AquaCraft Rescue 17 Fireboat RTR Review - RC Groups

AquaCraft Rescue 17 Fireboat RTR Review

I was interested in this fireboat for multiple reasons including that it looks sufficiently detailed to operate right away but there is also room to add my own touches to this boat in the future.



AquaCraft Models Rescue 17 Scale Electric Fireboat (1 min 45 sec)

Length: 38" (965mm)
Beam: 10.5" (261mm)
Height: 17" (432mm)
Weight: 8 lb (369kg)
Servos: #8141 standard servo
Transmitter: Tactic TTX490 4-channel 2.4GHz SLT
Receiver: Tactic TR400 4-channel 2.4 GHz SLT receiver
Lighting: Bright 10-piece LED lighting system
Hull: Painted,joined fiberglass hull, deck and cabin
Battery: Requires 8 AA for transmitter
Battery: Requires 11.1V 2200mAh Lipo battery & Balance charger
Motor: 600-size brushed motor
ESC: Water-cooled, waterproof and Lipo-compatible 11.1V ESC
Water cannon:rotates 120 degrees and shoots water up to 10 feet
Manufacturer: AquaCraft
Available From: Finer Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price: $399.99 ARF

When it comes to RC boats I have found that there are boaters, and BOATERS! There are also a few like myself that are boatERS. The BOATERS! are the ones who build the boat from scratch and will go to a variety of sources to find a multitude of little small details to finish their boat. Their boats are often miniature works of art that could be displayed in a museum. The boaters in this hobby don't want to build, they don't want to assemble, they want to operate a boat and they buy it off the shelf and go play. The Rescue 17 is a great boat for boaters but it also has a lot of potential for us boatERS as well. It has enough detail for me to go and operate her right out of the box and I can appreciate all the details that are built into the Rescue 17 as she was sold. However, there is also room for me to add my own touches to make her my boat. I plan to look for little details I can add including crew members, life vests , rope coils and other miniature details and I will probably do some mild weathering. I am in no rush. I can enjoy her right now as delivered and add details as they are found. I look forward to seeing what fellow boatERS do to their boats and what details they find and add. I would appreciate any recommendations and finds being shared here as well. I apologize if my terms have offended anyone but I hope my meaning was clear. The Rescue 17 is a great boat for the casual boater and for the person who wants a good foundation and will build on it to make it his own. In this review I will be focusing on the basic boat and what it has and how it operates.

FYI: Rescue 17 is a standoff scale fireboat. If she doesn't look like what you picture as a fireboat please remember that a number of different boat designs have been used as the platform to become a fireboat. Rescue 17 looks a lot like the Seattle fire boat, "Chief Seattle." I will be in Seattle for Thanksgiving and I will see what I can find out while I am there on Chief Seattle and post it under this article.

Fireboats serve multiple purposes in actual operation and directly fighting fires with the nozzles on board is only one of those functions. They are also designed to act as a floating pump house to supply water to land based fire engines fighting fires in case an earthquake destroys the waterlines in the city or for large fires where more water is needed. They also serve as rescue boats for disasters in the water near the city and as official greeters to special arrivals by sea acting like traveling water fountains when greeting a ship arriving for a special event or bearing a dignitary.

Pictures of Rescue 17 in and out of the box.

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • Rescue 17 RTR
  • Tactic 2.4 GHz transmitter
  • Boat stand
  • Decal sheet
  • Instruction manual

Other Required Items

Not included but necessary to operate Rescue 17 are batteries for the transmitter and boat. Hobbico separately supplied these individual items for this review.

