Horizon Hobby E-flite P-51D 1.5m BNF Basic with Smart Technology - RCGroups Review

Follow the assembly of the new Horizon Hobby E-flite P-51D 1.5m BNF Basic with Smart Technology. Explore the amazing Smart Data telemetry and then join Mike McDougall for a spirited Mustang flight.

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E-flite P-51D 1.5m BNF Basic - RCGroups Review

P-51D 1.5m BNF Basic w/Smart Technology
Wingspan:59 in
Length:52 in
Weight:7.5 to 8 lbs
Servos:9 Servos Installed
Radio:Minimum 6 Channel DSMX/DSM2
Battery:6S 22.2V 3200 to 7000 mAh LiPo w/EC5 Connector
Motor:Brushless 4650 - 460kV
Prop:15.5x11 4-blade
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby through your local hobby shop
Street Price:$499.99

When Horizon Hobby announced its newest E-flite Warbird release was a P-51 Mustang, the immediate knee jerk reaction from modelers was “Not ANOTHER P-51 Mustang!” That reaction quickly subsided as modelers realized that this newest E-flite P-51D was a stunning 1.5 meter rendition of a Civilian P-51D Mustang in the colorful Lou IV Air Show livery.

This 59" wingspan E-flite Mustang sports an accurate scale outline and includes a number of very nice scale details like LED Navigation lights, realistic removable drop tanks, sequenced main and tail wheel gear doors, shock absorbing main gear struts, realistic panel lines, hatches, 4-blade prop, and guns. The electronics package includes a powerful Spektrum 4258-460kV Brushless Motor, a 100 Amp Spektrum Smart Technology Avian ESC, 9 Spektrum servos, as well as electric main gear and tail wheel retract motor units. The BNF Basic version of this Mustang also includes the newest Spektrum Smart AR637T full-range telemetry receiver with AS3X and SAFE Select technologies.

So here we have a stunning scale P-51D Mustang in a unique Civilian paint scheme that promises 80+ MPH speed on a variety of 6S Battery Packs, has removable outer wing panels for easier transport, and includes AS3X and SAFE Select stabilization. What's not to like! Let's get this box open and start putting this baby together.

First Impressions

My first impression was WOW that's a Gorgeous shade of Blue! As I unpacked the parts, the next thing I noticed was the amount of scale detail molded into the foam. The more I looked, the more details I found. Well done E-flite.

Kit Highlights

  • Retractable main gear with scale style shock-absorbing struts and outer gear doors
  • Sequenced inner main landing gear doors
  • Ball bearing diamond tread main gear wheels
  • Retractable tail wheel with gear doors
  • Scale style 4-blade prop

Kit Contents

Here's a list of the kit parts:

  • EPO foam construction with plywood and plastic mounting points
  • Fuselage with motor, ESC, RX, rudder, servos, and tail wheel retract pre-installed (BNF Basic)
  • 3-Piece wing with ailerons, flaps, retracts, servos, and gear doors pre-installed
  • Horizontal stab with elevator pre-hinged
  • Scale drop tanks
  • Complete hardware package
  • 80-Page illustrated Instruction Manual (21-Pages English)

Required Parts

  • Minimum 6-channel DSM2/DSMX transmitter
  • 3200 mAh to 7000 mAh 22.2v 6S 30C LiPo Battery
  • 2mm hex wrench or driver
  • Adjustable wrench

Supplied by Horizon for this Review

For this review, Horizon Hobby supplied a 22.2V 5000mAh 6S 30C Smart LiPo Battery.

Assembly

The 21-page illustrated Instruction Manual detailed the assembly process and transmitter setup for the E-flite P-51D Mustang.

Like most other E-flite manuals, this one packed a lot of information into each page. The assembly process consisted of fastening the wing center section and the horizontal stab to the fuselage with a total of 7 screws. The propeller assembly took a total of 8 screws. From BOX to BUILT took take less than 30 minutes, and that included time to admire the results of each step. Ok, that time may have included a couple of minutes spent "flying" the plane around the shop making Merlin engine noises with occasional machine gun fire.

