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Top 10 Warbirds of the Year — RC Heavy Metal Reviews

Top 10 Warbirds of the Year — RC Heavy Metal Reviews

What a great way to end the year than with an exclusive MAN & Electric Flight Magazine Online Warbirds Roundup! During 2011 we have reviewed some of the nicest WW2 fighter aircraft in both Kit form and ARF. From Giant Scale to Park Flyer all have been excellent products and all really get the goosebumps going when they make a low level screaming fast flyby! One of these amazing heavy metal warbirds was also awarded the “Plane of the Year” by the MAN editors. Check ’em out and strap in.  Any one of these great warbirds will make you feel like an Ace!

(Editor’s Note: the prices and specs here are listed as when the products were test flown and published. Check with the manufacturers for current pricing and availability.)


1. Ziroli Plans/Precision Cut Kits Zero (December 2011 MAN)

With some 11,000 Mitsubishi Zeros built between 1940 and 1945, there were many variants flying in the South Pacific. I found the origin of the name Zero quite interesting. It was not the Allied code name for the plane which was “Zeke,” nor was it because of the red circles on the wings and fuselage. Zero comes from the Japanese Navy designation, Type-0 Carrier Fighter, or Rei shiki Kanjo Sentoki in Japanese. The Zero or Rei is the designation taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940). In Japan, the plane was unofficially called the and became known as the Zero Fighter. I chose the Mitsubishi A6M5c Type 52 Hei from the 721st Naval Air Group JINRAI Fighter Squadron, in February 1945 colors.

After 18 months of on and off building, the new Zero was ready to fly. I brought my new South Pacific fighter to the Long Island Skyhawks’ flying field on Long Island and we checked everything out. Balance point was ok, the engine started up and idled great and put out a lot of power at full throttle. The first flight went very well.


•              Awesome flight performance

•              Rugged construction methods

•              Excellent scale appearance


Model: Mitsubishi A6M5c Type 52

Distributor: Nick Ziroli Plans (ziroliplans.com)

Wingspan: 91 in.

Wing area: 1,400 sq. in.

Weight: 28 lb.

Wing loading: 46.08 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 73 in.

Engine req’d: 60cc gas

Radio req’d: 6-channel (rudder, throttle, ailerons, elevator, flaps, retracts)

Price: $141 (Ziroli plans, canopy and cowling); $256 (Ziroli short cut wood kit); $385 (precision cut kit)



2. CARF-MODELS F4U CORSAIR (December 2011 MAN)

The CARF-Models F4U Corsair is a true museum-quality warbird. It can be purchased in three versions: the standard kit featuring a plug-in wing, the folding wing kit, and the deluxe ARF folding wing kit with the wing mechanism installed, flying surfaces hinged and gear doors hinged and installed, which is the subject of this review. The airplane can be built and flown by the intermediate builder/pilot who has worked with composite kits before and has some experience with giant-scale aircraft setup techniques. The build time for the Corsair is around 100 hours for the basic build, but it can take several hours more to do an absolute “Top Gun” quality job with added details including scale doors on the top surface of the wing to hide the wing mechanism structure.


•              Excellent overall quality

•              Easy and quick to assemble

•              Great flight characteristics


Model: F4U-1D Corsair

Manufacturer: CARF-Models (carf-models.com)

Type: Giant-scale WW II warbird

Scale: 1/4.5

Wingspan: 110 in.

Wing area: 2,090 sq. in.

Weight: 53 lb.

Wing loading: 58.43 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 88 in.

Radio req’d: 7 channels (rudder, throttle, ailerons, elevator, flaps, retracts); wing fold function optional

Engine req’d: Moki 215 to 250

Price: $3,695 (ARF kit with wing-fold option); $2,595(standard kit w/wing-fold option)


3. BP HOBBIES ME 163B-1A KOMET (October 2011 MAN)

The BP Hobbies Me163B-1a ARF is a faithful replica with many nice scale features. This is perhaps the quickest-building scale warbird model and has surprisingly few parts. The painted stubby fiberglass fuselage is quite strong and has no internal formers. Each wing panel and elevon is covered in an olive drab heat-shrink film and matches the fuselage very well. A painted fiberglass cowl, cockpit hatch, canopy, rudder, spinner and wing tube and a complete hardware package are also included. The full-size Komet had a dolly-mounted landing gear setup that would drop from the plane after it reached climb speed. The kit includes a formed metal landing gear strut that is permanently installed and a steerable tail-wheel.

