ParkZone P-51 Mustang Brushless Powered RTF and BNF Versions Review

Michael Heer reviews the new brushless powered ParkZone P-51D Mustang and briefly explains the differences between the RTF version and BNF version. He shares his thoughts on the planes and shares the flying with multiple videos.

Splash

Introduction

ParkZone P-51D RTF
ParkZone P-51D RTF
Wingspan:39"
Weight:24.1 oz.
Length:33.5"
Propeller:9 x 6
Transmitter:27MHz FM ZX-10 3-channel
Receiver:27MHz 6 channel receiver
Battery:3S 11.1V 1300mAh Li-Po
Charger:3-cell Li-Po balance charger
Motor:480 size 960Kv brushless outrunner
ESC:18A brushless
Manufacturer:ParkZone
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price RTF:$199.99

Parkzone P-51D BNF
Parkzone P-51D BNF
Wingspan:39"
Weight:23.9 oz.
Length:33.5"
Propeller:9 x 6
Transmitter:My DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR500 DSM2 receiver
Battery:3S 11.1V 1300mAh Li-Po
Charger:3-cell Li-Po balance charger
Motor:480 size 960Kv brushless outrunner
ESC:18A brushless
Manufacturer:ParkZone
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price BNF:$179.99

The new ParkZone brushless powered Mustang is a joy to fly! It uses a 3-cell 1300mAh Li-Po battery pack so it is lighter, more powerful and faster than its predecessor. Each aileron has its own servo for better response, and it is primarily made of ParkZone's rugged Z-foam construction.

There are a few differences between the RTF version and the Bind and Fly model besides the $20.00 difference in price. The RTF, or Ready to Fly version, comes with its own 3 channel transmitter and a six channel receiver that is frequency matched to the transmitter on the 27MHz band (mine was on channel 6.). The ZX-10 transmitter allows three channels of control for the ailerons, elevator and throttle. Nothing is needed to fly beyond what comes in the box in the RTF version. The BNF or Bind N Fly version has no transmitter. It is intended for the pilot to use his own transmitter with DSM2 technology. The supplied receiver is the Spektrum AR500 5 channel receiver. When bound to the pilot's transmitter it will control the ailerons, elevator and throttle. It will also allow the pilot to add a fourth channel with the addition of a rudder servo to allow for a steerable rudder. The control horn and control rod for an operational rudder is included in the BNF version only. This optional modification will be covered in the review along with some brief discussion about other modifications.

A Brief History of the P-51 Mustang

The original Mustang was equipped with an Allison engine, and the plane was found lacking for power at higher elevation. The RAF (who ordered the plane in the first place) reengineered their planes by installing their Rolls Royce Merlin 61 engine in it and noted an incredible performance improvement. By 1943, the American production of Mustangs included the Rolls Royce engines being built under license by Packard car company. With its laminar flow wing and the Rolls Royce engine it was the fastest propeller powered fighter but used much less fuel than the other fighters. With the use of drop tanks, the Mustang was able to escort the American bombers deep into Germany and greatly reduced the terrible losses suffered by the American bombers doing daylight bombing. Range, speed, great handling and firepower helped America gain air superiority over the skies of France and later Germany.

The P-51D Mustang in the "Gunfighter" color scheme was assigned to the 343 Fighter Squadron of the 8th Army Air Force. This plane survives to this day and is flown at many air shows. It makes a great the subject for this new ParkZone brushless powered model. I have included some pictures of the full scale "Gunfighter" taken from the Internet for comparison purposes.

RTF Kit Contents:

  • 3 Channel ZX-10 transmitter on 27MHz
  • Matching receiver
  • Fuselage with elevator servo, brushless motor, ESC, receiver and propeller installed
  • 3-cell 1300 mAh Li-po battery pack
  • Charger equipped with plug for a car's 12-volt accessory plug
  • Wing with 2 aileron servos installed
  • Horizontal tail with elevator
  • 8 AA Alkaline Batteries for Transmitter
  • Instruction manual for RTF version
  • Quick Start for RTF version

Items I Needed to Supply for the RTF Version:

  • Nothing!

