Tower Hobbies Exclusive: Phoenix Model Sbach Aerobatic GP/EP ARF 55.3" Review

Phoenix Model Sbach 342 featuring Extreme Aerobatics and great scale-like looks.



Phoenix Model Sbach
Wingspan:55.3 in (1405 mm)
Length:55.3 in (1405 mm)
Wing Area:611 sq in
Weight:6 6.6 lb
Wing Loading:24.27 oz/sq ft
Receiver:Futaba R617FS
Servos:4 or 5 Standard-sized Servos
Battery:6S LiPo, 4000 - 5500 mAh
Motor:1000-1400 W, 480 kV Outrunner
ESC:50 - 80 Amp
Prop:APC 14x7 2-Blade
Transmitter:Futaba 8FG Super
Manufacturer:Phoenix Model
Available From:Tower Hobbies
Street Price:$179.97

The full-size Sbach 342 (now designated as the XA42) is a two-seat high performance aerobatic and touring monoplane designed by Philipp Steinbach with Albert Mylius and produced by XtremeAir GmbH in Hecklingen, Germany. It is a world class competition aircraft produced by a group of 45 skilled craftsmen. The Sbach design is very dependable as shown by the fact that the Red Bull Demo Team, The Matadors use them for their precision aerobatic demonstrations. In addition, these XtremeAir planes are really fast because Scott Farnsworth just flew his XA42 to a 1st place finish in the Medallion Class at the 2015 Reno National Air Races.

Here is a video of the Red Bull Matadors in action. Enjoy!

Two Planes Fly Through a Hangar – Red Bull Barnstorming (2 min 32 sec)

Phoenix Model Sbach 342

The Phoenix Model Sbach 342 is a "Scale-Like" rendition of the XtreameAir aircraft and it is touted to have many of the full-size plane's great aerobatic flying characteristics. Let's open the box and get started!

From the picture on the box it looks like Phoenix Model captured the racy good looks of the full-scale XA42. I hope they were able to capture some of its great aerobatic traits as well.

Kit Contents

  • Built-up balsa and ply airframe
  • High-quality Oracover covering material
  • Fuselage with detailed cockpit and pilot figure
  • Huge hatch area for easy battery access
  • Two-piece wing with aluminum joiner tube and pre-hinged ailerons
  • Pre-hinged elevator and rudder
  • Fiberglass cowl and wheel pants painted to match the covering
  • Glow engine mount and 8 oz fuel tank
  • Plywood electric motor mount and spacers
  • 2-1/4" plastic spinner
  • Complete hardware package
  • 14-Page photo-illustrated instruction manual

Required Parts

  • Minimum 4-channel radio system
  • 4 standard servos (5 for glow)
  • .46 to .55 2-stroke glow engine
  • 800-1200 mAh NiMh receiver battery (glow)
  • 1000-1400 Watt electric motor
  • 4000-5500 mAh 6-cell 25C LiPo battery
  • 50 - 80 Amp ESC with BEC
  • ESC and Aileron Servo extensions
  • 30 minute epoxy and CA glue
  • Non-Permanent Thread Locking Compound
  • Common building tools


Parts Supplied by Tower Hobbies for this Review


TheFutaba R617FS seven-channel receiver is a full range programmable receiver with FASST protocol and fail-safe.

The Futaba S3010 servos are standard size analog servos with ball bearings, nylon gears and high torque output.

The FlightPower battery is a 3-cell 4000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery with a 25C discharge rating. Two of these batteries are used in series to produce a 6-cell power pack for the Sbach.

The Rimfire .55 brushless motor is rated for a healthy 1100 Watts continuous power output.

The Castle Creations Talon 90 ESC is a 90 Amp brushless motor speed control with numerous programmable functions and a whopping 20 Amp BEC.


The 14-page photo-illustrated Instruction Manual contains numerous photos, and it is properly written for intermediate ARF builders. This Review will attempt to give some useful tips to help fill in some gaps in the manual and ease the building process. The first tip would be to install all the trim decals before starting the assembly process. I used the box illustrations to help with the placement of decals on the top and sides of the plane. The exact locations for the decals on the bottom of the plane were not shown, so I used my best guess.


The airframe assembly process began with the wing. The aileron slots were pre-cut, but the hinges needed to be CA'ed in place. Each aileron servo position had a matching reinforced servo mount just below the covering. I used a soldering iron to cut the covering away from each aileron servo opening. By using the soldering iron, the covering material was easily removed and the edges were permanently attached to the structure.