The model is designed for a .46 to .53 2-stroke or .53 to .61 4-stroke and would make an easy electric conversion. I used the Evolution .60, which weighs the same as most .46 engines and is only slightly larger but with the much more power. For scale effect, I also added a remotely triggered Estes model rocket engine (estesrockets.com) in the tail.


  • Extremely docile, yet highly maneuverable
  • Fast assembly with excellent parts fit
  • Light and strong fiberglass fuselage
  • Unique WW II scale subject


Model: Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a Komet

Distributor: BP Hobbies (bphobbies.com)

Type: Scale WW II rocket-powered interceptor

Wingspan: 60.6 in.

Wing Area: 736 sq. in.

Length: 40 in.

Weight: 7 lb. 4 oz.

Wing loading: 22.696 oz./sq.ft.

Power Req’d: .46-.53 2-cycle, .53-.61 4-cycle

Radio Req’d: 4 channel w/elevon mixing

Price: $170


4. SEAGULL MODELS T-6A TEXAN II (September 2011 MAN)

From the very first time I strapped into the full-size version, the T-6A Texan II has been a favorite aircraft of mine. So, needless to say, I was extremely excited when I was asked to review the Seagull Models sport-scale ARF Texan II. I’ve had the pleasure of building several Seagull Models in the past and haven’t been disappointed yet. Seagull Models’ winning streak continues with this smooth and attractive model.

The kit contains the typical ARF array of parts and pieces that we’ve come to expect from high-quality manufacturers these days. Inside the box is the fuselage and wing, which are both built-up liteply out of balsa and covered in UltraCote. Also included are a painted fiberglass cowl that perfectly matches the covering and a painted clear canopy to house the included military pilots. The hardware is packaged in separate bags and comprised of wheels, mechanical retractable landing gear, fuel tank, fittings, antennas, spinner and mounts for both glow and electric power.


  • Great-looking scale appearance
  • Straightforward build
  • Easy electric conversion
  • Great flight performance


Name of plane: T-6A Texan II

Manufacturer: Seagull Models

Distributor: Horizon Hobby (horizonhobby.com)

Type: Sport scale

Length: 58.3 in.

Wingspan: 63 in.

Wing area: 647.9 sq. in.

Weight: 11 lb.

Wing loading: 39.12 oz./sq. ft.

Engine req’d:.75-.91 2-stroke, .91-1.00 4-stroke or brushless equivalent

Radio req’d: 6-channel

Price: $240


 5. ASM Avro Lancaster Bomber (Model Airplane News June 2011)

When I first saw the prototype of the ASM B-17, I knew I wanted to review the plane when it was released. At the same time that aircraft became available, the ASM Lancaster was also released and I found myself in the dream position of picking which I’d like to review (if I only had a larger trailer!). I immediately gravitated toward the Lancaster with its great-looking camouflage color scheme and the very large bomb bay doors. Now looking back, I think I picked well. The Lancaster is a very large plane and the construction is a mix of ABS plastic, plywood and carbon fiber for the fuselage, with the wings and tail feathers using the standard balsa sheeting/plywood rib construction. The ABS is fuel-proof for those who choose to fly the plane with glow power.


  • Effortless to transport
  • Scale colors
  • Easy to fly
  • Big bomb bay doors!


Name of plane: ASM Avro Lancaster

Distributor: Global Hobby (globalhobby.com)

Type: WW II Bomber

Length: 80 in.

Wingspan: 120 in.

Wing area: 1,800 sq. in.

Weight: 38 lb., 2 oz.

Wing loading: 48.8 oz./sq. ft.

Motor req’d: 4120/05 (4) or .52-.60 4-stroke

Radio req’d: 7 to 10 channel

Price: $1,200


6. PARKZONE P-47D THUNDERBOLT BNF (May 2011 Electric Flight)

Nicknamed “The Jug” because of its big, round appearance, the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt was a tough, multi-role WW II fighter that could easily clean up on ground targets as well as take care of enemy aircraft at high altitude. Its eight deadly .50-caliber machine guns, rugged construction and well-armored cockpit allowed many a P-47 pilot to make it home even while heavily damaged during combat missions. At the time, it was the largest, heaviest and most expensive single-engine, prop-driven aircraft in service.