Fuselage

The assembly process began on Page 5 with the installation of the horizontal stab in the fuselage. A 2mm hex driver tool made the installation of the three mounting screws so much easier than fumbling with a hex key.

Wings

Next up was the wing. The wing center section had a hands-free servo connector assembly that fit precisely into a matching socket assembly in the fuselage. The rear of the wing was inserted into the fuselage first with a bit of fiddling and jiggling to make sure the connector assembly was properly aligned before the forward portion of the wing was pivoted into position in the fuselage. Once again the 2mm hex driver came in handy to install the 4 wing mounting screws. The outer wing sections were then slid into position and snapped onto the center section.

Propeller

The final assembly step was the building of that iconic 4-blade prop. After carefully weighing each blade, the blades were paired up and the two "heavier" blades were placed opposite of each other and the two "lighter" blades were placed opposite each other. Each propeller blade mounted to the spinner backplate with two screws and two nuts. The 2mm driver was used to tighten up each of the 8 screws. Once the blades are securely mounted to the backplate, the assembly was checked and it was perfectly balanced. For safety reasons, the prop mounting to the motor was delayed till after all the radio binding, surface alignment, and throttle cut programming were completed.

Battery Installation

The E-flite P-51D Mustang utilized a removable battery tray to allow easy installation of the battery pack in the forward fuselage area. The tray in the Review Model was difficult to remove and install due to the lower portions of the battery hold down straps snagging on the ESC wiring and the power harness' electronic choke enclosure.

The lower portions of the battery straps were glued to the bottom of the battery tray so they would no longer hang down so far below the tray. The tray still hung up on the wiring and choke box. The ESC wiring was then secured to the fuselage with tape, the power wiring choke box was glued to the side of the fuselage opening and the foam cut away to allow the power wiring to exit the area further aft. The battery tray was now free to move throughout its full travel and no longer interfered with any of the ESC wiring.

Transmitter Programming

Binding and SAFE Select

The next step was to decide on whether to utilize the SAFE stabilization feature on the Spectrum AR637T receiver. Page 11 of the Instruction Manual described the binding procedure to follow to enable or disable the SAFE feature. Binding without SAFE, left the receiver in AS3X only mode. Binding with SAFE enabled, placed the receiver in SAFE mode. Page 12 of the Instruction Manual described the process to designate a switch to change from SAFE to AS3X mode and back. The manual cautioned that the throttle channel, the flight control channels, as well as the desired switch, MUST all be set for 100% travel or the switch selection process would fail.

I have to admit that I've really enjoyed flying with AS3X and having SAFE available for buddy boxing. My E-flite Valiant 1.3 flew wonderful with AS3X and I've used the SAFE feature on a number of occasions with a buddy box to give noobies a taste of flying RC. I was glad to have AS3X in place on the E-flite P-51D and I'm looking forward to letting some of our Club members try their hand on a Warbird via the buddy box. I even plan to have our newest member fly with the buddy box and SAFE. After all, wasn't that our fondest dream when we first started flying RC - to one day be able to fly a P-51 Mustang? This new E-flite P-51D may be able to make a lot of those dreams come true.

AS3X

Once the binding was complete, it was time to verify surface travel direction and AS3X stabilization operation. Pages 13 of the manual detailed the process for checking correct surface travel. Page 14 detailed the process for checking the correct AS3X stabilization surface reactions.

Spektrum Smart Technology

Smart ESC and Smart RX Technology

The new E-flite P-51D Mustang had Spektrum Smart Technology incorporated into the Avian 100 Amp ESC and the AR637T receiver. This latest telemetry breakthrough from Spectrum allowed the P-51 Mustang to transmit an array of performance data back to any DSM2/DSMX telemetry ready transmitter. This flight information included instantaneous values for such things as motor RPM, motor Amperage, flight pack battery Voltage, throttle stick position percentage, ESC power output percentage, BEC output Voltage, ESC FET temperature, and ESC BEC temperature. In addition, for each flight, the transmitter displayed MIN/MAX values for flight pack battery Voltage, motor RPM, motor Amperage, BEC Voltage, ESC temperature and BEC temperature.