Hobbico Supplied Items

  • Onyx AA batteries for transmitter 8-cell package
  • Electrifly 3-cell 2200mAh 11.1V LiPo battery pack

Items Supplied by Author

  • Balanced LiPo battery charger
  • Grim Reaper Speed Grease

Tools supplied By Author

  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • 6-minute epoxy
  • Medium CA
  • 3 feet of Silicon fuel line (Author's optional pump priming method)
  • Electrician's tape


Normally very limited assembly is required. The LED lighted mast is secured to the top of the boat with one screw through the cabin roof and into the mast using a Phillips screwdriver. Next I used CA to glue two white details to the mast in holes on the mast for them. The parts were an antenna and what appears to be a radar scanner. That is all the most owners should need to do by way of assembly.

However, in traveling across the country some parts became loose on my Rescue 17 and required a little attention. The right rear ladder from the main deck to the pilot deck was the most obvious repair need. It had come loose from my boat and I found it loose in the box. The part with handrails was intact but not attached. I secured it back into place in its intended location with some medium CA glue with two spots of glue on the top of the ladder where it meets the pilot deck and one spot on a pin on the side of the ladder that fit into a hole in the side of the boat. Additionally, the hand rails required two small spots of glue to relink them in place. (I was careful not glue the ladder to the main deck as the housing structure above the main deck tilts up to supply access into the hull.)

Next I used CA to glue two white details to the mast in holes on the mast for them. The parts were an antenna and what appears to be a radar scanner. With those parts attached the assembly/repair of exterior items was complete.

Inside the hull I found I found the electrical wires from the motor were not connected to the wires from the ESC and a red wire from the pump motor was not connected. For the main motor I simple plugged the black bullet connectors together and wrapped some electrician tape around the connection and did the same for the red positive wires. There was a much thinner red wire that was loose and it connected to the water pump and I tape it and for safety I also taped the black pump wires at the connection although they had remained connected.

The ESC and receiver are intended to be held in place with hook and loop material to spots on a stand in the rear of the hull. They had come loose. To secure them back in place I just pressed the hook and loop parts back together to hold those components in place. The battery holder for the LED 2 AA cell battery holder had come loose as had the switch for the LEDs. I mixed up a small batch of 6-minute epoxy and glued the hook and loop material to the port side wall of the housing and I glued the light switch to that wall as well per the picture below. When the epoxy had dried I installed two AA batteries from those Hobbico had supplied for this review into the LED battery holder and pressed the hook and loop material attached to it against the matching material that I had glued to the cabin wall. They have stayed in place ever since. There are navigation lights on top of the pilot's cabin as well as two search lights. There are three more lights on the mast and two white lights on the cabin ceiling inside the boat. Total assembly/reattach time was about a half hour including everything mentioned above. All was very easy to do.

I charged up the Electrifly battery pack with my own LiPo balance charger and added a piece of hook and loop material with a sticky backing that I found mated to hook and loop material secured inside in the middle of the hull. This material will keep the battery properly positioned and the boat in balance during operation. I next installed the AA batteries into the Tactic transmitter and the boat was ready to operate.

Boat Construction and Features

The main components are listed as being painted fiberglass and include the hull, deck and cabin. Most of the detail parts appear to made of plastic and this includes the railings on the pilot's deck. The main deck railings are made of wire rope run through plastic stanchions.

The boat's special feature is that there is a working water cannon with water pump. The nozzle of the water cannon can be steered from side to side in a 120 degree arch and the water will shoot out approximately 10 feet. More on this below in discussing the water cannon operation.


  • 10 LED lighting kit installed
  • Scale decorative water cannons
  • Scale ladders
  • Scale water valves
  • Search lights
  • staircases
  • railings
  • windows
  • radar/radio antennas
  • running lights
  • Water cooled 600 size brushed motor
  • Travels in forward and reverse
  • Tactic TTX490 4-channel 2.4GHz SLT surface transmitter
  • ESC with Deans Connector
  • Cabin support brace for improved main cabin access
  • On/off switch for main battery that controls power to the motor and pump motor. The rudder servo and receiver works regardless of what position the switch is at. When the 3-cell LiPo battery is connected the receiver and the servo are powered up and are independent of the main motor switch so plug in the battery just before operating and unplug when the mission is over.

