Pilot Skill: Advanced
Manufacturer: Kyosho America
Power: Electric Ducted Fan
Wingspan: 24 in.
Kit Includes: Fiberglass fuselage, covered wing, ducted fan unit.

Overview

Having flown quite a few electrics, we wanted to try something different and decided on the Kyosho Illusion DF45. For as much as we wanted to down-play what appeared to be a sexy looking aircraft, we really couldn’t. It truly is a sexy little jet. Kyosho does a great job with the structure, covering, and color scheme (including decals), however, they fall short when it comes to guidance in the instructions. This kit is not intended for a beginner but rather an experienced pilot and an experienced builder. Even then, anyone who is new to electric ducted fan aircraft (EDFs) will have a bit of a challenge on their hands during assembly.

Features

What we liked most about the Kyosho Illusion was how solid it was. The body of the aircraft is fiberglass and the wing is constructed as one piece. The few parts you’ll needed to assemble to complete the body are the vertical (rudder) and horizontal (elevator) stabilizers, two small wing tips, and the canopy. All of which are constructed very nicely. The Illusion comes with a ducted fan unit and a brushless motor.

What you’ll need to supply are:

  • 2 servos
  • 1 receiver
  • 1 electronic speed control (ESC)

Where we saw a pit-fall was during the ducted fan installation. Kyosho provides a brushless motor for the kit. So naturally (for those who are new to electrics like we are) we were expecting red, black, and white/blue wires to be coming out of the motor to match our ESC from Castle Creations. What we found were 3 black wires! We were confused. After much research, we read that brushless motors operate from what is called a sensorless ESC, which according to some should be second nature for knowledge to most electric enthusiasts. Clearly for us this was not the case. Score one for the learning curve.

Getting back on track – since there weren’t any labels for the wires, we had to play around with the connections to the ESC until we got it right. We were able to get the propeller to spin the wrong direction (creating prop wash blowing forward or away from the aircraft nose) which we corrected by reversing two of the three wires (any 2 will do) and then the rotation corrected. Needless to say we submitted a big negative in the books at this point along with some commentary about the wires from the motor. One word about the wires: cheap.

As we mentioned earlier, the instructions were not all that great and we ended up with disaster on our first flight (Can you say lawn dart?) “Why is this thing so underpowered?” we thought. After searching through the manual we found our error: the motor needs an 11.1 volt pack, not the 7.4 volt pack we bought. We used the wrong voltage for flight batteries.

We were a bit ticked after crashing our jet and wondered how we missed that bit of information. We’ve had quite a bit of experience with electrics before and even went to our local hobby store for advice on this project. What we found is that our information on the batteries is hidden among the many hieroglyphs in the instructions. The moral of the story is to read the manuals from Kyosho very carefully. We’re not faulting Kyosho directly, but you do feel like you’re staring at a picture book from back in first grade from time to time. For a first time EDF builder (much less someone new to electrics) this is intimidating. Advice for Kyosho: Put the vital information in bold on the 1st page, not hidden in the details.

Flight Performance

Having our second Illusion assembled and ready for flight, we opted for assistance in the first hand-launch and found that to be a good idea. Why? This aircraft is a bit touchy if you’ve never flown an EDF, and because it was smaller then we were use to, we wanted to be all hands on the sticks and ready for anything. With a running start and a level toss our Kyosho was off. It looked like a wounded duck on take off for two reason:

  1. The trims were not yet set, and
  2. Too much elevator too early.

We found that due to wing design on the Illusion you’ll need to keep the aircraft level on take-off, let it gain some speed, and then begin pulling up for altitude. If you pull up before you gain enough air speed, you will end up stalling the aircraft and making it nose dive into the ground.

After leveling out, gaining speed, and getting a good climb, we trimmed the aircraft (only a few clicks on the elevator) and the Illusion started to scream. We were all smiles and decided to forgive Kyosho for its downfalls; this time. The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is truly a small, fast, and nimble little jet fighter. Initially we thought its speed and size would make for hard visibility once it got going, but it’s really not that hard to keep your eyes on it. What helped our orientation the most is the solid coloring on the bottom of the wing. We thought of it this way: Avoid the red or you’ll be dead. Meaning, keep the red side of the airplane (bottom) out of eyes view and you’ll be fine.

When it comes to aerobatic performance there really isn’t much you can do other then aileron rolls and some slower loops. The motor that comes in the kit is not able to power the aircraft through complex aerobatics, but since the Illusion is more of an introduction into EDF flight, we didn’t see a need for much more then the basics. We find that its primary role is to zoom by the field and look good doing it.

We don’t recommend flying the Illusion in winds over 12mph. We hit a few gusts around 15mph that tossed the aircraft around making it difficult to control. And while you won’t loose altitude flying into a strong wind, you will notice a major decrease in how fast you’re going. Which for us, killed the cool factor of flying this EDF. And as for landings, we did some practice runs high up to get a good feeling for how it behaves when we reduced the throttle. These practice runs were a good idea because it did behaved very differently from what we expected. The Illusion does not float when coming in for a landing. It tracks straight and goes faster then we were used to. Due to the wing design, the Illusion needs to come in fast to avoid stalling on approach. However, by keeping the wings level and letting it fall at its own pace (don’t force the airplane down) the Illusion will not give you a lot of difficulty when landing.

Summary

Granted we’re jaded due to the battery issue, but if you can look past the bad instructions and minor frustrations of the motor installation, it’s not a bad kit. While not super fast, the Kyosho Illusion is fast enough for a first time EDF flier and is a hell of a good racer for low & fast airstrip passes. It’s a sweet flier that will turn heads and challenge your skills as an intermediate pilot.

Recommended Parts & Accessories

Additional Notes

  • Batteries
    We found that 3-cell 11.1v LiPo 910mAh or 1320mAh packs worked best. We use Thunder Power because we like the juice they provide and also because they are the lightest in the market. Be aware that the 910 is lighter and will allow the Illusion more speed making it harder to control.
  • Clear Canopy
    Be careful when cutting it out of the mold. Kyosho’s cut line are a bit too close to the edge of the body opening and we cut ours too close and now have to keep it on with tape (whereas in the instructions they use small screws – which we’d prefer).
  • Take-Off / Landings
    Give this jet a solid toss at a slight upward angle for hand launches. Make sure you keep the aircraft level for the first 100 feet or so to get up speed for lift. As for landings, do a few practice runs (high in the air) and get an idea of how fast it drops when you reduce power. It comes in fast but very level.
  • Solid Construction
    After our first experience in creating a lawn dart out of the Kyosho, we decided to put it through some paces. Let’s just say it can handle a lot of abuse and keep on flying. We even planted it into our flying clubs big wooden sign (not on purpose) and it survived with only a little love needed to the body. It’s one solid jet that will take the abuse!

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