Parkflyers RC F4U Corsair RTF Review

Just how famous is the full-scale version of this model? They made a TV show loosely based on the life of its pilot.

Splash

Introduction


Parkflyers RC F4U Corsair RTF
Wingspan:37.8" (960mm)
Weight:20 oz (567g)
Length:30.8" (782.3mm)
Construction:Expanded polyolefin fuselage, vertical stabilizer/rudder and wing; plastic coated expanded polystyrene horizontal stabilizer/elevator; steel wire landing gear struts; plastic wheels with foam tires; plastic pilot figure and scale details; polycarbonate canopy
Speed Range:15 - 50 MPH (24 - 80km/h)
Servos:Four 9g analog
Transmitter:E-Fly 4BII four-channel 2.4GHz spread spectrum park flyer with servo reversing and analog trims
Receiver:E-Fly six-channel 2.4GHz park flyer
Battery:1300mAh 3S 25C lithium polymer with Deans Ultra-Plug connector and JST-XH balancing tap
Motor:400-class brushless outrunner; 1250Kv
Propeller:11x6 three-blade scale with spare
ESC:Generic 20-ampere brushless
Claimed Flight Duration:17 - 20 minutes
Operator Skill Level/Age:Experienced beginner/Intermediate; 14+
Available From:Parkflyers RC LLC, 55 Park Avenue South, Lakewood, New Jersey 08701
Price (USD):$199.99

Call it luck or call it fate, but many of my recent review subjects have been warbirds.

This is not necessarily a bad thing; I've developed an interest in WWII fighter planes ever since I took up model aviation.

Such is the case with this review.

Thanks to the crew at Parkflyers RC or Parkflyers.com in Lakewood, New Jersey, it's my pleasure to bring to our audience their all-EPO Parkflyers RC F4U Corsair RTF. Not only is this a terrific park flyer-sized rendition of one of the most recognizable US Navy and US Marines fighter planes ever built, its livery is that of what may well be the definitive Corsair.

Very little is needed between opening the box and getting airborne, so settle in and enjoy the ride.

Prototype

Regarded as the most formidable fighter of the war by Japanese pilots, the carrier-capable Chance Vought F4U Corsair primarily saw duty in both WWII and the Korean War for both the US Navy and US Marines. It would continue to serve in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and other smaller armies until the 1960s. Nearly 13,000 examples were produced between 1942 and 1953 by Chance Vought, Goodyear Aircraft and Brewster Aeronautical Corporation; 45 airworthy examples are presently registered in the United States.

The Parkflyers RC version represents Lucybelle, perhaps the single most famous Corsair of all since it was the one most closely associated with WWII US Marine Corps Major (later Colonel) Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (December 4, 1912 - January 11, 1988).

One of history's most decorated aviators, Boyington was the commander of Marine Corps squadron number VMF-214, otherwise known as "The Black Sheep Squadron." He was later a prisoner of war, spending twenty months in Japanese prison camps.

Between 1976 and 1978, the television series Baa Baa Black Sheep aired on NBC-TV. Created and produced by Stephen J. Cannell and starring Robert Conrad as Boyington, the series was very loosely based on Boyington's memoirs and it retained Boyington himself as a technical advisor.

Though Lucybelle was not Boyington's regular combat aircraft, it served as a basis for publicity photos. The aircraft is currently on static display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at Washington Dulles International Airport. Boyington once used a felt-tipped marker to autograph the inside of one of the wheelwells and since the aircraft is suspended from the ceiling with the gear lowered, Boyington's autograph is still plainly visible.

