Tower Hobbies Cherokee EP Rx-R 43.2" Review

The new Tower Hobbies 43.2" Cherokee Rx-R is a compact, agile Sport Scale model of the iconic Piper Cherokee. Tower Hobbies has remained true to the Cherokee outline while somehow infusing lots of aerobatic performance into the airframe. Mike McDougall takes us through the assembly of the Cherokee and evaluates its spirited flying capabilities.

Splash

Introduction

Tower Hobbies : Cherokee RxR
Wingspan:43.2 in (1097 mm)
Length:33.8 in (859 mm)
Wing Area:318 sq in
Weight:38.0 Ė 42.3 oz.
Wing Loading:17.2 - 19.2 oz/sq ft
Receiver:Spektrum AR410
Servos:4 Micro Servos
Battery:3S LiPo, 2200 - 3200 mAh
Motor:Rimfire .10 - 35-30-1250 Outrunner
ESC:40 Amp with Star Plug (Deans Compatible)
Prop:APC 9x6E 2-Blade
Transmitter:Spektrum Dx18G2
Manufacturer:Tower Hobbies
Available From:Tower Hobbies
Street Price:$169.99

Ya Gotta Love a Cherokee! This iconic low wing trainer/personal aircraft has been around since the 1960's. The Cherokee has established a legendary flight record and has established an almost Cult-like following. The plane has been the subject of numerous kits and models over the years. My first low-wing RC plane was a stick built Cherokee kit in the late '60s. Since then, I've built a lot of scale models, but the best flying ones have always been Cherokees. I still have a 60's vintage Cherokee kit stashed away for my bucket list build.

Recently Tower Hobbies introduced a great looking 43 inch wingspan Cherokee. This newest balsa and ply beauty uses an electric power system and is offered in both a receiver ready (Rx-R) and an ARF format. The retail price point for this Cherokee makes it a good deal. If you factor in the various Tower Hobbies discounts available, this Cherokee becomes a real bargain. Tower supplied the Rx-R version for this review, so most of the hard work had already been done. Since I have owned so many different Cherokees over the years, I'm very anxious to see how this new Tower Hobbies Cherokee performs. Let's open the box and get started.

First Impressions

Pink? The trim accent color is Pink? Not really. My wife says the color is an attractive "Dusty Rose" and she LIKES it. You know, she was right. The No Coast Design color scheme on the Cherokee has grown on me and, over time, I've come to like it a lot. Next item was the landing gear. The wheels and the fiberglass wheel pants were already installed and they looked great! Then there was that unmistakable Cherokee fuselage outline. I was in Cherokee lust all over again.

Kit Contents

  • Built-up balsa and ply airframe
  • High-quality covering material
  • Fuselage with canopy and large battery hatch
  • Two-piece wing with plywood joiner and pre-hinged ailerons
  • Pre-hinged elevator and rudder
  • Molded Plastic cowl
  • Plywood electric motor mount
  • Tricycle landing gear with fiberglass wheel pants
  • 1-3/4" plastic spinner
  • Hardware, servos, motor, and ESC pre-installed (Rx-R)
  • 16-Page photo-illustrated instruction manual

Required Parts

  • Minimum 4-channel radio system
  • 2200-3200 mAh 3-cell LiPo battery
  • 30 minute epoxy and CA glue
  • Common building tools

Parts Supplied by Tower Hobbies for this Review

Tower Hobbies supplied the new Spektrum AR410 receiver.

Assembly

The 16-page photo-illustrated Instruction Manual is very good. There are numerous detailed photos of each building process and a good explanation of each step in the process. This manual is well suited for the intermediate ARF builder. The manual contains all the details for assembling the ARF version of the Cherokee. The Rx-R builder is instructed to just "skim through the manual and perform only steps that apply." This Review will attempt to give some useful tips to help with the building process. The first tip would be to install the two trim decals on the fuselage before starting the assembly process. Use the Tower Web Page to help with the decal placement.

