E-Flite L-4 Grasshopper Review - RC Groups
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E-Flite L-4 Grasshopper Review

Come along as Jeff Williams recons one of history's most notable reconnaissance aircraft, The E-flite L-4 Grasshopper!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:38.2"
Wing Area:210 sq. in.
Weight:10 oz.
Length:23.7"
Wing Loading:~7 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 - Spektrum DSP60J
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7I
Receiver:Spektrum AR6300 Nanolite
Battery:E-flite 2S 430mAh
Motor:E-Flite Park 250
ESC:E-flite 10A
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Manufacturer:E-flite
Street Price:$99.99
Should you buy one?Sure!

From the Wright Flyer to the Boeing 747: Throughout the history of aviation, there have been a handful of iconic aircraft. And in that list of iconic aircraft, probably somewhere close to the middle would most definitely have to be the Piper J3 Cub. Produced for over 40 years, with its mostly notable bright "Cub Yellow" paint, the plane is an aviation legend. And with every good legend lies a wonderful past full of good stories. Part of the J3's past is not only its civilian heritage but a military one too. The venerable J3 swapped its yellow paint for olive drab (and in some cases light sea blue for the US Navy) and enlisted into the United States Air Corps as the 0-59A which eventually became the L-4 Grasshopper which fought in both World War II and Korea.

Horizon has done its part to keep this iconic aircraft alive in through its 38" park reconnoitering Piper L-4 Grasshopper ARF.


Kit Contents

The kit arrived just as I expect from Horizon, very well packed, and it is actually one of the most complete ARFs I have assembled. I was very surprised to see how complete it is. I knew it was an ARF, but wow! The fuselage was fully built, covered and packaged so as to avoid any damage during shipping.



The E-flite L-4 also arrived with all the recommended equipment from E-flite:

  • (1) Spektrum AR6300 DSM2 Nanolite 6-Channel Receiver
  • (4) DSP60J 6.0-Gram Super Sub-Micro Digital Programmable Servos with JST connectors
  • (1) 3-inch JST Ultra Lightweight Y-Harness
  • (1) 3-inch JST Ultra Lightweight Servo Extension
  • (1) Park 250 Brushless Outrunner Motor, 2200Kv
  • (1) 6 x 5 Slow Flyer Propeller
  • (1) E-flite 10-Amp Pro Brushless ESC
  • (1) E-flite 430mAh 2S 7.4V 20C Li-Po battery


Other items needed to complete the build:

  • Cardstock
  • Clear tape
  • Hobby scissors
  • Hobby knife (#11 blade)
  • Low-tack tape
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Pencil Pin vise
  • Pliers
  • Ruler
  • Hex wrench: .050-inch
  • Phillips Screwdriver: #00, #0
  • Flat blade screwdriver: 1.5mm
  • Drill bit: 1/16-inch (1.5mm), 5/64-inch (2mm)
  • Adhesives: Medium CA, Threadlock

Assembly

I could tell this was going to be a quick build. I threw the gear underneath it and mounted the cowl just for grins and almost had a completed fuselage.



All in all, the kit arrived in great shape and only needed a few passes with my heat gun to reshrink any loose covering. I made sure to keep the gun moving quickly to avoid any holes in the UltraCote ParkLite film. I also made sure to keep it moving pretty quickly near any of the pre-applied decals. Hitting the decal with too much heat will shrink the decal and leave your covering nice and sticky.

Before
Before
After
After

Wing

One of the most obvious changes the J3 took on when it became a service aircraft was the greenhouse canopy. This allowed both the spotter and the pilot to see out of the plane at almost any orientation. E-flite has done a wonderful job of keeping the greenhouse intact by using a carbon fiber wing tube, magnets and functional wing struts to hold the wing onto the Grasshopper.

Before mounting the wing, the DSP60J servos need to be installed on the pre-covered plywood hatch covers. My hatches were cut perfectly, and I did not need any massaging to fit the servos in their new homes. The most critical part of this step is ensuring that the mounting blocks are glued to allow the servo arm free movement.




