Phase 3 Radio Ready P-40 with Retracts Review

Michael Heer positions and binds an Airtronics 2.4GHz receiver into his new Phase 3 P-40 from Hobby People, charges its battery and goes hunting for Zeros and Bettys. Come along for the ride... and watch for the retracts.



Phase 3 P-40
Phase 3 P-40
Wing Area:275 sq in
Weight:25 oz.
Wing Loading:13 oz/sqft
Retracts:Mechanical retractable landing gear, installed
Servos:Lightweight micro servos for control surfaces and landing gear
Transmitter:Airtronics RDS8000 2.4 GHz
Receiver:Airtronics 92824 2.4 GHz
Battery:3-cell Li-Po 11.1v 1500mAH
Charger:12-volt field charger for 3-cell Lipoly
Manufacturer:Hobby People
Available From:Hobby People
Price:$ 189.99

Back on December 7th of 2007 I was cruising the Hobby People website looking for possible gifts for a trip South. I went to Mike G.ís blog and spotted the following:

"The final airplane we flew is a new model from Phase 3. Itís a radio ready P-40. This model will be factory assembled with the brushless motor, 3-cell battery, servos etc.. but will not come with a radio. This foamie has a unique feature in a factory built plane: retractable landing gear! And itís all factory assembled so you don't have to go through the hassle of hooking up all that linkage!"

I was hooked! I love the P-40's lines and looks. I would have bought one that day if it had been available. I would have bought this one, but I was lucky enough to have it supplied for this review by Hobby People. You may wonder why it took over a year from the blog report to the shelves - I have been told they made refinements on the shape of the fuselage, the color of the plane and the motor used among other things. Now I will put away my rose colored glasses and get out my magnifying lens and give this plane a detailed inspection on the ground and in the air.

Brief History

The P-40 Warbird was perhaps America's best fighter plane at the time of America's entry into the war in 1941. It first flew in 1938 and was a single engine, single seat, all metal fighter and ground attack plane. Over 13,000 were built from 1938-1944 when production ceased. It was used by most of the allied powers during World War II and was flown by the air forces of 28 nations. It was unquestionably most famous for its use in China while flown by American volunteers against the Japanese in a group nicknamed The Flying Tigers under the leadership of Clare Chinault. The American pilots were successful using tactics created by Clare Chinault that gave them the best chance for success against the Japanese planes and pilots. The P-40 was famous in this area of operation for the menacing shark teeth painted on the cowl. The current Phase 3 model has the same shark teeth markings on the cowl, but with American markings elsewhere.

Kit Contents

Kit Contains:

  • Factory-assembled and receiver-ready body
  • Lightweight micro servos for control surfaces and landing gear
  • Mechanical retractable landing gear
  • One piece painted foam wing with working ailerons and retracts.
  • Painted foam Airframe with servos and decals
  • 3-Cell 11.1v 1500mAH Li-Po battery
  • Brushless motor, matching ESC, and propeller
  • 12-Volt DC 3-Cell Li-Po battery field charger

I was so excited to get this plane in the air I had it assembled before I took any pictures of the individual parts. Not wanting to disassemble my P-40 I took pictures of the parts as displayed in the instruction manual!

Additional items used to complete:

  • Airtronics 92824 2.4GHz receiver
  • My Airtronics RDS 8000 transmitter
  • My Bantam 8 Lipoly charger
  • Exacto knife
  • Small Allen wrench
  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • Black magic marker


Radio Installation

I bought an Airtronics 92824 8 channel receiver to work with my RDS 8000 2.4GHz Airtronics radio system. The first step of assembly was to install the servo connectors into the receiver. They were individually marked with a sticker so it was easy to know which connector went where. Somewhat surprisingly, they were Futaba style connectors with a flange on them that wouldn't fit into my Airtronics receiver. It was a simple matter to trim off the flange with my Exacto knife and then plug the connectors into the receiver. In the fuselage there was throttle, rudder and elevator. Two servo extension wires were supplied to connect with plugs in the wing for aileron and retracts.

