Home RC Airplane Reviews Hobby Lobby ERC J-5 Cub Review
Hobby Lobby ERC J-5 Cub Review Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 25 January 2012 17:31

History

The Piper J-5 'Cub Cruiser' was a larger, more powerful version of the basic Piper J-3 Cub. It was designed just two years after the J-3 Cub, and differed by having three seats instead of two, a 75-hp Continental engine and a cruising speed of 85 mph. It was advertised as being a three-seater, but pilots of the Cruiser have said it would be more accurately described as a two-and-a-half-seater, because only a small child would feel comfortable in the third seat. The Cruiser also had a deeper fuselage than the J-3. The Cruiser sold for $1,995 when it was first designed. Only about two hundred remain airworthy today. The Piper Cub is powered by a Lycoming GO-145-C2 four cylinder 75hp engine that propels the plane to a maximum speed of 96 mph, a service ceiling of 10,200ft and a max range of 430 miles.


Intro

In an effort to keep the balance of this website I am always looking for ways to help beginner pilots out. While reviewing and flying a whole hanger full of cool/fast/exotic airplanes it is easy to forget about the simple, slow beginner planes that help the new guys build their skills. One such plane that markets itself for the new pilot is the Hobby Lobby J-5 Cub. After several months of putting it off I finally purchased the cub and dove into the box to see what wonders lay beneath.

   

Kit Contents

The Hobby Lobby ERC J-5 cub comes with very few parts which is probably a good thing for most beginners. Inside the box was a complete fuselage, wing, elevator, rudder, landing gear, wing struts, propeller and a few miscellaneous parts for assembling the plane together. Curiously enough the kit did NOT come with an instruction manual which is a bit of a no-no for a beginner plane. The extremely detailed manual can be found on Hobby-Lobby’s website but for some new pilots they may not know this. The kit came wrapped and securely protected and arrived with no noticeable damage. All of the electronics including servos, ESC, and motor came pre-installed and ready to rock. The kit also included a 2S Lipo battery and 2S-3S lipo charger.

   

   

Assembly

In my opinion a beginner that is looking to get into the air as fast as possible should look for something that is 90% assembled that requires very little effort to complete the assembly, fortunately the ERC J-5 fits that bill. As stated previously, the plane is mostly complete and requires little assembly by the new pilot.

   

The ERC is touted as a plane that has a dual-dihedral system and is a plane that can help teach you to fly. Experience is the best teacher out there so I wasn’t holding my breath for anything fantastic. The dual-dihedral system is a nice thought but I’m going to be honest and say after hooking it up in ‘beginner mode’ I didn’t notice much difference, at least not one that would make a huge effect in flight. This is must my personal take and if you are a 100% beginner I would say go ahead and hook up the holes marked for the beginner dihedral setting.

   

The assembly starts by routing the aileron servo wires through the fuselage and attaching the wing to the fuselage with the 4 metal screws. Flipping the plane over you’ll find a not-so-secret hatch that houses the receiver (of your choice) and many of the wires for the control surfaces. Pulling the wires through towards the receiver you can choose to hook up the ailerons if you’re ready for a full 4-channel airplane, but if you’re a beginner you may want to only hook up the throttle, elevator and rudder. The important thing to remember if you do this is to plug the rudder into the aileron channel as you want the ‘turning’ of the plane to be on the same stick and the same movement for when you add ailerons.  If you’re building a 4-channel plane plug the correct wires into the corresponding slots on the receiver.

   

Once the wing is connected and wired, assembly of the wing struts is next. This is where you can decide how much dihedral you would like in the wings. The more dihedral, the more lift the plane will have and theoretically it will be floatier in the sky. Be careful screwing the wing struts into the underside of the fuselage. I found the plates they screw into not very secure and they require extra glue to hold everything tight.


After the struts are installed the tail is easily assembled by placing the elevator on the tail of the plane and sliding the vertical stabilizer on top of the elevator. The two pieces are held tight to the plane by two screws on the underside of the fuselage.

   

Working your way forward, install the landing gear by popping it in and securing it with the plastic ‘keeper’ and a screw. The design isn’t the strongest, but should be effective enough to withstand several bouncy landings.

With the plane nearly together move toward the nose of the plane and install the spinner back plate onto the motor shaft. After the back plate come the propeller, washer, nut and finally the bright orange spinner. The process is simple, but make sure you have the prop nut tight!

   

At this point I like to fire up the receiver and make sure all of the control rods are centered and moving in the correct directions before attaching them to the control horns. After lining everything up, connect the rods to the horns and make sure all surfaces move fluidly. If you are going to fly with ailerons be sure to cut the ailerons free from the wing before trying to move them with the servo! A thin hobby knife will slice the edges of them free in a matter of seconds.

When everything is all together you are ready to drop in the 2S battery and go flying!

 

Features

The Hobby Lobby ERC J5 features realistic looks behind a bright orange paint job. If you lose this plane in the air you should have your eyes checked because it stands out like a pig in a chicken factory. The plane is powered by a 2S battery that puts out 207 watts of power and 27 amps on the stock brushless motor. The power of the plane is surprising and quite capable of scooting this little Piper through the air at a decent clip! Although the paint is wild, there are a number of nice details on the front of the plane that make it look like its real life counterpart. The Cub sports a 43 3/4” wingspan and a 29 ½” length and weighing in at only 26 oz. The landing gear has nice suspension for those bouncy landings and a steerable tail wheel for putting around on the ground.