Wing

The airframe assembly process began with the wing. The Rx-R version had the ailerons pre-hinged and CA'ed in place. The aileron servos were installed and the linkages were in place. The plywood wing joiner was epoxied together and, when dry, was test fit into the wing halves.

The joiner was difficult to insert, so the ends were rounded to eliminate the sharp corners. The joiner was still hard to insert. Closer examination revealed balsa overlaps protruding into the wing spar cavities.

Once the balsa was trimmed, the wing joiner could slide fully into place. Marking the center of the joiner helped make sure it was properly centered when sliding the wing halves together. Bamboo skewers and rubber bands helped hold the wing halves together while the epoxy set.

Mounting the landing gear was the final step on the wings. Unfortunately the gear wires would not fully seat into the slots in the gear blocks. The ends of the wire formed a slightly rounded bend on the inside edge and the gear blocks had a sharp 90 degree angle at the end of the slots. A few strokes with a Dremel rounded off the gear blocks sharp edges and the gear fully seated in the slots.

Low tack masking tape helped hold the wing fairing in place while the glue fully cured.

Fuselage

The assembly process continued with the fuselage. The horizontal stab and rudder fit perfectly and were easily epoxied in place. The last item was to install the spinner and propeller. The manual showed to place the sandpaper disc between the propeller and the spinner back plate, but I found that the prop would not tighten down properly. The spinner back plate and prop would rotate as a unit and slip on the motor shaft whenever the prop nut was tightened down. Moving the sandpaper disc behind the spinner backplate allowed the spinner/prop assembly to gain a proper grip on the motor shaft and the prop nut was easily tightened in place. Try both ways and see which works best for you.

Radio Installation

The new Spektrum AR410 receiver was the only item needed to complete the radio installation in the Rx-R Cherokee. This new full-range receiver had no external antennas, so it could be installed almost anywhere in the fuselage cavity. Since the Rx antenna is totally enclosed in the receiver case, I choose an open area to the rear of the hatch opening to allow easy access to the bind button and allow extra distance from the battery/motor assembly.

Completion

The completed Tower Cherokee weighed 2 lbs 8 oz with batteries, RTF. The plane balanced at 2-1/4" from the leading edge with the batteries positioned to the center of the battery area.

The surface throws were set to the recommended amounts for high and low rates. 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 5 minutes and had it start and run at any throttle setting above 20%.

With the recommended 9x6 prop, the Rimfire .10 pulled 26.58 Amps and indicated 318.9 Watts static power at WOT. This power level calculated out to a healthy 127.6 Watts per pound. That power is just right for a lively sport model level of performance.

Flying

Basics

The Tower Hobbies Cherokee is advertised as an easy to fly sport scale model. As such, it should have gentle flight characteristics and steady landing and takeoff manners. Let's see how this Cherokee measures up.

Taking Off and Landing

The Tower Hobbies Cherokee had plenty of power and, thanks to the tricycle gear, the takeoffs were straight down the runway with only minor rudder correction required. An easy, measured increase in throttle resulted in a very scale-like takeoff with a shallow scale climb out. A more rapid application of throttle resulted in a much shorter takeoff roll and a not-so-scale departure angle.

Landings required a bit of attention. Too fast and the Cherokee would skip back into the air. Too slow and the Cherokee would plop down on the runway with a thud. Though nose high, full stall landings were possible, I found that landing on the mains with a little power resulted in a consistently smoother landing experience. The relatively thin wing airfoil may cause the need for carrying speed into the landings. The good news is that the tricycle gear allowed for straight roll outs and excellent ground handling all the way back to the pits every time.

Scale Flying

The Cherokee flew pretty close to scale at a little over 1/2 throttle. This small, lightly loaded airframe was happier on calm days and would easily cruise the pattern all afternoon. That iconic Cherokee outline and the stunning No Coast Design trim scheme really added to the scale effect.

