|Wingspan:||57.5" / 146cm|
|Wing Area:||598 sq. in.|
|Weight:||7lbs (112 oz) / 3.175 Kg|
|Length:||50" / 127cm|
|Wing Loading:||26 oz/sq. ft.|
|Receiver:||Futaba R149DP 9-Channel Dual Conversion|
|Battery:||4.8 volt 700 mAh NiCD|
|Manufacturer:||Vinh Quang RC Models|
|Distributor:||Global Hobby Distributors|
|Available From:||Hobby People|
There can never be enough said about the brave fighter pilots, ground crew and operations personnel known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Named after the Alabama airfield, the first group of 13 trainees arrived in Alabama in July 1941, and by March the following year, five were fully trained and combat ready. By 1946, 900 had completed the training with 450 ultimately fighting in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Fighting a battle beyond the front lines, the Tuskegee Airmen were forever a part of the United States Armed Forces when Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ending racial segregation in the US military.
Flying the P-51C, the Tuskegee Airmen flew over 15,000 combat sorties, destroyed 111 German planes in the air, 150 on the ground, 950 rail cars and even a destroyer. The price for success in the air: 66 killed in action, 32 downed and captured. On November 6, 1998 William Jefferson Clinton approved Public Law 105-355 establishing the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.
The P-51C entered European service in 1943 with a Packard Merlin V-1650 and for the most part was identical to the P-51B. The C distinguished it as having been built in Dallas, Texas, rather than Inglewood, California. In all 1,750 were built, but all suffered from poor rear visibility and guns that jammed. The red tail version associated with the Tuskegee Airmen is the most famous of the P-51Cs.
This ARF is not just a replica. It is a replica of one very special plane: The A4-2, NL61429 was last flown in military service in 1943. Acquisition for restoration began in the mid 1960s, and by 2001 restoration was complete. By that time it was one of a couple of Red Tails. Tragically, on May 30, 2004 engine failure ended the life of Don Hinz the leader of the Red Tail Project, but his spirit lives on in a reconstruction project now underway. It is without argument, that A4-2 symbolizes overcoming obstacles. Today, only one P-51C in Tuskegee colors still flies, so having this plane in your hangar is something to be proud of, and sharing this plane, its history, and the stories of brave men that flew the P-51C goes way beyond this hobby we all love.
If you want to provide some material for real history discussions at your local club get a copy of Red Tail Reborn a wonderfully produced DVD by Hemlock Films. They were kind enough to provide me a copy for review, and I was so impressed with the quality, but more importantly, the story. This is a 2-DVD set that includes interviews with former members of the 332nd Fighter Group and the story of A4-2. I was inspired and captivated by the pilotsí interpretation of their training and combat duty.
Currently, the A4-2 is being rebuilt and will proudly fly again, but for now you can relive this wonderful plane, the pilots, the restorers and Don Hinz with the VQMDL .46 ARF Tuskegee P-51C.
The VQMDL ARF from Hobby People arrived after a long wait in great shape. Everything was well packaged and nothing was damaged. Each and every item was bagged, and the wings were well protected under the fuselage and tail components.
The is a true ARF and requires some building. Everything is provided including the fuel tank, fixed landing gear, and plenty of screws and motor mounting hardware.
I especially liked the painted pilot. The 3Ē spinner seems huge, but matches the lines on the cowling. There is a well written manual with no pictures, but rather diagrams. I had no problem knowing what needed to be done.
The assembly from start to finish was less than a day. I thought things went together very well, and there was only one interruption that would have had me to the finish line earlier: The firewall is not pre-drilled. Everything goes together with CA or epoxy. Some silicone is also required for the fuel tank. Be sure to keep a sharp Excel hobby knife available for trimming when necessary.
The wing joins with a large wooden wing joiner. Before you begin, take the time to line both sides of the joint with tape to keep any rogue glue off the finish.
Take the time to setup your wing so you have good intimate bond. I recommend 30 minute epoxy. Take a couple of steel bolts that fit well into the wing bolt holes, and use these to draw the wing together. Clamp on both the bottom and top at the back of the wing to keep the bolts from distorting the holes. Use another clamp up front on the tip, and make sure to clamp both together from the top and bottom to keep the wing aligned. Use the wheel cavities as a clamping point (donít over tighten).