The Futaba S3010 servos were a perfect fit in the servo mounts. The servo leads were long enough and easily threaded through the wing structure. In the hardware pack there were four long screws and six shorter screws for mounting all the flight surface control horns. The longer screws were for the aileron control horns and the shorter screws were for all the other control horns.

With both of the aileron servos mounted and the linkages and control horns in place, the next step was to trial fit the wings to the fuselage. The included 2-1/2" long nylon wing bolts were very nice, but they were WAY too long. I cut the bolts to 1-1/4" and dressed the thread ends with my Dremel.

When I mounted the wings to the fuselage, I found that there were two possible locations for the aileron servo leads to enter the fuselage. After a little careful measuring, it became obvious that only the bottom hole would line up and be fully covered by the wing when the plane was assembled. I opened and used the LOWER hole.


The assembly process continued with the fuselage. A trial fit of the horizontal and vertical stab found that their fuselage slots needed a few touches with some sandpaper to get them to line up perfectly with the wing, and line up at 90 degrees to each other. Once the parts were epoxied in place, there was an ugly gap behind the horizontal stab. I used the balsa spacer that was shipped with the fuselage and the orange covering that was removed from the stab to form a filler piece to take up some of that gap.

With the rudder and elevator surfaces installed, I found that the tailwheel bracket needed some attention. The screws provided for mounting the tailwheel bracket were too large to fit in the rear mounting hole. A screw with a smaller head was substituted, and the bracket mounted easily. I then used a black permanent marker to color the small tailwheel bracket before I mounted it to the rudder. I only used one bracket and that one bracket has proven to be plenty strong enough all by itself. The main landing gear were next and they assembled perfectly and the wheel pants looked great.

Once the fuselage was sitting pretty on its wheels, it was time to mount up the ESC and motor. The mounting bolts provided for the motor extensions were a bit too long. The installed bolts extended into the fuselage interior and might have touched the front of the battery pack. The spacer bolts were each shortened 1/4", and reinstalled. Next was the installation of the motor mount. The Rimfire motor mount slots were too narrow for the provided bolts, so the ends of the slots were enlarged slightly for a proper fit.

ESC installation was next, and the muffler tunnel on the bottom of the fuselage looked like a perfect location. The Talon 90 ESC included a mounting plate and it mounted easily at the front of the tunnel. Once the plate was installed, the Talon 90 was snapped into place and the motor leads connected for a very compact installation.

After a few installation and removal cycles, the canopy/battery hatch wasn't as tight as before. Upon closer inspection, the rear hole for the latch pin was slightly enlarged. The fix was easy, I cut a length of inner Gold-N-Rod tubing and CA'd it into the bulkhead sheet. Once trimmed flush with the surface of the bulkhead, the canopy snapped tightly into place and has stayed tight ever since.

Before the flight batteries could be installed, there was a portion of the forward bulkhead that had to be removed. As supplied, the bulkhead included a tab to cradle the bottom of the fuel tank. The tab had some laser cut slots to help remove it and free up the area for the flight batteries.

The cowl installation was the last assembly step for the fuselage. Before I mounted the cowl, I first installed the battery hatch/canopy on the fuselage. I then slipped two strips of thick card stock between the cowl and the front of the hatch. These strips would insure that there would be enough space to tilt the hatch for removal after the cowl was tightly bolted in place. In the picture you can see a 5th cowl mounting screw that I installed on the top of the cowl. I later found that it was not necessary. In fact, I had to put a washer under the cowl at that point to keep it from being sucked down and preventing the hatch from mounting.

Radio Installation

The Futaba R617FS receiver was mounted with hook and loop fastening material and was installed next to the servos. The antennas were routed inside some spare pushrod tubing to obtain the recommended 90 degree angles to each other. I used a 6" Heavy Duty servo extension for the ESC and two 6" servo extensions for the ailerons. The servo leads for the rudder and elevator servos were secured under the servo mounting plate. The ESC control wiring was routed through the bulkheads and over the wing mounting bolt hole.


The completed Sbach weighed exactly 6 lbs 8 oz. with batteries, RTF. The plane balanced on the recommended CG with the batteries positioned midway between the firewall and the wing tube.

Since only one set of surface throws was provided in the manual, I set my low rates to those specifications. I set high rates at twice those amounts. Since I prefer some exponential, I set 25% Expo for high rates and 20% Expo for low rates. I then set the transmitter countdown timer for 6 minutes and had it start and run at any throttle setting above 20%.

