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Great Planes Electrifly Hellcat and Corsair Combo Review

Mike Llewelyn has a blast exploring Great Planes' Electrifly lines newest additions -- the hellcat and corsair scale fuselage fighters!

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Introduction


F4U Corsair
Wingspan:32.5” 826mm
Wing Area:224sq” 14.5dm2
Wing type:Semi-symmetrical extruded foam
AUW weight:Advertised – 14-16oz 397-494g Actual 15.4 oz. 431g
Length:27” 686mm
Wing loading:10 oz/sq. ft. Actual
Servos:2 – eFlite S75 Sub Micro
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly 1500mAh 2s (8c)
Motor:Included Speed 280 BB (replaceable brushes)
Gearbox:Included ~3.8:1 with 10x7 propeller
ESC:Great Planes ElectriFly C-12 Micro brushed LiPoly safe ESC
Avail Online from:Tower Hobbies
Manufacturer:Great Planes/ElectriFly


F6F Hellcat
Wingspan:31.9” 810mm
Wing Area:193sq” 12.4dm2
Wing type:Semi-symmetrical extruded foam
AUW weight:Advertised – 13-16oz 380-440g Actual 15.2 oz 426g
Length:25” 630mm
Wing loading:9.7 oz/sq. ft. actual
Servos:2 – Hitec HS-55 and HS-81
Receiver:AR6000
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly 1500mAh 2s (8c)
Motor:Included Speed 280 BB (replaceable brushes)
Gearbox:Included ~3.8:1 with 10x7 propeller
ESC:Great Planes ElectriFly C-12 Micro brushed LiPoly safe ESC
Avail Online From:Tower Hobbies
Manufacturer:Great Planes/ElectriFly

Well the long wait is over. Great Planes has introduced two new planes to the park flyer market -- the scale fuselage F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat. Both models have been planned for some time now. Great Planes has been enticing us with a great price tag of $69, including the motor propeller and gearbox. These planes are very similar in size to the Alfa and Flying Styro war bird models, so they fit in my fleet nicely.

This review will be a bit different than ones you have seen before. It will actually be a joint review comparing these models. Doug Cohen -- a good friend and talented model designer/builder will be my partner for this comparison review.

The full scale F4U and F6F’s

F4U Corsair:

"Development of the Corsair began in 1938, when the US Navy issued a request for a new single-seat carrier-based fighter. The Chance-Vought company won the contract with their unique, gull-winged airframe pulled by the largest engine then available, the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp. The wing design was necessitated by the tall landing gear which was, in turn, necessitated by the huge propeller required to propel the plane at the desired high speeds. The prototype of the Corsair was first flown on 29 May 1940, but due to design revisions, the first production F4U-1 Corsair was not delivered until 31 July 1942. Further landing gear and cockpit modifications resulted in a new variant, the F4U-1A, which was the first version approved for carrier duty.

The Corsair served with the US Navy, US Marines, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (and later, the French Aeronavale), and quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter/bomber of the war. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in additional aircraft being produced by the Goodyear Company (as the FG-1) and the Brewster Company (as the F3A-1). Production ceased in 1952. Over two dozen Corsairs are believed to be still airworthy, most in the United States."

F6F Hellcat:

"After early US Navy experience in the Pacific in the early months of WWII, and after consultation with Allied air forces in the European theater, Grumman began to develop a successor to their Wildcat fighter, to be called the Hellcat.

The Navy ordered four prototypes of the new airplane, each with a different engine for test and evaluation purposes. Less than a year later, on 26 June 1942, the first prototype (the XF6F-1, with a Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine) flew for the first time. Before much meaningful evaluation of the various engines could be made, however, the Navy decided to press the Hellcat into production by fitting the XF6F-1 prototype with the most powerful engine available, the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp.

The first production model, the F6F-3, first flew in October 1942, and deliveries began four months later with squadron VF-9 on the USS Essex in the Pacific. Extremely robust, powerful and maneuverable, the Hellcat was a potent force against the Japanese, and was credited with over three-quarters of the US Navy's air-to-air kills in the war. The UK's Fleet Air Arm received 252 F6F-3s (designated Gannet Mk I) beginning in 1943."

