class gliders are the oldest and original competitive
soaring class, having received its name only following
the introduction of the other soaring classes. The
open class has nearly no restriction, other than
the maximum size of the plane, and is the favorite
class for introducing new research prototypes. These
planes are often the top performers, but they also
sometimes carry a big sticker price.
The Kestrel 19 was developed to enter the open-class
competition. This glider is an evolution of the
Kestrel 17, which itself was a licensed build of
the Glasfugel H-401. The Kestrel ranked first twice
in the British national championship (1972 and 1975),
and performed strongly in the world champions, although
it never won.
This glider has some great features such as flaperons,
which means that the flaps are operated as ailerons
for better control. The plane is also equipped with
a landing parachute, which increases the drag on
landing to slow down the glider.
MCM, an RC aircraft manufacturer based in France,
reproduced the Kestrel 19 as a motorized semi-scale
glider. The plane has a one-piece fiberglass fuselage
and foam core wings and stabilizer. It is designed
for a 600W power plant, to quickly get to thermal
altitude. The Kestrel is first and foremost a thermal
soaring machine, which means that it is designed
to catch even the smallest lift.
The plane can be procured in 3 different levels
kit version: the wings, rudder and stabilizer
will need to be covered and adjusted to the fuselage.
Additionally, all radio equipment and motor will
need to be installed.
advanced version: the wings, stabilizer and rudder
are pre-covered. Like in the kit version, the
radio equipment and motor will need to be installed.
(RTF) version: the plane will be delivered completed
with only the receiver needing to be installed
and the radio needing to be programmed.
we are testing the RTF version.
fuselage comes ready to go out of the box, with the motor
installed, and the cockpit adjusted.
receiver I chose for the review is the Futaba S7008SB. This
receiver is now on all of my largest gliders for which the
telemetry brings the great benefits of getting the battery
voltage and altitude in real time.
decoration of the Kestrel 19 matches the scale plane: it
is mainly plain white! The sticker showing the name on each
side of the fuselage brings a nice visual touch.
fuselage is really wide, and routing the wire to the
tail servos is an easy task. Note that the holes on
each side of the rudder serve also as exhaust ports
for the cool air running past the motor, battery and
387.50 ?* ($423.30**) Pre-assembled
707.50 ?* ($772.87**) RTF:
1183.30 ?* ($1292.64**) * prices do
not include tax,
**currency rate may vary Overview
The Kestrel is a semi-scale model of the high
performance German glider designed for the open-class
world championship. With this model we wanted
to offer a glider which was both easy to fly
and highly capable of catching even the lightest
To achieve this, we used the wing profile that
made our CUMULUS 3.7mm a success, and combined
it with a moderate-wing ratio. A lot of attention
was given to keeping the wing loading on the
light side. With 45g/dm2 and an all-up-weight
of less than 3kg, this glider has great soaring
qualities, and remains easy to land.
The plane?s structural strength allows
flying in any wind condition, and opening the
flight envelope to some aerobatic figures.
4S 30C LiPo
built a simple support for the battery, which makes the installation
and removal of the battery extremely easy: no Velcro, no tape,
no screws. It uses the compression of a foam block fixed on
the battery to keep two pieces of wood interlocked. This secures
the battery in place and also guarantees good consistency
in the battery location. Optimizing the CG in a glider is
the secret of the art; let's not jeopardize all these settings
with a poorly positioned battery.
the servos are glued in place by the manufacturer. The aileron servos
are located in a pocket under the wings, carefully adjusted to be
flush with the wing surface. The tail servos are glued inside the
rudder, and only the elevator servos show behind the access hatch.
This is actually my only grief with the plane, as it makes replacing
the rudder servo quite a challenge!
assembly with the RTF version only consists of the field
installation and that is it! The wing has an aluminum tube
to convey the wing load to the fuselage. A steel rod locks
the wing rotation around the tube, and sets the proper wing
incidence angle. The servo wires slide through an opening
in the fuselage and are connected directly to the receiver.
crate built for the battery makes the installation at the
field very quick. The battery simply slides in place, and
it is ready to go. The stabilizer is mounted on two metal
rods, and is simply held by friction. The maintaining force
can be increased by slightly bending the extremities of
the smaller rod. I used a pair of Z bend pliers on both
ends, and applied very little force, just enough to have
a minimum deformation on the rod itself.
monitored the voltage and amperage, and the current reached 40A while
climbing on 4s.
flight report is unusual in that it covers over a year of flying
with the Kestrel 19. The plane flew for the first time in the
sweet Texas spring before going through the heat of the summer,
and then the less thermal glider friendly winter. We experienced
exceptional flights and also the very bad one. So, let?s
get to it!
