinner cone with three 2.5x8mm screws and to set the control throws.
The Dynam radio is a very basic system which has no end point adjustment capability. I had plenty of rudder throw, so getting the recommended 12-15mm throw was easy. I just managed to squeak by the recommended elevator control throw of the same distance, getting about 12mm.
The ailerons, like those on the BF-109, were a different story. Recommended throw is 15-20mm, which was impossible to acheive even with the greatest possible mechanical throw. I got about 10mm of travel, which I thought would mean that our example would be incapable of barrel rolls but as I learned later, the model rolls nicely.
Just not as fast as I'd like, but it does roll.
Applying the finishing touches of the decals completes the model, but not without some weirdness from the manual. In one picture, the invation stripes on the horizontal stabilizer are all labeled as decal number one; they're actually decals 7 through 10.
The dark, nearly silhouette-like photo of the right side of the model in flight is nearly useless, but some common sense goes a long way here. The black invasion stripes on the undersides of the wings should be applied and trimmed with the gear lowered. I tried to use the trimmed pieces as a means of blacking out the simulated opening of the P-51's famous belly scoop, but I wound up using some gloss black acrylic paint I had on hand. Looks better than a Sharpie, but not as nice as flat black might have been.
One potential decal which should have been obvious to the designers would have been a simple decal representing the cooling vent on the left side of the nose. There's an indentation of the proper size, shape and location, but no decal.
I wished I had kept those trimmed parts; they might have fit far better than the too-narrow decals applied on the landing gear covers. This might explain why Nitroplanes elected to omit the stripes on the example flown in their video.
Still, inaccuracy notwithstanding, this model looks great with the invasion stripes.
Now to see it in the air.
As with any model, a range check before the maiden flight is a must. Mine took place during a quiet midweek day at the usual place, namely the AMA Gold Certified Coachella Valley Radio Control Club outside of Thermal, California.
The range check and control surface check were successful, so once I checked the CG, it was off to the runway for a check of the ground handling.
Conditions were breezy, so the P-51 didn't want to tack back into the wind without the tail wanting to come about despite plenty of tailwheel throw, but the overall ground handling was great. Not as good as that of the P-47, but a lot better than the narrow-tracked BF-109.
No more putting off the flight, especially since I only had one battery.
The takeoff was simply beautiful, requiring almost no rudder. It was as perfect a scale takeoff as I'd done in a long time. A couple of clicks of right aileron trim were all that were necessary to get the P-51 on track; up went the gear immediately after that.
Some models tend to impart a case of the shakes during those first few minutes while we get used to the controls. Not so this model. It handled perfectly and predictably, but the lack of expo on the Dynam radio meant little stick movement was required. At no time did the model feel touchy or out of trim. It was just plain fun, cruising nicely at what I estimated to be Dynam's claim of 50 MPH (80km/h).
The ailerons had the best possible mechanical advantage with the new pushrods; without end point adjustments on the transmitter, I had to settle for what I could get.
I took it up the requisite "two mistakes high," pointed the nose slightly upward and attempted a roll.
Doggoned if it didn't roll despite having only about two-thirds the recommended aileron throw. The rolls in either direction weren't particularly fast, but they looked great. Snap rolls are defintely not an option, but smooth rolls are easily accomplished with a bit of elevator, a necessity for well executed rolls anyway.
I had enough of the recommended elevator throw to attempt a loop and sure enough, the P-51 did a surprisingly tight loop. Larger loops required some aileron input in order to stay on course, but it only took a couple of loops before I was tracking the P-51 through them as if I'd been flying that model forever.
My first landing wasn't so hot; I misjudged the far side of the runway and put the plane down on soft sand instead of an asphalt strip. No problem beyond a bruised ego, so I retrieved the P-51 and set it back up for takeoff.
The landing was much better this time; this model won't land itself but nor is it difficult to land.
I was sorely tempted to take it up for a third time, but I didn't want to risk a low-voltage cutoff, so I called it a day until the video shoot.
When that day arrived, I was ready and looking forward to getting the Mustang back in the air. Once more, I had the privilege of working with George Muir, videographer of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club on a beautiful Sunday morning in the desert.
Unless I'm reviewing a full-on aerobatic model, I tend to take things easy for the video. George did a masterful job of tracking the P-51 around the pattern, right up to the best landing I had to date with the model.
At the time of this writing, I'm expecting a couple of additional batteries for this fun little warbird. Frankly, they can't come soon enough!
This model isn't a full-on aerobatic aircraft, but it will do the usual loops, rolls and inverted flight expected of a warbird with no problems whatsoever.
As with virtually any warbird, especially one of this size and overall level of performance, the answer is no. I've indicated before that low-winged aircraft of this type simply do what they're told to do by the pilot, i.e., they don't correct themselves in flight like most trainers do to some degree. It just goes where it's pointed.
Someone who wants to transition from an aileron trainer to a first warbird might do well, but I would recommend doing so under the supervision of an instructor and with a buddy box.
Experienced beginners should take heart; if one can learn to fly this Mustang and do so successfully, one is ready to fly almost any warbird.
|Dynam RC P-51D Mustang ARF from Nitroplanes.com (2 min 46 sec)|
|New Dynam 1200mm P-51 w/ Retracts Review (8 min 49 sec)|
Given the overall level of performance, the overall quality of the model itself and the added value of preinstalled electronics and retracts, the Dynam RC P-51D Mustang ARF represents a terrific value. My ongoing experiences with Dynam models show them to be fantastic in the air with no bad habits.
Although it's clear that a lot of engineering and development go into the performance of the finished product, it still has its flaws such as the omissions in the manual, the ejection marks, the hardware, the three-blade prop and the inaccurate scale markings. When all is said and done, $129.95 for a model of this size, level of performance and level of standard equipment make it more than worth considering. Dynam certainly believes in the model, going through the time and effort needed to fit it with retracts straight from the factory, although there's no reason whatsoever that they can't make an inexpensive change to the electronics in order for them to work with popular Airtronics/Sanwa radios.
One might argue that it's another P-51D Mustang in a sea of P-51D Mustangs, but it's a darn good one, well equipped, well supported and a lot of fun to fly.
Two thumbs way, way up for this beauty. I know my example is going to be a favorite of mine and anyone who steps up to one of their own will likely feel the same way.
My thanks go to Bobby Guarisco of Nitroplanes for making this terrific model available for my inspection and operation. Rob Thomas of Uncle Don's Hobbies in Palm Desert, California deserves a great deal of thanks for his terrific idea which solved the problems I had with the spinner and collet. George Muir is the peerless videographer of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club and he does his task with enthusiasm, not to mention class. Angela Haglund is the hard-working administrator of the authors' forum here at RCGroups.com. I've said before and I'll say again that none of these reviews are possible without her.
A big round of thanks go to the unsung stateside heroes of The Greatest Generation who toiled in the factories building the real Mustangs and other military machinery of the war. That would include my late grandfather, Salvatore.
No review is complete without our worldwide family of readers. Thanks for visiting RCGroups.com and enjoy your stay here at the Internet's largest, most comprehensive hobby site!
There's so much to like about this model:
Of course, there are a few minuses:
|Jul 11, 2013, 07:21 PM|
I guess Dynam tooled up and made a lot of those props. Same one on the BF-109, but that plane is supposed to have a three-blade.
I'd like to meet the guy who signed off on that instrument panel sticker with the GPS and Apple, Inc. as a destination!
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