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Written by Andrew Griffith
Get back to basics with this Giant Scale model
Abridged product review
Photos by Adam Strong and the author
Read the full product review in the February 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.


Specifications

Model type: Semiscale ARF
Skill level: Intermediate
Wingspan: 81 inches
Wing area: 984 square inches
Wing loading: 16.9 ounces per square foot
Airfoil: Flat bottom
Length: 49 inches
Weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
Engine: .40 to .46 two-stroke or .52 to .72 four-stroke
Radio: Four-channel minimum
Construction: Laser-cut balsa and light plywood
Covering/finish: Film covered in the classic Lock Haven Yellow Cub scheme with black trim
Street price: $179.97


Test-model Details

Engine used: O.S. 56FS-A four-stroke glow
Receiver battery: Hobbico LiFeSource 1,900 mAh
Propeller: 12 x 6 APC
Radio system: Tactic TTX610 2.4 GHz; TR624 six-channel receiver; HydriMax four-cell 2,000 mAh receiver battery; five TSX47 servos
Ready-to-fly weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
Flight duration: 15-plus minutes


Pluses

• Classic Cub looks.
• O.S. 56FS-A four-stroke engine has plenty of power and sounds great.
• One-piece wing makes for quick field assembly.
• Requires only a simple four-channel radio system with standard servos.
• Flying weight was less than specified.


Minuses

• One-piece 81-inch wing can be difficult to transport.
• No provisions for mounting floats.


Product Review

Perhaps no other aircraft defines “nostalgic” better than the Piper Cub. Much like the large number of full-scale Cubs produced, RC modelers simply love Cubs. The Cub might not be the most-frequently modeled full-scale airplane of all time, but if it’s behind the P-51 Mustang, it sure can’t be by much.

The Tower Hobbies Cub, with its 81-inch wingspan, is legal for Giant Scale events that retain the now-defunct International Miniature Aircraft Association (IMAA) 60/80 minimum wingspan rules. The Cub is completely built-up using laser-cut balsa and light plywood and covered in Cub yellow heat-shrink film with the classic black lightning bolt trim scheme.

A quick peek inside the fuselage made me think of it as more of an old-school kit-built model rather than a jig-built ARF because it looks pretty stout.




The parts were unpacked and organized before starting. Other than sealing the edges on the various cutouts where required, the covering required little work to remove wrinkles or sags and held up well in the Florida summer sun.


Flying

The day of the test flight arrived with a light breeze directly across the runway. The sound of a four-stroke engine is hard to beat, and it really sounds at home on a Cub. With a tank of fuel run through the engine for some adjustments, it was time to see how the Cub flew.

With the aircraft lined up on centerline, I held in a bit of right rudder and slowly advanced the throttle. The tail came up quickly and before I was past half throttle, the Cub was airborne in less than 50 feet. Several clicks of left aileron and a couple of clicks of up-elevator, and the airplane was flying hands off at half throttle.

After a few laps to get the feel of things, I took the Cub up high and did the requisite stall test. With the nose pointed into the mild wind, I decreased the power and progressively added elevator to keep the nose level until it stalled.

The Cub slowed and I thought it was just going to mush forward until, with little warning, it dropped a wing and entered a spin from which it took a few turns to recover. I repeated the test and got the same result.

Relaxing the controls stopped the spin, and letting the Cub fly out as power is added made recovery easy. Although this might sound a little dramatic, by the time the airplane stalled the airspeed was very slow and the controls were completely ineffective.

Back under power, it was time to put the Cub through its paces. The O.S. 56FS-A has plenty of power without being heavy and overpowered. Most of my flying was done at half throttle. I only needed full power to pull the Cub over the top for big loops. The rudder is effective and the Cub does great-looking stall turns and respectable knife-edge flight.

Wheel landings and touch-and-gos look great, but the wire gear can be a little bouncy. If you set it down too hard, the Cub will bounce. I tried some hot-dogging by running the Cub down the runway on one wheel, but the wire landing gear wasn’t stiff enough.

I’m not sure what the total flight time was, but after flying for more than 15 minutes, there was still plenty of fuel visible in the tank. You could probably do touch-and-gos for 30 minutes.


Conclusion

The Tower Hobbies J-3 Cub is a pleasure to fly and the O.S. four-stroke engine provides plenty of power and has the perfect sound for this airplane. Assembly takes roughly 15 hours, so a few evenings in the shop or a rainy weekend will have you ready to head to the field.

If you’re a fan of Cubs—and let’s face it, most of us are—the Tower Hobbies J-3 Cub is a good, solid performer. The only potential drawback I found was that transporting an 81-inch, one-piece wing might pose a problem for people with smaller vehicles, but for an afternoon of touch-and-gos, the Cub is hard to beat.
—Andrew Griffith
andy@customcutgraphix.com


Video


Manufacturer/Distributor

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


Sources

Tactic
(800) 637-7660
www.tacticrc.com

O.S. Engines
(800) 637-7660
www.osengines.com

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

RTL Fasteners
(800) 239-6010
www.rtlfasteners.com

Great Planes
(800) 637-7660
www.greatplanes.com

Frank Tiano Enterprises
(863) 607-6611
www.franktiano.com



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