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ParkZone Spitfire Mk IIB RTF Review

Parkzone continues a winning streak with the third in their RTF Parkflyer Warbird series ... the Spitfire Mk IIB.

Splash

Wingspan:39.5" (1000mm)
Wing Area:230 sq. in.
Weight:26oz (740g)
Length:33.5" (850mm)
Wing Loading:16 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:12g Mini Servo (3 Wire)
Transmitter:ZX10 3ch FM proportional (27mHz)
Receiver:6-channel FM receiver
Battery:10.8V 1000mAh Ni-MH
Motor:480 Brushed Power with gear reduction
ESC:Auto-Cutoff w/ Lipo Select
Manufactured by:ParkZone
Available from:Horizon Hobby

Introduction

A few years ago I was lured back into the RC hobby planes by a plane from a new company called ParkZone. It was their first offering: a Ready-to-Fly electric plane called the Stryker. I had my doubts about buying an electric plane; eight years previously in my home state of Ohio, electric was just not the thing when it came to RC planes. But the times have definitely changed and my experience reviewing this plane made me rediscover what it takes to make me spontaneously grin from ear to ear.

ParkZone continues the tradition of providing everything you need - all in one box - to get into the sky and flying (grin included). Let’s take a look at their latest offering... the Spitfire Mk IIB RTF .

Kit Contents

ParkZone’s planes come to you with everything you need to fly in one box, with the intent of getting you in the air FAST.

Kit includes:

  • Pre-painted fuselage, wing and horizontal stabilizer
  • ZX-10 Transmitter with 6 channel receiver
  • (2) three wire servos installed, one in the wing for ailerons and the other in the fuselage for elevator
  • Variable rate DC peak charger
  • 10.8 volt 1000 mah NiMH battery
  • Eight AA dry cells for the transmitter
  • Plastic bag with assembly manual, spare prop, Xport adaptor, spare battery connector, wing screws and radio jumpers

Kit requires:

  • Nothing! There is nothing else you need to purchase to get the Spitfire in the air, although you may want to either pick up another NiMH battery or a 3S Lithium Polymer battery in the 2100 mah range size.

ParkZone deserves commendation for listening to the suggestions of their many faithful customers. There has been an evolution of improvements with each new plane as a result, and the Spitfire is no exception to this progression.

Though I like the improvements in the radio transmitter, I would like to see ParkZone upgrade the radio to the two stick version that appears to be shipped with Spitfires sent to foreign markets. I think starting with a true two stick radio simplifies the eventual transition into other radios.

Assembly

This Spitfire comes with the motor, gearbox, prop, elevator servo and the receiver already installed in the fuselage (foam built over a plastic reinforcing frame). The other servo is pre-installed in the wing, with the control linkages for the ailerons factory installed and connected to both control horns on the ailerons and the servo. The wing is foam with no reinforcing spar noted. The plane comes completely covered with all decals already applied.

The ParkZone Spitfire manual does an excellent job of guiding you through the few steps necessary to complete the assembly, but there are a few items worthy of consideration and explanation.

Wing

I decided to pre-thread the screws into the three plastic receiver holes located on the fuselage plastic structure. While this is probably not necessary, I thought it would help me get the proper feel for the torque required to insert these rather small screws into their respective holes.

While the manual says that you need to find the aileron extension and use it to connect the aileron servo to the receiver, there is no extension provided and in my very humble opinion, one is not required. The servo wire is long enough that you can just plug it directly into the receiver (taking care to orient it in the same way as the already installed elevator servo). To eliminate confusion about into which channel the aileron needs to be plugged, Parkzone has added this clarification on their website:

Service Bulletin: PKZ1700 Spitfire Receiver Label

We have become aware that the label on the receiver of the ParkZone Spitfire RTF may have shifted and may cause some confusion regarding the channel sequence. Due to this, the elevator may appear to be plugged into the rudder channel when you look at the receiver.

The correct sequence for elevator and aileron are as follows:

Elevator lead (already plugged in at factory) should be installed into the 3rd three pin port from the bottom of the receiver. The aileron servo lead (no servo extension necessary) needs to simply be plugged in directly below the elevator servo (2nd three pin port from bottom).

