Home RC Airplane Reviews E-Flite A6M5 Zero BnF Basic Review
E-Flite A6M5 Zero BnF Basic Review Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 08 May 2013 17:45

History

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a long-range fighter aircraft operated by the IJN Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. The A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter  and also designated as the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen and Mitsubishi Navy 12-shi Carrier Fighter. The A6M was usually referred to by the Allies as the "Zero", from 1940 the year in which the aircraft entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was "Zeke". The Zero sported a crew of "1" and was powered by a 950 hp Nakajima Sakae radial engine capable of going 410 mph with a service ceiling of 33,000 feet. 


Intro

There comes a time in a man’s life when he must step up to the plate, get down on one knee and ask a girl to marry him. I did that very thing last year and now my ‘lovely assistant’ is…well….still lovely, but also my permanent assistant. Yay! With weddings comes gifts and if you have awesome friends like I do they realize that most of the gifts are geared towards the bride, so they decide to buck the trend and get something the groom can appreciate. In this case I received a generous gift card to the local hobby shop! It wasn’t long after the honeymoon that I slapped the gift card down on the counter and got myself an E-flite BnF Basic Zero.

Kit Contents

The kit comes almost complete and with nearly everything you need to get the Zero in the air. In the box was the manual, the airplane with fuselage and wings a bomb/stand for display purposes, an extra prop and spinner and a special tool for attaching and detaching the wings to the body of the plane. The Zero comes with all of the 3.5 gram servos installed for the ailerons, elevator and rudder. In addition the E-Flite Zero comes with an AR6310 receiver and 300-size motor installed. The only thing missing from the box is a battery and transmitter for the plane.

   

   

Assembly

The Mini Zero comes 97.2% complete and needs very little assembly to finish. The prop and spinner are already installed but it is always a wise idea to check that they are installed securely before the first flight. The binding procedure for the mini zero is different than other planes that have come out of E-flite. There is no bind plug, but rather two bind pins that need to be ‘shorted out’ in order to bind the plane to your transmitter. I’ll be honest; this process was kind of a pain in the ass because everything was so small. I tried about 4 times to short out the bind pins before I realized the tweezers I was using must’ve been made out of aluminum, wood or something that was not a good conductor of electricity. When I grabbed a pair of meaty, metal needle nose pliers and laid them across the plugs everything worked perfectly. Of course you are going to need 4 hands to complete this job, I opted for my lovely assistant but you can really use anyone’s hands.

   

After the plane is bound all that is left is installing the wing. The ailerons are controlled by one central servo and this servo needs to be plugged into the receiver for proper function. Don’t forget this step or you’ll be sad when you discover your plane is fully assembled, yet the ailerons do not work.

Fortunately E-Flite had the foresight to include a special little hook tool for hooking the wings to the fuselage. The process requires a dab of patience but everything is snug and secure once the rubber band is attached.

At first I thought the design was a little goofy, but already after the first few flights I have seen the beauty of the rubber band design. More on that later.

   

   

Features

The E-flite A6M5 Zero features an overall length of 21.6” and a wingspan of 25.5”. Using a standard 2S 450mah battery, the Zero weighs in around 8.5oz. With the battery pushed as far forward the CG should rest right around 43mm. The stock prop size is 7x6. The scale detail is admirable and surprising on a model so small. The lines are excellent and the stand that comes with the Zero is a beautiful way of displaying the Japanese Model when it is not in use.

   

First Flight

I was geared up and rarin’ to go for the first flight until I discovered I did not have the right sized battery with me for the maiden. Instead of a 2S 450mah battery that fit like a glove on a greased hand, I had a 2S 1000mah battery that was very skinny and could almost fit underneath the canopy. Wanting to fly, I didn’t hesitate to whip out the Xacto knife and start carving. I only needed to carve a small amount of foam out to fit the larger battery. This shifted the CG slightly forward, but I was confident the plane would still fly. With everything snug under the canopy I called Shaky Thumbs who was on deck. He gave the Zero a slight toss as I throttled up and Japanese Fighter took to the sky with ease.