Contents

The Corsair comes with virtually everything needed to get started:

  • Assembled, painted and decorated fuselage and wing with preinstalled electronics
  • Preassembled main landing gear and preinstalled tailwheel
  • 2.4GHz four-channel transmitter with servo reversing switches and analog trim tabs
  • 1300mAh 3S 25C li-po battery with Deans Ultra-Plug and JST-XH balancing tap
  • 2S/3S AC-powered balancing charger
  • Wrench for propeller installation and extra-long #1 phillips screwdriver for vertical stab installation
  • Illustrated instruction manuals and sheets for the model, radio and charger

Needed for completion are:

  • Eight AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Additional flight batteries (optional)

The contents of the attractively printed display box were well wrapped and packaged with no damage. Given how much time models of this nature are handled in transit, it's something of a small miracle when they arrived unscathed as often as they do. As for the transmitter, it's typical of the type often shipped with RTF models. It's kind of "plasticky" and will never be mistaken for a high-end computerized radio, especially with the somewhat vague stick feel. The throttle stick was acting a bit weird, as if it didn't want to raise or lower the last couple of millimeters in either direction. After I installed eight AA-cell alkaline batteries, a quick test of the system showed it to be better than it initially felt with smooth, jitter-free servo and throttle response.

It isn't until page 11 that the builder is instructed to install the batteries and to check the radio - with the propeller in place. That reminds me of some good news: Parkflyers has asked me to rewrite this manual and that of future review subjects and this is one of the issues which I'll address in the rewrite.

Of course, it's a basic rule of thumb to check everything without the prop, thereby preventing damage to said thumb or other body parts with accidental application of throttle.

There were a lot of the dreaded mold injection marks on both the top and bottom of the wing with somewhat fewer visible on the fuselage. Panel lines were abundant, adding to the scale effect, but the entire model is riddled with what I assume to be simulated rivets. Handling the model is sort of like handling a hairbrush as a result; flaking paint on some of those rivets resulted in a number of little white bumps on the model. The paint itself looked nice, but the decals were somewhat haphazardly placed and wouldn't burnish down. In fact, the stars and bars was torn in two places from the factory!

Topping off the scale bits were a simulated radial engine, simulated oil cooler grilles on each wing, a preinstalled pilot figure and a preinstalled canopy. The handpainted, nearly full-bodied figure is a nice touch, but given the fact it's probably used on a number of different models, it looks nothing like Boyington.

Instead, it reminded me a bit of United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

The plastic-coated EPS foam horizontal stabilizer looked great, but the EPO vertical stab left something to be desired. The factory painted over a deep dent and scratches and while they didn't affect the performance of the model, they simply look bad.

Interestingly, a QC checklist card dated June 20, 2013 was enclosed and the product appearance was checked off as OK by the inspector. My guess is that minor cosmetic flaws are overlooked which in turn saves the factory a lot of money by not having to reject and discard a whole bunch of parts.

I'm rationalizing that since I'm dealing with a warbird, some dings are part of the game.

Assembly

Wing

There's very little labor needed to get the Corsair ready, but there is some nonetheless and it starts with the landing gear.

The builder is instructed to "(i)nsert the main landing gear into the appointed groove in right direct."

Little machine-translated ditties like this abound in the manual, but they'll be gone before long once I start in with rewriting this and future manuals.

The gear have decorative landing gear covers already snapped in place, but I'll skip ahead and suggest that they be removed and not used during flight. They actually create some drag in flight and they tend to swivel about anyway. It's also easier to insert the gear into their "appointed grooves" since the fit is rather snug.

Both a Y-harness and a 3" servo extension are preinstalled in the wing and fuselage respectively, so all one needs to do is to plug the two together before bolting down the wing. Preinstalled plastic guide pins help hold the wing at the front; a pair of 4x30mm nylon bolts secure the wing at the rear.

I noticed right away that if the power lead coming off the ESC wasn't first guided up through the battery hatch, the wing would have to come off in order to access it. That's something good to remember if the wing has been removed for storage and is being reinstalled for flight.

So, as my boss is fond of saying, forewarned is forearmed.

Tail

Here's where things get tricky and where I'll suggest breaking away from the manual.

Page 9 says to first insert the tail and then to slide the horizontal stab in place. Two things prevent that, namely the fit of the rudder's bellcrank into a grommet within the rudder servo's arm and the mounting pegs beneath the base of the tail, so I popped the stab in place over the mounting pegs and proceeded to try and bolt the assembly in place. This rather ingenious setup eliminates a pushrod, adds scale looks and a heck of a lot of rudder and tailwheel authority.

