Home RC Airplane Reviews Exceed-RC J-3 Piper Cub
Exceed-RC J-3 Piper Cub Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:05


History

The Piper J-3 Cub is a small, simple, light aircraft that was built between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft. With tandem (fore and aft) seating, it was intended for flight training but became one of the most popular and best-known light aircraft of all time. The aircraft's standard chrome yellow paint has come to be known as “Cub Yellow” or "Lock Haven Yellow".

The Piper Cub quickly became a familiar sight in WWII. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took a flight in a J-3 Cub, posing for a series of publicity photos to help promote the CPTP. Newsreels and newspapers of the era often featured images of wartime leaders, such as Generals Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and George Marshall, flying around European battlefields in Piper Cubs. Civilian-owned Cubs joined the war effort as part of the newly formed Civil Air Patrol (CAP), patrolling the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast in a constant search for German U-boats and survivors of U-boat attacks.

Piper developed a military variant ("All we had to do," Bill Jr. is quoted as saying, "was paint the Cub olive drab to produce a military airplane") The variety of models, as well as similar, tandem-cockpit accommodation aircraft from Aeronca and Taylorcraft, were collectively nicknamed “Grasshoppers” and used extensively in World War II for reconnaissance, transporting supplies and medical evacuation. L-4s were also sometimes equipped with lashed-on infantry bazookas for ground attack. Since the L-4 Grasshoppers were mechanically identical to the J-3 civilian version, the military versions were distinguished by the presence of rearwards-entended Plexiglas windows going over the top of the wing and behind the rear-seat passenger, somewhat aft of the wing's trailing edge. Nearly 5,700 L-4s were produced for the U.S. Army and 250 for the U.S. Navy as "elementary trainers".

The Piper cub is powered by 1 Continental A-65-8 air-cooled flat four 65ph motor. This little motor launches the Cub to a maximum speed of 87 mph and climbs to a service ceiling of 11,500ft.




Intro

In an attempt to balance out the many warbirds and advanced plane reviewed on this site I have begun looking for more planes that beginners can fly and enjoy without breaking the bank. From pictures on the website, the Exceed-RC J3 Cub looked like such a plane. I pulled out the plastic, selected the J3 with the coolest paint scheme and a week later the plane was at my doorstep.

Kit Contents

If you're a beginner, don't let the J3 pass you by!

When the plane arrived in a much smaller box than I anticipated and I was sure that there must be another box containing the rest of the plane. The website said the wingspan was 40” and although I didn’t pay attention the specs on the length, I figured it would be medium to standard size. In reality the fuselage was much shorter and narrower than expected.

   

The plane came tightly packed and protected in plastic and tape. All of the pieces survived transport with no damage.

I purchased the Ready-To-Fly kit therefore it came with everything I needed to fly, sans the 8 AA batteries for the transmitter. The kit includes the wing, fuselage, elevators, landing gear, transmitter, battery, charger and various hardware accessories. The Cub also comes with a ‘manual’ which is just a large poster with tiny pictures that barely aid in assisting during assembly.

   

Looking over the plane and accessories, everything appeared to be intact and I was impressed at the quality of the foam, especially the paint job.

   


Assembly

Even though the included directions are subpar, building the Exceed-RC J3 Piper Cub should be fairly intuitive if you have ever built an airplane or just happen to know what one looks like. The plane comes with the servos, motor and ESC already installed. All that is required of the customer is to install the control horns for the ailerons, rudder and elevator as well as the landing gear, prop and miscellaneous hardware.

The control horns are secure and easy to install with the screws provided for each plate. The ailerons and rudder were easy to attach, but I was not pleased with the placement of the control horn on the elevator. The control horn sits halfway on top of the plastic piece of the elevator that attaches the two elevators together. I tripled checked to make sure I had everything in the correct place and I determined things were lined up properly. Some drilling is required through the plastic in order for the elevator horn to sit flush. It was late and I did not have the right drill bit with me so I attached the horn using 3 of the 4 screws. The picture below will show it wasn’t very pretty, but it felt secure.

   

After all the horns were attached, I turned on the supplied 4 channel 2.4 GHz radio and connected the battery to the plane to allow the servos to center. With the servos centered I attached all the linkages and made sure everything was flush.

 

With the airplane nearly complete, I flipped it over and attached the scale landing gear. In my haste I screwed the landing gear securely into the plane before realizing that the wing struts attached beneath the gear. D’oh.

I looked and saw that I was about 95% done with the short assembly but noticed I still had a bunch of random screws and small metal rods that needed to be placed in the plane. The instructions were absolutely useless in shedding any light as to where everything went. After some measuring and eyeballin’ I figured the small metal rods helped secure the tail feathers of the plane and the miscellaneous screws were used to attach the wing struts on the plane.

   

The stupid struts took way longer than they should have since some of the parts did not fit correctly. In addition when I tried to connect the rods to the rear of the plane the pieces of plastic that hold the rods in place, ripped out of the foam. This was actually a blessing in disguise since it was nearly impossible to attach the rods otherwise. I sanded away the old glue and was generous with the new glue before putting everything back together on the rudder and elevators.