BNF Kit Contents:

  • Spektrum AR500 5 channel receiver
  • Fuselage with elevator servo, brushless motor, ESC, receiver and propeller installed
  • 3-cell 1300 mAh Li-po battery pack
  • Charger equipped with plug for a car's 12-volt accessory plug
  • Wing with 2 aileron servos installed
  • Horizontal tail with elevator
  • Hardware for a working rudder
  • Instruction manual for BNF version
  • Quick Start for RTF version

Items I need to supply for the BNF Version:

  • My Spektrum DX7 transmitter
  • The optional servo (Spektrum digital sub-micro servo was actually used.) for the rudder

Assembly of the Plane (Both Versions)

Wing

The wing came fully assembled, painted and ready to attach to the fuselage with a servo mounted into each wing half for aileron control. I plugged the servo wires into the Y-harness in the fuselage and secured the wing to the fuselage with the built-in dowels in the back and the supplied bolt to secure the front of the wing to the fuselage.

Fuselage

The fuselage came fully painted and assembled with the elevator servo, motor, propeller and speed controller already installed. The rear horizontal stabilizer with attached hinged elevator was easily installed into the fuselage by sliding it in place and securing it with the supplied pieces of tape. With the stabilizer installed, I simply connected the clevis on the elevator control rod onto the elevator control horn. Access to the electronics is through the cockpit cover that is secured with two dowels in the front and a magnet in the back.

Battery and Charger

Both versions come with a Parkzone 11.1 Volt 3-cell 1300 mAh Lipoly battery and a charger designed to work with a car's 12 Volt accessory power plug allowing for charging at the field. The charger is rated at supplying 1.3 amps of power which is the appropriate charging rate of 1C for the supplied 1300mAh battery pack, but it does not work with a house's wall plug and alternating current. An optional 1.5A AC power supply, model HBZ1004 is mentioned in the instructional manual. I checked Horizon Hobby's website, and the price given was $18.99 but no picture or other information was available. (I suspect it is a wall converter with an accessory socket for the supplied charger to plug into for home use.)

For charging at my home, I have used the wall converter and charger that came with my Blade CX3 but it charges at only about .5C and takes twice as long to charge the pack at that rate. I have also used other balanced chargers that fit the balance plug on the battery pack. Options for at home charging are available. The Manual lists a product that ParkZone will sell for $19.00 (no picture or other information was available).

After charging the battery packs I installed them into the fuselage as shown in the pictures below.

Radio

RTF Version

The first step with the RTF version was to install the 8 AA batteries included in the kit for the transmitter. I turned on the transmitter, made sure the left stick (throttle) was all the way down and connected the battery pack in the plane to the speed control to power up the receiver. After making sure the ailerons and elevator were in the neutral positions and working in the proper direction and testing the motor, I disconnected the battery pack in the plane from the speed controller and turned off the transmitter. For flying, I would have extended the transmitter's antenna out to its maximum length. I did conduct a range test with the antenna collapsed before the first flight.

Dual Rate

The FM ZX-10 transmitter has dual rate with the switch on the top right of the transmitter. For the less experienced pilot it is recommended that the switch be set to the low rating setting. When the control sticks are moved on the transmitter, the control surfaces move but not as much as they do on high rate. Since newer pilots tend to overcorrect and over control when flying, using the low rates helps prevent that and smooth out their flying. The experienced pilot prefers high rates for the quicker response for aerobatics.

X-Port

This radio system also has X-Port which allows for the operation of several optional accessories, including a night light pod, electric bomb/parachute drop and a combat module that are intended to fasten under the fuselage between the wheels on some other models. I won't be using this function with the Mustang but i might use it in a future application in another plane.

Note to Beginning Pilots with the RTF Version

The RTF version's radio system is on the 27MHz frequency, and there are six channels available for the plane. This means up to six RTF Mustangs can fly together on different channels.

It is not necessary to bind the RTF transmitter to the receiver, nor is it even possible. They will simply work together.

Bind N Fly Version

Not all Spektrum transmitters are recommended for use with the BNF ParkZone Mustang. The DX6 should not be used since it is DSM technology and not DSM2 technology. The Mustang's Spektrum AR500 receiver is DSM2 technology, and the transmitters for the indoor fliers, such as helicopters, lack the necessary range for this parkflyer, but a full range transmitter converted to Spektrum DSM2 technology with a Spektrum DSM2 module can be used.

Recommended Transmitters for the BNF ParkZone Mustang:

  • Spektrum DX5e
  • Spektrum DX6i
  • Spektrum DX7
  • Spektrum DX7SE
  • JR X9303 2.4
  • JR 12X 2.4

Binding

Step three of the BNF instruction manual covers the binding process for binding the receiver to your transmitter. I used my DX7.

Binding the ParkZone Mustang to the Spektrum DX7 transmitter:

  • I plugged the binding plug into the designated slot on the Spektrum AR500 receiver.
  • I plugged the flight battery into the ESC that was connected to the receiver.
  • After the LED was flashing on the receiver I went to the transmitter.
  • I pushed in the binding button on the back of the transmitter while turning the on transmitter.
  • I let go of the binding button after 2-3 seconds.
  • The LED on the receiver stopped flashing and went solid showing it was bound to my DX7.
  • I powered down the receiver and removed the binding plug.

The binding process is the only time you should power up the receiver before the transmitter. In normal operation, the transmitter should ALWAYS be powered up first and allowed to be on a few seconds before you power up the receiver. In normal operation always power down the receiver before turning off the transmitter.

Frequency control is not required with the 2.4GHz system used with the Bind N Fly. They are designed to not interfere with other 2.4 GHz systems, and those on 27 MHz and 72 MHz don't affect them either. Once your transmitter and receiver are bound together you are good to go.

Completion

The recommended Center of Gravity is 2 3/4" (70mm) back from the leading edge of the wing. There are small oval panel lines on the top of the wing that mark the recommended C/G location. That is where both of the planes balanced to start the flight testing. The instructions give recommendations for control throws for both low and high throw of the control surfaces. A less experienced pilot should start with the low throws and move up to the high throws when he is comfortable controlling the plane. I started with the low throws on the RTF plane and high throws with exponential on the BNF plane. (Control throws are measured at the back of the control surface and are how far the back of the surface should move in one direction from the neutral position.)

Recommended Control Throws:

  • Low rate 1/4" each direction for both the aileron and the elevator.
  • High rate 3/8" each direction for both the aileron and the elevator.

Motor Bench Test

Out of curiosity, I connected my Watts Meter in between the battery pack and the the speed controller to get a reading of the electrical draw with a fully charged battery pack at full throttle. The results were as follows: Voltage 11.0 volts with 16.1 amp draw with 174 Watts. Thus the speed controller at 18 amps is fine with the propeller they supplied but a larger propeller might easily draw to many Amps and fry the controller. Since I don't fly full speed all the time, I should have no problems unless I make modifications to the power system.

Rudder Option for BNF version

This is not an option for the RTF version, but the BNF version, with its AR500 receiver, it has the extra channel of control for the rudder. All full range DSM2 transmitters suitable for binding with the AR500 will have control of that fourth channel.

Items I needed to supply:

  • A fourth sub-micro servo: Three came with the plane, and they recommend using the SV80 short lead servo.
  • An Exacto knife
  • A 1/16" drill bit
  • A small screwdriver

