Grand Distribution's EPP RTF Mini Electrics: B-17, P-38 & Mosquito Review - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales

Grand Distribution's EPP RTF Mini Electrics: B-17, P-38 & Mosquito Review

The holidays are coming! Michael Heer reviews these three gift candidate EPP planes that have LEDs for night flying.

Splash

Introduction


Plane:Mini P-38
Wingspan:19 3/8"
Weight:3.8 oz.
Length:15 1/4"
Servos:None
Transmitter:Buzz 2 controls on 40 Mhz
Receiver:Buzz 2 controls
Battery:5-cell 150 mAh NiMH pack
Motors:Twin Motors
ESC:Buzz supplied
Manufacturer:Buzz
Available From:Grand Distribution
Price:$39.99


Plane:Mini Mosquito
Wingspan:19"
Weight:3.5 oz.
Length:15"
Servos:None
Transmitter:Buzz 2 controls on 27 Mhz
Receiver:Buzz 2 controls
Battery:5-cell 150 mAh NiMH pack
Motors:Twin Motors
ESC:Buzz supplied
Manufacturer:Buzz
Available From:Grand Distribution
Price:$39.99


Plane:Mini B-17
Wingspan:28"
Weight:7.2 oz.
Length:20"
Servos:None
Transmitter:Buzz 2 control on 27 Mhz
Receiver:Buzz 2 control
Battery:6-cell 350 mAh NiMH pack
Motors:Four Motors
ESC:Buzz supplied
Manufacturer:Buzz
Available From:Grand Distribution
Price:$49.99

This review was timed for all of you Holiday shoppers who know someone with whom you would like to share the joy of RC flying... without breaking your bank. Made of EPP, these planes are very durable and were designed with the beginner in mind. If you want to try some night flying these are ready for the night right out of the box. Check it out, and give the gift of RC aviation this Christmas!

Kit Contents

Included in the Kit:

  • Assembled plane: Ready to Fly
  • Transmitter with flag and Transmitter
  • NiMH flight battery
  • Charge cable Mini P-38 and Mini Mosquito
  • Wall charger for Mini B-17
  • Landing gear
  • Instructional Manual

Additional Items Needed:

  • Eight AA Alkaline batteries

Features:

  • Flies straight thanks to counter rotating props
  • Level flight, climbing and descending controlled by the motors via transmitter's left stick
  • Turning, left and right controlled by the motors via transmitter's right stick
  • Can do a rolling take off from hard smooth surface
  • Propellers are flexible plastic
  • Airplane made from flexible EPP foam
  • Flight battery pack recharges in 10-15 minutes

Assembly

Required for All Three Planes

For the transmitter I needed to screw in the antenna, install the flag on the antenna and insert the eight AA batteries (not included) into the back of the transmitter. For the aircraft I needed to insert the landing gear into the bottom of the plane.

Additional step for the Mini B-17

In addition to the above, for the Mini B-17 the vertical stabilizer had to be glued into place. Glue was supplied in the kit for this purpose.

Charging the flight pack for the Mini P-38 and Mini Mosquito

The five cell 150 mAh NiMH pack came already installed and connected in the plane. With the switch in the off position, I connected the charging cord to the plug in the bottom of the plane by the switch and the right side bottom of the transmitter. I pushed the switch on the transmitter to the down position, and the battery began to charge. With fresh batteries in the transmitter, it took about fifteen to twenty minutes if the battery was deeply discharged for the transmitter's light to stop flashing. The plane is charged when the light stops flashing on the transmitter. A charge was good for about five minutes of flying time. Let the battery cool for about five minutes (or until cool) after use before recharging. As the batteries in the transmitter use up their juice, the recharge time gets longer. Using rechargeable AA batteries in the transmitter would be a good idea.

Charging the Mini B-17

The B-17 transmitter doesn't come with a charging jack on the bottom of the transmitter nor is there a charging plug in the B-17. Instead, the B-17 came with a 6-cell 350 mAh NiMH pack and a wall charger. My plane did not have instructions specifically for the B-17 (but I am told future shipments of the plane will) so I contacted Grand Distribution about charging the B-17.

The battery bay has to be opened to connect the battery and charger and the charger plugs into a wall outlet so charging at the local park was not possible. They recommended charging a discharged battery for two hours with the wall charger, and that seems to be the appropriate time for the battery in my B-17. I checked it for warmth and unplugged. It was still cool to the touch at an hour and a half; warm after 2 hours.