First Flight

The flying field was completely socked in with the thickest fog I have ever seen. One mile in any direction the sun was shining and the birds were chirping but our field felt like it was at the bottom of a bowl filled with clam chowder. I was uncertain if I could even fly in the ridiculous conditions, but I figured the plane was bright enough I might as well give it a try.

With the plane set to a 3-channel beginner mode (throttle, elevator, rudder) I went through my pre-flight checks and determined everything was satisfactory. Rolling on the throttle the little Cub took off without my effort. The plane climbed nicely and I could tell immediately that there was plenty of power coming from the nose of the craft. The J-5 wanted to climb a bit but other than slight down trim, it flew well.

Or I should say, as well as the pilot flying it. After spending hundreds of hours on Jets, warbirds and 3D planes it was quite a jump to go back to something as simple as 3-channel plane with no ailerons. I could fly the plane but it definitely took some adjustments to get used to it. I would blip the right stick to the left thinking the plane was going to bank only to have it do a measly flat turn (which is great for beginners!). With the thick fog bearing down on our heads I kept the Cub fairly low to the ground. Unfortunately this type of flying is dangerous and I paid for it when a big gust of wind burst through the trees and gave the J-5 a nasty tilt to the left. With only 12 feet between the ground and the plane there was not enough time to recover using only elevator/rudder. The plane tumbled to the ground but thankfully sustained no damage.

   

After the mild crash I decided to convert the plane over to 4-channel and have some fun. With the ailerons hooked up I took off and felt much more at home with the airplane. The J-5 Cub is surprisingly nimble and rolls wonderfully with the generous throw produced by the ailerons. Despite the heavy fog and difficult flying conditions I felt like I had complete control of the airplane. My confidence rose and I temporarily forgot what kind of plane I was flying as I looped, rolled and spun the J-5 all the way into the ground. Yup, I managed to crash again. Miraculously the plane did not suffer any damage and in a matter of minutes I was up and off in the air again. Resilient!

Flight Characteristics

The Hobby Lobby J-5 is a different beast depending on whether or not you’re flying 3 or 4 channels. With just elevator and rudder the plane is fairly docile, predictable and simple. This is perfect for any beginner. With the ailerons added into the mix the Cub really livens up and takes on a whole new role. The plane can be flown very scale or if you’re feeling adventurous; loops, rolls and inverted flight can easily be executed. I found the rudder to be very sensitive and it moves the plane with authority. Hammer/stall turns are quick and snappy on the J-5. Overall the plane felt a little tail heavy, making the elevator control very touchy. The manual says the CG should be about 63mm back from the leading edge of the plane. The plane I built balanced very close to this mark, but it could definitely be a bit more nose heavy.

Other than the slight balance issues, the plane flew really well and I was a bit surprised at its speed at full throttle. The Piper Cub is a capable flying plane not only for the beginner but even more experienced pilots as well.

Takeoffs and Landings

Taking off with the little cub is simple as long as the beginning pilot does not get too crazy with the rudder stick. Easy roll on the throttle will bring the tail of the plane up and coaxing in some up elevator brings the Cub from the ground effortlessly. The wide wings provide adequate lift and if you have a short runway the J-5 can leave the ground in a matter of feet!

   

Thanks to the plane’s dihedral and general floating characteristics; landing is as simple as backing off the throttle and watching the plane mildly fall towards the ground. The Cub flies slow like a champ and will have you doing touch n’ gos and spot landings in no time at all.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

Yes! Absolutely it was made for a beginner. If you’ve never flown a plane before it would still be a good idea to start on a sim or get a friend/instructor that knows how to fly to help you. No matter what you’ll crash when you are first starting out, but the less crashing you can do and more flying you can do the better. Start on 3-channels and work your way up to 4 with this plane!

Conclusion

The Hobby Lobby ERC J-5 Cub is an excellent beginner airplane. Small in size but full of surprises, this plane can handle a few bumps and bruises and keep on flying. The ridiculous orange paint job makes the Cub easy to see so the beginning pilot should have no problem keeping his eyes on the plane while flying. The plane is actually quite maneuverable, but needs a bit more nose weight to feel stable. A slightly bigger battery would also work.

Overall the Hobby Lobby ERC Cub is a decent buy. The model comes in an Almost-Ready-to-Fly version and Ready-to-Fly which is perfect for someone that is starting out with no equipment at all. If you’re looking for your first plane or a small cub to throw in the trunk and fly at the local park this J-5 does it all.

GRADE: B

Pros

  • Easy Build
  • Bright Paint Scheme
  • Great power on a 2S!
  • Maneuverable on 4 channels

Neutrals

  • A little tail-heavy out of the box which is not good for beginner pilots

Cons

  • No Manual!
  • A few wing strut connections are weak and need extra glue

 

Media and FLIGHT Time!

   

   

   

   

   

 


 
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