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Written by Tom Sullivan
An electrified dive bomber
Abridged product review
Photos by the author
Read the full product review in the November 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.


Specifications

Model type: 1:5-3/4 semiscale ARF
Skill level: Advanced
Wingspan: 75 inches
Wing area: 936 square inches
Airfoil: Semisymmetrical
Length: 60 inches
Weight: Listed at 10.8 to 11.9 pounds; actual 12.375 pounds
Radio: Minimum six-channel, nine standard high-torque servos
Power system: Recommended: 1.20 two-stroke; 1.40 four-stroke; 20cc (gas); or 1,600- to 2,200-watt electric with 5S or 6S 5,500 mAh battery
Price: $289.99


Test-model details

Power system: RimFire 1.20 brushless outrunner motor; ElectriFly 80-amp ESC; 6S 5,000 mAh LiPo battery
Radio: Tactic TR625 receiver; nine TSX45 Tactic servos; three Y harnesses, four servo extensions


Pluses

• Laser-cut balsa and plywood used in construction of the complete airframe.
• Prepainted fiberglass cowl, wheel pants, and wheel spats included.
• Film covering is in a typical German camouflage color scheme, preprinted with a wealth of panel lines and hatch details.
• Two-piece, plug-in wing panels supported by an aluminum wing tube.
• Aileron and flaps are preinstalled.
• Firewall comes predrilled and includes preinstalled T-nuts.
• The front half of the canopy doubles as a hatch for battery, radio, and tank access.
• External tanks and bomb are included to add scale detail.
• Prepainted pilot and gunner figures are included.


Minus

• The port main gear failed on the maiden flight during an average landing.


Bonus video


Abridged product review

In 1935, a German aircraft designer named Hermann Pohlmann came up with a new design for a ground-attack airplane. It was so revolutionary that it helped define what we know today as precision bombing.

That airplane was the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. With its inverted gull wings, fixed spatted undercarriage, and legendary siren, it became one of the best-known warbirds used in World War II.

Now that same design has been reproduced by the Phoenix Model company in 1:5-3/4 size. Far from a small foamie, this semiscale ARF model has a 75-inch wingspan and is built-up from laser-cut balsa and plywood.

The airframe is covered with a unique, preprinted German camouflage scheme (medium and dark green on the upper surfaces, gray on the underside), but a wealth of details printed on the covering includes panel lines, hatches, Iron Crosses, and squadron markings. It’s an interesting covering that seems to have an
adhesive backing.

The individual airframe components are solidly made with typical built-up construction, and an outer layer of sheeting. It feels solid in your hands and the wing panels don’t show any signs of bending or warps when under stress.

Matching the colors is a wealth of prepainted parts made from a variety of materials. The largest of these are the fiberglass cowl, wheel pants, wheel spats, and underwing fuel tanks. Smaller pieces made from plastic include the stabilizer/elevator end caps, spinner, and two identical pilot busts (one pilot and one gunner). Rounding out the parts are an aluminum wing tube, wheels, fuel tank, control hardware, and even a dummy bomb that can be mounted underneath the fuselage.

Multiple options are available to power the Stuka: glow, gas, or electric. Included are the parts to mount a glow engine via beam mounts, or if going electric as I did, there is a hardware package with a standoff to properly space the motor.

A substantial amount of work has been done for you at the factory. One of the more difficult things to do when building a Stuka is to correctly align and install the ailerons and flaps. Well, no worries here because all of that is done right out of the box.




For an inexpensive scale model, the Phoenix Stuka ARF kit includes a variety of items that are optional extras elsewhere—pilot figures, wing tanks, a spinner, and even a centerline bomb.


As usual in my reviews, I’m not going to go through all of the construction steps. If you’d like to see the steps, a link to the Stuka ARF’s manual is in the “Sources” section. The manual is 28 pages long and is surprisingly good considering it was translated into English. Each step has at least one detailed drawing showing what needs to be done.

