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Saturday, June 9, 2012

FMS P-47D Thunderbolt - Flight Review


INTRODUCTION
It is sooo past time for a Jug.
SPECS
- Wingspan: 1400mm (55.1 inch)
- Length: 1250mm (49.2 inch)
- Flying Weight: 2100g (74 oz)
- Motor: Brushless 4250 500 kV
- Servos: 4 x 9g, 2 x 17g
- ESC: 65A
"Even I can break this off."
FEATURES
- Contruction: EPO Foam, carbon fiber main spar
- Landing Gear: Servoless Retractable
- Propeller: 3-blade or 4-blade
- Spinner: Chrome hub included
- Cut-in flap ready

INCLUDES
-4S Battery
-3-blade and 4-blade prop hub

REQUIRES
- Radio: 6-channel
- Battery Charger
- Choice of 5ch Receiver (6Ch for optional flaps)


ON THE GROUND


APPEARANCE / FIT N FINISH
This is my first FMS model.  Based on the good things I've been reading about FMS, I was excited to get one for a first hand review.
The wide angle lens emphasizes a slightly too short wingspan for scale.
Although generally similar, the fit 'n finish is not quite on par with Starmax and J-Power, both of which feature generally stronger foam, reinforcement anchors, nicer decals, and more durable paint.  FMS paint reminds me of Horizon Hobby foamies, easy to peel.  The servoless retracts are essentially the same, undersized units bundled with all cheap foamies.

BUILD QUALITY/SETUP
Build quality is also a notch or two below other main Chinese generic brands.  There is a little too much  play in the gear anchors, the arm and hinge hardware, the tail wheel steering mechanism, etc.
Some sloppy paint and decal work.
ISSUES
- Loose gear needed to be glued down.
- Paint peels easily
- Paint is spotty, especially around the invasion stripes
- No white color, white is left as unpainted foam.

IN THE AIR

BLUF
Light construction has an upside, wing-loading and the corresponding flight experience is closer to an  aerobat with limited throws than a scale warbird.   The FMS Thunderbolt is an sheep in wolve's clothing.

START/TAXI/TAKEOFF
Ground handling:  Darn near perfect.  a very well behaved tail dragger.
Run-up:  Quickly pops the light tail in the air.  You'll want some power early to energize the rudder since the tail wheel gets light, fast.
Torque:  Easy to manage.  Stock motor is tame.

GENERAL FLIGHT CHARACTERISTICS
Throws and control authority are nicely executed.  Out of the box, aileron is reasonably effective for a warbird, but the clearly weakest axis.  Pitch is just about right.  Rudder is a touch too sensitive.

The plane is light and flies well, but tracking straight needs a little more attention than I would expect from a twin-radial Industrial Age fighter carving fast, graceful lines up into the delirious burning blue. 

It would be easy to rate this plane's flight characteristics rather highly, but to do so would ignore the wrong flight character.    When I fly the FMS P-47, I get the impression that my gas mileage is way to good.  Putting the hammer down doesn't even elicit a growl, let alone produce pace suitable for the venerable Jug racing to pick off Me-109s before they can damage the lumbering fleet.

When I buy a warbird, I want the plane to fly like a warbird.  The FMS P-47D flies more like a light sport, low wing aileron trainer than a fire breathing demon hunting death itself.  Too much knuckle ball, not enough fast ball.


BALANCE & AEROBATICS
The CG with a 3300 mAh 4S in the standard center tray position is absolutely perfect.  Chopping power from a trimmed-up 65% throttle cruise produces no change in flight path at all.  Nice!

Aerobatics feel light and the plane is more tossable than it probably should be.  Throws are a bit limited when airspeed droops causing sluggish behavior, especially in roll.   Power is excellent in the same way a Ford Fiesta has plenty of power in 1st and 2nd gear; initial pull is strong but speed plateaus way too early for an aluminum bullet.

POWER SYSTEM
Thrust - Soon
Amps/Watts - Soon
Pitch Speed - Soon
Flight Time - Approx 8 minutes of mixed flying on a 3300 mAh 4S

ADVANCED HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS

Slow flight is forgiving and slippery, cutting in some flaps would probably be worth the improvement in throttle response and more viscous airspeed control.

IN FLIGHT ISSUES
Low T.


GRADES

Appearance: B+
Beautiful from 10 ft.  Wingspan a bit too stubby for scale.  Hurried paint.

Airframe: A-
Light wing loading, airy aerobatics.  Perfect inflight balance. 

Power System: B-
Smooth, quiet.  Long flights. Strong pull from low gearing.  Inadequate top speed.

Build Quality/Durability: C-
Decent motor/ESC.  Junky hardware.  Loose gear anchors.  Longevity is suspect.

Value: C
55" span for $180 is a great price for last year, but only average for mid-2012.

Overall Grade: C+
Lightly built, nimble flier.  An amiable econo car in NASCAR colors.
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