Tower Hobbies Turbo Vee 3 RTR Review - RC Groups

Tower Hobbies Turbo Vee 3 RTR Review

The TurboVee 3 more than lives up to it's claim of instant gratification. It is quick, maneuverable and handles the chop of open water on a windy day with ease. Allan Wright finds that it is good, clean, simple fun!



I have access to a small pond on my father's property, and on calm days it's a wonderful place to pilot almost any RC boat. As we all know, calm days are normally few and far between, so I'm always looking for something with a bit more punch for those choppy days when the wind is up. The TurboVee3, roughly modeled on the deep-V ocean racers, seemed to be just the ticket. The box's promise of "Instant Action" was very enticing! What RC enthusiast doesn't like instant gratification in his models?

Weight:32 oz.
Servos:included and pre-installed
Transmitter:included Tower Hobbies surface TX
Receiver:included and pre-installed
Battery:6x1500 NiCad, 7x3000 NiMh or 2S1P 2100 LiPoly
Motor:included 'Speed 600' sized brushed motor
ESC:included and pre-installed
Manufacturer:Tower Hobbies
Available From:Tower Hobbies and other fine RC stores
Retail Price:$84.99 ($127.98 Ultimate Combo as tested)

Kit Contents

The TurboVee 3 comes fully assembled and ready to use. All the user has to do is add 8 AA batteries to the transmitter, drop a charged 6-cell NiCad or NiMh pack into the boat and switch it on. The included decals add a lot of style to the boat and are worth the few minutes of time it takes to apply them.

Kit Contains:

  • 2 channel transmitter
  • stand for storage and transportation
  • completely assembled boat with the radio gear pre-installed
  • one sheet of full color decal stickers
  • instruction manual

Kit Requires

  • 8 AA batteries for transmitter
  • 6-cell NiCad or NiMh for boat (see note)
  • charger for the 6-cell pack (see note)

Note: The Tower Ultimate Combo contains a 6x1500 NiCad battery and the Tower Power 400 charger as well as a package of spare propellers. See the side bar below for a mini-review of Tower Power 400 charger provided in the ultimate combo.

The radio gear is pre-installed in a water tight compartment inside the hull. The provided stand allows storage and transportation of the model without putting undue stress on the rudder and propeller. The transmitter has dual rates on the rudder channel, and channel reversing on both the throttle and rudder channels. It was nice to have the adjustable rates on the rudder, allowing me to dial up the maneuverability when I use the boat and dial it back to a more docile setting when letting others use it.

Rudder trim is preset from the factory. On my TurboVee3 the radio's sub-trim was able to center the rudder with plenty of extra trim left for in-water adjustments. The rudder push rod does have a set screw on its attachment to the rudder so the trim can also be adjusted manually if that should become necessary.

The provided instruction manual is brief, but quite adequate considering the limited assembly required to get the model running. Beginners will find it helpful. Experienced modelers most likely will not find the need to refer to it. The color photographs on the box are the most useful for determining the proper location of the provided decals.

Stern components

The stern of the TurboVee 3 is simple, but in simplicity is efficiency. The only items that the user might have to have access to are both available externally: the rudder hardware trim and the propellor for future replacement should you break the prop. The rudder push rod is sealed with an internal watertight boot and the trim adjustment is done by a simple locking screw on the push rod. Side-mounted fixed aluminum trim tabs aid in tracking in rough water.

The brushed motor is water cooled. Cooling water is picked up from the stern pickup tube shown and circulated through tubing that is coiled around the motor. Spent water is ejected from the port side of the boat. In normal cruising speed a strong flow of water out the cooling exhaust port can been seen. This system works very well and keeps the brushed motor as cool as the water you're boating in.

Inside components

Charging with the Tower Power 400 Charger
The Tower Power AC/DC 400 Quick-Charger
The Tower Power AC/DC 400 Quick-Charger
The Tower Hobbies 'Tower Power 400' AC/DC quick charger provided for this review has some of the same qualities as the TurboVee3. Simplicity, and the ability to be used out of the box. The Tower Power 400 charger is an AC/DC charger with built-in AC transformer, which means you can charge at home on your workbench or in the field from a 12-volt battery such as the one in your car or motorboat.
There aren't any moving parts for the charger. It's designed to fast charge 6-cell NiCad 'car' packs, and then trickle charge when the packs are peaked. I used the charger both on 12-volt DC and 110-volt AC sources and in both cases it peak detected fine on several packs ranging from 1500 mAh to 2400 mAh. This charger doesn't charge NiMh or other chemistry batteries, just NiCad. The only criticism I had with the charger is that the 12-volt alligator clips were a bit too small to hitch directly to a car battery easily.
This is an affordable charger that will get you boating quickly without any switches or buttons to have to worry about. Great for the first timer.
* Affordable
* Easy to use
* AC and DC charging in one unit
* Only charges NiCad chemistry

All of the electronics in the TurboVee 3 come pre-installed in a watertight compartment located in the stern section of the hull. A battery platform is located directly in front of the watertight compartment between it and the motor. The provided hook-and-loop fastening material is left for the user to install. I prefer to install this myself, so I can match all of my RC vehicles to my convention: loops on the batteries and hooks on the vehicles. This allows me to share batteries between all my planes, cars and boats. In the case of the TurboVee 3 I was able to reuse several different battery packs from other RC vehicles to allow me a lot more time on the pond before returning home to charge.

