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Great Planes Zero Sport Fighter ARF - RCGroups Review

Mean Joe Checks out the Great Planes Zero Sport Fighter ARF! This 56" fighter is a great performer without the "warbird tendencies".


The Sport Fighter Zero from Great Planes

Product:Great Planes Zero Sport Fighter ARF
Retail price:$149.99
Wing Span:56.5"
Wing Area:537in squared
Motor As Tested:RimFire .32
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix Edge Lite 75
Servo (4) As Tested:Tactic TS-X25
Batteries used:Flight Power 4s 3300MaH
Prop:13x8 APC
Available from:Great Planes

Great Planes claims that their Zero Sport Fighter is "a version that gets you to the flight line faster than with any kit and, once there, is an easy flier for anyone transitioning from a high wing trainer AND a plane that can tear up the sky doing aerobatics." Lets let "Mean Joe" be the judge of that!


Here is my "Unboxing" Video!

The Great Planes Zero came well packaged and secured in its box, with no damage at all. The Fuselage, wing panels, rudder and rear stab where covered very nicely in the scale colors of the original Zero, and minimal time with the iron yielded an airframe ready to get started on!

With its low part count and pre-hinged surfaces, this stands to be a pretty quickly assembled ARF. Even a novice builder should have no issues at all getting this one ready to hit the flight line.

The Build

The manual for the Great Planes Zero is well written for the most part. Though I would like to see a few changes put in for the "less experienced" builders out there. They claim this as a "great transition" airframe, so I feel it would be a good idea to help the novice a bit more with the build instruction.

On page 5 the manual covers wing assemble and the instructions in this section could be a bit more detailed. The instructions state on bullet point 4, to "mount the servo horn, make the pushrods and hook up the aileron using the hardware shown". A "less experienced" builder may find this confusing if they have never built this type of servo linkage. They do however go into more detail with this process on pages 15 and 16 under the "Install the Radio" Section. I feel like moving the more detailed instruction up to the front would help out a lot in this regard.

The only other issue I noticed with the manual is that on Page 10, it talks about drilling out the motor box for an electric setup. It states that for an electric setup to drill though the "O" marks on the fire wall. On my firewall they were more dots then "O"s and again I feel this may be confusing to a novice builder. It is very important to get the holes drilled in the right place for proper engine/motor mounting. The "X"s for glow/gas mounting were very well defined and easy to follow.

I found the rest of the manual to be very well written and easy to read. I love the fact that Great Planes has taken the time to write tips, tricks, and recommendations right into it! This is a great help to the "newer" builders.

The rest of the build went off with out a hitch and once it was complete, I had to do very little adjusting with the battery to get her to balance to the CG point called out in the manual.

Quick Note:

One of the things I really liked about this airframe was that Great Planes took the time to not only pre-hinge the control surfaces but they also pre-glued them in place. After a quick inspection of the glue job I found them all to be nice and tight and ready for flight!

Optionally I would install a fourth CA Hinge on the bottom of the rudder to the fuse. The rudder has three in it already, but they are higher on the rudder and this configuration makes it want to move around more then I like at the bottom. The tail wheel mounts to the bottom of the rudder and this area will take a lot of stress on the ground. The manual did not call for this but this humble reviewer would suggest that you do.

Flight Performance

Ok, so now on to the part you have all been waiting for! How does she fly?!

I finally got a chance to get her to the field on a day with light variable winds and lots of sun shine! With the help of Kurt Horrock on the camera I was able to get up and down for the maiden with absolutely no issues at all. The Zero leapt from the ground effortlessly and only required 4 clicks of down elevator trim and 2 clicks of right aileron trim. And boy does she fly great!

I put the Zero though the usual maiden routine, putting her though her paces and notice no bad tendencies what so ever. Loops and rolls where nearly effortless and the flight envelope was very wide and forgiving. You can slow her almost to a full stop before she starts to tip stall. Which will be very nice for those wanting to fly a warbird with out having to battle the "warbird tendencies".

The recommended power system is just the right fit for the Great Planes Zero. She has plenty of power to preform all of the Sport Aerobatics you can throw at her with power to spare.

The only issue I noticed during maiden was a vibration from the motor but with a little more prop balancing and spinner adjustments I was able to get that to go away completely.

Once the maiden was in the books, I handed off the sticks to friend and Club Mate Ross Wegryn-Jones for a bit to take pictures and his one comment was "Man this is a serious little plane" and again her second flight was a success from start to finish!


Great Planes Zero Sport Fighter ARF - RCGroups Review (2 min 44 sec)

Great Planes Zero GP/EP - RCGroups Unboxing Review (7 min 35 sec)

In Closing

In closing I have to say that over all Great Planes has hit the nail on the head with their assessment of this little warbird! The flight characteristics are suitable for the intermediate pilot up to the pro!

This airframe would truly make a great transition plane and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get into a low wing warbird with docile tendencies that can grow with you as you tradition into a true warbird pilot!

For more Info

For more information on the gear used, check out these links!

Great Planes

Castle Creations


Flight Power

Special Shout out!

I wanna give Kurt and Ross a special shout out for their help getting the pics and vids shot for this review! Thanks again fellas!

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jul 13, 2016 at 08:45 AM..
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Jul 13, 2016, 10:45 AM
Registered User

Here's a review format that really helped me when I was considering that plane...
May 21, 2017, 07:30 PM
Registered User
I have a new unused eflite bl50 motor lying around does anyone see why I couldn't use this on a 6s setup?
Aug 10, 2017, 06:06 AM
RC addict since 1974
FlyBigElectric's Avatar

I really want this plane, but....

I have now sent back three of these. I can not accept the poor quality of the covering.
Sep 06, 2017, 04:55 AM
Engine man
dmrcflyr2's Avatar
Originally Posted by FlyBigElectric
I have now sent back three of these. I can not accept the poor quality of the covering.
Have you ever heard of a heat gun? Those wrinkles will come right out.
Sep 06, 2017, 07:58 PM
Registered User
Very Cheesy looking Zero and No retracts
Sep 24, 2017, 06:53 AM
RC addict since 1974
FlyBigElectric's Avatar
Originally Posted by dmrcflyr2
Have you ever heard of a heat gun? Those wrinkles will come right out.
As mentioned in previous posts. Of course. I tried on all of the parts but some of them were done so poorly the first time that I couldn't get it to look right. A gold speckle started to show through on a lot of it and that was a problem for me. The wing tips were so bad that the covering started to pull away and exposed the balsa.

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