After test flying 10 different remote control airplanes for our review, there was one craft we kept coming back to: the E-flite F4U Corsair. Hearkening back to the real Vought Corsairs that flew in World War II, E-flite’s Corsair is small, quick and extraordinarily nimble. No other plane we piloted could twist through the same rod-straight barrel rolls or duck in and out of dives, climbs and corkscrews with aplomb.
There is, of course, a catch to all that maneuverability: If you’re a first-time RC airplane pilot, this isn’t the craft for you. While the F4U Corsair has a built-in gyroscope to help keep the plane level and stable, it doesn’t feature Horizon Hobby’s SAFE technology, which means there aren’t multiple flight modes to ease beginners into the sky. Every twitch of your fingers is quickly translated to plane movement, and it’s easy to accidentally overcompensate.
If you do crash the Corsair, it holds up pretty well. Its body is crafted from a single, seamless piece of foam with a particularly shock absorbent nose. After assuming that a single crash would put the Corsair out of commission, we were pleasantly surprised when it handled five or six of them before showing signs of destabilization. When it did, the flight performance was off because of wing damage, not nose damage.
At just four minutes and 24 seconds of flight time, the Corsair’s battery falls at the lower end of the scale, and it always left us wanting just a bit more time with the plane. Fortunately, it takes just 35 minutes to charge up the 150mAh battery, and those batteries and their chargers can be found all over the internet. It isn’t difficult to buy a few extras, along with a multi-cell charger, and have enough batteries on hand to last a solid 20 to 30 minutes of flight with only brief pauses to switch cells.
After some 40-odd hours of combined testing and piloting experience, we’re pretty comfortable ranking E-flite’s F4U Corsair among our absolute favorite RC airplane kits. The strongest RC planes for beginners offer SAFE flight assistance, and its absence in the Corsair is glaring. If you’ve already had some piloting experience, however, or you’re willing to be very patient while you learn, you’ll have a hard time finding a plane that’s more fun to fly.