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BlitzRCWorks F4F Wildcat 6CH ARF with Retracts From Banana Hobby Review

Banana Hobby is selling the Wildcat with working retracts and wings that fold back just like the full size plane. I love the looks and these two features and that lead to this review of this historic fighter.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan: 47.2"
Weight: 60 oz.
Length: 35.6"
Servos: 4-17g Digital Metal servos
Transmitter: Futaba
Receiver: Futaba 7 Channel
Battery: 4-cell 14.8V 2200mAh 25C
Motor: 3748-700Kv Brushless Outrunner
ESC: 50Amp
12 x 6 3-blade prop
Manufacturer: BlitzRCWorks
Available From: Banana Hobby
Price: $229.90 ARF

The Wildcat started life as a two wing design that was switched to a single wing as designers and governments realized that was the need for planes of the future in the 1930s. It was a rugged fighter plane that could take a lot of damage and keep flying. It was the U.S. Nave's front line fighter plane in use on carriers at the outbreak of World War II. Our pilot's quickly learned that it could not hold its own in a dogfight with Japanese Zeros. However, it was all they had at the time and thanks to brilliant thinking by John Thach a winning strategy was designed so that the Wildcat could hold her own against the Zero. It was almost as fast as the Zero and could take a lot more damage than a Zero but was not as maneuverable as a Zero and couldn't climb as well as a Zero. Thach became aware of this in September of 1941 and began working on away for the Wildcat to beat the Zero, two and a half months before Pearl Harbor was attacked. "Working at night with matchsticks on the table, he eventually came up with what he called "Beam Defense Position", but which soon became known as the "Thach Weave". It was executed either by two fighter aircraft side-by-side or by two pairs of fighters flying together. When an enemy aircraft chose one fighter as his target (the "bait" fighter; his wingman being the "hook"), the two wingmen turned in towards each other. After crossing paths, and once their separation was great enough, they would then repeat the exercise, again turning in towards each other, bringing the enemy plane into the hook's sights. A correctly executed Thach Weave (assuming the bait was taken and followed) left little chance of escape to even the most maneuverable opponent." (quote from Wikipedia on Thach Weave)

The Wildcat could never develop the kill ratios of the Hellcat (Which was designed to be a Zero killer.) or the much faster Corsair that came later in the war. But it showed what Americans could do with a superior strategy in this plane against the Zero. As an airplane I have always enjoyed the appearance of the retracts on the side of the fuselage. This makes for short spaced landing gear and makes taking off and landing into the wind very important and makes the necessary experience level for this plane to be Intermediate. I find this a great looking plane on the ground with the wings retracted as well as when flying in the air. My plane was first flown at Delta Valley Modeler's West Coast Mini Festival and the folded wings at the staging area drew a lot of attention as did her handling in the air.

Pete's You Tube video review of the Wildcat

Grumman F4F Wildcat Flight Review in HD! (10 min 11 sec)

Kit Contents

Contents of the F4F WildCat ARF Kit

  • Fuselage with motor, ESC, retracts and tail servos already installed
  • Inner right and left wing panels
  • Outer right and left wing panels with ailerons and aileron servos installed
  • Vertical stabilizer with hinged rudder
  • Horizontal stabilizer with hinged elevator
  • Three bladed propeller
  • Bag of hardware and finishing details
  • Tube of glue
  • Instruction manual

Items I Supplied

  • Futaba transmitter and receiver
  • 4-cell 2200mAh LiPo flight battery
  • Balanced battery charger for 4-cell LiPo
  • 00 size Phillips screwdriver
  • Hobby knife with new # 11 blade

Assembly

The assembly of my F4F is covered from opening the box to RTF in the You Tube video posted below. The video is just under 15 minutes long. Because of the video I cover the assembly basically using pictures and captions with a few exceptions where I felt a little more narrative was required.

Banana Hobby's F4F Assembly Video for RC Groups (15 min 14 sec)

Wing

The first assembly step is installing the control horns onto the rudder, elevator and two ailerons. The control horns look identical and one has a shorter center piece and that one is for the elevator. There were three sizes of screws in my kit. The longest two are used on the front of the rudder control horn. The middle eight are used two on the back of the rudder control horn and the front mounts for the elevator and aileron control horns. The six short screws are used to secure the back of the elevator and aileron control horns.

The hardest part of the assembly was fitting the hinge pin into the wing hinges. It was much easier on the second wing because of what I learned on the first wing half. There was paint over spray on the hinges of my plane and the paint bunched up and partially filled the hinge pin holes. I used my hobby knife with a new #11 blade to scrape the paint off the inner sides of the hinges and out of the hinge holes. I worked the hinge pin into one wings section repeatedly making it easier to install and repeated the process on the other wing panel. I added a retainer clip to the top of the hinge pins. When the fit seemed reasonable I joined the two wing sections together with the pin. I was careful not to use too much force or force anything. When the pin was fully installed I added a retainer clip to the bottom of the pin.

