Parkzone/horizon Hobby 1.0m F4F Wildcat
This little warbird is big on scale details and performance
This little warbird is big on scale details and performance
The Parkzone Wildcat is a park-flier-size re-creation of the F4F flown by Lt. Cmdr. Edward “Butch” O’hare. O’hare stood alone between the carrier USS Lexington and a formation of Japanese bombers, his wingman having been forced to turn away due to jammed guns. O’hare shot down five enemy planes, became the first U.S. Navy ace, and earned the Medal of Honor, holding off the bombers until reinforcements could arrive and saving the Lexington. Ever flown into Chicago? Yep, that is where O’hare International Airport got its name!
The Bind-n-fly (BNF) Wildcat arrives needing only a 3S 1300–2200mah Lipo battery and appropriate charger, and a Spektrum 4+-channel DSM2/DSMX radio to get into the air. The ability to enable SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology during binding makes the Wildcat appropriate for anyone who is comfortable flying a basic trainer.
The Wildcat is constructed out of rugged EPO foam and painted in a light-blue-and-gray color scheme. All the markings are factory applied, and a pilot figure and an instrument panel are included. The canopy doubles as a magnetically retained hatch that covers the battery and receiver compartment, making battery changes easy. Also provided are ventilation holes on the bottom to facilitate cooling airflow for the motor, speed controller, and battery. There is also a hard-plastic belly pan, which, when combined with the tailwheel, protects the underside of the plane during grass landings.
The Wildcat features the four basic flight controls: aileron, elevator, rudder, and throttle. There are no flaps or retractable landing gear. Designed for hand launching and belly landings, there are no provisions for adding fixed landing gear. Despite this, the faux main wheels retracted into the cowl, and the fixed tailwheel is quite detailed.
All the radio equipment, including the AS3X receiver, SV80 micro servos, and 30-amp electronic speed control, are included and installed. The receiver can be used in AS3X mode, which is a basic gyro mode that will smooth out the model in the wind. Optionally, you can bind the receiver in SAFE Select mode during initial binding.
SAFE Select allows you to set up a switch that gives you access to progressive flight modes. Safe Select mode is fully stabilized and will level the plane when you let go of the sticks; in addition, bank and climb angles are limited, and the model won’t fly inverted. AS3X mode is still stabilized, but the Wildcat becomes fully aerobatic and the model behaves like SAFE is turned off; however, flipping the switch to Safe Select mode will recover the aircraft to level flight, provided there is sufficient room.
The power system consists of a 480-size 960Kv brushless outrunner motor, a 30-amp speed control, and a 9x6 plastic propeller. The motor is installed with a bit of right thrust on a hard-plastic motor mount, and the cowl and several other pieces are molded plastic. The
manual cites an 18-amp speed control, but the one included is actually 30 amps and a separate manual for the correct speed control is packaged with the documentation. This is the same power system as the Carbon Cub, and since the Wildcat weighs half a pound less, I was excited at the performance possibilities.
IN THE AIR
The Wildcat will fly comfortably in any baseball field–size park. Hand launching is stressfree, as a level toss at half throttle will have the Wildcat flying immediately and the AS3X prevents any roll due to torque. The Wildcat slows down nicely for landing, and I added elevator as it got close to the ground until it simply stopped flying and settled into the grass. Most landings were so slow that the Wildcat slid only a few inches on our closely cropped grass infield.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: I flew the Wildcat mostly with SAFE Select off in AS3X stabilized mode, and found it to be stable and predictable even in a 10 to 12mph wind—outstanding for a foam model. Tracking: Even in Expert mode, with the AS3X working, the Wildcat went where I pointed it. I know it’s a review cliché, but the Wildcat flew like a much bigger model. Aerobatics: The Wildcat performed all the usual aerobatics that you would expect from a highperformance (at the time) fighter plane. Loops, rolls, stall turns, figure-8s—it would do them all, and the powerful brushless motor wasn’t lacking in the slightest. Knife-edge flight as well as upright and inverted spins looked good, and there is plenty of power to do large, graceful loops. Glide and stall performance: Stalling the Wildcat, even in Expert mode, was impossible. With zero power and full up-elevator, the plane would just slowly descend. If you pushed the nose down, it would begin to fly. A slow glide and gentle stall mean belly landings in the grass are light as a feather.
The Wildcat is exceptionally fun to fly. It is light and nimble, but the AS3X keeps things under control even when the wind picks up. While many models of this size lack a functional rudder, the Wildcat’s rudder allows knife-edge flight, tight spins, and graceful hammerhead turns. Hand launches are some of the easiest of any model I have owned.
I had the chance to fly a few of these several years ago, and it’s really nice to see it back. The addition of SAFE Select will open the ability to fly a warbird to a whole new group of pilots. Add to that the performance, scale appearance, and reasonable price tag, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of these at the field.
The wings have the servos installed and connected. Panel lines, gun blisters, and even nonskid wing-walk areas are included.
The speed control, SAFE receiver, and elevator and aileron servos are all installed and connected, making assembly time minimal.
No screws are needed to install the stabilizer halves; four small pieces of clear tape are provided and virtually disappear once applied.
Despite no option for retracts, the undercarriage is replicated in amazing detail in its retracted location.