Model type: Sport scale ARF
Skill level: Intermediate
Wingspan: 60.35 inches
Wing area: 450 square inches
Wing loading: 32 ounces per square foot
Length: 51.57 inches
Weight: 6.6 pounds
Power system: Requires .46 to .55 two-stroke engine; .52 four-stroke engine; or 1,000- to 1,400-watt electric power system
Radio: Six-channel minimum with six (electric) to seven (glow) servos
Construction: Conventional balsa and plywood
Street price: $239.97
Motor used: Great Planes RimFire .55 brushless outrunner
Speed controller: Great Planes Silver Series 60-amp with BEC
Battery: FlightPower FP30 5S 18.5-volt 4,350 mAh LiPo
Propeller: APC E 14 x 7 or 13 x 10
Radio system: Tactic TTX650 six-channel 2.4 GHz SLT transmitter; TR625 2.4 GHz SLT six-channel receiver; four Tactic TSX47 standard digital servos; two Futaba S3170G retract servos
Ready-to-fly weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
Flight duration: 8 to 10 minutes
• Nicely laid up and painted fiberglass cowl.
• Includes a robust set of suspension-equipped alloy struts and mechanical retracts.
• Easy access and plenty of room for larger flight batteries.
• Includes the required mounting hardware for glow and electric power systems.
• Stock position of the rudder control horn somewhat limits elevator travel in the up direction
Phoenix Model introduces its Genesis 50-size sport scale ARF as a model of the “most successful aircraft in racing history.” Any conversations about air racing history inevitably lead to the Reno National Championship Air Races. Held annually since 1964, this event is rooted in the historic Cleveland Air Races of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
Held every September in the high desert north of Reno, Nevada, the event features six classes of aircraft. Most air racing aficionados will scratch their heads in a perplexed manner if you ask them about an airplane named Genesis. However, they will quickly tell you that one of the most-winning aircraft in air racing history was the Nemesis.
Flown by now-retired pilot and designer Jon Sharp, the Nemesis won nine consecutive Reno Gold National Championships and 16 world speed records in its class. The Nemesis handily dominated the competition, winning 45 of its 48 contests between 1991 and 1999. Since its retirement, the Nemesis airplane has been available in a kit form.
The Phoenix Model Genesis is a 1/8-scale .46- to .55-size sport scale ARF that can be powered by a nitro or electric power system. The Oracover covering scheme bears a strong similarity to Kevin Eldredge’s full-scale Nemesis #4 production kit. The fuselage is large, while the wings are short, thin, tapered, and feature a narrow cord. The entire kit is traditional balsa and light plywood construction.
Phoenix did a particularly amazing job of recreating the complex, flowing curves of the Nemesis using wood as the modeling medium. Most modern ARF kits that feature retractable gear now use electric retracts. Phoenix includes a pair of old-school mechanical retracts, although the assembly manual also alludes to using electric retracts. A pair of nicely machined suspension-equipped struts is also included.
The large fiberglass cowl is sturdy. The removable cockpit hatch includes a pilot figure and partially detailed cockpit with an instrument panel and pilot seat. Removing the hatch exposes the interior of the fuselage, making installation and access to the radio gear and flight battery/fuel tank easy.
The included 15-page assembly manual features sketch-style drawings.
Phoenix recommends either a RimFire .46- or .55-size brushless outrunner motor when choosing the electric power system. Parts required for either nitro or electric power are included.
Electric poser requires a small plywood sub firewall to be mounted to the main firewall, to create the proper motor standoff and spacing. I chose the RimFire .55, because of its slightly higher net power rating and specified ability to swing larger propellers. After all, the full-scale Nemesis was famous for flying fast! However, the differences between the two motors are subtle at best. With identical dimensions, either motor will fit.
Before installing the mechanical retracts, I used a sharp hobby knife blade to remove the Oracover covering from the underside of the fuselage and wings. The main gear retract bays are a thin gauge, Lexan-style plastic that must be trimmed to the required size before installation.
Assembling the Genesis may require tools not normally used when assembling an ARF. Curved-tip scissors work best for trimming out the gear bays. I initially rough trimmed them until they would start to slip into the openings in the bottom of the fuselage, making the necessary small clearance cuts last.
I anchored these plastic main gear wells in place with white, canopy-style glue. When the glue dried, I applied a second round of it from the topside, working through the cavernous canopy hatch opening to apply additional glue where the plastic contacts the wood fuselage and formers.
The plastic gear bays are prepainted blue to match the fuselage, but after they were installed, the cut edges were glaring white. I used a blue Sharpie to blend them back into the blue covering.
Each mechanical retract has its own quality Futaba retract servo. Mechanical setup is much easier than when using one servo to drive two retracts. After retracts were installed, I noticed that when retracted, the geometry between the two was different. Closer examination revealed that the hardwood mounting blocks embedded in one wing half were slightly canted. Remedying this was as easy as shimming the low end of the mechanical retract with a couple of flat washers
The short, stubby wing halves are removable. A thick aluminum spar protrudes from the wing root and serves to anchor them to the fuselage. A small gap remained between the wing root and fuselage after I had them fixed firmly in place. The end of the aluminum spar features an open slot design; the thick aluminum spar is pinched under a cap screw and flat washer which holds the wings in place.
