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E-flite Carbon-Z Cub
Giant scale cruising and unexpected aerobatics
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 2-22-2014
Giant scale airplanes can be attractive to lot of RC flyers but the price tag, complexity and just getting such an aircraft from here to there can be daunting. The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub goes a long way towards lowering all of those hurdles in an easy and fun to fly package. Though the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub is available in the PNP (plug and play) configuration I opted for the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub Bind-N-Fly Basic Electric Airplane (#EFL10450) that appears to be the most popular these days.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub is a foamy but has very passable scale looks when it is flying. If you want close up scale-correct features you need to get out the big pocketbook and look elsewhere. However there is no mistaking the Cub outline of this plane in the air.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub has a wingspan of 84.6 in (215 cm) that qualifies it for most giant scale fun flies and meets. It is 55.8 in (142 cm) long and weighs 8.15 lb. (3.70 kg). Combine that with the 1100 sq.. in. (71.0 sq.. dm.) wing area (wing Loading 17 oz per sq.. ft..) with hyper-effective control surface capabilities and you get a Cub that will do lots of blatantly un-Cub like things in the air.
Power is provided by a 50-size brushless outrunner motor fitted with a 15 x 5.5 electric prop. The recommended LiPo battery is the 22.V 6S 3200mAh pack that provides the combination instant power and an approximate 7 minute flight time. A 60-amp brushless speed controller is installed.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub comes with four (Eflite) 26-gram MG (metal gear) mini servos and two 13-gram micro servos that work the standard flaps. The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub comes equipped with a sail plane tow release that requires adding an Eflite EFLR7155 servo. Other options include a special float set (EFL1045017) and a GoPro-compatible camera mount (1045023). You also have to provide at least a 4 channel DSM2/DSMX transmitter.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub comes with the Spektrum AR635 receiver with its AS3X 3-axis stabilization system that can make you look like a pro when flying in conditions like bumpy winds. This system is adjustable using stick configurations to enter different modes and increase or decrease sensitivity. The only down side to the AS3X system is that you really need to study up a little on the manual to use it correctly. It’s not tough but you do have to learn a little to use it right. Some think the AS3X system is a magic electronic 3D pilot and while it will help stabilize the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub but you have to do most of the flying.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub is fashioned after the full-scale Cub Crafters Carbon Cub SS airplane by World Aerobatic Champion Quique Somenzini who seems to be responsible for a bunch of hyper-aerobatic models. That means that the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub really is capable of things people are not used to seeing Cubs do. To make this platform durable enough to do 3D style aerobatics Eflite installs digital, metal-gear servos and solid, no-play ball-link hardware applying inputs to the control surfaces.
Eflite estimates 1 hour for assembly and it did take me about that long. The electronics are all installed so you are left with putting on the horizontal stabilizer and landing gear. You also have to assemble the wing struts but that is all pins and clips. You have to put the vortex generator strips on but that involves adhesive strips and just a few minutes.
In the Air
When you put the wings on the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub they slide onto a carbon fiber wing tube. You also have to connect the ailerons and flaps to built-in plugs in the fuse. These receptacles and the plugs on the wires from the wing are labeled so you have to be trying to get them wrong.
Once the struts are assembled I found that they are easy to transport left on the wing when you break the plane down. The only thing I dislike about the struts are the little hairpin-style wire clips that lock the pins in place at the attachment points. Those little clips have the annoying tendency to pop off and forever disappear in the grass. I found a few extra of these pins in my kit and hope that is standard but I expect you will be seeking a source for more of these pins in the near future.
I had some trouble setting the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub up in my DX8 radio, specifically turning the AS3X on and off and getting the flaps to function correctly. Then I found that the flaps were plugged into the Gear channel on the receiver, probably to make this plane more user friendly to folks with 4 and 5 channel radios. I moved the Flaps plug to the Aux position on the receiver and the DX8 had full control.
On the day that I maidened the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub we had gusty winds blowing diagonally across the runway. All of that realistic Cub fuselage and tail means that it weather vanes quite well but it does listen to rudder corrections and when engaged the AS3X system smooth’s it out very well. When I took off the first time I lifted it several feet into the air and was able to let go of the sticks because it was closely dialed in right out of the box considering the wind.
I have heard that some E-flite Carbon-Z Cub owners are griping about the oversized bush tires and wheels. Some don’t like that the included tires are not the blow up rubber variety but rather some kind of foam. I’m not sure what these people are looking for. This Cub does not have the suspension between the gear but it lands at a walk so if you use the elevator a little bit those big no-suspension wheels gently settle into the grass. In fact they could care less about the grass. I love the way these big wheels look and how they handle even not-so-mowed grass runways. I am perfectly happy having to pay attention when I land the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub rather than depend on the cushion of a big rubber (say HEAVY) rubber blow up tire.
The flaps are very effective on the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub and do give you more stability on landing. You can also do things like drop the flaps, go full throttle and climb up away from the runway at a surprisingly steep angle without the controls getting too mushy. Mixing some elevator to the flaps can help smooth the transition when they are deployed on landing.
Aerobatics with the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub take some practice and understanding of the airplane. This is not a 3D floater and does take a little more airspeed than a true 3D plane but not as much as o might suspect. It will however do the high alpha slow-speed flight and it has the power to pull itself out of a hover but you need to be flying it the whole time. Knife edge flight is also possible when you learn to hold or mix in aileron and elevator correction because there is a good bit of coupling to deal with. Remember, it is still a Cub!
The only downside to the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub in addition to the little strut retaining clips is the blue paint. I don’t know if my E-flite Carbon-Z Cub was made at a bad time during manufacturing or not but the blue paint has very little adhesion to the foam. It chips and scratches off with near zero effort. I have seen some who say you can have one of the big box stores match the color and get a little water-based paint to touch it up. I intend to try that soon but not right now as mine tends to stay in the air a lot.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub is fun to fly whether you want to keep it scale or stretch its flight envelope. This is not a really fast airplane but it flies well and the controls are responsive. The design of this E-flite Carbon-Z Cub and the AS3X system makes it a great compromise between a lazy day flyer and an edgy aerobatics airplane that does things in the air we don’t usually associate with a Cub. The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub may not be a true trainer but you don’t have to be a pro flyer to handle it either.
The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub has a street price of about $449.00 (2-16-2014) but when it is in stock you can often find them for $399.00. Not bad for a plane this big, this complete and this capable. I enjoy flying the E-flite Carbon-Z Cub off of our grass field that always seems to have issues with the wind. The E-flite Carbon-Z Cub handles them well and gives me more days to have fun flying.
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