Flying an R/C plane is an awesome experience! Flying a Warbirds is even awesome! For every hardcore R/C flyer enthusiast once in their lifetime has owned at least one warbird R/C model replica from WW2 era in their model collection. Definitely for every newcomer has gone through flying a North American T-28 TROJAN R/c model since its easier to them to handle such plane...unfortunately i don't like 'nose hose' design except the VOUGHT F4U CORSAIR since its part of my childhood thing coming from watching 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' tv series in the early 80's. My original love for warbirds stemmed from watching my uncle building miniature plastic kit AIRFIX models in 1980's in his workroom where saw my first love the 1940's Royal Air Force HAWKER HURRICANE MK1 with its distinct beige matt color green camouflage paint scheme. At the age just 5 year old i would run around the house holding up this plane held high on my hand mimic some flight maneuver i've just watched from some WW2 dogfight documentary. I've continue to receive few amount of plastic kit plane from my uncle and cousin after they've completed the build, last notable model was silver B-17 flying fortress and that was it. Only 2 years later after migrated to several town due my parents work my love for warbirds resurfaced again after seeing an odd 'pregnant belly' looking plane at local store which caught my attention soon will paved a path to my amazing future adventure which no other people could match by today achievement level. In this article we'll talk about the DURAFLY's replica version of NORTH AMERICAN P-51D MUSTANG 'FEROCIOUS FRANKIE'.
My first eye on the P-51D MUSTANG was way back year 1986 when i first saw it at the supermarket's toy department section; it was in a black rectangular box with super impose image of this gleaming silver colored plane, long aero shape nose cone has a tiny mouth intake hole wrapped around attractive colors aka nose art. The thing it caught most attention is its distinct bubble canopy and bulky under belly what reminds me of 'pregnant like' looking plane. Overall its looks super aero and looks fast even just sitting idle compared to the closest aircraft i knew the MK24 SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE with dull camo color. My initial thought when i see the Mustang it probably a racer plane but later i learned it came from same war era as other iconic warplane that i idolized about. At that time i was given budget of USD$5 to buy plastic model kit to choose either getting a CESSNA 172 civilian aircraft or MACROSS VF-1J valkyrie mech by 'ARU' brand kit at that department store. My kiddy temptation really all for the Mustang but knowing some basic math calculation that black box Mustang cost USD$15, the opposite side of the box shows what looked like a ribbed wooden balsa and Monokote film construction seem so foreign to me i was out of my league. So i've decided to to run home ask for extra USD$5 and picked up both CESSNA and MACROSS kit...lol! Till this day i was still wondering if that MUSTANG kit was build for "line flying' or desktop show plane, unfortunately this model cease to exist till this day lost in memories.
Long story short after years into R/C model; driving, flying helicopter and generic looking plane i've finally got myself a childhood plane on 2012; a DURAFLY branded P-51D MUSTANG warbird...exact same fuselage color i've seen back in 1986 but different nose art and color scheme around the cowling since it has 'FEROCIOUS FRANKIE' signature a replica version of the actual real life refurbished WW2 now turned into show plane. I found this plane sold at HOBBYKING.com website sold at around USD$130 back then, the same website i procure most of my R/C helicopter and glider model equipment and parts back then. At the same time other than the P-51D model the website also offer other models of the same DURAFLY brand such as the F4U CORSAIR, T-28 TORJAN and P-47 THUNDERBOLT all will be purchased later after few months once i've recovered my budget. Important to note that DURAFLY brand is only sold exclusively at HOBBYKING.com website so its not something you can get else where other than second hand unit in community forum. There are time i might suspected somehow the DURAFLY plane seems to have similar quality and traits of FMS MODEL brands due to similarity of the replica licensed model with exception that both brand differentiate themselves having different wingspan size offering....well no one knows the back story. So let's get on the stories about my DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG 'Fericious Frankie' shall we.
