HobbyKing B-17G Flying Fortress – PNF – 909
update: I finished the B-17 and just did a road-test to make sure the landing gear and tail wheel worked. It moved around fine, and everything checks out. Just need to add a reinforcement carbon fiber spar across the width of the wings before it’s maiden flight!
This page is to detail the build process of the Hobby King B-17G Flying Fortress. Specifically the PNF version of the “909” fortress. They have many to choose from on their site, I think about 4 individual models of B-17’s, all with different versions based on what electronics come with them, etc. This build log is specifically for the version located here: http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__19987__B_17G_Flying_Fortress_909_Scheme_EPO_PNF_USA_Warehouse_.html I wanted to photograph and log every step of this build, as when I was doing research on which B-17 to buy, I couldn’t find much specific information about any of them. It would have been helpful to see the parts ahead of time and know what to expect when building it, so I’m putting this page together in hopes that others interested in this plane from Hobby King can use my experience first. I did a lot of research and price comparison before deciding on exactly which one to get, and price was the main factor in deciding on the 909 from Hobby King. I didn’t want to spend more than $200 on the plane itself, and wanted to get as many electronics included in the price as possible. When I noticed that the price had dropped on the 909, I started comparing the ARF and PNF versions of the plane. I really don’t understand their pricing strategy between the two, since the ARF version is listed for $192, and the PNF is only $7 more at $199. It would be stupid to go with the ARF version, since for the extra $7 you get all the electronics you’ll need save for a 7 channel receiver. Maybe this is a mistake on their website, but I would take advantage of it while you can!
One thing I really wanted to know about before buying the plane was to see more information about the quality of the parts and the prebuilt /preinstalled electronics, etc. I couldn’t find any pictures or much information anywhere else other than the customer reviews on the product page on the Hobby King website. So I took pictures of every step of unboxing the plane so that a new potential buyer can see what to expect when they get it in the mail. See the slideshow below to see every part of the plane in detail.
Now that I’ve got the plane about done, it’s time to detail the steps to build it. This was not the easiest of builds, even though it is a PNF kit, it wasn’t really that simple. I have to say that a good amount of the work is done for you right out of the box though. The motors and wiring are all pre installed with balsa wood reinforcement. The wiring is already run through the wings and fuse, and the ESC’s have already been preinstalled in each of the engine nacelles. This is great, but the assembly of the main pieces is still a bit of a challenge just due to the huge size of this bird. Definitely doesn’t make it easy to assemble with the plane having a 5′ wing span! First off, take a look at the instructions that you are provided with. This is the pure crap that comes in the box with this thing:
Yes that says “Put the machine guns and here comes the complete B-17G”. Another section of the instructions specifically refers to putting together the “P-51”. This is the most half assed instruction manual I’ve ever seen, they could have had it translated properly!
Lets’ get on to the construction that is required.
First, the wing aileron and servo rods need to be connected. It’s pretty simple, the rods come in the box and are already cut to size. It’s just needed to unscrew the cover off the bottom of the engine to get access to the servo arm.
You can see that the ESC’s are already preinstalled. The problem is that all these electronics are pretty jammed in there. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for the servo rod to run through. You can see there is a small hole behind the ESC. You can run the rod through there, but it doesn’t fit right initially, you have to move around the ESC quite a bit to get it to fit right. This took quite some time to do to get everything run properly. I still anticipate having to do some fine tuning once it’s ready to fly.
This leads to the problem with the Servo clevis mounts. This is one of the parts of the plane where they really half assed the product. It comes with 4 sets of clevis’, and each one has 4 holes in it. One side has the clevis, the other side is a flat plate with 4 holes in it. However, the kit only comes with 8 screws. I guess they intend you to only put 2 screws in each one. WHY NOT JUST INCLUDE 16 SCREWS?! it seems so stupid to just mount them with only 2 in each. I did for the time being, but will be adding additional screws to secure everything.