The rudder control horn and the necessary pushrod come with the BNF version of the plane. I installed the control horn to the rudder, drilling the first hole by turning the drill bit in my fingers. Using a supplied bolt and my screwdriver, I mounted the first bolt through the control horn and into the mounting plate on the other side of the rudder. I repeated the process for the second bolt. I did not run my drill bit into the mounting plate, just up to it. The Spektrum digital servo that I supplied was installed with epoxy into a pre made molded servo bay in the foam, and the servo was plugged into the rudder channel on the receiver. I slid the control rod into the fuselage in the existing hole and attached the Z-bend to the servo arm, centered the servo and attached the servo arm back on the servo at 90 degrees. I adjusted the clevis to position the rudder in the neutral position and snapped the clevis onto the control horn. Using my Exacto knife, I cut away the four areas of foam that held the rudder rigid. I used color markers to cover the exposed white foam. The instruction manual recommends attaching a 4" piece of clear hinge tape on either side of the rudder hinge and so I added a piece of hinging tape to each side of the rudder. I folded the tape in half the long way and inserted it in the hinge line. I made sure it smoothly fit both sides of the hinge and then out for the width of the tape to the stabilizer and rudder. This was a nicely designed and easy to install option, and because itís optional, it keeps the price of the plane down.

Flying

Basics

The Mustang can do a number of aerobatic maneuvers, and with the BNF and adding the rudder control, even more aerobatics could be performed. The RTF version flies very smoothly at low rates and does a nice scale roll. I liked it on low rates so much that I did most of my flying on low rates and only went to high rates when I wanted to do a faster roll. On the BNF model I added more exponential to my aileron control (70%) to help it fly as smoothly as the RTF version did on low rates. The plane flies nice and level at higher speeds but needed up elevator at low speed and a lot of up elevator with the motor off. Using their C/G, the plane had a gentle stall in forward flight and simply dropped about ten feet and resumed flying. I couldn't induce a turning stall with my first couple of tries as the plane would just drop and fly and not really stall. As the plane slowed down in a turn it simply continued the turn in a smooth fashion as it dropped downward rather quickly. With motor off, it came down much faster than the Parkzone Corsair or T-28. It also flies faster AS-IS, out of the box than either of those planes right out of the box. It looks great in the air without landing gear, and you really will want some nice grass for a slide landing.

More on the Center of Gravity

As a long time glider pilot I can tell you that ParkZone has intentionally set this plane up to be somewhat nose heavy. That is not a bad thing. It allows the plane to fly very level at high throttle which, experience tells me, is how most pilots will be flying it most of the time. For the newer pilot this is probably the best setup as they won't have to adjust the elevator much for nice level flight at speed. So far, I have left my RTF with that initial setup.

I like to do a lot of my flying at a more moderate speed, and I like a nice slow landing slide when possible. For my BNF plane I added Velcro in front of the receiver to the cockpit area and the matching Velcro to one side of the battery. So far I have moved the battery pack back to where it is now stopped by the bump of foam coming down in the canopy cockpit cover, over and a little in front of the receiver. This has resulted in a plane that is still a little nose heavy but much less so than the original setup. I can fly the plane level more slowly with no need for up elevator. With motor off I still need to use some up elevator but the plane glides much better now. The negative is that I have to hold a little down elevator or move the elevator trim tab down when I fly at high or full throttle. This is something that I don't mind doing but that is me. Inverted flight now requires less elevator input for level flight then it did in stock battery position. Rolls are now a little quicker and acrobatics are better generally. That said: The majority of pilots will probably prefer to keep the center of gravity where ParkZone has recommended.

I recommend that all newer pilots leave the C/G where recommended. Nose heavy planes can be controlled, and this one controls nicely. Tail heavy planes generally can't be controlled.

Taking Off and Landing

Since the plane comes with no landing gear, the start of every flight is with a hand toss, and every landing will hopefully end with a slide on grass. Thanks to the lightness of the airframe and the power of the brushless motor and the 3-cell Li-Po battery, I found I could easily launch the plane with either an overhand or underhand toss at about 3/4s throttle or more if I desired. The P-51 has a rather strong drop to glide ratio with the motor off so landings were best done with some power on until just before touch down. As seen in the videos, I slide to a stop on the grass at my local parks. I don't plan on flying my Mustang where I don't have a grass landing area as an option but if I had to fly without grass to land I would add some clear tape to the bottom of the fuselage to protect it. I plan to only fly mine with grass available for landings. I was initially a little concerned about there not being a brake on the ESC since all landings are sliding landings, however, that has not proven to be a problem landing on grass. The propeller spins until touchdown but no damage to the propeller.