Coat the joiner and both sides of the wing root with glue. Pull the wing together with the clamping system, and wipe off any excess glue. As the glue sets, BE SURE TO REMOVE THE TAPE before the glue hardens. If you wait, the tape may set with the glue and become very difficult to remove.
One really great time saving feature of the VQMDL P-51C is that the hinges and control linkages for the ailerons are already glued. I chose to not install the retractable landing gear. Wheel covers are provided for the wheel cavities to seal them, but require some trimming.
Finish the wing by installing the plywood wing bolt plate. Mount the wing in the fuselage, and prepare to attach the air scoop and front contour. Trial fit your parts, and trim where necessary to ensure a good fit. You may need to trim off some of the mounting surface to make sure the flanged portion of the two parts mounts flush. I marked the wing after I had everything correct and trimmed off some of the covering to make sure I had a good fit. Use medium CA to attach. Note: accelerator will take the paint off!
The fuselage is pretty straightforward, and other than mounting the engine, there is not much to do, but mounting the engine takes some time.
Make sure you have the fuselage well supported and away from things that can gouge or puncture the covering when you begin the engine mounting process. Measure from the back of the motor mount to the edge of the prop hub, and maintain 125mm since this is critical so that the spinner clears the cowling. I clamped the engine into the mount to support it, and then marked the mounting holes for the engine on the motor mount beams and attached the motor. Hold the motor up to the firewall, and center it on the cross hairs provided. Mark the center point of your mounting beams along the side, and then take a piece of tape across the top of the mount and mark the center there.
I chose to invert the motor because in that configuration it is well hidden. I also slotted the cowling to allow it to fit over the exhaust stack. From the side you cannot see the slit. A small hole was drilled for the needle valve extension.
There is always some difficulty in lining up the cowl with the spinner back. No matter what you do, the cowling will be off because the motor is set with a down and right thrust line from the firewall. For me, the best process is to make sure the cowling is lined up with the spinner as you look directly at the nose. Otherwise most will never notice the offset.
Finish the engine by installing the fuel tank. Place a large amount of silicon on the neck of the fuel tank after all your lines are attached and the tank is sealed, and then slip the tank into place. Use some foam to hold it until the silicon sets.
This plane has a realistic tailwheel unlike some versions that actually put it on the rudder. This installation requires you to thread a linkage rod, and then attach it to a control arm as you slide the tail wheel assembly into position. The control arm is slightly offset to allow movement in both directions. This linkage will couple with the rudder control linkage, and then be attached to the rudder servo.
The tail is very easy, but takes some time to make sure everything is square. Remove the elevators from the horizontal stabilizer and slip the stabilizer into the slot. You may have to remove the covering first over the slot. Square the tail both in distance across the trailing edge on both sides and distance from the center of the front of the plane. I placed a pin just behind the firewall and used a tape measure to make sure the tail was square with the fuselage. Once square, mark the horizontal stabilizer and remove the covering. Prepare to glue by sliding the tail into position slightly offset and apply the glue.
Follow the same procedure for the vertical stabilizer. Be sure as you place the vertical stabilizer that you trial fit the lower rudder hinge. When you do glue everything, make sure to apply some glue sparingly to that lower hinge.
Finish the tail by installing the elevator halves, control horns, linkages. Again use the glue sparingly as the hinges are NOT fiber but rather a true hinge. DO NOT USE CA.
There is just enough room to work, and the servo cutouts are well placed. I liked the dual elevator arrangement. The kit includes couplings to the servo arm E-Z adjust couplings. Setting up the plane with this much adjustment is very easy. I also liked the extra long control linkages that were provided because did not have to worry about being too short anywhere.
With laser cut servo trays, you really don't have much choice with regard to where the servos will go and ultimately where your CG will end up. The instructions provide that for a 2-stroke engine place the battery pack under the fuel tank and for a 4-stroke engine place it aft of the servo trays. I was using a 2-stroke, so I followed the directions only to end up way too nose heavy. I finished the model by checking the CG and needed to add a lot of weight to the tail.