Sport Flying

The Tower Hobbies Cherokee may have been designed as a scale model, but when you pushed the throttle up a bit, this baby became a sweet flying sport aerobatic plane. It could perform all the normal sport plane maneuvers with ease. The strip ailerons took a bit of getting used to, but on high rates, the Cherokee had a nice roll rate. I had to move the CG back a bit and use high rate rudder to get the Cherokee to perform snapping and spinning maneuvers, but the rudder was just too small for sustained knife edge.

CG Adjustment

I started moving the CG back a little bit at a time. A more rearward CG slowed down the landing speed considerably. I still carry some power into my landings, but the Cherokee can now flare better for landings. The more rearward CG also allowed easier inverted flight with less down elevator pressure needed for level flight. Since every battery pack is different, please experiment with battery placement very carefully. After getting comfortable flying with the CG at 2-1/4" from the leading edge, slowly move it back to the recommended CG of 2-1/2" back from the leading edge. Tower does not recommend moving the CG farther aft than the recommended 2-1/2" mark.

Is This For a Beginner?

Not really. The full-scale Cherokee may have had a bit of trainer DNA, but the Tower Hobbies Cherokee has no self-righting trainer-like characteristics. This Cherokee would make a better first low wing plane for someone who is comfortable with flying ailerons. It is perfect for the intermediate pilot who wants a compact performance sport plane that looks like a full-scale Piper Cherokee.

Flight Photo Gallery

My friend Jesse Webb was behind the Nikon as we began putting the Tower Hobbies Cherokee through its paces.

Flight Video

Jesse Webb traded the Nikon for a camcorder as I loaded up a fresh flight pack. It didn't take long to get ready to record some flight video. Hope you enjoy the results.

Tower Cherokee RxR (7 min 36 sec)

Conclusion

The Tower Hobbies Cherokee is a surprisingly agile sport scale model of the iconic general aviation Piper Cherokee. The Rx-R version has plenty of power with the supplied Rimfire 10 motor and the compact 43 inch wingspan makes this Cherokee very easy to transport. The Tower Hobbies Cherokee is very responsive without being "twitchy" and the non-scale maneuverability makes for some very impressive aerobatic flying. The plane flies fairly fast and requires a little practice to get the landings just right, but the tricycle landing gear make ground handling a real joy. As good as this Cherokee looks in its No Coast Design trim scheme, the bottom line is it flies even better than it looks. I consider myself a bit of a Cherokee snob, and this Tower Hobbies Cherokee has earned a permanent spot in my hangar.

Pluses

  • Beautiful Scale Cherokee Lines
  • Excellent Flight Characteristics
  • Plenty of Power and Speed
  • Generous Hatch Area
  • Attractive No Coast Design Color Scheme
  • Very High Value

Minuses

  • Minor Parts Fit Issues

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Last edited by kingsflyer; Mar 13, 2019 at 09:18 PM..
Thread Tools
Apr 01, 2019, 01:15 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
I've really enjoyed flying this Cherokee. I plan to have it at SEFF 2019 in Georgia later this month. Stop by and check it out for yourself.

McD
Last edited by kingsflyer; Apr 03, 2019 at 11:33 PM.
Apr 11, 2019, 08:41 AM
Registered User
I've seen this model fly and like the reviewer stated, landings are a bit of a challenge. It would had been great if the model had flaps.

Anyone know if its possible to modify and put flaps on this model?
Apr 11, 2019, 09:25 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
We have a Club member who has experimented with flaperons and spoilerons using the existing strip ailerons on the Tower Cherokee. Neither one worked very well.

Some sort of good sized split flaps under the wing might work, but that would require a bit of work. Dividing the existing strip ailerons into two sections - inner for flaps, outer for ailerons - would be easier but I'm not sure the smaller ailerons would work as well.