Specification (as describe by vendor/manufacturer)
Brand name: DURAFLY
Model name: P-51D MUSTANG 'Ferocious Frankie'
Release date: Early 2012
Flying Weight: 1220g
Motor: 750kv Brushless Outrunner Motor (GC3536-800)
ESC: 35A w/BEC (B-ZTW35ABEC)
Servo: 9g x 6 (PZ15178)
Retract: Electric Servoless Retract (PZ-15094)
Wing Area: 20.3dm2
Wing Loading: 60.1g/dm2
Fuselage + wing material build: EPO (Expanded PolyOlefin) foam
+ Full photo manual
+ All hardware
- Your Own 6 Channel TX/RX radio unit
- 2200mAh 3s Lipoly Battery
Flight level/piloting experience requirement:
+ Piloting level: Advance
+ Minimum past model experience: Non-dihedral high winged model with tail dragger eg: Piper Cub model
Quality and builds
As expected this 1100mm wingspan size warbird made from elastic compressed EPO foam or known as Expanded PolyOlefin foam which is popularly used on today out of box ready to fly electric plane. The material is durable, impact resistance and should the fuselage and wing bend tear apart during any crashes it can be be fix via curing bent foam parts using hot boiling water or hot glue to re-attached broken/tear parts. The assembly is very straight forward even without manual, far easy than assembling IKEA furniture...just need use the screw driver tools to assemble the main wings and supplied glue to dab on few smaller parts, in 15 minutes you're done with a beautiful sized plane. This molded injection EPO foam created nice touch of realistic surface contour and details such as embossed rivet, panel lines, bumps, pods and other details like you might find on detailed miniature plastic model kit planes. Comes with realistic 'scale' quality parts such as 'HAMILTON STANDARD' 4x blade propeller, scale cowling/ engine exhaust port, cockpit pilot figurine, realistic slow 'worm gear' driven front wheels retract system, flaps surface control and also LED lights on the wing tips. Since it a tail dragger the rear wheel are steerable via single 9g rudder servo. In term of onboard electronic overall it run on 6x coreless brushed 9g servos, 2x worm gear retract servo, 35A ESC with internal 5V/3A BEC (B-ZTW35ABEC) and 750kv Brushless Outrunner Motor (GC3536-800) to rotate 4x bladed 10x8" sized propeller. However after seeing reports from R/C community and first hand witness on crashes from club member i've suspected the ESC's internal BEC that claim to supply stable 5V/3A maybe overrated or ambiguous may have led to servo failure since back at that time cheap ESC isn't something we could trust 100% do deliver stable BEC current to power 6x servo, 2x retracts, LEDs and radio receiver unit let alone BEC performance can easily degrade by heat due to throttle demand added into the system. So before flight i've added extra external module TURNIGY 5V/3A SBEC to power the servo and receiver hardware separately as standalone BEC. I've disconnected the use of ESC's BEC for extra reliability, since then my P-51D MUSTANG never had hardware failure thanks to external SBEC's stable juice of current flowing into the hardware with zero influence from ESC MOSFET chip operation. Note that not only this solution of having external BEC module applied on this P-51D plane but also on my other planes which contain more servos, retract and extra hardware which by calculation the electric current not feasible nor sensible enough to compensated by manufacturer provided ESC's BEC rating.
Aside having a complete 'stock' hardware built in to make the plane ready to fly out of the box i have to supply my own radio unit and battery to get it running. For the radio unit i'm using the classic TURNIGY 9X radio with FRSKY DJT 2.4Ghz transmitter module with FRSKY D8R-XP 8 channel receiver with RSSI telemetry support and failsafe for extra reliability and TURNIGY classic blue pack 11.1v 3s 2200mah 35~40C battery pack (12.6v when fully charged) to power the plane. Total flight control only uses minimum 6 channel from radio receiver; aileron, elevator, rudder/steering, throttle, retracts and flaps. For LED activation it can be on extra 7th channel with relay or direct powered from separate battery. For my radio control stick setup i usually all EPA (End Point Adjustment) set as default 100%. While EXPO (Exponential) i prefer minimal sensitivity at first stick push/throw which sets at 45% low curve for all control surface eg: Aileron, Elevator and Rudder except throttle stick which remain 0% expo remains at 'linear'. Overall the DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG doesn't have any shoddy build other than questionable quality of ESC's BEC. I'm really impress with the manufacturing quality especially during the days of 2012 where almost all foamy planes are build 'half baked' and requires extended mods to make them 100% air worthy.
