McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom Profile
(So...you've got your new Phantom....now what?)
The following written and photo instructions are for the Aero Ace/X-Twin
version of the plane and include how to salvage parts from your Aero Ace
and install them in your Phantom. Those of you assembling other versions
may skip those parts that do not apply, but please read through all
instructions to avoid any surprises!
Here's your well-used Aero Ace Original Jet. You want this
one over the Biplane for its hotter motors.
Carefully peel the fuselage bottom open from the front. There are
lots of wires in there!...use caution to avoid harming anything.
Now to remove the motors from the wings...the wires are
usually glued into the grooves under the tape. Note which
wire colors go to which wing!
Check the rear of the motor mount to see if the wires are glued in.
If there is glue around the wires, use a hobby knife to VERY
carefully remove it. Also; if there is glue on the wires, there is likely
glue holding the motor into the plastic mount.
Facing this situation, you may want to just use the mounts and not
try to remove the motors. The receiver mount slot in the F-4 kit is
elongated so that you may mount the receiver in a more forward
position to make up for the heavier motors when the mounts are left
on. Since lighter is better, you can take a razor saw and slit the
plastic motor mount, allowing it to be peeled away from the motor.
Be VERY careful not to damage the wires!
The old Aero Ace Jet has served well!...Keep the guts and give the
airframe the long rest it deserves!
Watch out for the very thin antenna wire!
Gutting the Donor Plane:
The leads to the battery may need to be spliced, depending on
the donor plane...some have short wires. Start by peeling the
heat shrink tube from ONE of the leads and desoldering
it...then immediately insulating it and bending it out of the way.
Do not risk shorting the battery leads...explosion and fire can
result. This tiny battery holds enough energy to fly the plane
for 8 minutes or so...not to mention the volatile Lithium which
will burn if exposed to air...TAKE CARE!
Assembling the kit:
Remove the fuselage from its packing. Take care
not to harm the fragile nose...This area will toughen
up considerably during the build!
Note that the receiver slot is too long. This allows
for adjusting the Center of Gravity depending on
whether you've removed the motors from their
mounts or not. If the motors were left in their
plastic mounts, block off the rear of the slot. If the
motors were removed from their mounts, block off
the front of the slot. Use a piece of scrap foam cut
to a size that allows a snug fit.
This is the best glue I've run across for foam, especially the slippery, flexible
EPP foam from which this plane is cut. It is pronounced "yoo hoo" and is the
variety for foils and foams. Found in hobby/craft stores, it works as both a
contact cement and straight glue...it will be used both ways in this assembly.
Next, the wing is removed from its packing. Take care not to
damage the nose area.
If the belly tank hand grip is to be used, its mount holes must
be cut in the marked areas. These holes are 8mm X 10mm.
If the wing's leading and trailing edges are to be rounded and
tapered (recommended) it should be done now. (pix below)
Test fit the fuselage and wing to get
used to the way that they assemble.
This will need to be done fairly quickly
when actually being glued as the
recommended glue has a short "skin
Spread the gaps in the front of both
the wing and fuselage and slide the
front of the wing forward until its holes
match the tabs in the fuselage. The
tab at the rear of the fuselage should
fit the slot in the rear of the wing and
the tab just to the rear of the receiver
slot should match the factory-cut hole
in the wing. All should fit as shown to
the right. (Click on the pix for larger
(Click all pix for larger versions)
My weapon of choice when it comes to trimming the wing and other parts of the plane...or most any
EPP or styrene foam is a VERY sharp X-Acto Number 26 "whittling blade". Using it at the very
shallow cutting angle shown allows the long blade to make very uniform, well-controlled, cuts. You
may feel free to try sanding, but I have not had good results as EPP resists abrasion very
well...DEFINITELY try sanding on a piece of scrap first!
I did have mixed to fair results with a teflon-coated film sealing iron used for smoothing rough
surfaces. I mention this only as something I tried that did have a benefit...keep in mind, though, that
I do not charge myself for wrecked parts! Try this at your own risk!...doing this may warp surfaces
beyond repair! Replacement parts are available, but shipping will be more than half the cost.