Loosening the wing retention bolts allows a pilot to remove the wings. Although convenient, I prefer a hole instead of the slot. This would hold the wings captive should the wing bolts loosen in flight. As designed, the wings could conceivably slide completely free of the fuselage should they loosen in flight. I will definitely check the security of the wing bolts more often than I typically do to be safe!
I went with the Tactic TR625 full-range receiver and Tactic TTX650 transmitter. The Great Planes Silver Series 60-amp ESC does not include a BEC. I often use the Castle Creations 10-amp BEC. To ensure that it received vital cooling air flow, I mounted it beneath the cowl adjacent to the ESC.
Phoenix integrates a battery tray into the forward section of the fuselage. The RimFire .46 and .55 outrunners are rated for either five- or six-cell LiPo packs. I had several Flight Power 5S 4,350 mAh packs on hand from a recent review so I started with them. They fit nicely on the battery tray, but sliding them all the way forward resulted in the Genesis being too nose-heavy. I shifted the pack rearward to get close to the recommended center of gravity—65mm aft of the wing’s leading edge. As built, the Genesis tipped the scales at 116 ounces.
While verifying the control-surface throws, I noticed that the rudder pushrod was interfering with the elevator; deflecting the elevator too far upward would cause it to contact the rudder pushrod. I adjusted the elevator’s high-rate throw to keep this from occurring.
The Genesis looks fast sitting still! Its sleek fuselage is noticeably narrow when viewed from the side, and yet abundantly wide when viewed from the above or below. Its main gear has a fairly wide-set stance. This, coupled with the lengthy fuselage, makes for a model that tracks nicely on the ground and during departures.
When the Genesis was in the air, I felt that it was slightly sensitive on the pitch axis. Flipping to low rates helped to soften the elevator response. With a lap or too around to trim out the racer, it was time for some full throttle passes.
The sensation of speed is relative to a pilot’s proficiency level. The Genesis sounded as though it was moving out, but it did not look especially quick—until it was time to land. It is generally a good idea to carry a little extra air speed all the way in when making those first few landings, in case you discover that the model has a high stall speed. Although the Genesis did not look that fast working through the landing pattern, it was clipping along quickly as it crossed the numbers.
After several more aborted landings, thanks to excessive airspeed, I committed to the touchdown and set it down on the mains. The spring-loaded struts visibly deflected under the weight and impact of the landing, but the Genesis stuck solidly to the runway surface and rolled out nicely.
After a few flights using the 13 x 10 propeller, I installed a 14 x 7 one. The Genesis has plenty of clearance to go to larger diameter propellers and the Rimfire .55 is rated to handle more load than was being placed upon it. I also shifted the battery slightly more rearward.
The ample frontal area of the Genesis fuselage creates much drag that can only be overcome by a lot of watts. The wing-loading numbers of this model may hint at an airplane that could bite you if you let it get too slow, but what is not in the equation is the amount of lift created by the fuselage’s large, flat bottom.
The Genesis is a nice .50-size model and yet, the more I flew it with the 14 x 7 propeller, the more comfortable I became at slowing it down for landing. The sight it cruising sedately around the pattern at times messed with my senses.
As I mentioned, it looks fast standing still, yet I was able to fly it far slower than fast! Getting the Genesis to live up to its Reno racing heritage will require hopping up the power system. A steeper pitched propeller and/or adding another cell to the flight battery is sure to add to the top end.
As equipped and flown for this review, the Genesis is an intermediate-level sport model that can easily provide flight durations of 10 minutes or more when using a 5S 4350 LiPo. Although newer pilots may be challenged by the speed it offers, veteran pilots will probably want to make it go faster.
The Phoenix Model Genesis is one of the larger Reno-style racing models that I have flown. It is a sturdily constructed balsa and plywood kit that will appeal to both electric and nitro enthusiasts. It can be configured as a relatively benign sport model or built up for all-out speed. If going the latter route, it will be wise to respect the potentially high wing loading of the narrow-chord wings.
With the advent of electric retracts without servos, it has been years since I have seen a pair of mechanical retracts used, but Phoenix includes a sturdy set of them. The company sweetens the deal by equipping them with nice metal suspension struts. The mechanical retracts are rock solid and robust, especially when fired by quality retract servos such as the high-torque Futaba S3170G servos used in this project. So far, they have functioned flawlessly.
The full-scale Nemesis sports a three-blade propeller. If a pilot can score an appropriate three-blade spinner, switching to a three-blade propeller would give the model a more accurate scale appearance.
It is not uncommon to find small groups of pilots who enjoy Pylon Racing at an informal club level. The models used are usually park flyer-size and priced accordingly. This larger .50-size Phoenix Model Genesis might be the perfect platform to explore taking the racing up to a higher, more exotic level!