Source - http://www.warbirdalley.com/

Kit Contents

The review kits were well packaged and the contents in each of the boxes were very well protected. The large boxes had the assembled fuselage wrapped in plastic and in a cardboard cutout protecting it from shifting. The wings, motor package and hardware were also wrapped in plastic and then taped to the box bottom. The amount of pre-fabrication will make these planes true ARF's ready to fly in short order.

Kits both include:

  • Painted foam fuselage and wing
  • Pre-installed firewall
  • Lightweight plastic cowl
  • Canopy and battery hatch
  • Decals and markings
  • S280 BB brushed motor
  • ~3.8:1 gearbox, propeller, collet and spinner
  • Hardware pack (pushrods, horns, EZ type connectors, pushrod keepers, hook and loop tape for battery and RX, motor mount screws, wing screw)
  • Picture step by step instruction guides

Kits both require:

  • 2s LiPoly battery
  • 2 servos 7-18g type
  • Receiver
  • 3 channel minimum transmitter
  • ESC
  • 2S LiPo battery
  • Epoxy and or foam safe CA

Included for this review:

  • Great Planes ElectriFly C-12 Micro brushed LiPoly safe ESC
  • Great Planes ElectriFly 1500mAh 2s LiPoly battery

Assembly

Both of these planes come out of the box nearly ready to fly. The tail feathers are attached from the factory and both of the wings are one piece with no joining necessary. The surfaces are all pre-hinged and attached.

Instructions are clear and the manual includes a picture guide showing step by step details, so we won't cover all the assembly steps here. If you would like to take a look the manuals are both available for download from the Great Planes site.

On both kits done for you:

  • Surfaces installed
  • Wing is joined (no gluing here)
  • No covering necessary – the painting is all done for you

On both kits the builder will need to:

  • Install the horns and pushrod wires
  • Install the fuselage pushrod tube and wire
  • Install radio system
  • Install the power system
  • Apply decals

It is clear most builders will have one of these planes ready to fly in 3-5 hours.



Remember Mike is building the F4U Corsair and Doug the F6F Hellcat. Throughout the review we will both give our thoughts on each plane, in some cases offering helpful hints and suggestions to each other. We are both experts, and need to assert that fact with each other, blindly stepping over one another in the process. It could get ugly......

Wing

Mike – F4U Corsair

I applied a small amount of dry graphite to the pre-curved pushrod wires, then re-inserted them. Assure you de-burr the ends of the pushrods; this will help them to travel into the pre-installed wing tubes better.

The horns use a keeper on the top of the control surface to secure the horns. Rather than having this keeper on the top of the surface, I trimmed the control horn shaft so it would not protrude out of the top of the surface. To secure the horn I used a generous amount of epoxy to secure the control horn to the surface. With the splined shaft sticking into the aileron surface it allows for plenty of gluing area. I will watch these carefully to assure they stay attached. Make sure to use high quality epoxy if you choose this route! Knowing Doug, he will probably take credit for this idea, but it was really mine.

Doug – F6F Hellcat

Editor's Note: Doug's kit -- a pre-production review model as usual -- had a pushrod issue, which Hobbico caught early and has repaired on all stocked models, and even notified customers who had already purchased the airplane.

The aileron surface hinging was fairly stiff. Working them back and forth helped loosen them and allowed them to work more freely. The Corsairs aileron hinging was similarly stiff, so I told Mike to work his out a bit also.

I finished the wing using the same horn modification that Mike did, in fact he really just copied me. He does that all the time.

Fuselage

Mike – F4U

I started by pulling off the pre-installed hatch. The hatch opening on the Corsair is small. Doug noticed the same thing on the Hellcat and he had already cut his hatch larger on one side. OK, so I am copying his idea here...

I created a small support for the pushrod tube so I could glue both the tail and forward end of the elevator tube. It is important to secure the tube on both ends for proper elevator function. I also found the tube to be very slick so I used sandpaper to roughen the tube surface to aid with adhesion.

