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Hobby Lobby's Flying Styro Brand BF-109G ARF Review

George Voss has a fantastic time exploring this fantastic looking, great flying military marvel, scaled down to just the perfect size!

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Flying Styro: A little different, a little better.


Wingspan:32.5"
Wing Area:174 sq. in.
Weight:12-14 oz. depending on battery
Length:27 1/8"
Wing Loading:10-11.5 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:2 Hitec HS55's
Transmitter:Airtronics RD 8000
Receiver:Hitec Micro 5
Battery:PolyQuest "Twenty" 3-cell 800mAh LiPo
Motor:AXI 2212/34
ESC:Jeti Advance PLUS 8 Amp Brushless
Manufacturer:Flying Styro
Available From: Hobby Lobby

Flying Styro has a different approach to manufacturing small radio controlled electric models. There are plenty of companies that use some form of foam to make key components for model airplanes. These usually come in the form of EPP foam, which by it's nature is spongy and fairly heavy. Then there is Depron, a relitively new foam used in the design of RC aircraft, but planes made with this material are usually flat panel and to my eyes, ugly.

Flying Styro on the other hand uses a foam similar to Depron, but they mold the foam in such a way to take on a full-scale airplanes appearance. The outer surface of the aircraft has a skin as it were, that helps guard against dings. Being it's foam, it still can be dented.

The second key to their great flying airplanes is the fact that the wings, fuselage and tailfeathers are hollow. The wings incorporate a some type of a spar, usually balsa, and the fuse may have a former or two installed during construction. This keeps the overall weight low, thereby making the planes easier to fly by the fact that they have low wing loadings for their size.

Many people purchase these models for display only. Each kit comes with numerous styrene plastic parts that enhance the scale look of the plane. For RC modelers, the kits represent a cross between our youth where we built plastic cars, airplanes and ships, and our current love of flying models.

Hobby Lobby's recommended motor, battery and speed controls are perfect matches. I've never found a need to change something they have recommended. I look forward to my next Flying Styro review.

The Greatest Ace Ever

Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann was the most successful fighter ace in the history of aerial combat. Born April 19, 1922, he shot down 345 Soviet aircraft on his way to an astounding 352 enemy kills while serving with the Luftwaffe, in World War II. Hartmann joined the Luftwaffe in 1941 and was deployed to fighter squadron JG-52 in October 1942, on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. Assigned to fly Bf-109 fighters, Hartmann shot down his first Soviet plane and soon established himself as one of the most talented pilots of the war. In the Battle of Stalingrad, Hartmann shot down planes at a record pace. In July 1943, he shot down seven planes in a single day during the Battle of Kursk.

After reaching 250 victories Hermann Gring Luftwaffe chief of staff, grounded Hartmann fearing of the possibility the hero might die in combat. However, Hartmann successfully lobbied to be reinstated as a combat pilot. On August 24th 1944 Hartmann scored his 300th aerial victory and thus was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords, and Diamonds.

At war's end Hartmann was captured and imprisoned by the Soviet Union. After spending 10 years in harsh conditions of a Soviet POW camp, he was released in 1955 and returned to West Germany, where he was reunited with his wife, to whom he had written every day of the war. Hartmann often said that he was more proud of the fact that he had never lost a wingman in combat than he was about his rate of kills. Hartmann died September 19/20, 1993.

Kit Contents

Requires:

  • Axi 2212/34 motor or similar, mount, etc
  • Radio system w/ micro receiver, 2 micro servos
  • 8A ESC
  • 3 Cell, 11.1V lipoly & lipo friendly charger
  • Uhu Por glue, 5 minute epoxy and misc other items

Assembly

The 12 page instruction manual is more of a picture story of how the plane is to be assembled. If you need step-by-step instructions to assemble an airplane, then the Flying Styro kits won't suit your building needs. However, this kit is designed for average level and above modelers. For us, the instructions are fine.

Since we are dealing with a mostly foam aircraft, we need to choose adhesives carefully. When gluing wood parts to wood, I use Zap or Z-poxy. For foam to foam joints, I like to use Z-poxy or UHU-por. Since this is a foam airplane, its a good idea to always have some bubble wrap or soft foam on the board when working on these planes. The plane will get dented during normal use, but lets not start out with a banged up plane.