With the APC 14x7 prop, the Rimfire .55 pulled a mild 45.56 Amps and indicated a respectable 1067.8 Watts static power at WOT. This power level calculated out to a sporty 165 Watts per pound. I've found that my best flying aerobatic planes have a power loading of about 150 Watts per pound so our Phoenix Model Sbach 342 should do very well.


Spinner Change

The provided spinner was better suited for glow or gas engine applications and was a bit heavy and hard to balance for this electric motor application. I replaced the stock unit with a Great Planes 2-1/4" Nylon Spinner which was much lighter and was perfectly balanced right out of the package.


The Sbach is advertised as an aerobatic scale-like airplane capable of difficult maneuvers. It is not designed as a 3D plane, but is should be capable of flat spins and typical sport model aerobatics.

Taking Off and Landing

The Phoenix Sbach had plenty of power. Takeoffs could be slow and easy, or fast and short. Since the Sbach is a tail dragger, some rudder inputs were needed during the takeoff runs. The rudder was very effective, so only small inputs were needed to keep the plane centered on the runway. Low rates worked best to keep the plane on the centerline.

Landings were a real joy. The Sbach slowed down nicely and did not feel mushy at low speeds. Wheel landings were smooth, but three-point landings were more fun. In fact, I made several nose-high landings where the tailwheel touched before the mains. Once the wheels touched down, the elevator pressure could be released and the plane would stay stuck to the runway. When the plane had slowed below flying speed, the tail could be planted and held with the elevator to maintain steering with the tail wheel. I found that low rate rudder worked best for landings and made it easy to keep the plane tracking smoothly down the center of the runway.

Sport Flying

The Phoenix Model Sbach is an excellent sport model. On low rates it flew like an agile low-wing sport model. It was capable of loops and rolls, it was very mild mannered at slow speeds, and it was easily controlled all the way to touchdown.


On high rates, the Sbach became very responsive to control inputs. It performed all the advanced aerobatic maneuvers with ease. Aileron rolls were very axial and inverted flight required on a touch of down elevator. Loops required very little correction to keep them concentric. Knife edge was steady with just a touch of tucking toward the gear. Though the control surfaces were too small for true 3D flying, they were just right for any other spinning or snapping maneuver I could dream up. With practice I'm sure I could perform any aerobatic maneuver that the Matadors perform during their air shows.

Is This For a Beginner?

Not a chance. The Phoenix Model Sbach is a scale-like model designed for aerobatics and has no self-righting characteristics. However, it is exactly what is needed if you are ready for some advanced aerobatics.

Flight Photo Gallery

Jesse Webb and Bill Autrey took turns behind the camera lens to capture these flight photos. I hope you enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

Flight Video

Jesse Webb was on video duty as I set up the Sbach for takeoff. He was able to easily track my flight path as I put the Sbach through its paces. I was using low rate rudder for the takeoff and landing, but switched to high rate rudder during the flight for increased snapping response. Overall, the Sbach was very aerobatic. I think the short tail moment helped with the snapping and spinning maneuvers. Like I stated earlier, the landings were very easy and a lot of fun even though I bounce the one in the video.

Phoenix Model Sbach 342 (6 min 48 sec)


The Phoenix Model Sbach is an excellent "Scale-Like" aerobatic sport plane. The price point is perfect for someone who wants to have a sport model that is mild mannered enough for everyday use, yet can push the envelope when asked to perform advanced maneuvers. Phoenix Model has done a wonderful job with the design of the Sbach 342. It is a beautiful model and it flies great. The 55" wingspan model transports easily fully assembled and it flies on two standard 3-cell LiPo batteries.


  • Great Scale-Like Sbach Appearance
  • Excellent Aerobatic Flight Characteristics
  • Highly Visible Color Scheme
  • Sport Plane Performance Bonus
  • High Value ARF
  • Convenient Size


  • Minor Tailwheel Hardware Issue
  • Manual Could Include More Details


I'd like to thank Phoenix Model and Tower Hobbies for providing the Sbach model for this review. Thanks to Jesse Webb and Bill Autrey for helping with the photos and video and thanks to our editor Angela for her assistance in editing this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 13, 2015 at 01:52 PM..
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Oct 13, 2015, 04:05 PM
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This Post is reserved by the Author for future updates.

Last edited by kingsflyer; Oct 13, 2015 at 04:36 PM.
Oct 14, 2015, 08:20 AM
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keither's Avatar

Great Review Mike!

This is a great scale model of a popular plane! And its aerobatic yet easy to land. All 3 plus factors to make me want one!