Hull Access and Hatch Covers

There are three access hatches on the boat's deck. All three hatches have raised surfaces to help keep water out of the hull. The front most hatch cover has the working water cannon mounted on it. The front and rear hatch covers are fitted with a lip all around the bottom side of the hatch cover and the hatch covers are held in place with strong rubber bands. They are not sealed but depend on the fitting and the tight pull of the rubber hands to hold them in place. The main cabin in the center of the hull allows access to the battery holder for the lights, the light switch and is where the battery pack is mounted to power the boat. It is held down in back with strong rubber bands and in the front there is a latch that secures it in place. Here the raised lip around the hatch opening and the tall cabin covering the hatch are designed to keep out the water. This is not a tight fit like the front and rear hatch covers.

A Peek under the Hatches


The boat is sold in a completed state and looks good operating as sold. That said some additional details can be added selectively to make her look even more realistic. Remember that this is a rescue boat and would be kept in trim and operating condition. If keeping to scale any details added should reflect that. But make the boat your own and decorate her as you wish.



The right stick on the transmitter is used to turn the rudder and thus steer Rescue 17. It moves from side to side and turns the rudder left and right. It is a large rudder and moves a good deal. This allows the boat to turn and maneuver in very little space The left stick is centered. When pushed forward it signals directs the boat to move forward and when pulled back it directs the boat to go very slowly in reverse. This same left stick also allows for rotating the water cannon in a 120 degree arch from side to side. Push the left stick to the right and the water cannon rotates right. Push the stick to the left and the water cannon rotates to the left. The water cannon is activated using the toggle switch on the top left of the transmitter. I have used a Tactic transmitter with my Minimono RC boat and it has worked very well. I have used Tactic transmitters and receivers with a number of my planes and they all have worked great including the 490 used in operating this boat.

Priming the Pump

Not mentioned in the instruction manual but covered in a special Technical Notice is information that the pump needs to be primed before the water cannon can be operated. The recommended method is well explained with pictures and text in the Addendum notice and officially that is the way I recommend to prime the pump. They have you remove the water intake line from between the water intake in the hull and where it attaches to the pump. They have you submerge this water hose in a glass of water to fill the tube with water. Then pinch one end and attach the other end back to the pump. Let go of the pinch and the water flows into the pump. Attach the second end of the tube (The end that was pinched and just let go of the pinch.) back to the water intake and the priming has been accomplished.

My pump priming method requires that you have a separate piece of silicon tubing a 2-3 feet long. This tubing is the type that is used normally to fill a model's fuel tank. It is pretty much like the tubing in the boat. I attach one end of tubing to the water intake line for the pump (It is the one facing the stern.) in the bottom exterior of the boat. I get a mouth full of clean water from my water bottle and blow it into the silicon tubing and through the tubing into the pump through the water cannon's water intake. The pump was now primed. I didn't have to go into the hull to prime the pump motor. I disconnect my silicon tubing and placed it back in its bag for next time. The end that went on the intake has been stretched a bit so I can tell the ends of tubing apart. My method is quick, easy and it works. Just don't blow all the water through the pump. I stop blowing while there is still water in my tubing. The Rescue 17 was now primed and ready to operate.


The boat should be operated in relatively clean water that is at least 8" deep. If the water is dirty or filled with silt and debris the water cannon intake and pump might become blocked. Therefore, operate in relatively clean water for best results. After setting the boat in the water with everything already turned on I steered the boat straight away and made sure that the boat was tracking properly. If it had gone off to either side I would have adjusted the trim for the right control stick so that the boat traveled in a straight line with my hands off of the right stick.

Special Performance

The 600 brushed motor gives acceptable forward speed and allows the boat to go in both forward and reverse. This ability to maneuver the boat is important to allow for adjusting where the stream of water lands from the water cannon. It lets me hit my intended target with the water cannon by adjusting the boat's position. With Rescue 17 I am planning to operate her in a scale like fashion. For that I only need scale like speed and the ability to maneuver the boat in a scale like fashion and operate the water cannon. If raw speed is what I want I have my Aquacraft SuperVee-27R for speed.

