Home RC Airplane Reviews Airfield P-51 Mustang Review
Airfield P-51 Mustang Review Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 19 July 2011 21:03


History

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. Designed and built in just 117 days to a specification issued to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission, the Mustang first flew in Royal Air Force (RAF) service as a fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft before conversion to a bomber escort, employed in raids over Germany, helping ensure Allied air superiority from early 1944. As well as being economical to produce, the Mustang was a fast, well-made, and highly durable aircraft. The definitive version, the P51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650, a two-stage two-speed supercharged version of the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns. The Merlin engine produced 1,490 HP and propelled the Mustang to a max speed of 487 mph.

After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing. The Mustang's reputation was such that, in the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company's Designer John Najjar proposed a new youth-oriented coupe automobile be named after the fighter


Intro

Nearly a year ago Shaky Thumbs bought his first big boy plane. We were all proud of him when he brought it home. Amazingly he didn't crash the plane and it has served him well since that time. The airplane just so happened to be the Airfield P-51 Mustang. I have always admired the warbird and loved the looks of it in the air. In a year's time, Airfield has made some big improvement to their proven Mustang. I was debating with myself (I always win!) whether or not to review the new Mustang when ol' Crazy Thumbs decided that he would like to own the new version. Without any hesitation we ordered the blue-nosed Petie version and received it within a week.

   

Kit Contents

The version ordered was the ARF version that included everything but a battery and receiver. The plane came double boxed and tightly packaged with enough plastic to suffocate a small village.  The servos for the ailerons, rudder and elevator come pre-installed as well as the motor, ESC and electric retracts. The plane comes with an improved 4-bladed prop that is slightly bigger, but much stiffer than the old P-51 propeller.  The kit also contains all the necessary hardware, glue and tools needed to assemble the plane along with a black and white manual that is of little help.

   

Assembly

For most of the reviews on the site I take my time and build it by myself. This was Crazy Thumb’s plane so when I told him the plane had arrived he was at my house faster than a cheeseburger at McDonald’s drive through. We each concentrated on different parts of the plane and although I don’t like having too many cooks in the kitchen I will say that the build went very fast with 4 hands instead of two.

   

The Airfield P-51 comes 90% pre-built so after connecting all of the control horns there was little to do except attach the wings, rudder and elevator. The wings are held in by two brackets that pull them together and are secured with 4 screws, it is a sold design. The rudder and elevator are held in place by screws rather than gluing them in. I really like the design for the elevator and rudder. The elevator is screwed ‘down’ and the rudder sits on top of it being screwed ‘up’. This design feels very snug and requires zero glue.  

   

All of the servo wires are nicely labeled so hooking everything to the receiver is very simple.

   

Each blade of the 4-bladed prop is held into the back plate of the spinner with 2 screws giving a strong feeling to the design. The giant spinner is held in place by 3 screws. With some beer, a friend and little effort the Airfield P-51 can be assembled in under an hour.

    

Features

The Airfield P-51 features an impressive wingspan with lights on the ends of each wing. The electric retracts work flawlessly and the retractable tail-wheel is a superb touch.  The blue and silver paint scheme of the “Petie” stands out from other P-51s and is easy to see in the air. The upgraded prop provides a noticeable increase in power on the wattmeter and while in flight. This new version also features more forward raked landing gear to assist in stopping the dreaded nose over.

   

First Flight

The first flight was….interesting. Did your parents ever take you to Sea World as a kid and let you see the dolphins and giant killer whales diving in and out of the water?

Mine didn’t.

But had they taken me to Sea World I imagine the dolphins would have looked like the P-51 Mustang’s first flight. Up and down, up and down through the air/water they go.  The plane started out looking good but with the slightest input the warbird would pitch dramatically. Everyone at the field agreed it must be tail heavy, and so begin the journey of trying to balance the Airfield P-51. According to the manual and a few others that have owned the bird, the CG was spot on if not a bit NOSE heavy. No matter what we did the plane would not fly very well. We added wrenches, anvils and hammers to the nose and it would still feel tail heavy. We tried stuffing the battery all the way to the front and back to the middle of the fuselage to find a happy CG, nothing we did ever tamed the dazzling dolphin display the Mustang would have while in flight.

