Kyosho Illusion EDF ARF Jet Review - RC Groups

Kyosho Illusion EDF ARF Jet Review

Mike Llewellyn looks at the impressive Kyosho Illusion EDF Jet ARF. This little EDF looks fast on sitting on the ground, but in the air it tears up the sky!



Wing Area:22sq inches
Wing type:Built up - Symmetrical
AUW weight:Advertised – 10.5oz Actual - 11.8 oz
Wing loading:~14 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:2 Micro/Mini
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR6100
Battery:3s 700-1000mAh
Motor:Brushless Included in Fan
ESC:Castle Creations 18amp TB ESC
US distributor:Kyosho
Kyosho Illusion EDF ARF:Illusion EDF
ARF Price:$199.99

Kyosho has been producing some excellent quality models for a number of years now, and I have been eyeing the Illusion since its release. I can say my wait was rewarded with a fantastic model. This is an exceptionally small ARF that flies better than it looks, and that is saying a great deal!

The review package shipped from Kyosho, and it arrived in great shape. It was well packaged, double boxed, and the contents in the box were very well protected. All parts are individually plastic wrapped and separated with cardboard sections.

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • Stunning fiberglass fuselage
  • Built up wing and tail surfaces, covered and ready to go
  • Clear canopy
  • Factory slotted hinges ready for gluing
  • Hardware (push rods, torque rods, keeper and horn)
  • Stick on type markings
  • Picture assembly guide
  • Assembled brushless motor/fan assembly

Kit requires:

  • 12-20amp ESC
  • 3s LiPoly battery (700-900 recommended)
  • 2 Micro servos (Ailerons, elevator)
  • Mini/Micro receiver
  • 3 channel minimum transmitter

Included for this review:


The Kyosho Illusion is very nearly ready to fly with all of the tough work done for you. This ARF is highly prefabricated: painted, with surfaces and wing covered and ready for flight. It was ready to fly in just a few hours. I was especially impressed with the impeccable fiberglass fuselage and the covering work.

Done by the factory:

  • Surfaces hinged and ready for included CA hinges and glue
  • Installed aileron torque rods
  • All surfaces covered
  • Factory paint on the fuselage
  • Fan motor mounted

The builder needs to:

  • Install the servos
  • Install the fan and ESC
  • Install and align the tail surfaces
  • Install the battery/ESC tray
  • Apply self adhesive decals


The wing has a center cutout for a single 6-9g servo. It uses standard torque rods, so one servo completed the job here.

The factory had already installed a plate in the fuselage that receives leading edge wing dowel and a plate that had blind nuts installed for the rear of the wing. The wing to fuse fit was perfect, and the dowel and screws all lined up with no modifications. This is becoming a bit rare, so hats off to Kyosho here for excellent quality control work.

I added the attractive winglets to the wing tips. They really added to the sleek look of the Illusion.


The fuselage on this beauty is impeccable. The glass work is just thick enough to be durable yet thin enough to be light. The rounded, sleek fuselage just looks right on a EDF.

It was nice to see the factory installed carbon fiber reinforcements near the cheater hole for the fan. That area has many openings, and the CF will give strength near the cutout areas. I installed the block and former that accept the removable battery tray.

Although the battery tray is removable, in practice this did not work well for me. I simply stuffed the battery in the tray without removal of both the battery and tray.

Included with the hardware there is a small tray for the elevator servo. Epoxy this into the fuselage for extra security and strength.

I cut an exit hole for the elevator push rod tube exit. I bevel cut the elevator push rod tube so the end was flush with the fuselage exit hole.


There are factory recommended screws to attach the canopy. I deviated again from the instructions and instead used small powerful neodymium magnets (not included) that make for faster, tool-free access to the battery.

Tail Assembly

The fiberglass fuselage has tidy precut factory openings for the tail feathers. The holes were perfectly cut and allowed the surfaces to fit properly and with no modification. They were also cut true so the surfaces were aligned properly.

The elevators are separated, and they needed some pre-setup before installation. I roughened the included elevator joiner wire with a rotary tool. I drilled holes into each elevator half to accept the joiner wire. Work slowly here and take your time as the wire is nearly as thick as the surface. Do not forget to remove material from the leading edge of the elevators so the wire fits flush with the leading edge of each elevator surface.

