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Written by Terry Dunn
E-flite A-10 Thunderbolt II 64mm EDF BNF Basic With AS3X and SAFE Select
As seen in the August 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

Bonus Video

At a Glance

specifications

Specifications

Model type: Sport scale EDF jet

Skill level: Intermediate

Minimum flying area: Club field

Wingspan: 45.2 inches

Wing area: 340 square inches (2.4 square feet)

Wing loading: 34.22 ounces per square foot

Wing cube loading: 22

Length: 41.8 inches

Flying weight: 80.8 ounces (5.1 pounds)

Radio: Spektrum iX12 2.4 GHz transmitter; Spektrum AR636 receiver (included); nine Spektrum A334 digital submicro servos (included)

Power system: Two 64 mm 11-blade EDF units with 2840-2,200 Kv brushless motors (included); two E-flite 40-amp ESCs (included); standalone BEC (included); Spektrum Smart 6S 3,200 mAh 30C LiPo battery

Power output: 65.5 amps; 1,434 watts; 284 watts per pound

Components needed to complete: Five-plus-channel DSM2/DSMX transmitter; six-cell 3,200-plus mAh 30C LiPo battery; charger

Flight duration: 3.5 minutes

Price: $349.99 (BNF Basic); $319.99 (PNP)

Pluses

pluses

  • Powerful, nimble flight performance.
  • Convincing scale appearance.
  • Smooth, great-sounding EDFs.

Minuses

minuses

  • Messy receiver bay.
  • Tight battery space.
  • Camouflage works!

Manufacturer/Distributor

manufacturer distributor

Horizon Hobby/E-flite

(800) 338-4639

www.horizonhobby.com/content/eflite-rc

THE A-10 THUNDERBOLT II (aka Warthog) has long been a favorite subject for RC modelers. With a large, straight wing and easily accessible, top-mounted engines, downsized model A-10s tend to be more user-friendly than the pointier, go-fast types of military jets. The full-scale airplane’s reputation as a tank-busting brute further adds to its appeal.

Consequently, there are numerous Warthog options for the RC crowd. They vary widely in size, scale accuracy, and performance. E-flite’s new rendition of the A-10 crams a lot of features into a modest-size electric-powered model.

About the E-flite A-10

This A-10 has airframe components that are made of molded foam. It has a convincing scalelike profile, along with panel lines and simulated rivets. Yes, the Warthog’s iconic 30 mm Gatling gun is represented with nicely detailed plastic parts. Go ahead and start practicing your loudest "brrrrt" now. You will need it for low-altitude strafing runs!

The gray camouflage paint scheme is factory applied, as are most of the decals. My model has clean paint work and the decals are nice and straight. A close inspection revealed a few decals with edges that were beginning to lift, but they are holding tight so far.

E-flite offers two versions of the A-10. The PNP variant includes everything except a flight battery, charger, transmitter, and receiver. The BNF model that I reviewed adds a Spektrum six-channel receiver that is compatible with DSM2/DSMX transmitters. This receiver also provides AS3X and SAFE Select stabilization features.

the e flite a 10 is a highly prefabricated foam model
The E-flite A-10 is a highly prefabricated foam model.

the author tested all of the rudder and elevator servos before gluing the foam tail feathers into position
The author tested all of the rudder and elevator servos before gluing the foam tail feathers into position.

a belly hatch provides access to the receiver where there is a dedicated extension for the bind plug
A belly hatch provides access to the receiver, where there is a dedicated extension for the bind plug.

Unlike other Warthog models in this size range, the E-flite version includes flaps, rudders, and retractable landing gear. If you are like me and usually fly from a grass runway, you will appreciate the toughness of the metal electric retracts on the A-10. Spring-loaded struts also enhance this model’s rough-field suitability.

Every control surface on the A-10 has a dedicated digital submicro servo. There is also a servo for nose wheel steering. That adds up to nine—yes, nine—servos in this airplane. Did I mention the navigation lights in the wingtips (bright ones)? E-flite includes a discrete BEC board in the A-10 to power all of these components.

I think the most unique aspect of this Warthog is its power system. It is equipped with two 11-blade, 64 mm diameter electric ducted-fan (EDF) units. EDFs of this size are often powered by three-cell or four-cell LiPo batteries. These fans, however, pull power from a whopping six-cell battery! This makes the A-10 a real hot rod!

Assembling the A-10

Most of the model is factory assembled, but there are a few things left for you to attach. The first task is to plug the four elevator and rudder servos into extensions that emerge from the rear of the fuselage. The next step is to glue the foam tail feathers into position with medium CA glue.

As I was preparing to attach the tail feathers, I realized that the servo connections I had just made would be inaccessible as soon as the foam pieces were in place, so I skipped ahead and linked the receiver to my Spektrum iX12 transmitter. This allowed me to verify that all of the tail servos were properly connected and functioning before sealing the plugs.

Removing a magnetically secured hatch in the belly of the model reveals a Spektrum AR636 receiver. The wires from all of the components that are connected to the receiver are jumbled into a messy bird’s nest inside the fuselage. Thankfully, E-flite provides a well-marked and easily accessible extension for the bind plug. I was able to bind the receiver with no problem.

The tail feathers fit together nicely with tight, straight joints. I really appreciated that the contact areas had not been painted so that the CA could bond directly to the foam. Stickers are provided to cover the servos and blend them with the surrounding paint.