Doug – F6F

Just like I said, Mike has done it again copying my hatch modification. That hatch expansion was needed to accommodate the 1500 mAh battery pack.

I liked the included hatch magnet and knob, making removal of the hatch and access to the battery very easy.

The rest of the fuselage build was a snap. In fact I would have assembled mine faster than Mike, but he caught up after my servo incident.

Canopy/Cowl– both planes

Both canopies and cowls were installed pre-painted. Canopy panel lines were also pre-painted a nice touch. Both of the cowls friction fit well enough that we both decided they did not need further securing. If you are worried about them moving around use a small piece of clear packing tape to secure.

Motor & ESC installation – both planes

Both of the firewall formers are glued in place for you. The motors are attached to the gearbox, both had proper gear lashing. Three screws secure the gearbox motor combination to the firewall. It was nice to see pre-marked holes in the firewall.

It was at this stage we noticed the right thrust on the Corsair firewall is abundant. Mike grabbed the Hellcat from Doug and compared. Yep the Corsair had more, about 7 degrees compared to the 3 degrees in the Hellcat. The Corsair appeared to have no down thrust, while the Hellcat had a degree, maybe two. We will make sure to note the effect of the thrust lines in our flight trims.

Finish

Mike – F4U

The foam is carefully painted in three colors. The decal sheets are included, but it was decided that both of these birds would receive a new paint job. We will both be re-painting (and by we I mean Doug will be re-painting both) to Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) British markings. Too cool. This was strictly a matter of preference, not a reflection on the existing paint schemes. Doug also likes out of the ordinary, and FAA schemes will give us that. Remember both of these planes saw significant action under the British flag.

The foam on both models seems to have a more durable feel to it than other small foam models we have built. It is still foam, so care must still be used in handling. Admittedly, the fit and finish of the Corsair is not on par with other, twice as pricey, foam models of this size.

The Corsair has a number of plastic pieces that are glued to the outer surface of the foam. Some of these are welcome for added protection, especially the ones on the wing bottoms where the plane will skid. In a couple of places the fit of the plastic is, off and a few edges of the plastic were lifting from insufficient glue.

One other note the plastic belly pan had precut holes for the wing screw and screwdriver to pass trough. The Corsair wing screw access hole was at least 1cm off from the actual screw location so it needed to be enlarged.

Doug – F6F

The Hellcat markings was accurate, but the 3 tone paint job on the Corsair, while accurate for WW2 as advertised, had inaccurate (Korean war) markings for the Stars and Bars.

The predrilled wing screw access hole for the Hellcat was also off, but by a much smaller distance than the Corsair. The wing and belly pan were both slightly misaligned on the Hellcat.

The panel lines, simulated rivets and control surface moldings look quite good. The fuselage and wing as well as the symmetrical surfaces all looked very nice for the price.

Power systems

Great Planes ElectriFly C-12 ESC

  • Size – 21x8x11mm
  • Weight – 8g
  • Input 6-8 NiCad/NiMh cells or 2-3s LiPoly
  • BEC voltage 5v output 1amp BEC circuit
  • Battery lead as Deans Micro 2R installed
  • 2mm Gold female connectors on the motor end

Wires on both the motor and battery end were the perfect length for most applications. A plus considering many newer ESC’s come with rather short battery and motor leads. The C-12 is also very light and small making it a perfect choice for these types of planes. The little C-12 ESC does include a jumper for LiPoly or NiCad/NiMh cutoff. When LiPoly is selected the low voltage cutoff is 2.75v/cell.

Thoughts on the controller: The ESC performed well straight out of the box. It is nice to see ESC’s with cutoffs for LiPoly setups.

For both planes we will use the identical included 280 brushed motors and gearboxes. The ElectriFly C12 brushed ESC and ElectriFly 1500mAh 2s LiPoly batteries complete the power system.

Motors – both planes

The included brushed motors seemed to be of good quality. It is a BB motor with replaceable brushes.