Tail

Radio Installation

One thing I failed to mention in the video is that there is a 5-Amp BEC wire in the fuselage used to power the receiver. I didn't initially find this wire in the fuselage and only when the receiver didn't power up with the throttle wire installed did I go looking for it. I plugged it in channel six. There were wires for the throttle, rudder, elevator and retracts in the fuselage and a Y-harness was included for the ailerons. I had already discussed the wires on the video and ailed to mention the BEC when I went back on camera. DOH!

Fuselage

The wings nicely fit into the fuselage and the assembled inner and outer wing panels were trial fitted and then glued into the middle wing molded space for them the aileron wires are guided into the center hole in the fuselage where the throttle and BEC wire can already be found.

Completition

C/G and Throw for the Moving Surfaces

The instruction manual shows a picture with a C/G range of from 60 to 70 mm back from the leading edge of the wing as measured near the fuselage. No throws were given for the control surfaces for either high or low rate. Although I set up the control arms for the flight surfaces as shown in the instructions I found I had way to much throw for the elevator. Using my transmitter I reduce the throw both up and down by approximately 40% and found that was to my liking. I left the rudder throw as it was but i reduced the aileron throw by about 25% both up and down. Those were my adjustments for high rate and all flights for this review were done with those control surface movement reductions.

Flying

Basics

The Wildcat has the four basic controls of: throttle, ailerons, elevator and rudder. Additionally the rudder servo also steers the tail wheel on the ground for acceptable ground handling on a paved surface. I have not tried to fly from grass but she handles well on the ground on a hard smooth surface. Big bumps or holes have a negative impact on her ground handling due to the small tail wheel which is usual on a scale warbird. She can be flown with just throttle, ailerons and elevator but turns are smoother when using a combination of ailerons and rudder. She has a good rate of climb and handles nicely. She waddles in the air if I try and fly her too slowly. She doesn't have to be flown fast but she handles much better if I don't try and fly her too slowly. Stalls were performed at altitude and stalls in forward flight caused a drop but were easy to recover from. Stalls in turns were much more severe and required a good deal of airspace in which to recover. Therefore I will keep her speed up even when landing and will not slow down too much until I have turned onto final approach.

Taking Off and Landing

All of my takeoffs and landings have been made from a paved runway and into any existing wind. The plane is capable of very scale looking takeoffs with the tail wheel coming up as the speed increases and then lift off. I have had no trouble with takeoffs. If I were to try and takeoff with a strong cross breeze I would be concerned about the possibility with the plane tipping over to the side away from the wind because of the close landing gear at the center of the plane. I don't plan to try a takeoff with a strong cross breeze so I should never know for sure.

Landings have been just a little more difficult. She does not like to land at a very slow air speed. Even into a breeze if slowed down excessively she starts to waddle a bit or crawl slightly in the air. I have found that she lands very nice (into any breeze) keeping a little bit of speed up all the way to touch down. I have not tried a cross wind landing with any real breeze and as with takingoff I don't plan to try that. Into the wind or in calm conditions she does fine.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

She performs nice rolls and loops. She does a great split S and does nice full speed dives and flights across the deck. She also looks very good flying in one direction and turning and diving back towards the direction she came from or to the side. Looks like an enemy plane was just spotted and I am turning to dive on it. With 3/4's throttle or more I was able to perform my usual warbird combat maneuvers in a very acceptable manner. She is a responsive and fun flyer.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! This plane is a mid-wing plane and I prefer a high wing or a plane at least designed to be a trainer for Beginners to use. Secondly this plane has landing gear that is close together and that requires more skill to land properly with landing gear close together. Trainers planes have wider landing gear. This plane has special retracts made of plastic. They have held up perfectly to flying by my friend Chris and myself but they aren't designed I don't think for the type of abuse Beginners give to landing gear.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Banana Hobby's F4F Wildcat with Working retracts (2 min 37 sec)

Downloads

Conclusion

Clean off the paint over spray from the hinges and work the pins several times on each side and joining the inner and outer wing panels is much easier than if you try and join them without that minor preparation. the rest of the assembly was very straight forward. Assembly can easily be done under three hours other than needing time for the glue to dry. The included glues worked well and has held up to stress placed on the plane during the review flying. I really like the folding wings for storage and transportation. It makes for very quick assembly time at the field and she needs little space for storage at my home. I wish I had more planes that stored so nicely!

Of course all of the above would be meaningless if this Wildcat was not also a fun plane to fly and she is a very fun plane to fly. While I wish I could slow down the operation of the landing gear both up and down I do enjoy having the working retracts and it came with the retracts fully assembled and working when I added my receiver. I had here on display at our big Labor Day Fun Fly with the wings folded and she flew during the event as well. She got an awful lot of interest on the ground and a lot of people asked if she was for sale. I of course directed them to Banana hobby where they could buy their own. Mine is not for sale as she is most definitely a keeper.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Quick and relatively easy assembly following my tips
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Gets attention with wings folded or in flight
  • Handles nicely and does clean aerobatics
  • Balanced in the recommend C/G range without having to make any adjustments
  • Good size plane for the money
  • Very interesting retracts
  • Good power and acceptable flight time with 4-cell 2200mAh battery pack
  • Painted tips of propellers develop a realistic worn look in a couple of flights
  • Includes a pilot

Minuses

  • I can't use a battery bigger than a 4-cell 2200mAh battery pack
  • Once assembled wings are not removable, but easily fold

Thanks

I want to thank Banana Hobby for supplying this plane for review. I want to thank my friend Chris for flying her so I could shoot the video and take some still photos in flight. I want to thank our editor, Angela, for her assistance in editing this review.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Sep 01, 2013 at 10:00 PM..