Wing

The foam wings come in two panels and utilize a balsa joiner. The aileron linkages are already in place as are the ailerons. All that is needed to finish off the aileron linkage at this point of construction is to epoxy the aileron control arms in place. I made sure to roughen up the wire before gluing the control arms. This provided the best surface for the epoxy to adhere to.

Instead of screwing the HS55 servo in place, I used UHU por on the bottom and the edges of the servo. UHU por will hold the servo firmly in place, but if I need to remove it for some reason, a little finesse and pulling pressure will remove the servo.

I used Du-bro # 845 Micro EZ connectors on the servo arms.

The builder has a choice of adding an assortment of molded styrene items to the plane to make it more scale. I chose to leave the landing gear off; however there are plenty of parts to make nice looking gear legs for the plane. There is even an extra set of wheels if the builder wanted to make the plane look like the gear was retracted. I did install the lower wing radiator and the turbo charger inlet. I used UHU por like contact cement, where I put some glue on both halves, waited a few minutes, and then joined the pieces together. I really like this property of UHU por.

Fuselage

The fuselage is one piece with an integral fin and it is the one item in the kit that I spent the most time on.

Fuselage construction consisted of installing the following items:

  • firewall,
  • stab and elevator,
  • servo and RX tray,
  • elevator servo and receiver,
  • cockpit, pilot and greenhouse.

I started with the two-piece firewall. I had to make sure the centerline of the motor was lined with the main firewall piece. To make sure the motor was centered before gluing the firewall in place, I stood the plane on its nose, and then installed the back half of the supplied ABS spinner on the front of the motor. I maneuvered the firewall until the spinner was centered and even with the nose of the plane and then applied several dots of Z-poxy to the back of the firewall and let it cure. Getting the spinner to run true is a time consuming process. I never got it to run absolutely perfect. It doesn't cause any noticeable vibration, but it looks funny at slow speed.

Next, I cut out the framework and the window areas of the canopy. I continued by installing 2 sets of magnets to retain the back of the canopy, while I used the kit supplied lite ply catches for the front of the canopy.

Using an Extra Lightweight Pushrod

With the canopy installed, installation of the servo/RX tray was next. It was good to see that they took their time to align the factory installed elevator pushrod. There was no binding of the linkage and all I needed to do was create a Z-bend at one end and an L bend at the other. The L bend is kept on the servo arm by #849 Dubro E/Z Link. The reason for no additional parts at either end is simple: weight, or lack there of.

I can see you scratching your head asking yourself; How was I sure that I wouldnt need any adjustment to the control rod length and how was I certain that the L bend was in the correct location?

Heres how its done: The stab and elevator need to be mounted to the fuse at this point. Put a Z bend at the tail end of the pushrod and install the control horn on the Z. Align the control horn on the elevator so it exits the fuselage in a straight line so there is no binding being added to the system. Epoxy the control horn to the elevator with the middle part of the Z in line with the elevator hinge line.

Weve got half of the system finished. Now lets finish the portion inside the fuselage. Lay the servo tray with the elevator servo mounted and hooked up to the RX and turn on the radio. Make a mark on the rod where the L bend will be and make the bend. Trim any extra wire and install the L bend on the servo arm and attach the E/Z link. Now you can slide the servo tray forward and backward until the elevator is in the neutral position. Obviously youll want the elevator trim, servo offset, servo center and whatever other features your radio has and make sure they are centered or zeroed, depending on the feature. There you have it. A light, straight and secure elevator control system.

After the pushrods are done (see sidebar), all thats left on the fuse is to install the molded styrene cockpit if desired. I used some scaled down instruments and glued them to the dashboard. I painted the cockpit sides and the pilot with acrylic art paint. They are water base so they dont harm the molded styrene parts.

Tail

The stab and elevator were already hinged and only needed to be glued to the fuselage. I did notice that the molding relief for the elevator control horn was on the opposite side of the pushrod exit. I was careful to cut the hole in the correct elevator half.