Please perform the function check prescribed in the manual and call 1-877-504-0233 if you have any questions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

ParkZone

NOTE: Exercise a bit of caution when tightening the three screws that hold the wing in the fuselage saddle. Though you have to be certain you tighten them adequately so that the wing is tight against the fuselage saddle and won’t pull away in flight, it is possible to over-torque them and strip the holes.

Fuselage

There is really no assembly required for the fuselage. It is worth taking a few moments to check it over thoroughly to insure that there is no shipping damage. Mine arrived in perfect condition except for a tiny crack in the battery access door.

Some Notes on the Horizontal Stabilizer

Take a little time to make sure the horizontal stabilizer is installed correctly - it will translate into a better flying plane! It is important to properly align the horizontal stabilizer in relation to the rest of the airframe being careful not to put the control horn on the wrong side of the fuselage!

Before you secure the horizontal stabilizer with the included four pieces of tape, it is worth making a few measurements to be sure you really have it positioned properly. Since the antenna comes already installed, I removed it from the hold-down holes it is threaded through on the vertical stabliizer and used it to check the orientation of the horizontal stabilizer. I referenced a distinct point on each side of the stab and then used my finger to mark the point where it intersected the antenna. I swung the antenna back and forth across both sides of the stab to make sure it was not cocked. I also measured out from the vertical stabilizer to the same reference point on both sides of the horizontal stabilizer.

While attaching the horizontal stabilizer on my review Spitfire, I experienced difficulty in getting the correct actual and visual measurements. I noticed that the fuselage had an ever-so-slight twist aft from the trailing edge of the wing. I found it necessary to strike a compromise between the proper placement based on actual measurements and on what my eye said looked right. Never underestimate the power of a good eyeball for a final check!

Use TAPE to attach the horizontal stabilizer you say?!! At first, I was a little hesitant, but after considering the expected speed of this warbird on the included geared 480, I decided that tape would be perfectly adequate. For a little added peace of mind, I opted to use Blenderm tape instead of the included tape since I know from past experience that it does not give up its bond easily. If I decide to retrofit the motor to a higher performance brushless variant, I may indeed go back and glue the horizontal stab in for added strength.

I set the elevator for a neutral position, even with the horizontal stabilizer. (There is no need to trim it in anticipation of the airplane possibly nosing over in flight; this one tends to climb, and you may even need some down trim.)

When you attach the clevis to the control horn, slide the piece of silicon tubing up and over the clevis to insure it will not open in flight.

Flying

Preflight

The center of gravity is listed as being around 67 millimeters with the stock NiMH. I think that the engineers at ParkZone designed the plane around the stock battery, so switching to a lighter lithium polymer battery might shift the center of gravity aft.

I am a pretty experienced flyer, but I was impressed with the wealth of great suggestions ParkZone provides in the manual. Topics such as Choosing a Flying Field, Optimal Flying Conditions and hints and suggestions for all phases of flight make this a mandatory read before you fly!

ParkZone recommends that the initial flights take place with the mode switch set to "A" for reduced throw on the ailerons and elevator. I opted to go with the "B" setting on my maiden flight since ParkZone includes a “high-tech” anemometer in the box. Did you miss it?! It is the red streamer that you are supposed to attach to the tip of the transmitter aerial! Believe it or not, it is a valuable tool to assist in your appraisal of whether you should take to the sky on any given day. The winds on the day I maidened mine were just at the edge of being too much according to the manual’s maximum recommended winds of 8 MPH.

Basics

Taking Off and Landing

The manual does a sterling job of describing the best way to hand launch the Spitfire. The included 480 geared brushed motor pulls pretty hard with the stock 10.8 volt 1000mah battery and has no problem climbing out on a hand launch. Make sure she leaves your hand nice and level and keep her turned into the wind so you don’t make any low level, low airspeed turns. This Spitfire flies along quite nicely at about half throttle and the included NiMH battery is good for at least ten minutes of normal flight.