My BNF with my C/G modifications does land more slowly thanks to its better overall balance with the balance point moved back almost 3/4s of an inch through my slow testing of about 1/8 of an inch at a time movement backwards.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

At recommended C/G: Balanced on the ovals on the wing.

The standard RTF and BNF planes fly the same right out of the box although the response time to my Spektrum DX7 is much quicker than to the RTF's LX-10 transmitter. The difference was really noticeable going from the BNF right to the RTF version. I had no problem but when I fly both I would start with the RTF because it was easier to get used to the faster response. Both planes can do a large or small loop very well. Both can climb virtually straight up as high as I want to take them with a fresh battery pack. Both can do a slow, somewhat rolling sideways roll that looks very scale or a fast axial style roll on high rates. Both will do the basic aerobatics that don't require rudder.

The range of the ZX-10 was tested by flying out as far as I ever fly a parkflyer and taking it up to a spot in the sky and range exceeded my ability to see orientation.

The BNF, when equipped with an optional rudder, seemed to fly best with my subtrim for the rudder set at 125%. I got good turnaround out of hammer head stalls and other tail slides. Coordinated turns with rudder and aileron were slightly smoother, and she would turn more quickly using the combination. For the slight additional expense and effort I am glad I added the rudder.

Is The ParkZone Mustang For a Beginner?

NO! This is not a trainer plane! It goes where pointed. It doesn't self recover or correct and is not a floater at all. It doesn't have any bad habits that I have found in multiple test flights but I wouldn't hand it over to a student. This ParkZone Mustang makes a great second plane for the pilot who has mastered the basics of RC flying. The plane handles well and flies as she is intended to fly.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Bind N Fly

The following four pictures are of a ParkZone P-51D Mustang BNF being flown in Texas. Photos by fellow reviewer and photographer extraordinaire, Ronnie Pope. As always, double click on a picture to see the enlarged version of he picture.

Except for the first picture, the following pictures were taken by the author with either Dick Andersen or Jeff Hunter flying.

Downloads

Downloads

Downloads

Modification

Some pilots have reported problems with the elevator operation or actually lack of operation. Some have modified speed controller, prop and motor, and some are flying it as sold. I have added hinge tape to the bottom of the elevator and horizontal stabilizer to strengthen the connection of the elevator to the horizontal stabilizer but not interfere with the operation of the elevator as installed. Using the transmitter and receiver, I moved the Mustang's elevator to the maximum up throw I could get and added the tape with the elevator in that position. By placing it on the underside of the stabilizer and elevator it will not be seen when the plane is viewed resting on the ground. The tape on the bottom side alone should be sufficient in reinforcing of the elevator. I recommend this quick and simple modification as a safety measure to all owners of the Gunslinger Mustangs.

Spinner Failure

The spinner snapped off and broke in flight on my BNF plane. I know of one other person who has had this happen as well. The spinner was on firmly, but it is a snap-on spinner with no retainer screws. I will use two small pieces of hinge tape to secure the replacement spinner in place. I recommend that as a easy correction.

Downloads

Conclusion

The assembly process took only a few minutes and the result was a great looking plane that flies very nicely. It performs very well as equipped with good stable handling and is faster then the Parkzone Corsair and T-28. The 18 Amp speed controller works fine. This plane is not a floater, and after turning off the motor or running out of juice and the glide down was rather quick. I prefer the BNF version as I like having the rudder, I enjoy using my Spektrum DX7 transmitter and I like my C/G modifications for my style of flying, but I like the option of buying either RTP or BNF for different needs. I also love being able to have the plane flying as soon as the battery pack charges up. It is a huge improvement in flying pleasure over the previous Parkzone Mustang.

