ParkZone Habu EDF BNF Review

The ParkZone Habu is billed as "a true sport jet in every sense" with an "optimized airframe for both high speed precision and amazing low-speed stability,the Habu does it all" . That description sounds like every jet jock’s dream come true. Kevin sees if it lives up to the hype!

Splash

Introduction



Wingspan:36"
Weight:45.6 oz. rtf
Length:43.75"
Servos:5 total, 3 digital metal-geared (nose steering, rudder, elevator), 2 standard (aileron)
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR500 2.4GHz 5-channel Sport DSM2 (installed)
Battery:E-flite 4S 3200mAh 30C Li-Po (included)
Motor/Fan:E-flite’s BL15 3200Kv brushless ducted fan motor installed in an E-flite Delta-V™ 15 ducted fan (whole assembly factory installed)
ESC:E-flite 60A Pro with Switch-Mode BEC ESC
Manufacturer:ParkZone
Available From:Horizon Hobby

The ParkZone Habu is billed as "a true sport jet in every sense" with an "optimized airframe for both high speed precision and amazing low-speed stability,the Habu does it all" . That description sounds like every jet jock’s dream come true. With classic sport jet lines, tried and true components, and the promise of hassle free electric operation, I was excited to see if it lived up to the hype.

The first time I heard that ParkZone would be releasing a new Bind-n-Fly EDF jet I was immediately interested (I have been flying EDF jets for almost ten years). When I found out that it was called the "HABU", I thought to myself, "the what?” My curiosity led me to find the following info on Habu.org and some great info on how the name Habu tied into aviation.

From HABU.org : A habu (pronounced "hah-BOO") is a venomous snake found in southeast Asia (Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, southeast China). Habus are pit vipers, more closely related to the adder than to any species of North American snake. The actual "habu" (Trimeresurus flavoviridis) is relatively small, not usually getting longer than 5 feet. They are not typically aggressive but will bite if provoked. They are not as deadly as cobras or mambas, but are more much more dangerous than most North American venomous snakes.

When the A-12s (and later the SR-71s) were first flown to their new remote base at Kadena AFB in Okinawa, the local people thought that this strange and somewhat wicked-looking airplane was shaped like the habu snake. They started calling it the Habu airplane, and later just habu. Crews who flew the airplane were also called Habu, and the name came to be recognized with the blackbird program and even incorporated into the insignia worn by the crews on their uniforms.

The HABU patch was only awarded to crews who had flown operational sorties. Over time HABU has come to be associated with all blackbird pilots and crews, but in the truest sense of the word, it represents only those who flew operational sorties. As pilot Rich Graham explained, "you had to fly an SR-71 on an Operational Sortie to earn the Habu patch!"

Kit Contents

The Habu kit box was shipped inside of another box for added protection. The airframe is packed with precision into a foam cradle that securely holds the parts in place. The first thing that caught my eye was how complete the Habu kit is. Everything is installed. It really is just a matter of assembling sub-components. A quick flip through the manual and it became obvious just how quick this build would be because there were not any assembly steps that required the use of glue or epoxy!

The main parts of the Habu airframe are made from Z-Foam. The Z-foam is much more resilient than the white EPS foam that many of the foam airframes are made with today. Although the bead size of the Z-Foam is somewhat large, the beads fit well together, with no gaps when formed and provide a smooth and tough finish (there are some very small molding bumps on the surfaces). Speaking of no gaps... all of the control surfaces on the Habu are "live hinged" (the foam itself serves as the hinge material) but also include a small piece of tape in the beveled edge of the hinge for added security.

The Habu uses electronic components that already have a great track record of being reliable. Another nice consideration by ParkZone was the use of electronics that are not running at their max ratings right out of the box. The 60 amp controller provides enough headroom for the power system and the included battery can easily handle the load as well. The servos are securely mounted and show very little to no slop in the control linkages. By the way, the aileron servos are analog, the rest are digital.

Although I knew the Habu was a Bind-n-Fly model, it’s hard to appreciate the completeness and just how unique and simple the build of this model is until it’s sitting right in front of you. This is going to be a very quick build!

