Assembly & Flight Review – E-Flite 1.2m P-47 Thunderbolt Razorback

E-Flite’s Mighty “Jug,” Razorback Edition!

When someone mentions the allied fighters from World War II, I would imagine the P-51 Mustang is usually first on people’s minds.  However, the less glamorous P-47 Thunderbolt was ever so much a workhorse in the war having operated in every theater.  It was a fast and heavy weight fighter built like a tank that could withstand an astounding amount of punishment!  Combined with it’s eight .50 caliber machine guns while being able to carry 3,400 rounds (compared to the Mustang’s 6 guns and 1,800 rounds), it was a deadly machine.  Add in the aircraft’s external stores capability and the P-47 could deliver about half the payload of a B-17 when gully loaded!  If it was lacking in some way, it would have been the range which was roughly half that of the P-51.  Being a large powerful fighter makes it harder to run a marathon I suppose.

Needless to say, the P47 makes for a darn cool model and has always been a popular subject.  It makes sense given the wide gear stance and wonderful proportions of the design.  So, when the E-Flite 1.2m P-47 Thunderbolt Razorback came to market, there was no question that it would be an awesome flying warbird.  Especially given Horizon Hobby’s track record of great flying P-47’s in multiple sizes.

 

ASSEMBLY REVIEW

The 1.2m P-47 comes wonderfully packaged and pulling the airplane from the box, I
don’t think I noted really any shipping damage.  The parts count is really low having a single piece wing and two piece stabilizer.  Assembly I think only took about 5 to 10 minutes as there really are only 3 steps: 1) Install the horizontal stab with two screws, 2) install the wing with 4 screws, 3) then hook up and bind the radio.  It really is that simple.  There were no issues at all during assembly and I think getting the radio sorted out took longer than actually putting the airplane together.

The P-47 Thunderbolt is a classic shape of pure power and E-Flite has done a great job characterizing the airplane.  They’ve engineered the dual segmented doors on the main gear which show great attention to detail.  The overall finish paint scheme look quite nice (some, but generally minimal foam texture).  They also include a full assortment of external stores having a set of bombs and rocket tubes as well as a centerline fuel tank which look awesome on the airplane.  P-47s were work horses in world war 2, so it really gives the airplane a great look with all of that installed.  The paint scheme itself represents Howard Curran’s Kansas Tornado II which looks good and is pretty unique.  I especially like to angry Mr Hanky on the fuselage…ok, it’s a tornado, but there is kind of a resemblance…

I had some time while waiting to get the airplane to the field and the uniform finish I felt needed something extra.  So, I decided to do a little airbrush weathering.  I’m putting together a separate video and article for that but in short, I first airbrushed some ALCLAD dark aluminum on some of the different panels to get some color variation on the natural metal finish.  From there, I used some thinned out flat black for the rest of the shading and stains.  A warbird like this has to be dirty, but when it comes to weathering, I find that less is more!  If I were to do it again, I probably would have used a light aluminum instead of the dark as those panels ended up darker than I would have liked.  But, overall the weathering definitely adds to the already nice looks of the model.

 

AIRCRAFT CONTROL SURFACE SETUP

For the control surface setup, the control throws are shown in the beginning of the manual (It actually took me a little while to find as they’re usually listed at the end).  E-Flite recommends setting up 100% and 70% dual rates which I found was a good place to start.  If you’re not familiar with warbirds or warbird flying, setting up multiple rates on your radio is highly recommended.  I’m using a Dx18, so have the ability to assign triple rates and will typically start with the max throw recommended in the manual as my high rate and then reduce it from there.  Also it’s worth noting that, sometimes it’s better to reduce your max travel than to add exponential.  So keep that in mind too.

Ultimately through flying the airplane I found that the max rates for the elevator were good, but I found the ailerons a bit sensitive for my liking and so dropped down to my lowest rate.   Here’s what I’m using for throws.  Note that I regularly get questions on the device I use for the control surface measurements.  I’m simply using a Great Planes Accu-Throw Deflection Meter.

Elevator – 1/2″ with 15% expo

Aileron – 7/16″ with 15% Expo

Rudder – 1″ with 15% expo to desensitize the steering

Flaps – 7/16″ mid, 1-1/2″ full with about a 10-15% down elevator mix which translates to about 3/32″ down elevator with full flaps (note that if you land with SAFE Select on, it inputs down elevator which accounts for this mix, so I recommend setting up the mix to off when SAFE Select is active)

 

CG LOCATION

The CG location recommended in the manual is 65mm as measured from the leading edge aft at the root which I found a very good place to start.  In flying the airplane, it was maybe a touch nose heavy and so am flying the airplane closer to about 68-70mm.  The recommended battery for the P-47 is a 3s 3200 mah battery with the option to go to 4s.