Once you have these mounted properly, you move on to assembling the wing. This is made more difficult than it needs to be for a few reasons. First of all, the wiring which is already pre-run inside the wings is WAY shorter than it should be. There is just enough extra slack in the wiring for you barely get them connected. There is no need for it to be this short. I read a comment in a review on the product page on Hobby King’s website, and someone else made this same remark. It just makes it much harder to assembly so they could save pennies? Stupid.
Also, the wings do not fit together properly. They provide a piece of balsa wood to reinforce the joint where the wings connect. There are pre-cut slits for this piece, but neither were deep enough inside the wing to fit the piece of wood. I had to dig each deeper with a knife in order to get it to fit. Once done, you need to glue it all together. I was glad that I held on to the styrafoam box that the parts came in, because I used this to sit the wing on so it could dry.
The main advice I can offer here, is to use zip ties or rubber bands to hold the wing together after you glue it. I used zip ties, and it kept the shape pretty solid as it sat and dried.
Another part of the assembly you can do anytime is to build the propellers. This can be put together anytime during the build. They are easy to assemble, and fit on to the motors pretty easily. The problem is that some of the blades were malformed, and didn’t fit too well on the mounting pieces. I made it work, but it kind of worries me about the integrity of the props. Anyway, each prop has a front and back mounting cup, and three blades. Then three screws to hold the front and back cup together. Then the blades screw on to the motor, and a cap goes on the outside with a nut in it to screw down to hold the prop in place.
Once the props are mounted and wings together, you can mount the wings to the fuselage. There is still some setup do on the fuselage itself though. I found that the servo rod connectors that came with the plane were complete cheap crap. They were the basic kind that have a screw end that goes through the servo arm hole, and then a nut on the bottom to secure it to the arm. The nuts on all three of the servo arms were stripped and loose. I couldn’t even tighten them. They were in horrible condition. This is one of the things that I contacted HK support about. I wanted working connectors that should have been provided with the kit, and they refuse to provide them! Anyway, I went to a local hobby shop and ended up getting way better connectors. Ones that mount with a plastic/rubber clip on the bottom, rather than a tiny nut.
From here, it’s time to mount the wing to the fuse. This is the tricky part because once you connect the receiver to all the wiring, there is barely enough room to fit all the wiring inside the fuselage. The wings also connect to the fuse with 2 bolts, which are pretty hard to get lined up properly. It takes some screwing around, but you can finally get it connected. One really important thing to do is to mark the wiring yourself. They come with small taped numbering on the wires, but most of them fell off as soon as I started working with the wiring. I put tape on each wire and wrote the number on there with a sharpy instead, that way if i take things apart again, I’ll still know where the wiring goes on the receiver. The horribly location where all the wiring and receiver goes makes it even harder when you need to bind to your transmitter.
Once you get it connected, you are just about ready to fly. This is the point I’m at, but there is still a lot of fine tuning to do. The servo rods need to be adjusted for length. Ailerons, motors, and flaps tested…
I’ll update with additional video and details once I get the stickers on and start testing.
HOBBY KING CUSTOMER SUPPORT
Just so potential Hobby King customers are aware, I wanted to post the screenshot from my interaction with their support team. I’m just trying to get the parts fixed or replaced so that I have the plane and parts that I paid for. This is how their support team has handled the situation so far…
UPDATE: They have now completely denied my claim, for following their instructions. On 11/17 the support rep “Rich” told me to send pictures of the damaged parts, and if they were already assembled, to send pictures of the assembled parts with packing materials. I comply, since I had already put the parts together, I send detailed pictures of everything. Today they respond saying my claim is denied and closed because I had already assembled the parts. I DID EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID! I am so furious with this horrible company, I completely regret spending ANY of my hard earned money with them.
I have also posted this all on a thread on RC Groups, in hopes that others can see this horrible experience and avoid going through the same thing too. Check the thread here: