A beautiful and realistic warbird, the ESM/KMP P-51D Mustang is a great scale ARF
KMP (ESM) has a reputation for producing some of the nicest-looking planes available on the scale ARF scene these days, and this plane certainly helps to uphold that reputation. This is a model of “Glamorous Glen III,” which was Chuck Yeager’s Mustang in WW II. It was in this plane that Yeager is credited with the first kill of a Me-262, the first operational jet fighter.
The fuselage is built of fiberglass with ply panels for mounting the servos, etc. and the wings/rudder are built-up balsa. The finish is absolutely gorgeous! The plane is primed, painted and clear coated. The end result is a stunning, non-glossy, extremely durable finish. I honestly don’t think I can say enough good things about the end result. I’ve never come across a better finish on an ARF. Not to say that they aren’t out there, but this is the nicest one I’ve come across.
Fixed landing gear is included in the basic kit, and it looks plenty rugged. The retractable landing gears used in this review are the optional set available from KMP/ESM and they do a nice job. The main wings come as a two-piece set and are permanently joined in the construction process. This is definitely not a beginner plane, and would actually be a bit of a chore for an intermediate builder, but with a little bit of ingenuity and an eye on the prize, the end result is a terrific-looking and flying P-51D.
- ¶ Great-looking plane in the air and on the ground
- ¶ Outstanding flight characteristics
- ¶ Fit and finish of the major assemblies are first rate
- ¶ The paint job looks very scale and is unique and durable
- CONTROL THROWS
- ELEVATOR: ± 1 in., 25% expo
- AILERON: + 1 / -æ in., 25% expo
- RUDDER: ± 1 in., 25% expo
- RADIO: JR 10X; ailerons/flaps: Hitec 645MG servos, rudder/elevator: 5925s, throttle: HS303, gear: HS422
- ENGINE: YS 1.40 FZ
- FUEL: Powermaster 30% heli mix
- PROP: APC 17×8
Putting this KMP/ESM Mustang together is not terribly different from putting together any other quality 1.20-size ARF, but I’d recommend that novice/intermediate builders have a buddy on call, or keep KMP’s phone number close by. I did end up calling KMP on one occasion and the fellow on the other end of the phone was extremely helpful and friendly. On another occasion, I e-mailed KMP with a very simple question and got a prompt response from Andrew Kondor himself.
The hinge slots for the six flight surfaces (2 flaps, 2 ailerons, elevator and rudder) are precut/drilled and match up perfectly with their mates. The flaps use slot hinges, the rudder uses pin hinges and the rest are standard CA hinges. All hinges are supplied in the hardware package. Some of the hardware parts supplied were not of the same level of quality that I’d have expected from a model of this type and size, so I chose to upgrade in a few places.
In the Air
As is typical for a taildragger (especially one that sits as nose proud as a Mustang does), there’s a tendency to turn left on rollout. For a nice, straight takeoff run, roll the throttle slow and steady and feed a tick of right rudder as speed builds. For a really sweet takeoff, advanced flyers will hold a smidge (and I mean a smidge) of up-elevator to keep the tail planted until the main gear break ground.
This Mustang flies more like a sport plane than it does a typical “heavy” warbird. With some heavy-flying planes, slow speed passes can be quite mushy and hair-raising, but this Mustang handles them surprisingly well. High-speed passes don’t feel at all twitchy and appear very scale. I used a 17×8 APC prop for the test flights, but would like to see a bit more top-end speed. Rolls are typical for a warbird. With no additional inputs, they’re a bit fat in the middle, but can be smoothed out with some massaging of the sticks. Landing is not at all tricky and can be done without a whole lot of room for final approach. This is a seriously cool airplane!
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
- Stability: A very stable warbird that handles high- and low-speed passes with no problem.
- Tracking: Once properly trimmed, straight lines are true. Turns require rudder to adjust for adverse yaw. I tried using a bit of aileron differential (making the up-going aileron reflex up a few more millimeters than the down-going aileron) but I still needed a little bit of rudder to make turns look really nice.
- Aerobatics: This isn’t an aerobatic plane, but it will perform the standard warbird moves: split-S, hammerhead, rolls, etc.
- Glide and stall performance: This plane requires some power to keep it flying, so glides are not recommended. In the event of a dead stick, start trading altitude for airspeed and head for home. When pushed to the edge, stalls start with the tail drooping, followed by one wing or the other dropping.
This KMP(ESM) Mustang flies as much like a sport plane as it does a warbird and looks great in the air. With the gear up and the throttle at the stops, the Mustang positively boogies and the sound of a big four stroke makes it even better. Flaps do a good job of slowing the plane down and making takeoff runs shorter.
The fit and finish of the major assemblies was absolutely first class in every respect. To illustrate this fact, I would point out that all of the graphics for the Mustang come preapplied. This includes the “Glamorous Glen III” graphic that happens to span from the fuselage to the removable fiberglass cowl. With the engine and cowl in place, the graphic flows perfectly from cowl to fuselage with no misalignment or weird spacing.
This model is meant for an experienced builder and with that in mind, the manual is perfectly adequate. There are a few occasions where experience with this type of model would be handy. At one point, the builder is instructed to set the flaps to reflex up and down 20mm from neutral. However, the flaps cannot reflex up at all, unless they are improperly installed. This is a detail easily caught by an experienced builder, but would probably cause a novice some consternation.
The landing gear that KMP(ESM) sells with this kit as an add-on works very well, but does come with a couple of bugs. The struts fit very nicely in the wings with only very minor trimming. Also, the air line couplings were at least one size too large for the air lines supplied, but Robart couplings are inexpensive and fit perfectly with no leaks. All told, the issues with the landing gear hardware were minor and easily corrected.
My KMP (ESM) Mustang project was an enjoyable build and the end result was a plane I’m proud to show off at the field. Flight performance is excellent and I’ve received several comments from my fellow fliers about how docile it lands. I’ve flown Mustangs in the past that put my heart in my throat every time it came to landing, but not this one! The throttle servo location provided interferes with the rudder servo, but it was a simple matter to build a new mount just a few millimeters forward.
THE P-51 VICTORY ROLL
One of the cool things about having a P-51 of your own is of course doing a nice victory roll following a low fly-by. Here are some tips for doing that impressive roll.
- ¶ Save the roll for the last pass before setting up for a landing.
- ¶ Pave the way for the victory roll by flying the P-51 right down on the center line of the deck, smooth and level.
- ¶ Once the plane blows by you, start to pull up on the elevator and let the Mustang begin to climb.
- ¶ After a short climb, begin adding in the ailerons and let the plane roll.
- ¶ The plane should do a small barrel roll, but if it tracks straight, you can add in a little rudder to get a slight barrel roll.
- ¶ Do either a æ or a 1 æ roll, just make sure you end with the top of the aircraft facing away from you so you can pull a turn and start your downward leg for your landing setup.
- MODEL AVAILABLE HERE AT VQ WARBIRDS !