Hand launching is the best way to get the glider airborne. The
glider is not lacking power: in spite of its 3.0kg, it very
quickly gains speed making the launch very easy. No need to
use a trolley or any other form of takeoff helping device. As
a general rule, it is always better to ask for a charitable
friend to throw the plane so the pilot can have both hands on
the remote control from the start. However, no need to postpone
a flight if there is no one around: the Kestrel is very well
behaved, making it easy for the pilot to launch the plane himself.
The fuselage is easy to grab in one hand underneath the wing,
and the power from the engine literally pulls the plane from
the hand. A light horizontal throw is all it takes to safely
get the Kestrel 19 in the air.
It takes around 40 to 50 seconds to reach 300m, which is a very
good climb rate. I measured the sink rate on several occasions,
on dead lift days, and I consistently measured between .50 to
.55m/s. Granted, this measurement alone doesn?t tell as
much as the usual L/D glide ratio, but it is indicative of good
thermal capability. To glide from 300m (984ft) to the ground,
the Kestrel would take approximately 10 minutes. The glide ratio
is another important measurement, as it shows the capability
of the plane to reach another lifting zone without losing too
much altitude, independently of the time it takes to do so.
Lacking the sensor to measure horizontal displacement versus
vertical descent, I cannot provide the actual number for the
glide ratio. Considering the relatively high speed of the model
at minimum sink rate velocity, I would estimate this ratio to
be on the high side for a scale glider. The real Kestrel had
a very high glide ratio for its time with over 40:1, and this
strong feature has been accurately reflected in the scale reproduction
The full moving elevator is very responsive, and the recommended
throws are sufficient for both very precise soaring and aerobatic
flying. The elevator is at neutral when aligned to the tip of
the rudder. I made the mistake once of not centering the elevator
after switching to a new radio (I know, rookie mistake!). At
neutral, the elevator was slightly up, and that was all it needed
to raise the nose right on takeoff, causing a premature stall.
I thought my heart stopped when I saw the beautiful glider straight
for a metallic fence, rightfully located to protect spectators.
The damage looked pretty intense at the field, with the wings
crushed, and the fuselage cracked in a few spots.
Luckily, it only took one evening and a few layers of epoxy
and fiberglass to repair the entire fuselage. The fuselage is
molded and entirely open internally, making the repair easier
as the wall can be fixed from both the inside and the outside.
A new set of wings was bought from MCM, and the manufacturer
was extremely responsive and timely in delivering the spare
parts. In a matter of only a few weeks, the Kestrel was back
in the air.
The plane is capable of aerobatic flight, even if that is not
its preferred domain. The forward and backward loops are both
easy to perform, thanks to a very good energy restitution. As
for most large gliders, the roll rate is on the low side, and
the pilot will have to work the rudder and the elevator to keep
the roll centered.
The 45-degrees test confirmed the CG to be on the right position,
with a fuselage that slowly goes back to the horizontal. Nothing
was modified from the original setting recommended by MCM.
Landing is made easy by the powerful break, which consists of
both ailerons being raised. The increased drag, coupled with
the reduced lift, makes for a steep approach angle. Once the
glider is a few feet above the ground, it is best to bring the
ailerons back to neutral in order to reduce the vertical momentum.
It is highly recommended to land the glider on a patch of grass.
A runway or any hard surface used for landing could damage the
bottom of the fuselage over time. The pilot must remain attentive
at keeping the wing horizontal to prevent one of the wing tips
from getting caught on the grass, causing the plane to spin
around the yaw axis. The rudder is really exposed as it is low
on the fuselage, and it could get caught on grass, which would
stress the rudder servo and possibly break the fuse gear. If
that happens, the rudder servo will have to be pulled out from
the tail, and since there is no dedicated access window for
it, the elevator servo will have to be removed as well. Considering
they are both glued in the place, the job would be demanding.
On most days, a flight with the Kestrel lasts around 1 hour,
and it is interrupted mainly to give some rest to the pilot?s
neck. The plane is very good at identifying thermals. The large
wing will drop the opposite side to the thermal if it were to
meet one. The pilot just have to finish the 270 degrees turn
that the plane initiated to enter the thermal full frontal.
The plane is generally very easy to fly. The stall happens very
late, and is very gentle. The glider drops its nose and recovers
right away. It is definitely the perfect first large scale glider,
and opens the door to the large soaring class of RC aircraft's
to any pilot who can fly a three-axis plane.
MCM Kestrel 19
Kestrel is a very well designed and manufactured
plane. The quality of the build is superb, in line
with the quality of MCM's other planes.
price puts the plane on the high end of the market,
and is reflective of its excellent quality and individually
It is apparent that MCM built from their previous
successful models and combined them when designing
the Kestrel 19. The Kestrel 19 is a good performer
semi-scale glider, with no compromise on robustness
and ease of flying. This plane is a keeper for sure.
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.