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Oct 04, 2019, 07:42 PM
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Mini-Review

Micro Lockheed P-38 Lightning - Ready-To-Fly - 430mm Wingspan


Banggood sent me this plane for review.

It comes from the Fei Xiong company, which is well known for the Fly Bears range of very basic two channel differential thrust planes. This plane seems to be the second of a new series of models of WWII warbirds, the first being a RTF Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, similar in many ways to this one. I've reviewed the B-17 here.

Fans of the P-38 will I think agree that this one doesn't look too bad, with a nice silver finish and more or less the right shape. There is something very odd about the undercarriage though - the main wheels, instead of being under the engine nacelles, come out of the booms much further back. I think this is to make the plane very stable on the ground to make it easier for beginners to land and take off. That's a reasonable compromise, but if you want it to look like the real thing you could remove the plastic fittings the U/C legs slot into and replace them where they should be. It would still balance fine that way, but would require a bit more care on landing.

There are also invasion stripes, with the ones on the booms being black and white as expected, but the ones on the wings are yellow and black, and only on the top of the wings. Again, I think it's a compromise, with the idea being that it will be easier to see the plane orientation in the air if the stripes are only on the top. This plane is aimed at kids, not dedicated scale model fliers. However, if you are a scale model flier it has the basics and there is scope to do some hacking and make a nice scale model out of it. Also to rip out the 2 channel system and put in a 3 or 4 channel brick.

It comes well protected in polystyrene in a cardboard box with a handle, which can be used to transport the model. There's no assembly involved, other than to fit the undercarriage. I suggest you don't even need to that, as it can be flown well without it. Everything you need is supplied, except for 3xAA batteries for the transmitter.

The plane uses differential thrust and comes with a very simple two channel controller. I do mean very simple – no dual rates, no trims, an on/off button, a light and two sliders. Throttle on the left slider, yaw on the right. A blue light that flashes when the switch is pressed, and goes on solid when the bind is achieved. You fit the battery to the plane, turn on a small switch on the bottom of the plane, whereupon a blue light near the switch starts to flash. Turn on the transmitter, blue light on it flashes, then you push the throttle stick to its maximum and back to the bottom. Then the blue lights on plane and Tx go solid and the plane is bound. Applying throttle will cause the two props to spin. The motors spin in different directions, so there is a left hand and a right hand prop. One spare prop of each type is supposed to be included with the kit. Actually mine only had one - for the right motor.

Don’t fit the wrong prop to a motor! If you do, the plane will try to fly backwards.

The B-17 had two problems out of the box. One is fixed with this plane, the other isn't. The remaining problem is that when you open the throttle, it is very likely one of the props will fall off. I am using thread and a tiny amount of CA glue to try and fix this, and that has been partially successful. This is a very annoying problem and a major failing of both planes.

Weight is 45g without battery, 54g with it, with the U/C adding a further 2g. That's a bit on the heavy side, but it does fly OK, a bit fast though. I haven't yet flown it indoors, but I think like the B-17 it will need at least two basketball courts, as the turn authority is lacking. It has gyro stabilisation and is not hard to fly.

In the video below there are two flights. The first is very short, because one of the props flew off!

Flight time with the 300mAh battery is about 10 minutes. As soon as you start to notice that the climb is getting sluggish, you should land so as not to over-discharge the battery, which will shorten its life. The charger supplied charges the battery at about 450mA current, which is a little high, but not too bad. If you happen to have a hobby charger it is better for the battery to use it to charge at 300mA.

I tested what would happen if the RC signal is lost by turning off the transmitter with the motors running. They stopped after about 1 second, as you would hope they would. I also checked to see if the plane would bind to the B-17 transmitter, and the answer is yes. The transmitters would appear to be identical.

My overall opinion? This is an average, not an excellent, example of a two channel plane aimed at beginners. It has the big advantage for beginners that it is made of EPP so it's almost impossible to break.

My favourite differential thrust plane remains the C-17 which I am flying here. It is better than this plane in almost every way, and cheaper. However, the P-38 is a perennial favourite, and this one looks good, so there will be plenty who will like it, I suppose.