Fuselage

The fuselage requires very little work to complete it. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and found both the horizontal and vertical stabs already glued and hinged! The tailwheel was also already installed. The steps needed to complete the fuse are minimal and include installation of the linkages and pushrods, landing gear, servos and power system.


The landing gear was already completed and needed only to be slid in place. The manual recommends that the gear can either be glued or left friction fit for easy removal and transportation. I have left mine as friction fit and have had no problems as a result.


Radio Installation

The most lengthy portion of this quick assembly is the installation of the servos into the fuselage. As I started on the build, I was curious as to how I was going to fit 25 pounds of gear into a 5 pound bag, but looks were deceiving, and I had no issues at all. It was not that the gear was large, but instead it was so small that all the accompanying wiring looked huge!

The elevator and rudder servos fit snugly into their predetermined locations easily, and while they required no additional urging from me, a gentle hand and a little patience will pay off here. The area the servos slide into is quite small.



The servos were installed into the fuse with no hassles. With the servos in, I finshed up the rudder and elevator linkages and used a clip to center the control surfaces.


Power System Installation

The entire power package for the Grasshopper rides in the front 1/4 of the aircraft, most of that being in the ply motor mount. First things first, I installed the E-flite 10 amp speed controller. The manual for the bird has words, but they are almost not needed; the pictures tell the story very well. With the ESC and the servos installed, things started to look a little hectic, but I kept on moving forward.



E-flite recommends the Park 250 motor for the L-4, and that is what I used. There are two options for installing it: a traditional o-ring type prop saver or using the motor shaft and a prop adapter.




I couldn't bring myself to use the prop saver and looked into the complexity of swapping the shaft around. The L-4 manual states that the instructions for this are in the motor literature. I was unable to find it there and had to turn to the web. I read on the net that several guys were having issues and a few destroyed their motors in the process. I did find instructions at Horizon for the shaft reversal. The instructions made it sound simple, almost as if the shaft would simply fall out once the grub screws were gone. What I found was that if patience is not one of your virtues, you too will destroy a motor. I wound up using an 8mm socket and a table vice to help press the shaft out and flip everything around.


Was it time consuming? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

Once I had the shaft flipped around, I secured the prop adapter with a touch of LockTite.



I have always had a thing about cowls. I hate mounting them with screws. Maybe if I were able to mount them with screws that were the correct scale for the airplane, but I've always looked for other ways to mount cowls. I couldn't bring myself to drill a hole into the Grasshopper’s cowl, and instead, I used a couple of rare earth magnets that I had laying around. Yes, I paid a small weight penalty, but it was worth it for me not to have to look at large, oversized screws.




With the cowl saved, it was time to get into the wind!

Flying

Basics


The E-flite L-4 is a wonderful little park flyer. For the maiden flight, I waited until the winds were nice and calm one day before sundown and took her to my local flying field. After a few quick taxi runs, I realized that the Park 250 makes plenty of power for the Grasshopper. The plane will gladly be airborne in a very short distance at 1/2 throttle, much less full. The Park 250 is no slouch on this airframe. But this Cub in uniform is not an aerobat. However, spins, stalls, loops and all the traditional "Gentleman’s Aerobatic" maneuvers can be flown.




Loops at a touch over half throttle require little to no dip of the nose before entering. Rolls look best with a touch of pitch up before going over. Stalls are all very straightforward, and the Grasshopper has no bad habits I have found. I have found it is a touch-and-go machine. I have had great amounts of fun running around the parking lot doing extended roll outs with the tail in the air. All in all, the E-flite Grasshopper’s handling is very comparable to its full scale counterpart’s.


Taking Off and Landing

The Grasshopper will leap into the air at anything nearing half throttle, and easing onto the throttle stick is a wise decision. I think this airframe acts how a full scale Cub would act with an O-360 on the nose.




