Horizon Hobby E-flite P-39 Airacobra 1.2m BNF Basic Review

E-flites latest warbird is one of WW2's more unique aircraft and a welcome addition to any hanger



Wingspan: 47.2" (1.2m)
Length: 43.3" (1.1m)
Flying Weight: 58.5-67oz (1660-1900g)
Motor: 850Kv brushless outrunner
ESC: 40A
Prop Size: 3 Blade
Battery: 3S or 4S 2200mAH Lipo
[B]Available From: Horizon Hobby
Price: $279.99

The P-39 Airacobra was one of the more unusual US WW2 fighters. Unusual in its layout with the engine located in the central fuselage behind the pilot. Unusual in that it was the first US fighter to incorporate the tricycle landing gear layout. Unusual in having automobile type doors with roll up windows. One advantage of having the engine in the middle of the airframe was that it made the nose of the P-39 very slim and aerodynamic. It also allowed the nose cannon to be fired through the center of the propeller making aiming easier. A perceived downside to the mid-mounted engine was that the main driveshaft had to pass between the pilots legs to reach the nose of the airplane, making the pilots a bit nervous. In practice there was little problem with this system.

Horizon Hobby and E-flite chose this fighter and have done a very nice job bringing it to life in this 1.2M wingspan airplane. The scale looks are great and include an authentic camouflage paint scheme and markings. Other details that deserve note are the hands-free retract and flap servo connection, split flaps, exhaust stacks, panel lines and retractable landing gear and removable drop tank. E-flite didn't skimp on the inside either, the 850Kv brushless motor and 40A ESC are perfectly at home using either a 3S or 4S Lipo battery. On 4S the performance is far beyond scale with impressive straight line speed. The BNF version of the Airacobra comes with a Spektrum 6–channel 2.4GHz receiver with DSMX technology. This receiver includes AS3X technology for smoother flight performance. Also included is optional-use SAFE Select flight envelope protection for the novice pilot.

What's in the Box

The P-39 Airacobra comes safely nested in a foam cradle that does a great job of protecting the pre-painted and largely pre-assembled model. The parts count is very low making assembly a quick task.

  • Fuselage with motor, esc, receiver, nose retract, rudder and elevator servos installed
  • Wing with retracts, aileron and flap servos installed
  • Horizontal stabilizers
  • Carbon support rod for horizontal stabilizer
  • 3 blade prop and spinner
  • Removable drop tank
  • Accessory bag
  • Manual


The P-39 goes together with only screws and can be completed in less than an hour. In reading others comments on the P-39 there was a fairly consistent theme of modelers having a difficult time aligning the screws when installing the wing. I will show my technique for overcoming this problem and speeding up the assembly while reducing the frustration.

The Airacobra assembly is very straight forward for the most part. The photos below highlight some of the models features. Some include comments on the assembly.

Some modelers reported a problem with the alignment of the wing retaining holes and the threaded inserts in the fuselage wing saddle. Mine was also slightly off when the wing was positioned. A simple technique to aid in screwing the wing in place is to insert a small diameter screwdriver or music wire into one wing mount hole and gently pry the wing into position to install the screw in the other hole. Once one is in place the others will line up, if necessary the same procedure can be utilized for the remaining two holes. It is important to screw the wing mount screws in completely for a secure electrical connection. A 2mm allen head driver makes this easier than doing it with an L shaped normal allen wrench.


Take Offs

Couldn't be easier, just pointed the nose into the wind and advanced the throttle smoothly. Ground tracking with the tricycle gear was a breeze. In about 30 feet of runway the Airacobra was aloft and in a gentle climb. The Airacobra did not leap into the air, it simply and smoothly lifted all three gear off the runway at the same time and transitioned to a climb.


