Model Airplane News|August 2020

Pro tips for warbird pilots

We all know that WW II wabirds, especially giant-scale fighters, are some of the most popular RC aircraft flying today. Go to any RC event and you’re bound to see at least a few classic warbirds like the P-40 Warhawk, P-51D Mustang, or the P-47 Thunderbolt on the flight line. With so many great flying warbirds, more and more RC modelers are stepping up to giant scale and enjoying the power and performance of these classic dogfighting machines.

One of my favorite warbirds is the F4U Corsair ARF from Top Flite. Compared to other warbirds in its size range, this giant-, bent-wing warbird is a relatively easy to fly model and would make a great first big warbird. As with anything new however, it does take a little getting used to. Here are some tips for flying your first giant-scale warbird.


All successful flights start with a proper preflight condition check. Actually, this is a good thing to do for any size RC plane, but I consider it mandatory for big warbirds like the Corsair. But even before you get to the flying field, be sure that you have assembled everything correctly in your workshop. My first bit of advice would be to add some thread-locker to all the nuts and bolts so they won’t come loose. Also, be absolutely sure that your warbird is properly balanced and the CG is where it is supposed to be.

Team up with an experienced RC warbird pilot before and during the first flight. Two sets of eyes will help discover any issues that may need correcting. Also, having a pro test-fly your plane first is the best way to start off.


Perform a radio/control check. Don’t just wiggle the sticks and see that everything moves. Make sure everything moves in the correct direction. Stand behind your plane looking forward and pull back on the stick. The elevator should move up. Check the ailerons in the same way as well as the rudder and the throttle. Push the throttle stick forward and make sure the carburetor opens up. This may seem very basic, but if you have more than one model in your transmitter’s memory, this is where you’ll catch any obvious problems. No one wants to take off with ailerons operating backwards!

Make sure all the controls move freely and do not bind. Check the flaps to be sure the linkage doesn’t hit the servo hatch cover when the servos reach the end of their travel. Use your radio’s endpoint/servo travel function to make sure your servos don’t bottom out in either the full up or full down positions, as this can drain your battery pack. You’ll hear the servos buzzing if they do.

Start off with the recommended control throws listed in your model’s instruction manual. You can adjust the throws to your liking after your first few flights. As an example, with the Top Flite Corsair, I was surprised with how little elevator throw was called for; only 3/4 inch up and down for the high rates, and 1/2 inch for low rates. As it turned out, for me, this was just about perfect while using 20-percent expo. An overly sensitive airplane especially in pitch is not a good thing on the first flight.


Secure your model with a tail hold down device or have a friend secure it so the model won’t move forward. Fuel up your model and then start your engine to check its performance. Gasoline engines are easy to operate if you use the correct procedure to start them. But also you have to install the engine, the fuel lines and tank properly. Use gasoline grade lines and tank stopper and install a fuel filter between the tank and the carburetor. It is a good idea to install a filter in your fuel supply container’s filler line as well. Also use the correct size propeller as recommended by the engine’s manufacturer.


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August 2020