Home Parkzone Airplane Reviews Parkzone Spitfire Mk IX Review
Parkzone Spitfire Mk IX Review Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 September 2011 21:50

History
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft which was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft, and was the only British fighter in production throughout the war.
The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death from cancer in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith became chief designer. The Spitfire's elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Speed was seen as essential to carry out the mission of home defense against enemy bombers.

During the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire was perceived by the public as the RAF fighter of the battle, whereas in fact, the more numerous Hurricane actually shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. The Spitfire units did, however, have a lower attrition rate and a higher victory to loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, carrier-based fighter, and trainer. It was built in many variants, using several wing configurations. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp (768 kW), it was adaptable enough to use increasingly more powerful Merlin and the later Rolls-Royce Griffon engines; the latter was eventually able to produce 2,035 hp (1,520  kW).



Intro
A few years ago Parzkone released a Spitfire that became quite popular among RC Hobbyists. The Ready-to-Fly packaged included a brushed motor, 3-channel FM radio, a rechargeable Ni-MH battery pack and variable rate DC charger. The plane was beginning to show its age since the advent of Spektrum technology, Lipos and brushless motors. Parkzone decided to re-vamp the Spitfire to be competitive with today's electric RC Airplanes. This past week the new and improved Parkzone Spitfire was released to the masses. I sauntered into RC Hobbies on Halsey Street and walked out with a brand new Spitfire in hand.

Kit Contents
The Parkzone Spitfire Mk IX comes in two types of kits, either a Plug-n-Play or Bind-n-Fly. The PnP includes the plane with motor/esc/servos but no receiver, battery or charger. The BnF kit includes the plane with motor/esc/servos/charger/battery/receiver. For this review I chose the BnF kit. The motor included is a 15 size 950 kv motor that spins a 9.5x7.5 prop and is backed by a 30amp ESC. The plane features 4 servos that control the ailerons, elevator and rudder and is pre-wired for E-flite's electric retracts.
My kit arrived safe and sound (off of the store shelf) and everything was tightly packed within the box.

   


Assembly
If you should know one thing about Parkzone it is that they stand behind their motto of "Just Fly". Assembling any Parkzone plane is usually nothing more than pushing a few pieces together and securing them with screws or tape. The new Spitfire is no different.
Assembly begins at the rear of the plane with the elevator. The elevator slides onto a plastic tube that is slide through the vertical stab of the plane. The tail of the elevator is then slid together and the whole unit is secured to the fuselage using the provided tape.
After the tail was done I flipped the one-piece wing over and installed the fixed landing gear. For this review I did not have the electric retracts, but they literally drop into the pre-cut slots on the bottom of the wings. What is even more amazing is that Parkzone pre-wired the wings so there are extensions already threaded through the wing should you install the 10-15 size retracts. Very nice touch. The fixed gear pop into the wing and are held secure by two screws and a small cover. The design doesn't look very strong, but after tightening all of the screws each wheel and strut was very sturdy with no play.

   

   

Once the wheels were in, I threaded the wing wires into the fuselage and secured the wings onto the fuselage with two metal screws.

The antenna on top of the plane clicks into place with a satisfying pop and the cannons for the front of the wings screw into the wing wih two small screws.
   

This entire process took less than 20 minutes! Once the plane is together, center all the servos and attach the clevises to the control horns so that every moveable surface is flush.

   


Features
The Parkzone Spitfire is a 4-channel warbird that features durable Z-foam construction with an authentic Johnnie Johnson WWII paint scheme. The paint on the bird is very smooth and there were no blemishes, although any tape applied to the surface will certainly remove the paint should the tape be torn off. The BnF version comes with an authentic Spektrum AR600 6-channel receiver, a 950kv 15-sized motor and a 30amp BEC ESC running the show. On the stock setup the plane pulls 27 amps and 325 watts at wide open throttle. Weighing in at only 1170g grams, the Spitty has a great power to weight ratio. The wings spread out to a manageable 43" and the plane is easy to control on the ground with the steerable tail-wheel.

   

First Flight
On a blistering summer day I headed out to the field to maiden the Spitfire. Nearly our entire club was gone attending a special fly-in at a different field meaning I had the whole field to myself! Shaky Thumbs agreed to meet me at the field to assist in recording since my lovely assistant was unable to come along.

There was a slight Northly cross breeze blowing over the field as I went through the preflight and CG check of the PZ Spitfire. I stuffed a 3S 2200mah battery in the cockpit and found the CG was dead on at 65mm. Since this was the desired number for the correct CG, I went with it and brought the warbird out to the tarmac.

I did one last check of the control surfaces before I pushed forward with the throttle and coaxed the little Spitfire towards the sky. The plane took off in about 20 feet and climbed superbly towards the clouds. Once she was about two mistakes high, I took my thumb off of the controls and found she wanted to dive, 5 clicks of up elevator cured the problem and the plane flew straight and true.

