What's It all About ???

This page is all about the building and flying of radio controlled model aircraft. It's a highly diversified hobby that takes in as many skills as you like to use. Everything from electronics to carpentry, to painting, to drawing and designing with a little bit of metal work thrown in. Some builders even go into doing their own machining, pattern designing, fibre glassing, moulding and engine design. You can use electric motors, 2 stroke or 4 stroke internal combustion engines or even minature turbine (jet) engines for power. My own models use 2 and 4 stroke internal combustion engines and range in size from about a metre in wingspan to well over 3 metres from tip to tip!

Lockheed P38 Lightning


The construction of this model has been suspended until the problems associated with the kit accuracy can be resolved.

Lockheed P38 Lightning

Wingspan 90"
Wing Area 1085 Squ ins
Fuselage Length 67"
Power 2 x 60 size 4 stroke
Weight 5.5Kg

Latest update

6th May 2013

I've circled some of the offending problems in red. Circles 1 and 2 - lack of proper gluing in the outer wing tubes resulting in movement and breakage to the tube. The tube by the way is a thin roll of CARDBOARD that appears to have been painted with varnish. Totally inadequate to locate a 25mm diameter metal joining tube.

The wire that is arrowed in red is 39.5cm long and has NO outer tube and NO support for it's whole length. It is supposed to control the nose wheel but bends and flexes so much it is useless. Similar wires of similar lengths are provided for throttle control - once again - NO support !

Port wing locating holes -  75mm centres

Port wing blind nuts - this is what the locating holes in the wing are supposed to line up with - 78mm centres!

Starboard wing blind nuts - 72mm centres - and you guessed it - the bloody locating holes in the starboard wing are at 75mm centres.

This Kit is so bad that the list of errors is getting (has got??) ridiculous. There is NO WAY it can be built out of the box and even if you could get it assembled it would not fly - or it would be extremely dangerous to attempt to fly !!

Unless I'm prepared to accept a complete financial loss and throw the thing in the rubbish bin I am forced to substantially putt the construction apart and attempt to rebuild it correctly. To this end I'm going to make several modifications to the model and rebuild it nearer to scale. In order to do this the following modifications will be made: -

1. Rebuild the booms and cockpit nacelle to a proper oval section.
2. Fit a retractable undercarriage.
3. Fit scale operating Fowler Flaps.
4. Replace the engine mounting bulkheads
5. Modify the wings into a 3 panel configuration - that is a centre section and 2 outer wing panels.
6. Build a detailed cockpit and fit a scale pilot.
7. Recover and repaint the model with a quality covering.

This program will take considerable time and a further financial investment in the model but I'd rather pursue a solution than throw the model in the rubbish bin!!

29th April 2013.

This kit has taught me one important lesson - NEVER buy a bloody ARF kit made in China. Besides the previously reported litany of problems with this kit I've also found the following: -

1. The booms, when bolted to the wings provide FOUR degrees of left thrust on the starboard engine and SEVEN degrees of left thrust on the port !!!!

2. In addition the port engine has 1.5 degrees of UP thrust and the starboard NINE degrees of DOWN thrust.

3. The provided hinge mounting slots for the flaps result in both flaps being at least half an inch to high. What do they think they are?? - bloody turbulators?? 

4. The alignment of the provided hinge mounting slots for the ailerons is so bloody bad the ailerons bind and refuse to move! 

5. the elevator is a flimsy piece of junk and has to be totally replaced. 

6. The provided and pre installed wire in plastic tube control push rods are crap and have to be totally replaced.

7. The provided pushrod for the nose wheel steering is a piece of thin wire about 16 inches long and has no support along it's entire length. With the nose wheel on the ground there is NO controlled movement of the steering. The bloody wire bends, twisted and then SNAPPED !!!

8. Out of the mountings plates provided for the nine servos to be mounted in the wing or booms - only one was the right size. The other eight were oversize !!! SNARL.

9. There are also a number of minor problems such as poor covering, general poor fitting but they are so numerous I won't even bother going into them.

My verdict? Unless I have been unfortunate enough to be caught with some one's rip off poor quality copy of this kit then Quality Control by the factory is abysmal or non existent. This kit should NEVER have been released for sale due to poor quality control - it is not a commercially viable product!!!