Smart Battery Technology

As vast as this array of data seemed, the Smart Technology was capable of displaying even more information when the Mustang was powered by a Spektrum Smart Battery. The transmitter displayed Smart Battery instantaneous values as well as Min/Max values for total battery pack Voltage, Amperage, Temperature, cell imbalance Voltage, and discharge cycles. The transmitter also displayed the individual cell Voltage for each cell in the pack. If more than one Smart Battery was used (parallel packs or series packs), the data would be split out for each battery and displayed separately.

Completion

The completed E-flite P-51D Mustang weighed 7 lbs 7 ounces with the 5000 mAh Smart Battery on board. The plane balanced perfectly at 5" back from the leading edge of the wing with the battery in the center of the battery tray. I set my Dual Rates on 3-position switches and set them at 100%, 85%, and 70%. Since I like a little exponential, I set 10%, 8%, and 5% Exponential respectively. The transmitter countdown timer was set for 6 minutes and set to start and run at any throttle setting above 25%.

Idle Up - Mustangs just look wrong setting on the runway before takeoff with their props not turning. To solve this problem, I set an "Idle Up" mix to give 10% throttle (550 RPM) when Switch B was in position 0. This low RPM setting was low enough that the plane would not move, but it sure gave the illusion of the full scale at idle. As an added benefit, the slow RPM seemed to slow down the landing speeds better than the free windmilling of the normal "Throttle Off" position.

Flying

The E-flite P-51 Mustang looked amazing sitting on the flight stand and on the tarmac, but everyone knows this thoroughbred's true home is in the air. It was time to see if this E-flite Mustang could live up to it's legendary family name.

Taking Off and Landing

Unfortunately the Mustang legacy included some unflattering references about it's takeoff and landing habits. Luckily for us, the AS3X settings in the Spektrum AR637T receiver helped tame down a lot of those rumored nasty habits. The E-flite P-51D preferred to have the throttle gently advanced throughout the takeoff roll. Though a little right rudder was still needed to stay on the runway centerline, the tail came up nicely, the rudder remained effective, and the plane lifted off at just over 1/2 throttle. Takeoffs were uneventful and very scale-like.

Landings took a bit more work than takeoffs. Maybe it was the hardness of the rubber on the main gear tires, or the stiffness of the sprung suspension, or the ham handed pilot, but the Mustang just didn't want to grease it in on the landings. Flying the P-51 all the way down to the runway and main gear landings worked much better than trying to 3-point the landings. The flaps worked well to slow the landing speed and the settings from the manual were spot on and didn't need any elevator compensation to maintain level flight. Full flaps, about 20% throttle, and a slight nose down attitude on final seemed to work best. A bit more practice would improve the results I'm sure.

High Speed/Full Power Flight

With the throttle all the way out, the Mustang was impressive. The speed was in the 75-80 MPH range and the airframe/prop noise was wonderful! Knife Edge flight only needed partial rudder to keep the nose straight. Slow rolls were easy and looked really good. Point Rolls were nice and crisp. Vertical performance was impressive - Huge Loops and long vertical line Stall Turns were the norm. High Speed Passes resulted in a mighty big pilot grin and cheers from the pits.

Cruising Speed

Even at mid-range cruising speed, the Mustang looked stunning. Most aerobatics didn't need full throttle and this P-51 was as well behaved as an everyday sport model. Inverted flight only needed a little down elevator to keep the plane level. The only heart-stopping moment occurred when I threw in a hard outside snap at the top of a loop. The Mustang tumbled and went into an inverted flat spin. It took a couple of rotations to get the nose pointed down and to recover. It took much longer for the pilot to start breathing again. The maneuver turned out to be very impressive and much easier on the pilot when performed at a higher altitude.

Gear Down, Full Flaps

This E-flite P-51 Mustang slowed down nicely with everything hanging out in the breeze. It still felt very stable and was easy to maneuver even at slow speeds. Figure 8 circuits were easy and the rudder was effective while keeping the turns flat.

Is This For a Beginner?

A scale P-51 Mustang would not be my first choice as a trainer for an absolute beginner. However, the Spektrum SAFE Select system in this Mustang could realistically make that an option. I would still recommend an experienced Instructor Pilot and a buddy box setup though.