Micro Lockheed P 38 Lightning - ready to fly RC plane (1 min 53 sec)
Last edited by 1auriec; Oct 05, 2019 at 02:30 AM.
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Oct 07, 2019, 01:15 AM
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Re-positioning of main undercarriage legs


It did bother me that the undercarriage was not right (for good reasons, as explained above) so I did a little surgery.

I cut carefully down the sides of the U/C mounts in the booms, angling my cuts inwards a little, then removed the mounts by brute force. Then I re-installed them much further forward, in roughly the right place. With the battery in place, the plane balanced fine, as indeed it must if the CG is to be in the right place. I used UHU Por to glue the mounts in.

Not a big job.

The full size plane does have a somewhat tail-down attitude on the ground, but perhaps not quite as much as mine does. If you didn't like that, you could do a little re-bending of the U/C legs.
Oct 08, 2019, 12:55 AM
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Just noticed Banggood have reduced the price on this by 30% from October 7 to October 14.
Oct 11, 2019, 03:06 AM
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andrewhalst's Avatar
My mind is in mid-boggle about the invasion stripes you mentioned in your (typically informative) review
If they are only on the top surface of the wing they would only be helpful for orientation (it seems to me)
A) by their absence (I see no stripes, so the plane is the right way up)
B) if the plane is inverted
C) if the pilot is above the plane (I have done this a few times for various exotic reasons, but it can’t be a common scenario)

You comment that the Rx and tx are the same as the b17. Have you discovered this protocol of your all-singing, all-dancing Taranis?

I still have a reservation about flying in confined spaces without trim available. Aerodynamic trim can only do so much, and I suspect that the first gym wall would leap out and swat the plane.
Last edited by andrewhalst; Oct 11, 2019 at 03:08 AM. Reason: Confused b25 with b17
Oct 11, 2019, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewhalst
My mind is in mid-boggle about the invasion stripes you mentioned in your (typically informative) review
If they are only on the top surface of the wing they would only be helpful for orientation (it seems to me)
A) by their absence (I see no stripes, so the plane is the right way up)
B) if the plane is inverted
C) if the pilot is above the plane (I have done this a few times for various exotic reasons, but it canít be a common scenario)

You comment that the Rx and tx are the same as the b17. Have you discovered this protocol of your all-singing, all-dancing Taranis?

I still have a reservation about flying in confined spaces without trim available. Aerodynamic trim can only do so much, and I suspect that the first gym wall would leap out and swat the plane.
Yes the same thing occurred to me about the stripes. I was being charitable to the manufacturer in trying to find some excuse for it. I struggle to see how you would ever get this plane inverted. Except when one of the props falls off. Then it's a rather brief flight.

No, I don't know the protocol. I doubt whether anyone will ever be motivated enough to find out!

I may try it indoors, but probably not, because I think it's even less manageable than the B-17.
Oct 18, 2019, 08:09 PM
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I got mine from TomTop....never again !. No battery supplied and only a bundle of lies when I queried it....still havent got the battery. However I used a 500mah plus some "bogey" type nose weight and got it flying fast and furious in a two court basketball centre.......just ! Using the standard U/C mounts the take-off is a good feature using full frottle and backing it off once in the air. Takes a bit of mastering and its better to wait till the air is clear of machines because it will fly through most things. Walls have been tried, without success, but I stress it is fast and furious but also great fun to do touch and go's. I have managed to slow it down a bit but the main problem is the props keep jumping off mid fright.....nothing to do with my piloting skills. Laurie has had same problem and introduced me to the cotton through the hub and cyano answer......still keep spinning off though. All in all I put it in the very inexpensive, fun, bouncy, indestructablemobile that looks not too shaby in the air. Helps that I like p38's
Oct 19, 2019, 07:23 AM
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Pixelpeter's Avatar
Try and roughen up the motor-axle before applying the thread + CA.
Oct 20, 2019, 06:13 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
Radial cuts on the motor shaft with a dremel will give the glue and plastic something to grip.
Oct 21, 2019, 04:58 AM
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Thanks to Peter and Joe for the propeller sticking ideas, which I'll try.
Oct 23, 2019, 02:35 PM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
I’m curious, how are the pitch tendencies?
Oct 23, 2019, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe 1320
Iím curious, how are the pitch tendencies?
It's a good question. Mine gives the appearance of being tail heavy, and pitches up too easily under throttle. However, in test glides it performs well, so I think it's a trim and not a tail heavy issue. My next step will be to apply a very small amount of down elevator, say 1mm at the trailing edge, and see what happens.

