A legendary fighter jet, the F-86 Sabre is iconic throughout the world. North American’s response to the jet age, the F-86 proved to be a worthy adversary to the Russian Mig. The F-86 Sabre has been modeled often and we were all too excited to see if Freewing’s 80mm version would live up to our expectations. See how this iconic fighter stacks up in our 5×5 review!
EDF’s have offered more disappointment over the years for us at 2 Brothers, but we still keep trying. Plagued by crazy short run times and often under-powered, the sleek airframes and iconic jet lore however always make us stop and take notice. When Motion RC insisted that the Freewing F-86 Sabre was an exception we agreed to check it out.
We hadn’t had a chance to get up and personal with Freewing’s products before so when a well packaged F-86 Sabre and A6E Intruder showed up at the door, they were off to a good start. Pulling the F-86 out of the box, we found all parts very well preserved and the kit included pretty good quality hardware. The F-86 PNP version was needing only a receiver and flight battery so we tossed it on the bench and began the assembly. About two hours later, our F-86 was ready for final control surface adjustments. We stuck with the recommended throws and for first flights they were dead on the mark. CG specs are also perfect and we went with the customary “slightly nose forward” range provided. Takeoffs and flight were perfectly balanced. We have not adjusted CG any further.
Ok, I’m going to pause here and cover some of the ground rules with EDF flying. First off: weather. Jet designs often like the wind. Our F-86 was no exception. You’ll get BY FAR the most enjoyment out of flying the F-86 with a nice 5-10 MPH wind. Preferably a head wind for take off and landing. We were able to take off on grass as well, as we showed in the flight video, but we did so on a hot (90 degrees F / 32 C) day. We chewed up almost all of our runway and we were flying from the gold standard in grass runways at our local field. Add to that, EDFs feel the lower density air on hot days a bit more than prop driven planes giving us a noticeable decrease in thrust. Bottom line, flying EDFs on hot days with no wind result in shorter flights with lower performance. Due to the lower thrust and no wind you’re into the throttle much further. Our power system and our batteries were at the temp limit after each flight on the second test day. On the first day we had gas left in the tank and everything was cool.
Secondly, stabilization. With the availability of some very inexpensive 3-axis stabilization systems out there (as low as $25.00 USD) you might consider purchasing one for just about any EDF jet. The reason I suggest this is because flying on windy days will get you longer runtimes, faster max ground speeds, and more options in terms of aerobatics. On test day 1 with 10mph winds, I could point the F-86 into the wind and pull off a clean loop from level flight. On test day 2 at zero wind and 10 degrees hotter, I would stall at the vertical from level flight when trying to loop. Flying with stronger winds however presents some challenges on landing if you’re working with a crosswind. We had almost 90 degree crosswinds on day 1 and I would have paid good money to have a stabilization unit installed so I could land on concrete without the hassle. It’s one thing to practice crosswinds and land on grass, but concrete is not forgiving. most stabilization systems can be turned off on the Tx, so if you don’t need it, fine. If you do find yourself wanting to increase your available flying days and environments, having it there on a switch is a really handy option and may just save your over-confidence and bad judgement from trashing your model!
For the rest of the scoop on our experience with the F-86, watch the videos. The specs and test results are below. I will say, however, that our Freewing F-86 will be flown many more times this year. I’ve already ear-marked a 70C 5000K battery for mine. I’ll have to carve out a little foam from the hatch cover but it looks like it will fit and balance just fine. I’ll also be dropping in stabilization for windy days on concrete. I’m not too proud or caught up in the controversy over using stabilization to admit that I’ll be glad to have the help on those heavy crosswind days for the landings alone. The only thing worse than swallowing your pride is picking up pieces of your airplane:)
Freewing Models is sold by Motion RC in the U.S., www.motionrc.com