Original posts start here

1. 4/04/13: I swapped my Ugly Stick Float Plane for this kit. It is ARF and only semi scale but is a decent size and could be worth upgrading it to a full scale model. To do that will require considerable modification and I will build it as the straight ARF first and see how it goes.

2. I'm spending a bit of time looking over the kit and checking for any weaknesses. So far the tailplane is a bit suspect and the hinges supplied for all surfaces are a complete bloody waste of time. I need to replace those hinges and find some decent servos. In the meantime I'll begin to prepare the model for assembly. There is a lot of trimming of the plastic bits required and I'll do that first.

3. I have several references on the P38 and I'm going to do a bit more research on the internet. I'm particularly interested in the P38s that were used by the RAAF as photo recon aircraft. As far as I know there were only 3 taken on charge.

4. 6/04/13. Started the build today and it's a typical early Chinese ARF - nothing fits exactly and there is poor quality in some of the components provided. The basic build isn't to bad but once again some things don't quite fit - biggest example - the wing joiners are not lined up and the wing - when the two halves are pushed together has about a 3/8" gap at the trailing edge. I'm also finding the plastic bits are poor quality - they crack very easily and vary wildly in thickness through out. Other complaint - why did they choose a bloody Clark Y airfoil for a fully aerobatic WWII Fighter Plane?

5. An inexperienced builder would be hard pressed to put this kit together and although its supposed to be ARF a lot of work will be required to get it to perform satisfactorily.  The more I progress in assembling the model the more errors I am finding. Besides the previously mentioned wing joiner problem most of the wing dowels and corresponding location holes are up to half a diameter out in alignment. The instructions are typical Chinese - they don't give much information and seem to assume that the builder is able to work it out for themselves. 

6. Fine if you are an experienced builder but I'd say some one with limited experience could not assemble this model satisfactorily without a lot of help from some one with a lot more experience. The problem is that this is a large model and failure to correctly set it up could result in disaster and possible injury to the builder or some one else.

7. 10/04/13. I'm continuing to assemble the model and, as I expected there are some problems that I've encountered during that process. One that I'm definitely not impressed by is the main and auxiliary wing joiners. In the first case they do not align the wings correctly - there is a difference of just over one degree in the wing incidence of the two panels. The other problem is that the two panels do not align - when the leading edges meet there is still a gap of some 3/8th of an inch at the trailing edge. This is probably due to the fact that the outer tubes - those fixed in the wing - are made of thin cardboard tubes!

3/8th of an inch gap on the trailing edge due to miss alignment of the wing tubes

 And a 7/8th of an inch difference in the depth of the outer tubes for the auxiliary aluminium tube resulting in an even bigger gap at the trailing edge. Basically the two wings will NOT align or join together without remedial work on the kit as supplied.

8. Quite frankly this kit leaves a lot to be desired. The accuracy of fitment is practically non existent and quality control at the factory must have been a process yet to be implemented. Because of the size of the model assembly at the flying field will be, except in very rare circumstances, mandatory. This brings me to the next problem. The tailplane, elevators, rudders and fins  are permanently attached to the booms. Therefore the model must be transported in two or possibly three separate components. 

Component one is the tailplane, booms etc with two lumping great weights of engines permanently hanging off the front of the booms. The integrity of this assembly relies on the strength of a rather flimsy tailplane to hold it all together. It would be very easy to have this component collapse into a heap if the tailplane is twisted or otherwise breaks. My solution is to make a rigid brace to clamp across the front of the booms where the wings affix when I'm transporting the model. Hopefully this will provide enough rigidity in the structure to minimise transportation breakages.

The second and/or third components are the wings and pilot's nacelle. To make  this  a single component depends on whether or not you can transport a 90 inch wing in one piece! If you can't fit a wing that size into your vehicle in one piece you end up with three separate bits. Two wing halves and the Pilot's nacelle. This restriction introduces it's own nightmares. My inspection suggests that little if any thought was given to the need to repeatedly assemble and break down the bits. The wing tubes rest in cardboard outers and the alignment is not accurate at all. Repeated assembly and disassembly will very soon result in all sorts of slop and misalignment. On top of this the supplied plastic bolts  to bolt everything together soon stretch and bend. I am fortunate in that I have a vehicle that I can fit the wing into in one piece and I have permanently assembled the two wing halves and the pilot 's nacelle. Even so a very careful check that everything is aligned after assembly at the field is vital.

More to come shortly -  construction photos and further explanation and illustration of the problems I've encountered