Regardless of the order of the installation, the bellcrank proved to be very difficult to insert into the grommet. It's kind of short, making it difficult to see how it's going in. Once in, I couldn't get the fastening holes in the base of the tail to align. Careful bending of the bellcrank with some pliers finally helped somewhat, but once the bellcrank, grommet and mounting holes were engaged, everything had to come off again!

The servo arm was off by a couple of splines and since the very basic radio had no provision for sub-trims, off came the tail, off came the servo arm and back it went on a different set of splines.

That did the trick where the rudder was concerned, but the tailwheel was wildly off center; I suspect it may have been bent in transit. Out came the pliers once more and some persuasion got the tailwheel back in line.

Parkflyers provides an excellent extended length phillips screwdriver, perfect for attaching the tail via its six phillips head screws.

I mentioned earlier in the section that the rudder and tailwheel had a lot of authority and by that, I mean that the tailwheel swings almost 90 degrees in either direction with close to 20 degrees of rudder. I'd worried that so much movement would be a problem with a basic radio, but I discovered later that the extra tailwheel travel helps with the ground handling and that the extra rudder is a big help in flight.

Completion

Bolting on one of the three-bladed props with the help of the enclosed wrench, popping on the spinner and gluing the simulated communications antenna mast in place complete the Corsair.

Those props are nicely molded, well-balanced scale units with yellow-painted blade tips, a simulated variable pitch system and "Hamilton Standard Propeller" decals on each blade. Coupled with the vacuum-molded simulated radial engine and the soft plastic scale spinner hiding the motor shaft, the Corsair's front really looks the part. Some paint would really go a long way for those so inclined to detail the engine and prop hub.

The propeller is keyed to a 3mm nut backed with a 3mm jam nut. A third 3mm nut, already installed on the motor shaft, is first removed before the propeller is slid in place on the shaft. The key nut and jam nut were screwed down too far for the prop's hub to clear the "engine," but that was a simple enough fix. The hub needed just a bit of reaming out as well in order to allow it to slip freely over the shaft.

A scale communications antenna mast is supplied with the hardware bag, but the manual fails to mention where it goes.

Easy enough: There's a small recess on the left side of the turtle deck just behind the canopy. A dab of CA helped to hold the antenna in place since its mounting pins are ridiculously short.

Another quick radio check with the battery in place showed the control surfaces to be lined up well and the center of gravity right on the money. Getting the battery to fit in its narrow confines took a bit of doing at first, but once I moved the motor leads aside, the battery slid right in with its power leads tucked away nice and neat under the hinged battery door.

When compared to photographs of the real thing, the Parkflyers Corsair looks as if the scale proportions are fairly accurate - the rear of the fuselage could be a bit longer - and the finished product simply looks great.

Flying time!

Flying

The Corsair and I found ourselves ready for the maiden flight on a beautiful Sunday morning at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club. As always, I met with club videographer George Muir for the video.

With time being of the essence, I would have to fly the maiden for the video since George had to leave early. After a quick range check, it was takeoff time.

Three-bladed props develop a lot of thrust and, as I'd expected, the Corsair wanted to torque steer to the left. I saw that the model had plenty of airspeed without the need to compensate with right rudder, so off it went.

The only immediate problem was one of elevator trim; it wanted to pitch up. My unfamiliarity with the radio meant that I wasn't going to readily feel out the trim tab, so I compensated with the stick.

I'd stated earlier that the prop was well balanced; I based that assessment on the smooth, almost eerily silent performance of the model. Control was gentle, much more so than I would have expected given the unique gullwinged design, but the very simple radio and generous control throws translated into the need for very gentle stick input.

It didn't look particularly fast, topping out on downwind passes at an eyeballed top speed of maybe 50 MPH (80km/h) with a cruising speed of roughly 40 MPH (64km/h).

Experienced pilots might be disappointed at first, but newer pilots working their way up to a warbird will be ecstatic. Making things better is an upcoming motor upgrade, so stay tuned to RCGroups since I received one of these motors as this review was being prepared for publication. It will soon appear on their website as the Power Star 3000, with a claimed power output 30% higher than stock.