After climbing to 100 feet or so and retracting the landing gear I did a little elevator trimming but that was about it. The plane felt very solid. Throttle was only a little more than 1/2 but the Airacobra was moving right along. I decided to check out the stall characteristics of the P-39. I was in for a surprise, I couldn't get the airplane to stall at all. I slowly lowered the throttle to idle while adding up elevator. By the time I had reached full up elevator on high rates, the model was just mushing along and slowly descending but it never did drop a wing. Pretty impressive and it added a lot of confidence that this model was not going to bite me on a slow approach to landing. In fact landings are a breeze, with flaps deployed the model slows down well and no elevator compensation is required. This may be due to the split flaps providing substantial drag without pitching the nose up. The landing gear does not include any dampening other than the give of the tires but this did not create any problems as the model lands so well. All of my landings were very slow and soft, a testament to the great handling of the airplane. While my initial flights were on a 4S pack, I also flew the Aircobra on a 3S pack and was pleasantly surprised that the plane retained a lot of its speed and the handling was equally good on 3S and 4S. Sometimes models that are supposed to be 3S/4S compatible are less than satisfying when flown on 3S, this is not the case with the Airacobra. It was a lot of fun on 3S and the biggest difference being that the top speed is reduced a bit and the vertical is no longer unlimited, but still quite good.


Inverted flight was easy with some down elevator added, but not too much. I could not get the Airacobra to snap roll, it was more of a quick barrel roll. Again I attribute this to its superior stall character. If you can't stall it a snap roll is pretty much off the table. One maneuver that the Airacobra does remarkably well is the knife edge pass. There is little coupling and it will hold knife edge without losing altitude for the length of the field. The model does good looking stall turns as well. Rolls were quick and axial and point rolls are crisp.


While I touched on this earlier, landings are a thing of beauty, slow and light. Holding the nose up and touching down on the mains while holding the nose wheel up are quite easy to perform. The ground handling is exceptional with the wide stance main gear. Who knows I may not scratch up the wing tips on this model.


This would make a great first warbird for a pilot that has flown a trainer. The Airacobra doesn't exhibit any of the negative traits that warbirds are known for and the AS3X provides a subtle smoothness to smooth out any turbulence that might otherwise be evident on final approach. The Airacobra also has the ability to turn on SAFE Select for an added level of support for the novice pilot. To utilize this feature the receiver needs to be bound in a specific manner to activate the SAFE Select function. After activation this function can be assigned to a free switch on your transmitter and turned on or off in flight. While not targeted for the beginner, I believe that it would be possible for a novice to be successful with a little assistance from an experienced modeler.




As you can probably tell, I am really pleased with the Airacobra. It's one of the most enjoyable airplanes that I have flown recently, it just brings a smile to my face every time it takes to the air. The easy to transport size is a big plus for most flyers and the solid 5 minute flights are just right for my flying style. I have gotten a lot of complements from my flying buddies and I have let several of them take it for a spin. Without exception they were very enthusiastic about the experience and several said that this one might have to join their fleet of airplanes as well. Good looks and great handling, what's not to love.

Check out the Horizon Hobby E-flite P-39 Airacobra here

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Last edited by Hiflyer; Aug 15, 2019 at 12:56 PM..
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Sep 25, 2019, 12:05 PM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
Nice review!
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Sep 25, 2019, 12:36 PM
Registered User
Looks kind of mangled at the nose - where it meets the spinner. Did it come that way, or was that hangar rash?
Sep 25, 2019, 01:46 PM
Registered User
Shifteer's Avatar
I have the 980mm FMS version and that thing is a handful to fly and land! It's very overweight for its tiny wings and stalls easily in turns unless the power is way up. I'd think that a 1.2m version would be much much better.
Sep 25, 2019, 02:27 PM
Nice review! The P-39’s become a favorite, and performs well on either 3S or 4S—very smooth. The landings (on the mains, then letting the nose gear slowly drop) make me look like a better pilot than I am. It goes to the field almost every session, now.
Sep 29, 2019, 03:05 PM
Bob Bayless
I really like mine! Of the models in this class from e-Flite I think it is one of the best flying. I repainted mine as a Russian one. Love it! Nice review.
Sep 30, 2019, 12:45 AM
Registered User
Great looking plane. I have the 1.2 Mustang and it's one of my favorites.
Dec 29, 2019, 06:35 PM
Brain/Thumb Interlock Off
DriverRX8's Avatar
I'm curious about the power system. Anybody know prop dimensions (dia./pitch) and static thrust with 3-cell and with 4-cell batteries? And as long as I'm asking, I'll be greedy: Amps and Watts?

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