This E-flite P-51 Mustang would be perfect choice for any intermediate or expert pilot.

Third Flight Video

Jesse Webb was manning the Camcorder and the E-flite P-51D Mustang was ready for its video. This was only the third flight on the Mustang, but I was counting on the Spektrum AS3X to help me feel right at home on the sticks.

E flite P 51D Mustang 1.5m by Horizon Hobby (7 min 59 sec)

Flight Photo Gallery

The Texas weather got a bit windy, but Jesse Webb had the Nikon at the ready and it was time for this Mustang's beauty shots. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Gear Door Issue

On the last flight of the day, the left main gear door was hanging down when the Mustang landed. Not sure if this was the result of extending the gear while the plane was flying too fast or the bounce from one of my less than stellar landings. It appeared that the rear hinge pin had sheared off the gear door and caused the door to come loose from the mounting assembly. Horizon Support was contacted and agreed to send out an improved version of the gear doors. The new doors seemed to be made of different type of plastic material. They appeared to be more flexible and maybe a bit less brittle. The hinge pins were the same diameter so they fit the existing mounting assembly just fine. The new gear doors now have over a dozen flights on them and they are working just fine. Problem solved.

Final Thoughts

This new E-flite P-51D Mustang 1.5m was a very pleasant surprise. It's not "Just Another Mustang". From the interesting Air Show color scheme, to the intricate molded scale details, to the sprung undercarriage, this Mustang delivers the proper Scale look for a P-51. The Spectrum AS3X and SAFE Select stabilization were properly tuned to give just the right amount of help when needed and to stay out of way when not needed. The Spektrum Smart Telemetry gave lots of useful data to allow the modeler to check the performance of all of the flight components. The E-flite power system had plenty of grunt for any maneuver. Best of all, this Mustang flew so well it made the pilot look GOOD. Mustangs always seem to draw a crowd at a flying field and this new E-flite P-51D won't disappoint.

Pluses

  • Spectacular Scale P-51D Mustang
  • Bright New Air Show Color Scheme
  • AS3X Stabilization (BNF Basic)
  • SAFE Select Option (BNF Basic)
  • Spektrum Smart Telemetry (BNF Basic)
  • Scale Retract Suspension Main Gear
  • Scale Diamond Treaded Main Wheels
  • Retractable Tail Wheel
  • Scale Flaps and 4-Blade Prop
  • Powerful Motor and Wonderful Stability

Minuses

  • Battery Tray Interference Issues
  • Gear Door Failure

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Last edited by Jason Cole; Apr 27, 2020 at 08:52 AM..
Thread Tools
May 08, 2020, 09:14 AM
Warbird Enthusiast
LICobra's Avatar
Nice review...We have talked about the Gear Door issue the E-Flite 1500 P-51 thread, reading that the gear door issue was addressed by Horizon with an improved version with different less brittle material is an issue we were wondering about.
My questions are, how do we tell the difference between the two...and are these new Gear Doors in production and available as replacement parts or are we still buying the more brittle original versions at this point ???.
May 08, 2020, 09:56 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks, this new sized P-51D was a real joy to review.

Gear Door Issue
When I spoke to Horizon about the gear door issue, they told me they were aware of the problem. It is my understanding that the new gear doors are now available and that Horizon Support will be able to work with customers to get replacements with the new style material. If you look at the pictures in the review, it's pretty east to see that the new doors I received were a much "Grayer" color than the originals. I assume the different color was due to the changed material as the inside of the doors were not painted. My advice would be to contact Horizon Support and see what they are willing to do to help you out. I know Horizon Support may take a while to contact right now due to all the work from home stuff, but give it a try, you might just get some new gear doors.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
May 09, 2020, 06:57 PM
"Aircraftus Fragmentum"
kydawg1's Avatar
I need one. Very nice.
May 10, 2020, 03:22 PM
Registered User
Awesome review. Love the look of the plane and history of the man behind it. Def on my wish list for Christmas!
May 11, 2020, 04:12 PM
Registered User
byoung's Avatar
Can you tell me the throw and expo that you used on the rudder? I bought one of these from a local guy and I've only attempted one take off which resulted in over controlling the rudder and running into the rough grass destroying my right gear door hinge.