I was amazed at how easy it is to land this plane! Its slow speed performance is very stable and predictable with no tendency to drop a wingtip on a slow landing approach. With a slight headwind it is even easier; just aim the Spitfire into the wind, pull the throttle back and let her descend. When she is a foot or two off of the ground, feather in a small bit of elevator to flare her nicely onto the terra firma. Make sure to completely chop the throttle before touchdown to avoid breaking a prop.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The stall characteristics of the Spitfire are very forgiving. The wing area is ample and when you finally do run out of lift, the stall is gentle and it is easy to recover with an advance of the throttle. It does not tend to fall off to either side in stalls, but instead just drops the nose.

The Spitfire likes to climb, and while the vertical climb out is certainly not unlimited, the power system will let you pull up and quickly gain enough altitude to get out of harm's way. With a slight dive to gain the speed necessary to maintain momentum over the top, it is possible to loop the Spitfire. The lack of a rudder makes it a little difficult to make tracking corrections through the loop.

Aileron rolls are very slow and scale, with a touch of down elevator necessary as you transition through inverted flight. The outboard ailerons are probably responsible for this slower roll rate and increasing the throw on the ailerons would probably increase the roll rate. I honestly prefer the look of the more scale flight performance.

The full throttle, low altitude strafing run passes are great! Together, the growl of the geared 480 brushed motor and the large prop create a very pleasing sound when the plane roars by.

I quickly gained confidence in yanking and banking the Spitfire all over the sky. Its excellent stability and agility had me ripping around at relatively low altitude.

I used the included spare battery connector to make a ParkZone to Dean's Ultra battery adapter which allowed me to use my plentiful stock of 3-cell lithium polymer batteries in the Spitfire. The end results were longer flight times and a little more power from the slightly higher voltage of the lipos. I found that my lighter lipos made the Spitfire too tail heavy, but even so I was able to get the plane back on the ground without too much difficulty.

Is This For a Beginner?

From the ParkZone manual: “If you are not experienced at flying one of HobbyZone’s 3-channel aircraft or any other 3-channel radio controlled aircraft, we recommend that you do not fly this aircraft. If you still choose to fly, you will need to seek the help of an experienced radio control pilot during your first several flights. This is especially important if you have not flown a 3-channel airplane with aileron control as one of the channels. Crash damage is not covered under the warranty!”

And I agree. I do not think a beginner stands a very good chance of getting the Spitfire up and then back down without difficulty. I am confident that the Spitfire would be an excellent first warbird or low wing airplane, however. It comes out of the box with a fairly conservative power system and control surface setup and if you have ample stick time on a beginner high wing trainer type airplane, you will be able to handle this one.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

A big thanks to my flying bud T.Riley (blueskyrider), who is always willing to lend his steady hand and great eye(s) on the videocam!

Conclusion

From the Stryker to the Spitfire, ParkZone just keeps cranking out fun, ready-to-fly airplanes that make it easy to jump into the exciting world of RC. It is no lie that charging the battery almost takes longer than assembling the plane - in no time flat, you have the Spitfire in the air. The Spitfire looks great (there is no mistaking that trademark elliptical wing) and it is easy to fly. ParkZone deserves commendation for their rendition of this classic and well loved warbird.

Plusses:

  • Everything you need to fly comes in the box
  • Assembly takes minutes, not hours
  • Extensive manual includes lots of flying suggestions
  • Captures the classic lines of the Spitfire
  • Includes true 6-channel receiver and standard three wire servos which can be removed and used in other airplanes
  • ESC has programmable low voltage cutoff to protect lithium polymer batteries
  • Can be upgraded to a brushless power system

Minuses

  • Came with a small crack in battery access door
  • Fuselage came with a slight twist

Quite often when I am flying, observers will ask me that question that we all hear from time to time: "What do I have to do to get started in RC planes?" With all of the equipment and decisions and costs that a beginner faces when stepping into this hobby, ParkZone has greatly simplified the process. I’ve begun answering with one word: ParkZone.

Last edited by Bajora; Apr 14, 2007 at 10:11 PM..

