The Golden Age of ARFs is Here! A Proven, Well-Mannered Sport-Scale Gee Bee in a Perfect Size!
Anyone in the market for a well-made, attractive, easy-to-complete, stable-flying, mid-size sport scale model of the Gee Bee Senior Sportster would do well to consider Hobby Lobby's 63-inch version of the Granville Brother's Model Y sport plane. Positioned between Hobby-Lobby's other 48-inch and 84-inch versions of the same aircraft, its five foot three inch size means it is small enough to fit in the back of a station wagon or minivan without disassembly but big enough to handle some wind and typical grass runways. And for those who like scale models, this version sports the most correct colors. On to the particulars:

The kit arrived in perfect shape. Everything was sensibly and safely bagged and packed. The three-tone covering scheme of red on white with black trim in between was professionally applied, requiring very few touch-ups, and the registration numbers are already in place. I would note that the black trim running up and over the battery hatch was not cut, so my first attempt to remove the hatch during kit inspection damaged the trim. Check your hatch seams first, and if needed cut the trim carefully and iron down the edges. The good news is that's the only flaw I found in the model, period. All the needed hardware short of radio and powerplant are in the box. Kit contents rating: Very Good.

I'd rate the 15-page instruction manual Good, though not great as there are a couple of minor errors (steps one and two are identical aside except for the accompanying pictures, for example) and inexperienced builders might want more detail than the brief text and low-resolution pictures provide. But the necessary steps are all there, appropriately sequenced, and following them will produce a fine model.

Assembly is straightforward, and there are some nice touches; for example, the aluminum wing tube was pre-roughened, making it easier to adhere securely in place. The only items requiring any modification at all were two of the four receiving holes for the landing gear, which I had to drill out slightly so the beefy gear wire would go in all the way. The pull-system for rudder control--my first--required some figuring out as the picture is not clear and the description literally says to install "as shown". But anyone who's done one before will have no problem here, and even a relative novice like me can get it right. There are only two other steps requiring some figuring and planning: adding the wing struts and attaching the cowl. Take the time to make sure you place the struts properly on their respective sides to get the best fit. There are no instructions for mounting the cowl, so if you have little or no experience you'll want to seek guidance on this point--though on the plus side it fits perfectly and requires no fuss. Overall, I'd give the kit a Good to Very Good for ease of assembly.

Appearance: Modelers like me who like to flesh out/dress up their ARFs can have a field day with this kit. Though not fully scale in proportions (see the flight report section for more info) it is practically a black canvass for details. I replaced the registration numbers and added one under the wing, as well as creating simple ink-jet decals for other markings. I added a pilot and an instrument panel, and made a windshield in the earlier sport plane style (rather than the conical section of the racing windshield. Now I have a personalized version that takes little more than a slight squint to transport me to flying's Golden Age. Out of the box I'd rate the appearance Good; but a few added details can produce a Very Good looking plane.

Flight: With a motor and prop like the one Hobby Lobby recommends, standard servos, generic 40A ESC, and a 5000 mAh LiPo installed, and control throws and CG set as recommended in the instructions, this model flies like a dream. I like to throttle up slowly, and did notice a tendency to pull left, but once at speed she's ready to leap in the air and climb right out, so very short take-offs are within the envelope if you prefer. Once airborne this plane is steady and predictable at cruise (a tad past half throttle) because its fuselage and wingspan are a bit longer and wider than scale. Yet it remains highly responsive at any speed. It will turn quite tightly and can perform most standard aerobatics smartly, but with its steady sink rate, easy flare, and wider-than-scale landing gear placement it is a pleasure to land. All my planes are tail-draggers, and this one is just plain easiest to settle in for a three-point landing. Flight report rating: Very Good to Excellent.

Overall: This plane is a perfect size, from a proven design, and is a well thought out kit that results in a good-looking and great-flying plane. While not for raw beginners, it can be flown easily and will satisfy any pilot except one that prefers to live on the razor's edge. It offers solid construction, professional finish, with few flaws and an attractive price. I looked at similar kits in varying sizes from a number of makers before settling on Hobby Lobby's 63-inch version, and after today's uneventful, pleasing and exciting (in a good way) maiden flight, I can recommend it without reservation. Overall, this is a Very Good plane, and gets four out of five stars. Four and a half, if I could. ;-)
I give this product 4 stars. Review by Allison, William