One item to note about access to the battery compartment: although the hatch retention method is quite secure and relatively quick to open and close, I found the fact that the antenna was mounted to the hatch, and not the fixed portion of the hull to be a little inconvenient, as I have to be careful not to damage the antenna wire by moving the hatch too far away from the hull. This is not difficult to do, but attaching the antenna to the hull would have made taking this precaution each time I open the battery hatch, unnecessary.

The pre-installed battery connectors for the TurboVee 3 are Tamiya style, which are completely adequate and held up well in testing and should match your other battery packs if you're primarily a surface RC user. Aircraft users may wish to change the supplied connector for a Deans Ultra or Sermos connector to match their other battery packs.


There is no assembly. Well if you want to be completely accurate the user does have to stick 2 pieces of hook-and-loop material to the battery mounting platform, but that is the full extent of the assembly necessary to start using the boat. The box says, "Ready for Instant Action," and it isn't a lie. It has taken you longer to read this far into this review than it takes to get the TurboVee ready to use!

I chose to apply the provided decals exactly as they're shown on the packaging. This was very easy to do, and the decals fit the hull perfectly just as shown in the box photo. An extremely nice touch is the port side decal which has a circular cutout to allow it to fit cleanly over the cooling exhaust port. I was careful to take my time applying the decals as I knew my work would be seen by all of the RCGroups readers. Even taking this extra time I estimate the total time to apply the decals was under 10 minutes.


I'm very fortunate to have access to a 50-acre private pond. The pond doesn't allow any motor boats, only canoes and rowboats, so there's not a lot of danger to an RC boat there. Because of the ban on motored craft, an electric RC boat is of course the only logical choice. For my first tests I headed to the pond with the stock 6x1500 NiCad battery pack as well as two 6x2400 NiMh car packs and two 2s1p 2200 7.4-volt LiPoly packs.

Range Check

Starting with the dual rates set to low, I started out with some range checks, making ever increasingly larger circles out from the dock. The photo below is the furthest pass that you can still see the boat well in with it out at about 100 yards. I was able to circle the entire perimeter of the pond, which is at least 300 yards across at it's widest point. At this range the boat is just a tiny speck, and control was still rock solid. With this test I can confidently say the radio range is virtually limitless. You can control the boat far beyond the distance at which you can comfortably see it.


After the range checks I was getting comfortable enough with the TurboVee 3 to dial up the dual rates to full maneuverability. I was expecting a deep vee hull boat to have good speed, but moderate maneuverability. What I got was both good speed and maneuverability. At full rates the TurboVee 3 will turn in a radius of about two to three boat lengths at full speed. Although these turns soak off a lot of speed, the thrust of the motor more than keeps up with the turns to maintain a surprisingly high speed in slalom and zig-zag maneuvers.

I found that the TurboVee 3 performed very well with the 1500 mAh NiCad pack. Aircraft enthusiasts have long since abandoned NiCad batteries, but for surface models that don't require the energy density that aircraft do NiCad packs provide affordable, reliable power. I found similar performance in 6x2400 NiMh packs as they were similar in weight to the stock NiCad pack. The 2s1p 2200 mAh LiPoly packs I tried provided similar power as the 'can' cell packs, but with the lower weight I found the boat tended to jump out of the water easier when crossing wakes and chop. While this was a bit more exciting, it wasn't necessarily an improvement. The TurboVee really likes having the extra weight of the heavier packs to help keep the prop in the water where it does its job best.

The only minor complaint I had while using the boat is in high chop the top deck does allow some splash water to enter the hull. It doesn't let enough in to be a problem while using the boat, but at the end of the session this needs to be removed to prevent it from corroding the battery connectors.

Is This For a Beginner?

The TurboVee 3 is most definitely an excellent choice for the first time RC boater. The RC equipment comes fully set up and the boat is very simple for a beginner to pilot. Some of the photos in this review were taken while my wife was piloting the TurboVee 3. Prior to this, her only experience with remote controls were the kind that change the channels on the television and DVD player.

The recommended battery and charger provide complete simplicity for the novice. The charger is fully automatic and will not overcharge the pack. In addition the NiCad chemistry doesn't tax the user with the worries of LiPoly batteries and their added safety concerns.

The hard rubber nose bumper protected the TurboVee 3 completely from several full speed collisions with the dock and other hard objects. Also one full-speed jump over a submerged object resulted in the boat flipping onto its back. Not only did the boat not sink, the water that did get into the hull was prevented from doing any damage to the electronics by the watertight box they are secured in.