The fuse is small, but there is space to install the components with a minimal fuss. I quickly mounted the elevator servo and completed the linkage setup.

Motor and Fan assembly

The motor and fan blades are factory installed within the nacelle. I glued the fan sections together per the instructions.

A bit of brilliance in my opinion: The fan assembly has a small piece of EPP foam that surrounds the fan nacelle that allows for a "tight" fit in the rear of the fiberglass fuselage. This worked exceptionally well in securing the fan/motor unit perfectly! The assembled fan slides into the rear of the fuselage through the cheater hole.

I prefer to direct solder the motor to the ESC. With the Castle Link or via transmitter, programing the Castle Controller allowed me to "reverse" the motor operation if it was spinning backwards, as it inevitably will!

Power system

The included 45mm fan may be small, but have no fear it powers this model very well.

Amp draws

The included brushless motor is perfect for use with 3s packs. It produced the following results:

Motor statistics (both motors)
Amps Watts Voltage
10.9 119 11v

These power levels gave the Illusion 163w/lb enough for very spirited performance. I was very impressed with the power and performance of this small EDF. In fact, I feel it is one of the best EDF jets I have ever flown.


 Thunderbird 18 AMP ESC
Thunderbird 18 AMP ESC
Type: Brushless Speed Controller
Battery Type: Li-Po 2-3
Max Cont. Amps: 18A
Weight: 17g
BEC: Linear - 3A
Dimensions: 1.32" x .9" x .34"
Programming: Braking/Rotation Direction/Battery Type

I have many Castle Creations ESCs and can say that they give consistent, impressive performance, and the Thunderbird line is value priced. The Castle Link USB program capability makes the ESC very easy to program - Highly Recommended.


I used a single 3s 910 MAh Team Orion Avionics (Kokam) LiPoly battery to provide power. This pack weighs in right at 2.7oz/78g. This small pack’s performance was stellar. It was a little powerhouse.


The Illusion fiberglass work was simply impeccable: light and strong. The paint seemed semi-metallic to me and it looks like it was perfectly painted by a car shop! The covering was equally as impressive on the both the built up wing and tail surfaces. Kyosho includes stick on type markings to give your Illusion its own unique look.



With the 3s 910 MAh pack placed as far forward as it would go in the nose, the Illusion balanced on the rearmost recommended CG at 85mm. I really appreciate it when a model balances correctly with the recommended equipment. This is especially key with the rear fan position of this model.

Rates and transmitter setup

I used my trusted Spektrum DX7 transmitter for this plane. Rates were set as recommended in the manual with ailerons at 2mm and elevator at 3mm each direction. No exponential rates were mentioned, so I used 35% for the primary flight controls.

At the recommended throws I found the elevator had too little authority. I increased throws to nearly 5mm each direction and dropped exponential to about 25%. I found the roll rate to be a tad slow and increased ailerons to about 3mm each direction and decreased expo to 25%. I should note that while I liked these rates, control surface throws are a very personal preference.

I set the flight timer to count down from 7 minutes and give an audible warning to land before the battery was depleted. I generally run it pretty hard using full throttle most of the time, but the 910mAh pack still makes it without any ill effects.


The Illusion is a small airplane to start with, but it got really small in a hurry at speed. Care should be taken not to let it get it too far out. It was necessary to turn often - the highest goal of an EDF!

I was happy with the solid red coloring on the bottom. It, along with the tall fin, helped orientation a great deal.

This little bird is an absolute blast to fly. It performed very well, and is a go fast turn left model! It truly flew like it was attached to rails. With the large air "cheater" hole it performed exceptionally well. Finally! a stock 3s EDF airplane that performs exceptionally well with the recommended equipment!

Takeoff and Landing

The Illusion has two round finger placement holes in the bottom of the wing that are intended for launch assistance. It can also be hand launched by grasping just aft of the wing. I found that my launchers liked the behind the wing grip.

It requires a firm, level toss with careful attention to keeping the wing level! It picks up speed very quickly, and the rocket-like acceleration adds to the fun factor. It accelerates like a bullet and is very responsive to power.