With all the parts finally together, the plane was ready for pictures and a maiden voyage!

Features

Given the size of the Piper Cub I was quite pleased with the features on the plane. The Exceed RC J3 is a 4-channel airplane, but it also features realistic landing gear a smart tail-wheel design, fake motor heads and exhaust. Not to mention the paint scheme is well done and it was the talk of the field the day I brought the cub out. I’ve brought out some very nice airplanes to the field, but this little plane drew a crowd.

In addition to the plane’s features the included radio is actually a very nice feature as well! Molded after Spektrum’s DX7 (my radio of choice) the Exceed RC radio felt comfortable in my hands. Other Ready-to-Fly radios are often smaller, cheaper feeling and not very fun to fly with. This was not the case with the Exceed radio. Very impressed, plus it is 2.4 GHz!

      

First Flight

For the first flight the sun refused to shine and the wind decided to blow, but being a man I didn’t let it stop me from flying. I was concerned that maybe the plane would not have enough power to handle the wind, but as I throttle the stick forward it became apparent that lack of power would not be an issue.

The cub jumped off the runway and climbed with little effort towards the low clouds. The plane pulled slightly to the right, but after a few clicks of trim she was as stable as a freight train. The wind whipped around, but the little cub handled it like a champ. I flew around with ½ to ¾ throttle for the majority of the first flight with little desire to go any faster. A few full throttle passes showed that the J3 had enough juice to pull out of danger and to prove itself as a solid model. I pushed the plane through different maneuvers and it was able to handle most everything I threw at it.

The J3 Cub was very snappy on the ailerons, but I had the control horns positioned on the middle hole. This is something that can be turned down for beginners and most definitely should be if you are just learning how to fly.

After 5 minutes on the stock 3S 1300mah battery I was able to land the plane without incident, a very successful first flight indeed!

   


Flight Characteristics

As mentioned in the previous section the Exceed-RC J3 Piper Cub is a very stable model. The little plane handles wind very well and despite its small stature and motor, the craft has a decent power envelope. Normal flight only takes about ½ throttle to stay in the air and with the high wing design; stalls are as docile as a kitten drinking milk. The plane wants to float, which is a perfect thing for those looking for their first plane. Watch the video below and take a look at the 2nd takeoff. I hit a bump and the plane went the wrong way and took off towards the trees. Once I realized it was heading for the trees I killed the throttle and turned hard left. I expected to land the plane in the dirt/grass, but it just kept floating and floating! It floated long enough for me to consciously make the decision to throttle up and continue to fly. I am excited about the loftiness of this little plane.

Despite the Cub’s floating ability, it is also able to do mild aerobatics when commanded. Loops, rolls, stall turns and inverted flight are easy to do on this plane. Inverted flight took only the slightest touch of down elevator to keep it level and I found myself supplying too much elevator as the cub kept trying to climb out of the invert.

Takeoffs and Landings

Takeoffs only need about ½ throttle to get the plane into the air, although in the videos I was probably using closer to ¾. The lift of the wings makes the J3 feel light and effortless when taking off. Taxiing might be a little squirrely for people as the tail wheel steering feels very sensitive on the ground. The good news is the plane doesn’t need a long runway and the tail wheel will pop up off the ground in no time.

Landing the plane is almost effortless with the high wing design. The plane slows down very well and lands by simply floating in. Little to no power is needed to land the Cub which is perfect for beginners.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

Yes! Absolutely. The plane is a great flying little plane and has virtually no bad habits. Even with no power the plane continues to float. A beginner might want to have a seasoned pro standing by for the first few flights as the ailerons are quick and might cause some people to put the plane in to a roll or a spin, but this is unlikely. The J3 is made out of strong EPO foam that not only looks great, but is very easy to put back together should a crash occur.

Conclusion

I was very impressed with the Exceed-RC J3 Cub. The RC Airplane handles the wind well and from the small motor was able to produce a full amount of power for climbing and doing more advance maneuvers. The assembly instructions were lacking and there are a few weaker spots on the plane, but overall the plane feels like it will stand up to beatings. The J3 Cub is perfect for a beginner and also a great parkflyer that can easily be flown within a baseball diamond.

GRADE: B

Pros

  • Awesome Paint job
  • Easy to fly
  • Good power
  • Nice price for 4-channel Ready-to-Fly
  • Perfect intro plane to the hobby
  • Nice 2.4 Ghz, full sized radio

Neutrals

  • The included manual is too small and hard to see
  • Some of the assembly steps seemed unnecessarily cumbersome (i.e. putting the metal rods in the tail feathers and figuring out which little screws went where on the wing struts)

Cons

  • Elevator control horn placement is half covered by hard plastic allowing only 3 screws to be used without drilling. Bad design.
  • After two medium-hard landings a small plastic rod broke on the landing gear. The piece was non-essential (there just for scale)
  • The plane will not make me a sandwich.

 

MEDIA and Flight Time!

        


 

 


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