Brad
May 11, 2020, 10:20 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
I set mine up according to the manual, then added a little Expo to suit my taste. Rudder rates are 100%, 85%, and 70% with Expo set at 15%, 7%, and 5%.

I fly at high rate rudder all the time. The more I fly this P-51, the more I value easing into the throttle on takeoff. Apply just enough rudder to keep the plane straight during the takeoff. Don't jab at it.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
May 12, 2020, 05:49 AM
Never trade skill for luck
Great review Mike..! You make us all proud...!
May 22, 2020, 06:20 AM
Warbird Enthusiast
LICobra's Avatar

Maiden with problems


Hoping this would be a non event like many other maidens I've had....clearly it wasn't. I did change out the factory ESC for Castle Creations Edge 100 with data logging since I don't have a V2 spectrum transmitter with telemetry. So taking advantage of the smart technology ESC, Receiver and Battery combination was not the case for me.

The P-51 took off well and straight for such a large prop, expected more P-factor left but gradually applied the power and flew with some up and some left trim from the neutral control surface positions I started with. The performance was what I expected from a 6S setup.....I didn't like the factory control surface settings so they needed to be turned down a bit as it seemed more like a sport airframe then a warbird....just a preference I guess...no big deal.

The problems started with deploying the landing gear.....only one of the mains came down.......are you kidding me...on the first flight no less. I tried several times and on the third attempt both mains deployed.....landed nicely with flaps. I tested the retracts several times on the test stand with no issues or possible bidding of the wheel touching the wing ???

So I sent her up again....this time I tried the gear sooner into the flight and the same thing happened....only one (the same one) would not deploy. this time it took many, and I mean many tries to get the mains to both deploy.....as I kept on trying because I didn't want to do a one wheeler and scape up a new airframe....both inner gear doors would open but the right main would just stay tucked up in the wheel well......after the gear finally came down I immediately turned to land and as approaching the runway lost power....trying to stretch my flight path to the runway she dropped not far from the ground and I was lucky with no major damage except for the landing gear doors both broke...on a less then stellar emergency landing.
Well this bird is not going up again anytime soon...this is very disappointing especially with the increased cost over its predecessor the FMS 1450mm P-51. I might be one of the few unlucky flyers of this Mustang, and would I recommend it....not at this point. $459 and two flights....
May 22, 2020, 10:39 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Tony, I'm so sorry to hear about your retract issue. There's nothing more disappointing or scary than having your retracts fail to deploy at the end of a flight. You're already low on battery and ready to land and then you have to stay in the air and make extra circuits of the field while repeatedly raising and lowering the gear. I'm just glad you eventually got both gear down and were able to land.

Electric servo type retracts were supposed to solve all the problems we've experienced with mechanical retract systems. Unfortunately that hasn't always been the case. I've found that some electric retracts can be very sensitive to the battery supply voltage coming from the BEC. I checked my stock P-51D this morning and the BEC voltage was rock solid at exactly 6.0 Volts. Is it possible that your Castle ESC has the BEC voltage set at a different value? Not sure how much of a difference it might make, but it's worth checking.

Another issue I've experienced with some electric retracts is the signal strength level when it gets to the retract unit itself. Sometimes inserting a signal boosting device between the RX and the gear can also make a difference. Spektrum makes a Signal Line Booster unit I've used on occasion to heal some mighty sick retract gear sets.

I hope these suggestions help. I know how it feels to get a new plane out for it's first flights and have a gear failure. I bought a new plane this last year (from another unnamed brand) only to have the gear fail to deploy on the third flight. I was able to land, but broke a prop and scuffed up the finish on my brand new plane. Unfortunately the explanation I got was "Those gear never work when the temperature is below 45 degrees".

I have to believe that your outlook is much better with Horizon customer service. I know it's really hard to get through to them at this time because they are all working from home, but I've had pretty good luck calling first thing in the morning and staying on the line till someone answered. Yes, it took more than 30 minutes, but it was worth the wait. Horizon CS folks are still just as helpful as they always have been, it's just taking them longer to get around to all the callers.

