Contributed by David Montgomery
I also, due to some modifications I was planning, included four short pieces of BT-5's and balsa standoffs.
The instructions runs eight pages and has about 30 steps total for construction. I began building this model about four months prior to the Gulf Coast Regional, as I wanted to make sure I did a good job. The materials needed to complete this model included:
The instructions steps were very well presented as they were logical, along with the illustrations and templates (you'll really need those). The major change I made was adding BT-5's in the afterburner tubes, using a balsa standoff. This is where I was going to supplement the D12's power with four additional A10's. Because of the steps needed to prep the model, the four plastic afterburner nozzles were not glued to the afterburner tubes; instead, they were simply friction fitted (the fit was very tight anyway!). No engine holder clips were needed for the A10's, they're easily secured using masking tape.
Other than that, the model as a whole was assembled without any real issues using the steps as given in the instructions. Due to the increased weight of the added A10's, I added one additional clay nose weight in the plastic nose cone.
The decals were another issue. Due to the 20+ years they had been sitting in the box packaging, they had started to become a little brittle. Using special care, I was able to get all of the decals on. The final result is a model that looks incredibly good using the special display stand thats included. Estes did a terrific job with a quality kit like this!
Construction Rating: 5 out of 5
After the usual static judging, the model was returned to me for prepping for that always important qualification flight. I had already pre-packed the recovery system (twin 18" plastic parachutes) with the recovery wadding at home before I headed to JSC. All I needed to do was install the five engines with the QuickBurst Hot Shot igniters and four plastic afterburner nozzles. The model was ready to go.
What I liked about using the QuickBurst Hot Shot is that they eliminated the need for cluster clipwhips. The proper wires can just be twisted together so that only two microclips are needed. See my product review of QuickBurst's Hot Shot here at EMRR for more details.
One question mark I had was the choice I'd made in using the D12-5 for the core engine instead of the D12-3 with the four A10-PT's providing much additional thrust to supplement the D12's, I'd figured the model's mass and momentum would allow a good coast period with the recovery system deploying with sufficent altitude.
Following the five second countdown, all five engines roared to life for a picture perfect liftoff. Following the D12's burnout, the Maxi-Brute X-Wing was not as high as I'd expected. I had forgot to take into account the word "drag". The shape of the four wing saddles would definitely provide plenty of drag and I certainly hadn't thought of this when making the selection of the D12-5 over the D12-3.
The X-Wing went about maybe 200 feet maximum (the Estes catalog says 300 feet on a single D12) and started a frightening descent toward the asphalt pavement launch area at JSC. At about 35 - 40 feet, the ejection charge blew and the two 18" parachute's popped out. But the fast falling fighter was just too close to the ground for the twin chutes to have any chance of deploying. The right side of the X-Wing made hard contact with the asphalt, shattering the balsa wings. Otherwise most all of the big model remained intact. Even the laser pads survived, perfectly intact!
I and several others gathered up all the pieces we could find and within a few days I was able to piece together the broken pieces to fully repair the model. Now one can't even tell the trial and tribulation this model went through!
Since that flight (BTW, the X-Wing won first place at the Gulf Coast Regional), I've not been able to fly it again due to the ATF restrictions on the QuickBurst (Hot Shot) igniters. Hopefully in time, the restrictions will be lifted and the mighty X-Wing will take to the skies once again.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
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