Scale maneuvering and the operating water cannon are what make for special performance for my boat.

Operating the Water Cannon

With the pump primed I have found that toggling the water cannon on with the switch it works great whether stopped or moving in either direction, even at full throttle. When the pump starts to shoot water it continues to do so whether the boat is going forward or reverse, fast of slow. On most missions the pump can be turned on and off and it will continue to pump water when it is placed in the on position. However, on two occasions it didn't part pumping initially. It acted like it had lost its prime and wouldn't pump water. On those occasions I was successful with the pump by backing up the boat and thereby forcing water up the intake. This has only happened twice. One time the cause clearly appeared to have been some plant debris in the water. It got sucked up against the water intake and thus acted as a stopper to prevent the water from being pumped into the water cannon. My friend Dick Andersen discovered that backing up once the obstruction had come off got the pump working properly.

In operation the water cannon does rotate from side to side under RC control and the water does shoot forward about ten feet as advertised. My experience confirms why they tell you not to operate the boat in fouled water.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes! The boat is easy to operate and a beginner can easily operate this boat by following this review or the instruction manual with addendum. The manufacturer recommends only those 14 and older operate the boat. I recommend that if a younger person operates the boat it be done only with hands on adult supervision. That means the adult is right there with the child in hands reach. Being in the area isn't good enough. The adult should be within HANDS REACH and ready to take control if needed.

Safety First

Make sure the boat is never available for a child to operate without adult supervision right there next to the child. Never go swimming for the boat if a problem develops and the boat stops working. A tennis ball on the end of 12 pound fishing line or stronger on a fishing pole makes a good rescue device should the boat break down. I have a rescue vessel, an RC duck that can snag a stalled boat and bring it into shore. Never have your hands or any part of your body near the propeller when the system is operational.

Boating Video/Photo Gallery

AquaCraft's Rescue 17 with Water Cannon (3 min 29 sec)



To me the boat looks good all of the time but she looks best in the late afternoon as twilight is coming on. At this time of day the LEDs can be clearly seen as well as all of the boat's details. Since Aquacraft already had a video of the boat in operation I shot my video starting late in the day to show her when the sun was low and later when the lights are just starting to be effective. Of course the lights were much more visible to the human eye then the camera. My video camera may the lighting seem much brighter than it actually was when we were operating the boat late in the afternoon. So I also took some still pictures of her at night in our swimming pool. As you can hear on the video the pump does make some noise when it is operating. It isn't a loud noise but it is a definite signal that you should be seeing water. While I have some very fast boats I must say that I enjoy operating the Rescue 17. She can turn very quickly with her nice large rudder and she is relaxing to operate. NO WATER has gotten into the boat during this review! Zip! Nada! None! I use one paper towel at the end of the day to brush off the water from the boats deck or the top of the hatches. There is no drain plug in the boat's hull so I am especially glad that she stays dry.

While I enjoy her appearance as delivered I am looking forward to finding and adding some more details to her but I want to avoid a cluttered look. When in Seattle visiting my son and his family I hope to see if Chief Seattle is berthed where she can be seen and photographed to try and pick up some more of her scale details for possible incorporation into my boat.

When the pump is primed her fire hose and pump have worked flawlessly. I have twice lost prime when operating her in the Delta. One time I know for certain it was because some floating plant debris blocked the water intake. The instructions warned about not operating in dirty water but the Delta is just behind my house and the dock just a long block away. I don't know for certain that debris was the cause of the second stoppage but I strongly suspect it was. Operating her for an extended period in my pool and turning the pump on and off and letting it sit in the off position and off for quite some time; the pump stayed primed and operated without a problem so I believe it was debris both times I had problems as she tested out perfectly in clean water.