If you're new and green into scale flying yet planning to get the P-51D MUSTANG as your second graduation plane look away and came back after your 4th plane because this plane should be at 'Advance' level R/C piloting due to its stall nature and torque roll characteristic both during take-off, landing..its not a tame horse where you can gallop anywhere you want. If you're looking for your first warbird without too much risk of chaotic control the T-28 TORJAN or the P-47 THUNDERBOLT should be your thing because it more docile to fly due to moderate wing loading and tame flight characteristic.
First maiden flight with DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG was a harsh reality i have to face; first you'll need to do the usual stick trimming on the radio to permanently fit the model flight characteristic which is a must and one time setup but the problem is i don't know its take-off characteristic due to unpredictable 'torque roll' factor, usually the "Pro' pilot would do the trim for you but at that time i was on my own....however i managed to pull through a successful control trimming . Once i've got it trimmed or dialed in then it will be forever smooth worry free flight forever...unless i changed to a new radio controller unit and break another sweat again.
As mentioned above this plane is not for 'green' pilot nor intermediate level. Even Pro level R/C pilot who been flying bigger scale plane for years seems to struggle to fly this 1100mm size of plane. However if you've flown 3D helicopter and aerobatic 3D maneuver style plane like i did over the years then you'll have huge advantage to enjoy this plane to the max with zero handling problem since 1100mm twitchy plane can be easily tame with pilot's high reaction time thumb stick as long you understand the dynamic of flying a big tractor prop plane with lower cantilever wing. Unlike glider, trainer plane, jets or pusher plane big tractor prop plane that have 'torque roll' issues need special protocol to take-off. You'll need to get the P-51D plane roll first, get the airspeed up on the ground, wait till the tail end lifts up on its own, when you get it right then you can pull the elevator slowly so you can take-off from the ground'..and that's it! However not everyone understand this and get to experience the pain of 'Torque Roll' effect..game over!. You know what happen when you fly a helicopter without a tail rotor....that's right!..flight education 101 right there!... moving on! ...noted that's how i accumulate collection of planes from newbies who give up hope flying it,lol. After taking off from the ground i'm relieved of the stress and finally able to enjoy the next 7~8 minutes of flight on a single pack fully charged 3s 2200mah 35~40c li-po battery. You can actually fly up to 11 minutes by gliding away though stable windy condition which give natural airflow to provide unpowered lift around the wings. The plane have to be flown moderately fast than general civilian type like relax paced CESSNA or PIPER CUB, need constant stable of airflow around the wing to keep it floating to avoid stalling on the P-51D. Due to its dihedral wing design and low placement cantilever wing its high CG (Center Gravity) point means you can't simply slow down and roll on its axis, i have to constantly counter react any unbalance side via aileron movement between left and right wing every seconds unlike gliders and relaxing CESSNA or scale trainer you could hands off your thumb for few seconds before the wing starts dipping. But wing dipping on a MUSTANG spells a direct K.O moments. Since i'm a helicopter guy i get used to fast counter control, my reaction time is lightning bolt fast, lol! One thing for sure if it did stalled you won't have opportunity to recover, just bite the dust....thankfully my first stall was on the thick grass... a great lesson right there. While the Mustang is in the air my usual flight maneuvering routine always doing barrel rolls, high huge loops, low passes and figure '8'. On windless condition to cruise about in the air i have to pull a constant throttle stick control between 70%~80% thrust power to keep the plane float at cruise speed. On high breezy and windy day especially at the beach i could just relax and put constant throttle stick control between 60%~70% thrust power to cruise around at low speed without stalling. There are times during extremely windy day above the sea i could just push 50% and glide with the wind all day max out 15 minutes on the same battery before the Li-po battery checker started to blare alarm sound. Through out the flight in the air i've use less rudder control to turn around corner, instead i used the 'Bank & Yank' approach using just aileron and elevator surface control to roll a bit and pull up to make fast turn similarly the same approach flying a rudderless EDF jet or flying/delta wing because rudder control on fast paced flying doesn't seems to generate tremendous turning effect. However the only moment i use full 100% rudder control is when i'm approaching for landing which useful to align myself with the runway/landing path. Speaking of landing that's the second most tense moment next to take-off