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Written by Jon Barnes
This military jet should be on your radar
Product Review
As seen in the March 2019 issue of
Model Aviation.



Watch It Fly


Bonus Video

Although the military-gray airframe might cause some pilots to feel angst lest they experience loss of orientation, the Raptor’s twin, canted vertical stabilizers and unique cross section create excellent in-flight orientation cues.

THE LOCKHEED MARTIN F-22 Raptor, a single-seat, air-superiority stealth fighter, made its first flight in 1997. A total of 195 aircraft were manufactured throughout the life of the program, with the final Raptor delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 2012.

Its notable capabilities include the ability to supercruise (sustain supersonic flight without afterburners) and an impressively tall service ceiling of more than 65,000 feet. Standout features of this modern airframe include a clipped delta wing with a reverse-swept trailing edge, thrust-vectoring nozzles, and full-flying horizontal stabilizers. The Pratt & Whitney afterburner-equipped, turbo-fan engines produce a maximum thrust of 35,000 pounds each, giving this jet a 1.25 to 1.00 thrust-to-weight ratio in full afterburner.

Electric ducted-fan enthusiasts who are eager to fly this 21st century jet have long had to settle for smaller models powered by 64 to 70 mm power systems. Motion RC’s release of the Freewing 90mm EDF-powered F-22 Raptor now offers EDF jet enthusiasts a jumbo-size, full-featured alternative.

Manufactured out of EPO foam, this Raptor is available in two Plug-N-Play (PNP) configurations. The standard version includes a six-cell-based power system (brushless outrunner motor), while the deluxe version offers a higher-performance, eight-cell power system (brushless inrunner motor). Both motors mate to Freewing’s lush-sounding, nine-blade 90 mm EDF unit or the 12-blade EDF unit with the 8S power system.

Pilots who are looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of this airframe by using third party (read as typically much more expensive) 90 mm ducted fans will want to go with the ARF Plus version. This last version omits the Freewing power system entirely. All versions of the F-22 kit include electric retract-powered, suspension-equipped tricycle aluminum landing gear, flaps, full-flying horizontal stabilizers, a bright nose gear-mounted landing light that is synchronized to the deployment of the landing gear, and a full collection of preinstalled servos.

At A Glance

Specifications

Model type: Semiscale EDF jet

Skill level: Intermediate

Wingspan: 47.1 inches

Wing area: 403 square inches.

Length: 59 inches

Weight: 104 ounces

Power system: 90 mm EDF

Radio: Minimum six-channel required

Construction: EPO foam

Price: $479

Test-Model Details

Power system: Freewing 3748-1750 Kv brushless outrunner motor; Freewing nine-blade 90 mm fan; Freewing brushless 130-amp ESC with separate 8-amp BEC; EC5 connector

Battery: Admiral Carbon 70C 6S 5,100 mAh LiPo

Radio system: Spektrum DX9 transmitter; Spektrum AR9020 receiver

Ready-to-fly weight: 135 ounces

Flight duration: 3 to 4 minutes

Pluses

  • PNP versions offer pilots a choice of either a 6S or 8S power system; ARF Plus version allows pilots to source their own power systems.
  • Articulating pivot point used on the main landing gear allows gear to fold flat in the retract bays.
  • Nose gear features a bright landing light that automatically turns on when the landing gear is deployed.
  • Authentic USAF military paint scheme uses more than a dozen shades of silver and gray.
  • Voluminous battery bay allows pilots to easily experiment with larger-capacity batteries.

Minus

  • No navigation lights or strobes included.

this exciting 90 mm modern scale jet looks
This exciting 90 mm modern scale jet looks to be all business on the ramp. The twin scale intakes can provide nearly all of the inlet air necessary to feed the whoosh-sounding Freewing fan. A small pair of unobtrusively positioned NACA-style auxiliary inlets is the only extra ducting required.