   


Puttering around the field at 1/2 throttle I yanked, turned, pulled and pushed the plane in all different directions to see what she could do. The Parkzone Spitty responded precisely to any maneuver I threw at her. Even though I had only been flying the plane for a couple of minutes I felt comfortable and at ease with the warbird. The roll rate was slower than I had anticipated given the amount of throw the stock settings had, but the elevator and rudder were very responsive.

I felt so comfortable with the Spitfire that I did a few touch and gos which is something I generally reserve for later flights. After 6 minutes of mixed flying I carefully brought the Spitfire down and landed her with ease. The batteries read 3.82 in each cell so I definitely had another minute or two left to fly the plane.

Flight Characteristics
The Parkzone Spitfire flies really well given it is a low-wing warbird. The plane feels stable in the air and although it has gentle stall characteristics I did get a slight feeling of 'slip' during a slow bank. Keep the power up in the corners and the plane will stay in the air no problem. The Spitfire has full 4-channel control so the plane can easily maneuver and twirl through the sky. As stated earlier the roll rate was a tad sluggish for me, so after the 1st flight I moved the clevis in a notch and found it to be much more responsive.
The ailerons might be dialed down out of the box, but the elevator has enough throw to strikeout a major league baseball player! This warbird can loop inside of a hula hoop and still remain stable in the air. Crazy tight loops might not be very scale, but they are fun and the PZ Spitty can handle them. Rudder control is excellent and flat turns, stall turns, hammerheads are all doable with the Spitfire. Snap rolls resemble a blender and spins are very crisp.

If slicing the sky is not your style of flying the Spitfire can fly pretty darn slow and remain stable. Several times during the flight the wind picked up and blew over the Spitfire but the little warbird handled it all without a care.

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Takeoffs and Landings
The Spitifire is a tail dragger so I was expecting some torquing to the left while on the ground, but surprisingly the PZ warbird rolls out very straight and true! Gently sliding the throttle forward to about 3/4 throttle will pop the tail wheel off of the ground around 10 feet and within another 10 feet the bird will have enough speed for liftoff. If you fly from a smaller runway I believe the Spitty has enough power to take off in a much shorter distance, just be aware to not yank the elevators back too dramatically or the plane could potentially tip stall and give you a very bad day.

 

Landing the Spitfire does not take very much speed. Given the beautiful slow flight characteristics the plane comes down to earth like a tamed tiger. One of my landings I chopped the throttle and had to go around for another pass as the plane just kept floating and floating. The best way to land the Parkzone Spitfire is to line up the approach and decrease throttle until 1/4 stick. Use the throttle to allow the plane to settle into the ground instead of being heavy thumbed on the elevator. If the plane continues to float at too high of altitude, chop the throttle and allow the machine to glide in towards the runway. When the plane is about a foot off the ground feather in a slight amount of elevator to soften the touchdown on the runway.
  
Is This Plane For a Beginner?
No, even though the plane is 'classic Parkzone' and flies really well out of the box, it is still a 4-channel, low winged warbird that has no self correcting tendencies. If you point it towards the sky that's where it will go, if you point it towards a tree that's where it will go and if you point it towards the ground...well you get my drift. The plane glides through the air extremely well but still needs to have knowledgeable hands and intention behind the movement. This would be an awesome 3rd plane or if you are confident in your skills it could be a 2nd plane with some helpful hands giving assistance.


Conclusion
The Parkzone Spitfire Mk IX is an outstanding flying RC Airplane. The assembly is extremely easy and from opening the box to getting into the air can literally be done in less than an hour. The Spitfire sports scale lines, paint and the Z-foam is yet another step up from previous Parkzone models. In the air the Parkzone Spitfire has exceptional power, but keeps a fair balance between power and flight time. One can expect 7-9 minutes of flying time on a 2200mah battery. The price tag of $250 for a BnF might be a bit steep for some, especially when adding in the $85 cost of electric retracts.

All around the quality is noticeable and the Spitfire will undoubtedly be a plane that can be seen at schools, parks and open flying fields for years to come.

GRADE: A-


Pros

  • Easy Build
  • Smoothest foam of a PZ model to date
  • Extremely detailed manual
  • Marked Improvement on the included charger
  • With experience, very fun to fly
  • Pre-wired for electric retracts


Neutrals

  • Taping the elevator to the fuselage will most likely remove the paint should the tape ever be removed. Boo.
  • Quality, features and ease of build come at a price


Cons

  • Pilot looks like he should be in the cockpit of a Zero and not a British plane




 Media and FLIGHT Time

   

   

   

   

 

VIDEO COMING TOMORROW!


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