Maxford USA 50" Curtiss Jenny Biplane EP ARF Review

Are you in the mood for a little slow flying with a vintage World War One biplane? Read on to see how the Maxford USA 50" Jenny ARF can fill the bill and possibly prove to be the perfect plane for the lazy days of summer.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:50"
Wing Area:364 sq. in.
Weight:37 oz.
Length:33"
Wing Loading:15.4 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:GWS Digital Naros (4)
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7 Seven channel
Receiver:Spektrum AR6100e (Revision 1.6)
Battery:1800 mAH 3S size/class
Motor:Neodym Power 480 Brushless Outrunner
ESC:Electrifly 25A Speed Controller
Flight Durations:8-10 minutes of lazy cruising
Manufacturer:Green R/C Model Airplanes Co.
Available From:Maxford USA
Price:$219.99

There are any number of "classic" vintage biplanes. A short list of them will almost always include the Curtiss Jenny. The Jenny was built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company. The name Jenny came about from the two letter designation JN, which was assigned to the biplane in its original intended role as a trainer aircraft. With a cruise speed of 60 MPH and a maximum speed of 75 MPH, the Jenny was capable of climbing up to a ceiling of 6,500 feet. The Curtiss Jenny eventually became famous mainly due to the large role it played in American aviation after World War One. About 50 Jennys survive today, both in museums and with private owners.

 <font size=1><b>A Jenny on a training flight during World War I.</b></font>
A Jenny on a training flight during World War I.

The Jenny ARF is available from Maxford USA in three different sizes. This review will focus on the solid yellow, 50" version of the model. (Translucent orange is the other color option.) It is also available in a smaller 38" version as well as a gigantic 105" version.

Kit Contents

When it comes to the Maxford USA ARF of the Jenny, it is all about the rigging! I have to say that up front, as in my opinion, the rigging is what really transforms the Maxford 50" Jenny from an ordinary ARF into a beautiful scale World War One era biplane. The first time I saw this model, I thought it looked really great but I figured all of that rigging assuredly meant a lot of extra time on the bench. Lo and behold, it turns out that the model comes out of the box with about 90% of the rigging already completed for the builder. Another interesting note is that Maxford condones the use of a nitro power system on this model, including both electric and nitro motor mounts in the kit.




Plenty of scale details right out of the box

In The Box

  • Lite ply and balsa fuselage with pull pull wires installed
  • Wings assembly, with rigging and struts installed and wings joined together
  • Vertical stabilizer with pre-hinged rudder, pre-installed control horns
  • Horizontal stabilizer with pre-hinged elevator, pre-installed control horns
  • Both electric and nitro motor mounts
  • Pre-assembled landing gear with main gear
  • Carbon tail skid and wing skids
  • Fiberglass cowl with dummy motor and drag wires installed
  • Complete hardware/accessories bag
  • Yellow covering material for repair purposes


More details on cowl

Required for Completion

  • Minimum four channel radio system
  • Four sub-micro to mini size servos
  • Brushless power system (480 size motor recommended, with appropriate speed controller and lipoly battery)
  • Several 12" servo extensions (ailerons) and one short Y-cable, if using one channel for ailerons

Items Appropriated for Review

  • Four GWS Digital Naro Servos
  • Neodym 480-100 Brushless Outrunner (Available from Cermark)
  • Electrifly Silver Series 25A speed controller
  • Electrifly 11x4.7 prop




Assembly

For your convenience, Maxford makes the Jenny assembly manual available online. I found it most helpful, as it provides a good level of detail for doing the pull pull controls and the rigging.




Maxford USA 50" Instruction Manual (PDF)

Wing

The wings come out of the box already joined together, with the rigging pre-strung. According to Maxford, the leading edges of both wings are lined with carbon fiber for strength. The GWS Digital Naro + servos dropped right into the servo cutouts, although the higher than typical wire exit point on the servo case did make it a little tough to lever them in. Pull strings are in place to get the aileron servo leads to the fuselage. The aileron linkages are nice and short.



I especially like the way the wings attach to the fuselage. Nylon bolts go through the sides of the battery box and into the leading edge of the bottom wing, with another pair of nylon bolts holding it secure at the trailing edge of the bottom wing.


Fuselage

The Jenny fuselage is made of light ply and balsa. It comes with nice scale details such as dual cockpits and windscreens and a battery box access hatch that is secured by a magnet. I added a piece of hook and loop to wrap around the battery, in addition to a piece applied on the battery mounting platform.

