Horizon Hobby PT-17 1.1m BNF Basic with AS3X Review - RC Groups
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Horizon Hobby PT-17 1.1m BNF Basic with AS3X Review

Highly detailed classic WW2 primary trainer with brushless power and AS3X.



Wingspan: 1130 mm (44.6 in)
Wing Area: 643.2 Sq in (41.5 Sq Dm)
Length: 850 mm (33.5 in)
Flying Weight: 51.2 oz (1450 grams)
Motor: E-flite 15-Size, 850Kv Brushless Outrunner Motor
ESC: E-flite 40A Brushless ESC
Receiver: Spektrum AR636A Receiver with AS3X and SAFE Select Technology
Prop Size: 11 x 7 Propeller
Servos: (4) Spektrum A330 Micro, 9 Gram
Battery: 22003000mAh 3S LiPo Flight Battery (not included)
Available at: Horizon Hobby
Price: $229.99

The Boeing Aircraft company has produced many iconic aircraft, none more so than the PT-17 of WW2. This biplane trainer was produced for the Army under the PT-17 designation and Navy as the N2S. Horizon has produced a beautiful rendition of the Navy version in an easy to transport size that incorporates their AS3X and Safe technologies and a level of scale detail that is sure to attract a lot of positive attention at the flying field.

Kit Contents

The model came in a fairly large box with all the components snuggly held in a foam cradle to avoid shipping damage from loose parts. The model is molded in EPS foam and pre-painted and decorated. In addition to the foam fuselage, wings and tail parts are the molded plastic Cabane struts, N-struts and highly detailed 7-cylinder radial engine. The landing gear is wire with plastic fairings and metal shock absorbing scale struts along with some authentic diamond tread rubber tires. The landing gear is substantial enough and the tires large enough for grass field operation. All the other reinforcements and mounting hardware are supplied. The 15BL brushless outrunner motor, 40 amp ESC, Four 9g servos and Spektrum AR636A receiver with AS3X and Safe are pre-installed. The only additional items required are a 2200-3000mAh 3S LiPo battery with EC3 connectors, a suitable LiPo battery charger and a DSM2/DSMX transmitter with 4 or more channels.


Assembly is fairly straightforward; I am going to limit my comments to areas where I might be able to offer some tips to simplify the assembly.

The landing gear install is easy if you follow a couple of simple steps. When the gear is inserted into the slot on the fuselage, the plastic fairings hit the foam on the fuselage and prevents the complete install. If the wheels are pushed inward far enough, the fairings will pass the foam obstruction, easily allowing the gear to fully engage.

To easily install the horizontal stabs, I rolled the end of the stab with the barrel of a pen.

The N-struts and Cabane struts are injection molded plastic and have a small amount of flash that needs to be removed. I used my modeling knife to clean up the ends of the struts so that they would easily insert into the wings. I found that I could insert the forward part of the N-strut and snap it into place and then insert the rear strut. The first insertion is the hardest, after that it becomes easier to repeat.

I used a little lighter fluid to help remove the stickers on the struts. Naptha will soften the glue without damaging the part.

When I installed the lower wing, I found that I needed to adjust the length of the retaining pins. I found that a length of about 21mm worked out well. I like the "no tools needed" design of the wing assembly. I don't break mine down to transport, but it would be easy to do with this system.

For this review, I was provided a 2200mAh 3-cell E-flite battery. When I checked the CG using this pack, I found that I couldn't reach the recommended CG location even with the battery pushed to the back of the firewall. I added a 5/8" foam spacer to the slide in battery mount that allowed me to move the battery nearly 1" further forward. Raising the battery allows it to extend into the rear of the motor mount.

This helped but still not enough to achieve the manual recommended CG. Not wanting the chance flying a tail heavy airplane, I decided that I would add some additional weight. To get this weight as far forward as possible, I installed it in the inside of the scale dummy engine. I removed the scale engine and added 2oz. of lead bird shot to the bottom cylinders, 1oz. to each. To retain the beads and allow me to remove the weight later, I carved a couple of tight fitting foam plugs. With this additional weight the PT-17 balanced as recommended. The use of a heavier flight battery alone might bring the airplane into balance without the need for additional weight. I wanted to be conservative for my initial flights, flying tail heavy airplanes is not a lot of fun. I found that when balanced at the factory recommended CG point, the airplane flies beautifully.

After initial successful flights with the 2200mAh pack, I thought that I would try a larger and heavier pack. I had several high capacity 3-cell packs from a quad. They were similar in length to the E-flite 2200, just a little wider and taller and quite a bit heavier. The E-flite 3-cell 2200mAh pack with the slide in tray weighed 186g, the 3-cell 5200mAh pack weighed 324g, almost 5oz. more! I retained the larger pack with a Velcro strip added to the bottom of the fuselage. I remove the slide in tray when flying with the larger battery. The extra weight certainly reduced the vertical performance, but surprisingly, there was little apparent effect on the rest of the flight performance. Flight times are easily in excess of 10 minutes with this setup.