Oh, one other thing before I go any further. You’ll notice a difference in the Stuka’s finish if comparing any close-up shots to the finished flight shots. The Stuka looks “factory fresh.” The covering has a sheen, but the painted parts are glossy in many cases, especially the canopy framing, the wheel pants, and the cowl.

Now, I wasn’t around back when Stukas were produced, so there may have been a few that looked that way, but for my taste, I chose to weather this one to give it a more authentic look. I’ll describe how I did this later.


Construction

You need to decide how to power your Stuka. In my case, an electric power system was supplied, consisting of a RimFire 1.20, an 80-amp ESC, and a 6S 5,000 mAh battery. This electric power system is a good match for the Phoenix Stuka.

Included in the kit is all of the hardware needed to mount the RimFire brushless motor and no drilling is required. Simply use the supplied hardware and some threadlocker. You’ll find that everything is properly spaced.

If you do choose to install a glow engine, a two-part beam mount is included that bolts into the same mounting holes as the RimFire. Also included are a fuel tank and a throttle pushrod.

One great thing about using electric power was that there was no fiddling or trimming to fit the cowl. It simply slipped over everything with no clearance problems. After positioning it to center on the spinner and have the proper spacing to the backplate, I drilled four holes and the cowl was attached. It was as simple as that.

A few other optional details can be added for more realism. One is a set of gun “blisters” that are cut from vacuum-formed plastic and glued to the top of each wing panel. Another is a preassembled bomb that is held under the center of the fuselage with a single screw. It looked slightly small to me, so I chose not to install it. You could always try it, and it’s simple to remove if you change your mind.

I was happy to see that the model balanced right where it should. There’s a little room to move the LiPo fore/aft if balance is a problem. The manual calls for the Stuka to weigh between 11.25 and 12 pounds. This review model was 12.375 pounds without the battery.

One more thing before I discuss flying. As I noted before, the Stuka comes “factory fresh.” I wanted to weather mine to match Stukas I’ve seen in photos. See the full product review in the November 2016 issue of Model Aviation to learn how the author weathered his Stuka.




An electric power system was supplied as part of the review. Although the author leaned toward a 20cc gasoline engine, the RimFire 1.20 motor and a 6S battery pack were a nice match for the airframe.




The front half of the canopy doubles as an easily removable hatch, providing access to the radio, and fuel tank or batteries.




There is ample room inside of the fuselage for nearly any radio system. Toward the right is the 6S 4,200 mAh battery installed. If using glow/gas power, the fuel tank would be positioned there instead.


Flying

Any model’s maiden flight gives me butterflies, and the Stuka’s did more than usual because of the amount of work I had put into it. After taxiing, I lined up into the wind and applied power. To my surprise, this slightly overweight Stuka (according to the manual’s specifications) accelerated with authority and lifted off in roughly 150 feet. It needed a lot of trim to get it to fly hands off, but after a few passes it was trimmed out and ready for the photo passes.

Approximately half power was more than sufficient for the Stuka to maneuver and fly realistic passes at a very nice, scalelike speed. Actually, I was very impressed at how well it flew at these slow speeds.

Not knowing the flight time that the 5,000 mAh battery pack would give, after 7 or 8 minutes it was time to land and check things out. I flew a couple of practice approaches to judge the speed and sink rate, then settled in for the landing. I touched down with an average landing, but the strut of the port main gear broke where the axle threads in. It was a pretty light touch—so light, in fact, that the fiberglass wheel pant remained attached and easily held up the wing.

After some grumbling and a few choice words about my luck, a replacement set of gear was sent and installed. I’m happy to say that so far, this pair of struts has held up, but I’ll admit that I’ve been landing the Stuka carefully. I always land with half flaps and try for either a three-point landing, or to touch the tail gear down first.

I’ve had sufficient time to evaluate the Stuka and I really like the way it flies. It has far more than adequate power, and I find myself usually only needing half throttle for a typical flight. I know that many of you will be looping, rolling, and doing inverted flying with your Stuka, so I’ve tried some of that with no problems at all. The power system has plenty in reserve.

