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Flyzone P-38 Lightning

When the P-38 was flown at the Teaneck Armory, a fair number of people admired details like the characteristic turbo charger (above left) on the booms. This look at the Lightningshows the highly undecambered molded sheet airfoil

(above right). You’ll get an honest 6-minute flight plus reserves with the 250 mAh battery (below left). The components (below center) for the simple hook and loop tool mentioned in the text and putting it to work (below right).

Well, your faith shall be rewarded because the few short flights in the Teaneck Armory in Teaneck, NJ showed that both were right on. For the initial flights a Tactic 650 trans- mitter was used because it provided the op- tion of low rates and exponential in case that was needed. The Tactic 402 that comes with the RTF version doesn’t offer those features, only servo reversing, so for those with the RTF version the first flight of the P-38 will offer some practical guidelines.

The weather outside in northern New Jer- sey has been pretty frightful lately as the song goes, with temps in the single digits and wind chills a good bit below that. So, outdoor flights were pretty much out of the question. We’re not martyrs up here in far northern New Jersey.

That left the Teaneck Armory, a pretty huge unobstructed building with several in- door soccer fields set up inside. The comment was already made about not flying from a grass field but the artificial turf surface for the soccer fields looked like it just might be feasible for a ground takeoff instead of a hand launch, and indeed two very nice fea- tures of the P-38 made that very possible. First, the props rotate in opposite direc- tions that negate the need for rudder con- trol—there isn’t any, since this is a 3-


channel plane. That let the P-38 track in a very straight line, true as an arrow, dur- ing its brief takeoff run. No twitching right or left. And secondly, there are gobs of power in the Lightning. Even on that rough surface the P-38 lifted off in an esti- mated 10–15 feet. And tore skyward like a homesick angel.

Well, that was a surprise, and that exces-

sive speed made the model porpoise and twitch with the very slightest of control in- put. After several seconds of wild gyrations, the light of reason finally switched on and the throttle was reduced to one-third. Right away the P-38, at full control throws became a beautiful example of a plane that, very sim- ply put, grooves and is a real pleasure to fly. That is instructive for those who have the RTF version and plan to use the Tactic 402 transmitter that comes with it. Take off at full throttle but as soon as it starts to climb reduce the throttle to about one-third and you’ll have a very sweet flying plane. And don’t worry about it falling out of the sky. Even at one-quarter throttle the plane has plenty of stability

There isn’t any way to mechanically mini- mize the control throws, and the only throw that could be adjusted is the elevator. The ailerons have an embedded torque rod. The

elevator pushrod is already at its farthest setting which gives the minimal throw. After the first flight, the rates were set up on the Tactic 650 which was the first trans- mitter used. Only the elevator low rate was set. Ailerons remained at 100 percent. No expo was included. Elevator low rate was 70 percent.

At the second flight of the P-38 the eleva- tor rate was set to low. Liftoff took a little longer than the first flight but at higher throttle setting the limited throw kept the plane from porpoising wildly though the ele- vator was still pretty sensitive. Ailerons on both flights were nicely responsive at all speeds. By the way, the ailerons steer the plane. There is no asymmetric thrust used to turn the plane as many earlier and cheap- er twins used to wend their way around the sky.

Third and fourth flights were thoroughly enjoyable as the comfort level with the little Lightning increased. No rolls or loops were attempted. Landings were pretty docile though some power is needed to smooth out the glide. The arches on the armory ceiling are only thirty feet up and there are already a number of freeflight and R/C models that have taken up quasi permanent residence up there. And initial rolls would have been


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