Kit Includes:

  • Fuselage with Delta-V 15 69mm edf fan unit(E-flite’s BL15 3200Kv brushless ducted fan motor installed), E-flite 60A Pro with Switch-Mode BEC ESC and Spektrum AR500 DSM2 5-channel sport receiver factory installed.
  • Wing with ailerons, servos, control horns, and control linkages factory installed.
  • 4 cell 3200 mah 30c LiPo battery pack.
  • One piece canopy/hatch assembly with pilot bust.
  • Horizontal stabilizer with factory installed servos (one for elevator and one for rudder) and control linkages for the elevator.
  • Plastic exhaust nozzle
  • vertical fin with rudder. Control horn installed.
  • Plastic fin mounting plates.
  • Nose wheel plates. One for "belly landing" mode and one for the landing gear version that includes a factory installed servo and control linkage for nose gear steering.
  • 3 to 4 cell balancing LiPo charger with 3 amp max charge rate.
  • Landing gear. Wheels factory installed.
  • Miscellaneous building materials.

Assembly

The Habu manual makes for a very interesting and brief read. I quickly understood just how much thought went into the design and construction of this airframe. The manual itself includes many fairly large and clear pictures (black and white) of the various assembly steps. The written instructions that correspond to the pictures are easily understood. Along with the general assembly steps, ParkZone also includes sections on charging the battery, transmitter and receiver binding, some flying tips, warranty information, and a replacement parts list that I will hopefully never need. Kudos to ParkZone for a well organized and easily understood manual, something that is missing from many of the ARF kits on the market today.

The Habu assembly manual and airframe component specs can be found here.

Fuselage and Wing

Before attaching the wing, I connected the Y-harness extension to the two aileron servo wires making sure that the extension was not pinched in between the fuselage and the wing. I attached the wing to the fuselage by inserting the two "locator" pins (located on the rear of the wing) into the two small holes located on the rear of the wing saddle opening. The wing is then held in place by a screw that is mounted through the front underside of the wing.

Horizontal stab and Fin

The horizontal tail mounting system on the Habu just might be the most ingenious design that I have seen. The horizontal stab, rudder servo, elevator servo, and elevator control linkage comes ready to install as one sub-assembly. All that I needed to do was plug the rudder and elevator servos into the servo connectors in the fuselage (the connectors are stacked and mounted at the front of the horizontal stab saddle, very nice!), plug the horizontal stab locator pins into the front of the stab saddle, and screw the horizontal stab onto the fuselage with two screws.

After the stab was attached, I slid the fin and rudder post into a hole between the rudder and elevator servo. Next, I installed the plastic fin mounting plates to each side of the fin in the alignment holes. The plastic plates are held in place with screws. After the plates were secured, I installed the rudder push rod and the tail cone. The tail cone is held in place with tape that is included.

Main and Nose Landing Gear

The main landing gear couldn't be simpler to install as designed, but I did run into a very small problem that slowed down the installation time. The main landing gear simply snap into landing gear plates that are on the bottom of the wing. Unfortunately, there was excess glue that was sitting in the gear wire channel underneath the wire clips on the landing gear plates. I had to clear out the glue with my hobby knife before the gear would snap into place.

The Habu comes with two nose wheel plates. One for the belly landing version and one for the version with landing gear. The plate for the landing gear version has the steering servo and linkage factory installed. All I needed to do to mount the plate was hook up the servo extension wire and screw the plate to the mounting receptacle under the nose of the fuselage. The nose gear then simply slides into the collar on the mounting plate and is held in place with a setscrew in the collar. By the way, a 1.5mm hex wrench is included to tighten the setscrew!

Radio Installation and completion

What radio installation? The Bind-n-Fly version of the Habu comes with everything installed. All I needed to do at this point was install the battery, check the C.G. (The recommended C.G. is 4 inches back from the leading edge of the wing at the root.), and adjust the control throws in my transmitter. With my battery pack installed, it was just slightly nose heavy but not heavy enough as to require any additional weight in the tail.

Control throws: Measured at widest point of control surface.
Aileron:19mm high rate / 13mm low rate
Elevator:16mm high rate / 13mm low rate
Rudder:25mm high rate / 19mm low rate

At the Field

Flying

I accepted the Habu review knowing that I would have limited flight opportunities in Central Ohio in the dead of winter. Having said that, we do fly year round, and the flexibility the Habu offers for easy hand launches or smooth ROG takeoffs made it an easy choice for a winter review. The maiden flight of the Habu took place on a day when the temperature was 28 degrees with sustained winds of 10mph. Subsequent flights took place in 38 degree weather.