Note on small NiMH Battery Packs

I have never found any small NiMH packs to be good at holding a charge for very long, so I recommend that you charge the plane's battery just before flying or leaving for the flying field for best results.

Know your ABCís

The box and instruction manual says for ages 6 and up, but in my opinion very few 6 year olds will be successful and certainly none without proper direction and guidance. A calm parent or grandparent can be the instructor and the key to success. Determine if the child in your life (6-90+) can follow the guidelines I present and has the skills to successfully operate the transmitter while visually tracking the plane. These ABCs are a proven path for success, but they must all be followed!

Mike's ABC's to success with the Buzz thrust controlled planes!

1) Cycle the flight battery twice before trying the first flight. Charge just before flying! 2) First flights should be in calm conditions. 3) Take-off or hand launch into the wind. 4) Turn the plane in short bursts. 5) Have lots of open space around you, especially for those first flights. 6) Plan your flight in your head before you take off. 7) Practice your plan on the transmitter sticks with your plane turned off. 8) Turn your body to face the direction your plane is heading. 9) Do not try any night flying until you have mastered daytime flying.

Cycle the flight battery twice before trying the first flight.

The flight battery included with these planes is a NiMH pack, and they don't reach full strength until they have been cycled (used) five to seven times. On the first charge they might not have enough power to really fly the plane, so it is best to charge the flight pack and run it down by operating the motors with the transmitter while you or someone is holding the plane. I did this and felt how the left stick increased and decreased the thrust to both motors and how the right stick made one motor run stronger then the other motor to allow for turning. On the third charge your pack should be working well enough for you to fly the plane properly. These battery packs are not the best at holding a charge (small NIMH packs generally don't hold a charge very well), so charge your plane's battery pack just before flying.

First flights should be in calm conditions

This rule can be very hard to follow, especially if this is a Christmas present! The family is all gathered, and you want to fly but it is windy outside. My recommendation is not to try it as there is little chance you will control the plane, and instead the wind will push it around! The good news is that the plastic props and the EPP foam will probably survive the crashes caused by the wind so you can try and fly again on a calm day.

Since you have no elevator, no rudder and no ailerons your control comes from the motors and the speed at which you run them. In calm conditions you can see what you are doing with the plane, but in a stronger breeze it becomes harder for the pilot to steer the plane. At some point the breeze will overpower the thrust control of the plane. The instruction manual says not to fly in over 5 MPH winds. I learned in test flying that maintaining altitude while going downwind became more difficult as the wind got to 5 miles per hour or more. I recommend that for the first flights it be as calm as it can be.

Take off or hand launch into the wind

Too often dads with their sons come to the park and simply launch a plane out into the park without checking the wind. The plane crashes before it gets any altitude and they don't know why. Remember that the Buzz planes are designed to fly only in light breezes of 5 mph or less. Real planes take off and land into the wind, and model planes should too. The plane can climb better into the wind and requires less use of direction to stay on a straight path into the breeze.

Turn the plane in short bursts

There are two reasons for this rule and both effect the planeís ability to fly. As the plane turns it banks (or tilts), dropping the turning wing lower then the other wing. For example, in a right turn the right wing will bank/tilt and go lower. The lower wing supplies less lift so we don't want it to tilt too much.

The second reason is that our lift is supplied by the motors. In turning, one side's motor or motors on the B-17 are working slower to allow the turn. In so doing there is less lift. By making turns using short bursts of differing thrust, the plane flies better throughout the turn process. So short bursts on the right stick to the side you want to turn will make for more successful turns. Hold the turn for a long time and the plane will fly lower and lower.

Have lots of space around you, especially for those first flights

At a small field you can run out of air space quicker than you think, and when you run out of space it is normal to panic. When you panic as a beginner it usually leads to a crash. The instruction manual recommends open space of 300 feet in every direction ideally. After you have some "stick time" you will probably find you can start to fly in a smaller space, but it isn't much fun to try and fly in too small a space. There is a hint below in planning to get more usable space out of a smaller field.

Plan your flight in your head before you takeoff

Football teams plan to use certain offensive plays at the start of a game. Professional golfers picture the shot they want before they swing. Pilots should have some plan before they takeoff. I recommend that you have a plan of how far you want to fly straight and in what direction you want to make your first turn. Are you going to fly the plane in front of you, in circles or figures 8s? Or will you fly circles all around yourself? The smaller the field, the more important it is that you plan ahead and position yourself accordingly. By planning for my first turn to be to the right I can start my plane a bit to the left and I have more of the field to fly over after I make my first turn.