The new Bind-n-Fly (BNF) P-47D Thunderbolt from ParkZone is an impressive-looking all-foam airplane, and it has several interesting features that make it attractive to any intermediate RC pilot. Coming out of the box with very little assembly required, it has such details as a dummy radial engine, molded panel lines and a realistic paint scheme from the 404th Fighter Group. You can be up and flying in the time it takes to charge the included LiPo battery pack. The newest addition to the long line of high-quality famous WW II fighters in the ParkZone line, the Thunderbolt is an exciting addition to anyone’s RC hangar.


  • Excellent flight performance
  • Retract drops right in
  • Ready to fly in minutes


Model: P-47 Thunderbolt

Type: Foam Bind-N-Fly (BNF) Park Flyer

Manufacturer: ParkZone (parkzone.com)

Distributor: Horizon Hobby (horizonhobby.com)

Wingspan: 42.2 in.

Wing area: 320 sq. in.

Weight: 42.5 oz.

Wing loading: 19.14 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 36.9 in.

Price: $184.99 (PNP); $249.99 (BNF)


7. MEISTER SCALE P-47 THUNDERBOLT (Model Airplane News May 2011)

The “Jug” or “T-Bolt,” as it was affectionately known, was big, robust, and heavy. Its sheer size limited propeller ground clearance, making takeoffs a challenge. This required the pilot to hold the tail low until takeoff speed was attained. At higher speeds pilots complained of high-control stick loads. Republic Aviation addressed these problems and others in subsequent variants, and the P-47 soon took its place in history as one of the greatest aircraft of aerial warfare. My positive feelings toward the P-47 come from my brother, Lt. General Donavon F. Smith, who, when based in England during the early 1940s with the 56th Fighter Group, flew many bomber escort missions. He later became an ace, shooting down more than five enemy aircraft. While P-47s were used to escort American bombers on their daylight raids, they often were used to attack and strafe ground as well. In this role, a P-47 “loaded for bear,” weighed in at around eight tons! This included 350 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition for each of its eight wing-mounted guns.

The giant-scale P-47 kit from Meister Scale is offered in a couple of options. It can be purchased as an all-wood, laser-cut kit, or you can save much building time by opting for the fiberglass fuselage kit, along with the laser-cut Wood Wing and Tail kit. You can also buy a laser-cut Short Kit with which you provide your own sheeting and stick material. The plans are sold separately.


  • High-quality materials
  • Outstanding flight characteristics
  • 2-piece wing for easy transport
  • Awesome scale looks


Model: P-47 Thunderbolt

Distributor: Meister Scale (meister-scale.com)

Type: Giant-scale warbird

Wingspan: 102 in.

Wing Area: 1,900 sq. in.

Weight: 45 lb.

Wing loading: 55 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 85 in.

Engine req’d: 3.8-6ci gas

Radio req’d: 6-channel (rudder, throttle, elevator, ailerons, flaps, retracts)

Price: $565 (full wood kit); $430 (deluxe short kit); $450 (fiberglass fuselage); $365 (wood wing and tail kit); $60 (plans)


8. TOP FLITE P-40 GIANT SCALE ARF (Model Airplane News April 2011)

(Plane of the Year)

Click Here: http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2011/03/31/airplane-of-the-year/

Powered by an 1150-horsepower, Allison V-1710-39, liquid-cooled V-12 engine, the P-40 Warhawk was considered a descent air-to-air fighter at lower altitudes and proved to be a better ground attack aircraft than a high-altitude dogfighter. It was a rugged fighter with great dive capability, a good roll rate and had a tight turning radius. The P-40 Warhawk saw continued service in several allied air forces up till in 1958. Today, there are less than 20 Warhawks still flying-such a shame.

One thing is for sure, there are going to be a lot of new giant-scale Top Flite P-40s flying in the coming year. The airframe and wings are fully built up and sheeted using the highest-grade balsa and ply and then professionally covered in flat-finish MonoKote. Out of the box, the wings are structurally reinforced with aluminum, the fuselage is reinforced with fiberglass, it has scale-looking split flaps complete with scale rib construction, an expertly painted cowl, a clear canopy with painted frame lines, a full detailed cockpit kit, a factory-painted 5 Ω-inch aluminum spinner and all the top-quality hardware you’ve come to expect from Top Flite. Although this is not a beginner’s airplane, it is a great step up for those looking to move up to their first giant-scale warbird.


  • Absolutely gorgeous fit and finish!
  • Awesome scale looks
  • Quick assembly time
  • Outstanding flight characteristics


Model: P-40 Warhawk giant-scale ARF

Manufacturer: Top Flite (top-flite.com)

Distributor: Great Planes (greatplanes.com)

Type: giant-scale warbird

Wing span: 86 in.