One of the most important attributes to any aircraft that I can think of is the ease at which it takes off and lands. Obviously the way it flies is important, but if you are nervous about getting your aircraft into the air and especially back on the ground then the flight won’t be as enjoyable. For me, the Habu provides stress free takeoffs and landings as well as easily executed hand launches.

Taking Off

With Landing Gear

Since this was my first flight on the Habu as well as my Spektrum DX7 transmitter, I made sure to do a thorough range check. Everything tested well so I plugged in the battery and made my way down to the flight line. The Habu taxied well with positive control. It doesn’t drift or feel too light or heavy on the nose wheel. After I had the Habu lined up on the runway, I took a brief pause and slowly advanced the throttle. The Habu started rolling almost immediately. I went to half throttle for a few seconds to get the feel of the Habu on the ground under speed. The Habu was tracking perfectly so I went to full throttle. The Habu quickly gained speed. I slowly fed in some up elevator and the Habu lifted off of the ground very smoothly. It was easily controlled throughout the climb out. I was happy to see that the Habu didn’t leap off of the ground. I have a few jets that have this tendency and it can be a little unnerving if you’re not ready for it. Subsequent takeoffs have proven to be hassle-free. I simply point it into the wind, get up to flying speed, and slowly pull back on the elevator. After 13 flights, I have yet to have a takeoff that didn’t go exactly as planned.

Now that I am completely comfortable with the takeoff sequence, I like to flip the Habu inverted immediately after takeoff or take off directly into knife edge flight (after I build up adequate speed). The Habu can handle it with ease.

Hand Launch

I have hand launched many jets in my modeling career, so I wasn’t very nervous about hand launching the Habu. It has a very respectable power to weight ratio as well as a somewhat low wing loading for a jet. To hand launch the Habu, I held it just in front of the intakes. I ran the throttle up to full and gave it a firm throw just slightly above level. The Habu easily flew away from my hand launch without any sign of dropping and flew away with authority. Hand launching the Habu has proven to be very predictable as long as I give it a firm, slightly above level throw.

Basics

After takeoff and a fairly aggressive climb out, I did a few laps to get a feel for its flight characteristics. The Habu required very little trim for level flight… a few clicks of down and some right trim was all that was needed to fly level hands off. It became evident quickly that this would be a fairly easy to fly EDF jet. Although the wind was blowing about 10-12mph it was hardly noticeable during flight. There was some very minor buffeting but much less than I would have thought. The Habu responds very crisply to control inputs and is very nimble at medium to higher flying speeds.

At higher speeds the Habu tracks incredibly well with little to no tail waggle. With the landing gear on it was clocked at 76mph into the wind and 95mph downwind, very respectable for a Bind-N-Fly EDF foam jet (without the landing gear the Habu averaged about 10mph faster). The Habu handles high speed turns easily with no tendency to snap out. At slower speeds the Habu is still easily controlled but does require more control input. The Habu will fly very slowly before stalling. When the Habu does stall, it is usually fairly docile and falls off to one side slightly. Recovery from stall is very straightforward. All I needed to do was add some power and pull out slowly. The above traits are the ultimate confidence builder when it comes to a pilot’s comfort level with an airframe.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

After I was comfortable with the basic flight characteristics, which was almost immediately, I wanted to see what the Habu could do. After all, the ParkZone ad states “…the Habu does it all”. (Note: I was also getting used to my new Spektrum DX7 transmitter). The Habu flies crisply and powerfully so I was confident going into these maneuvers for the first time. First, I tried a sequence of stall turns and aileron rolls. The stall turns are easily executed as long as I started to feed in the rudder input while the Habu was still moving somewhat quickly. If I waited too long and the Habu had lost most of its speed, the rudder would lose almost all of its effectiveness. Remember, we are flying a jet here... there is no prop blast on the control surfaces. The vertical climb on the Habu is the best I have seen yet in a RTF package at this price level, but it is not unlimited. The aileron rolls are very axial at full throttle with very little to no tendency to lose altitude while rolling. At slower speeds, the rolls are still fairly axial but control input must be added to keep the rolls on plane. Point rolls and slow rolls are a favorite of mine with the Habu. It performs them exceptionally well as long as you add correction at the proper times in the roll; which I usually, but don’t always do.

