All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
Also nicknamed the kessy, the Kestrel is probably the first missile boat that starting players will use. It provides an excellent introduction to the ease of use and damage flexibility of missiles. The impressive damage bonus means that a properly handled Kestrel can pop most frigates in only a few short volleys.
That being said, new players should still be careful since the Kestrel has a very weak shield tank and tend to die quickly when subjected to continued damage. Therefore, the best type of "tanking" to do with it is Range tanking during missions, which on level 1 combat missions can be rather easy to do given the usual long range of missles. Training in the Missile Bombardment, Missile Projection and Long Range Targeting skills will definitely help in this regard, and an afterburner should be equipped to help maintain your distance from enemy ships.
While rare, some pilots do use the Kestrel as a quick and cheap cargo hauler. Its high top speed and cargo capacity are perfect for level 1 and two transport missions, and the ample grid lets it fit two small capacitor batteries and an afterburner to help warp from the most distant of jump gates on autopilot.
Although many players claim that Caldari ships are weak for PvP, the Kestrel has some unique characteristics that make it surprisingly effective in this role compared to other frigates.
One main one is that the Kestrel is able to fight at close range while moving at full microwarp-drive speeds and not lose any of its DPS, which is something that no frigate with turrets can claim as turret tracking becomes a serious issue.
Another aspect is that its short-range weapon, rockets, can significantly out-distance all of the other short-range turrets (blasters, autocannons and pulse lasers) unless extreme-range, low damage ammo is used, and it will out-damage all of the long-range variants (railguns, artillery and beam lasers) while being quite difficult to hit with them. When equipped with kinetic Thorn rockets its DPS can be quite respectable compared to other Tech 1 frigates.
Below are additional ships images. Click the image below for a larger version:
- Kestrel Parallax 2015.jpg