If you crave raw speed this is not the boat for you. She goes forward at a nice clip and backs up very very slowly. Her big rudder actually allows for some very good maneuvering to allow for controlled direction of the water stream along with the fact that the hose rotates via a servo 120 degrees.

The motor has its own separate water intake for the cooling system that forces water through a tube around the motor and that and the fact it is November as I test the boat has kept the motor cool. No pump for this system the speed of the boat forces water through the cooling tube. The faster the boat goes the more water that flows through the tube. The water exits the boat from a tube in the side of the boat. With mixed speed operation and subtracting any sitting time I found I was getting about fifteen minutes of operation from the 3-cell 2200mAh battery pack.

Dick and I both enjoyed our time on the transmitter controls and also enjoyed watching each other operate the boat and the water cannon. With Dick and by myself, people have stopped, watched and enjoyed the boat in operation. I think this is a very fun boat and a great boat boat for a shared parent with child experience.

House Fire Demonstration Cancelled Due to Grass Fire and Delayed Rainy Season in California!

I had negotiations for having a small fire (A large cardboard box painted as a house.) on the edge of a body of water at a regional park. This would allow the shooting of a video of the fire being put out by Rescue 17. I was to have several buckets of water and people to operate them as well as a fire extinguisher on hand. But then there was a rather large grass fire at the park in October and the rainy season has been delayed, permission for the demonstration fire was cancelled. Hopefully, I will get a chance to do that video winter when things are wet and if so I will post a You Tube video of the fire fighting into a post after this article.

Pluses & Minuses


  • Boat is ready to run with some nice scale details
  • Operating water cannon
  • More scale details can be added if desired
  • Boat resembles Chief Seattle a full size rescue/fire boat in Seattle Washington
  • Boat is easy to maintain
  • The inside of the hull has stayed completely dry in repeated test runs
  • Easy access inside the hull at three locations
  • Uses 3-cell 2200mAh battery pack for power
  • Has 10 light, lighting system for twilight and night time operation on separate power
  • About twenty minutes of operating time from the recommended battery pack.
  • A larger three cell pack can be used but I wouldn't increase the cell count
  • Thanks to the water cooling feature the motor does stay cool even with continuous operation
  • Boat looks nice on display in my office


  • A few parts needed to be reattached initially but that was quickly done and they have stayed in place in actual operation
  • The water cannon pump needs to be primed before operating
  • The water cannon stopped operating twice due to debris blocking the water intake. But when debris fell away it resumed operation.


My thanks to my friend Dick Andersen for helping video tape and operate the boat for the media for this review. My thanks to our editor, Angela, for her assistance. My thanks to AquaCraft and Hobbico for supplying the Rescue 17 for this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Nov 26, 2013 at 03:45 PM..
Thread Tools
Nov 26, 2013, 07:55 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
This space reserved for future updates/video. Michael Heer
Nov 26, 2013, 08:09 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Nice review, thanks.

Maybe the park would let you put out a fire on the pond, rather than on the shore. The fire on our tramp steamer model was a crumpled piece of newspaper burning in an aluminum flashing box. I used a standoff table made of wire mesh, inside the box, to help the fire get air; you could put a wire mesh lid over the fire to contain sparks. If you take this route, be sure to have a 5 gal. bucket with water in it to hold the newspaper ash resulting from the fireboat-doused fire.
Last edited by Brooks; Nov 26, 2013 at 08:21 PM.
Dec 01, 2013, 10:36 AM
Registered User
Nice boat. Reminds me of my Southampton tug. Maybe they will sell a cheaper version without the radio, we all have enough radios as it is! A little aging (not my skill set) and it would look perfect.
Dec 01, 2013, 11:29 PM
Webmaster, MMCNE
RCBoater's Avatar
Excellent review-- much better than the last one I read! I appreciate that you took the time to give details on the materials the model and its details are made from, plus info on average run times, etc.