The Airtronics 92824 receiver was nice and small so fitting it in was no problem. I do however want to share the antenna installation. There are two antennas on the receiver. The antennas themselves are only 1 1/4 inch long and are at the end of black leads that are approximately 6 1/4 inches long. It is important that the clear 1 1/4 inch antennas are mounted 90 degrees from one another for best reception. I directed one wire back down the fuselage, and the antenna was parallel to the fuselage. The other antenna I brought forward and perpendicular to the fuselage.

Tail Assembly

A metal piece fits through a slot in the horizontal stabilizer and aligns it on the fuselage. Two 18mm screws secure the horizontal stabilizer onto the fuselage with this metal piece, which is properly painted to match up with the different colors on the plane. When assembling, you just want to tighten the screws in place - if you over tighten you might accidentally compress some foam and change the angle of attack for the horizontal stabilizer. It needs to be basically level with the the wing.

Next, the landing gear tail wheel is inserted into a tube on the rudder then turned out of the way while the vertical stabilizer secures to the fuselage. The stabilizer was molded to fit in between the two sides of the metal piece securing the horizontal stabilizer to the fuselage. Once the vertical stabilizer was inserted it was secured between the two metal sides with two 14mm screws.

Next, the tail wheel mounting plate was secured to the bottom of the fuselage with the two 7mm screws supplied.

I attached the lipoly battery to the ESC connector in the fuselage and made sure that the controls for the elevator and rudder were working properly with the correct travel and direction. If any adjustment was necessary, it would be easiest to do so before installing the wing. A couple twists of the clevis for the elevator was the only adjustment necessary.

Wing Assembly

Two extension wires were supplied to go from the receiver to the aileron connector in the wing and the retract connector servo. I connected those, and then secured the wing to the fuselage with the three supplied plastic bolts, making sure that any excess extension wire was tucked into the fuselage out of the way. The ailerons are on a Y harness inside the wing and only use one connector from the receiver.

With the wing installed, I tested the ailerons and retracts operation with my transmitter.

Installing the propeller and spinner

There was no discussion of prop/spinner installation in the instruction manual, but it was very quick and easy to do. The propeller shaft coming out of the brushless motor has two flat spots on it for locking the prop adaptor onto the propeller shaft. The propeller adaptor had two Allen nuts in it to secure it to the propeller shaft. The propeller, prop adaptor and spinner came as one unit, and all I did was slip the unit onto the propeller shaft so that the Allen nuts would line up over the flat spot. I tightened the Allen nuts with my own Allen wrench onto the propeller shaft to complete the assembly.

Looking at the propeller and spinner, there was no apparent downthrust they way the motor was mounted. This concerned me, and I watched for how the plane might climb with the increase of throttle. But I had no problem with climbing when applying throttle from half to full throttle. The plane flew basically level. Once i had her trimmed for flying at half throttle she flew fine for all speed ranges using the standard motor and ESC and not changing anything mechanically.


With the plane assembled I charged up the supplied 3s1p 1500mAh Lipoly battery pack using the supplied charger with the balancer connector to the battery pack. While the pack was charging I used a black magic marker to darken the six molded machine guns on the leading edge of the wing. When the pack was charged, I checked all throws and directional movements of the control surfaces to make sure they were moving in the right direction, and I was ready to fly my P-40.



This is your basic war bird with ailerons, rudder, elevator and throttle for control. The brushless motor supplies adequate power and allowed me to perform all aerobatic maneuvers that I attempted. While it was in no way under powered, neither was it over powered. At low throw settings on the control surfaces the plane was very docile and can be flown by almost anyone who has flown an aileron equipped plane previously. At full throw, the plane was more aerobatic and ready for scale combat flying. I moved the connectors on the ailerons to get even more throw after several flights as I wanted to try faster than scale rolls. I have since returned to the original outer setting (used in the video below). I got about 10 to 10 + minutes of flying time with the included battery pack.

