E-Flite’s Phabulously Phantastic Phlying Phantom…wait, was that excessive? 😉
This week we’re looking at the E-Flite’s F-4 Phantom II. The F-4 is an unmistakable airplane and E-flite has put together a really nicely engineered kit here that flies great! Also, it’s another jet with SAFE select, so this adds to the growing number of EDFs with this as an option if that’s something you’re looking for.
The F-4 is an iconic airplane with a colorful history that served for quite a long time with a number of different countries. It was produced for over 20 years and the last US F-4 drone was only just retired back in 2016. Though it wasn’t designed as such, the F-4 could technically be considered the first JSF since it was the first jet fighter to serve in all three branches of the military. It started out with the Navy as the F-4B. Catching the eye of the Air Force they decided to make a few mods and then started flying the F-4C and then later the F-4E of course. Well, the funny thing is, the Navy took note of some of the F-4C mods and incorporated those into what became the F-4J and later the F-4S. Obviously, this is an oversimplification…but the C and J models have a number of similarities.
AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES
Pulling the airplane from the box, you are met with a nice smooth airframe with a nice low parts count. It’s impressive in fact considering the complexity that could be with the F-4 airframe. As a whole, the is engineered extremely well. The parts count is low and everything aligns so there’s not guess work on the alignment anywhere, most notably on the tails.
The assembly starts with the horizontal tail install. The mechanism is really nice and the tails are attached with two screws that screw into the pivot rods. This means, no chance for misalignment at all which is good feature to have. From there, the dorsal is installed which is also held on by two screws. The assembly is finished up by installing the wings over the carbon carry through spar with two screws fastened to hold each wing in place. From there, it was on to the radio setup.
With the airplane together on the bench, it really looks nice. There’s no mistaking what this airplane is! E-Flite has gone with a VF-51 screaming eagles scheme which really looks good on the airplane. Also, the finish is nice and smooth and it’s nicely painted. My only wish would be that all of the white sections were painted as they are just bare foam, so they have a more opaque look in certain lighting.
One of the features that really struck me is that the airplane has really nice looking scale shock absorbing landing gear as well as accurate looking gear door shapes. On the ground, it really looks great with those gear which I really like to see. You know me, I don’t know what it is, I just have a thing about landing gear…but it does make a difference.
Lastly, the one modification that I did was adding a CenterBurner into the airplane! The airplane has a 32mm inrunner motor, so we actually developed a new tailcone design specifically for it. Something about the glow in the dual tailpipes on this this airplane, it really looks killer!
AIRCRAFT SETUP & CG
For the aircraft setup, this is the bind and fly version of which means it includes SAFE select. Be sure to check out my previous discussion on setting that up. The thing to keep in mind is that there are two bind procedures. In my case here, I simply bound it normally for SAFE off. If you can get away with flying this airplane without SAFE, it definitely is recommended.
On the control surface setup, E-flite is really good about providing meaning info here, so starting with their recommendations is a good place to start. Through flying the airplane here’s what I’m honed in on for control throws.
- ELEVATOR – 20mm with 12% expo
- AILERON – 15mm with 5% Expo
- RUDDER – 19mm with 15% expo to desensitize the steering
- FLAPS – 15mm half with 2mm up elevator mixand 45mm full with 4mm up elevator mix
In terms of the CG, I’m flying the airplane closer to the aft CG recommendation in the manual. This equates to 185mm as measured from the wing leading edge root aft at the fuselage. The airplane flies great there and lands really nicely. For battery, I’m alternating between flying with a Roaring Top 5800mah pack and a Spektrum 5000mah pack. The 5000 pack fits perfectly in there and the airplane CGs well with the battery pushed all the way back on the battery tray. The 5800 required hogging out a little foam to push the battery even further back to maintain the CG. My timer is set at 3.5 minutes and that gives me plenty of reserve flying the airplane really hard. I could probably bump that up the 4 minutes truthfully, especially with the 5800 packs.
FLYING THE E-Flite 80mm F-4 PHANTOM
I have to say that this F-4 is such a great flying airplane that has “phantastic” performance. I was quite surprised by the performance in fact as it’ll pretty much go straight up from takeoff! The airplane is fast, but slows down beautifully on landings with the flaps down. Verticals are excellent providing large uplines at full throttle for big loops and vertical maneuvers. The thing about F-4s is that they just look so distinctive in the air and this E-flite is no exception. Especially seeing the profile from the front as it turns, it just looks mean with that anhedral tail and the dihedral wing tips! There’s definitely no mistaking what it is and that Screaming Eagles scheme looks sweet in the air. It is worth noting that the airplane has an awesome sounding howl to it in the air at higher speeds. It’s such a fitting sound for the airplane!
Here’s a short flight video of the airplane in action. This is the F-4 stock with the 35c 5800 mah pack and CenterBurner installed. My timer is set for 3.5 minutes which is when I setup for landing which means it’s about 4 minutes of in air time. That can certainly be extended with more throttle management though, but flying it hard, that seems about right.
The E-flite F-4 Phantom is another awesome flying EDF from E-flite. The airplane assembles easily and quick and flies straight as an arrow. This is another one with SAFE as an option, but as I always say, you’ll have more fun flying without it if you can. This is a fully aerobatic fighter jet, and no shooting down Migs can be had with SAFE on! 😉 Until next time, I’ll see you at the field!