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Hobby Lobby's F9F Panther EDF Jet ARF Review

Michael Heer quickly assembles this Korean era Navy/Marine jet and reports on the handling and performance of the Starmax, F9F Panther Jet imported and sold by Hobby Lobby.



The F9F Panther
The F9F Panther
Wingspan:30 1/4"
Wing Area:179 sq in
Weight:18.5 oz.
Length:31 1/2"
Construction:Molded EPS foam
Charger:Lipo balance charger included
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR500
Battery:3-cell 11.1 volt lipoly 1300mAh pack
Fan Unit:64mm
ESC:brushless 25 Amp
Available From:Hobby-Lobby
Price ARF:$ 209.90 (Review model)
Price RTF:$ 239.90
Spare Battery:$36.40

I have always loved the looks of the F9F Panther jet. I assembled and painted a plastic model of one as a child, and it was my favorite model jet. The distinctive air intakes and the dark blue color had a lot to do with my fondness for it, but I saw a movie called Men of the Fighting Lady at a Saturday matinee birthday party when I was around ten that showed the Panther flying off of a carrier, and the beauty of that plane in flight hooked me.

Unlike my childhood plastic model, this RC F9F Panther comes prepainted and assembled much more quickly and easily than my childhood plastic model. She was ready to fly the morning after the UPS man delivered her.

Brief History of the F9F Panther

The Panther was first flown on November 24, 1947 and was the first jet fighter made by Grumman and the second jet fighter for the U S Navy. It was also used by the Marines as both a fighter and a ground support jet with both bombs and rockets to supplement the 4 20mm cannons on the plane. Due to insufficient fuel space in the fuselage and wings, fuel tanks were permanently added to the wing tips. A total of 1382 were made in different variants, and it was the front line fighter on the Navy carriers as well as the most numerous navy jet at the time of the Korean Conflict. F9Fs shot down 5 Mig 15s to the loss of only 1 F9F but it was found to be generally inferior to the Mig 15. As a result, a modified version of the F9F was made with swept wings called the F9F Cougar. The plane was retired from service in the U.S. Navy in 1958, and 24 of them were sold to Argentina.

Kit Contents

The plane is made of EPS foam. The control servos came mounted in the wing panels and the fuselage. The part count was low so assembly time was very fast.

Kit Contents:

  • Foam fuselage with rudder/front wheel and elevator servos installed
  • Left and right wing panels with aileron servos installed
  • Wing tip tanks
  • One piece horizontal stabilizer with pre hinged elevator
  • Vertical stabilizer with hinged rudder
  • Removable landing gear with steerable front wheel
  • 3-cell 11.1 volt 1300mAh Lipoly battery pack
  • Balance charger for battery pack
  • Tube of glue
  • Assorted hardware

Items I supplied:

  • Spektrum DX7 2.4 GHz transmitter
  • Spektrum AR500 2.4 GHz 5-CH receiver
  • Second 3-cell 11.1 volt 1300 mAh Lipoly battery pack
  • Small Phillips screw driver
  • Formula 560 Canopy glue



Both wing panels arrived with the aileron already hinged and attached and with the decals applied. I installed the aileron control horn to each aileron using two supplied screws and my small Phillips screwdriver. I trial fitted each wing panel to the fuselage and used a wooden Popsicle stick to open up the slot for the molded tongue on the top of the wing that fits into the fuselage. This required very little pressure but allowed the pieces to fit together without using force. Using the supplied glue, I attached one wing panel, and then after waiting fifteen minutes, attached the second wing panel. I allowed the glue on the wing panels to dry over night, and in the morning I plugged the aileron servos into the extension wires that came out from the fuselage.


I chose to install the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage next. I first plugged in the elevator servo that was mounted in the vertical stab to the wire located at the front of the stabilizer mounting bay. I applied glue into the mounting bay and also to the base of the vertical stabilizer. I tucked the servo wire into the front of the bay and inserted the stabilizer into the bay and made sure it was installed vertically. I allowed the glue to dry for fifteen minutes. I trial fitted the horizontal stabilizer into the vertical stabilizer and had no problems. I took them apart and mounted the elevator control horn to the elevator using the two supplied small screws. I then applied glue to the top, bottom and front of the horizontal stabilizer and slipped it back into the vertical stabilizer while firmly holding the vertical stabilizer into the fuselage.


I applied canopy glue to the canopy and secured it to the fuselage making sure of the fit in the front and the back. The sides were loose and initially did not stick. Since this is a slow acting glue, I came back to it in an hour when it finally stuck to the fuselage all the way around.

I secured the motor access hatch cover with two supplied screws. This allows for upgrades for those who seek more speed or for general maintenance.

Radio Installation in my ARF Version

After allowing the glue to dry overnight, I got out a new Spektrum AR500 receiver and bound it to my Spektrum DX7 transmitter. I plugged in the four servo connectors for throttle, ailerons, and elevator. The front wheel steering servo plugged into the rudder slot. The receiver easily installed into the bay provided for the receiver in the bottom of the fuselage. I connected the supplied motor battery and the servo arms all centered by themselves (they had been transported with the arms to the side in the wings and stabilizer). The supplied battery pack easily fit into the molded space supplied in the bottom front of the fuselage, however, a much larger or longer pack would not fit in the supplied space. With the servo arms centered I was able to install the control rods for the ailerons and the elevator. My F9F Panther was ready to fly as a hand toss launched jet.


I decided to install the landing gear and make at least the first flights with the gear installed. The main wheelsí wire slides into a hole in the wing and then secures with two plastic cross pieces which themselves secure with two screws each. The front wheel installs with the flat side of the gear facing the Allen screw that secures the front wheel into the metal mount makes it steer. They even supplied an Allen wrench to tighten this nut. The plane was now ready to be flown from a runway. I made no adjustment to my control throws and just used them as they were.



The Pantherís controls include throttle, ailerons and elevator with a steerable front wheel that helps it track on the runway. Basic control with the ailerons and elevator was very good, and I didn't miss the lack of rudder. Axial rolls and loops are excellent. It flies great at just over half throttle, and when flown that way for a little bit, hitting full throttle seems all the faster. It can be slowed down fairly well for a low, slow pass in front of the pits and then accelerated into a pretty nice airshow style climb. Itís even better when flown fast and thrown into a pass in front of the pits. It tracks nice and straight but some regulation of the elevator is necessary when going through the various speeds. I have set up for level flight at slightly above half throttle. I need to hold just a little down for level flight at full throttle. There is a nice range of speed and good handling throughout. Stalls in forward flight with low throttle have been easy to recover from and are straight forward with a slight drop. Turning stalls are more of a challenge: Don't do them low. No issue have come up from my normal style of flying as it handles low speed well, but don't try super slow as you make your final turn on landing. You really have to fly stupidly slow and turn to get into trouble.

Taking Off and Landing

This jet can be flown with or without the included landing gear and has a steerable front wheel. I plan to fly mine with landing gear when needed or without gear when I have a nice grass landing area such as at my local park. The plane is relatively small with a 30 1/4 inch wingspan and can be safely hand launched with a firm forward toss at a slightly upward angle (if 90 degrees is a level toss mine are about 110 degrees). Only a very short runway is needed for takeoff (30-40 feet) but a long runway is recommended for landings. Rollouts can be quite long when landed hot. Takeoffs are very easy into the wind or with only a slight cross breeze. I have not had to try a takeoff with a hard cross breeze. I would be more inclined to turn and hand launch into a hard breeze without a working rudder but the issue didn't come up during this review. Landings on grass without the wheels have been very nice with just a very slight flair before touchdown. I suspect the landing gear would bend over time if landed in long grass with the gear attached.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