I took the PT-17 out to the local field on a cold but not too windy day to take some photos and make my initial flights. I had the able assistance of Jason Cole to do the initial flight so that I could take the photos. The ground handling of the PT-17 is quite solid, the model looked great setting up for a takeoff. The flight timer was set to 5 minutes and with the 2200mAh 3-cell battery all the way forward the takeoff was smooth and uneventful, just what you hope for on a maiden flight. The takeoff was done in a scale-like manner with a slow application of power. The plane tracked straight down the runway with a little application of right rudder to maintain the centerline. The climb out was smooth, it was immediately obvious that this plane was a keeper. Jason added a small omount of additional down elevator to maintain level flight and proceeded to fly some easy circuits at low altitude so that I could take some photos. Jason then proceeded to do a few hammerhead stall turns and a couple of loops. It was clear that the brushless power system was plenty strong as the airplane powered through these with ease. A couple of slow barrel rolls and an axial roll or two followed, again with an ease and grace that was a joy to behold. Inverted flight was solid and only required a small amount of down stick. Jason shot a few touch and goes and then it was time to land. The approach to landing was straight in and the plane exibited a nice shallow glide slope. A tiny bit of throttle just before touchdown and a smooth no bounce landing was the result. The rollout requires that you stay active on the rudder as the fairly narrow landing gear will have you dragging a wing tip if you don't keep it straight. The maiden flight was over, 5 minutes of fun and when I checked the battery there was about 40% of the pack remaining.

Now it was my turn. I changed out the 2200mAh pack and replaced it with a larger 5200mAh 3-cell pack that I had from a quad. The size of the pack was a little wider and about the same length as the 2200. I removed the slide in battery tray and placed the pack directly on the floor of the compartment as far forward as possible. This pack was slightly aft of the location of the 2200 and the CG remained just about right. My takeoff was as un-anxiety producing as Jason's had been. The airplane felt great right from the start. With the added weight the vertical was not as strong but the general handling was on par with the first flight. I flew some of the same maneuvers as before and was pleased with the overall feel of the model in the air. The very enjoyable flight lasted about another 5 minutes as I completed a smooth landing and taxi back to the pits. I checked the pack voltage and has used less that 40% of the available juice. Flight times in excess of 10 minutes are easily possible.

Jason again took the sticks and he flew the PT-17 again for the video. You can check it out at the bottom of this review.

A couple of notes about AS3X and Safe.

The PT-17 comes with AS3X and Safe Select technology installed. Depending on how you bind the model Safe will either be enabled of disabled, AS3X is always active. On the day we did our initial flights the wind conditions were fairly mild so there wasn't a lot of turbulence for the AS3X to smooth out. I'm sure that on a windier day its positive attributes would have been more apparent. It never intrudes on the flight experience, just enhances it.

Safe can be enabled and it can be assigned to a separate switch on the transmitter. This will allow the pilot to turn it on and off at will. When enabled, Safe will limit the bank and pitch angles that are possible and will return the model to level flight with just the release of the sticks. This would be a nice feature for the pilot that is wanting to learn aerobatic flight but is concerned that he might loose control. If, when flying with Safe off, the pilot lost control or orientation during a maneuver, all that would be required to regain control would be to flip Safe on and release the sticks. After regaining level flight, Safe could be turned off and full aerobatic flight restored.

Is This For a Beginner?

Probably not for the complete beginner as there are several critical steps in the setup and CG placement that a beginner might not be attentive enough to. That being said, there is nothing difficult at all in the flying of this airplane when set up per the manufactures specs. Anyone with a model or two under their belt will have no problem flying the PT-17 and it makes a great trainer for tailwheel training.


  • Beautiful Scale detail
  • Great ground handling
  • Solid flight performance
  • Easy to transport without disassembly


  • Could not achieve proper CG using suggested 2200mAh battery without modification
  • Manual could have added some assembly tips to make assembly easier

Flight Video/Photo Gallery


If you are a fan of the PT-17, as I am, Horizon has created the nicest model of the iconic airplane that I am aware of. The scale detail is amazing. Those that like to add additional detail have a great place to start. Some care is required in setting the model up and achieving the specified CG. Once that is done you are rewarded with an airplane that is a dream to fly. I'm sure to take this one to the flying field a lot in the coming months when the weather improves and I am looking for some smooth, relaxed flying. The sight of a bright yellow Stearman against the blue skies just brings a smile to my face.