Pluses:

  • Great looking paint job
  • Quick assembly
  • Flies very nicely
  • Good speed as equipped
  • Easy to add rudder to the BNF version

Minuses:

  • Snap on spinner snapped off on my BNF model
  • Panel lines are too big and deep

Introduction picture by Ronnie Pope. My thanks to Ronnie Pope, Dick Andersen, Jeff Hunter and our editor.

Last edited by Angela H; Aug 12, 2009 at 07:14 PM..
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Aug 12, 2009, 08:19 PM
PSALM 14:1
Sammy70's Avatar
Excellent review as usual Michael, very professional. Another homerun for Parkzone in my book
Aug 12, 2009, 08:21 PM
Registered "e" Flyer
CGReload's Avatar
Awesome review Michael. Your camera man did an awesome job as well.
Aug 12, 2009, 08:29 PM
Account closed
Just SUPER!
Aug 12, 2009, 10:01 PM
Flyin' Ryan
My spinner snapped in half, also in flight, exactly as your photo shows. This is a great flying airplane that seems to get comments quite often. Mine seems to fly somewhat better with an APC 10x7E prop. I measured the amp draw, and it was still around 18, if not slightly below. I replaced my ESC anyway, because I knew I wanted to try different setups.

Thanks for the review,
Ryan
Aug 12, 2009, 10:07 PM
Registered Drug Free
LunaRendezvous's Avatar
Yes good review, agreed definitely not a floater, and my spinner is in multiple pieces too.
Aug 12, 2009, 11:33 PM
wormburner
my spinner broke .0043 seconds into its first flight. i run the apc-e 10x7and i...wait a sec, all mine are broken. when i used to have flying p51, i ran the apc-e 10x7 and it was a match made in candyland.

btw, i have a pointed prop nut and i prefer not having a spinner for better airflow, as the set up is a little hotter than stock.
Last edited by grimace308; Aug 12, 2009 at 11:45 PM.
Aug 12, 2009, 11:39 PM
Brandon
hoverflyhehe's Avatar
All of my spinners have been fine. To be safe you could attach them with a small bead of silicone sealant to make sure they don't move. Good write up, it is a GREAT plane!
Aug 13, 2009, 03:14 AM
Registered User
Fantastic review with outstanding photos!! Keep up the great work you are doing for your fellow fly-boys.

Jim
Aug 13, 2009, 07:03 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Thanks for your kind comments Mike, I was happy to contribute to your review. Excellent job as usual!

Ronnie
Aug 13, 2009, 09:36 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
NO FAIR!
The new ParkZone Bf-109 announced today (coming soon) comes with a bigger size 15 motor and is not done in the same scale. Of course you know that this means war!
Aug 13, 2009, 11:34 AM
Registered "e" Flyer
CGReload's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
NO FAIR!
The new ParkZone Bf-109 announced today (coming soon) comes with a bigger size 15 motor and is not done in the same scale. Of course you know that this means war!
Oh yes it does

When my girlfriend saw me all giggly yesterday evening because of the Bf-109 she immediately said. "Not till your Birthday"



Guess that means I have to wait till late November to get one, thats if they even have any left during that time.
Aug 13, 2009, 06:23 PM
No Country for Snowflake Men
n00b-E's Avatar
Man, I wish there was a PNP version of the Mustang, but I WILL own the PNP Bf-109!
Aug 13, 2009, 06:24 PM
Brandon
hoverflyhehe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by n00b-E
Man, I wish there was a PNP version of the Mustang, but I WILL own the PNP Bf-109!
Buy the BNF and sell the RX, I did that with the battery and charger which discounted the kit down to $140.
Aug 14, 2009, 12:08 AM
Plane Crazy!!!
I'm quite suprised that the stock setup has the CG soooooo far forward.

I guess the stock battery location is the biggest reason why it won't float well with power off.

Does it flare and float better with the CG that far rear and did you relocate the batt on the rudder modded version (I'd imagine the rudder mod adds a little tail weight w/ the extra servo and control road/hardware)?


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