Radio Installation

Radio installation was covered in the wing and fuse construction. Since this is to become a one-piece airplane, I needed to make sure everything radio-wise was working perfectly before gluing the wing. I told myself that several times while finishing up the plane and still managed to glue the wing on before programming the ESC! Fortunately I remembered before the glue cured and I was able to remove the wing, program the ESC and put the wing back in place.

Completion

Since this is a one piece plane, the wings naturally have to be glued to the fuselage. However, the wing to body fairings wrap around the wing at the leading and trailing edges. Because the trailing edge fairings had such a small radius, I decided the best way to install the wing was to slide the trailing edge of the wing into its slots and then pull the forward fairing forward enough to allow the wing to drop in place. It took a fair amount of pressure to bend the fairings, but it worked OK. I just tack glued the front and back of the wing, thinking I may need to get to the radio after the initial flights. You'll have to see the video to see if that worked properly.

Finishing

I try to find out as much information about the particular subject Im modeling as possible, and the Bf-109 is one of my all-time favorite airplanes. I read and purchase books, buy videos and so forth to become not only more educated about a subject, but to become a better modeler. Dave Platt puts out a series of DVDs on building scale airplanes and Ive purchased the entire set. Within the series there are several hours devoted to making a scale plane look scale. One of the primary things to do to a normal plane is to weather it.

Flying Styro sells are two versions of this particular model, the more traditional green and grey and the version reviewed here, the winter camouflage. From a manufacturing point, the white kit is just that, white foam. Its pretty bright to be considered scale. Remembering Daves videos, I decided to try to weather the 109. To make a long story short, it worked! As a matter of fact, it worked so well I was asked to present it as a separate video article which Im currently working on.

The Flying Styro Bf-109 has numerous water based decals that need to be installed. In the past, Ive found that using Hobby Lobbys Gluto Glue makes the decals more resistant to damage over time. The glue is less than $5 and will last several planes, making it a bargain in my opinion. Ive been told a number of people are having difficulty installing these decals so another video article is in the works.

Finally, I used an airbrush to accentuate the exhaust. I used burnt umber, grey and tan to simulate the exhaust stains caused by unburned fuel and oil.

Flying

Taking Off and Landing

Since these planes are meant to be flown, I leave the landing gear off. However, they will fly just fine with the landing gear in place. I fly these planes at grass fields, but if you are stuck with dirt or asphalt, then use the landing gear.

Without the landing gear, simply move the throttle stick to about half throttle and give it a gentle toss into the wind and its flying. I suppose you COULD launch with full throttle if you like, but the manufacturer recommends against it. There is tremendous torque created and when launching the plane may not have enough airspeed to counteract that torque effect. It can pull up hard and roll over to the left. Half throttle or just a little less is the perfect way to launch this one.

Landings are a joy. The Flying Styro prop driven planes can literally drag their tails on the ground during landing. A typical landing will consist of a simple rectangular flight pattern, with final at the lowest throttle setting that keeps the prop spinning. The large 3-blade prop creates a huge disk of drag that slows the plane considerably. The slow forward speed at landing keeps the plane in one piece, even though its made of foam. To be honest with you, I spend much of my flight time doing pseudo touch-n-gos. Its good practice for not only power flying, but flying sailplanes too. Initially I tack glued the wings to the fuse at the LE and TE and left the fairing area glue-less. Watch the video and you'll see why I now have the wing fully glued to the fuselage.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

When it comes to aerobatics, the Flying Styro Bf-109 can do anything an elevator and aileron plane can. Loops can be almost as large as you want. The AXI motor provides plenty of power for scale like and faster flight. Check out the video to see what I mean. There is no doubt about the power available from the AXI motor. The elevator seemed to have more authority than the ailerons did. I have the CG fairly far aft, so that can contribute to a sensitive elevator. In future flights, I'll be fine tuning the throws and CG until I'm satisfied with the flying characteristics.

Rolls are scale like, meaning they aren't fully axial. With a single servo for the ailerons, it's tough to guess the correct amount of differential. The early portion of the video shows a couple of slow rolls. Well, they weren't supposed to be. They had full aileron travel and the roll rate was fairly benign. I'll have to adjust the throw amount the next time I fly it. I really like this plane. Not only is the Bf-109 my favorite WW2 aircraft, the Flying Styro Bf-109 is my current favorite electric I own.