The instructions coach you through the proper procedure for attaching the wings to the fuselage. Though it takes a bit of patience and careful manipulation, the entire exercise is surprisingly easy. Follow the printed instructions and success will be yours.


The main landing gear assembly attaches to the bottom of the fuselage with four nylon fasteners. The fiberglass cowl is very nicely detailed and attaches to the fuselage with four small screws. The cowl has four drag wires connected to it, and these attach to the front inner wing struts via very small springs.

Tail

The engineering behind the method used to attach the vertical and horizontal tail pieces is superb, and it virtually guarantees a perfectly aligned tail. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers slide into notches and are both secured with one long machine thread screw and nut. The rudder and elevator both come pre-hinged. The control horns are also installed at the factory. All of these small details combine to speed the assembly of the Jenny along.



Pull Pull Control Cables and Rigging

The detailed rigging and pull pull control cables could potentially be difficult to set up but Maxford has the factory complete 90% of the assembly and set up of them. With just a few minutes of patient attention, the assembly of them can be completed:

Step by Step Guide to Putting the Ends on the Pull Pull Cables

<b>1</b>: Separate rudder and elevator control wires
1: Separate rudder and elevator control wires

<b>2</b>: Block into neutral position
2: Block into neutral position
<b>3</b>: Center horns, attach clips
3: Center horns, attach clips

<b>4</b>: Pass #1
4: Pass #1
<b>5</b>: Now through the rod end
5: Now through the rod end

<b>6</b>: Pass #2
6: Pass #2
<b>7</b>: Pass #3
7: Pass #3

<b>8</b>: Connect clevis to control horns
8: Connect clevis to control horns

<b>9</b>:Crimp ferrules
9:Crimp ferrules
<b>10</b>: Tighten jam nuts
10: Tighten jam nuts
<b>11</b>: Trim excess cable
11: Trim excess cable

All that is required to finish up the main rigging on the wings is to tighten it up and anchor the end. This is best done in the same method as one tightens their shoe laces. Instead of grabbing the ends of the shoe laces and trying to pull through all of the eyelets at one time, one usually begins from the bottom set of eyelets and then works upwards. This same approach works best when tensioning the rigging. Start at the end where the rigging wire is already permanently attached and work back through one swivel at a time until the loose end is reached.



Radio Installation

 <b>GWS Naro Digital +</b>
GWS Naro Digital +
Weight: 0.35oz (10g)
Dimensions: 0.87" x 0.43"x 0.98"
Operating Speed(4.8V): 0.16 sec/60°
Operating Speed(6.0V): 0.13 sec/60°
Stall Torque(4.8V): 22 oz-in.
Stall Torque(6.0V): 28 oz-in.
Street Price: Less than $20.00

The radio compartment/battery box includes space for mounting three servos. For this electric powered version, the front servo cutout will not be used. It is for a throttle servo. The Spektrum 6100e six channel receiver (Revision 1.6 Firmware) mounts nicely in the rear of the radio compartment/battery box. The servo cutouts are a little on the larger side but Maxford provides small ply "shim" plates to build up the dimensions of smaller servos like the GWS Digital Naro+ servos.





The GWS Digital Naro+ servos are a relatively new offering from GWS. GWS is marketing these little guys as a more affordable digital servo. I will say that the first time I applied power to them, I was quite surprised. My previous experience with digital servos was that they are a fair bit noisier than conventional analog servos while sitting at neutral. The Digital Naro + servos were so quiet that I at first thought something was wrong. I double checked my power connection, thinking the radio system was not really hot. It was only when I jiggled the sticks on my transmitter that I realized that all was OK and these little digital servos from GWS are just that quiet when at rest! Impressive!

Power System Installation

 <b>Neodym 480</b>
Neodym 480
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Number of cells: Li-Po 3s-5s
RPM/V: 1000
Weight: 114g
Diameter: 35mm
Length: 36mm
Shaft Diameter: 4mm
Max Current: 35A
Max Power: 325W
Props: 10x7 to 12x6 Electric Style Props

Maxford sells a recommended brushless outrunner motor for the Jenny. (Uranus 35425) Since one was not included for this review project, I instead used a Neodym 480-1000 Kv outrunner, available from Cermark. (Neodym 480)

The method employed to mount the motor to the firewall is very nice. The kit comes with a lite ply motor box and the 480 motor mounted up to it perfectly. The mounting holes on the motor box aligned with the motor holes with no need to make any adjustments. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the spacing of the motor assembly worked out perfectly as well, with the motor shaft protruding through the fiberglass cowl just the right amount for the prop and spinner to attach to.



