The electromechanical properties of arrays of vertically aligned multiwalled carbon nanotubes were studied in a parallel plate capacitor geometry. The electrostatic actuation was visualized using both optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, and highly reproducible behaviour was achieved for actuation voltages below the pull-in voltage. The walls of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes behave as solid cohesive units. The effective Young's modulus for the carbon nanotube arrays was determined by comparing the actuation results with the results of electrostatic simulations and was found to be exceptionally low, of the order of 1-10 MPa. The capacitance change and Q-factor were determined by measuring the frequency dependence of the radio-frequency transmission. Capacitance changes of over 20% and Q-factors in the range 100-10 were achieved for a frequency range of 0.2-1.5 GHz.