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Review: H-King P-51D Moonbeam McSwine

Before we dive into my review of HobbyKing’s new Moonbeam McSwine – I thought I’d share a bit of the history behind the model and where it originated.

Moonbeam’s history dates back to October of 1944, when it was manufactured in Inglewood, CA. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, Moonbeam raced in the Reno Air Races. Vlado Lenoch flew it regularly in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight program before Vlado sold it to Frederic Akary in 2012. Since then, it has been seen regularly at airshows across Europe.

Vlado flew Moonbeam for over 20 years before he sold it to Akary in 2012. He then began flying WHF’s P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” at airshows instead. Vlado and passenger Bethany Root were flying in Baby Duck when they were tragically killed in a crash last July. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the incident.

The Warbird Heritage Foundation has announced that they’ve purchased the P-51 Mustang named “Moonbeam McSwine” from its most recent owner, Mr Frederic Akary of France. The aircraft will reside under a new FAA registration number, N51VL, in honour of Vlado Lenoch.

Now that you have gotten a brief history into the origins of the Moonbeam McSwine let’s look at HobbyKing’s interpretation of the Moonbeam McSwine and get all the details you need to know about this new model.

H-King Moonbeam McSwine – Review!

The Moonbeam Mcswine has arrived and I’ve been lucky enough to give one a fly. When I think H-King I used to think cheap, but these days my opinion has changed. I’m a harsh marker so I’ve noticed Hobbyking has put in a lot of effort over the last few years. Every Hobbyking plane gets better which leads to believe they do much more than just buy and sell. They take the time to test everything that gets listed and I think that’s important. Look, no one is perfect and I fully expect to see a bung servo here and there as it happens. Does HobbyKing stand behind their products, more on that later?

It is fair to say that H-King is known for price leading models with some very interesting models in the fold. (Bixler 1, 2 and 3 to name a few). H-king has everything from beginner aircraft to scale RC warbirds and I believe some of the best flying model aircraft around. The scale detail on the 1400mm Navy cub is very nice. It Looks amazing on the ground and a stunner in the air. Same can be said for the little Cessna 182. Every model they release seems to set a new benchmark, literally.

The Moonbeam McSwine is a smaller model, but that should not be considered a negative. The model is easier to transport and can flow anywhere if you’re happy to remove the wheels and hand launch the plane. The model still fits in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too big and not too small, just about right. Sure, some are going to want a larger model, but that is not what this model is about. The RC community could hardly say it has been deprived of choices for a mustang. It’s a great little park flyer that doesn’t take itself too seriously unless you want to. Let’s be honest here. There no matter how full your hanger is, there is always room for another little sexy looking aircraft. So what is the appeal? Simply put, it’s pretty! For an aviation nut like me, I love the classic lines and of course who doesn’t love a mustang.

Over the years we have been spoilt for choice and often something has to really catch my attention. I’m partial to a model where it’s affordable and sporty. A model that I enjoy flying but at the same time if it becomes a lawn dart I can pull myself together, have a laugh and move on. The Mustang can be flown just about anywhere provided you could safely land. That opens up opportunities to get in that lunch time flight with the stang tucked away in the back of your car.

H-King Moonbeam Mcswine Features

  • Authentic scale detail
  • Outstanding flight characteristics
  • Quick 15min build
  • Efficient four blade propeller
  • High torque brushless motor
  • Completed high-quality hardware package
Specs
Wingspan: 750mm (30″)
Length 648mm (25.5″)
Weight 425g
Thrust Rate 1:1
Flight Time Approximately 5 minutes
Motor 2408-1200KV
ESC 20A Brushless
Servo 9g x 4

Recommended:

11.1V 800mAh or 7.4V 1000mAh 15C LiPo Battery (JST Connector)
2.4Ghz 4ch (or higher) radio and receiver system

First Impressions

The finish is good and it must be noted that H-King has improved immensely over the years. I love opening the box and inspecting the finish along with enjoying that newly opened box smell. It always brings back memories of Christmas day for me. The foam, the smells of newly minted plastic and painted parts. I’m sure it’s carcinogenic but so is everything enjoyable. I was surprised at the price because it’s very affordable and at a time when prices are constantly on the rise these came in pretty cheap.

