F4U Corsair

Now, if you ask me, the artwork on the Corsairs box really doesn’t do the model justice. Granted, it looks okay, but you’ve really got to take a look at it in the flesh. Lifting the spray painted, panel-bedecked fuselage from within, quite literally put a smile on my face. For a small-ish (39″ span) model, the attention that’s been lavished on this little warbird is truly impressive, especially for something so… how shall we say… expendable! Perhaps I should justify that: Foam models of this ilk aren’t designed for longevity, they’re manufactured and sold to be flown hard for a relatively short period of, say, a season or two, then replaced.

On this basis, then, you might expect a somewhat cartoon scale appearance with minimal attention to detail. But that’s not what you get. Instead, owners of Art-Tech’s latest are treated to a genuinely accurate facsimile of the full-size. The neatly detailed cockpit was the first thing I noticed, this embellished with an authentic seat and instrument panel that just longs for a full length pilot figure. Panel lines and rivet detail abound, whilst at the front an attractive chequered cowl surrounds a dummy Pratt & Whitney radial. Pulling more parts from the box confirms the level of detail throughout, indeed flying surfaces display similar panel lines, whilst control surfaces are embellished with authentic rib detail. Finally, no Corsair would be complete without the hallmark radiator grilles on the leading edge root section of the wing and, as if that’s not enough, the whole is topped off with – get this – a genuinely authentic-looking three blade prop, complete with hub detail and characteristic domed spinner.

Okay, so that’s the airframe, but what of the gear? Well, first and foremost all new Art-Tech kits are now supplied with a set of 2.4GHz radio. In this instance comprising a basic but adequate E-Fly four-channel transmitter, E-Fly six-channel receiver and four Art-Tech AS-100 micro servos. All is, of course, pre-installed, wired up and, short of the obligatory 2.4GHz binding operation, ready for action. Mind you, no RTF kit would be complete without all the other bits you need, and in this respect the airframe also houses a pre-installed brushless bell motor, ESC, 1300mAh 3s Li-Po (with JST-XH balance plug), balancing charger, power supply, spare prop, screwdriver, bind plug, PC based flight simulator software and a USB cable that enables the transmitter to be used as the simulator interface.

Leave yourself a good hour or two to screw this one together, it deserves not to be rushed. As you can see from the photos, a plug-in undercarriage is supplied for those who are lucky enough to fly from the local bowling green and, again, a creditable attempt has been made to make it look realistic, this with tyre tread, authentic wheel detail and even clip-on leg fairings. Clearly the undercart wont take any abuse but it is at least up to the task that’s required of it. Unfortunately, Ive not been able to test the models ground handling characteristics, although the steerable tail wheel and wide track main legs lead me to believe that it wont present any problems.

Having decided whether or not you’re going to fit the undercarriage, assembly continues with plugging the pre-connected aileron Y-lead into the receiver and bolting the wing in place. An interesting deviation from the norm sees the fin and tailplane screwed into position, directly above the tail-mounted rudder servo, the latter incorporating a small hole in its output arm that accepts a torque rod from the control surface. With the fin and tail thus mounted the whole detail sits hidden within the fuselage out of harms way. Whilst Im not convinced of its overall strength, the system seems to work well in practice although you will need to be careful to properly engage the rudder torque rod with the hole in the servo horn, which in my case was clogged with navy blue over-spray and needed clearing before the joint could be made. Screw the fin and tail in place, hook up the elevator and, finally, bolt that terrific three blade prop in position to complete the illusion. Now then, stand back, admire the finished product and I guarantee it’ll bring a smile to your face. It did me.
So, that’s it, then. Popping the Li-Po into its hatch on the underside (just behind the cowl) and checking the stated C of G proved the Corsair to be just a little tail heavy. Mind you, this wasn’t a condition I considered particularly worrying and decided to fly her in this state before adding weight. As a point of interest, Art-Tech supply a 21/2 oz shrink-wrapped lump of lead in the box which, one can only assume, is for balancing purposes. That said, there’s no mention of it in the instructions, and no obvious place for it to go. In the event, then, I simply popped it in my pocket along with some double-sided servo tape, with a mind to sticking it somewhere inside the fuselage should the need arise.
Plugging in the battery and testing the radio proved a wholly uneventful task whilst providing an encouragingly ample amount of thrust from the power-train. All systems go, then!

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I picked a chilly but calm day for the test flight and with the undercarriage removed got David (brother, assistant editor and foamie warbird enthusiast) to launch her for me. This he did, although in the event he reported that the model fair leapt from his hand and that a single-handed underarm launch would also be an acceptable option.
Climbing like a lift I was forced to throttle back somewhat and feed in a substantial amount of down elevator to level things out. This done it became abundantly clear that Art-Techs Corsair is neither short of power or prone to stalling. In truth, the model felt light on the controls and surprisingly floaty, if not a little sensitive on elevator, which lead me to believe that the aforementioned nose weight was required. I chose to fit this straight away but not before confirming that stall.

Throttling back whilst feeding in elevator seemed to have little or no effect until the very last moment when, finally, the model dropped a wing and entered a spiral dive. Recovery proved easy and with this I brought her in for a slow and floaty landing, plopping her on the deck at what must have been marginally ahead of the stall. Of course, unlike a two blader, three blade props dont flick aside on contact with the ground and, initially, I feared for its survival. I needn’t have worried mind, it seemed to cope fine with being dragged through the dirt, aided, no doubt, by the fact that the model is so light. My fondness for this neat little aeroplane growing by the minute, I was equally pleased to note that the underside of the wing hadnt been scuffed. I also clocked that the lowest points of the gull wing seemed to provide a perfectly stable platform upon which to land – one that keeps the under-slung aileron servos permanently clear of the ground.

On the second flight, with the weight added, I was able to trim for less down elevator, noticing in the process, that the models pitch handling was improved. Trimmed accordingly, the Corsair groves like the fighter it represents and looks simply fabulous performing barrel rolls, reversals and all those beautifully swoopy, energy saving manoeuvres that warbirds fly so well. Mind you, that’s not to say it lacks power. Loops from level flight are easily achieved and positive climbing turns a delight.

If you’ve got the impression that I like this model, you’d be right. In fact, its made me look at the Corsair in a completely different light, to the point that I really quite fancy one with a real engine! …Who said that?

Having shown the aeroplane to a number of people, Ive yet to find anyone who doesn’t like it and a good number who do, and that’s before they’ve seen it fly! Oddly, Ive also noticed that people cant stop handling it, spinning the propeller, admiring the detail and eyeing it up. Clearly, its a model with a tactile quality that provides pleasure in ownership even when not flying. Laugh if you like but believe me, its true! No, Ive owned two Art-Tech models in the past and whilst both were good, this one takes the biscuit. If you like foam you’ll love this model, and if you’re one of those people who detest the stuff, I reckon you’ll still like it.

Model type: Electric warbird
Manufactured by: Art-Tech
UK distributor: Century UK
RRP: £134.99
Wingspan: 39″
Fuselage length: 33″
Wing area: 195 sq.in. 
All-up weight: 23.5oz
Functions: ailerons, elevator, rudder, throttle. 
Supplied with: 2.4GHz 4-channel transmitter, four servos, speed controller, 1300mAh 3S Li-Po battery, balance charger, instructions, spare propeller, bind plug, flight simulator software and USB interface cable.

The Art-Tech Corsair is available at good model shops or from www.myhobbystore.com.  Click here to go there.

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