The flaps are extremely effective, just as split flaps should be. When deployed, the Stuka will pitch down, so some up-elevator mix is needed for a smooth transition. I rarely use more than half flaps, but when I do deploy them fully, the Stuka can be brought to extremely slow speed. Use the throttle to pull you out of trouble if you get too slow, but that rarely happens.




This angle shows off the long, multipart dive flaps for which the Stuka is famous. When extended, they work wonders in slowing the Stuka for slow passes, simulated dive bomb runs, or for landing.


Conclusion

I’m a sucker for warbirds, especially for many of the German designs, so the Phoenix Model Stuka ARF is right up my alley. It has a great flight envelope and plenty of power with the RimFire power system. Its plug-in wing system is a snap to assemble at the field and despite the initial landing mishap, the entire airframe has held up well. Takeoffs and landings are straight and true with no tendency to swerve when the tail wheel lifts off.

With some throttle management, flight times can be as long as 12 minutes on a 5,000 mAh battery pack—slightly less if you choose to power through the sky. Either way, the Stuka is a great model and worth a look if you’re in the market for an inexpensive warbird.
—Tom Sullivan
tmsullivan80@gmail.com


Manufacturer/distributor

Phoenix Model
www.phoenixmodel.com

Tower Hobbies
(800) 637-6050
www.towerhobbies.com


Sources

Stuka manual
www.towerhobbies.com/manuals/pmm/pmma0380_manual.pdf

ElectriFly
(800) 637-7660
www.electrifly.com

FlightPower
www.flightpowerbatteries.com

Tactic
www.tacticrc.com

APC Propellers
(530) 661-0399
www.apcprop.com



4 comments

An excellent write up, but I was hoping you would have said something about the previous Stuka which is this same model but with a lot of changes since it was put out by Black Horse. I too broke a main gear at the same place and the replacements they sent are a 'fork' set up on the same spring loaded strut. If you'd utube Black Horse JU87 Stuka you would see what I am talking about as far as it being the same model with changes.

I have had two Stukas from Pheonix and the first airplane broke a Landing Gear at the casting joining the main spring strut. (this was replaced).
The second Stuka had the modified struts with the fork system attached to the spring strut, but I have had problems with these forks as they will bend under any side loading when landing and freeze up the landing wheel as the wheel rubs up against the forks.

Overall I like the ARF, however it is not for a beginner. I have found several Quality Control problems that do seem to be fairly common with Asian manufacturers. The Landing gear mentioned in the review has been changed to a U shaped mount now instead of the offset arm, so far so good on that one. One of the landing gear however which has four feet for mounting, had only 3 holes drilled in it, and I had to drill one. Then on the left wing only, the cover sheet would not allow the gear to mount, so I had to use my Dremel router bit to open it up another 3/16 of an inch so it could be mounted. Also they use a lot of #3 x 12 sheet metal screws, and I had one missing, 4 with no slot or phillips cut into the head, and 2 with bad threads (none for 1/2 its length) and these are almost impossible to find in the US. #2 and #4 yes. but these no. I also found that one of the Gas Engine mounts had the pre-drilled
holes for the mount to the firewall, only half way through and I had to redrill that. Also just for reference, in all including servo mounts, I had to drill 33 different holes per wing, of 2 different sizes with no problem, but for the novice nothing is shown where to drill or how to fit them for drilling in the instructions, not a problem with a journeyman builder. I am about 80% done waiting for servos to arrive now. Using a DLE 20RA in mine. It will require a small amount of the grill to be cut away at the top to clear the inverted cylinder head for the DLE 20 or 20RA. The above is why I said it is not for the beginner, however it does make a very nice looking plane. Will follow up.

WHAT IS THE SPEC FOR ALERON AND ELEVATOR TRAVELS WITH GAS MOTOR. I ALSO MADE NEW LANDING GEAR ARMS OUT OF T6061 ALUMIUN

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