Wing area: 1,262 sq. in.

Weight: 22 lb. 8 oz.

Wing loading: 41.09 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 72 in.

Radio req’d: 5 to 7 channels (ailerons, rudder, throttle, elevator, flaps) choke and retracts optional

Price: $580


9. BH MODELS JU-87B STUKA ARF 120FS/EP (MAN February 2011)

THE WORLD WAR II German-built Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber has been a favorite of mind for the past 41 years. So needless to say, I was thrilled when I was given the chance to review BH Models new Ju-87 Stuka ARF. I have built and reviewed several BH Models in the past and have come to revere them as topnotch and their Stuka is no exception. When I removed the wings, tail-feathers and fuselage from the box, I saw they were the typical built-up lite ply and balsa construction. However, these were expertly covered in a unique printed PVC covering that looks fantastic! The Stuka has scale-looking flaps and ailerons that are already installed for you. In addition, the pilot, rear gunner and glasshouse canopy are already painted and installed. The molded wheel fairings, drop wing tanks, and the big single bomb are already painted and ready for installation. An easy-to-follow instruction manual, complete hardware package, scale spinner, fuel tank, and motor mount are also included with the Stuka. Electric enthusiasts will enjoy how easy it is to convert the Stuka over to electric power using the recommended brushless motor power system. The Stuka can be assembled by almost anyone, but should be flown by an intermediate pilot or by a beginner on a buddy box. This model is a highly detailed replica of a JU-87B-2 that operated in Austria in 1943.


  • Great-looking scale appearance
  • Functional oleo struts and molded wheel fairings
  • Well made and shock-absorbing tailwheel
  • Striking, highly visible color scheme
  • Excellent flight performance


Name of plane: BH Models Ju-87 Stuka 120 ARF

Manufacturer: Black Horse Models

Distributor: Hobby People (hobbypeople.net)

Type: Large sport-scale WW II dive-bomber

Length: 61.42 in./1,560mm

Wingspan: 75.59 in./1,920mm

Wing Area: 862.5 sq. in.

Weight: 12.13 lb./5.5 kg.

Wing Loading: 32.3 oz./sq. ft.

Motor required: .91-1.20-size 4-stroke; .91 size 2-stroke

Radio required: Six channels

Price: $370


10. E-FLITE P-51B MUSTANG 32E ARF (Electric Flight January 2011)

Everyone knows the sleek, “killer” looks of the P-51D Mustang with its extended horizontal fin and bubble-topped canopy. The “D” got its start from a long line of Mustangs and many would argue that the older razorback B-model with its enclosed cockpit, and original fin outline is the most attractive. I would be in this group and in particular, I have always loved the Mustang named Shangri-La piloted by Major Dominic S. “Don” Gentile of the 4th Fighter Group, 336th Fighter Squadron. He was the top-scoring WW II Ace in the 8th Air Force.

The new Platinum Series P-51B Mustang 32e ARF from E-flite is a wonderful, nicely executed warbird and it’s very scale. The tail surfaces (complete with counterweight leading edge tabs) are airfoil shaped and the horizontal stabilizers plug into the fuselage creating a clean faired-in appearance. The rudder has recess hinging and a rounded leading edge that fits snugly into the recessed tail post and vertical fin. The fuselage and wing are nicely covered with UltraCote film and the formed engine cowl, top fuselage hatch and wing-fillets give the model a very neat and authentic appearance. The wing panels are fully sheeted and the ailerons also have recessed hinging for a very scale look.


  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Airfoil-shaped tail surfaces
  • Four different decal sets (sold separately)
  • Optional bombs and drop tanks (sold separately)
  • Optional electric retracts (sold separately)


Wingspan: 52. in.

Wing Area: 460 sq. in.

Weight: 5.5 lb.

Wing Loading: 27.5 oz./sq. ft.

Length: 45.5 in

Radio req’d: 6-channel (rudder, aileron, throttle, elevator, flaps, retracts)

Power req’d: Power 25 to 32 BL motors

Price: $197.99


Updated: July 16, 2015 — 4:39 PM


Add a Comment
  1. That F4U Corsair is a beauty.

  2. Seen the Black Horse BH064 version? 60″X69″

  3. A great review of all aircraft, keep up the good work, and you’ve just confirmed my decision, ,, the BH Stuka , gotta have one.

  4. Great review… I am building the topflite Jug now 85inch wing.. This is my favorite Warbird..
    Keep up the good work..
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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