I mounted the Electrifly Silver Series 25A speed controller to the top of the firewall using hot glue to secure it. It is sure to receive ample cooling airflow in this location.


I determined that a larger diameter prop with a more shallow pitch would be best, to keep the airspeed slow and on the scale side. I decided to use an Electrifly 11x4.7 prop. The Neodym motor comes with all of the hardware required to mount the motor. It includes a snazzy red aluminum anodized spinner.

Completion




The tips of the bottom wing have hardwood blocks installed, into which carbon fiber rods get inserted to act as protective wing skids. It takes a fair amount of pressure to bend the rods into a half circle. The wooden blocks and holes can be located by holding the wing up to a bright light. I used CA to secure the skids. No pilots are provided for the dual cockpits. Maxford sells pilots at a nominal charge but I would really like to see the pilots included in these kits. The color of the unfinished wood inside the cockpits catches one’s eye, so I painted mine dark brown.



Final completion of the Jenny involves the usual details such as verifying that thread lock was applied to all metal fasteners during assembly. The manufacturer makes no real recommendations or suggestions on setting the initial control throws. Using the dual rates on my Spektrum DX7 transmitter, I set the high rates for maximum mechanical throws on all surfaces and the low rates for about 2/3 of the high rate movements. The Center of Gravity is supposed to be 2 inches behind the leading edge of top wing. Using a 3S 1800 series mAH lipoly battery resulted in the CG being spot on.




Flying

Taking Off and Landing



Using a tail skid instead of a tail wheel is usually synonymous with sloppy and troublesome ground handling. Not true with the Maxford Jenny! I was very surprised to find that taxiing the Jenny around is not very difficult at all. I use small blips of power to generate enough air over the rudder to swing the Jenny around. Transitioning into the takeoff roll is also quite solid, and the Jenny tracks very straight. I think this is due in part to the wide stance of the main gear. Watch the video below, and observe how nicely the Jenny runs out on the take-roll. It is easy to perform nice scale takeoffs with the Jenny, and they look fantastic.




Landing the Jenny is not difficult at all but I will suggest you hold a little power all the way down to the ground. If you let her get too slow on approach, she will drop straight down. My first few landings were like that, and I stressed the landing gear enough that minor repairs were necessary. Hard landings will also "tear" the plastic wheels. Keeping the power on a little and slowly flying her all the way down will result in perfect and easy landings.


Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Walls, waterfalls, blenders and other assorted 3D maneuvers are definitely outside the repertoire of the Maxford Jenny. But if it is basic, scale acrobatics you are after, the Jenny will deliver the mail. I have my control deflections set so that aileron rolls are slow and graceful but a little elevator will be required to keep the nose from falling while inverted. The Neo 480 has enough power to take the Jenny up and over the top of some very nice loops but don't forget to relax the throttle a bit on the back side. Stall turns are another maneuver well within the capabilities of the Jenny.

Is This For a Beginner?

I would suggest not. Though the Jenny is not a particularly fast flying plane, especially with the power system I installed in mine, it is probably not a good platform for a beginner. It flies best by using both sticks, that is, by adding a little rudder in for coordinated turns. I suppose one could use a mix on the transmitter, with many modern transmitters already having a dedicated function programmed into their firmware for coupling the ailerons and rudder. However, if you have amassed a little time under your belt flying four channel low wing aircraft, I think you are good and ready for this classic biplane.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Please enjoy these in-flight photographs of the Maxford USA 50" Jenny. She is a very photogenic old gal in my opinion!














Downloads

Conclusion

Though I am currently enjoying and thoroughly "into" EDFs, the Maxford USA Jenny has managed to secure a place in my current front line flyers. I really love taking it out for a couple of easy, scale looking flights. She NEVER fails to generate an abundance of compliments from spectators and passersby. The decals are factory applied. The included fiberglass cowl has a nice dummy engine and drag wires, along with a faux radiator. And did I already mention how great the rigging looks?! The best part about the rigging is that it comes out of the box pre-strung, and most of the difficult work has been done at the factory. I was amazed at how quickly the Jenny went together, given the detail and excellent scale looks of the finished product. Sadly, I have yet to round up a pair of pilots for mine. I so wish that manufacturers would just include a plastic pilot or two in their kits. I cannot imagine that it would add very much to the cost overall and most folks prefer to have one (or two!) aboard their radio controlled aircraft.