scenario because landing a tail dragger plane (tail wheeled) plane is like balancing yourself on a tight rope. If you're landing at high nose angle (high alpha) you'll stall, landing at low nose angle risk hitting the propeller on the ground breaking the prop blades, breaks the motor mount and the cowling. Too slow you'll stall into 'Torque Roll', too fast you can't slow down hit the brake because this plane don't have wheeled brake...even deploying flaps need proper timing to. Oh btw FYI i've never used flaps....just don't feel like it on my personal view since it will hinder the 'touch and go' moments. So landing a trail dragger configuration plane is extremely a Pro level!..zero mistake must be achieved! In my case i've did mine landing perfectly...and of course few blooper doesn't hurt much. Fortunately after flying this P-51D Mustang since year 2012 till 2020 the model still in one piece without dents and breaks, lives on to fly another days to experience another air time. That's why most warbird pilot pride themselves with a pat in the back after achieving a perfect take off and landing ...just like getting the right ingredients to cook a KFC chicken. Yummy! That's why many scale modeler R/C pilot boast themself with great take off and landing and will be a great conversation for the day at the club field...even a great story telling at dinner table only if your wife is open for it, lol.
Two around of Li-po battery pack to get the plane in the air is enough to make me smile for a whole week because the feeling able to take-off, flipping around in the air and landed in one piece bring the pride and sense of achievement for the day. lets not forget how cool the view to see the great legend of the war machine flying in front of me having myself control the maneuver and return home without an incident like a Pro...hahahaha!! ...it felt good! ...lots of adrenaline junkie right there! However not all flights are technically perfect, as mentioned above in the 'CONS' column listing the P-51D Mustang including all of my DURAFLY model not forgetting the FMS branded always has a wheel retracts problem once its up in the air. Retracts seems to running well when not flying or on the ground but once its up in the air preparing to land the retract about 50% of the time will not deploy because it stuck under the 'compressed' foamy EPO material. Wheel wells cavity deformed because of wing flexing around due to high wing loading thus causing the wheel well wall rubbing with the retract tire causing huge load of friction obstructing the retract from exiting from the cavity. That's why sometime we have to fly upside down to relief wing loading stress and decompress the wheel rub from the wheel well cavity wall to allow retract to open without obstruction. Worst case scenario if plan 'A' didn't work most of the time on plan 'B' i just landed it on flat grass with retract still in close position....aka 'belly landing' and yes i;'ve burned 2x worm servo retracts....everyone have been through the same thing for all those who have owned numerous electric foam plane. That's why some people opt for R/C airplane models made from rigid ribbed balsa wood construction since it offer less flex and far lighter if the airframe was to build exceed 1400mm wingspan size.
There are some strong factor why its a joy to fly this 1100mm wingspan sized warbird compare to traditional 1400mm or 1600mm since i've own several model of various sized of the same P-51D Mustang platform; the obvious differences is that 1100mm model are very nimble. fast and more challenging yet thrilling to fly like you're flight skill is on the edge. When compare 1100mm to 1400mm or 1600mm even the differences is at very close margin but in realty when seeing in real life the 1100mm model actually smaller than 1400mm and 1600mm in term mass, weight, hardware power consumption and portability. Their size is actually a 'perfect' fit to close the gap between mini 'Park flyer' size models which is below range below 1000mm and serious professional club size model at bigger airfield above 1400mm. Throughout my entire R/C flying activity for many years the 1100mm is always my 'Go to' plane when i'm going out to fly outdoor during social flight gathering every week since it easy to transport around and economically feasible to fly since its only use common/generic size battery which is the 11.1v 3s 2200mah 35~40C Li-po battery which used by many of my flight models from prop driven scale warbirds, glider, helicopter, jets, drones to ground models unlike 1400mm models and above which uses atleast 4S li-po with bigger 3300mah and beyond battery pack capacity which rarely usable on generic R/C models. Due to its mentioned model size you can fly pretty much anywhere you want other than club field or recreational park but also any open places such as at the beach, parking lot, empty roads or abandoned places as long there's ample plat surface and sufficient length to take off at least between 20~30 meter of space. Plus since its much lighter than bigger mass foamy planes should the plane crash into public property it shouldn't cause critical damages or anything of huge liability/responsibility.