Discussion

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Old May 09, 2007, 09:02 PM
DELTAS RULE
corsair nut's Avatar
tehachapi, CA
Joined Jan 2006
22,832 Posts
congrats Jon! looks great! sweet video!
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Old May 09, 2007, 09:15 PM
Crash-a-holic
Medford, MA, United States
Joined Sep 2004
235 Posts
Wow, that worked out quite nice. My Spitty just showed up this afternoon. Finished it up and its just waiting to fly tomorrow if the wind is nice.
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Old May 09, 2007, 09:20 PM
Member 120mph Club
ATIS's Avatar
New Bern, North Carolina, United States
Joined Oct 2004
12,455 Posts
Excellent review... love this plane... but I killed her today after I mounted a 5-n-1 on the wing... she hated the extra drag ont he left wing... and I mean really hated as in fit to be tied hated...

video posted... along with a throw the prop video and a couple others of the Spit...

www.myspace.com/rcihcc

And welcome back to the addiction... I will be getting another PZ Spit if I can repair mine... simply an awesome plane!!
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Old May 09, 2007, 10:00 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,552 Posts
Nice vid! Please post more with the camera mounted near the tail and facing forward. Liked that a lot. Did you have your 5in1 on the rudder and balance it out with a bit of weight forward?
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Old May 09, 2007, 10:00 PM
Wannabe B-26 pilot!
Matt Halton's Avatar
Southwold, Suffolk, UK.
Joined Nov 2002
4,915 Posts
Very very good review there Jon- I see they have dragged the 'photo journalist' out of you to max effect!

Great write up, I have a PZ FW 190 NIB here, was going to strip out the gear from my trusty E-Flite '47, but time is always in too short supply..
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Old May 09, 2007, 10:28 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,781 Posts
she hated the extra drag ont he left wing

I almost tried that myself but figured it might be tough to pull off without a "counterbalance" on the other wing?

Did you have your 5in1 on the rudder and balance it out with a bit of weight forward?

Well, not that far back actually? More midships, trying to stay close to CG so as to not upset it too much? As it was, I did just that and the plane was a little tough to handle but even when tail heavy, I was very impressed at how forgiving this plane was!

Tnx Matt! You know, I do love writing, videoing and photographing this stuff almost as much as I do actually building and flying it?!
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Old May 09, 2007, 10:58 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Excellent review Jon!! The video and the shots are terrific also!

Ronnie
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Old May 09, 2007, 11:01 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,781 Posts
AW MAN! I FORGOT!

My apologies to my flying bud T.Riley (blueskyrider), who is always willing to lend his steady hand and great eye(s) on the videocam or whatever I need! I meant to mention you in the review and I forgot. Sorry for being such a toad TR!

Thanks a million times!

EDIT: Either I am lsoing my mind or my Editor inserted my thanks to TR into the review?! Probably the former!
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Last edited by Bajora; May 10, 2007 at 08:19 AM. Reason: I did mention him?!
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Old May 09, 2007, 11:51 PM
No Guts, No Glory
flyin C's Avatar
Simi Valley, CA
Joined Feb 2007
2,024 Posts
GREAT REVIEW!!
The spit is truly the BEST RTF warbird on the market. One thing the that is good about the Spit is it doesn't roll left after launch, I have heard to many stories of bad launches with the Mustang and FW-190.
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Old May 10, 2007, 01:14 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Sweet review! Great pics and video included in the review. Darn right you thank that camera man. Looking forward to the PBY later this summer! Mike
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Old May 10, 2007, 04:49 AM
Flippin Multirotors
Get Real's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
5,040 Posts
Awesome Video . For one reason or another i havent been able to have a camera person with when i fly with onboard video cameras. Very nice editing and the multable camera positions mixed in with the cam footage from the ground really blended well together.
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Old May 10, 2007, 07:45 AM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
United States, NH
Joined May 2005
7,752 Posts
Looks like PZ has been making some nice improvements since I last flew them. Great review!
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Old May 10, 2007, 09:18 AM
killickb
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The Villages. Florida
Joined Jan 2005
1,421 Posts
Great video and looking very scale in speed but please tell us what on board video camera you were using, I need one of those !!!
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Old May 10, 2007, 11:50 AM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,781 Posts
The onboard footage was filmed with the 5 in 1, discussed in great detail in this thread:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=421745
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