Loops in subsequent flights were fine given the generous elevator throw, but attempts at rolls turned out to be somewhat clumsy, at least without rudder input. That big rudder throw certainly helped, but rolls were still somewhat on the mushy side with the Corsair struggling to stay on track.

However, any perceived lack of speed was more than made up by the Corsair's smooth and silky straight and level flight characteristics along with its incredible visual presence. Other modelers I know with Corsairs of varying sizes never fail to mention how well the design translates into a model and the Parkflyers version was no exception, especially once I'd solved the elevator trim issue.

Again, this is a great bit of news for up-and-coming warbird pilots. Flown to scale, the Corsair exhibits no bad habits.

Speaking of the elevator: It is definitely your friend when flying the Corsair since it won't tolerate a lack of elevator input in turns; it naturally wants to dip the wing in typical warbird fashion. After a few turns spent getting the feel of things, I was making some rather nice coordinated turns. The rudder was a tremendous help as well, especially with the amount of throw it had.

My first landing was less than picture perfect; I didn't carry enough speed and I flared somewhat early, so I can't blame the model. The landing in the video was the second attempt and with proper power management, the Corsair floated in with the ease of a trainer.

I had a couple of other nearly new 1300mAh packs along for the ride and I flew both of them after George had left. I'd also removed the decorative landing gear covers on the suggestion of another modeler; this helped the top speed and overall flight characteristics quite a bit. They look great on the ground, but they're going to stay off in the air.

Aerobatics and Special Flight Performance

The lack of power, at least in my example, limited any aerobatic capabilities. The Parkflyers RC video linked below shows their Corsair running through aerobatic manuevers, so I would say that it's as capable of aerobatics as any warbird given some more oomph. As previously mentioned, the Corsair loops beautifully but mushes somewhat in rolls. In other words, it comes around slowly, loses a bit of altitude and completes the roll quickly.

Flown to scale, the Corsair truly shines. It's certainly not the fastest warbird I've ever flown, but it ranks as among one of smoothest and most fun.

With the upgraded motor, I expect some serious fun. There's a lot of potential in this airframe waiting to come out.

Is This For a Beginner?

A beginner comfortable with a four-channel trainer should do well with a Corsair. That beginner would have to keep in mind the sensitive control inputs.

No model of this type is suitable for a raw beginner. The relative ease of final assembly might prove tempting, but I strongly recommend that a raw beginner resist that temptation.

Parkflyers RC markets the Corsair to less experienced pilots wanting to move into a first warbird, so again, an experienced beginner should have no problems, but should keep in mind that it likes some power while landing.

Flight Video and Photo Gallery

The Corsair performs before the camera on its maiden flight:

Parkflyers F4U Corsair RTF from Parkflyers.com (2 min 10 sec)

Here's Parkflyers RC's outstanding demo video:

Corsair F4U Ready To Fly Rc WW2 Airplane (0 min 52 sec)

Conclusion

Even with less "forward momentum" than I'd anticipated and even with such little disappointments as the somewhat careless decal installation, the Parkflyers RC F4U Corsair shone through as a fun park flyer-class model. One shouldn't conclude that the relatively tame top speed will make it suitable for a small field; it's still fairly quick and is best flown at a club field or other wide open area. The Power Star 3000 motor upgrade should make it even quicker once it's released.

It's a model I look forward to flying on a regular basis especially since I'm fortunate enough to have several batteries which fit well. With excellent parts availability backed by excellent customer service and technical support - not to mention the upcoming motor upgrade - I have no qualms whatsoever about giving the Corsair two thumbs up.

My thanks go to Parkflyers RC for the review sample and for the opportunity to work with them on what I hope will be many future reviews of this type. It's always a pleasure working with my friend George Muir to get video at the beautiful Coachella Valley Radio Control Club. Angela Haglund is the RCGroups.com administrator who coordinates all the reviews for you, our audience of R/C fans.

Thanks for visiting...now go get a Corsair of your own!

