A New Take on HobbyZone's Groundbreaking Original
After releasing the bigger, more powerful Firebird XLTM, HobbyZoneTM has returned its attention to the first FirebirdTM and made some remarkable improvements. The new Firebird IITM has the same beginner-friendly flying manners of the first Firebird, but now sports a new wing, tail, and motor that make the basic "Bird" even better than before.

New wing and tail
Perhaps the most visible change is the new wing. Gone is the fold-out wing design, as well as the wing braces it required. The new wing is a sleek elliptical dihedral shape with swept tips that effectively achieves all the positive stability of the original, without the need for dihedral braces. This alone drastically reduces assembly time compared to the original Firebird. It also eliminates the occasional re-adjustments the original required to keep the polyhedral equal on both sides. An identical spare wing is included with each Firebird II should the learning curve make things a little hard on the first one.

To give the Firebird II better handling qualities in wind, HobbyZone has reduced the angle of the wing "saddle" on the fuselage, thus reducing the new wing's angle of incidence. This allows the Firebird II to be operated easily in winds of 5-8 mph without pitching up like the original would sometimes do when flown into the wind. It also translates into more flying opportunities for beginners since they won't have to wait for completely calm conditions to fly.

HobbyZone has also enlarged the tail and its control surfaces, giving the new Bird substantially increased turning authority. The tail boom itself is stiffer as well. The wire tail control links from the original Firebird have been replaced with the same "fishing line" setup found on the Firebird XL. This arrangement is practically maintenance-free and places both control horns on top of the tail surfaces so they're out of harm's way on landing.

Reduced assembly time
Virtually no assembly is required. The new brace-free wing comes out of the box with decals already applied and the protective wing cap installed. The fuselage and tail are already assembled and decorated as well. You just rubber band the wing to the fuselage, install 8 "AA" batteries in the transmitter, charge the battery pack, and you're ready to fly.

Energy-efficient motor
The Firebird II's new motor isn't any bigger, but it's more efficient. Owners should be able to count on flights averaging longer than the original. This is quite a feat when you consider the Firebird II comes equipped with the same 4-cell, 4.8V 600mAh NiMH battery that was used in the original.

Speed accessories
Once a beginner has mastered flying the basic Firebird II, HobbyZone offers an optional red Speed Wing and Speed Battery (both sold separately) that really juice up its performance. We recommend this be done in steps though, adding the speed wing first. Its lower camber airfoil reduces drag enough to increase speed by about 10-15%, as well as allow the Firebird II to be flown in even stronger winds. Once someone has a lot of experience with the Speed Wing by itself, they can go ahead and add the 5-cell, 6V 600mAh Speed Battery. This battery gives the motor a lot more punch and really boosts the Firebird II's speed, whether used with the stock or Speed Wing.

We tried both the Speed Wing and Battery on our test Bird to see how much of a difference there was from the stock setup. Launching into about a 10 to 12 mph wind, we watched, with ever broadening grins as the transformed Firebird II zipped along. The extra power of the 5th cell, coupled with the reduced camber Speed Wing gives the Firebird II better handling qualities in windier conditions. It also bumps the top speed up by about 35%. Power-off descents are noticeably faster too but not unmanageable when landing. Using the extra "umph", we tried flying over a thermal-producing parking lot to see just how high we could go. We quickly found ourselves with the power off, trying to coax the tiny speck that was our test plane back down out of a towering thermal. Total flight time when we finally touched down was a respectable 17 minutes, but 13-minute flights will most likely be the norm using this heavier pack.

Certain similarities
While much about the new Firebird II is a departure from the original, similarities to the earlier Firebirds remain. These include the simple FlightTrakTM control system, a 5-cell 600mAh NiMH battery pack with field charger, and an instrucional video. Like both the original and the XL, it features "auto cut-off" circuitry that cuts power to the motor when the battery is low and reserves the remaining power for steering. A self-closing canopy, like the one found on the Firebird XL, has also been added.


See the features of the current HobbyZone Firebird line at a glance with the
Firebird Comparison Chart. (provided by HobbyZoneSports.com)

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