I have seen Quacky's one flying, and he doesn't have the problem, but he uses a heavier battery and extra weight in the nose. I'd like to avoid that if I can.
Oct 24, 2019, 08:39 AM
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t00nz843z's Avatar

Flybear FX-816 P-38 Lightning 2 Channel Beginners RC Airplane Flight Test Review


This ready to fly flying model of a WWII fighter plane is very easy to fly. A great airplane for beginner fliers and also for indoor winter gym flying. Find it here .

And here is its flight demonstration.
P-38 Lightning Flybear FX-816 2 Channel Beginner RC Airplane Flight Test Review (29 min 4 sec)


Pros
- Two channel (throttle and turning) RTF plane. Flight is controlled through differential thrust of its two motors.
- Simple controller with only three controls; power switch, throttle, and rudder control. Range of the controller is advertised at 200 meters, much more than needed for this small airplane.
- Common 3.7V 300mah battery provides over 10 minutes of flight time.
- It possibly may have an unadvertised feature of gyro stabilization. This feature is mentioned in its manual, but not on the box or advertisements for this plane. Normally a two channel differential thrust airplane requires momentary "bump" steering of the turn (rudder) control to prevent rollover. However, that is not an issue with this plane. This plane allows proportional steering. You can give this plane full rudder, and hold it there. The gyro stabilization will automatically adjust the differential motor thrust to prevent the aircraft from exceeding a maximum bank angle preventing rollover. Unfortunately the stabilization also restricts maximum pitch angle to lessen phugoids, which also prevents loops.

Cons
- The provided 60mm diameter stock tri-blade propellers fall off very easily with this plane. You will definitely need spares. I replaced mine with dual bladed micro quadcopter propellers that held on very well, although they provided much more thrust than the stock propellers.
- The included instruction manual is very poorly written. However this is a very simple plane, and most should be able to get it into the air by intuition alone.
Oct 24, 2019, 08:57 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1auriec
It's a good question. Mine gives the appearance of being tail heavy, and pitches up too easily under throttle. However, in test glides it performs well, so I think it's a trim and not a tail heavy issue. My next step will be to apply a very small amount of down elevator, say 1mm at the trailing edge, and see what happens.

I have seen Quacky's one flying, and he doesn't have the problem, but he uses a heavier battery and extra weight in the nose. I'd like to avoid that if I can.
Maybe thrust angle too.
Oct 24, 2019, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe 1320
Maybe thrust angle too.
It has about 5 degrees of down thrust.
Oct 31, 2019, 11:11 PM
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Now with prop and elevator mods


Well, I decided with a little more work I might still be able to improve this plane, so I did these mods:

1. I replaced the props which were driving me crazy by coming off all the time with two-bladed props from a quadcopter, I think a JJRC 1000A. Despite all the abuse I had given them, I had never known the props to come off this quad, and they seemed to have the right size shaft hole, so on they went. They haven't given a bit of trouble since, and in fact they seem to be more efficient. Thanks to quadcopter 101 for making me think of it.

2. I cut away the sides of the elevators to make them adjustable, and experimented with some down elevator. The photo shows what I am currently using, which seems about the right amount. I left the pins in, instead of gluing, so I can adjust them at the field any time I want.

I don't think I'll ever LOVE this plane, after the trouble it's given me, but I can live with it now. For a plane I think I CAN love, have a look here.

Flybear FX 816 P-38 Lightning Micro plane with prop and elevator mods (1 min 15 sec)


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