Pluses and Minuses

The pluses include:

  • Excellent flight characteristics
  • Well constructed
  • Good documentation which I'll be making better very soon
  • Outstanding parts availability
  • Outstanding customer service and technical support
  • Fascinating historical subject
  • Plenty of scale detail including a pilot figure which is more than only a bust
  • The enclosed charger and tools are better than most supplied with other RTFs
  • Fun to fly and gentle enough for an experienced beginner
  • Its size makes it easy to store and to transport
  • Any qualms one might have about flying a Corsair given the unusual wing will disappear the moment it hits the air

As for the minuses:

  • Some sloppy decal applications
  • Not as fast as expected which might disappoint experienced modelers, but the upcoming motor upgrade should be a big help
  • The decorative landing gear covers slow the model in flight
  • Tail was somewhat difficult to install
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Nov 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM..
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Nov 18, 2013, 09:34 PM
Registered User
Nice Review!
Looks a lot like the Art-Tech corsair which I have and is a great flyer
Nov 19, 2013, 11:10 AM
Gorilla Glue Expert
PikeStaff's Avatar

Great review


Excellent objective review of an honestly great airplane. Your comments regarding the rudder connection to the servo grommet are completely accurate, and this is - by far - the most difficult aspect of assembly. And yes, this is the same as the Art Tech plane....same critter.

This is the airplane that I learned to fly r/c with, 4 years ago. The original did succumb to boneheaded control within about 2 months, but it's successor lives on today, still very much a treasured member of the squadron. It is so very light that it is heavily affected by winds much above about 5 or 6 mph, tending to weathervane constantly. But the big rudder does make crosswind landings much simpler, and it just flies so very comfortably that even windier days can be handled.

Great airplane. Great review. Job well done.
Nov 21, 2013, 11:05 AM
Retired and Lovin' it!
TPfingston's Avatar
A good review, but beware of the 'overuse' of the term 'somewhat'. Makes it appear that you're being a little too diplomatic about poor qualities.

Tony
Dec 01, 2013, 12:38 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by tpfing
A good review, but beware of the 'overuse' of the term 'somewhat'. Makes it appear that you're being a little too diplomatic about poor qualities.

Tony
Thanks for your input, but in reviewing the review, I saw only two instances, i.e., the rolls were somewhat mushy and the tail somewhat difficult to install.

The new motor is in and I'm awaiting final feedback from the distributor regarding its review. We forward all reviews to the manufacturers and distributors before publishing.

I can tell you with all honesty that the new motor is a winner. The Corsair now has plenty of power for aerobatics and rolls are no longer mushy, somewhat or otherwise.
Dec 01, 2013, 03:42 PM
Retired and Lovin' it!
TPfingston's Avatar
I'm know that I am just being overly picky, but a word search reveals 10 instances of the word 'somewhat'. Sorry!

Tony
Dec 01, 2013, 05:42 PM
Registered User
yorkiepap's Avatar
I have the Art Tech 1000mm(39.5") w/s I got a couple years ago from NP & it looks to be the same model, albeit listed as a 960mm w/s. Everything looks exact, even the reinforced braced LG & the way the rudder fits down inside the rear fuse into the servo grommet & mounting screws. The very unique rudder/tailwheel setup is the reason I feel these may be the same production/manufacturer. I've never seen any other model with that configuration. I did put 2" dia. wheels on mine & raked the LG forward so the wheel C/L is at the leading edge for much better stability. Mine didn't come with a pilot & the paint scheme is a bit different. The (2) red dots on the wings are the CG & perfect w/Turnigy 3S 1500's. When I got it, I set it up on 72mhz with a JR 790 SelScan Rx so I could change ch at the field if necessary. I use both 72mhz(smaller WB's/Trainers) & 2.4ghz(larger WB's & gliders) on my (2) 10X's. No maiden yet(summer-fall w/broken rt arm), although did some taxiing & power ups to add a small rudder & elev. mix for takeoffs. Nice writeup Ralph......

Denny
Dec 03, 2013, 11:01 PM
Registered User
High scaled warbird,I love this plane!


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