Once a used to the way the EPP acts with the knife, bevel top of the leading
edges of the wings back about 3/8 inch (9.5mm) leaving a "heavy" 1/16 inch
(2mm) thickness at the leading edge. I've found that laying the part on the
edge of a "knee board" and pressing down with the knife like a spatula while
twisting to "steer" and drawing the knife out of the foam while cutting forward
works pretty well. Looking at that description makes me thing that a little
practice would REALLY be a good idea if you've not done this much...or you
could go for a more simple edge by just knocking off the corners
I first bevel both top and bottom edges of areas that will see
airflow...other than the leading and trailing edges. Perhaps play
with some scrap first as there will be a bit of a "learning curve"
when cutting this spongy stuff!
Now...grab your donor's guts and position the prop end of the motor flush
with the trailing edge of the wing at a point where the tip of the prop is
even with the dihedral break...I left a little "nib" sticking out there. Put a
mark on either side of the motor for reference.
Now make another bevelling cut on the top of the
trailing edge. Use a VERY shallow angle to the
wing surface and leave the motor mount area full
thickness as in the pix. This bevel should be
around one inch (25mm) wide and leave a trailing
edge a strong 1/16 inch (2mm) thick.
Next, cut a Vee notch between the marks that you made on
either side of the motor. Leave a strong 1/16 inch (2mm) of
foam under the notch and make sure it is perpendicular to the
trailing edge so that the prop will be parallel to the trailing edge.
Your airfoil-shaped wing ready for assembly. Set the Aero
Ace/X-Twin guts aside to use after the airframe is assembled.
OK...now to glue the fuselage to the wing:
When doing this, I chose to use the UHU "foil
and foam" glue as both a contact cement and
wet glue. The portion used as a contact glue
holds the parts in place while the wet portion
dries...it works for me.
In the photos to the right I applied the glue in
a thin, uniform, layer to the areas marked in
blue and let it dry to a "tack". I then applied a
slightly more generous layer to those areas
marked in red and assembled the Fuselage
and Wing nose first then "rolling" the wing on
to the fuselage front to rear. Keep in mind that
once you let the "blue" areas touch, they're
stuck! You may want to just use the glue wet,
pin the structure, and let it dry for several
hours. Make sure to keep it straight!...layout
lines would help, but keep your color scheme
As a "cheat"...once you get the Fuselage/Wing
assembled, you can pull the "wet-glued" areas
apart a bit and blow on the glue to speed
drying then squeeze the joint back together,
having the glue then act more like a contact
glue. The UHU glue is very forgiving of such
Cut bevels similar to those above on all corners of the fuselage exposed to
airflow...treating the tail fin leading and trailing edges like those of the wing,
with the exception that the tail must be symmetrical with bevels on both sides
and the 1/16 inch edge in the middle. Marking the center of the lead and
trailing edges will help, but keep in mind your color scheme!
In several places below, I suggest layout lines be used. I also say to "keep your color scheme in
mind". Since this model is intended to be colored with permanent markers, you will not be able to
cover your layout lines, so make any layout lines the color that the area will eventually be "painted".
For more complicated schemes, such as the "Thunderbirds" pictured above, it may be best to
complete most of the color before assembly of the parts
Now it's time to "tough up" the nose of your plane so it can run into trees...and have
the odd "planetary collision event"! (hit the ground)
Find the small bundle of four 5/16 inch (8mm) square foam pieces. These will be
laid along the joint between the Fuselage and Wing just ahead of the battery slot.
If you plan to use the "belly tank" hand grip you can add it now using
the same dry/wet gluing technique and the holes you cut in the wing
earlier. The "deeper" end goes toward the front. The powered model
will fly well with this addition, but does a bit better without it. It's a
matter of personal choice...easier to launch...looks cooler...doesn't
perform quite as well.
The three pix to the right are what you should end up
with. The one with the blue and red marker on it is a fresh
plane and the other is one I've been flying regularly for a
month...the one shown crashing into stuff in the videos.
These planes are pretty tough!
Next...tailfeathers. Remove the Stabilizer from its shipping block
and brush a marker across the locating nibs at the leading and
trailing edges. This will give a visual cue that the Stabilizer is
properly aligned in the Fuselage. Due to the nibs the Stabilizer will
also "pop" into place.
Also bevel the edges that will "see" airflow. A rounded edge front
and rear is all that's needed...tapering the trailing edge would be
most difficult and only return a minimum benefit.