The build is very straightforward and the manual could be condensed into seven very straightforward steps.

  1. Test fit the elevator and rudder and once happy apply with some contact adhesive.
  2. Secure the wing to the fuse with the provided screws
  3. Apply some contact adhesive to the drop tanks and install.
  4. Connect the control linkages and horns
  5. Install the landing gear
  6. Install your receiver and setup the model to your radio.
  7. Once the radio is setup check you’re CG and direction of control surfaces and your good to go.

I used an 800mah 3s 35C Turnigy battery and got around 8-minute flights. I was a little aggressive on the throttle; however, I was still able to land at 3.70v. You could use a smaller battery if you like but don’t go heavier as I had the battery all the way up to the fire wall. I think it’s the best fit for this aircraft considering performance, wing loading and landing. With the landing gear removed it quickly and it will keep you on your toes. It the air its every bit a Mustang with a great profile as it passes by low and fast. Some planes you either love or hate but there is little to hate about this one. It just makes for nicer flying and there is no doubt about that.

Hand Launch

Perhaps the easiest way to launch the model is hand launching. Simply toss the model underarm into the air at a 45 deg angle with a ¾ throttle and she will climb out nicely. You will need to counter torque roll as the model climbs out however this is quite normal for a model.

Takeoff

Take off was reasonably simple and it tracked away nicely. I am always prepared for something to go a little pear-shaped on a maiden but it was simple enough. The day I flew the model there was a light crosswind. The model will want to track to the right however a little rudder to counter torque roll and you’re good to go.

I did not find the elevator adversely sensitive. Ensure that you have no more than 10mm travel and you’re using about 45% expo or dual rates. You can adjust it more or less once you’ve got you maiden out of the way but I suggest you go easy when starting out.

The Flight

As soon as you have trimmed the model out you can flip the model into its back and check for CG. The model should require very little down elevator to fly straight, it at all. You can adjust the CG later as you fine tune the model. Go up high, cut the elevator and try to put it into a stall. The model will dip its nose or if you aggressively stall the wing it may tip a wing. Recovery is very simple. Quickly throttle up and counter the roll and pull out. It has a very light wing loading so it’s no great difficulty.

Get a feel for how the model flies on those first few flights.

Landing

Reduce speed and keep the noise level whilst you continue to reduce the speed of the model. Allow the model to gently descend to the landing strip and reduce throttle completely. As the model is above the ground continue to add in up elevator until the model stalls just above the ground. This model has no particular landing vices.

Flight Report

The model required only a few clicks of trim once in the air. Watch the way you setup the travels and double check direction of travel. If unsure have someone assist you who is experienced. The model tracks very well once in the air and the model flies likes it’s on rails. Don’t forget that after your first flight you should check all surfaces after the flight and make any required adjustment. This is generally where you will find issues that need to be attended to.

I found the motor to be quiet and the prop was well balanced. It is a good idea to balance any prop no matter the manufacturer. A few drops of CA is generally all that is required to balance any prop. Remember, never remove material and always add material.

Once you have flown the model you need to check all surfaces for loose fittings or things that might have worked loose in flight. This is normal and you should get into the habit of doing it if you’re not already. Also be sure to check ESC and motor temps. Just make sure the ESC is getting sufficient cooling along with the motor. It’s easy for models to be damage in transit so it’s something that you need to do every time to the field and start preparing for the days flying anyhow.

In Summary

It’s a great flying model that you will immensely enjoy flying. It has no horrible tendencies and flies great on a 3s 800mah pack. Not only does it fly well it also lands well.

HobbyKing’s Moonbeam McSwine is out now, click here to buy.


 

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