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NitroPlanes and Exceed-RC F/A-18C Hornet 4-Channel 70mm Electric-Ducted Fan Review

The F/A-18C from Nitro Planes is an RTF warbird that holds nothing back. The huge 70mm fan produces over 80 MPH of thrust, hauling this 850 gram plane like the Hornet it represents.

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Introduction


Wingspan:30.71" /780mm
Wing Area:248 sq. in. / 15.83 sq. dm.
Weight:29.98 oz. / 850grams
Length:45.67"/ 1160mm
Wing Loading:20.76 oz/sq. ft./ 68g/dm sq.
Servos:5 - 9 gram
Transmitter:Included 4 channel
Receiver:Included FM 6 channel
Battery:2200 mAh 14.8v LiPo
Motor:2836 Brushless
ESC:45 amp
Manufacturer:ExceedRC
Available From:NitroPlanes
MSRP:$199.95

The F/A-18C is the single seat version three generations down the line from the original and replaces the F-4 Phantom. It is designed for just about every fighting environment and capable of carrier landings. The "Hornet" can, and still does, do it all.

Nitroplanes and ExceedRC presents the F/A-18C in two versions: the Blue Angels, and as in this review, the Jolly Rogers, and both are worth putting in your hangar. The current configuration includes a 14.8 volt, 2200 mAh LiPo setup, an upgrade from earlier versions. Five servos operate the F/A-18C. It is a RTF, but there are a few things that need to be done to complete the war bird; itís not exactly ready to fly right out of the box.

Mine arrived well packaged and in good shape. The foam packaging is as impressive as the airplane with seemingly CNC cut recesses for every part. There is absolutely no room for any shifting or shipping rash to occur.

Kit Contents

The kit comes pretty much complete with the servos installed, the 70mm ducted fan installed and the receiver placed, but without the antennae placed outside the fuselage and the nose wheel installed and connected to the servo. All components are painted with decals installed.

Kit Includes:

  • Painted and decaled fuselage
  • Landing gear
  • 14.8v 2200 mAh LiPo
  • 4 channel transmitter
  • 6 channel receiver
  • Clear canopy
  • Preinstalled pin hinges
  • Glue

Kit requires:

  • Clear canopy cement
  • 8 batteries for the transmitter
  • BEC to replace original per the instructions
  • Five minute epoxy

A quick note here on the BEC. Because the plane was upgraded to a 14.8 LiPo, the BEC included cannot handle the five servos without dropping out the voltage to the fan. Per the instructions, you should remove the installed BEC and install one capable of handing the 30 amps being drawn by the brushless motor and five servos. This is a simple operation.

Assembly

The assembly only takes a couple of hours; a little more if you use clear canopy cement. Everything fits in a way to make sure you place the component correctly, so there is really not much you can do wrong during any aspect of the build.

Fuselage

Assembly begins with the nose cone installation. You may have to lightly sand the fuselage to make sure it fits up and against the nose. The nose cone is not very durable at first glance, but don't worry, you will not be spending any time on the nose. When I installed the canopy, I used some rubber bands to secure it while the cement dried. Note: you will not have access to the nose gear servo unless you remove the canopy. It is not a bad idea to check the servo before installing the canopy.

The mains require four screws on each side. I lined the screws up to find the receiver hole down inside the fuselage. I also bent the gear some to make sure it did not rub the fuselage.

IMGA0479.jpg: The mains bolt to the side.

The nose wheel uses a double wheel design. It is only slightly adjustable because the wheel wire has a flat spot milled onto it to self-align the nose wheel.

70mm Fan

The fan is housed within the interior and is not accessible without removing a couple of screws and lifting the large foam retainer under the ESC. The fan is glued in place in the fuselage under the retainer access cover.

Wing

The two wing panels fit into their respective places with little room for error. I used 5-minute epoxy which worked very well (the glue supplied would work as well). If you use CA it must be foam safe.

Be sure to level the wings when you glue them. I put the plane level on the building table, and I measured the distance for each one from the table surface.

Tail

The two vertical tail pieces align themselves with the wing after it is installed. Just like the wings, there is little possibility you will get it wrong. The F/A-18C does not use rudders.

The horizontal control surfaces must also be installed.

Radio Installation

the instruction manual does not provide any of the following information. In fact, unless you knew better you would not know where the receiver is located. To access it, the BEC and the antennae you must remove the black plastic cover.

Radio

The radio provided is a four channel FM radio with servo reversing switches, one mixing switch and recharge receptacle. There is no dual rate provided.

