Home RC Airplane Reviews Nitroplanes Airfield F4 Phantom Review
Nitroplanes Airfield F4 Phantom Review Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 04 May 2011 03:10

History

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had became a major part of their respective air wings.

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2. It can carry over 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hard points, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon, but later models incorporated a M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.

During the Vietnam War, the USAF had one pilot and two WSOs, and the US Navy one pilot and one RIO, become aces in air-to-air combat.It continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force; the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (suppression of enemy air defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. The F-4 carries a crew of 2 with a behemoth max take off weight of 61,795lbs! The jet is powered by 2 General Electric (and I thought they only made dishwashers) J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets. The F-4 cruises at 585mph with a maximum speed of Mach 2.23 (1472mph) and a service ceiling of 60,000 feet.



Intro

When I spotted the Airfield F-4 marked down for Nitroplanes' big sale I decided to give it a try. I have had a love/hate relationship with EDFs so I figured I would see what this one had to offer.

The Airfield F4 Phantom has much to offer...

Kit Contents

I bought the Ready-To-Fly Blue Angels F4 kit, although it wasn't clearly advertised as a RTF. I was surprised when I opened the box and found a transmitter and receiver already installed inside the jet. The kit came with the fuselage, wings, ordinance, gear, transmitter, battery, manual and adhesive for the wings. Inside the fuselage the servos, motor fan and esc were already installed. To my surprised the control horns for the servo linkages were also installed. I opened the box thinking I would only start the build but it was apparent the Airfield would take no time at all to put together.
     

The disappointing thing was that the transmitter was broken when I first took it out of the box. The throttle peg had been pushed in during transport and there is no way to fix it. I generally use a DX7 for all the planes but if I was a kid and this was going to be my only transmitter, I would be one un-happy camper.


Assembly

About the only thing required to build the Nitroplanes F-4 Phantom is to epoxy the wings and vertical stab to the plane. The kit supplied glue but the glue is more of a rubbery base and I have had mixed results in the past so I stuck with good ol' epoxy. Before epoxying anything to the fuselage I plugged the battery in and made sure all of the servos were centered. Once they were dialed in I test fitted the wings and to see that everything lined up well. One of the wings needed a little trimming on the inside of the foam, but other than that everything looked great!

   

I mixed up some 5-minute epoxy and slathered the gooey mess onto the wing and fuselage. After 10 minutes the epoxy was strong and the plane was nearly done.

Once the wings were attached I installed the landing gear and the control linkages to the servos and the sleek bird was nearly done!

Since all of my batteries have deans connectors installed I needed to solder new connectors on the ESC and included battery. In my haste to get everything done I tugged too hard on the ESC and pulled the wires from the motor. I discovered this fact once I had everything converted to deans and was unable to get any response from the motor.

I flipped the plane over to remove the bottom hatch that covers the 70mm fan and motor, thinking I would find the wires dangling, waiting to be plugged in. Once the hatch was off I was surprised to find that there were no wires and I had no good access to them!

After scouring and looking over the plane I slapped myself once I realized there is a top hatch that opens behind the cockpit of the plane. I was excited since the hatch fit so well I could not even see it. Once I removed the magnetic hatch I had full access to the motor wires.
 

Features

The Airfield F4 features a thick Blue Angels paint scheme that looks amazing. In addition the little jet is made out of EPO foam, although it looks more like EPS foam. The companies making RC Airplane models continue to get better and better at making their foam molds without any bumps or notches. The F-4 also features a 50 amp ESC and an unknown KV motor with a 70mm 5-bladed fan. I cannot find the KV of the motor in my manual or anywhere online. The jet also features missiles and bombs but I was disappointed in the bombs that came with the jet as they were painted blue and according to all of the pictures on the box and online they were supposed to be gray. Since they looked stupid in the color blue, I left them off.

First Flight

I rarely get nervous for maidens but I was a touch nervous for the Airfield F-4 jet. The last EDF I tried to fly would not even leave the ground and the jet before that one crashed and burned on the 3rd flight in a blaze of foam glory. I didn't want to crash this one especially since the club president was present and had just finished declaring his love for F4s.

With the wind to my North and the president to my right I did my last preflight check on the tarmac and throttle the jet up. The 70mm fighter rolled and bounced down the runway before lifting off. The plane was veering left towards the crowd so I rolled right and was surprised at how quickly it could roll! Once I gained some altitude I settled into the controls.

On the ground we all measured the CG and felt that according to the manual it balanced tail heavy, but when the plane was in the air this was not the case. In fact it needed several clicks of up trim to keep from diving. When the Phantom was trimmed out it felt incredibly stable and easy to fly...for a jet!

I flew around in simple circuits for the first flight getting the feeling of the plane. The climb rate wasn't unlimited but it had good power. The roll rate was super quick and I was having a ball before the pilot (the whole canopy) decided to part with the plane.
Fortunately with the canopy off I did not notice any difference in the flight characteristics of the plane. I brought the plane down and did an unintentional, but awesome harrier landing.

   

Flight Characteristics

The Nitroplanes F4 EDF Jet is a sweet flying airplane. It needs hardly any runway to takeoff and has a pleasant amount of speed for those low passes. What is really impressive is how much it slows down and still floats in the air! Generally ducted fan planes need a fair amount of speed to stay afloat but this beast is just the opposite. The jet rolls faster than a pig in fresh mud and climbs up to the clouds quickly. Inverted flight needs only a little touch of down elevator to stay level. Overall the plane is exceptionally well balanced. The stock motor products 697 watts and 45amps on a 4S 2200mah battery. After a 4 minute flight of mixed flying the battery read 3.80v on each cell. Depending on how hard you push the jet, it could be a 5-6 minute plane.

Takeoffs and Landings

What first attracted me to the Airfield F4 was a video of it taking off. After owning several jets that needed either 200 yards of runway, a quarterback's arm or a bungee cord to get in the air it seemed silly how simple it looked for this one to get airborne. Indeed, it is simply silly.

The plane will take off at about  3/4 throttle and maybe 30 feet. Once the fan spins up the plane wants to leave the ground. The steerable nose wheel helps keep you in straight line, but once the plane is up to speed it does not stray.

Landings are tricky in an EDF but they don't have to be with the F4. The plane can fly very slow compared to other EDFs and this makes it much easier to land. Be careful though, it still needs some speed and if the throttle is off the plane will descend.
The elevator will be very touchy when coming in for a landing so be gentle when trying to flair, a little goes a long way. Even though the video doesn't show it, by the 2nd day we were able to grease almost every landing by using mainly throttle. If you have troubles getting the right amount of flair try programming some lower rates with expo in the elevators.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

No, not for beginners that like to be successful. It would be very difficult to learn on this plane and there are no self righting tendencies to speak of. Wherever the plane is pointed that is where it will go.

Conclusion

The Nitroplanes Airfield F4 70mm EDF is a great looking plane with enough performance to fly  superbly. It is well balanced and so much fun to fly. The plane looks great, sounds great and feels great under the thumbs. Perhaps my only complaint is that it doesn't have retracts, but that would add weight and change the fly characteristics. As it stands it is a solid flying plane and definitely a great plane for someone's first EDF.

GRADE: B+


Pros

  • Smooth strong foam
  • Looks bad (in a good way)
  • 70mm fan/motor puts out the power
  • Well hidden top hatch for  routing wires


Neutrals

  • Bombs/missiles were painted blue. boo.
  • Magnet on the canopy is weak


Cons

  • Transmitter arrived broken


Flight Time!

   


   

   


Airfield Phantom ARF is fueled and ready to go!

 
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