I am also duly impressed with the new GWS Naro+ Digital servos. They perform very well in the Jenny and are exceptionally quiet yet powerful. They seem to be an extremely good value for the modest price they command.

I have had mine out several times for WWI era biplane meets, where several of us get together and put 3-5 vintage biplanes in the air at the same time for some mock dog fighting. Though I cannot rightfully claim air superiority with the Jenny, I can say she is usually the best looking old gal of the bunch!

Maxford USA sells several other notable ARFS. I am especially impressed with the appearance of their new Albatros D.II biplane. Here are a few photos of it taken at the 2009 RCX show in Pomona, California:




Maxford USA Alabtros D.III ARF

Pluses

  • Pre-installed inter-wing and fuselage rigging really dress the Jenny up nicely
  • Attachment of the empennage to the fuselage is so very cleverly engineered and results in perfect tail alignment
  • Very slow, scale and graceful flight performance with a properly selected power system
  • Very detailed fiberglass cowl
  • Assembly is very quick, considering the level of detail in the finished model
  • Pull-pull controls on both rudder and elevator
  • Included extra covering material for making repairs

Minuses

  • No pilot figure(s) included


Vintage War Birds over the vineyards of Sonoma

A special thanks to Terry, Don, Maxford USA and the others who assisted me on this review!
Last edited by Angela H; Apr 28, 2009 at 05:16 PM..
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Apr 28, 2009, 05:34 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Another very nice review Jon. I have the smaller one in the orange transparent covering and it is also a great flier and people love seeing the details inside the plane. I am into the flight tresting stage with the Albatros D III you mentioned above and should have my review of it up sometime in May. It has fantastic detail especially in the dummy motor motor you showed and the installed guide wires on the wings. Mike H
Apr 28, 2009, 05:41 PM
Callsign: Jolly Roger
MyDigitalParadis's Avatar
I was just looking at this model at the RC Expo a couple of weeks back. Only budgetary constraints kept me from picking up the version with the semi transparent cover. The plane was absolutely gorgeous.
Apr 28, 2009, 06:09 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
mmmmm Very nice - Love the Jenny.......
Apr 28, 2009, 06:15 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Here are a couple pictures of the smaller plane with the transparent covering. Mike H
Apr 28, 2009, 07:21 PM
Registered User
ekotil's Avatar
Good review and super video. Very scale like flight although I never saw a full scale one fly!
Apr 28, 2009, 07:56 PM
Registered User
latebraker's Avatar
Great review Jon. I just ordered one for myself now. Your vids are always the best on the net as well.
Apr 28, 2009, 09:17 PM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
Great work Jon!
Apr 29, 2009, 09:38 AM
Registered User
Fine Review, Jon

Thanks for taking the time to add the production values to the video. I kept hearing the theme from "The Great Waldo Pepper" in my head. I hope Maxford snaps it up for their promotional use and your name rolls in the credits.
Apr 29, 2009, 11:08 AM
Where's the lift?
dgliderguy's Avatar
Jon,

I reviewed this one last year, for Quiet Flyer magazine, and I still really love it. I have since added a steerable tailwheel, as I fly off pavement and wanted it to track straight down our narrow taxiways.

I also needed to add cutouts to the battery hatch, for better cooling of the battery and ESC, which were getting quite warm with an APC11x7E. I should go to a flatter pitch, I guess, but I like the performance with the current prop.

It is a somewhat delicate model, but I have been treating it kindly, and after many, many outings, it still looks practically new. Fun airplane!

Thanks for the great review. Enjoy yours!

Don Bailey
Apr 29, 2009, 12:58 PM
Jody Bradshaw
JMBRAD's Avatar
Great review Jon. Been waiting for the review on this one. Can't wait to fly one for myself.
Apr 29, 2009, 01:49 PM
WAA-08 THANK FRANK!
JimNM's Avatar
I love your videos - thank you for those and your well written reviews
Apr 30, 2009, 04:39 PM
globemaster
nicoyenny's Avatar
Good review!
My 38" Jenny is a blast to fly, it is one of my all-time favorites, and construction is simply the best.
I like laaate afternoon (sunset) flights on the Jenny at scale speeds and low passes, she looks so beautiful!
Does the 50" have the carbon fiber on the leading edge of the wings too? mine (38") does! .
Apr 30, 2009, 05:20 PM
Dr. Dave
Real nice Jon. Pretty plane and I know a conversation piece at the flying field.
Apr 30, 2009, 06:05 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Thanks folks. Maxford really does have a unique product here IMHO. It is a fun plane to fly and shoot media of!


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