Amp draws

The stock power system motor produced the following results:

Motor statistics
Included 10x7 Prop Amps Watts Voltage RPM
10x7 8.3 60 7.19v 4,700

As can be seen, this tiny s280 motor produced good power. Since these planes are in the 15-16oz. range, it will provide 58w/lb power. That is enough power to fly acceptably, but war birds might deserve a bit more power. With brushless systems now very affordable, that is certainly a great add on option for these planes as well. Any power system with approximately 100 watts of power will yield excellent performance on either one of these planes.

The bearings were smooth and the cogging was as expected. Others have reported good results using this stock motor with 3s LiPoly cells and smaller propellers. I would suspect if you keep the amps at or below the 8 amp draw of the 2S pack, the brushes should last nearly as long on 3s power and provide better motivation for these war birds.

Pre-Flight

Rates and transmitter setup

Mike – F4U

I chose to set my starting rates higher than recommended for both ailerons and elevator. They said 5mm each direction and I used almost 10mm each direction.

I usually like 25-35% expo on ailerons and elevator, so I used 25% expo for initial values. I later changed ailerons to about 10% exponential. Throws are a very personal preference and I felt 10mm throws for the surfaces was about right for my flying style.

The flight timer was set to count down from 10 minutes. That should be plenty long with this plane and give ample time for landing before the 1500mAh batteries are depleted.

Doug – F6F

Since I hate having antenna wires hanging from my plane, I will be using the Spektrum DX6 system. One of the great things about this radio is the receiver wires are very short, leaving nothing hanging outside the plane.

I do not generally use exponential or dual rates, so my setup is simple. I also like to have as much surface throw as possible as you can always take some out later! Ailerons and elevator were set for about 12mm each direction and those throws suited my flying style just fine. A less experienced warbird pilot may want significantly less throw, or at least dual rates to be able to cut back the throws quickly in flight!

Flying

Here we go – time for first flight. Pictures are always a must before that first flight. Remember both planes will get FAA British markings and re-paint jobs so no decals or other markings were applied. (See Update below!)

First flight

Of course we had to fly the Great Planes Corsair and Hellcats on the same day and time. We had no reason to believe that they would not be excellent flying airplanes. We both have large war bird fleets, made up of many other models in the size and power range. After about 2 weeks of miserable Texas spring winds we found a calm morning on Memorial day - how appropriate!

Hand launch

Mike – F4U: I supplied full power as Doug gave the Corsair a good firm toss. He indicated it really amounted to letting it fly out of his hand. I like having someone else hand launch on first flights just in case I need to get on the sticks in a hurry. No worries as the F4U began a slight climb out with no trim changes needed! I did eventually use 1 click of right aileron trim, but that was it. The pre-installed thrust angles in the firewall proved itself to be correct. No significant pitch changes with throttle changes were needed, and no yaw issues with power application were encountered.

Doug – Hellcat: Mike launched the Hellcat, he is a much better launcher than I. The Hellcat dipped slightly, indicated the CG was a bit off. I did have the CG set forward of recommended, at about 1.5". Use the recommended 2" point for a better starting point. The plane was flying well, but I landed to change the CG to the stock measurement. With the battery pack moved rearward, the plane flew much better and the controls were more pronounced.

Power

Mike – F4U: Having flown many models of this size with 100+ watt 3s brushless systems has spoiled me. The model flew well on stock power (see video) but I would've preferred being closer to 100W. It will get a brushless upgrade in the future, but for now it flies just fine.

Doug – F6F: While the stock power system flew the plane, it really did want for just a bit more power. I agree that it will see a brushless system in the future.

Stalls

Mike – F4U: The stall on the Corsair is just as expected; it slows down very well and then quickly drops the left wingtip. Nothing extreme but you will want to land with power and not push stall too much.

Doug – F6F: The Hellcat snaps a little to the left in a stall. Do not try this too low to the ground if it can be helped.

Landing

Mike – F4U: With the stall showing an expected wing tip drop, I carried a bit of speed into the landing. This proved to be unnecessary. At about 3 feet I continued to slow the plane power off and it slowly settle in. By the time I was at about 4 inches the plane just floated along! Continuing the flair I could not believe how slow it was going when it settled down on the grass. Nice and slow, no issues here.