You will also need to route the receiver antennae along the outside of the fuselage. The receiver is located under the black plastic cover that has to be removed. There is no compartment for the receiver. The battery consumes the entire cavity so the receiver must be blindly placed inside the fuselage. I used hot glue to secure the antennae.

NOTE: ROUTE THE ANTENNA OUTSIDE THE FUSELAGE. NOT DOING SO WILL SEVERELY LIMIT YOUR RECEPTION.

Change out the BEC at this time since it is also located under the plastic cover.

Completion

Linkages must be installed. Begin by either turning on the radio to center the servos or use a servo tester to center them.

Control horns must also be installed. The ailerons and elevator have four holes provided. The kit only provides for two screws in each control horn, but that is really plenty to hold the horns securely.

There are no control throw settings provided. The CG is 80 - 90mm behind the leading edged.

Initial Control Settings:

  • Elevator - Up and Down 1/2 inch
  • Ailerons - Up and Down 3/8 inch

The provided radio does not have expo or dual rates. I suggest you consider using the middle hole on the control horns to limit the throws for the initial flights. You just do not need 3D movement to fly the F/A-18C. Be conservative and make additional changes as you get used to flying the Hornet.

Flying

The F/A-18C is stable in flight even though you would think the nose is cantilevered way out in front of the wings. The controllability was right on, and I was never anxious during the flight. The speed is impressive, and the roar of the EDF is an attention getter to be sure.

Part of the reason this model flies well is how low the wing loading is for an EDF. I am in disagreement with the figures shown by the manufacturer; as I believe the actual wing loading is 17.41 oz./sq. ft. (54g/sq. dm.) which is significantly lower than provided. I also think a major portion of the lifting surface is ignored in the formula because there is about 84 sq. in. of flat underbelly including the forward air inlet flares that are not included. In my opinion, this a major reason the F/A - 18 flies so well and lands with a great deal of stability.

Basics

Overall flight was stable. Steep turns were OK, but without the rudder I tended to under turn, and I found on a few passes that I was fighting to keep the Hornet away from me. The glide slope is pretty good, and stalls were not difficult to recover from with ample and quick throttle. It is a fun plane to fly.

Taking Off and Landing

When you hit the throttle, you can imagine what it must feel like to be the pilot. It is quick, and the force generated comes very fast. In about 20 - 30 feet you are airborne. Climb out is aggressive once you build some speed. While not a true Viking departure aircraft it comes as close as any EDF.

The landings were just plain easy. I have flown EDFs with short wings, and they can get hairy as the speed slows on approach. I never thought for an instant that I was not going to make a smooth landing with the F/A-18C. It tracks straight and lands with you in control and not the other way around.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

There is nothing the Hornet cannot do in the air. The loops, rolls and inverted flight are easy to perform as are high alpha nose up pull-ups. But without a rudder you have some limitations.

Is This For a Beginner?

No, not the F/A-18C: There is just too much speed and need for a soft touch on the controls. While the build is easy, the flight characteristics are more toward the intermediate side of flight skills.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

I think NitroPlanes and ExceedRC have a winner here and one I think you will enjoy flying with confidence. I was comfortable with the flight characteristics and loved the way it looked in the air. The F/A-18C is a perfect example of good design and engineering that make a great flyer at a great price.

Ups:

  • Color scheme and installed decals
  • Stable in flight
  • Power to weight ratio
  • 14.8 volt power

Downs:

  • BEC replacement
  • No Rx compartment
  • Landing gear rubs the body
  • On a clear day it was difficult to see (make sure you have backlight)
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 14, 2008 at 08:57 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 16, 2008, 09:20 AM
Slow Flyer
Bombay's Avatar
Richmond, TX
Joined Apr 2008
3,236 Posts
Nice, detailed review...as always. This Hornet will certainly entice many folks.

Can you clarify the ESC/BEC issue? Do they include the needed, correct ESC/BEC as a drop-in-the-box component that just needs to be swapped out, or is that a "nice" surprise for anyone who buys the RTF? Do they need to delay their flight and go out and spend another XX dollars on a new esc/bec?

Rob
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Last edited by Bombay; Dec 16, 2008 at 09:47 AM. Reason: punctuation
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 09:35 AM
deltas are cool
AIR SALLY's Avatar
Tehachapi ,CA.
Joined Apr 2006
21,262 Posts
now if they just had these in stock (ARF)Blue angle
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 09:51 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
There is a BEC included. You can see it between the Rx and the ESC. It has to be cut out and the new one soldered in. No big deal because the new BEC whatever brand you choose will have a plug for RX power on one end and power leads from the other end for the battery (deans) . What will likely differ here is the old BEC was powered through the ESC while your new one will be powered from the battery. Because the Rx is now being powered through the new BEC you will need to be sure to remove the RED wire from the ESC lead going the channel 3. The New BEC can plug in any avaiable channel to power the Rx. Really a simple change out that is clearly indicated on Nitro's website. It is not in the instructions I don't beleive because they are written for the 11.1 pack.

