Horizon Hobby's Hangar 9 Showtime 3D ARF Review

Steve Herlacher explores Mike "Show Time" McConville's Showtime 4D superstar. "The Showtime will do it all and with the SFG's, feels as agile as a small foamie...."



Wing Area:900 sq. in.
Weight:8-9 pounds.
Servos:JR 8411
Transmitter:Futaba 14MZ
Receiver:8 channel
Battery:1800 NIMH
Motor:Saito 100
Manufacturer:Hangar 9
Available From:Horizon Hobby

The Hangar 9 Showtime is the first plane of its type to offer what are called SFG's -- other than the foamie type planes. With a 2-piece plug-in wing, carbon fiber landing gear, and plug-in stabs, this plane is just like the 33% plane for a fraction of the cost! Designed by Mike McConville so we can certainly expect it will fly great.

Here are the features from their website:

  • Removable Side Force Generators allow remarkable 3D performance
  • Designed by world-class aerobatic pilot Mike McConville
  • Perfect for popular new artistic aerobatics
  • Easy-to-transport 2-piece wing and stabilizer
  • Extremely lightweight laser-cut all-wood construction
  • Covered in exclusive Hangar 9 UltraCote
  • Carbon-fiber main landing gear and tail wheel
  • Factory-assembled fuel tank

What Are SFG'S?

By Mike McConville

The short answer is, SFG= Side Force Generators. The longer answer is SFGs are wing-mounted surfaces that enhance the yaw force created by the rudder. While SFGs really aren't a new concept, adding them to the wing of a monoplane to generate extreme rudder power is a new twist.

SFGs aren't hinged control surfaces. They don't move with a servo, and don’t need to. Their position, size and shape, when correct, generate lift in the yaw axis whenever the rudder is moved. This means the "side force" that is normally created by moving the rudder is enhanced….a lot.

SFGs aren’t new. Ever wonder why some biplane designs, such as the Ultimate, have really powerful rudders? The primary reason for this is simply that they have rather wide interplane struts. In addition to providing needed structural integrity, these struts function as SFGs.

Borrowing on that idea, my good friend and aero-genius George Hicks came up with the idea last year to create an electric-powered foamy for the first E-TOC that had super rudder authority. From that idea the now legendary Tensor 4D biplane was born. Owing its super-rudder power to the exaggerated wide interplane struts, the Tensor showed all of us just what wild aerobatics could be achieved by using SFGs. After the Tensor, we experimented with SFGs on various small foam monoplane designs and had similar results to the Tensor.

SFGs open up a new dimension in 3D aerobat­ics. With them, knife-edge flight requires almost no positive fuselage angle. Even very tight knife-edge loops are possible. Flat spins are more like stationary pinwheels. Control in hovering is also greatly improved. The next logical step seemed to be to put them onto a full-blown bigger model and see what would happen. The result is the new Hangar 9 ShowTime 4D. The easiest way to describe the new ShowTime is "pattern plane meets foamy". Very smooth, precise and easy to fly, yet capable of almost unimaginable extreme 3D maneuvers. So, SFG technology may not be a new concept, but when added to the world of 3D aerobatics, they open up a new dimension in extreme flight.

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • Carbon Fiber Landing Gear and tail gear
  • Factory Assembled Tank
  • 2-piece, removable wing and stab
  • Hardware package including, 4-40 hardware, ball links and pull-pull setup
  • Painted fiberglass cowl and wheelpants
  • Painted canopy
  • Builtup balsa fuse

Required to complete:

  • .61-1.00 2-stroke or 91-1.10 4-stroke
  • 6-channel radio system (minimum)
  • 1 standard servo for throttle (Horizon recommends JRPS537 or equivalent)
  • 4 hi-torque servos (Horizon recommends JRPS9411 or equivalent)
  • 1 hi-torque servo (Horizon recommends JRPS8411SA or equivalent for rudder)
  • 2 1/4" Spinner
  • Heavy duty servo arms


First thing I did, as with all ARF's, was to go over everything with a covering iron to get out any wrinkles that may have formed. The Showtime didn't really have any, but I went over it just to make sure it was stuck on well.

As always, Horizon provided an excellent, detailed manual, and so I won't cover every step of assembly here, but instead hit the highlights and unique points.

The instructions said to coat the 8/32 bolt control horns with 5 minute epoxy and them screw them in, but the holes in my ailerons were not threaded very well and they just pushed in. I decided to add a 8/32 lock nut and washer to each one for safety (they did not include them in the kit.) It was more than likely not needed but I personally feel safer with them on there.

Aileron Servos: The Aileron servo opening needed no sanding -- they dropped right in. I used 8411 servos all the way around as that is what I had on hand. They are really overkill as the manual says the 9411 on ailerons and elevator and a 8411 on the rudder will work just fine.