Doug – F6F: Mike says he landed on the grass, but he actually landed on the only dirt patch on the entire football field. I landed on the grass also with no issues noted. The brake on the ESC was off, so as expected the propeller does spin all the way down even with power off.

Flight #2

These planes are a blast to fly, and now it was time to ring them out a bit more.

Loop

Mike – F4U: With the stock power system on 2s LiPoly power, it will loop from level flight but it does slow down more than I like. It will snap out with my increased throws and too much elevator stick, but nothing dramatic.

Doug – F6F: The Hellcat also loops from level flight and it will snap out a bit more than the Corsair if pushed too hard.

Roll

Mike – F4U: The Corsair rolls very well. As expected it does not have a perfectly axial roll but few if any war birds do. The rolls look very scale. It has good aileron roll authority, something I was concerned about with the wire pushrod system used here.

Doug – F6F: The roll with the Hellcat was just a bit slower than the Corsair. It does have good aileron control with the thinner pushrod wire I used.

Split S turns

Mike – F4U: Split S turns are smooth and easy with no problems noted.

Doug – F6F: The Hellcat is just as smooth!

Spins

Mike – F4U: Spins and small planes with no rudders are a bit risky, but the Corsair recovered as soon as it regained airspeed.

Doug – F6F: Once again the Hellcat is just about identical to the Corsair.

Included power system

The included power systems allows for these planes to remain very light, but still give good flight performance. As indicated some have used 3s power on this motor and reported good results. Make sure you test your amp draw, use a smaller propeller and watch the motor temperature. Both of us use 3s 100+ watt systems on war birds of this size, so to be fair that spoils you a bit.

Are these planes for a beginner?

While not for the first time pilot these planes are not very difficult to fly. Neither the Corsair nor Hellcat will exhibit any self correcting responses, something a beginner needs. These would make nice first warbirds for an experienced park flyer modeler.

Flight Video

Downloads

Conclusion

Hits:

  • Value Priced
  • Included good power from a nice brushed BB motor, still in the value pricing (!)
  • Prefabrication -- no hinges or surfaces to install or wing halves to join
  • Stellar flight performance
  • Fast assembly
  • Light weight
  • Complete hardware kit
  • Manufacturer standing behind the production issue

Misses:

  • Wing alignment on Hellcat was off
  • Wing hole misalignment
  • Plastic parts fit and gluing could have been better
  • Small hatch openings
  • Would've liked a bit more power in the stock package
  • Pushrod issues, resolved by manufacturer on all current production kits

The Great Planes F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat are priced right and the included power system gives good performance. They are a great value and they are readily available. Check out the F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat at your local hobby shop or buy direct at Tower Hobbies.

Mike – F4U

The Great Planes F4U Corsair was very easy to assemble. In fact total build time was about 4 hours. While the fit and finish were not perfect, this model is very well done and a great bargain. The foam feels sturdier than the other models of this size and type. I was happy with the WW2 paint job, even though the markings were for later era F4U's.

Flight performance is where this plane excels. It flies very well, with no bad habits noted. It looks very real in the air. The stock power system and 2s LiPoly won't rip the wings off anything, but it does a good job of motivation.

Doug – Hellcat

The Great Planes F6F Hellcat was a very fast build. My build time was short, even with the servo failure that I had. The finish of the Hellcat was good, and the scheme and markings were accurate -- that is important to me.

Again flight performance is very similar to other war bird offerings in this size. The brushed system does fine, but I would prefer a bit more power. I am very happy with the plane overall.

Update

Here are the pictures of the planes in their new paint schemes. Doug painted both models and pilots with FAA (Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm) camouflage schemes. The planes accept paint very well as you can plainly see. They look fantastic with their new look. Be careful not to add too much weight!

Discussion

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Old Jul 18, 2006, 04:16 PM
I want to fly everything!
Lance Nordby's Avatar
Hillsboro, OR, USA
Joined Mar 2004
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Wow, that pilot is beautiful. Well, maybe that's not the right word.

How about an article on how to paint figures like that?
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Old Jul 18, 2006, 04:20 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
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Thanks Lance as indicated Doug does those...