Practice your plan on the transmitter sticks with the plane turned off

This is critical to the new pilot's success. CRITICAL! You need to know how to control your planeís direction without thinking about it when you are flying. Push the left stick forward, and the plane goes faster and climbs. Ease off on the left stick, and the plane slows down and comes lower. Push the right stick to the right, and the plane turns towards its right. It is one thing to know this when the plane is on the ground and another to know it when the plane is in the air. All new pilots can benefit from holding the transmitter and moving the sticks properly as they fly the plane in their minds with climbs and descents and left and right turns.

Turn your body to face the direction your plane is heading

When the plane is flying away from you, its left is your left. But when it is coming at you, its left is your right. To avoid confusion on those first flights when you are getting used to having your head in the plane I recommend you simply align your body to match your plane. If the plane is flying away from you just have your body face the plane. If the plane makes a turn to the right of 90 degrees, turn your body 90 degrees but keep your head following the plane. Turn another 90 degrees so the plane is coming at you, and turn your body slightly more to the right but move your arms so the transmitter is pointing away from the plane. Your right remains the planeís right by turning this way, and control remains easier for your brain.

Downloads

Do not try night flying until you have mastered daytime flight.

The planes come with forward facing white LEDs on the outside of the motors and a red LED on the bottom of the fuselage. They are intended to allow for night flying. Night flying is very disorienting even at times for an experienced RC pilot. No beginner should try and fly at night. It is something an intermediate or expert pilot can try. Save this feature for something to try after you have mastered control of your plane.

Flying

I turned on the transmitter first by pushing the switch in the middle of the transmitter to the up position (middle is Off and bottom position is Charge). I had already extended the antenna on the transmitter fully. I next turned on the receiver in the plane by moving the switch from the Off position to the middle position (full On also turns on the LEDs and that uses up battery needlessly during the day), and I had control of the plane. The throttle is not proportional with movement! It is Off, Slow speed and Full speed. Level flying required going between Full speed and the slower speed as needed depending on the state of the charge and breeze conditions.

Basics

Most of my flights started with a hand launch. Holding the transmitter in my left hand I pushed the left stick all the way forward with my thumb. Holding the plane in my right hand I tossed it firmly and smoothly forward in level flight at shoulder level. With a fully charged battery pack, it would start to climb. I would hold full throttle on the left stick until the plane climbed to my desired altitude, and I would reduce to the lower speed and the plane would level off.

I planned for my first turn to be to the right in about 90% of my flights. I would give short bursts to the right on the right stick while holding the left stick up for maximum speed during the turn. The plane would make a right hand turn in stages. If the plane started to drop too much on the right wing, I would stop moving the right stick while keeping full throttle with the left stick. Before long it became almost second nature for me to make smooth turns in either direction in calm conditions. As the battery pack used up juice, it required more and more time at full throw on the left stick to keep the plane flying level. At about five minutes of flying, starting with a full charge it was time to land.

Flying in a slight Breeze

All four planes did a good job of flying and climbing in calm or into a slight breeze. I found it best to climb as much as possible before making my turn and flying down wind with the breeze. The stronger the breeze, the more the plane needed full throttle or they would tend to drop in altitude. As would be expected the B-17 with its four motors handled breezy conditions the best, and that made it my top choice of these planes. The B-17 was also the fastest of the four planes. The three twin engine planes performed almost identically.

Taking Off and Landing

With the battery pack freshly charged, the planes would all do a rolling take off. If there was any breeze I made sure to take off and land into the breeze. Gun the motor for about a second when you are landing at about two-three feet off the ground, then let off the motor completely. This levels off the plane and makes for better landings. It virtually lands itself with normal throttle control.

Special Flight Performance

As stated above these planes are capable of night flying. They have a bright red LED on the bottom of the fuselage and a white LED on the outside of the motors. These LEDs are very bright and can be used for night flying by an experienced pilot, and I recommend that even experienced pilots start flying at twilight as I did, making the transition to full night flying much easier. The fact that the planes could withstand crashes made night flying virtually risk free as long as everyone was behind me and the field in front of me was open space.