Maybe $20-$25 bucks to get a BEC.
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 10:33 AM
Slow Flyer
Bombay's Avatar
Richmond, TX
Joined Apr 2008
3,236 Posts
Quote:
The F/A-18C is a perfect example of good design and engineering that make a great flyer at a great price.
I guess I would have to take issue with this summary statement. Good design and engineering would have accounted for the inadequate BEC. Basically, they are selling a product with a known defect. They should at least include a drop-in-the-box replacement BEC. Of course, this is just my opinion. Who knows, others may be thrilled that they have to swap out inadequate components on what they thought was a well-engineered RTF...so they don't destroy their $199 investment on the first flight.

Sorry to be so critical of the company on this issue...but it is certainly appreciated that it is pointed out in your review.
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 10:58 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
They are giving you the 14.8 battery for the same cost as the 11.1v. The included BEC worked fine with an 11.1 but the flight is slower. The 14.8 is a better deal, you just need to install a BEC per the instructions. Keep the old one and you can use it later.
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 11:49 AM
Crash & Burn
rmgmag's Avatar
Glastonbury, CT
Joined Nov 2004
2,503 Posts
Thanks for the review, I've had my eye on one of these for a while. If you pulled out the nose steering servo and removed the LG, would you still need a BEC and can this plane be hand launched and belly landed?

Also, how much fight time were you getting out of the battery?

Bob
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 12:39 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
Bob, good questions. The battery time at full throttle is about 5 - minutes max, but with throttle management a little more. The plane really does glide well but you will want to do full speed passes so I wouls say on the shorter side of 7 minutes.

When I expereinced the BEC cutout it was on the work bench at full throttle and me rotating both sticks in cricles as fast as I could. Thats a pretty good load. So if you were not flying like that it does not cut out so bad. The landing gear I see as necessary although I think I have seen videos of this plane being hand launched. It has some great thrust. I would just try it without the nose gear servo plugged into the Rx.
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 12:43 PM
Family,RC Planes & Gym....
Santa Ana/92705
Joined May 2008
870 Posts
Nice review! I'm loving this plane right now. If anyone is thinking about getting this plane. I suggest you to get just the airframe so you can add your own worry free electronics :-) and make sure you pick up AirSally's FG nosecone to replace the cheesy one that comes with this plane. Reggie
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 01:17 PM
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Speed is Life's Avatar
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Joined Jun 2005
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Nice model, good review.
Still; I have to wonder why this one isn't in the "Foamy EDF" section

Gotta love the advertising hype......"The huge 70mm fan produces over 80 MPH of thrust"
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 02:36 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
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1,319 Posts
Someone do the math on the G's at 80MPH. It really is a rocket off the runway
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 02:42 PM
Family,RC Planes & Gym....
Santa Ana/92705
Joined May 2008
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I agree it is a rocket on take off. I have the 2w-20/wemo set up on mine and doubt it does 80mph. I may be wrong though ;-) -Reggie-
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Old Dec 16, 2008, 05:32 PM
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In the vicinity of the midwest.... home of large lots of land to fly in!!
Joined Mar 2008
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did you find any problems with the stock radio gear? im getting the exceed R/C F-35 for x-mas, should I bind it to my good txand buy an RX, or is the radio reliable?
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Old Dec 17, 2008, 06:36 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
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I think the radio system is fine, but limited. The RX is 6 channel while the Tx is 4 channel. I need expo and the ability to adjust end points and throws. Because of this you can always switch out the radio system for one that does provide those features or buy it without the radio system.

I am working with the F-35 right now and will release the review soon. That radio system differs as it includes a dual rate switch. PM me with questions
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Old Dec 17, 2008, 06:47 AM
In NY's beautifull hills
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Binghamton Broome Cty, New York, United States
Joined Jun 2004
1,126 Posts
Nice review---I had one of the initial "pre-buy" orders & lost it when the fan cut out due to the elec problems/deficiencies you have so well outlined.
It pays to wait for feedback on a new product such as this unless you are an expert on these EDF's & know what to look for before flying !
I did however get my money back.
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Last edited by staggerwing; Dec 17, 2008 at 09:58 AM.
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