If flying the airplane on 3 cells, adding nose weight will be necessary or flying larger capacity pack works too.  With a 4s 3300-3600 pack, the airplane CG’s about right pushing the battery all the way forward.  Since I was flying both 3s and 4s for this review, I taped about 3 oz to the 3s battery so that I could swap batteries without any change to the CG.  I’m using an E-flite 3s 3200 and their newer Thrust 4s 3200’s.  The nice thing on the thrust packs is that they have a built in LED battery charge level indicator which is a pretty darn cool feature.

 

BnF & “SAFE SELECT”

The P-47 Thunderbolt in this review is the “Bind and Fly” version which includes a receiver with it out of the box (the “Plug ‘n Play” version you install your own receiver).  Also, as a part of that it includes a learning feature known as “SAFE Select.”  What the feature does is essentially limit the aircraft from pitching over or rolling on it’s back.  The intent here is to keep the aircraft from getting into an attitude that could cause you from losing the airplane.  This P-47 is a great kind of next level airplane and so the “SAFE Select” is there to help those that may not be as comfortable flying warbirds yet.  I should note though, that “SAFE Select” is not a replacement for good old fashioned flight instruction.  If you are looking to learn and want help, I highly recommend connecting with a local club as they have flight instructors available specifically to help folks learn and become more proficient flying.

With this in mind, there are two distinct receiver binding procedures that enable “SAFE Select” on or off.  If you want “SAFE Select” off, then simply bind the airplane normally keeping the bind plug in place the whole time while the receiver binds to the radio.  If you want the “SAFE Select” on, then start the bind procedure normally and prior to selecting bind on the transmitter, remove the bind plug from the receiver.  Once powered on and connected to the transmitter, the airplane will then give an indication of the mode it’s in by cycling the surfaces either once for SAFE Select off, or twice for SAFE Select on.

If you plan to use SAFE Select, I highly recommend assigning it to a switch so that it can be turned on and off as desired.  Assigning the switch can be accomplished 2 ways: 1) move the desired switch you want it assigned to 5 times right after the aircraft establishes link during the bind process, 2) assign it any other time by cornering both sticks inwards to each other and then flipping the desired switch 5 times.  Note that when you use the method where you corner the sticks, you must have your dual rate switches selected such that you are at 100% end point travel for those channels, otherwise it won’t work.  SAFE Select can be assigned to any switch that is assigned on channels 5-9.  So, if you don’t have a switch assigned on the channel you plan to use, you’ll need to assign one.  I recommend using a channel that is not assigned to any of the aircraft controls.  So, ideally you have at least a 7 channel radio and can assign the 7th channel independently.  Lastly, note that neither AS3X or SAFE Select will be fully activated until the throttle has been brought above 25%.  You won’t be able to check that it all works right unless you’ve done that.

 

FLYING THE E-FLITE P-47D THUNDERBOLT

Truth be told, I’ve never seen a P-47 Thunderbolt that didn’t fly just rock solid in the air and this E-flite P-47 is no exception.  The airplane is a real honest flyer and will handle any scale aerobatics you can throw at it.  It looks great in the air and really has the presence of a larger model flying around and the addition of the external stores really sets the airplane apart from other airplanes in this size range.  It helps too that the P-47 has a nice and wide gear stance so ground handling is quite good.

On 3s, performance is decent having good speed and vertical but I found myself flying mostly full throttle on 3 cells as this gave the airplane good penetration for flying aerobatics.  This resulted in flight times no more than about 5 minutes.  On 4s however, the performance is pretty insane as the airplane basically has unlimited vertical and quite a bit more speed.  I found myself flying around 50-60% throttle with 4 cells which gave the perfect maneuvering speed.  It’ll do a wonderful knife edge and having the extra power on 4s helps the airplane pull through that maneuver excellently.  I found that the airplane would fall out of the knife edge after a bit on 3 cells.  Interestingly, since I was flying mostly full throttle on 3s and partial throttle on 4s, I was getting better flight times on 4s even though it was pulling more amps at full throttle.

Keep in mind, on 4 cells, the system is pulling more current than the 40 amp ESC is rated for.  So for longevity, it’s probably worth upgrading to about a 70 amp ESC.  I noted about 70 amps peak current draw from a fresh pack on 4 cells and about 43 amps on 3 cells.  Note that these are peak values and will settle to lower current draws as the peak charge drops down.  That said, an ESC is well worth the upgrade, because the airplane is a blast on 4 cells.  I should note too that all flights thus far have been done with the stock ESC and were mostly performed on 4 cells.  At the publishing of this article, the airplane has about a dozen flights on it.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, there we have the E-Flite 1.2m P-47 Thunderbolt Razorback, what a fun little airplane!  E-flite has really put together a nicely engineered and awesome flying airplane with a ton of cool features.  Plus with it comes the customer support that you would expect from Horizon Hobby, so you know you’re always covered if you have an issue.  Also, if you’re still new and in the market for a next step airplane, this is an excellent option.  The SAFE technology is there to help, but the goal would be not to rely on it but rather use it as an additional aid to support the flight instruction you’re receiving.  Next time, I’ll hopefully have our little discussion on the weathering we did followed by a more in depth discussion on SAFE and ways to use it.  See you guys at the field!

 

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