This problem went on into the 6, 7 -10th flight. I soon realized we must have encountered a dud of an airplane after flying other Airfield P-51s that flew like a dream. Finally one day at the field all of the old timers came over and began really inspecting the plane, that’s when they finally noticed it. The right wing appeared to be warped. It was hard to see, but sure enough the middle to end of the wing pitched up like a Corsair wing. When this discovery was made everyone was convinced that the warped wings are what caused the poor flight characteristics. After giving it some thought, I ordered a new set of wings to see if I could tame the wild Mustang.

Flight Characteristics

As stated earlier, the flight characteristics on the model I received were not very good. The warbird flies well until any elevator input is needed and then it is very touchy. The odd thing is I have flown two other Airfield Mustangs and both of those flew wonderfully! The older v1 P-51 has solid flight characteristics and is very stable in the air. It is no speed demon with the original prop, but version 2 changes all of that. The newer version has a more powerful motor and larger prop that is much stiffer than the first version. The stiffer prop cuts through the air without losing as much power as the first prop did. In comparison the first version of the Airfield P-51 pulled only 38 amps and 592 watts, while the second version pulls 50 amps and 734 watts on a 4S 2200mah battery. This is a noticeable difference in power and the plane flies much easier with the extra juice.

The roll rate on the P-51 is very responsive and inverted flight is completely sustainable with slight down elevator. The ol’ warbird isn’t designed for mind blowing aerobatics so don’t be surprised when it doesn’t hold a knife edge nor do rolling harriers like you had hoped. The Airfield Mustang is perfect for scale flying with decent power for a little extra oomph when you need it.

Takeoffs and Landings

Taking off in the P-51 Mustang is very simple. The plane will want to torque towards the left while taxiing so right rudder is used while throttling towards liftoff. After the tail wheel pops up off the ground it is only a matter of 10 or so feet before the plane is ready to leave the earth. A gentle pull back on the elevator and the nose will point towards the sky, climbing with authority.

Landing the Mustang was easier than I thought it would be given its warbird qualities, but surprisingly the P-51 slows down very well. The airplane looks great coming in to land with a long shallow approach, but due to the balancing issues I have had to bring the Mustang down quickly and steeply. Despite this less than elegant approach the WWII bird still managed to slow down in a jiffy and withstand a few bumps while landing.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

No it is not. The plane is fairly basic and easy to fly with some experience under the belt, but given its size and warbird qualities it would be better as a 2nd or 3rd plane.

Warped Wing, Short Wing Spar

As stated earlier in this review the Mustang I received suffered from a warped wing. I didn’t notice the issue until later, but when I first unboxed the plane I did discover that the foam on the warped wing looked like the skin of a basketball compared to the left wing. What most likely happened is during the process of molding, the heat was a little too hot on that wing, causing it to bubble and warp. The warping doesn’t look like much viewed alone, but with a new wing beside it the difference stands out.  It is disappointing that something like this slipped through quality assurance, but in truth, I did not even notice it until it was pointed out to me.

   

Overall the plane is a solid build and has all the bells and whistles a pilot could want. It does have a wing spar that I feel is too short. This is something I had hoped they would improve from the version 1 mustang, but this version suffers from floppy wings as well. Coming out of a dive the P-51 looks like a silver hawk flapping its wings. It is a tad scary and I wonder how much stress the wings can take.

     

In the end, changing the wings helped the bird as well as making sure the battery was as far forward as possible. The plane is still a little pitch sensitive, but toning down the elevator has smoothed things effectively.

Conclusion

The Airfield P-51 is a gorgeous looking warbird that shines on the ground. In my lifetime I have flown three different Airfield Mustangs and two of them were amazing, the third one was a dud. The new version is definitely an improvement over the previous with the addition of a strong prop, more powerful motor, raked retracts and a retractable tail wheel. The P-51 is better in so many ways, but it is pointless if the factory’s QA doesn’t catch issues before they ship the plane out. Even still the Airfield P-51 is a solid buy, but for this review I am giving the aircraft a lower score due to all the flight issues.

GRADE: C (as reviewed)  GRADE: B+ (other models w/o warped wings)

Pros

  • Scale Looks
  • Loaded with features (better retracts, lights...etc)
  • More Powerful Motor and Prop Combo
  • 3 Different Schemes to Choose from

Neutrals

  • Wing Spar could use some strengthening

Cons

  • Model came with a warped wing, drastically affecting its ability to fly well
  • Feels very sensitive to CG and battery placement

 

 

Media and FLIGHT TIME!

     

     

   


 
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