Taking Off and Landing

The plane can be launched by hand in a straightforward manner with a good toss at about 3/4 throttle, and it will pull away and start to climb. Likewise, it can be landed with wheels up by sliding to a stop on grass. However, the real fun is to use a runway for takeoffs and landings and see the wheels go up and down accordingly. Pavement, hard packed dirt and very short grass have all worked very well for both takeoffs and landings with my P-40. prefer to run the motor up slowly and have the rear wheel lift off. I then accelerate a bit faster and apply a little right rudder as the P-40 continues down the runway and takes off. If I have judged distances correctly, I can land with power off in a glide with a slight flair at touchdown or keep power on very low through touchdown. Don't try to turn on the runway while speed is still up. Slow down before turning on the ground. The steerable tail wheel works very well, and the plane taxis nicely on a smooth level surface.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The full size plane wasn't a great dogfighter. Against the Zero it was best to dive, strafe and fly away. But this RC version handles aerobatics well. Full throttle with a slight climb two aileron rolls can be performed. moved to the second hole on the aileron control horns to get a bit more aileron throw. I think the outer hole was fairly scale, but I wanted it a bit faster. Using ailerons and rudder with a bit of elevator, large barrel rolls can be performed as well. Loops are easy to perform as are tail slides. Smooth turns can be performed starting with the ailerons and then adding a bit of matching rudder and a little up elevator. The top speed is adequate and appears better by mixing in some slower flying before going full speed. While I am perfectly happy with the speed of my P-40 one friend is already investigating what motor and ESC he might get to make his P-40 faster. I recommend you watch the video and gauge for yourself.

Is This For a Beginner?

No! Although I found it to be a great flyer, it has no self recovery characteristics. I would support Phase 3's recommendation that this is an advanced plane for an intermediate pilot or better. If the pilot can fly an aileron controlled plane well he should have no problem with the P-40. The plane flies great, and there is nothing difficult about the plane's handling.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery



Assembly was quick and easy. My retracts were properly installed and worked well right from the start but I can fly with a handtoss and slide to a stop with gear up on the grass. The coloring on the plane looks good even down to the matching details on the stabilizerís mounting metal brace. The flight performance and maneuvers looked scale. I feel this P-40 was well worth my wait for her.


  • Easy and quick to assemble
  • Controls and retracts work well
  • Brushless motor has adequate speed, power and good efficiency for long 10 minute flights
  • Looks good on the ground and in the air


  • Would have preferred Dean's connectors on the ESC and battery pack
  • Some pilots will want more top speed
Last edited by Angela H; Apr 14, 2009 at 02:45 PM..
Thread Tools
Apr 14, 2009, 04:29 PM
Rem The Wasp CV-7 9/15/42
SammyB's Avatar
Thanks Michael. Plan on doing the maiden on mine Thursday. hard to tell the speed because there were no trees or anything in the video to reference. What would you estimate top speed to be? looks like it lands very gently.
Apr 15, 2009, 08:52 AM
Checking CG is for NERDS!
Smokescreen38's Avatar
Nice review..

It might not bother most park flyer pilots but its worth noting that the langing gear doesn't retract the same way as the full scale plane's gear does...though 90* rotating retracts might have been difficult to pull off at this scale.

How does the detail level compare to other similarly sized P-40 kits out there like the Ultrafly kit, GWS, etc?
Apr 15, 2009, 11:08 AM
Registered User
gnats82's Avatar
Smokescreen -

This model carries the P-40 image fairly well but has the potential to have very scale alteratiions done. The engineering is impressive though scale outline can be refined. For my circumstances, this is ideal as the basic plane flies well and I can add the details over time that I see fit. I've already made a better scale quality canopy and hope to add more accurate fillets in awhile.

The airframe also allows other general modifications to other P-40 variants such as the L, M, and N by the lengthening fuselage at the tail to set back the vert. fin and rudder as a passion might want. There are so many other great color schemes that could be modeled on this airframe.
Last edited by gnats82; Apr 15, 2009 at 01:10 PM.
Apr 15, 2009, 11:12 AM
Rem The Wasp CV-7 9/15/42
SammyB's Avatar
Share gnats! I think mine is going to get glassed with a repaint in US. Army colors.
Apr 15, 2009, 12:56 PM
Registered User
gnats82's Avatar
SammyB -

Yeah, check my post #199 in the other Phase 3 P-40 thread (new product). Sorry, I'm kindof a novice at the computer - still need to learn how to 'link'.
Apr 15, 2009, 01:14 PM
Yea..When mowers fly!
Jay-viator's Avatar
Very good review, subscribed!!
Apr 15, 2009, 03:06 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Great review as usual Mike - Love the retracts!

