1. Phoenix 1/4 Scale 55cc Spitfire Warbird Updated 2/15/18)

11/27/17 – The build begins.

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This plane was the worst packaged I’ve ever received.  Items were lose throughout the box with a control rod that speared the tail section leaving a hole.  Nothing major but a bad omen foretelling other low quality work by Phoenix?  Not completely sure yet, but after having unboxed the parts and pieces I find some minor QA issues that initially disappoint for such an expensive plane.

The first issue, aside from the small hole in the tail, was the sliding canopy securing bolt.   When I tried to remove it the bolt and nut assembly just spun when turned.  Turns out the bolt was painted to the blind nut.  I managed to force the bolt out of the blind nut but the nut released itself from the canopy where it was mounted leaving me with no possible way to reinstall it due to the canopy being assembled in the plane.  Just a task to work around and figure out a solution.  First 5 minutes, wonder what surprises the remaining hours will provide?

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I decided to go with the DLE-55RA Rear Exhaust Gas Engine  basically for cost reasons.  Less expensive than the 61 and I don’t need to buy a wraparound muffler.  Should provide good performance even though this is a heavy plane at 25 lbs.  I’m mainly looking for good high speed low passes so I’ll try it with a 22 x 10 Xoar prop.

I’m using Hitec HS-5645MG Digital Ultra-Torque Metal Gear  servos all around which will provide plenty of torque for the control surfaces.

Hardware looks okay but I’m adding longer bolts and nyloc nuts to attach the ball links to the control horns.  The control horns look heavy duty enough but they just use a bolt that threads into plastic to secure the ball links which I have no experience with so going with what I know works perfectly.


Initially I was very concerned with the control surface hinges.  The instruction manual downloaded from Tower showed CA type hinges being used but the manual that came with the plane and what are actually provided are the pivot point style hinges.  I’ll look them over carefully and if they look robust enough I’ll use them, if not I’ll replace them with Robart Super Hinge Point 3/16″ hinges.

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Well I wasn’t expecting the hinges to use a bolt and nut.  They look sturdy enough to do the job but I’ll have to use lock tight on the nuts to feel secure.  I could simply change them out but the plane is already drilled for this exact diameter hinge so I’ll give them a try as I don’t really see a big risk.

The spinner is huge at 6 inches but is the exact plastic style used on .40 size glow engines, wow.


An aluminum Dave Brown 6″ Vortech Parabolic Spinner replacement would be a nice option after a few shakedown flights are completed.

Same for the wheels.  Semi hard foam tires with plastic hubs.  This is a 25 lb. plane and these plastic wheels probably won’t hold up for long. A nice set of  Robart Aluminum Hub/Wheels will be a nice upgrade as well.  I’ve seen these plastic factory provided hubs explode on lighter planes.

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11/28/17 –  The pull-pull hardware looks decent but the cable is way thin and not nylon coated, just a mess to work with.  I’m replacing both the rudder and tail wheel steering with the Dubro Pull-Pull System 4-40.  Mainly just a personal preference.

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12/4/17 – Installed the control horns for the flaps and aileron.  Installation only required cleaning up the mounting holes. not a bad set up.  Moved on to installing the ailerons and flaps.  First used sandpaper to rough up the hinges then soaked in Acetone to remove any mold release and give them a good cleaning.


I’ve been using Aphetic Resin (wood glue) for many builds without having a single failure.  Clean up is a breeze using a damp paper towel and you don’t have to worry about glue in the hinge joint as flexing the joint easily breaks up the dried glue.  Just don’t let it sit over night without exercising the control surface while the glue is drying.


12/7/17 – The ailerons and flaps installed just fine.  Really like working with the wood glue.  Installed the aileron and flap servos and cut out the covering for the landing gear.  You need to install the wheel wells which need a bit of trimming to remove excess material and to make clearance for the gear.  I’ll install the gear later as the extra weight  make attaching and removing the wing for fitment a bit harder.


Moved on to install the horizontal stabilizer.  Removed the covering as required and had to do a bit of sanding to get it to slide into its slot.



As part of a dry measurement check before gluing the horizontal stabilizer in place with epoxy, I went to attach the wings and found that the main aluminum wing tube would not insert into the fuselage.  I used a drum sanding wheel with a 12″ extension to remove excess material in the fuse wing tube carrier and now the tube slides in with a nice snug fit.