I have watched him paint his figures, and I can tell you I would never have the patience to do that work. He has been sculpting and painting for almost 30 years so there are no shortcuts.

I will ask him though!

Mike
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Old Jul 18, 2006, 08:47 PM
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That was a well constructed informative review. Certainly one of the best.

Thanks, look forward to more from you guys.
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Old Jul 19, 2006, 08:27 AM
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Thank you Magrat - I appreciate that! Doug is a great friend and he is actually the guy that said - hey we need to get "one" electric plane in your fleet. The rest is history.

I have been all "E" now for almost 4 years!

Mike
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Old Jul 19, 2006, 12:51 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
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Mike and Doug,

GREAT co-review!! And the video and pics aren't too bad either

Ronnie
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Old Jul 19, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Beaumont tx
Joined Oct 2004
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Very good review, guys. It is especially nice to see a Corsair that doesn't have that silly masking tape in front of the canopy!!

(especially since it was only on the very earliest aircraft and only a squadron besides).

howell
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Old Jul 19, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Thanks Ronnie - my video guy is really kinda nuts.....

Howell - thanks! As you can tell I didn't want a "standard" Corsair in any way shape or form. I love the plane, but knew it had to be different. Doug was originally going to keep his Hellcat in US markings, but after he finished painting the Corsair, he knew the Hellcat had to have FAA markings also.

Funny - we flew them on July 4th together for the first time with their new paint schemes! I still felt very patriotic! The Brits actually taught the US Navy a thing or two (or ten) about carrier landings with the Corsair. Seeing past the big long nose was no short task - they figured it out, in style!

Mike
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Old Jul 25, 2006, 12:22 PM
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United States, SC, Okatie
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I wonder about belly landings on grass- do you use prop savers or do the props flex enough to avoid damage? Great review! Sammy
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Old Jul 25, 2006, 12:28 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
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Ft. Worth, Texas
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Sammy, neither plane is equipped with a prop saver, at least they weren't during the video. I've never used one on my gearless planes, only on my indoor planes. I have only had a couple of bad landings where the prop or output shaft broke.

Ronnie
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Old Jul 25, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Yep what Ronnie said, when landing the prop gets horizontal in a hurry. I have flown entire season (1 year) on the same prop on belly landers.

Mike
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Old Sep 02, 2006, 08:33 PM
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Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Great Plane's Corsair with Brushless Power

Ed Holt of our club was impressed with what he saw in the review and thought the Corsair would be a great plane with a little more power. (Ed would want the Saturn V rocket to have more power.) In this case Ed was right. He has a Himaxx 2802-0980 in his Great Plane's Corsair with a Polyquest 3 cell 1500 battery, 2 Hitec 55 servos and an 8 x 6 prop. It performs great. Good review guys. Mike Heer
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Old Sep 03, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Good review guys. Mike Heer
Thanks Mike.

Doug now flies the Hellcat with a Ultrafly Frio motor - The Corsair now has the Skatty 400xt.

The Hellcat is pulling about 13amps or so and it goes like crazy with the stock prop! The Corsair is "perfect" with the Skatty and 3s Lipoly and 8x6 GWS HD prop. It pulls around 11-11.5amps...

The are perfect for 100-130w systems. Both are still flying strong and are real favorites of ours.

The builds were not perfect, but they planes are a real value and they fly wonderfully.

Mike
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Old Oct 09, 2006, 05:52 PM
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Mike,

I recently purchased the Corsair. Are you using the Skatty in a direct drive configuration?

Also, is this motor an easy fit for this plane?

I have been out of the sport for 6 years and the electronics have come so far. I would like to have plenty of power, but more importantly, a good fit for the airplane.

Thanks,

Dave


Excellent Review by the way. Great job Guys!
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Old Oct 09, 2006, 06:05 PM
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A little advice regarding the Corsair.

I'd like to upgrade the power with the Skatty 400xt.
What Speed controller should I use?
What size LiPoly batter should I use?

Please reply in lamens terms, as the last time I flew, it was combat gliders over a cliff in Northern California. The LiPoly batteries are new to me. As are the brushless motors.

I'm excited about the Electric Corsair, I just need to get the right components the first time.
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