|Servos:||5 Micro (installed)|
|Battery:||4S 14.8v Lipo (included)|
|Fan Unit:||70mm (installed)|
|ESC:||45 amp (installed)|
|Available From:||Hobby Lobby|
"Like a brooding hen, she squats half asleep over her clutch of eggs. Her tail feathers droop, and her beak juts forward belligerently. Her back looks humped and her wing tips splay upward. Sitting there, she is not a thing of beauty. Far from it. But she is my F-4, and her nest is a steel revetment—her eggs 6, M-117, 750-pound bombs. This avian has fangs—very unbirdlike. They nestle under her belly and cling to her wings. She is ready to go, and so am I." Robin Olds, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret) speaking of the Phantom.
The Phantom was truly a remarkable aircraft that demonstrated brute strength. It was a formidable aircraft with unmistakable looks that would easily be in the top of the list of most recognizable military aircraft of all time. If you have seen or rather heard one fly, its sound is unforgettable and from speaking to those who have been fortunate enough to sit in the pointy end, the ride is something not soon to be forgotten.
Come along as we explore the new offering from Hobby Lobby.
The Phantom comes very securely packaged in the typical cardboard box, surrounded with a form fitting foam sarcophagus. It is packed very well and arrived with no damage. Just about everything you need to get the Phantom in the air is packed in the box. You will require a transmitter and receiver of your choice. I am guiding my Phantom via a Futaba 10C with a Spektrum module and Spektrum 6100E receiver.
The box contains:
The build is very straightforward and fast.
The build goes a little something like this:
It goes very quickly due to the high level or prefabrication included in the kit. If equipped with some decently quick curing adhesive the builder could show up at Hobby Lobby on Monday morning at 9:00 AM, purchase the kit and easily be flying by noon.
During the build there were a few things I noted and had to deal with. I will address those issues here.
First- When I attempted to glue the wing panels to the fuse, I had one wing panel that was not getting a flush fit against the fuse. It turned out one of the aileron servos was rubbing the wing panel. To fix this, I simply took my Dremel with the sanding drum and smoothed out where the servo was making contact. Having pushed the wing onto the fuse I made an indention in the foam, and this is what I carved away with the Dremel.
Second - One of my ailerons was misaligned due to the placement of the hinges. To remedy the issue, I carefully removed the hinge and reinstalled it. Problem solved.
Third - The glue that came with the kit I discarded. I attempted to use the glue to join the wings to the fuselage, and I was not happy with the progress I was making. I pulled the wings off the fuse, rolled the glue up (yes, rolled it off the plane into a ball) and then went about gathering up my epoxy and cups. I wound up using 30 minute epoxy for the wings and the vertical stab. I also attempted to sand off (GENTLY) any paint where the surfaces would join to allow the glue to get the best grab it could.
Last - After I had the plane built, I picked it up off my build table, and the tail came off in my hand, and the fuselage almost went crashing to the floor. The tail section of the plane is simply glued to the forward fuselage from the factory, and my glue joint gave way. I cleaned up the joint and removed as much paint as I could and applied 30 minute epoxy on the joint and called it a day.
Radio installation went very smoothly. Everything minus the receiver was already installed and centered.
I had to install a receiver and decided to go with a Spektrum 6100E from Horizon Hobby. With the receiver installed and bound to my Futaba 10C, I added power and went over all control linkages to ensure they were centered and attached properly. I set the throws to the levels indicated in the manual and made sure to balance the Phantom at the recommended CG. With these steps complete, it was time to go flying!
The Phantom phlies phabulously. It is truly a gentle flyer with almost zero bad habits. The Phantom is not blisteringly fast nor is it sluggish. A decent "scale" speed is produced by the Phantom on the stock power system. However, with the 70mm size fan in the Phantom, those looking for warp speeds would be able to attain these rather easily with the quick upgrade. All of the typical scale aerobatics are performed with ease.
Takeoffs and landings are a breeze with the Phantom. Gentle application of 3/4 power will get the bird rolling, gentle application of up elevator will have the Phantom climbing skyward. Rolling takeoffs look wonderful with this aircraft. Landings need a touch of continued power to produce a nice smooth landing. Landing with the power off will assuredly produce a nice bounce or three, especially if flying off of a paved surface. Keep some power on it, and she's fine.
Earlier, I mentioned a potential bad habit. There is one issue I and others have noticed that can prove to be fatal at low altitude. If the aircraft is allowed to slow and then a rapid application of throttle is applied, the Phantom will attempt to mush over onto its back. With some altitude under her, this is not a huge issue, however, if at low altitude and a go around must be executed, it is imperative that the application of power be done in a smooth and coordinated manner. Get low and slow, then jam the power on, the Phantom will almost instantly pitch and start rolling for its back. At low altitude you can forget about a recovery.