When it comes to transporting around the plane; mobility and portability factor are few reason why this 1100mm wingspan DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG is my favorite all day ' Go to' plane to fly out door anywhere. This plane is small enough to fit inside my 5 seater standard sedan car and able to make space for at least another extra 2x more 1100mm wingspan size plane or a park flyer. Lighter to carry with just one arm and small enough to sit on my work table or in the office. If it were a 1400mm i would stuck carry just one plane or just 1x extra park flyer along side in my car for any club meet. Even on the table or at my workplace 1400mm size is very gigantic size model occuped huge amount of my personal space and you'll need two full hand to walk around even problematic to enter either lift or staircases. Because of the size factor its obvious why you see on my social media, Youtube videos and website updates features more of myself with 1100mm and other park flyer size models outdoor than the larger ones.
One of the strong feature of DURAFLY branded P-51D MUSTANG thus also applicable to other Durafly line of 1100mm wingspan variants during its time of production between 2012 ~ 2016 is their highly detailed aesthetic appearance value close to their real scale warbirds. Not only the models looks beautiful and realistic up in the air but they also a major head turner when sitting inside your hangar or your living space, on your table or just hangging on the wall. They just looks as good as their miniature plastic scale model counter part with added bonus being bigger size and it flies too! Plus if you're an avid aircraft model collector, on the budget, doesn't have much time building one and love the presence of bigger size planes as home decoration then this is your model to get in the hobby even if you're not into flying. Most of our flying buddies decorate their house with their beautiful planes hanging around their home living space including myself, guest visitor would wow and impress the presence of beautiful models instead of traditional home decor. It really shows you're living to the expectation as classic warbird enthusiast bringing your hobby to the next level. Fresh out of the box my P-51D looks too 'clean', so i've decided to whipped out some specialized colored paint pen mainly silver and dark colored ones to re-create rusty and worn out looking panel lines along the fuselage, cowling, prop blades and on the wings. The results created what looks like a realistic looking aged Mustang who've been thorough lots of mission sortie, lol...at least it looks more lively than clean painted plastic looks.
Here are sample of video of i posted on my Youtube channel contain fun flying my DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG
- Product gallery (mixed with my other planes): DURAFLY P-51D Mustang 'Ferocious Frankie' - 1100mm
Here are list of reputable vendor/seller which i bought from and also verified by community forum discussion groups. Also i've experienced buying from these places that have good support and services:
1. Seller HobbyKing.com: Durafly™ P-51D Mustang w/flaps/retracts/lights 1100mm (PNF) *(discontinued production model)
Places where you can find help and resources related to this product:
RCgroups discussion group - Durafly P-51D Mustang: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?1518340-Durafly-1100mm-P-51D-Mustang
Actual real aircraft info 1: https://msomuseum.com/index.php/en/portfolio/north-american-p-51d-mustang-ferocious-frankie/
Actual real aircraft info 2: https://www.flyinglegends.com/aircraft/p-51d-mustang-ferocious-frankie.html
Actual real aircraft info 3: https://www.aircraftrestorationcompany.com/ferocious-frankie
*Download simulator model: DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG 'Ferocious Frankie' for Phoenix RC simulator
I'm really glad i'm naturally grown into R/C flying hobby even its was not an expected path i walk into but remember 'path of life' isn't always a straight line. I never knew i meet would meet my crush the P-51D MUSTANG again in later life to fly this awesome looking piece of war machine instead of being just a static plastic model just sit there doing nothing but as a show doll...i've could have been on that path...close but wheww!!..i'm all out flying it! yay! Today i have collections of about 7x iconic P-51D MUSTANG from DURAFLY, ART-TECH, Hobby King and FMS brands spanning from wing sized 960mm to 1600mm but my proudest P-51D is the FPV modded that you've seen all over my Youtube video which still remain legends among cloud surfers. Owning the P-51D MUSTANG not only just for leisure flying and social outdoor experience among flying club members but it also give me a continuous inspiration to go even higher and further of what possibly you can to enjoy the presence of this flying horse up in the skies. As you guys and girls as an audience who followed me from the past to present day my love of the P-51D MUSTANG does not stop there; from accumulation abundant collection of various variant to actually sitting inside the cockpit and fly among majestic clouds through implementation of progressing R/C flying technology such as FPV/Drone system i manage to re-live my dream flying a warbird inside which once just a glimpse of child's imaginative hope in the past.