Video/Photo Gallery



The TurboVee 3 more than lives up to its claim of instant gratification. It is quick, maneuverable and handles the chop of open water on a windy day with ease. This boat is good, clean, simple fun.


  • Useable almost right out of the box - virtually no assembly required
  • Pre-installed electronics are housed in a watertight compartment
  • Good maneuverability, even on choppy open water
  • Included decals are very stylish and easy to apply
  • Floats when flipped upside-down


  • Battery deck cover isn't 100% waterproof
  • Antenna mount could be relocated somewhere other than the battery deck cover
Last edited by Angela H; Oct 09, 2007 at 01:58 PM..
Thread Tools
Oct 16, 2007, 11:00 PM
Dam,I done spilt my drink
Looks like the same hull and running gear as the Great Planes Stinger I have. It uses 2 inline 550 motors and 2 7 cell packs. Seems MUCH faster judging from the video.
Oct 19, 2007, 03:54 PM
I can't fly
EP_Soarer's Avatar
Great, how long is the running time for each battery?
Oct 23, 2007, 09:28 AM
Gambler-AG DLG Designer
Allan Wright's Avatar
1500 NiCad was about 6-7 minutes at full throttle. 2200 LiPo was about 9 minutes.
Oct 24, 2007, 07:56 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Nice review, Allan!

Oct 24, 2007, 09:29 AM
Gambler-AG DLG Designer
Allan Wright's Avatar
Dec 25, 2007, 12:18 PM
Aerobatic Fanatic
HugoCraft's Avatar
I bought the combo and an extra 1900 battery as a Christmas present for Dad (and myself). In no time we had it out on his new lake which is a couple acres and itís perfect. It will get up and go. I was worried it wouldn't be fast enough but it is. I like how a scale boat that the nose is high when you take off and then lowers. The pond has a spillway so there is a little current but when you get in one corner it hesitated in turning out but if you think you are going to hit shore just let go of the throttle and it stops so fast which is good since this is our first RC boat. It is so much fun and can't wait till its spring to use it more. Mom recorded us driving it and we kept taking turns and only went half throttle most of the time and ended up with a 20 minute video just from charging the one 1900 pack. There are still 2 new 1500 packs!!! Loads of fun just for its maiden run. Iím very happy since itís the cheapest RTR that still performs and fits that pond perfectly. Also the motor sounds good with the water sounds it creates and since its a fairly smooth pond the wake it creates is so cool.
Last edited by HugoCraft; Dec 27, 2007 at 11:12 PM.
Nov 08, 2008, 10:13 AM
Registered User
Can this boat be driven in reverse?
Nov 09, 2008, 10:13 PM
Aerobatic Fanatic
HugoCraft's Avatar
Yup, but not all that well. The rudder is behind the prop so you really donít have much directional control. But the reverse is to back out of a tight spot or for an emergency stopping.
Nov 10, 2008, 09:53 AM
Gambler-AG DLG Designer
Allan Wright's Avatar
It has a reverse speed on the built-in ESC. As hugo states, it's not a speed demon or particularly nimble in reverse, but it will get you out of a jam should you nose in somewhere you shouldn't.
Feb 18, 2009, 03:37 PM
Registered User

Hard Rubber Nose Bumper

I just received my Turbo Vee from Tower Hobbies scratch and dent sale. I really like the hard rubber nose bumper as noted in the above review. I called Tower Hobbies Technical Support to see if they sold the part separately. They said no and could not tell me the Chinese manufacturer to see if I could get the bumper. It's a great idea for any ABS plastic hull as it distributes the load over a large area if you hit the dock or seawall.

Can anyone tell me where this part could be ordered? Perhaps something could be adapted such as a hard rubber car door trim? Any thoughts?

Tks in advance,

May 26, 2009, 09:51 AM
Registered User
cartman's Avatar
I bought this boat for my grand-daughter for Christmas. We run it for the first time this past weekend. What a great boat.

We have a problem tho. We put 20 plus runs on the boat when all of a sudden it quit. I have stearing and reverse but no forward. Is this a speed control problem or a motor problem.....where do I get the parts?
May 26, 2009, 10:09 AM
Gambler-AG DLG Designer
Allan Wright's Avatar
Sounds like a speed control problem to me. Either that or you might have a TX problem.
May 26, 2009, 11:14 AM
Registered User
cartman's Avatar
I tried repluging the reciever and got the same results. In my mind it is the speed controller but not sure.

Next problem is where to find a replacement speed controller.
May 26, 2009, 11:25 AM
Gambler-AG DLG Designer
Allan Wright's Avatar
Originally Posted by cartman
I tried repluging the reciever and got the same results. In my mind it is the speed controller but not sure.

Next problem is where to find a replacement speed controller.
I would imagine Tower would sell a replacement.

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