12/10/17 – In addition to the wing tube carrier in the fuse, each wing tube needed to be sanded.  Although the aluminum tube fit in was too snug to actually install the wing. After 15 minutes of sanding everything fit just right and the wings installed nicely.

Installed the tail feather control surfaces and control linkages and the tail wheel steering. The tail wheel, like the main gear has a spring shock absorber.




Ready to install the landing gear so did a bench test to make sure all is working.  The supplied air lines and fittings are easy to work with and seem very robust and of decent  quality.  After airing up the system the gear work flawlessly.  Vey smooth and consistent.  Only installing them in the plane will prove this out as it seems with air retracts gremlins find their way on board and  do what gremlins do.


I put 75 lbs of air pressure in the system to see how well it holds which will indicate a leak if the pressure drops.  Time will tell.


Well, time did tell and after 15 minutes no change in pressure.

Installed the main gear making sure the air lines cleared the wheel wells so the gear can be removed after gluing in the wheel wells which required a lot of trimming.  The air lines use provided springs to keep them from kinking as they make a bend towards the root of the wing to exit the wing.


While testing the gear sitting on the table prior to installing them they cycled fine in both the up and down directions.  Once installed though I could not get them to go down (up in this case).  Problem was I had the wings upside down on the table so the down cycle was actually trying to lift the gear.  This was due to the down cycle being the lower pressure cycle, as by design it’s just trying to lower the gear and uses gravity to assist. I was troubled for a bit until I figured that out. So I put the wings right side up on a test stand and they cycle perfectly.


12/14/17 –  Finshed the wings other than gluing on the guns.  So far the gear seem very robust.  Installation using the included polyurethane (PUR) air tubing and push-to-connect pneumatic fittings have ben a joy to work with.  When attaching the air lines to the retracts and the manifold required using the heat gun to slightly warm up the tubing to be able to properly seat them on the fittings.  This also makes the attachment very strong as the lines cool and shrink.  The only way to remove the lines is to cut them off.

The gear doors attach very nicely and adding the colored stripes afterward allows for a perfect alignment.



Fitting everything into the fuse takes patience and a few days of mulling over options and trial and error fitment of the various components.  Had an issue installing the air tank as the opening was too small to allow for the angle required to insert it due to the location of the rudder servo mount.  Used a sanding wheel on my Dremel to enlarge the hole just enough so the tank could slide in. But, after installing the rudder servo the tank installation angle is changed and no longer fits necessitating the removal of the servo to re-install the tank.

Replaced the supplied air valve with a red Robart one.  The original valve would stick and require so much force to move that the ply mount almost broke out of the plane.

Blurred out in the bad picture is the Robart fill valve.  I substituted the supplied one-way fill valve so that I could use the Robart fill chuck on the Robart hand pump that I already had and was glad that they were compatible.  I secured the fill valve through the fuse for ease of access.  Also using a Robart air gauge installed next to the fill chuck.

I purchased extra 4mm air tubing from Automation Direct  as I used all that was provided and wanted to have extra on hand just in case.

The provided fuel tank created a problem with clearance of the throttle servo connecting rod as it was too wide.  In addition the provided tank components were of dubious quality so was not going to mess with it.  This required using the same fuel tanks I always use from Fourtitude.  The 32 ounce fit perfectly allowing enough room to clear the throttle servo connecting rod and being of top quality.

2/15/18 – Catching up on the build.  Had to add 2 1/2 pounds of weight to the nose for a good forward balance.   Plastic ties were replaced with bolts after the maiden for extra security.


Dual switches for receiver and ignition power with lights externally mounted to the fuse.


Gear fill chuck and pressure gauge.


Ready for the maiden.  I had concerns about the plastic spinner and read about others that had the same concern.  I should have spent the time and money upfront and replaced it as it nearly caused the death of the plane on the first flight.


Powered up for take off and the plane just didn’t have the power it should of had.  Pulled for lift off but was immediately in trouble.  Could only climb to about 20 feet then carefully made the turn to come back and the engine died.  Just made it to the runway for a safe touch down.

Turns out the spinner deformed and was rubbing against the cowl which caused the loss of power and eventual dead stick.

Ordered the Dave Brown 6 inch parabolic aluminum spinner and problem was solved.


Second maiden was perfect.  The Spitfire flew very nicely and stable.  No bad characteristics and lands very slowly without flaps and no wing dipping.  Very exciting to see a large warbird zipping across the sky and coming in for high speed low passes.