There is no working rudder, and so aerobatics are limited to aileron, elevator and high speed maneuvers. This is typical of a number of jets, and in no way interferes with my enjoyment of the plane. A nice series of axial rolls in a slight climb or a speed run on the deck are two of my favorite moves with the F9F. The three servos that came installed in the plane have functioned perfectly so far. I think the size of the plane and the control surfaces match up quite well, and the elevator seems to control well even when pulling out of a high speed dive. If I were to go for a lot more speed I might change that servo merely as a precaution. It has performed flawlessly with the standard equipment.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! I agree 100% with Hobby Lobby that this plane is best suited for intermediate to advanced pilots due to its small size and high speed. It goes where itís aimed and has no self recovery characteristics. Those features are great for a skilled pilot but not for a beginner.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Pictures by Chad "Chalmrast" shot at the Arizona Electric Festival

Pictures by Don Shields of his friend, Frank Wallace's Hobby-Lobby F9F Panther



This is a beautiful looking plane on the ground or in the air. She draws lot of attention parked and even more when flying. She has lots of power for her light frame and good speed as she comes equipped. She slows down nicely for flying in a small area. Access to the motor area was good, and assembly was about as easy as it could possibly be and went fast. Even the supplied glue worked well.

The F9F flies well from a firm hand launch or with a short run take off. It looks very scale in the air, especially when flown without the landing gear that can be quickly installed or removed. I like her so much, I took her to the Arizona Electric Festival.


  • Easy and very quick assembly
  • Can be flown with or without the landing gear
  • Good climb and speed as she came equipped
  • Easy access to engine compartment for upgrades or service
  • Looks great on the ground and especially in the air


  • Main gear wire not built for hard carrier landings

My thanks to Ed Holt, Don Shields, Pat aka crxmanpat, Chad aka Chalmrast and Dick Andersen for their help with this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Mar 04, 2009 at 04:51 PM..
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Old Mar 10, 2009, 02:43 PM
FiresofDylan is offline
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Great review, beautiful model. Thought the last couple pictures were the real thing lol

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Old Mar 10, 2009, 03:20 PM
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Where'd my money go?
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Wonderful review! I also thought those last few pics were the real plane!
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Old Mar 10, 2009, 04:21 PM
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Great review Mike! I was happy to help you with gettting video at AEF. Nice flying bird!

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Old Mar 10, 2009, 05:36 PM
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Correction: Those last pictures that look so real were taken by Don Shields a fellow author but the plane was Jame's Wallace. Mike Heer
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Old Mar 10, 2009, 05:46 PM
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Nice read thru Mike...I've been eyeing this bird for awhile now, the F9F was always a favorite Korean War bird of mine as well.
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Old Mar 10, 2009, 05:50 PM
gp125racer is offline
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Lipo abuser ... smoke on!
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I love the panther Jet! Gonna order mine as soon as Arnold sends me my tax check

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Old Mar 10, 2009, 08:45 PM
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Great job on the photos Don .... makes me want to build mine now!
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Old Mar 10, 2009, 11:34 PM
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Nice job, Mike. Always had a soft spot in my heart for the Panther. Need one in my hanger.

How does it fly inverted? Is the stock setup powerful enough for sustained inverted flight?

Mike McD
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Old Mar 11, 2009, 12:26 AM
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Mine has more then enough power for inverted flight and it flies inverted without a problem. Very fun plane to fly. Mike
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Old Mar 13, 2009, 09:28 PM
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Here's a few pictures of my Panther. Hasn't flown yet, but soon I hope. It seems to be a very well designed plane. I haven't read about any real negatives about it.
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Old Mar 15, 2009, 04:49 PM
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Very nice.... great job Mike!

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Old Mar 16, 2009, 12:49 AM
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How does it compare to the GP L-39? I am torn between the two! Thanks.

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Old Mar 16, 2009, 01:07 AM
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How is the reciever antenna routed? I could not even see it in the pics! Nice rockets Snoop!


PS anyone know of any F-106 AFRs? My favorite jet!
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Old Mar 16, 2009, 11:20 AM
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Very nice review!

Is this the same power system that comes in all of the Starmax planes? If so, it seems to make a lot of "mooing" and not that much performance but they are pretty good for RTFs.

When will one of these companies make a Cougar!?!
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