Stab Installation:

Installing the tail couldn't be any easier:

  • Slide the wing panels on
  • Compare the stab tube to the wing tube (PERFECT!)
  • Slide the stab tube in and center
  • Use a drill to make a mark on the tube through the provided guide hole in the stab
  • Remove tail tube, finish drilling through the top side (ONLY!)
  • Tap for 4-40
  • DONE!

My computer radio has the right mixing in it to use 2 elevator servos and make them move the right direction. If it didn't, I would've had to use a servo reverser or match box so they would both move in the right direction.

Rudder servo, take 1: I recommend waiting until after the engine is mounted to see where to mount the rudder servo. They give the option of mounting it in the tail, or farther up in the fuse with a pull-pull system. The manual says that they used the tail mount method with the Saito 100.

Carbon Fiber Landing Gear -- Included!

The Showtime includes a very light carbon fiber landing gear and even a carbon fiber tail gear!

I mounted the gear to the fuse with the 8/32" bolts then, while holding the wheelpant, I marked the mounting hole. I made sure they were level with the fuse, then driled and installed the 4/40 blind nut. I slid a wheel collar on the axle, then the wheel, then another wheel collar and made sure to loctite them. The wheelpant slid over top of the wheel and the 4/40 bolt held it. I like to use a little bit of shoo goo to hold it even more and help keep them from rotating.

The tail gear was easy to install, just drill 2 holes and bolt it on. The manual states that there is a hard point for the springs to attach to, but not what they attach to. I used a small eye screw I had in my parts bin so the springs couldn't come off it.

Engine mounting

First I usd some thinned epoxy to fuelproof the firewall, it seemed as it already had some on there but I wanted to make sure no fuel could soak in.

The cowl was easy to trim since the head of the engine didn't stick out very much. I installed a Tru-Turn 2 1/4" ultimate style spinner to finish it off. I was told by True Turn themselves on why to use a Ultimate style spinner when using one this small (besides looking cool):

"The length of the prop shaft on most four strokes and the requirement of a double jam nut adapter kit due to the 4 stroke makes the stack of parts too long to allow for standard shape spinners in 2-1/4" and smaller diameters. (Customers can easily run standard shape in 2-1/2" diameter and larger.) We therefore only offer ultimate spinners for 2-1/4" diameter or smaller spinners when used on a 4stroke application. What we do is offer a "120-slot" (for higher pitch props) and a "W" slot(for low pitch 3D props) so that customers can have a nice looking prop slot depending on what style of flying they do."

Rudder Servo Installation, Take 2:

I put everything together to check the CG before installing the rudder servo and mine was real tail heavy with it mounted in the tail. The manual says they used the tail mounted one with the Saito 100 but it was almost 2" behind the recommended CG with it there. I mounted it up in the fuse and used the pull-pull setup they included. The only problem I found with the setup is the manual says to run the wire thru the tube 2 times, well it was almost impossible to get it thru even one time, so thats all I did. You can see in the picture that I had to sand the former for the throttle pushrod to clear.

Installing SFG's

The SFG's bolt on with a tiny thumbscrew. They have a small carbon rod that sticks in the wing to located them. Slide one in and then the other one and put the thumbscrew on. It is tiny and if you drop it in the field you may have a hard time finding it. I wish they put the thumbscrew on the top SFG so you wouldn't have to reach under the wing to attach them. I have read about a lot of people putting them on upside down so the screw is on top, which is no big deal since they fit either way. After a few flights the covering on the bottom of mine was worn off, I don't remember touching them at all on landing but I must have. They are close to the ground so if you fly from tall grass they will wear faster than if you fly from a paved runway.


I set up the control throws on the Showtime per the manual for high and low rates. The CG was also set at the suggested 7-7/16" and it seemed about perfect in the air. To get the correct CG I had to mount the receiver battery right next to the fuel tank with some tie wraps and foam. My model came out at 8.5 pounds, right in the middle of the recommended range.

Here are the low rate control throws

  • Aileron 2" up 1 7/8" down
  • Elevator 5/8" up 3/4" down
  • Rudder 1 5/8" right and left

High rates

  • Aileron 3 3/4" up 3 5/8" down
  • Elevator 3 1/8"up 4 1/2" down
  • Rudder 2 1/2" left and right

And here is the completed model minus the SFG's. The decals are already applied by the factory!


We were in the process of moving to our new field so I took the Showtime out with me on one of our work days to test fly it. This was my first flight at the new field and it went perfectly! The takeoff roll required a small bit of rudder correction and the model was airborne in no time. It needed a few clicks of aileron trim and it was flying perfectly.

I flew the first flights with an APC 15x6 prop and no SFG's as I wanted to test it out before adding them. On the first flights the engine was running on the rich side as you can tell from the deadstick landing but it still had the power to hover the model. I kept the maiden flight to some simple aerobatics. Knife edge had no coupling at all and didn't require much rudder to hold it. I did a quick harrier and it only had minor wing rock with no spoileron mixing. Landing was nice and slow and I didn't notice any tip stalling.

