F-5E

 
Take me to any model shop at the moment and you'll see that I've a weakness for EDF jets so it didn't take long to succumb to this pretty little F-5E's charms. It's a typical foamy jet proposition supplied pre-decorated with a fitted motor, ESC and fan unit, servos too.

FIT 'N' FINISH
Foamy jets currently proliferate but few with such an ambitious colour scheme. The Tiger motif is represented by a huge water-slide decal while the underlying colours have been nicely masked and sprayed. I found that the decal had cracked where it was expected to sit on uneven surfaces but, on the whole, the finish is very well done. I also found myself mixing some paint colours just to hide some of the cracks in the decal but, with or without, step back and they're pretty invisible to the eye. 

This is a three-channel model for ailerons, elevator and throttle. With servos pre-fitted, having the model ready for flight simply involves gluing the wings and tail feathers into place, connecting up the control surfaces and adding a receiver. Which is just as well as the instruction sheet is fairly pefunctory. The receiver bay is tiny and the space is shared with the wire spaghetti where the servo leads congregate so the words 'key-hole surgery' come to mind when tring to route the receiver aerials.    

The model is designed to land on it's belly which did prompt me to make an alteration. Viewed from the underside, the elevator torque rods will be the first items to make contact with the ground - this isn't good. The simple solution is to reverse the horns placing them on top of the elevators (see pic) and direct the torque rods across from the servo over the stab' and out of harms way. 

The battery bay is very small. It'll accomodate a 1300mAh 3S Li-Po but little else. A balance check shows that a 1300mAh 3S pack will be unlikely to achieve the stated C of G without some extra weight further forward. For me, this meant sinking 20g of stick-on weight into the nose right at the front - the model balanced correctly and flies well with this. The alternative is to try and squeeze a heavier pack into the bay and although I've managed to shoe-horn a 1650mAh 3S into the cavity, said cavity isn't far forward enough for the weight gain to have sufficient effect without also adding weight at the nose. 

The power system measurements reveals a 25 amp draw and 240 watts at full throttle - not bad for a model weighing what it does. The 5-blade fan and outrunner motor are smooth and relatively quiet too. Like many foamy jet manuals, the instruction sheet doesn't make any suggestions for the control surface deflections but I've settled with 10mm -/+ on elevator and the same on ailerons with 30% expo' all round.

AIR TIME
With wings as small as this, you'll be expecting Starmax's little F-5 to be a tricky proposition and you'd be completely wrong, it flies deceptively well.

A couple of small finger holds hint at hand launching convenience but don't take the hints. They're too small to provide good purchase (you could open them out of course) and the fuselage is too wide (underneath) for the hand to reach across. An underarm launch is better as the fus' top side leaves something to grab hold of. Get someone to do the launching for you for the first few flights though. 

This F-5 flies staight and true and, like all EDF jets, with impressive smoothness.
A stall response is near impossible to provoke; through normal flight the model won't bite a bit and she's forgivving to the extent that she'll just hover into a breeze until finally giving up and dropping a wing by which time you're clearly asking for trouble. Recovery is quick and easy enough.   

The roll rate is pretty axial, as you'd expect and inverted flight needs a little forward pressure on elevator. That long nose can dig into turns where some rudder wouldn't come amiss but it's not enough to trouble the intermediate pilot. The power system is insufficient to deliver an unlimited vertical performance but there's enough on tap to ensure this F-5 keeps going up for long enough to impress. Landing is easy and just requires a simple balance between elevator and throttle to bring her home. I had worried that meeting the ground would damage the wing tip missiles but they've held on well enough so far. 

ALL-UP
A great looking little EDF jet then, one that flies very well, one that's ideal for smaller spaces and anyone looking to dip their toe in EDF waters, especially as it uses affordably sized Li-Po batteries - which is just as well, you'll need plenty of 'em as endurance is the model's Achilles heel, a 1300mAh 3S Li-Po delivering no more than 3 minutes of safe flying time and a 1650mAh pack extending that to little more than 4 minutes.
 
DATAFILE
Name - F5E
Manufacturer - Starmax
UK distributor - Ripmax
Typical street price - £105
Wingspan - 532mm
Fus' length - 939mm
All-up weight with 3S 1300mAh pack - 1lb 6oz (540g)
Functions (servos) - Ailerons (2), elevator (2), throttle via ESC.
Power system - 64mm, 5-blade fan (pre-fitted) with 14L outrunner motor
Suggested battery - 1300mAh 3S Li-Po
 

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