In Doylestown USA during the 1971 F3A world championships there was a little bit of controversy when Kavan appeared to display the Schlüter Cobra as part of their range; possibly a misunderstanding because Schlüter was already in discussion with Schuco-Hegi.  Kavan approached FW Biesterfeld who in the late 60's, along with other German engineers was chasing to have the 'first' RC helicopter and thus had developed a set of mechanics that at one point looked like it would achieve success.  It was very stable in the hover but proved difficult to achieve translational flight and though 'beaten' in the race by Schlüter for the first successful 'full control' flight he continued its development.  Though Biesterfeld had a near functioning model Huey, Schlüter already had a model of a military helicopter, the popular and well recognised Cobra.  Even though the Huey was as well (if not more so) known it was decided to provide a contrast by kitting the most well know civilian helicopter, the Bell JetRanger.

The JetRanger was displayed at the February 72 Nürnberg Toy Fair then flight developed through the summer before being taken on a 'display' tour before finally brought into production later in the year; thus began the Kavan range of helicopters.  The range though was not large and not brought out at quite the prolific rate of some of the other manufacturers and most had quite long 'gestation' periods.  This was by design as Franz Kavan did not believe in bringing out a product too earlier which in the hands of modellers would fail or cause problems; he would rather suffer the penalties of delayed production but knowing it would then be right.

Kavan Timeline

  • 1973 - JetRanger
  • 1974 - Kavan tail rotor gyro
  • 1975 - Alouette II
  • 1978 - Alouette II ARF (Irvine 40)
  • 1979 - Alouette II and JetRanger Flybarless versions and upgrade kits.
  • 1980 - Lockheed 286L and Ranger 'trainer'
  • 198# - Shark

Kavan Gyro

Kavan were very quick to acknowledge that tail control of a helicopter with collective pitch was significantly more difficult than with fixed pitch thus compounding the 'steepness' of the learning curve.  To compensate for this, in 1974 they introduced a mechanical gyro which was 'hard' wired into the feedback potentiometer of the tail rotor servo.  This worked by moving the neutral point in the feedback circuit thus in effect simulating movement of the transmitter stick This movement was in 'opposition' to the detected Yaw and so automatically put in a measure of 'opposite stick' to help counteract the tail swing caused by collective pitch changes.  This dampening effect meant that the collective helicopter with a gyro would only be slightly more difficult than a fixed pitch machine without a gyro.  Unfortunately these early gyro's were relatively expensive and thus not normally fitted by the 'average' helicopter flyer.  In fact it was to be many years before gyro's were accepted and not considered as 'cheating'; this latter being somewhat like the heading hold verses rate gyro arguments of twenty years later.

Kavan News First Edition  -  A very rare complete first edition of the Kavan News circa mid 70's (75 or 76 from the comments) though no printed date evident so not 100% certain.

Kavan News Bulletins 79-80  -  Kavan produced a number of 'News Bulletins' concerning their helicopters and general manufacturing products for radio control aircraft.

Kavan Aerobatic flying  -  Late in 1979 Kavan produced a leaflet explaining how to successfully complete Aerobatic manoeuvres.  I must admit that even today getting to this point with a modern pod and boom can be 'traumatic', to attempt it first time with something that costs the equivalent of a 'turbine' model today shows that our predecessors had 'Nads' of enormous size.

Kavan General parts list  -  In 1979 Kavan produced a general parts list - may be useful if you have any old parts to identify.

Kavan Catalogue  -  1980 (German version)

Harry Brooks was one of the major Kavan importers and the prices when projected to today's values show just how expensive RC helicopters were and why it was considered that only an 'elite' few could afford these kinds of RC helicopters.

By 1989 Maurice Tait became the main distributor in the UK for Kavan.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

 

All parts and manufacturing rights for KAVAN helicopters were bought in 2007 by American RC Helicopters and they then started to produce spares and complete helicopter kits of the old KAVAN range.  Should make restoration much easier though now a Kavan helicopter will not be quite so rare........... However, they are also being updated so are not quite the 'real' McCoy!!!!!

 

© 2017 VRHC Vintage RC Helicopter

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