The BT-5 based scale model of the Sandia Sandhawk (kit KSAN-13) from Aerospace Specialty Products is among the most challenging mini motor kits that is currently on the model rocket market. The basic look of the kit seems straightforward when one see the drawing on the instructions. There is more to this than the drawing implies. Due to the small size of parts like the antennas and the precision of the final painting and detailing, a novice can easily make a mistake if s/he is not careful or patient.
The drawings that illustrate the Sandhawk plans are extremely clear. It was quite easy to assemble the motor mount/shock cord assembly. Where one needs to be careful is in the drawing of the fin patterns onto the 1/16" basswood. In order to keep the fins from being oversized, I had to use a .7 mm mechanical pencil because a wood pencil could not maintain a sharp enough point to keep one fin tracing from being larger than another. Be sure not to press down too hard on the pencil. This results in way too much lead graphite being left on the wood and thus an increase in the amount of sanding sealer that will be needed to cover it up.
EXTREME CAUTION is needed when the builder sands in the bevel edge onto the fins. If you sand too much, you will wind up with beveled fins of different lengths being glued onto the rocket. Given the proportional size of the fins to the body tube, the odd fin sizes will be seen very easily. Be sure to sand the Sandhawk kit fins with fine sandpaper and a light hand.
Gluing and aligning the fins onto the tube was straightforward. The same applied to the construction of the nose cone/body tube/bulkhead assembly. The antennas were a nightmare. They were only a fraction of an inch in length when cut and bent. It is easy to loose an antenna and somewhat difficult to bend them to the right size. After trying to assemble a set of antennas, I tossed the metal wire and miss-shapened antennas aside and deleted this step from the assembly. I also lost track of the steel band decals for the fins so that step was also deleted. The same applied to the micro bands of black and gray color on the body tube.
After painting the rocket, I had a semi-respectable sport scale model of the Sandia Sandhawk. While purist would dislike the lack of antennas on the nose section, the advantage of not having the antennas was a boost in performance and less of a chance of having a recovery system failure because the streamer or shock cord got caught on the wires.
The recovery system comes in a form of a long plastic streamer that is 3 " wide by about 30" long. There was plenty of room to pack it and a generous amount of recovery wadding onto the rocket. Using a A10-3t, the rocket will climb pass 300 feet with little trouble. Without the antenna, the Sandhawk would make a good streamer duration model. With the antenna and other accessories installed, the ASP Sandhawk kit could place in national or even international competition if properly built.
Likes: clear instructions, good flyer, challenging kit
Dislikes: a major challenge to work with and shape Lilliputian parts and Lilliputian paint details. This kit is not for a beginner.