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Top Flite® Giant Scale P-47 Razorback
ARF Segment #1 – Unboxing, prep and component selection
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 1-18-2016
Giant scale warbirds can be a touchy subject with modelers that have been through the compromise-heavy and physically heavy ARF’s (almost ready to fly, a lie to be sure but the accepted terminology) on the market today. When I saw the first press releases showing the new Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback the “gotta have it” center in my brain kicked into overdrive. Now with the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback in my shop it is clear that my “gotta have it” sensors are working just fine.
One of the big attractions of the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback is the built-up balsa and light plywood fuselage in place of the fiberglass versions of many other warbirds. I am not a fan of fiberglass in fuselages because they tend to be either heavy or scary thin, neither of which give me the warm fuzzy feelings that a well-designed and constructed wood structure does.
The Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback was designed to accommodate gas or electric power. To make battery changes easier they added a large magnet-secured hatch on top ahead of the cockpit. It is covered over but you can remove a four screws, cut it out and iron the included strips of covering over the edges. This hatch can also be used with gas engines to increase access to the tank system as well conceal fuel filling and On/Off switches.
The Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback has an 85 in wingspan, 75 in-long and a wing area of 1,329sq in. Part of what many pilots who currently fly this model describe as great handling characteristics come from that big of a wing supporting an all up weight of 19-1/2 to 21-1/2 lbs that gives this model a wing loading of 34-37 oz per sq ft, not high at all for a warbird.
This plane was designed around the DLE61 gas engine and purpose designed Robart® air or electric retracts. You also get a detailed cockpit kit, replica radial engine, fiberglass wheel doors, fiberglass cowl, metal gun barrels and a removable antenna. To complete the warbird look a detailed decal sheet is included.
The Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback survived its cross-country truck rides with no visible damage to the double boxing. All of the major components were covered in bubble wrap. All of the pieces inside the box were still taped in place which goes a long way to preventing banging-together damage during shipping. It is important to be sure all of the square-shaped boxes and what look like fillers are opened as some contain parts bags and other pieces.
In addition to finding a real instruction manual it was nice to find undamaged parts bags still holding all of their contents. Another unexpected find was the real aluminum prop hub type spinner that I paid $80 for on my last warbird. The stepped base/prop washer is drilled for the DLE61 bolt pattern which includes a bunch of other engines in this size range including my new EME60 that will go into the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback.
The fuselage is straight, solid and surprisingly well built. They have nicely sized stringers that are placed closer together than I am used to seeing in an ARF. The structure inside of the fuse is also well done and spacious. Putting the radio gear in the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback is not going to be a problem.
The covered-over hatch meant primarily for changing batteries when an electric motor is used can also be used for access to hidden switches and a re-fueling port. I am going to open this hatch to put the switches in but this may also make plumbing the gas fuel tank easier.
The wings feature pre-installed pin hinges in the ailerons and flaps with virtually no gaps. The covers for the aileron and flap servos have embossed layout marks indicating where the hardwood blocks are to be epoxied in place AND they have a screw hole already drilled for adding a screw that further secures the servo mounting. Even the strings (actually one long string that loops out to the root of each wing, very nice) for pulling servo cables are actually long enough to use easily. Where does Top Flite get off being logical?
The cavity for the retracts has the liner already installed (I’ll kiss someone from Top Flite for that one) so the builders of the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback can skip the harsh language throughout the trimming and supposed easy installation of junk other manufacturers call wheel wells. (I have a set of EMS wheel wells in the woods next to my house where I throw excessively stupid things) A big thumbs up to Top Flite for the wheel wells and lots of other things on this one.
The elevators are hinged and again, nicely done with tight seams and no loose pin hinges. The instructions include a reminder to check the factory hinging which is always a good idea but Top Flite is having a better hinging job done at the factory than most of the ARF’s I have seen.
Other unexpected finds in the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback box are rubber bands to be used as the instructions show during the joining of the wing halves. They also include shrink wrap for securing servo extensions. The dummy engine plate that goes inside the cowl has aluminum tubes you glue in place to simulate rocker pushrod covers and lengths of red wire to simulate spark plug wires. Both are nice touches and both unexpected.
I have learned to go over all of the glue joints I can reach before starting assembly. This is a simple way to prevent future disasters. I also went over the covering with my iron (medium heat) to be sure the seams are sealed (they were). And then my hot air gun to generally tighten the covering. There were a few wrinkles that came out easily.
I decided to cut the top hatch open even though a EME60 gas engine is powering the plane. A RotoFlow 24-ounce tank will be used and it looks like installing the tank as well as checking fuel level to determine the safe flying time for this combination will be very easy. Another point is that there are cutouts under the hatch for the fuel fill line and the radio On/Off switch so those are not visible from the outside.
Our Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback will be powered by an EME60 gas engine with the stock muffler, I think. You never really know about the muffler until the motor and cowl are mounted. The EME60 comes with a Walbro carburetor so no upgrades are needed there. I will be adding a trick fuel filter from the folks that make the RotoFlow tank.
Radio equipment starts with a Spektrum AR9110 PowerSafe receiver. This receiver comes with dual battery inputs and three satellite receivers as well as a “soft switch” that fails to the On position for another level of security. HiTec HS-5565MH high voltage servos will be used on everything but the throttle where a HS-5496MH high voltage servo will go. The HS-5565MH servos are a bit of over kill for this plane but that means they will not be working hard all of the time and can be used in a much wider range of planes later if the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback gets retired at some point. Servo extension cables are from MAXX Products. A Tech-Aero Ultra IBEC will power the ignition right out of the receiver as well as provide remote engine killing from the transmitter. Flight batteries are a pair of Glacier 7.4V, 5000mAh 2S Lipos plugged directly into the PowerSafe receiver. In this installation no separate battery switch is needed so we lose that potential point of failure.
I normally do not include a “Conclusions” section in multi-part reviews/builds but the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback is not a normal kit. I really had gotten so frustrated with my earlier ESM Zero that I swore off warbirds. Once I got the Zero as right as I could it flew OK but between stupid instructions, over 2lbs of lead crammed in the nose to hit the CG and having to replace a bunch of the included “hardware” the money savings of the ESM kit isn’t even close to justifying thinking of the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback as expensive. Better costs more and the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback is far better than the higher price suggests. This is a well thought out model that is manufactured on a level with AeroWorks who I still consider to the gold standard in ARF’s.
Stay tuned, next up is building the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback wing. At this writing I am well into that portion of the build and the high-end quality Top-Flite put in this kit continues.
Street price for the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback is $749.98 (1-8-2016) and if any ARF is worth it, it is this one! I will not "save money" with cheap kits that produce head-ache planes. Keep watching this build, it is going to be a fun one!
See the previous Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback build and maiden stories
See the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback web page - Click Here
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