Landings are easy, and there are no surprises with this tiny little marvel. It slows very well, and with the added elevator authority it is easy to grease landings. The plane is light, and even though it is very sleek, it did bleed off speed well. I have flown many sleek models that refuse slow down, so this is very welcome!

Care must be taken to maintain proper landing speed as it provides adequate airflow on the control surfaces. This is especially important for all EDF models that have no direct propeller blast over the control surfaces. They will become sluggish on controls when slow, and if you attempt to compensate by adding control throw it will be much too responsive at speed.

Special Flight Characteristics

The Kyosho Illusion is a pleasure to fly and did not exhibit any bad behavior. It goes exactly where it is pointed, and it travels there in a hurry. Maintain approach speed, especially in windy conditions.

The plane stalls very predictably for a model with low wing loading. When pushed to a stall, the model slowed down considerably, and then it dramatically dropped the nose. Recovery is quick with power application.

Loops require full power and are easy to keep large and round. Rolls are picture perfect with the added aileron throws. In fact, to say it rolled like a dart is no stretch.

Dawnron1/sRonnie took these amazing in-flight shots with his new Canon lens. Highly impressive as usual!

Recommended power system

The power is simply stunning. This small little motor and fan gave excellent performance. The plane does need a firm toss and takes just a few seconds to get "on the step".

Is this plane for a beginner?

The Illusion is not for the faint of heart. It is intended for advanced pilots due to the small size and speed. The Illusion is exceptionally well mannered and will not cause any grief for the pilot with experience.

Flight Video



In small packages come great things! I was pleased by this razor sharp little EDF. It is engineered well as evidenced by the quick construction and flight characteristics.

Assembly of this EDF is little more than a couple of hours. The prefabricated parts fit make the process a pleasure. It would be nice to see magnets included for hatch retention instead of the recommended screws.

The Kyosho Illusion is extremely attractive . It looks fast just sitting on the table! The fiberglass work was impeccable with no pin holes noted. The paint was amazing and would rival the work done in any modern car body shop. The covering was perfect, and you can choose to customize yours a bit with the included stick on markings.

The Kyosho Illusion is simply an absolute blast to fly. Understandably it gets small in a hurry, but it sure has you grinning in the process! It is responsive yet not overly snappy. Although not intended as an acrobat, it does wonderful Split S turns, rolls and loops.

The Kyosho Illusion is the BEST performing EDF ARF I have flown. On 3s power and with the included fan and brushless motor this jet will be the way EDFs should be: fast and responsive.


  • Excellent looks
  • Short assembly time
  • Stellar flight performance
  • Superb fit and finish
  • Excellent speed with the included equipment


  • Hard to access battery
  • Canopy uses screws to attach
  • A bit expensive

The Kyosho Illusion EDF ARF makes a great addition to anyone’s hangar. I highly recommend it! Check it out the hobby shop or buy direct at Kyosho.

Last edited by Angela H; Aug 29, 2008 at 09:21 PM..
Thread Tools
Sep 05, 2008, 05:00 PM
Registered User
Excellent review Mike!
I think I'm gonna get one now.
Sep 05, 2008, 06:34 PM
Bajora's Avatar
Ooooh yeah, she is one sexy beast for sure!

The video makes me want to go buy one... again! The Illusion was the first EDF I ever bought, built and flew. I miss her now!

You just can't find dependable and capable assistants to hand launch these little EDFs, can you?! Looked a little HAIRY on the launch!
Latest blog entry: 2017 Reno Air Races
Sep 05, 2008, 06:54 PM
Registered User
livinma1's Avatar
Holy cow that was a shakey toss :-).

I have the red version and you are so right to mention it gets small really really quick and you need to constantly keep turning. I actually found the recommended throws to be a bit touchy but once I up my expo I had a better handle on it.

Oh one thing to mention which I found out the hardway always inspect the fan assembly before tossing because a rock got into mine and broke all the fan blades, and always toss this bird on a full pack. You need all the power to get it on step.

Sep 05, 2008, 09:38 PM
Plane Crazy!!!
A little REFLEX in the ailerons would probably help out quite a bit on keeping the a/c level and aiding in preventing tip stalls at slow speed...

Probably would help a lot during the hand launch stability as well...