Shooting a Night Fly Video

I have learned the hard way that shooting a video of flying at night is a hard thing to do! When shooting on a cloud covered night with no moon or stars, the only light seen were the three LEDs on the plane and distance lights on lamp posts and in houses. While my eye had no trouble tracking the plane (maintaining orientation can still be a problem) the camera did. It zoomed in and out looking for something upon which to focus. Shooting earlier in late twilight, my camera magnified the available light and made it appear much brighter in the sky than it appeared to my eye. Despite these problems hopefully the short night time video gives some idea of how the B-17 looks while night flying. The camera would go out of focus or the plane simply couldn't be seen as I flew a ways down the park and back. I was able to track it with my eyes but not the camera. This video was taken on a near full moon night. In the last scene the plane hit my car and neither were damaged.

Downloads

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

These videos and stills were made (with the exception of the Limbo still) from an RC pilotís very first attempts to fly one of these planes at my club's October Fun Fly with no practice at all. I handed them the plane with the transmitter and started videotaping. Breeze sometimes gusted to a little over 5 mph.

Mini P-38

Mini Mosquito

Mini B-17

Downloads

All four planes were still in great flying condition as this review was finished. These videos give an honest view of what pilots did with them with no practice and no time to really think about what to do. All pilots but one improved with just one or two flights under their belts. The pilot that didn't improve was Jeff Hunter on the B-17 as he had it nailed from the get go!

Is This For a Beginner?

YES! The planes can take a lot of abuse and keep on flying. Follow the ABCs to Success and there is no reason a child cannot be successful with these planes. Since the B-17 was the best flier, especially in the wind, it gets my top recommendation.

Conclusion

Because the Mini Mosquito and Mini P-38 would both charge off of the transmitter they were a little more user friendly and could be recharged at any field. But I have to admit that I liked operating the 4 engine B-17 the most. These planes do take a beating and keep on flying as shown in one of the videos. Here in the Big Central Valley of Northern California I have a number of calm mornings that are perfect for these planes. The simple formula for success: CALM CONDITIONS + SUFFICIENT SPACE = SUCCESS

I think these planes are a good, affordable way to get a taste of RC flying and a way to get started in the hobby without breaking the bank. I also think they make great holiday presents for youngsters, or those young at heart, interested in trying RC flying.

Pluses

  • The planes come virtually ready to fly
  • The motors are powerful enough for the planes to climb and turn
  • The EPP foam withstands hitting trees and crashes very well
  • Even young pilots can be successful following the ABCs with a calm flight instructor
  • An experienced pilot can fly them on calm nights

Minuses

  • The planes shouldn't be flown in wind over 5 MPH
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 22, 2007 at 08:51 AM..
Thread Tools
Nov 22, 2007, 11:55 AM
Registered User
Thanks for the review, very informative!

Perhaps I missed it, but could you give the approximate flight times w/ the included battery for each model?

Thanks!
Nov 22, 2007, 12:20 PM
black cat squadon
terryh1313's Avatar
good review,lots of information a beginner needs to get him on his way.
Nov 22, 2007, 12:29 PM
Suspended Account
Bill Covert's Avatar
If the twins are anything like my 20" FlyZone Mosquito conversion, they ought to be a blast. I got tired of gluing it, so its retired, but the LHS has another, and I'll probably pick it up. Had I know how well these little things fly at weight, the wing would have been CF reinforced, and it wouldn't have come apart in a high speed dive.

My LHS had the little Mosquito you reviewed, but they haven't been carrying them now. I hadn't seen the P38. Looks a lot better. I wish they'd make the Mosquito look like a HE111 instead, or just make one. Never see those. I thought of buying that plane when my LHS had it, and bashing it into a HE111.

I saw their videos before for these little planes, and they appear to fly well. I still have a feeling they cut the vid and replaced the plane, when the guy smashes it repeatedly into the barn.

The B17 looks nice. Could you imagine it with 4 small performance bl motors?
My Mosquito was really fast on 2 DD IPS 12V brushed on 3s, with the teeny stock props. A bit better with GWS 3020 DD props, which are a nice replacement for these IPS planes, and seem to press on the motor shaft well.

I don't know quite how to describe it, but the twin experience in these small planes is a blast. My Mosquito was admittedly a bit harder to fly than my Cox190, but simply more fun. I'll get another that is waiting for me at the LHS.