Somewhere between 2016 to 2017 the production of the P-51D MUSTANG 'Ferocious Frankie' including other scale DURAFLY models started to decline. Their last DURAFLY variants releases was the P-51D MUSTANG 'OLD CROW' livery and started to fade away by early 2018. What remains in the inventory was limited amount of spare parts of supporting models which i ended purchase dozen of scale 4x bladed replica of 'HAMILTON STANDARD' propellers used on all my DURAFLY warbirds not only on my P-51D but also on my F4U CORSAIR, P-47 THUNDERBOLT and MK24 SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE which all of them are DURAFLY's. By late 2018 a replica version of 1100mm models from different models started to emerged from external market place which seems to share the same foam mold as the DURALFY version but not on par what DURAFLY aesthetic quality used to have. The replica of P-51D 'OLD CROW' was available but not as good as later DURAFLY version. If i were to acquire the same quality of scale detailed warbird in today current market at the time of me writing this review in January year 2020 i would get back into FMS brand of warbird planes because these models retains identical realistic looks of a scale planes just like DURAFLY with exception that all of these only available as 1400mm size which i've already own few number of FMS models in my hangar....but i seldom enjoyed them much since they are bigger and need proper 4s battery pack. Although i didn't manage to get some of DURAFLY limited production detail scale models i'm already happy to have acquired some early btach of DURAFLY iconic replica warbirds such as the F4U CORSAIR, P-47 THUNDERBOLT, MK-24 SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE, BF-110 MESSERSHMIDT and also few EDF jet under the same brand too.
As today living in year 2020 my DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG aged well across time, 8 years old by now had fading fuselage colors, good amount of finger nail scraps due man handling during transportation and servo push rods shows hefty amounts of corrosion. Aileron servo start to jitters while one flaps servo won't work at all. I've wasted 3x sets of prop blades due to nose over strike throughout good 8 years of flying it and with 2x incident i have to belly landed on the grass when retract wheel fail to open. However the plane still in good shape as we speak today just the factory acrylic painted yellow color gradually faded and the transparent plastic cockpit canopy degrade over time due to exposure of UV lights inside my hangar. Due to over used servo i might expect it will soon fail anytime in the air since it went through hundred cycle of usage because coreless servo runs on brushed motor let alone 8 years of flight is way beyond its operation shelf life. I've decided to reduce the amount of time flying this old plane and try another way around to 'immortalized' the plane by putting it in virtual world so i could continue to enjoy the plane in PHOENIX R/C simulator. So i;ve manage to created virtual version of this plane that i can continue to enjoy on computer, you can download this model for Phoenix R/C simulator here (Click here to go to download page).
I must say throughout my entire years into R/C flying hobby the DURAFLY P-51D MUSTANG 'Ferocious Frankie' was a blast and mesmerizing experience to fly....it's pure adrenaline junkie and a sight to behold to see beautiful war planes up in the air especially when flying tandem with your wingman. Sadly the model never to return into the market scene for next generation of hobbyist to enjoy. However i consider myself to be lucky to experience best moment with this legacy DURAFLY models, haved capture lots of video and snapshots of photo moments for my nostalgic memory keeping. Right now the model hanging proudly on the wall in my personal hangar with its family 'flying machine of glory' counting days of its retirement as last iconic R/C aircraft model ever to exist. ...well i still have my badass F4U CORSAIR that comes in pairs to keep me busy and sweaty out there. Awesome!