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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Feb 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM..
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Feb 27, 2018, 02:43 PM
Registered User
Nice review, and good to see that my extreme rearward CG problem was not my imagination. I contacted Horizon about it and they deny the issue. I used a 3200 pack and it flew fine, but I still think the CG is back a bit. I like the idea of adding weight to the cylinders, and I’ll do that now that I know how to do it from the review. Other than chasing the CG problem, the model is one of the best ever from Horizon, the shock absorbing gear work wonderful on grass.
Latest blog entry: Testing the blog page
Feb 27, 2018, 10:38 PM
Registered User
I agree, when balanced at the factory specified point it is a great flying airplane. Glad that you are enjoying it as well.
Feb 28, 2018, 03:14 PM
Registered User
s1m's Avatar
Great review, but the video with your flight is simply great. There is nothing like biplanes and this one is one of the nicest designs. I want one!!
Feb 28, 2018, 06:26 PM
Registered User
Very nice
Feb 28, 2018, 07:44 PM
Ken's CAD Models
dz1sfb's Avatar
Beautiful model, but it looks like it flys too fast. I mean quite a bit faster than scale loosing some of its charm.

I have had the privilege of piloting a full scale Stearman (part of my affinity to it), and it is more of a lumbering plane.

Latest blog entry: Ken's CAD Models new web site
Feb 28, 2018, 08:13 PM
Registered User
It does fly fast if you use full throttle, I flew mine at about 1/4 throttle and it’s much closer to scale speed. I don’t what the obsession is with speed.
Latest blog entry: Testing the blog page
Feb 28, 2018, 09:20 PM
Registered User
Coptafeel's Avatar
Originally Posted by s2000
It does fly fast if you use full throttle, I flew mine at about 1/4 throttle and it’s much closer to scale speed. I don’t what the obsession is with speed.
I don’t know either. Would love to see more vids of this bird being flown at a more leisurely “Stearmanesque” pace, as that’s what I’m looking to replicate (at least as closely as practical). There are far more appropriate models out there for the speed demons to practice their craft.

and as far as 4S in this plane? Seriously???
alas - to each their own
Mar 01, 2018, 12:14 PM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar

Check it out!

How about that? The old HL crew is back at again, huh?

That video reminded me of the old HL videos from back in the day. I bet you guys (Mike and Jason) probably were having flashbacks. Please tell me that at least one of you were wearing a HL hat or shirt...

Seriously though, nice job on the review, Mike. The in-flight pictures were outstanding!

Mar 01, 2018, 02:24 PM
Registered User


Very nice pics & video! One pic or clip with a human in it would very nicely show the size :-)
Mar 02, 2018, 06:18 PM
Fly'in Free
edwal07's Avatar
I purchased this plane and love its appearance, scale is the word! This is my smallest PT17 as I also have the GP PT17 and a Zorolli 86.5" PT17. I read your review before it arrived, spot on for assembly, the cabanes on the lower wing are a "witch" to install. Pinch the landing gear, watch the fit and they went right into place. With the 2200mah battery it was WAY tail heavy. So I installed a 4000mah 40c GForce lipo. Used a wedge cut piece of foam under in on the tray to raise the front of the battery which allowes the it to go farrther forward, even with the rear of the tray! I removed the cyl's and ended up adding 2.5oz of lead shot, dispursed in the bottom 4 cyl. Balanced with a 1/4" nose down from level. I think this will make it fly better with no down trim required. I also went with a Zoar 11x8 PNJ prop and added flying wires made out of silver elastic binding cord. I think it looks great. Waiting on good weather for maiden, will post results after.
Mar 02, 2018, 06:30 PM
Rampage's Avatar
Horizon has a habit of their planes being tail heavy out of the box. Remember the Mosquito? I had to add nose weight even with a 3s 4000. The only way to actually balance it was to hog out foam and even then, I have to strap two AA batteries to the top of the pack just to achieve a decent CG..
Mar 02, 2018, 06:48 PM
Fly'in Free
edwal07's Avatar
Originally Posted by Rampage
Horizon has a habit of their planes being tail heavy out of the box. Remember the Mosquito? I had to add nose weight even with a 3s 4000. The only way to actually balance it was to hog out foam and even then, I have to strap two AA batteries to the top of the pack just to achieve a decent CG..
Yep! However I have the Carbon Z T28 big boy! I had no issues with CG. THE BATTERY TRAY HAS AMPLE ROOM TO MOVE THE BATTERY. It will even take a 6S 10,000mah battery. I do not understand why Eflite does not admit there is a problem with the CG. With as many as they have sold I am sure they know! Would be nice if they would put out a notice about nose weight. But, oh wait, then they wouldn't sell as many replacement parts, IMHO!
Mar 03, 2018, 06:08 PM
Registered User

Great tips

Slow build - not that hard but a lot of things like wheels and struts took some figuring out. I would never disassemble it ... too much work. Looks great hanging up.
I had not figured out a solution to the CG problem so appreciate the tips. Can't wait to fly now that I've seen the video.
Mar 05, 2018, 12:04 PM
Registered User
I'll see if I can't get some video of the Stearman flying at a slower speed. This is only a 3S battery airplane, not sure where the 4S comment comes in.

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