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Written by Andrew Griffith.
Transition to warbirds with this uncomplicated design.
Read an abridged review and watch a flight video.
As featured in the May 2015 issue of
Model Aviation.



Specifications

Model type: Electric or .46 nitro-powered sport warbird
Skill level: Intermediate
Wingspan: 52 inches
Wing area: 550 square inches
Length: 42.5 inches
Airfoil: Semisymmetrical
Needed to complete: Four-channel or better radio and receiver; four servos (electric) or five (glow); glow or electric power system
Construction: Laser-cut balsa and light plywood
Covering/finish: Silver MonoKote film; painted cowl
Street price: $138.98


Test-Model Details (glow powered)

Wing loading: 21.7 ounces per square foot
Weight: 5 pounds, 3 ounces
Power system: .46 to .55 two-stroke glow
Engine used: O.S. .55 AX ABL
Battery: HydriMax 2,000 mAh five-cell NiMH
Propeller: APC 12 x 8
Radio system: Tactic TTX850 and TR825 receiver; five Futaba S9001 servos
Flight duration: 10 minutes


Test-Model Details (electric powered)

Wing loading: 22.5 ounces per square foot
Weight: 5 pounds, 6 ounces
Power system: .32 brushless with 45-amp ESC and 4S LiPo
Motor used: RimFire .32 brushless 800 Kv outrunner
ESC: Great Planes Silver Series 45-amp brushless ESC
Battery: FlightPower 4S 3,800 mAh LiPo
Propeller: APC 13 x 8 electric
Radio system: Tactic TTX850 transmitter and TR825 receiver; four Futaba S9001 servos
Flight duration: 7 to 9 minutes


Pluses

• Flew great with either power setup.
• Warbird looks with sport airplane handling.
• Large hatch for easy battery or fuel tank access.


Minuses

• Using the recommended motor/propeller/ESC combination pulled 65 amps on a 45-amp ESC.


Abridged Review

If it’s possible for an aircraft to be considered iconic, the North American P-51 Mustang would surely be at or near the top of the list. Entering service in World War II, the drop tank-equipped aircraft were the first fighters with the range to escort allied bombers to Germany and back.

With its sleek looks and rich history, it’s no wonder the Mustang has become a “must-have” for nearly anyone with an aspiration to fly RC. This aircraft is so popular that hardly a month goes by without someone showing up at my club’s field, wanting to fly a P-51 as his or her first model. The Great Planes P-51 Mustang Sport Fighter, released as part of the Sport Fighter Series, won’t fulfill the role of a primary trainer, but it should allow aspiring warbird pilots to move up to their favorite fighters sooner rather than later.

The Great Planes P-51 is a Sport Scale model that is designed to fly with a simple four-channel radio system, standard servos, and the choice of an electric or glow power system. In keeping with the simple requirements of a sport airplane, Great Planes omitted the flaps and equipped the Mustang with fixed landing gear.

Although the Sport Fighter looks like a Mustang from the side, the outline of the wing speaks clearly to this being a sport model and not a true scale model. This is actually good news because the wider wing chord should make it easier to fly than more traditional warbird planforms.

As a model aircraft reviewer, I am often assigned projects that include a power system. I occasionally get to choose my preferred power system, but the Mustang Sport Fighter I was provided included both an electric and a glow power system to evaluate. The Mustang arrived with a full electric setup, an extra servo for the throttle, a receiver battery, and an O.S. glow-powered engine.


Flying Electric


I did most of the flying at half throttle, but because it’s a warbird at heart, it deserved a few full-throttle passes down the runway. The airplane tracks well when going fast and locks nicely into a groove. Loops were large and vertical flight was nearly unlimited. Aileron rolls were fairly axial, and in high rate, the Mustang will do respectable inside and outside snap rolls.

Five-minute flight times resulted in approximately 40% remaining battery life so we increased the timer to 6 minutes, landing with 25% to 30% battery left, which is a good number. If you plan to fly with the throttle pushed to the stop throughout the flight, your timer should be adjusted accordingly.


Flying Glow

I filled the tank and spent 10 minutes trying to get the O.S. engine running. I’ve never had an O.S. engine that was getting fuel and glow power refuse to start, then it dawned on me that one of the things I do out of habit is program a throttle-cut switch on all of my electric installations. After that was switched off, the O.S. sprang to life on the first flip. Following a few minutes of running and tweaking the needles for a slightly rich mixture, it was time to fly.

The weight and wing loading between the two versions were close and as I suspected, the performance was similar. With the O.S. .55AX, the Mustang was fast at full throttle. I didn’t have a radar gun available on the weekend we were test-flying, but speeds in the 90-mph range would not surprise me. My best estimate is that the two were within a few miles per hour of each other.


Comparison

Which do I like better - electric or glow? I’m not sure that’s a fair question. I liked the Mustang with either power system. Some may complain about dragging equipment to the field, but you either need batteries and a good charger if you want to fly a lot with electric, or a fuel jug, pump, and glow driver if flying glow.

If you have noise restrictions, it’s an easy choice—electric is quieter. On the other hand, glow power offers flights that are slightly longer than electric, but you have to clean up the mess at the end of the day.

Each has its advantages, but one thing is for sure—the Mustang is a lot of fun to fly. It’s hard to go wrong with either choice!

Read the entire review in the May 2015 issue of Model Aviation. You can subscribe to the digital edition by visiting http://modelaviation.com/digital.



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