As an alternative, I've been moving the CG back a bit at a time and I've been able to slow down the approaches to a manageable speed. Main gear landings seem better now. As the Author of this Review, I can not recommend you move the CG any farther back than the recommended 2-5/8" from the leading edge.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Apr 11, 2019, 03:16 PM
dbc
dbc
Registered User
I have just over 100 flights total on my two Cherokees. Never found the landings to be any problem at all.

Sure, it lands a little faster than some ďfloatersĒ but, for me at least, they are very consistent. I can do repeated takeoffs/ landings, one after the other, with each one just about as nice as the others. Iím running the CG maybe 1/8 inch behind recommended center.

This plane has become one of my true favorites among the smaller semi-scale/ sport flyers.
Apr 16, 2019, 07:17 PM
dbc
dbc
Registered User
I flew Cherokee 2 ( my backup) for a couple of batteries this beautiful Florida evening just before sundown. I paid special attention to the landings and did several with each battery. CG is set 1/8Ē behind recommended center.

I use a fairly fast approach and with the plane in ground effect, a few inches off the surface, feed in just a little up elevator for a very gentle flair. Speed slows, approaches stall and it settles in to a nice wheels landing.

I donít think Iím a particularly skilled pilot but Iím having no problems with landings. Maybe Iím just lucky every time?
Apr 16, 2019, 11:23 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
I think your landings are going very well. Any Video?

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Apr 17, 2019, 07:56 AM
dbc
dbc
Registered User
Video is hard for me, Mike. I fly mostly alone in my semi-rural location. I’ve visited, but never even flown at a club field!

I’ve gotten an RC friend who visits here occasionally to shoot some video and I posted a few of them a couple of years back. Next time he makes the drive over here from Orlando I’ll try to get some of the Cherokee.
Apr 17, 2019, 09:48 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
In the meantime, enjoy your Cherokee. Mine is presently in Protective Custody until SEFF at the end of the month. I can't wait to get it back in the air. The closely manicured grass at Mac's field should slow down the landings a bunch.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Apr 18, 2019, 01:23 PM
Right Rudder
PittSpecial's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbc
Video is hard for me, Mike. I fly mostly alone in my semi-rural location. Iíve visited, but never even flown at a club field!

Iíve gotten an RC friend who visits here occasionally to shoot some video and I posted a few of them a couple of years back. Next time he makes the drive over here from Orlando Iíll try to get some of the Cherokee.
Hello Dave!

I have been slammed lately with covering Testing over at the Rocket Ranch and been working on my cars (all 4 of them). I seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel so, as soon as I can get away, I will let you know!

I may try during the weekday sometime so, stay tuned.

That Cherokee looks terrific!

Regards,
Carlos
Apr 18, 2019, 01:48 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Good Friends and RC planes, a GREAT Combination! Enjoy.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Apr 18, 2019, 03:37 PM
dbc
dbc
Registered User
Carlos and I go back a long way. Don’t get to see him often as he’s about 70 miles from me.

I can usually lure him over here with a really good deal when I’m purging planes!
May 12, 2019, 07:26 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Looks like Tower has the ARF version of the Cherokee on sale for $99.99 till the end of the month and they have it listed as eligible for free shipping and a $15 off coupon discount. What a deal!

https://www.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LW5897&P=1

McD
Last edited by kingsflyer; May 12, 2019 at 04:20 PM.
May 12, 2019, 08:53 AM
dbc
dbc
Registered User
I think that’s the regular price for the ARF version. The Rx-R version is now listed as “temporarily unavailable “. That terminology has been used for other Tower planes that Horizon has later axed.

Might want to grab one now if you’re interested. They may soon disappear.
May 12, 2019, 04:24 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
I talked to the Horizon folks at SEFF about the Tower Cherokee and they said they were having a hard time getting them delivered. There was no talk about discontinuing this great little plane.

This sale is still a good deal. If you already have the Rx-R version, you can have a complete replacement/backup for only $85.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28


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