In a few words, the Tuskegee P-51C flies like a warbird. The tail sits low and requires you to stay on the rudder on takeoff and use the mains on landing. The big plane is heavy at seven pounds, and in the air it behaves heavy, not in a stall sense, but in a slow and deliberate manner. In fact, I had to dial back my expo because it was just too slow based on my response. In the air it takes some time to get used to the relationship between your sticks and the big warbird. The O.S. .46 provides plenty of power, and the flight track is straight and true. The colorful Tuskegee air frame is easy to see in the air and really a fun plane to wow your friends with as you make high speed passes down the runway.
I was thoroughly pleased with every aspect of the Tuskegee P-51C. The easy starting O.S. engine, the realistic flight characteristics, and its great looks all made this project satisfying. I put in many flights tweaking the responsiveness and working at controlling the touchdowns. Each and every flight got better as I began to get the feel of the P-51C.
There is a learning curve with big tail draggers that require you to keep them under control on the ground. The big Tuskegee requires diligence from gradual throttle input all the way to lift off. Keep in mind the full size P-51 had a nasty habit of forgetting which was in control, the prop or the airframe. An unprepared pilot could just as easily end up upside down on the runway as right side up in the air. The prop was just so big, and the big Merlin produced so much torque that too much rudder at the wrong was problematic.
A full ground effect torque roll is not going to happen with this model, but use of the rudder is a must. Use gradual throttle input, and then with a little down elevator, lift the tail. The take off roll gets better as speed increases. Lift off is very realistic, and the P-51C lifts off with authority.
Landings require another skill set. I found keeping the final approach nice and long really helped. There are no flaps, so you will have some speed to deal with. Be careful not to touch down too quickly because the plane will not want to stay on the ground, and a ground loop will happen. Again, you need a long slow final approach being careful to use the end of the runway and let the plane settle to the ground to bleed off speed. I made several passes to make sure I was ready to touch down, and you will see on the video I use a lot of runway.
The glide slope without flaps is shallow. If you are too steep, the plane will bounce off the runway and into a ground loop. A shallow approach while recognizing that the plane does not want to quit flying is the best method for getting the plane safely onto the ground.
This warbird does big slow axial rolls, big loops, wingovers and inverted flight with elevator input. The lines are very clean and in the air the O.S. .46 provided power for plenty of speed. I noticed that on some loops I entered them without enough speed and ended up with a stall turn; unlimited vertical performance is not a characteristic. I was really pleased the Tuskegee P-51C did perform like the real deal.
No. I would love to see more people fly the Tuskegee but without a buddy-box trainer system the P-51C is for advanced flight skills. The plane requires too much control on the ground roll and even more skill on the landings. The build was not out of the ordinary for an intermediate builder, but flying is where this separated the intermediate from the advanced flyer.
It is commendable that Hobby People and VQMDL have produced an historical aircraft that is not only correct, but representative of the one aircraft most recognized with the Tuskegee Airmen. This is a plane that meets the triad of a modelerís dreams: It is great looking, flies realistically and is something everyone on your flight line will be admiring.
I can assure you the P-51C is a plane that must be in your hangar. You will enjoy flying and talking about it for years.
I have received and reviewed many planes in the last couple of years, but none have brought with them so many opportunities to reflect on the rich history of aviation and aviators as this one has.Last edited by Angela H; May 05, 2008 at 09:25 PM..
|May 07, 2008, 03:04 PM|
At our field we're currently flying conversions of 4, soon to be 5, of VQ's kits; 2 Mustangs, a Tony, a Macchi and a Mig-3. They weigh out at about 6 lbs. The battery can be placed almost over the CG, eliminating any need for tail weight. No battery hatch, though. The wing has to be removed to place/remove the battery.
|May 07, 2008, 03:28 PM|
Whats your setup in the mustangs? I have yet to purchase mine and I'd love to hear some feedback on what you have found to work.
|May 07, 2008, 04:23 PM|
No Swiss ones, just the Tuskegee and Shangri-La.
Check out these two threads on e-converting. The planes are all similar, so the info is quite applicable.
|May 07, 2008, 05:38 PM|
"Ummmm.. does anyone notice something a bit odd about the "scale" pilot figure?"
Yeah, I was going to mention that too - rather ironic, I think.
|May 07, 2008, 07:57 PM|
|May 07, 2008, 09:12 PM|
The real deal
Need I say More?
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