Parkzone/hori­zon Hobby 1.0m F4F Wild­cat

This lit­tle warbird is big on scale de­tails and per­for­mance

Electric Flight - - CONTENTS - By An­drew Grif­fith

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.

UNIQUE FEA­TURES

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.

PI­LOT DE­BRIEF­ING

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.

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