Freewing F-8 Crusader 64 mm EDF Jet


Written by Andrew Griffith
Get your pilot wings on the cheap
Product review
As seen in the Spring 2018 issue of
Park Pilot.



Review Video


Specifications:

Type: Foam jet
Skill level: Intermediate
Wingspan: 21.5 inches
Length: 32.5 inches
Weight: 21 ounces ready to fly
Needed to complete: Four-channel radio and receiver; 3S 1,000 to 2,200 mAh LiPo battery; charger
Price: $98
Info: motionrc.com


Features:

>> Durable EPO foam and reinforced construction
>> Historical livery honoring a US naval aviator
>> Dynamically balanced five-blade EDF fan for efficient power
>> Optional steerable landing gear (sold separately)


Product Review

>> Distinctive looking and rarely modeled, the Crusader was the last of the true “gun fighter” aircraft. Manufactured by Chance Vought, the F-8 entered service in 1955 as a carrier-based fighter and reconnaissance aircraft. The Crusader maintained the 20 mm cannon as its primary weapon for close-in dog fighting, and was the first operational aircraft that could reach 1,000 mph.

The entire wing tilted to give a positive angle of attack, while allowing the pilot to maintain good visibility during carrier landing approaches―the most difficult flying done by any aviator.

The Crusader adds to the Freewing Park Jet series by combining scale looks with low prices and great performance. The Crusader comes with a 30-amp ESC, a five-blade 64 mm fan, and two small servos. A simple four-channel receiver and a 1,000 to 2,200 mAh 3S LiPo battery, along with a four-channel radio that supports elevon mixing, are all that are required.

I really liked the scalelike details, including the markings for the VF-162 that operated off the USS Oriskany during the Vietnam War. The amount of detail in the panel lines and markings is exceptional for a model of this size and price range.

The paint is flat and the decals don’t have the shiny look that most water slide decals have. Everything is applied straight and spelled correctly. If the USS Oriskany rings a bell, movie fans might recall the line [from Top Gun], “I flew with your old man. VF-51, the Oriskany. You’re a lot like he was. Only better … and worse.”

The F-8 Crusader arrives as a PNP (Plug-N-Play), needing some minor assembly and receiver installation. It took me a little more than an hour to assemble the Crusader, including taking review photographs and waiting for the glue to dry. The model arrived well packaged in a foam shipping container that protected the foam parts from any shipping damage.




There aren’t many parts to deal with when assembling the Freewing F-8 Crusader and other than letting the glue fully cure, it can be put together in less time than it takes to charge a battery.


I glued in the horizontal stabilizers using the provided EPO foam glue and let them sit for roughly 10 minutes. The pockets in the fuselage are deep enough that you won’t have to worry too much about proper alignment.

The wing was fitted next and the servo cables were pulled through to the cockpit. I used the drying time to bind a Spektrum AR6210 receiver (spektrum.com) and program the required elevon mixing.

The Crusader doesn’t have a rudder, so the one-piece vertical stabilizer is glued in place without worrying about servo extensions or control linkages. I checked the alignment from behind, but like the horizontal stabilizer, the pocket is deep enough for perfect alignment.

The motor, fan, and ESC are installed at the factory. The battery compartment is made to accommodate a 3S 1,000 to 2,200 mAh battery. I split the difference and used a Turnigy (turnigy.com) Graphene 1,500 mAh 65C LiPo battery pack that I had wanted to try in something. The high discharge would work great in an EDF (electric ducted fan), and the XT-60 connector on the battery was exactly what I needed to match up with the ESC.

The control surface installation, although common for small Freewing EDF jets, is different from what most of us might be accustomed to. The Crusader is equipped with both ailerons and elevators, but they are driven by one servo on each side of the model. Dual pushrods connect the servo on each side to the aileron and elevator surface.




The unique control system of one servo per side driving the elevator and aileron is shown here. Andrew Griffith found that the elevator needed to be dialed up and the aileron function reduced for good control response.


Elevon mixing means that when the elevator stick is moved back, the ailerons and elevators move up. When aileron input is given, the elevators and ailerons on each side move in opposition.

I fitted the flight battery and put the little jet on my Great Planes C.G. Machine (towerhobbies.com). A little experimentation determined the proper battery position to get the CG (center of gravity) where the manual suggested.

An optional landing gear set that snaps into receptacles on the fuselage is available for the Crusader. I wasn’t provided the landing gear and they were out of stock as of the time of this writing, so all of my flying was done with hand launches and belly landings in the grass.

I don’t have XT connections on any of the wattmeters that I have access to, but with a fully charged battery pack, I throttled it up and my calibrated arm felt as though it had plenty of thrust for the job at hand.

I enlisted help for the first toss, but it turned out to be a nonevent and I did all of the subsequent hand launches. As I throttled up, I gave the Crusader a nice, level toss and it flew straight out of my hand.

The Crusader is happy cruising around at slightly below half throttle. Aileron response was impressive. My final high-rate aileron throw was only 75% with 40% exponential.

With a fresh battery, I tested the vertical performance. Although not unlimited, the Crusader gets small fast and has plenty of thrust for large loops from level flight. With four surfaces aiding the roll rate, in high rate the Crusader rolls like a drill bit, albeit a bit of a wobbly one.

I conducted a stall test up high and facing the wind. With the power pulled all the way back and some elevator added, the Crusader slowed down nicely. When the stall broke, it dropped a wing but recovered as soon as some power was applied and the controls relaxed.




The magnetically held canopy provides plenty of room for easy battery changes. The speed control is equipped with an XT-style connector, so there’s no need for any soldering.


The suggested CG felt good in flight. Flying a 45° upline and rolling inverted, the jet slowly arced back toward the ground, so I knew it was balanced slightly toward the nose—perfect for a scale jet. Inverted flight requires some down-elevator pressure to maintain level flight, but with enough stick remaining to climb out inverted.

One word of warning: Flying the gray Crusader under an overcast sky is visually challenging and orientation can be lost quickly. Flying on a sunny day against a blue sky is easier on the eyes and much easier to maintain orientation. As I gained a level of comfort with the Crusader, it was easier to fly in challenging visual conditions because I flew it closer in.

When landing, the Crusader slowed down enough to make a comfortable landing approach and then it settled nicely into the grass. During most landings, the Crusader slid roughly 10 feet before coming to a full stop.

Living in a town immersed in naval history, everyone seems to love seeing a model of a Navy jet at our flying field. The F-8 didn’t disappoint. Everyone who saw us testing it took the time to look it over and comment, including a former full-scale F-8 pilot who loved it.

Its small size and the inexpensive price make the F-8 a great entry-level EDF. Its spirited performance, ease of transport, and the ability to fly in a baseball or soccer field make the Crusader a great candidate for experienced pilots who want to catch a few flights at lunch.

-Andrew Griffith
andy@customcutgraphix.com






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