I wonder if my Hacker A50-10s motor would work here?
Oct 14, 2015, 05:30 PM
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That Hacker motor would work, but you would have to rework the front of the plane to accept the front-mount type outrunner. The Hacker has a higher kV, so you would use a smaller prop, but that shouldn't be much of a problem. I think there is enough room in the fuselage to move your battery pack back far enough to counter the increased motor weight and forward motor location.

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Oct 19, 2015, 08:56 AM
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I flew the Sbach at our Club family picnic this weekend and it was a big hit. Lots of positive comments and compliments. It was great fun on my side of the sticks!
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Nov 10, 2015, 02:53 PM
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Hello Mike: great review and looks to be a very aerobatic model. One question: did you use a motor other than what was sent to get more power for 3D?
Nov 17, 2015, 09:03 AM
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Phoenix Model recommends a .46-.55 cu in 2-stroke glow engine and Tower lists the Rimfire 46 for this plane. I've found that the Rimfire 46 needs a pretty small prop (10x5E) when flown on 6-cell LiPo batteries. As such, it has to fly pretty fast to maintain enough vertical thrust for those long up lines. I flew the Rimfire 46 on the Phoenix Model Sea Bee and it was well suited for F3A work with the smaller prop.

I've found that the Rimfire 55 is a much better choice for Sport/Scale aerobatic planes like the Sbach 342. I used the 55 in the Phoenix Model Spitfire Review and liked the way it flew on the 14x7E prop. This motor/prop combination provides plenty of speed and unlimited vertical performance while providing enough thrust for great slow speed aerobatics.

So to answer your question, I used the Rimfire 55 for the review rather than the recommended Rimfire 46 to get the best possible all-around aerobatic performance from the 6-cell LiPo battery pack system on the Sbach 342.

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Dec 26, 2015, 06:39 PM
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What a beautiful Christmas morning here in Texas. I took the Sbach for a quick flight early Christmas morning and it was Wonderful! What a great flying plane.

I guess I'm a little underwhelmed by the lack of response to this thread to date. Is there another thread on this plane that I'm not aware of?

Oh Well, Merry Christmas Y'all!

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Jan 19, 2016, 03:47 PM
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Phoenic Model has been very busy lately. They have released a sister ship to the Sbach and it's called the Radial Rocket. Here's a sneak peek at the flight video from that review.

Phoenix Model Radial Rocket (8 min 34 sec)

The Rocket flies more like a Warbird, but it's still very aerobatic. If you are interested, here is a link to the Rocket Review Thread:

Last edited by kingsflyer; Jan 23, 2016 at 09:11 AM.
May 28, 2017, 07:50 PM
Registered User

phoenix model sbach 46 or you can do 46 for second plane

Hi, I been flying for some months, and i'm getting bored of my avistar elite with os ggt10cc I want to buy a second plane that I'm going to power with the same engine which one do you recommend and why?

Phoenix model sbach 342

great plane you can do 46-55

May 28, 2017, 10:26 PM
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I guess it depends on what type of plane you're looking for. The Sbach is more of a speedy pattern type and the U-Can-Do is more of a 3D plane.

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Jun 24, 2017, 02:10 PM
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Can this fit a 5000mah 6S Turnigh HD 60C lipo?
Jun 25, 2017, 07:56 PM
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I could not find the battery you listed on the HK website. This is the closest one I could find:

Maybe you can compare the dimensions to the one you have. This one will fit. The critical dimension on the Sbach is the 55mm height from the battery deck to the floor of the canopy hatch. There is plenty of width and length for most any battery.

Though the 5000 mah will give you a little longer flight times, it will also increase the wing loading and decrease the vertical performance.

Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Jun 25, 2017, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by kingsflyer
I could not find the battery you listed on the HK website. This is the closest one I could find:

Maybe you can compare the dimensions to the one you have. This one will fit. The critical dimension on the Sbach is the 55mm height from the battery deck to the floor of the canopy hatch. There is plenty of width and length for most any battery.

Though the 5000 mah will give you a little longer flight times, it will also increase the wing loading and decrease the vertical performance.

Thanks Kingsflyer! I see that TH don't have them in stock right now! I don't see anything else on their site that's sports/aerobatic that compares to this - so I'm just waiting. Any recommendations from Tower Hobbies?
Jun 26, 2017, 09:51 PM
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I'm working on the review of the Tower Uproar V2. It looks like it's going to be a ton of fun. Check out Gary Wright's latest update on the classic 90's fun fly airplane.

It uses a Rimfire 32 on 4S for lots of fun for not much money.

Last edited by kingsflyer; Jun 28, 2017 at 06:31 AM.

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