Apr 15, 2009, 03:59 PM
Offical Lightpole Magnet
Originally Posted by pda4you
Great review as usual Mike - Love the retracts!

I just wish they rotated back like the real P-40.
Apr 15, 2009, 06:26 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Yep rotating mains add just one more element for failure - but agree the Corsair and Hellcat and P-40 rock when that gear swings straight back and the wheel turns....

Apr 17, 2009, 11:34 AM
Scratch Building Lives
voyager2lcats's Avatar
Just a little historical information on the P-40 Warhawk: contrary to popular belief, the P-40 (all models) could dogfight the Zero and Oscar, but only above 250 mph. It could out-roll both aircraft at any indicated airspeed. Most pilots did not know this early in the war, so boom-and-zoom was the order of the day. Read Fire in the Sky by Eric Bergerud. He gives a great comparison of Allied and Japanese air forces in the Pacific.

P.S. Nice review and it looks like a great model.
Apr 18, 2009, 01:52 PM
Registered User
gnats82's Avatar
Originally Posted by voyager2lcats
Just a little historical information on the P-40 Warhawk: contrary to popular belief, the P-40 (all models) could dogfight the Zero and Oscar, but only above 250 mph. It could out-roll both aircraft at any indicated airspeed. Most pilots did not know this early in the war, so boom-and-zoom was the order of the day. Read Fire in the Sky by Eric Bergerud. He gives a great comparison of Allied and Japanese air forces in the Pacific.

P.S. Nice review and it looks like a great model.
Well said there voyager - precisely why this model P-40 (and others) need to have good flying speed for controlling roll. The highly tapered wing was used for this quality and it's strength.
Apr 18, 2009, 03:41 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Originally Posted by voyager2lcats
Just a little historical information on the P-40 Warhawk: contrary to popular belief, the P-40 (all models) could dogfight the Zero and Oscar, but only above 250 mph. It could out-roll both aircraft at any indicated airspeed. Most pilots did not know this early in the war, so boom-and-zoom was the order of the day. Read Fire in the Sky by Eric Bergerud. He gives a great comparison of Allied and Japanese air forces in the Pacific.

P.S. Nice review and it looks like a great model.
Yep but no substitute for power - altitude saved your life... It was a great aircraft...for it's time. It did not have the power that the later developed fighters had. And it could not out turn the later A6M or the Oscar. Again - it was great for it's time, but developed just a couple of years before the war. Technology changed a great deal in the early war months.

Apr 19, 2009, 06:55 PM
Scratch Building Lives
voyager2lcats's Avatar
I don't want to stoke anyone's fire (honest!) But the Zero and Oscar were totally inferior to the P-40. Zero/Oscar: hit it- it's a flamer or falls apart. Both aircraft were slow as molasses and at anything over 300 mph those big ailerons were almost useless. Neither plane could dive worth a damn. So speed advantage: P-40; diving advantage: P-40; armor and gun strength advantage: P-40 (Zero's 20 mm cannon were notoriously low rate of fire, short range, and prone to jamming). Okay, Zero and Oscar had great rates of climb and turning (but only at low speeds). So if you were an Allied pilot and wanted to lose a World War 1 style dogfight- engage either plane in a slow speed turn fight. No other plane could turn inside these two. They could climb above the P-40 and its lame excuse for a supercharger, but air combat in 1941-1943 rarely occurred above 15,000- that's where the P-40 shines. I know the Zero is a legend- but that is exactly what it is. P-40s killed more Zeros than vice-versa. That is the truth.
Apr 20, 2009, 11:53 AM
Registered User
i got this plane a couple months back.
detail wise, not as nice as the GWS.
but it's fine for what it is.

i got it specifically because it was priced well for a plane with retracts.
sure the retracts are not correct.
but it's still nice to have.
i actually modified my GWS P40 to have retracts just because i didn't like seeing the stock wheels hanging down in the air during flights.
wheels up just looks so much cooler!

motor is a bit underpowered.
swapped out to a 2215 after the maiden flight.

repainted mine to RAF colors.

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