To Rudder or Not to Rudder?

Ive been asked about adding a rudder to this series of planes and honestly, for my needs, its not worth it. The weight and complexity just to have the yaw component isnt worth it, in my opinion. I have not flown this model with the optional rudder, so cannot comment on its functionality. However, Hobby Lobby provided some input...

Hobby Lobby suggests that, for some pilots, the rudder addition IS worthwhile. They indicate, "While a rudder is not necessary, it does give the pilot better flight trim options. If the pilot plans to fly off the main gear, a rudder is necessary. A rudder is also a big help in launching and landing. In launching, rudder would be preferable to aileron for roll control. Some modelers have encountered difficulty in launching, resulting from launching with too much power, zooming into too high an angle of attack, then adding right aileron to counter the left roll. Rather than rolling to the right the application of right aileron stalls the right wing and the plane goes over hard left and the modeler is left wondering what just happened." Hobby lobby recommends that if you are going to install a rudder servo, it is best to move the radio receiver to infront of the wing for balance.

Is This For a Beginner?

Due to it's high speed flying and go-where-you-point-it tendencies, this plane can't be recommended to beginners. However, if you are an intermediate pilot or above, and someone who enjoys the classic art of truly MODELING, the Flying Styro Bf-109 will bring you many pleasurable flights.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

I like this airplane...a lot! Sure the foam gets dents here and there, but who cares? You can't see them while flying and the foam keeps the plane light. The test flights were done in ten mile per hour winds, so this isn't just a fair weather plane. The Flying Styro Bf-109 from Hobby Lobby performs well, whether flying slow or fast, doing aerobatics or shooting simulated touch-n-goes.

Who is this model perfect for? The long term modeler, who really LIKES to model, has got a real friend in Flying Styro. These aren't ARFs for the "fly it now" generation. These are some really detailed, interesting, exciting aircraft for someone who is looking for something more than that.

I really like this plane and, if what I just said fits you too, then I'm sure you will too.

Discussion

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Old Dec 20, 2005, 08:35 PM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
541 Posts
Bravo!

Bravo, Mr. Voss. Your reviews are great reading. I admire your thorough, well organized and very positive style. If anyone is thinking about writing an eZone reivew and is looking for an appropriate model, I would recommend this one. Keep up the good work.

ALW
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Old Dec 20, 2005, 09:06 PM
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gavoss's Avatar
USA, OK, Oklahoma City
Joined Mar 2001
1,837 Posts
Thanks for the kind words. I really enjoy this hobby and I hope it shows in my writings.

The Flying Styro is a really nice plane. I'm very happy with it and plan on keeping it for a long time.

Merry Christmas.

George
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Old Dec 22, 2005, 08:59 AM
Trampling out the vintage
Joined Feb 2002
1,892 Posts
George I thought your review excellent and very fair.

I have this model and built it "stock". I sprayed the decals with acrylic flat and it really made a huge difference in the appearance to the positive.

My only complaints are I found battery access and placement a challenge to get the CG correct. Also the model is fairly fragile and about every third flight some repair is needed.

These issues are however offset by the flying qualitites and appearance. Both are impressive.
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Old Dec 22, 2005, 09:59 AM
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gavoss's Avatar
USA, OK, Oklahoma City
Joined Mar 2001
1,837 Posts
I have to agree with you on the flying capabilities, these planes fly extremely well. For CG issues, a larger battery can solve your problems. I use the stock 800 and the plane is slightly pitch sensitive. I've toned down the elevator throw so the plane reacts the way I want I want it to, to elevator throw.

Enjoy the 109! I'm chaffing at the bit to see what they come out with next.

Have a great Christmas!

George
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Last edited by gavoss; Dec 22, 2005 at 10:08 AM.
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Old Sep 07, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Odisseo's Avatar
Switzerland
Joined Jun 2005
13 Posts
Hello Gavos,
my compliments for the nice work!
I just received my Bf109 Rita version and i was planning to follow some of your instruction with the add of a retractable gear

Just a question, where do you put the LiPo and how o you have access to it?

Thanks for your help!
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