The control rods feature slop-free, ball link-style connections on the control surfaces. The nose gear bay features servo-driven, sequenced gear doors that are held closed with magnets to prevent them from leaking open while in flight.

Engineered to allow the main gear to lie flat in the retract bays, a unique articulating knuckle allows the mains to pivot as they retract into the fuselage. Small metal roller pins embedded in the main gear retract bays help to facilitate this feature.

Although some pilots might lament the lack of any included navigation lights, the included multifunction control board features additional spare light outputs that can be used to drive any pilot-installed auxiliary lighting systems.

Freewing uses a hard, plastic overlay on the nose cone to help protect this typically vulnerable component from hangar rash. Another nice feature finding its way into the latest Freewing jets is a plastic-lined cockpit. This helps to minimize the gatoring that typically occurs when a foam composition model painted in darker colors is exposed to an excess amount of the sun’s heat.

Assembly

Assembling this big Raptor is a glue-and-screw proposition. Not much of either is required. Total assembly of this big 90 mm jet takes roughly an hour for most pilots. You will need to append small bits to both ends of the massive, gray fuselage. The aft end is built out by gluing the two fuselage extensions and pointed engine exhaust separator in place.

The forward end features a plastic, magnetically retained nose cone. The balance of the airframe assembly is accomplished using machine thread fasteners. This includes mounting the twin vertical stabilizers, twin horizontal stabilators, and the two wing halves.

The two large stabilators pivot smoothly on the bearings. Pilots might want to carefully apply a small dab of thread-locking compound to the screws used to anchor these components in place, although care should be taken to avoid letting the compound come into contact with nonmetallic surfaces.

The stunningly authentic, scalelike military paint scheme utilizes more than a dozen hues and shades of gray and silver …

A double-ended multiconductor cable is used to combine and connect the wingbased electronics to the fuselage. Each wing connector then plugs into the centrally located, Freewing multifunction control box (MCB-E). This small module is also the connecting point for the included nose gear-mounted landing light, with multiple spare light outputs provided to drive custom, pilot-added navigation lights and strobes.

A half dozen short, male-to-male servo extensions connect the F-22’s primary flight controls from the MCB-E to a pilot-provided receiver (minimum six channel).

EDF-powered jet models commonly use auxiliary air inlets to supplement the typically limited amount of air that can be pulled in through a model’s scale inlet ducts. Freewing uses of a pair of unobtrusively sized, barely noticeable, NACA-style ducts on the F-22’s bottom fuselage that contributes to this model having an authentically scalelike appearance and outline.

The stunningly authentic, scalelike military paint scheme utilizes more than a dozen hues and shades of gray and silver to recreate the all-business look of a fullscale Raptor. Pilots who are never content with the status quo of a stock model and who have access to a 3D printer (or a third-party 3D printing service) will revel in Motion RC’s decision to make a series of downloadable 3D-printout sets available at no charge.

the multihued silver
The multihued silver and gray paint scheme is stunning. Assembling this kit, which requires a combination of glue and screws, can be completed in roughly an hour.

f-22s roomy battery compartment allows pilots
The F-22’s roomy battery compartment allows pilots to easily experiment with larger-capacity LiPo battery packs.

an embedded roller mechanism cleverly
An embedded roller mechanism cleverly pivots the Raptor’s main gear to allow it to fit flush in the gear bays. Multipin connectors aggregate the electronics that are mounted in each wing half and simplify assembly/disassembly for transport.

Although the stock cockpit and pilot figure are nothing to sneeze at, and will no doubt impress many pilots, those who wish to dress out their Raptors to an even greater level of detail can print and install the optional, exquisitely detailed cockpit set.

Pilots without access to a 3D printer should eventually be able to purchase the same cockpit set from Motion RC. A weapons’ display bay is reported to be available soon, although it is intended only for static display. More details about these 3D-printed options can be found on the F-22’s product information page on the Motion RC website under the "Support" tab.