Well done!
Dec 02, 2013, 04:07 PM
Registered User
MoonBlink's Avatar
Nice review I have one of these under the tree waiting for me Christmas morning.
Dec 03, 2013, 12:37 AM
Registered User
Dauntlessfan's Avatar
Any thoughts on the price tag? $400 is a lot of clams. I was hoping for pricing more in line with Aquacraft's RTR tug...
Dec 03, 2013, 02:55 AM
Age quod agis
SD RC Boater's Avatar
I have both of the boats that you mentioned. I have had the tug for probably for 10 years and it still works great. I expect the fireboat to last just as long.

The current price of the tug is $100.00 less than the fireboat. The fireboat is 8 inches longer, has a better 2.4ghz 4 channel radio, has more complex electronics including the water pump for the fire monitor that shoots water and rotates from side to side as controlled from the radio, etc. With that being said, I think the price of the fireboat is reasonable.

Either boat will give you years of enjoyment.
Dec 03, 2013, 01:51 PM
Registered User
Use the Tower coupon codes that come out monthly and that will knock down the price quite a bit....still a decent price at what it retails for.
Dec 03, 2013, 08:52 PM
Registered User
Tollytime's Avatar
There are some really nice things about this boat, but it comes up short on propulsion.

Hull: Modified "V"!! Very stable and fast!

Detail: Looks good to me!

Power: $8.00 600 series brushed motor. REALLY??!!

A single screw for a 38" boat? That's not acceptable!! A nice big boat like this with one screw? The cost of twin motors would have been next to nothing! A twin motor setup would make for an impressive display when it's sitting on the shelf.

Too much time was spent consulting with the accountant and nobody bothered to ask a scale boat enthusiast.

Sorry, but this boat get's a C+ overall!
Dec 17, 2013, 02:39 PM
Never say DIE...
Grimracer's Avatar
Lots of assumptions Tolly.. you are however entitled to your rating..

Best Regards

Dec 17, 2013, 03:11 PM
Registered User
MoonBlink's Avatar
I have seen a few out on the local lake and they seem fast enough. I think the power plant is fine for scale speeds.

Yes it would look nice with dual props but the target audience they are looking for is the scale beginner, an enthusiast would most likely build his own from scratch.

I get the feeling the people bashing this boat are the same ones who think "if it was scratch built it is better than if you bought it off the shelf" crowd.

Some people don't have the time, money, skills, or patience to do a scratch build or even a kit build. I have done my fair share of kits and RTR's and I like them both. The great thing about this boat is that it's a great platform for someone who wants scale and might want to add some bits down the road.

To the kid watching from shore they won't care if it was scratch built or not and if you were one of the people who bought one neither would you, and that is all that really matters.

Great review BTW and yes I have one sitting under the tree waiting for Christmas......
Dec 17, 2013, 04:22 PM
Registered User
MoonBlink=Common Sense.
Jan 05, 2014, 06:43 PM
Registered User
Hey all, I just ordered the new Thunder Tiger Atlantic Motor Yacht, RTR. I can't wait to do a detailed review and video of the boat. There's only a couple of videos that I have seen on youtube and am really looking for more about it. So, if you are in my position, I will soon have a more detailed review of the boat once I receive it in a couple of weeks.
Apr 25, 2014, 10:41 PM
Registered User

Acqua Craft fire boat

What is the run time on a full charge. I am just getting into RC boats and trying to understand the technical aspect of different configurations.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
GP Ryan STA ARF Problems Fly-n-Ryan Giant Scale Airplanes 17 May 06, 2014 01:18 PM
Sold Great planes ryan sta (arf) Charles32541 Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 3 Jun 03, 2011 01:54 PM
Sold GP Ryan STA-M 82" IMAA ARF-New in Box unclegeorge Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 1 May 28, 2011 09:48 PM
For Sale; Great Planes Ryan STA-M Arf NIB Warby Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 0 Apr 25, 2004 12:17 AM