Apply glue to the area in red (top and bottom) and
slide the stabilizer into place. Again, the trick of
separating the joint slightly and blowing on the glue,
then squeezing the joint back together can be applied
to speed assembly.
Check to see that all is square with the world and
straight. "Massage" into alignment as necessary.
Installing the electronics:
Once the glue is dry, carve these blocks to rough shape using the outlines of the wing and
fuselage. Then bevel the top rear to the thickness of the battery slot. Follow this by rounding
off the sharp corners.
OK, now we have an airframe...time to "electrify" it! Take out
your stored AA/X-Twin guts and bevel the receiver notch in the
fuselage so that the flat side of it sits flush with the surface.
To help keep the wires on it as you move it around, put a gob of
hot glue on that end of the receiver board after making sure that
the thing still runs. If you do any modifications to the receiver as
noted in the next paragraph, hold off on the hot glue 'til you're
done. Take care that the motor cases are not connected to each
other electrically when you test run them as this may fry the
board. Setting the system up in a "Third Hand" vise may look like
a good idea, but the metal clips will connect the motor
cases...several folks have lost their receiver boards this way!
There is a guy who sells a "hop up kit" for the Aero Ace/X-Twin
that does work to make a little more power and will add to the
durability of the electronics, his site is here. Tony seems to be a
pretty good guy, his prices are reasonable, and he also sells
some other little goodies that will add to the fun!
If you're not aware of it, there is a discussion tuned to
modifications of the Aero Ace and X-Twin planes: Aero
Next; squeeze some UHU into the motor notches,
press the motors in, remove them, and let the glue dry
to a good tack. Then place the motors back in the
slots and they'll stay put! Not necessary, but you may
add a piece of tape over the motor to help hold it in
place and streamline it a bit
To keep the motor wires from moving about, I spread a thin line of UHU
where they lie against the wing. As long as you get some glue on both the
wing and the wires, they will stay. You should do the same with the fine
antenna wire...run it along the fuselage between the leading edge of the
tail and the stabilizer. Cover both the motor wires and antenna wire with a
light, flexible tape. Scotch transparent will do, but 3M Blenderm cut to a
1/2 inch wide strip will last longer on this flexible foam.
While we are gluing wires to the plane, let's not forget the battery leads. I've noticed
that some will need splicing and others will not. On this particular set of donor
electronics, I needed to splice in 1 1/4 inch of wire to allow the battery to sit in its
slot. When soldering in the splice, take great care to keep from shorting the leads
together as fire can result! Use just a touch of UHU to hold the battery in place and
cover it with tape so you can color over it with permanent markers.
You're almost done! All that is left is to check
balance. The plane should balance at a point 4
1/8 inches (105mm) forward from where the tail
joins the fuselage. I made a mark at that point
and put a pin through the fuselage. Hold the pin
to check balance.
You should also cover the receiver's open side with tape. Again, I recommend 3M Blenderm
as it is very sticky and flexible. A thin coat of UHU on the foam around the edges of the
receiver will help the tape stick.
As you see by its slight nose-down attitude...this plane turned out just a
little nose heavy. That is better than tail heavy though. It flew fine like this,
but you could add just a wee bit of weight to the tail. A nose-heavy plane
will be more stable and turn slower, where a more tail-heavy plane will tend
to react quicker but be less stable and more likely to do things that you
Done!...plug it into the
transmitter for a charge and go
If the plane does not fly well...the first thing to check is that all surfaces are flat, straight,
and true...bending while squeezing the foam will help straighten things out.
If the plane balances well and will not climb at full throttle...bend the stabilizer (rear wing)
up at the trailing edge while squeezing it between your fingers...It will stay for quite a
If balance is good and it climbs too much at full throttle...bend the trailing edge of the
stabilizer down a bit. Climbing "too much" means it goes up so steeply that it runs out of
speed and then dramatically changes to pointing down or falls off to one side. This is a
If it turns to either side when the power is off...squeeze and bend the fuselage just ahead
of the tail and rear wing the opposite direction just a bit. If the plane goes straight with
power off and turns with power on...use the small "trim knob" on your transmitter to
This plane will teach you about balance and stability...feel free to experiment with balance points and
stabilizer settings. It will be hard to hurt it...you've seen the videos!