All my Hand Launched EDF's now have a little aileron REFLEX. About 2-3mm or 1/16th is all you need.
Sep 06, 2008, 09:22 AM
I hate waiting for parts
Mike_Then's Avatar
I bought one of these when they were first released, and was lucky enough to get one while online retailers and hobby shops were out of stock. It is an absolute blast to fly and it still generates buzz at the flying field - people can't believe it's the tiny little stock power system that makes this jet go fast! It is by far my easiest hand-launch EDF.

Great review! It reminds me why I bought the Illusion in the first place.
Sep 06, 2008, 09:32 PM
gravity,its the law
viol8r's Avatar
After fouling up the stock power system (my fault) I decided to do the mods that some others in RCG were doing. Its been a year and a half and everybody still wants to see it fly , this little jet is a blast and gorgeous to boot! When installing the stock power set be careful not to accidently put pressure on the fan or else you'll have to upgrade too
Sep 07, 2008, 08:43 AM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Thanks Guys.....

This is a fantastic EDF - flies well and fast on stock power.

Launching has been tough. It is easy to induce a roll when you launch this - and that is what you saw. Speaking highly is the ability to RECOVER from those! It is very responsive.

I do have a tiny amount of reflex and it shows no tip stall tendency. I have had several people launch it - including me (with Ronnie flying) and I tend to do a bit too.

We have had a rash of rough launches on small edfs - I am thinking about a dolly or bungee launch......

One of my launchers managed to get it almost inverted on the launch! And yes I recovered!

Sep 07, 2008, 11:41 AM
Registered User
livinma1's Avatar
Wow Mike inverted !!! Thats one heck of a launch. I agree with you I have also been tempted just to do a bungee... I only have 1 guy that I fly with that knows how to throw a plane well. Others either throw up @ 60 degree angle or throw down like its a lawn dart. lol
Last edited by livinma1; Oct 27, 2008 at 11:21 AM.
Sep 07, 2008, 06:29 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Yea if I had been thinking I would have "pushed" it and acted like it was all nothing!

Yea right......

Sep 07, 2008, 06:30 PM
Bajora's Avatar
IMHO, hand launching an EDF really is an art!? I confess I am not the best at it either!

But, I am taking regular lessons from my Master Sensei Vincent!
Latest blog entry: 2017 Reno Air Races
Sep 08, 2008, 02:13 PM
Registered User
ekotil's Avatar
Good job Mike and Ronnie!
Oct 27, 2008, 09:23 AM
U break it U pay for it
Nice review.

I gotta question your launch technique though.
I throw this my self no problem never rolls, it always dead straight and level but i lightly grip the fuselagae, i dont use the finger holes,
I think the main problem is a weak launch! you need to be confident and throw a bit like a javelin.

The only other thing i noticed is that from what it appears on the video you launch in one direction and land in another, so i am guessing either there was no wind or it was not the best direction to launch, maybe crosswind?
I would have guessed you had a little wind as i saw the model wiggling a little i get this when i fly in a strongish wind too.

But by far the the best EDF i have flown, I too use the Orion cells but set my timer to 5 minutes and this is normally absolute limit as i fly pretty much flat out.
Oct 27, 2008, 09:56 AM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
We did launch into the wind and landed crosswind (a guarantee at our club field!). Likely does need more of a toss - and NO my launcher did not use the finger holes.

I guess I need to have them throw it harder!

Jan 02, 2009, 07:28 PM
Have glue gun, will travel...
Ken1.8T's Avatar

My pics

Thought I'd share my pic on this old thread:
Last edited by Ken1.8T; Apr 13, 2009 at 05:26 PM. Reason: pics

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Article Hobby Lobby Thunderbird EDF ARF Jet Review pda4you Foamy EDFs 386 Mar 18, 2015 09:08 PM
Video Kyosho Illusion EDF Bajora Electric Plane Talk 14 Jun 24, 2009 12:18 AM
Discussion Recommended EDF ARF jet for a beginner/intermediate? rcboosted Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 20 Jul 02, 2007 01:26 PM
Sold F/S Kyosho Illusion DF45 ARF NIB!! jbernatchez Aircraft - Electric - Jets (FS/W) 12 Apr 11, 2007 04:55 PM
Video Kyosho Illusion Edf corsair nut Electric Plane Talk 17 Mar 03, 2007 09:15 AM