I first got to see this P-51 in action at the Stone Blue Airlines Flying Circus event last fall when Jack from Leading Edge Electric let me have a turn at the sticks. It was not only a great looking EPP P-51, but it was just a pure blast to fly. It was fast, aerobatic and just begging for a review. This is an EPP kit so get ready to spend some time building, but as I'll note in the assembly section, it's not hard to do. Being made of EPP will make it durable and able to handle some punishment. The kit costs $134.99 at Stone Blue Airlines and you can use their recommended equipment or outfit it with your own gear.
When you crack open the box, you find a lot of EPP foam pieces. The kit is precisely cut so all the parts will fit together nicely. There are some carbon fiber spars, a coroplast stiffener, laminate covering, wooden firewall and a complete hardware package. You'll need to provide the power system, radio gear and FPV equipment to finish out the model. You'll also want a bottle of Foam-Tac Adhesive and some Krylon paint to create your color scheme.
They guys over at Stone Blue Airlines supplied the motor, ESC, servos and props for this review. Here's the list of equipment used to outfit this model.
I'm not going to get too in depth on the build as Matt over at Stone Blue Airlines already has a great lengthy build tutorial that I'll embed below. It's very straightforward to put together and the parts all fit and lock in together exactly as they should. The parts are made to key in together and come out straight every time. Make sure you have a bottle or two of Foam-Tac as that is the best adhesive to use for this project. Plan on taking your time and spending about 10-12 hours over the course of several evenings to finish it up. It's a fun project and you can paint the model however you want and get as crazy as you want with the details and graphics. I chose to do a simple color scheme that looks good, but didn't get into detailing it out. It's not a plane I plan to fly line of sight much and look at, for me it's all about FPV with this model. Here's some build pics I snapped along the way, but you'll want to watch the build video below when you are ready to get yours started.
|SBA P-51 Build Tutorial (2 hr 34 min 22 sec)|
So now we get to the really fun part, flying the P-51. I started by flying line of sight to get it trimmed out and flying great before switching over to FPV. The CG was placed at 2" behind the leading edge per the info on Stone Blue's page, but I felt that was a bit nose heavy as it required a lot of down elevator when inverted. I ended up moving it back about 5-10mm and liked it better there.
For the launch, I like to hold the fuselage behind the wing, throttle up to around 3/4 power and give it a nice firm toss out at a slight upward angle. There is plenty of power to get up and going, but there is also lot of torque that wants to pull the nose and roll left. There is a hefty amount of right thrust built into the plane, but it could probably use some more at least with this power setup.
Once trimmed out the plane felt and handled nicely right off the bat. I'll probably add in some dual rates for slower more precision type flying as I did not set any rates up, these are just stock 100% travel on the surfaces. It's snappy and responds well to my commands. The roll rate is fast and crisp and fun to do point rolls with. And Oh My Gosh this plane snaps like a devil, they are so fast and violent that they left a big smile on my face after 4 or 5 in a row. At full throttle, the plane is moving out around 100MPH and sounds awesome doing it. You don't have to fly that fast though, at just under half power you can cruise around nice and easy if you need to take a break.
The power system used on this review unit is beefy, but with the 9x6 prop after a short time at full throttle, the power was pulled back by the ESC and started pulsing slightly. It wasn't a low battery voltage issue, it was either over temp or an over amp shut down on the ESC. This setup is probably better suited for a 3S lipo and 10" prop which I'll be trying out shortly. If I want to run 4S, I'll likely end up with an 8" prop instead of the 9" one supplied.
This is a belly lander and the field we flew out of was total crap in the area we were at, so instead of coming in for a nice sliding landing, it just sort of plopped in, and that's ok. This is after all an EPP plane and it will take all the landing abuse you can throw at. It slows down well enough to bring it in right at your feet.
After the line of sight flights, it was time to get in the goggles and have a ride FPV style. The DVR footage doesn't look great because I didn't realize the frequency was slightly off, but it looked great in my goggles which were tuned to the correct frequency. I mounted the camera as high up on the top as possible which helps the view, but you still have a good bit of the nose in the view which I think looks cool that way. The prop creates some black lines, but it's not a big deal. Flying around FPV was so much fun, I could perform fast rolls, point rolls and loops just like I would line of sight flying. You can pull as hard on the elevator as you want and the wings will not budge with the spar system in place, so feel free to yank and bank like a pylon racer or get down low on the deck and buzz the runway. You can add an OSD or autopilot system if you like, but I chose to keep it simple on this build. Landing in the goggles is not bad at all, just pull the power back and glide it on in. Taking off is the hard part, it can be done by yourself, but I'd recommend having someone launch it for you or take off line of sight and then put the goggles on once you are in the air.
|Leading Edge Electric P-51 Mustang Review (7 min 2 sec)|
This P-51 is a blast to fly. The speed will surprise you, but you can install a power system of your choice for even more speed, or tame it down for a more relaxed flying experience. If you are used to BNF or RTF type planes, the only downside for you is that you have to build it. It's actually a very easy kit to build and you might be surprised at how rewarding it is to build your own plane. The quality of the kit and parts fit is exceptional and while there is no manual, the video tutorial from Stone Blue Airlines covers all you need to know. The plane flys great and the wing spar system is amazing, showing no signs of wing flex in high G pull outs. Flying the P-51 in line of sight or FPV is a good time all around. If you're looking for a durable, fun, easy to build kit project, then check out the P-51 at Stone Blue Airlines.