Flying

The first step toward giving this Raptor wings is to load an appropriate-size LiPo battery into the battery bay. Beneath the removable canopy lurks one of the most cavernous battery bays ever seen in a 90 mm EDF-powered jet! The manufacturer’s recommended capacity pack for the six-cell version of the model is a 5,000 to 6,000 mAh LiPo battery pack.

Pilots should have no problem going with the latter—and maybe even larger! There appears to be ample room to shift larger packs aft to achieve the recommended center of gravity. Those who opt for the eight-cell variant of this model should easily be able to fit a pair of four-cell 5,000 mAh LiPo battery packs in the voluminous battery bay.

Pilots with limited departure dimensions will be relieved to find that pouring the coals on hard and fast quickly gets this big jet up to speed. When at speed, the large surface area of the full-flying horizontal stabilizers can exert a significant amount of influence on the pitch axis.

Pilots who prefer a more relaxed-looking departure, with a nice, scalelike shallow angle of departure, will want to deploy the flaps to the first notch and gradually apply throttle.

When it is in the air, this model flies lightly on the wing. The manufacturer’s listed wing area specification and wing cube loading number suggests that this aircraft has a high wing loading; however, empirical data strongly suggests that those numbers might not adequately take into account the lifting body effect of the F-22’s large, flat fuselage.

Pulling the throttle back to reduced settings will allow a pilot to explore the jet’s wide flight envelope. This exercise in self-control can also handily extend flight duration toward the 4-minute mark. The Raptor’s slow speed ability and stability make it a distinct and worthwhile consideration for pilots who have yet to step into the world of large, electric-powered jets.

the ample lifting area of this big epo
The ample lifting area of this big EPO foam composition airframe enables impressive high-alpha maneuvers and slow-speed, high angle-of-attack landing approaches.

The other end of this model’s speed spectrum is sure to bring an ear-to-ear grin to all pilots. With the throttles in full afterburner, the Raptor easily tears past the 100 mph mark. Using a GPS-equipped Eagle Tree eLogger, I recorded top speeds of 106 to 112 mph when making long, flat passes with minimal diving entry and on a day when the winter wind was almost completely calm.

For an EDF jet, this model is capable of some impressively intense aerobatic maneuvers. Watch any of the variety of videos available online of the full-scale Raptor performing its demonstration routine at an air show to get an idea of what it can achieve in the hands of a veteran RC jet pilot.

Fliers are sure to enjoy the challenge of pushing this model to perform some real-world air show routines! The power system provides plenty of swoosh to make it a reality. Pilots will want to keep their attempted flight durations on the conservative side for the first few flights. This is a 90 mm jet and flight durations will typically be shorter than those of smaller models. Varied throttle usage, mixed in with a little slow-speed cruising and power management (go easy on the afterburners!), can stretch flight durations to four minutes.

Landings are surprise free with either half or full flaps. This airframe slows nicely, with the ability to enter and sustain a high-alpha orientation, and pilots can even shoot an approach with no flaps. Just be ready with that throttle stick lest you get too low or slow!

Conclusion

Lovers of big EDF jets might have a hard time talking themselves out of this gorgeous, 90 mm foamie F-22 Raptor. It is the first jumbo-size offering of this modern military fighter and incorporates most of the latest and greatest features that are now common to EDF jets (in large part thanks to Freewing and Motion RC).

The Raptor’s stable, predictable performance when flown at slower speeds even qualifies it as an enticing, entry-level EDF jet for those who are on the fence and fantasizing about jumping in for their first 90 mm jet. A trio of versions allows pilots to choose the perfect Raptor for their particular piloting skillset.

Manufacturer/Distributor Motion RC

(224) 633-9090

www.motionrc.com

Sources:

Spektrum

(800) 338-4639

www.spektrumrc.com

Eagle Tree Systems

(425) 614-0450

www.eagletreesystems.com

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