The Habu flies very well inverted, in fact it flies as well upside down as it does right side up. I find myself flying the Habu upside down much more than any other plane I own… not just jets (you will notice that in my videos!). I had been anticipating knife edge flight with the Habu since I saw how easy ParkZone made it look in their promotional video. Guess what? It really is almost as easy as they make it look. The rudder is very effective so the Habu will begin to sustain knife edge flight at just under full throttle. Knife edge flight with the landing gear on requires some up elevator and right aileron correction. Without correction it will flatten itself upright (the Habu will sustain knife edge flight with much less input when the landing gear are off). I am currently testing different rudder mix settings to compensate for some of this.

Loops with the Habu can be fairly large; I just needed to keep the power through the top of the loop to keep them close to round. If I back out of the power to soon the Habu will fall off a little at the top. One of my favorite turnaround maneuvers after a show center pass is the half Cuban eight. The Habu performs this as well as the reverse half Cuban eight, split-S, and immelman turn with ease…not to mention most other four channel basic maneuvers. The difference between the Habu and most other four channel EDF jets in this price range is the crispness and precision in which it executes maneuvers. The Habu doesn’t perform like a high end composite sport jet, but I would be willing to bet it’s about as close as you can get in a ready to fly package at this price point.

Without the landing gear, the Habu averages about ten miles and hour faster than with the gear…but most importantly, it just plain flies better. It maintains its speed better, it flies a bit crisper, and it requires less corrective input in some aerobatic maneuvers. I personally enjoy the Habu much more without the landing gear in the air but it sure is hard to pass up those sweet take offs and landings when you have 1000 feet of blacktop runway. Some form of retract modification is in my future!

Landing

With Landing Gear

I knew landing the Habu would be fairly uneventful having seen how slow it can fly while still being controllable. I always like to make a slightly descending turn when transitioning from my down wind pass to final (This helps to keep the speed up). The wind was blowing about 10-12 mph so I kept the throttle setting at about 35% for my maiden landing until I was well over the runway to compensate for the headwind. Once the Habu was well over the runway I slowly dropped the throttle and fed in a bit of up elevator. The Habu started to settle in so I dropped the throttle a little more. The fan cut out completely, so I restarted it at about a quarter throttle and continued to let it settle in. Once the airframe was flying level just above the runway (Maybe 3 feet), I cut the throttle completely and fed in a little more elevator until it eventually landed on the runway. The main gear touched down first and then the nose wheel touched down like a feather. I don’t think it could get much easier! I taxied back to the pits knowing that this would be a model that would always provide stress free landings. Subsequent flights have proven that the Habu is incredibly easy to land. Now that I am completely comfortable landing the Habu, My favorite landing trick is to touchdown and hold the nose wheel off of the ground as long as I can…which is almost always the point at which the elevator looses its effectiveness.

Without Gear

Landing the Habu without the gear is as simple as with the gear. There is nothing complicated here. I simply line the Habu up into the wind and let it settle onto the ground. After touchdown the Habu will gracefully slide to a stop.

Is This For a Beginner?

The Habu is not for a true beginner, but would serve as a great introduction to jets for someone who has an intermediate model under their belt. If you have mastered your trainer and have successfully and competently flown a moderately fast airplane then the Habu should be fairly easy for you to fly.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Having owned a few "almost ready to fly" current generation foam EDF jets, I was hoping the Habu would be different. It is. Most of the current generation EDF jets fly well, unfortunately, most in this class don't fly very powerfully or with this level of precision. The Habu pays closer attention to some of the standards for higher end ducted fan jets when it comes to design, especially in the fan and ducting. The ducted fan on the Habu is just that... a fan. Some of the fans in the 64-70mm size more closely resemble that of multi-bladed ducted props. The ducting itself it smooth and flows nicely without quick turns back to the face of fan...also, no cheater holes! Signs that the designer was thinking of better performance in the design process.

The Habu could not have been any easier to assemble. The level of prefabrication is amazing; right down to the factory installed servo fairings that cover the control linkages on the wings. What sets this EDF jet apart from many others are its design, completeness, and ease of assembly. What takes it over the top is its superb flying qualities. The Habu might not "...do it all", but its gets much closer than any thing else in it's class.

Pros:

  • Fit and finish.
  • High level of prefabrication.
  • Fast assembly process. It can be built in less time than it takes to charge the battery.
  • Thoughtful design.
  • Fast/powerful with the included setup.
  • Excellent flight characteristics.
  • Easy to hand launch.
  • Quality components used.
  • Decent flight times with included battery. I am averaging 5.5 minutes of mostly medium to high powered flight.
  • Instruction manual.
  • Also available in a Plug-n-Play version for those that already own a receiver and battery.