As for beginners, I've been amazed that some of these little planes, like my Cox Wings 190 and FlyZone Mosquito, have been some of the easiest, stable planes to fly that I have. The undercambered versions seem to handle weight well, have good slow flight, and are quite stable.
Last edited by Bill Covert; Nov 22, 2007 at 12:38 PM.
Nov 22, 2007, 12:41 PM
Registered User
I don't know if this is available in Amerika but: In Austria and Germany there are a couple of upgrades available:
6cell NiMh
7cell NiMh
2cell LiPo
(all three for the 2 engined planes)
replacement parts (motors, props, gear, etc but they are relativly expensive)
and best of all: There is a camera for them but I don't know how it operates.

The german webside ( http://www.airace.de/ ) says there is a new version out (haven't seen it around here yet) with smoke and a subsonic "gun" and up to 6 different channels (I guess 3 per frequency). And they say the new version has proportional speed control AND steering.

So better check e-bay and pay the shipping
Last edited by Whiskysour; Nov 22, 2007 at 12:57 PM.
Nov 22, 2007, 02:25 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskysour
I don't know if this is available in Amerika but: In Austria and Germany there are a couple of upgrades available:
6cell NiMh
7cell NiMh
2cell LiPo
(all three for the 2 engined planes)
replacement parts (motors, props, gear, etc but they are relativly expensive)
and best of all: There is a camera for them but I don't know how it operates.

The german webside ( http://www.airace.de/ ) says there is a new version out (haven't seen it around here yet) with smoke and a subsonic "gun" and up to 6 different channels (I guess 3 per frequency). And they say the new version has proportional speed control AND steering.

So better check e-bay and pay the shipping
Good info Whiskysour, thanks! I was thinking a 2s lipo would be perfect, but wasn't sure if the extra voltage might be too much.

Pete
Nov 22, 2007, 07:27 PM
You Down With EPP?
Bouwheeler's Avatar
If you want to have some real fun ad a 2 cell Lipo! It will pull some awesome loops! And there is a trick with steering it you can turn with throttle but I the plane turns quicker without throttle input eventhough the throttle is off it will still run the motor to steer but will puts most of the power to the motor you want to steer . Get one you will love it! Check out this link! https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=662316
Nov 23, 2007, 07:26 PM
ferndale air force
FERNDALE AIR FOR's Avatar
Interesting, I wonder if it flies as well as a tuned ace? And I think a lipo would be mandatory. 4 motors has me intrigued.

Tim
Nov 24, 2007, 09:25 PM
Registered User
I went out and bought one today for my cousin living in Phoenix Arizona after reading your blog. Thanks!
Nov 24, 2007, 10:24 PM
Geaux Saints
Hopalong X's Avatar
Del
Last edited by Hopalong X; Nov 30, 2007 at 01:03 PM.
Nov 24, 2007, 11:25 PM
Registered User
very good question, its something that I overlooked but might need to think about before giving it to someone who knows nothing about R/C.
Nov 25, 2007, 05:53 PM
Servant RC
ponchoyo's Avatar
they're nice but they are thrust vectoring planes, they wont teach you much about becoming an true rc pilot. I have to get my hands on the b-17 though!
Nov 25, 2007, 06:14 PM
Chef, Snowboarder, WEEEE!
Awesome thanks. I was looking at these on E-bay a few times, but didn't want Junk.

Love flying these indestructable thrust vectoring planes as it takes the stress out of it.
Nov 25, 2007, 07:16 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Motors rotate in opposite directions to help the planes fly straight when seeking forward flight. I have only flown four of these planes but I had no trouble with motor differential during this review. In calm conditions they flew straight. I like the B-17 best and it has the most power. Mike
Nov 25, 2007, 10:23 PM
Geaux Saints
Hopalong X's Avatar
Del
Last edited by Hopalong X; Nov 30, 2007 at 01:03 PM.


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion b-17, b-52, p-38, b-29 plans donanton Electric Plane Talk 5 Apr 05, 2007 10:25 PM
Anyone have a 3 view of a B-17 Willmsy Scale Kit/Scratch Built 2 May 30, 2003 02:07 AM
GWS B-17 and P-38? kartman24 Parkflyers 11 Apr 18, 2003 02:49 PM
GWS Islander, DC-3, P-38, B-17, C-130 Multi-engines projects GWS4CEO Vendor Talk 56 Apr 21, 2002 02:40 PM
Herr 1/2A J-3 Construction Tips and Mini Review DryFly Parkflyers 11 Apr 15, 2002 02:21 PM