Plugs for the main retracts and wing servos are hard mounted in the wing saddle. These connections are made automatically as the wing is pressed into position. Four 3 mm screws secure the wing to the fuselage. The 2 mm hex wrench required for these bolts is not included.

One of the kit’s scale accents is a replica of the Pave Penny pod, which is located below the starboard side of the canopy. The manual instructs you to use CA to secure this foam piece. I found that I kept bumping the pod while handling the A-10. After breaking the pod off, I decided to reattach it with 1/4-inch diameter magnets. The magnets hold it securely in flight but allow the pod to pop free without damage if it gets jarred.

There are eight plastic hardpoints on the bottom side of the wing. These areas are used to attach the removable ordnance that is included with the A-10. You get a mixture of bombs, rockets, and missiles to load on the Warthog. Each piece slides into place with no tools required.

I used the recommended Spektrum sixcell 3,200 mAh Smart LiPo battery in the A-10. Space inside the battery compartment is tight, so you must move the wires and plugs to ensure that the canopy/hatch can seat properly. I placed the battery against the starboard wall of the battery bay. This left just enough room to tuck the battery connectors between the battery and the port wall.

The battery is secured with hook-and-loop tape on the floor of the battery compartment, as well as two hook-and-loop straps. When I have the battery positioned to achieve the correct center of gravity, it does not engage the forward strap at all, so I removed the unused strap to declutter the area.

Flying the A-10

Tricycle landing gear with a steerable nose wheel gives the A-10 nice ground handling, even over somewhat rough terrain. When you’re ready for takeoff, just push the throttle to the firewall and the Warthog will muscle ahead. Flaps are not necessary for easy departure, but the takeoff setting will get you in the air quicker.

all of the wires connected to the receiver create a messy jumble within the fuselage
All of the wires connected to the receiver create a messy jumble within the fuselage.

stickers are provided to help blend the servos with their surroundings
Stickers are provided to help blend the servos with their surroundings.

the author attached the pave penny pod with magnets so that it could break free without damage
The author attached the Pave Penny pod with magnets so that it could break free without damage.

there is not much room in the battery compartment
There is not much room in the battery compartment. The author placed the battery against the starboard side and tucked in the connectors on the port side.

The twin EDFs produce a combined output of nearly 1,500 watts (2 hp)! This push gives the A-10 an excellent balance of climbing power and speed. The fans also sound great as the airplane "whooshes" by.

I spend most of my Warthog’s flight time with all of the controls on high rates. The model is very responsive, but not twitchy. It will deliver tight, crisp rolls and large, round loops. Inverted flight requires just a nudge of down-elevator.

Don’t forget that this model has dual rudders. Knife-edge passes are a treat. Because the rudders are partially in the jet wash, the A-10 will even do a respectable Hammerhead!

This Warthog looks great making mock strafing passes over the runway. At the end of the run, I pulled the nose up slightly, did a quick 1/4 roll, and hauled back on the elevator. The airplane responded with a beautiful high-G turn.

The model is very responsive, but not twitchy. It will deliver tight, crisp rolls and large, round loops. Inverted flight requires just a nudge of down-elevator.

a variety of missiles rockets and bombs
A variety of missiles, rockets, and bombs can be easily installed or removed at the field without tools.

connections for the wing servos and retracts are hard mounted
Connections for the wing servos and retracts are hard mounted into the wing saddle for automatic connection when the wing is seated.

I can’t tell any difference in performance with or without the ordnance attached. It really comes down to personal aesthetic preference. I happen to favor the look of the Warthog with a clean wing.

Full-scale A-10s are painted in gray camouflage to make them more difficult to see. Unfortunately, this effect scales down on this model, and visual orientation can be tough on hazy or overcast days. Keep your eye on this one!

Engaging SAFE Select limits the model’s pitch and bank angles. It also provides self-leveling when you release the control sticks. I can see where these safety nets would be useful for a pilot who is just transitioning to high-performance models, but I think most pilots will prefer the feel of the A-10 without SAFE Select.

This A-10 has a fairly high wing loading, so I was surprised by how well it slows down. Dropping the flaps to the takeoff position allows you to cruise around at sedate speeds, while the flight controls remain sharp. Full-flap deployment really slows things down for easy landings. The flap/elevator mix settings suggested in the manual work well for me, and I have not noticed any need for elevator trim when I engage the flaps.

The manual suggests setting your flight timer for 3.5 minutes. All of my flights thus far have lasted within a few seconds of that mark. There has always been adequate power to taxi back after landing. Because my flying field is bordered by trees on three sides, I am hesitant to extend my flight time much more. It is better to come in with some reserve than to risk a forced landing in the woods.

Final Approach

I will admit that I was initially somewhat skeptical about this model. At first glance, it seemed to me that E-flite tried to implement too many features for a model of this size, making it overly complex and heavy. My hands-on experience with the A-10, however, has shown me that all of the extras—such as the flaps, retracts, rudders, and scale details—actually work together nicely. This Warthog is heavier than other similarly sized A-10 models, but it does not fly like an overweight airplane. It is powerful, well-behaved, and fun to fly.

twin edfs with six cell power provide tremendous thrust for the e flite a 10 thunderbird
Twin EDFs with six-cell power provide tremendous thrust for the E-flite A-10 Thunderbird. It has a good balance of speed and vertical performance.

SOURCES:

Spektrum

(800) 338-4639

www.spektrumrc.com

1 comments

I enjoyed your A-10 review quick concise and to the point and truth full. It is a little weighty and the battery compartment is tight. That being said its the best A-10 for its size .

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