McD
Last edited by kingsflyer; May 22, 2020 at 10:57 AM.
May 23, 2020, 08:42 AM
Warbird Enthusiast
LICobra's Avatar
Mike ...thanks for your response....it's aggravating to have such issues starting with the maiden...but I know it does happen. During one of my tries to deploy the gear on the second flight....the left deployed and the right gear came down half way (this only happened once) .... but both retracted again as it took several more attempts to have both deploy.

I did look at the wiring and it's one gear wire through the sequencer to the wing where it splits to a Y for both gear.....I did replace the Y , but then tested the original Y and found an intermittent problem to one side of the Y while manipulating the wires/connectors as I ran the retract on a test using FMS 1450mm retracts....and on one instance it did fail half way and some times not at all. Now that might be the issue, but I like your idea of the Signal Line Booster which I didn't even know about but willing to install one as a precaution.

My question is would a low voltage condition affect only one retract from a Y connector or both since there sharing the same wiring ???

One last thing...While testing the retracts on the test stand I found that both wheels while entering the wheel well rub on the front and center edge of the wheel well...the right side rubs more and you can hear a change in the retract motor as it slightly strains to pull the retract into the wheel well. Now since its the front I don't think the strut pins are an issue...and there is no adjustment as the retract attaches in it's cradle with no movement at all. Maybe the right retract might not have the power to push it out of the wheel well in flight under power...?? as I could easily remove some foam to fix that issue...
Does your P-51 have free movement of the wheels not touching the wing while retracting ???

Tony
May 23, 2020, 10:26 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
I checked mine and both wheels are biased toward the front of the wheel well openings. The wheels are a pretty tight fit in the wheel wells and there isn't much wiggle room when they are fully retracted. Both of my wheels touch the front of the wheel well opening as they retract. The left wheel rubs a bit more than the right wheel. The gear do not pause or struggle to get past the "touch point" and there is no change in the pitch of the retract motor noise as they pass the touch point. Looks like the left wheel may touch by 1/32" and the right by 1/64".

I'm not sure if the retracts in the Mustang are equipped with overcurrent protection that would stop their travel should the gear bind up. It's hard to imagine anything binding mid-sequence that would stop the gear halfway through a movement. The intermittent servo lead connection seems like a more probable culprit. The way the servo leads are packed into the area below the square choke box may impact the security of a less than optimal servo plug insertion into the various servo extensions. The tight conditions may also impact an intermittent electrical connection on a bad or damaged servo lead/extension.

One word of caution for everybody checking their retracts. Sometimes less is more. I've actually damaged a set of retracts on another model by cycling them on a bench while trying to sort out some mechanical interference issues. I basically overheated the motors and burned out a retract board by my continual cycling. I think most electrical retract designs are "optimized" to operate only three or four times during a six minute flight and then sit dormant till the next flight. I doubt that they were designed to be repeatedly cycled for several minutes. When you are trouble shooting gear issues, it may be a good idea to try and give the retracts a little pause between cycles.

Tony, I hope your next flights on your Mustang are much better and more enjoyable.

McD
Last edited by kingsflyer; May 23, 2020 at 10:37 AM.
Yesterday, 08:52 AM
Warbird Enthusiast
LICobra's Avatar
Mike I finally got through to Horizon support and explained about my issues with the retract not deploying and the broken gear doors....they will send me new retracts. As far as the upgraded gear doors the customer support person I spoke (as he gave no name) to was not aware of any gear door problems nor any upgraded replacements....so at this point I have no idea if Horizon sends me another set of gear doors if they will be just the stock replacements or the upgraded doors.
Tony
Yesterday, 09:05 AM
Registered User
whiteside's Avatar
Will there be any more paint schemes offered? Wonderful flying airplane! Very impressive scale lines. Thanks
Yesterday, 10:31 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Tony, if they send upgraded gear doors, you should be able to tell by the darker color of the plastic and the flexibility. Glad there're sending new retract units.

As for additional paint schemes, maybe, some time later in the product life cycle. Not any time soon.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28


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