Despite the larger battery I felt the plane did not need much in the way of trim. It wanted to dive ever so slightly but a few clicks of the up elevator took care of issue. I was fairly happy with the power of the plane and never felt like I was in trouble climbing or fighting with the wind. To be conservative I flew for 5 minutes before landing in the soft grass. Victory!

   

Flight Characteristics

Even before I launched the Zero in the air I had my doubts about the ailerons and roll rate. I know several people have reported that the servo arm or linkages bump into the receiver but that was not the case on my plane. It just has very little movement! Once I got into the air my assumptions were confirmed, the plane had very little to roll rate. The throw was just too minimal to do a nice smooth roll. I did several snap rolls and some with the help of the wind, but I was expecting something a little crisper for a warbird. This lack of roll is easily fixed, but out of the box it is paltry.

As stated earlier the power was excellent although I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about stuffing a small 3S battery in the plane and seeing what it could do. I was pleased the plane flew so well with a bigger battery. The elevator and rudder were VERY responsive and I could loop the plane all day without a worry. The rudder has so much throw it turns like a shifter kart on a sticky track. Inverted flight was stable and although at times the plane feels a tad twitchy it’s not too bad given the size. It is fairly well balanced compared to other planes in the 25” range.

This past weekend I flew the plane in 10-12mph winds and although it was ridiculous to watch, I can say the plane handled it and I never lost control. This is not the intended use for the Mini Zero, but I was pleased with the result.

On a standard battery flight times should be around 4-5 minutes. If you’re willing to carve out a little foam a bigger battery could easily lend 8-10 minutes of flight time.

   

Takeoffs and Landings

Takeoffs are easy if you have an extra hand or a friend that has two hands. Just a light toss and ¾ throttle and the Zero will be airborne. Landings are easy as well but it is highly advised that you land on a soft surface like a grassy knoll, bearskin rug or feather pillows. Actually, it doesn’t need to be that soft but the plane is made of foam and after too many cement landings the bottom will be shredded. For landing simply gliding in under ¼ throttle makes it easy.

I’ve had a couple soft landings and a couple hard ones and this is where the beauty of the rubber band connection comes into play. The last landing hit the wing fairly hard. Hard enough that it would’ve caused damage had the wings been screwed into the fuselage. But with the rubber band connection the wings were just slightly skewed and needed to be snapped back into place. The rubber band has enough give so nothing will break when hard landings occur.

 

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

I can’t recommend this as a first plane. It’s good as a 2nd or 3rd plane, but if I would’ve had this as my first plane there would’ve been a lot of tears and broken pieces.

Weak Canopy

Besides the no-throw ailerons, my biggest gripe with the plane is the weak canopy. On a plane this size I don’t expect to have a metal framed canopy but the front tab of the canopy is very weak. Right before the maiden flight I accidentally dropped the canopy on the grass and incredibly, it broke! I was actually at a loss for words. Maybe it was a fluke, but it sheared the tab right off. I was not impressed for a $150 plane. Fortunately some CA and Kicker had the canopy back together within minutes, and after a few weeks of flying it has held up. Lesson learned: Don’t drop canopy.

 

Conclusion

TheE-Flite A6M5 Zero is a beautiful little plane that would be perfect for an afternoon out at the park. Despite the small stature there is plenty of power to handle a light breeze and still be able to perform all of your favorite warbird maneuvers. The stock setting of the ailerons out of the box are mild and for more experienced pilots I’d recommend turning those up! The plane has a few weak spots and the canopy should be handled with care, but overall I think this little warbird would make an excellent throw-it-in-the-trunk and go type of plane. Now E-Flite just needs to expand their line of 25-26” warbirds to give consumers tools for a proper dogfight!

GRADE: B+

Pros

  • Nice Scale Detail
  • Nearly ready to go straight out of the box
  • Decent power
  • Well Balanced

 

Neutrals

  • Ailerons stock throw leaves a lot to be desired

 

Cons

  • Canopy a bit on the weak side, be careful when handling

 

 Media and FLIGHT Time!

    

   



 


 
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