Scale looking takeoffs can be accomplished with ease. A little power, let her get the tail up and fly it off the deck. The same can be said of the landing. While the chop and drop technique will certainly get the L-4 back on terrafirma, I am finding that a bit of power carried into the landing gives the Grasshopper a much nicer feel.

Conclusion

The E-flite Grasshopper is a welcome addition to my hangar, and I'm sure it would be a welcome addition to yours! It has great manners and presents itself very well. It simply acts and looks the part of the classic Piper J3 in military garb.

Cheers:

  • Looks great in the air
  • Assembles extremely quickly
  • No noticeable bad habits

Jeers:

  • One of the DSP60Js I received was binding and drawing more than its fair share of juice from the receiver and almost caused me some heart ache. Horizon quickly replaced the servo, and I have had no issues since.




===============

Last edited by Angela H; Mar 11, 2010 at 04:15 PM..
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Mar 12, 2010, 06:43 PM
Come fly with us in Henryetta
Nice review! I just put one of these together for a friend of mine who has a full size NE-1 Navy version of the same plane.
When the restoration is done we will take pics of them together.

Sure is an easy plane to assemble!
Wes
Mar 12, 2010, 06:52 PM
Registered User
Joe Pierson's Avatar

Piper L-4


Hi Guys,
You did a good job, and I will agree for sure it is a "great flyer!!"
Here is a photo of mine, before I installed the motor.
Joe
Mar 12, 2010, 07:29 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
I've been thinking about painting this one as an NE-1..
Mar 12, 2010, 07:37 PM
Come fly with us in Henryetta
Well if you need any details I bet I can get some pictures as the restoration goes along!

Wes
Mar 12, 2010, 08:37 PM
"I Am The Animal!" in training
helifryer's Avatar
i got one of these little babydolls for my birthday back in october 2009. i looove mine! its just so smooth!

i think i might need to increase the aileron throws on mine a bit...
but man - on a nice calm evening right after the sun sets, but before it gets dark - this is the plane for that time!

nice review!
Heli
Mar 13, 2010, 06:52 AM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
Great little plane. Shame this review came out so late after the plane. I know a lot less folks would have bent their 250 shafts.
Mar 13, 2010, 11:06 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dora Nine
Great little plane. Shame this review came out so late after the plane. I know a lot less folks would have bent their 250 shafts.
Yeh, I thought for sure I was going to bend it up and I'd be on the move looking for a new motor, but patience prevailed for once in my life and I didn't destroy anything..
Mar 13, 2010, 01:48 PM
...into the mists of time...
I can't wait to get mine in the air. I'm going with the prop saver for now though. Having had no luck getting the shaft to budge (yes I removed the C clip and screws), I finally chickened out before I broke or bent something. I'll deal with it later.

This will be the first plane I've flown in a few years so I know I'm going to be a bit rusty. Any suggestions?
Mar 13, 2010, 02:37 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
A fantastic little plane - I LOVE mine..... A favorite indoor flier for me.

Mike
Mar 13, 2010, 02:57 PM
Registered User
RJD1234's Avatar
Jeff -great review. Seems like it's a floater. Good value for the price. But hmmmm - trees, signs, powerlines, fences, road, houses. You are braver than I am for flying in that type of environment. Probably not the safest but if you are used to it.................
Mar 13, 2010, 06:27 PM
Paul Dixon
oscarfrank's Avatar
Just got mine this week. I can't wait to get it into the air after seeing this.
Mar 13, 2010, 07:49 PM
Not your average DiggsyBear
Diggs's Avatar
Impressive for such a small power system. Looks like she handled the wind well and floats nicely too. Hmmmm. I didn't need to see this review

Diggs
Mar 13, 2010, 09:20 PM
"I Am The Animal!" in training
helifryer's Avatar
hey diggs. idk... mine is plenty light, and plenty powerful. but this little thing sure hates wind. its a fight just to keep it in the air if its breezy.
Mar 13, 2010, 09:24 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Mine seemed to handle the wind pretty well, but it's definitely not a "windy weather" plane..


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