RCU Review: Michel Clavier Modelisme Salto RTF

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    Contributed by: Laurent Caekebeke | Published: February 2014 | Views: 28248 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    • Well-reproduced scale outline
    • High-quality build
    • Power setup allows for easy takeoff
    • Flight envelope

    • None found
    Glider aerobatics might not be as popular or as well-known as powered aerobatics, but it is covered by the CAI nonetheless. The pilots of such unpowered aircrafts have to demonstrate their skills by performing a series of specific maneuvers within the boundaries of a virtual box drawn in the sky. The plane being unpowered, relies on potential energy (i.e. altitude) and its conversion into kinetic energy (i.e. speed). The performance requires a very efficient and very rigid aircraft.

    Clearly, there are only a handful of aerobatic gliders available compared to the much larger offering of soaring and thermal aircrafts. The H-101 Salto is a German aerobatic glider designed and built in the 1970's and is easily recognizable by its distinctive V-tail and 90 degrees rotating air brakes located on the trailing edge of the wings. Like most aerobatic gliders, it shares a very robust and large fuselage capable of handling the extreme forces of the maneuvers with minor deflections of it?s control surfaces which further enhance the precision that they provide while performing the most intense figures.

    The Salto was built by the German company Start + Flug in the 1970s, and was made out of fiberglass.
    The glider is still in operation today, and some may even have been lucky enough to see  Bob Carlton's Super Salto Jet Sailplane Bob Carlton's Super Salto Jet Sailplane in an airshow somewhere in the US or around the world.

    The latest addition to MCM?s offering is a semi-scale reproduction of this majestic glider. The Salto MCM is a four meter electric aircraft made of a fiberglass fuselage, and samba covered foam core flying surfaces. MCM designed their glider for an extremely powerful 2.2kW engine; which, combined with the light weight, allows for vertical takeoffs. It is not every day that we get to see a 10lb, 157inch RC model taking off vertically!

    The Salto is available in three different packages:
    • Kit version,
    • Advanced version; where the wings and v-tail are pre-covered,
    • Ready-To-Fly (RTF) version; where everything is installed, including motor, battery and servos. Only the receiver is missing (or could be purchased separately from MCM).
    Today we are testing the RTF version, entirely manufactured, built and assembled in MCM's workshop in France.

    With a 4-meter wingspan and a 1.8m long fuselage, the Salto is a very large plane, and it comes in a very large box! The box is custom-made by MCM, and was especially re-enforced for the long journey across the Atlantic. The first thing that is striking right when you open the box is the fuselage: it is superbly massive! The second nice surprise is that everything is ready to go, and the plane can be airborne very quickly.

    The only thing needed to complete the plane is to install the receiver. All other components are factory installed. For this review, I chose to install the Futaba S7008SB for two reasons:
      ?    It operates on the FASSTest telemetry, and I became addicted to the live altitude feedback it provides, when coupled with the altimeter of the same brand.

      ?    MCM used high-quality high voltage Futaba S3172SV servos all around. The receiver needs to be high voltage as well to prevent slow servo response.

    MCM provides the battery pack, which consists of 3 Robbe batteries taped together. Two 4S3300mAh batteries are connected in series to form a 8s power pack. The third battery is a 2S1800mAh and powers the radio equipment. Note that the connector on the radio battery is the green 6-pin Multiplex kind, which is not commonly used for radio connection. You can either buy the matching connector (easily found at most Hobby shops), or use the folded radio connector mounted on the harness. I chose to install a MPX female connector on the radio board.

    Manufacturer Information


    The Salto is a German glider from the 1970's. Designed primarily for aerobatics, the Salto can also perform as a thermal glider, which is rarely the case for modern day aerobatic gliders.

    The scale SALTO 4m MCM was designed to reproduce the versatility of the real plane, making it a plane that can be used in multiple circumstances.