Out of the box the Phantom is equipped with fixed gear and benefits from a nice smooth surface from which to takeoff and land. After flying off a nice paved parking lot, I decided to give it a shot on the grass at my flying field. The first trip into the grass, the takeoff was smooth, and I had no issues. However, the first grass landing left me with one of the mains ripped out of the plane. The gear simply pulled out like the glue was not up to the task. This might be remedied with a careful removal of the gear and reinstalling with a stronger adhesive (30min epoxy, etc.). I simply left off the landing gear. I have a huge gag reaction to aircraft that are "supposed" to have retractable gear flying around with gear hanging in the breeze. The only downsides to omitting the gear is the lack of beautiful rolling takeoffs, the chance of stripping out an aileron servo and the nose cone will surely be damaged, but all of these issues can easily be overcome. The lack of scale takeoffs is more than made up for with the beautiful lines of the Phantom with the gear up. The aileron servos can be protected in a manner of ways. The smaller F-4 Hobby Lobby has foam stand offs on the wing to prevent servo damage. This could be easily adapted to this aircraft or an optional set of drop tanks available from ParkFlyerPlastics.com could be used as servo skids. Also available from ParkFlyerPlastics.com is an upgraded nosecone and canopy. The upgraded nosecone will allow for belly landing of the F-4 with no damage to the aircraft.
The F4 is not an aerobat. It is, however, a standoff scale Vietnam era jet fighter. If you are looking to hover, snap roll, do vertical rolling figure 8s or other aerobatic moves, you are barking up the wrong tree. The F-4 is not equipped with a rudder, so anything requiring one is out. But loops, rolls, split Ss and other "typical" jet aerobatics are all easily accomplished. Loops generally need a slight dip of the nose. Rolls are fairly quick and decently axial, a little aileron differential created much more axial rolls for my Phantom. The Split S is a ton of fun on this aircraft, but that may just have something to do with me picturing Olds rolling inverted and pulling to get on a MiGs six.
Beginner pilot? No. This is not a hard aircraft to fly but it is not easy enough for a beginner to fly.
Beginner EDF flyer? Yes. Very much so. This aircraft would be a perfect choice for a first time EDFer. It is extremely stable and flies very well.
The F-4 is a reasonably scale bird that flies very well. This bird would be perfect for both the first time EDFer or an experienced pilot looking for a a good looking and trustworthy F-4. I would personally like to have a little more juice out of the Phantom, as most of the flight is conducted just under full throttle, but that is a personal preference. The addition of the power I would be looking for will produce much more than scale speed. The Phantom is a great flying bird and those looking to put a Phantom in their hangar should give this one a look.
|May 08, 2009, 07:54 AM|
Did i read that right? You picked it up from one end and it broke in half where the glue joint gave way?
I guess your lucky it happened on your workbench and not 200 feet up in the air.
Nice looking plane.
|May 08, 2009, 08:46 AM|
Ozzi- yes, the glue joint just gave..
Josh- it's a great flying bird.. I really like it. Sparks at ParkFlyerPlastics.com has some really nice parts for it.. Up dated canopy, thicker nose cone and some killer drop tanks -make it awesome for hand launching. I am repainting mine..
|May 08, 2009, 09:05 AM|
Love that detailed cockpit, I'm officially sold. After market parts for jets - finally - I didn't realize it was there. I was waiting on deciding on an F4 this year, this one is the one!
|May 08, 2009, 09:11 AM|
Yeh, I've got a small "add-on" review of Sparks parts I'll be tacking onto this..
They are awesome quality and for those wishing to hand launch this beauty are definitely needed..
|May 08, 2009, 09:39 AM|
Great review, Jeff. Thanks for not tip-toeing around any issues you had. I'd much rather know what was wrong in the kit and some easy tips for fixing it than that come across something and think, "Why was this not glued on in my kit when the reviewer didn't have any issues?"
That upgrade kit from PFP is awfully nice ... I just know I'd end up wanting to paint and redecal the whole plane if I got it.
|May 08, 2009, 09:43 AM|
I just noticed the other day that Hobby-Lobby is offering the SEA Camo version as an "Airframe Only" kit for $139. Good review.
|May 08, 2009, 10:38 AM|
Great review! I didn't think that this would hand launch too easily. Now I may have to pick one up at some point when I have some extra cash. Those drop tanks would look great on this!
|May 08, 2009, 11:00 AM|
I would jump on one of these in a minute, but the too shalow anhedral in the tail just kills it for me. It makes it look like a cartoon Phantom. It is one of the most distinctive features, and it being wrong is a huge turn off.
Looks like it flies great though. Did it pick up much speed with the gear off?
Sooner or later someone will get it right.
|May 08, 2009, 11:11 AM|
I agree 100%, but it is better than the others that I have seen in this size (especially the Nitro Planes Phantom which I think is perfectly flat) The only better one I've seen is the second GWS prototype, but if that is released, it won't be for awhile.
At least this one has some anhedral.
|May 08, 2009, 11:53 AM|
Nice work Jeff!
I couldnt believe how light most of those HL birds are. 2lbs. for a 70mm F-4 that flies sporty?!? Verrryy nyyyycceee...
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