Discussion

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Old Sep 05, 2013, 06:14 AM
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ggcrandall1's Avatar
USA, GA, Marietta
Joined Aug 2005
5,611 Posts
Michael,

This was the best review I have ever seen. The plane looks good and your explanation of the assembly process was clear and concise.

I already have an F4F (different vendor) but your review makes me want this one. The retracts and folding wings really make this plane stand out. My only concern is the strength of the landing gear and wing hinge. I will be most interested in your comments on those areas after you have some flight time on the plane.

Again thanks for an excellent review.

Glen
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 07:22 AM
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Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
Joined Jul 2009
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She looks really nice in the air... and that gear is amazing.
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 07:59 AM
Fly and let Fly!
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United States, CO, Grand Junction
Joined May 2010
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Very nice... Bought one myself (Yellow Too) and behaves just as yours ..
Its got great silver paint.. Doesn't it? But your exhaust stacks are on upside down.. !!
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 08:12 AM
Rusty Fingers
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United States, NM, Albuquerque
Joined Jun 2010
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I wonder if you can buy replacement retracts (in case you slam it down on the carrier really hard) Do you know whether they offer replacement parts?
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 08:14 AM
Rusty Fingers
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United States, NM, Albuquerque
Joined Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoobAgain View Post
I wonder if you can buy replacement retracts (in case you slam it down on the carrier really hard) Do you know whether they offer replacement parts?
NVM, found them (might have helped if I had looked first!)

http://www.bananahobby.com/retracts-...4114-prd1.html
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 08:17 AM
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Yeah.. But try installing them .. Ha.!
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 08:42 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Very nice... Bought one myself (Yellow Too) and behaves just as yours ..
Its got great silver paint.. Doesn't it? But your exhaust stacks are on upside down.. !!

DOH! Good thing you can't tell when the plane is on the ground or in the air.

I'll check and see how well I glued them on. Probably really well!
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 09:40 AM
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USA, CT, Farmington
Joined Nov 2003
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Is it just me, but in the BH video, you can see the gear extending during some of the turns. Anybody else see this?

R
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 10:32 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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I can tell you that my gear has not extended during flights to date. I don't have time to check out Pete's video right now. Mike Heer
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 11:45 AM
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Kurt's Avatar
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Sep 2003
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Excellent photos and nice review!

What kind of flight time did you get with the 2200mAh battery?
What brand and C rating battery?
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 02:16 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,416 Posts
I have used two ROC 2200mAh 4-cell 30C batteries that are pert of a long term battery test I am running on them and they are at 50 cycles so far. I also use my Pete Signature Series 65C 4-cell 2200 battery pack from Banana Hobby and it has 30 plus cycles on it and one other 25C pack. All have performed flawlessly. I have several flights in the seven plus minute range with 30% or a little more left in the pack when I remembered to check (Most of the time I check.). Mike
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Old Sep 05, 2013, 04:06 PM
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Kurt's Avatar
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Sep 2003
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7 minutes out of a 2200mAh pack w/ 30% left (~220mAh/minute burn rate) is pretty impressive for a chunky, heavy plane like this even at 'only' 1200mm span.
By the 6 or 7 minute mark this pilot is usually ready for a break anyway!

For comparison, my 1.5m FMS P-51 burns 325-350mAh/minute with a rather power hungry 810kV HK Donkey motor and cut-down 12x10 2-bladed prop (mostly 30-60% throttle) and my 1.5m JPower P-38 with dual 1150kV Turnigy SK3 motors and 9x7 Master Airscrew 3-blades burns around 300-325mAh/minute. I use 4S Zippy Compact 35C 2700mAh in both.

Thanks for the info!
Looking forward to future reports on how the gear, electronics, linkages etc hold up after 25, 50, and hopefully more flights.
cheers
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Old Sep 06, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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I have no concern about the hinges, hinge pins or locking pins holding up for the life of this plane. Even in a crash I suspect the foam will go before these parts. The landing gear is plastic and there is a spring on each one. I can the possibility of needing to replace the spring at some point or the plastic breaking by a poor pilot or someone landing in high winds and getting slammed. I will see how it holds up over time. Work work, work, but I am happy to do it. Mike
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Old Sep 06, 2013, 11:32 AM
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United States, MO, Kingsville
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This plane is on my radar....has anyone found a was to slow down the gear?
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