    The strong and light-weight structure, as well as the responsiveness on all axes, makes the Salto a very capable aerobatic glider.
    The plane is also surprisingly effective at thermal gliding, and is a strong competitor of even the best models!

    MCM proposes an ultra-powerful electrical unit, which further enhances the plane?s safety by making it easy to get out of a difficult situation within seconds thanks to a terrific climbing rate that can be as high as 12m/s. The plane?s light weight body combined with its powerful engine allows for easy hand launches. The Salto can even perform impressive and safe vertical takeoffs.

    Landing is made easy by the implementation of a new type of airbrakes, which makes landing on a small field easy.
    The elegant, versatile and lightweight SALTO 4m MCM compares easily with the full-composite glider. The model is manufactured in France with the same design guidelines which have made MCM's success for many years.


    Wingspan: 4.0m (157.5in)
    Length: 1.77m (69.7in) 
    Weight: 4750g (10.5lbs)
    Battery: 3300mAh 8S 30C LiPo
    and 1800mAh 2S LiPo (radio)
     SB 1.8 118
     Wing loading:
     60g/dm2 (20.9 oz/sq.ft)

    The battery slides in the nose, where MCM has installed a nice crate to keep it from moving. The battery is then firmly attached with a Velcro band. Radio installation is made easy by the roomy fuselage and the very wide canopy, which provides an easy access to the whole compartment. The canopy is secured by a pin in the front and a very strong magnet in the back. The magnet is VERY strong, to the point where it can become difficult to unlatch the canopy. This safety feature can be a bit cumbersome during utilization. I used a clear piece of tape that extends on the back of the canopy to facilitate its removal. 

    The wheel is approximately 80mm (3-1/8") in diameter. The turbo spinner with the air vent and the carbon fiber 14x8 propeller are both made of high quality materials. The whole spinner assembly is pre-mounted on the motor, but it is highly recommended to remove it prior to setting up the radio. With 2.2kW ready to jump into action, it would be catastrophic to risk having the motor turn on unexpectedly while programming the radio...

    The V-tail stabilizers are secured onto the fuselage with two small metric size set screws. The tail servos are connected to the receiver with two long extension cables. The servo installation is simple: the servo tabs have been removed on both sides, fitted tightly between two pieces of hardwood, and further secured with glue. The control surfaces are simply hinged with tape.
    The wings are connected to the fuselage with a large aluminum tube, and secured with two set screws. The ailerons servos are fixed in the wing in a similar fashion to the tail servos.



    The real H-101 Salto is equipped with four 90 degree rotating airbrakes mounted flushed on the trailing edge as shown on the picture on the left, courtesy of Airliners.net. MCM decided not to reproduce this complex mechanism on their semi-scale model. The air brake function is successfully accomplished by lifting both ailerons at a full 60 degrees upwards. To achieve this, MCM implemented a non-conventional kinematics, by using a far reaching control horn, which brings the pivot point ahead of the aileron hinges. That creates an uneven displacement, and allows for a large up-movement.

    Photo shoot

    The MCM Salto is a big plane, and in spite of its size it is not difficult to transport. The wing splits into two 2-meter halves, and the fuselage is approximately 1.8 meters long. The plane easily fits in a transportation bag. I highly recommend a bag or a similar protective method for the wings. The fuselage is fiberglass and gel coated, which makes for a very hard surface finish, which will support a rougher handling that the wings. The samba is a relatively hard wood, but it is still soft enough to mark easily during transportation.

    "Conventional" Hand launch:
    For the first few flights, and until the plane is perfectly trimmed, a helper should launch the plane so the pilot can have both hands on the remote to be able to react swiftly. The Salto is impressively large, but not as heavy as one might think. The plane is easy to grab towards the rear of the wheel, for a successful horizontal hand launch. The power available from the installed system makes the launch very easy: the plane is pulled forward and is very responsive right from the start. I setup the motor on a three-position switch, as recommended by MCM. I use full power to get the glider airborne, and then switch it back to a medium power when the glider reaches a safe altitude, which is only a matter of seconds really. MCM recommends keeping the high power burst under 8 seconds in order to prevent over stressing the power unit.