Taking Off and Landing

Takeoffs and landings are really easy, the Showtime gets airborne in a hurry and 3 point landings are easy, even deadstick.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The next flights were with a 16x4 wide APC prop which I personally like much better. It has no problem hovering with the added thrust. The SFG's were also added for the next flights and they really made knife edge simple -- not much rudder is needed at all. I do notice more drag when flying with the SFG's and it seems less precise than without them in some maneuvers, it might be due to the fact that the SFG's didn't line up perfectly on mine.

The Showtime will do it all and with the SFG's, feels as agile as a small foamie in some aspects.

Fly over.
Fly over.
ManueverGrade 10 = the best 1 = the worstNotes
Without SFGs
Inside/Outside Loops 10 No problem with these at all
Aileron Rolls 10 Very axial and the roll rate was fast on high rates.
Knife Edge 10 Knife edge had no coupling.
Inverted 9 This was perfect on the recommended CG, Just a touch of down elevator was needed to hold it level.
Spins 9 Regular spins could be made very flat
Harrier 7 A tiny bit of wing rock that spoileron mixing took care of.
Inverted Harrier 8 A little better than upright.
Rolling Harrier 10 is one of the best maneuvers it does.
High Alpha K.E. 9 No problem.
K.E. Loop 7 Do these on high rates.
Snaps 8 Snaps were very crisp and a knife edge to knife edge snap was easily done.It stops rotating as soon as you let off the control so there wasn't any over snapping and they looked perfect.
Wall 7 It can snap if not done properly.
Hover 10 Hovering is easy with the 16x4 prop. The 15x6 hovered it OK but the pullout wasn't as strong with it.
Torque Roll 10 It likes to spin around pretty quick.
Waterfall 9 It will rotate on the CG if timed properly.
Blender9 The Showtime does a great blender and it tightens up almost immediately into a inverted flat spin.

With SFGs
Inside/Outside Loops 9 Wasn't quite as perfect.
Aileron Rolls 9 A tiny bit slower
Knife Edge 9 Knife edge had a small amount of coupling, probably due to mine not lining up perfectly.
Inverted 9 This was perfect on the recommended CG, Just a touch of down elevator was needed to hold it level.
Spins 9 the SFG's slowed the spin rate down a little bit and inverted they were even more flat than upright ones.
Harrier 9 They help control the wing rock
Inverted Harrier 9 Again a little better than upright
Rolling Harrier 10 Does it even easier with them.
High Alpha K.E. 10 Very easy to do.
K.E. Loop 9 They made it much easier to do.
Snaps 8 About the same
Wall 8 It doen't snap as easily.
Hover 10 About the same
Torque Roll 10 They slow it down a tiny bit but not much.
Waterfall 9 Will rotate on the CG if timed properly
Blender8 A little slower with them on.

Is This For a Beginner?

The Showtime 4D is not recommended for the beginner. It is a more advanced model and it does what you tell it to do exactly. If you try to pull too much elevator at the wrong time it can snap, which is not good for a beginner.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery



The showtime 4D is a great pattern plane -- no, a great 3d plane -- well, you get the idea that its 2 planes in one. With the SFG's in place and the throws at a high rate it does everything a 3D model can do. The Saito 100 has plenty of power and the 16x4 prop is the perfect match for 3d type flying. Without the SFG's it is a great pattern plane, although I prefer the 15x6 or 15x8 prop for pattern flying as the RPM's will be high on the 16x4 if you go to full throttle in level flight. It tracks perfectly and will pull thru any maneuver with ease. I will guess that we see more planes with the SFG's on them as they help a bunch, and also look cool.

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Old Sep 21, 2005, 08:18 PM
kepople is offline
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Real Men Fly Pink Planes...
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United States, TX, Rockwall
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Steve, thanks for the show. It looks great!

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Old Oct 17, 2005, 02:28 PM
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Durham, NC
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Showtime review.

Steve, isn't this plane called the "Hangar 9 ShowTime 4D 90 ARF"?
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 02:32 PM
Steve H. is offline
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I don't do the editing. Ill get her to change it.
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Old Oct 27, 2005, 03:07 AM
David Hogue is offline
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Blew out my flip flop
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USA, NC, Clayton
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I got to fly this...and liked it so much I bought one. Thanks Steve!
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Old Sep 01, 2007, 05:59 PM
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I'm attempting to assemble one with the recommended Evolution 100 engine, but am unable to get the muffler to fit. Whichever way I rotate the engine a large chunk of the fuse front would have to be removed to accomodate the standard muffler. If there were a 3/4" spacer suitable for this engine then that could be a solution or perhaps a pitts type muffler. The problem is that the evo has a wide ovular exhaust port and I've not been able to find either an extension or a pitts to fit.
To say I'm disappointed with hangar 9 is an understatement
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