Cons:

  • Excess glue used to install some of the components.
  • Slight opening at wing saddle.
  • The dented nose that was on my airframe seems to be somewhat prevalent.
  • Canopy fit could be better.
  • Although I noted the fit and finish as a pro, it would be nice if the molding bumps were not there.

Wishes:

  • A sport jet doesn't look quite right with fixed gear hanging down during flight and hand launching isn't for everyone (although its very simple with the Habu, I prefer it without the landing gear), so...It would be nice if a retract ready wing and nose gear plate were available.
  • More color options or a plain white version that modelers can paint.
Last edited by Angela H; Feb 15, 2010 at 05:32 PM..
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Feb 15, 2010, 05:43 PM
E-flyer since 1981
Michael in Toronto's Avatar
Nice review.

I have already purchased and put together this kit, and am anxiously waiting for better weather to fly it.

I think the kit is a great deal, considering it is a BNF package.
Feb 15, 2010, 07:10 PM
Registered User
Nice Review!
I absolutely love my Habu and i think is probably the best flying stock ducted fan in the market....but the quality control on my model was pretty bad!
dings, scratches,half of the fuse was unglued, too much glue in other parts,big gap between the fuse and wing,etc...etc...
Dont get me wrong, i do think is an amazing model, but for 400$, i was expecting better quality control from parkzone and horizon......
Feb 15, 2010, 07:14 PM
Registered User
Nice job by all ! ( Kevin, Matt,Mike and Parkzone)
Feb 15, 2010, 08:08 PM
EDF Nut
carl rich's Avatar
Well done Kevin!
Feb 15, 2010, 08:17 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Very nice review Kevin.

Scott Todd had added the E-flite electronic retracts to his Habu that he flew at the Arizon Electric Festival. I have posted these pictures elsewhere but they might be helpful here to a Habu buyer.
Feb 15, 2010, 08:19 PM
Mike
i12flyrc's Avatar
I'm going to have to get one of these for this Summer! Any new color schemes beside gray coming out soon?
Feb 15, 2010, 09:36 PM
Registered User
mavdriver's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
Very nice review Kevin.

Scott Todd had added the E-flite electronic retracts to his Habu that he flew at the Arizon Electric Festival. I have posted these pictures elsewhere but they might be helpful here to a Habu buyer.
Hi Michael thanks for posting those pics as I just bought a set for my Habu I too saw Scotts Habu in Arizona , and was asking him about the Eflite retracts , so now i`m set , time to get to work . Ed
Feb 15, 2010, 09:40 PM
Were..is..my..Super..Suit ..
j3tman's Avatar
great review kevin and nice pics on the habu with retracts
Feb 15, 2010, 09:42 PM
Registered User
mavdriver's Avatar
Kevin nice review I also don`t like the way the canopy fit might do something about that , and had the wing saddle was also slightly open , but my solution was to force the wing on the saddle to meet , and add clear tape , that keeps it nice and tight .
Feb 15, 2010, 10:32 PM
Registered User
nice review. I really like my Habu!
Feb 16, 2010, 12:13 AM
Registered User
Prof100's Avatar
Your review is well done. Enjoyed your flying as well. Great job.

Bill
Feb 16, 2010, 12:58 AM
Registered User
I love both ours! We bought two to do formation flying. We have retracts on the first one that work exceptionally well (watch for our next video to see those).

Here's ours in action:

FPV formation with Parkzone Habu

FPV Jet Formation flying- Parkzone Habu マクロスF ライオン カラオケ (5 min 3 sec)


Habu Maiden flight:

Parkzone Habu Maiden Test Flight (4 min 25 sec)




BTW Nice Job with the inverted passes!
Last edited by ssgtakeo; Feb 16, 2010 at 01:07 AM.
Feb 16, 2010, 08:11 AM
Registered User
kevin's Avatar
thanks guys...

Thanks for the retract pics Michael. As soon as Horizon gets them back in stock i will be ordering a set for the Habu.

ssgtakeo, that formation flying video is impressive. i am sure its much harder to keep the habu in view than the video makes it look.
Feb 16, 2010, 08:44 AM
JUNK RADIO
Flazo's Avatar
Very Honest review. Great, thank you.

Fred


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