    Vertical Hand Launch:
    The Salto is equipped with a very powerful engine, capable of delivering enough thrust to lift the plane vertically from a static position?.very impressive. That is no easy feature, and you can imagine that the plane had to be built extremely light to achieve this performance. Even though we knew vertical takeoffs were possible from watching MCM?s video and also from the many encouraging words from the company?s owner Michel Clavier, it was not without a little bit of apprehension that we attempted the first launch. We followed MCM?s instruction precisely, and we pointed the nose towards the sky, while bending the knees, in order to make sure we were not in the propeller?s plan. Full power was then applied, and ... the plane basically took it from there! It just climbed up until the power was reduced.

    Thanks to the power package, the glider rapidly reaches a good altitude for gliding. The plane is large, and moves very fast. It can cover very large ground in little time. The high speed, low passes are beautiful and will please both your sense of sight and hearing. The "swoooosh" sound that accompanies the high velocity maneuvers is so enjoyable that I found myself having flights were I would do only that: high speed dive, low pass and climb back up!
    To be able to perform as an efficient aerobatic glider, an aeromodel has to show a good conservation of the energy as it maneuvers. If most of the energy is lost to friction with the air, then the glider would do not gain enough speed, and could not complete the attempted maneuver. The Salto shows a very good ability at saving the unique source of energy - altitude - and converting this into speed. Loops, both inside and outside are very straight forward, and can be made nice and large. The Salto returns the energy efficiently, and it is very impressive to have a couple of rolls on the way up after a 5/8 outside loop.
    The stall turn requires practice, as it not possible to use the engine to help with the turn on the top (that would be cheating!). The rudder has to be kicked before the glider stops in the sky, or the figure easily becomes an unwanted tail slide.

    The plane flies fast, and it would be very difficult to land without the effective airbrakes. Both ailerons can be lifted 60-degrees which has two immediate consequences: it increases drag and reduces lift. The sink rate increases suddenly and horizontal speed drop significantly. We found it easy to bring the glider from some distance, and adjust the angle of approach using the air brakes, which are conveniently located on the throttle stick. Once the glider is only a few feet above the runway, the air brakes are reduced to a minimum which avoids touching the ground with too much vertical velocity. The Salto can land on its main wheel and roll for a few feet before coming to a complete stop.

    The MCM Salto

    With over two decades of experience in manufacturing high quality gliders, MCM demonstrates exceptional craftsmanship and the Salto is no exception to their offering. The glider is impressive not only aesthetically, but also in design and high quality materials. 

    The extreme power developed by the selected power setup combined with the light weight of the air frame allows for exciting maneuvers. The vertical takeoffs are guaranteed to wow the crowd no matter where you live.

    The Salto is enjoyable in every aspect, and will satisfy the scale amateur and the aerobatic flier alike.


    Michel Clavier Modelisme
    Conception et fabrication
    de modèles réduits
    73170 ST JEAN DE CHEVELU Tél. 04 79 36 80 20 Fax 04 79 36 87 88

    mail: mcmod73@gmail.com
    Pictures and videos
    were shot at:


    Comments on RCU Review: Michel Clavier Modelisme Salto RTF

    Posted by: Mike Murciano on 02/09/2014
    How much will cost in Miami, Fl?????????; Thank you,, Mike
    Posted by: barorg on 04/19/2014
    Good luck trying to find one of these for sale, especially in the USA. When you guys review models, one of the elements should be availability and support, otherwise you can just review completely custom airplanes for all the good it does anyone wanting one. Oh, and I WANT ONE!!!
    Posted by: Turnale on 04/21/2014
    The Salto and all others models from MCM have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer. MCM sells their planes themselves, and they confirmed that they ship to the US. The process starts with an email asking for quote at mcmod73@gmail.com. Hope this helps!
    Page: 1
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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