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Today's Featured Review

Art Applewhite Rockets - Delta Flying Saucer 38mm (18") (Kit)

Manufacturer:Art Applewhite Rockets

Construction Rating:
Flight Rating:
Overall Rating:

Contributed by Matthew McFarland

This is a beautiful HPR saucer that wows the crowd with great boosts and long aerobrake recoveries.

Art Applewhite 18inch Delta Saucer

This kit comes essentially as three kits. There are the saucer itself and two motor mount kits: one for 54mm motors and one for 38mm motors. The saucer is a single central body tube, a launch lug that mounts inside the body tube, three foam sheets, and some fiberglass. The motor mounts are basically built as simple small rockets. You mark the motor tube with the provided template, cut out the six motor mount basswood fins, glue them in place, and glue on the thrust ring to finish the motor mounts. The motor mounts come bagged separately with their own instructions and templates. I liked this as I could set them aside as I worked on the saucer and not worry about losing any pieces.

I found the instructions easy to follow and quite logical. I never scratched my head for more than about 5 seconds (and then realized any error was mine). There are numerous illustrations and pictures that make the building process really easy and clear.

The saucer comes with all the lines marked and the motor mounts have their own templates so everything is very easy to do. The top and bottom pieces each require 52 grooves be cut to form the cone shape with the provided jig. Art has included a nice little razor jig and blade that cuts to the correct angle so all you have to do is line up a straight edge with the marks and run the jig down it. Easy but time consuming.

The center board is a product called Gatorboard. I found that my fine toothed jeweler's saw gave the best results cutting this stuff. I did several tests with X-Actos, utility knives, and the saw. I found the saw left the best edge by far and cutting went faster.

Once the top and bottom are formed and the center is cut, you can start assembling the pieces. The central tube is glued to the top. I made a really tight fit and then glued it on top of waxed paper so there would not be any problems with any leaks. While this joint dried, I dry fit the center tube in place to assure alignment and a heavy bowl on top to keep the center down and hold the shape of the saucer. I then removed the center tube and epoxied the inside. This is a place to be careful as too much epoxy just adds unnecessary weight. When epoxying the bottom on, do not forget to first epoxy the central tube to the center first! If you forget to do this, you will have a shred! This is the main attachment point of the center foamboard supports the entire saucer. Once the bottom is on and the epoxy is set you are ready for fiberglassing.

The kit comes with what appears to be 1.5-2oz fiberglass and is easy to apply. Just start in the middle and work outward. I think I used about 2oz of epoxy to do the job. The last step is to trim the fiberglass to finish the saucer.

The motor mounts are just as easy to build. Mark them with the provided template, cut the fins, and glue them together. The thrust ring is a 1/2" piece of body tube and I used it to determine when I had a good fit. I had to sand the edge of each fin 125 strokes to get the mount to fit in the body tube on the 54mm mount and 45 strokes on the 38mm mount. The thrust ring is then glued onto the back end of each one and you are done.

I flew mine built and unfinished with the exception of sanding the fiberglass edges and seam. I did this because I liked the white saucer and think it looks good as is. You could paint it anyway you want though. I have considered building another one and epoxying a picture of my family under the top fiberglass so we could all go for a flying saucer ride. We will see about that, but the possibilities are endless.

No decals are provided.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Recommended 54mm motors: Ellis Mountain L330P, Pro54 2- and 3-grain motors, Aerotech J90W, J180T, J275W, J135W, J315R, and K185W.

Recommended 38mm motors: Ellis Mountain I130, J228, J270, Pro38 4-, 5-, and 6-grain motors, Aerotech I154J, I161W, I195J, I211W, I218R, I284W, I285R, I300T, I355R, and J350W.

I have 6 flights on this rocket: AT J90W, J135W, J180T, K185W, H123W, and H148R. I used friction fit with masking tape to retain all motor cases and had no problem with this method.

Every boost was straight with a little weathercocking. The smoke trails are fantastic.

The J90 was my favorite as it maintains the lines of the saucer and flies forever. The crowd applauded this one and the K185. The K185 is awesome, also flys forever, and would be my favorite, but it sticks out the top about a foot. The J180T maintains the saucer's simple lines, but overpowers the saucer and caused it to wobble during flight. You will notice that neither of the H motors I flew is on the recommended motor list and they should not be used. They put the weight too far back in the ship and cause it to recover poorly. (Read more about this in recovery.)

Recover is aerobrake and I never walked more than about 100 feet from the pads. On the H motors that I flew, the first one recovered by aerobraking in reverse with a nice soft landing. I though cool, lets do it again and then broke the saucer. The second H powered flight (on the H123W), tumbled on recovery and never stabilized. It landed edge down and cracked the center Gatorboard.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a cool ship. The last time I flew it (on a K185W), I got a lot of applause and cheers from the audience, who were yelling for me to fly it again. The rocket flown just before the saucer was on a N2000. It got a lot of wows but no applause or cheers. Get one and you will probably have the biggest saucer at your launch and have the most questions asked.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

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vincent penoso

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