Manufacturer: Aerotech
Style: Sport
(by Paul Gray) 

Background

There have been many rockets named "Tomahawk" used over the past few decades. This Tomahawk was built and flown during the International Quiet Sun Year (1967) to research the Earth's atmosphere. Therefore, this Tomahawk sounding rocket is known as the IQSY Tomahawk, marking the time when it was built and flown. The real IQSY Tomahawk was produced four times with all four rockets flown. Two of the flights were successful, and the other two were not. No attempt was made to recover the rocket. But now, over thirty years after the last IQSY Tomahawk was flown, AeroTech makes a high quality scale model of this sounding rocket. This one, when built and flown properly by the owner, is guaranteed to have successful flights and recoveries every time.

Construction

The kit, like all other AeroTech kits, is made up of very high quality parts including a strong body tube, plastic nose cone, sturdy aerofiber centering rings, fin locking rings, strong through-the-tube plastic fins, and an ejection gas baffle that also works as a good shock cord mount. If you follow the instructions carefully as you build, you can't go wrong. The only thing that I would do differently from what the instructions say would be to use epoxy. A cheap 5 minute epoxy is not recommended. I recommend using a 30 minute Bob Smith type epoxy or 45 minute Hobby Poxy, which is what I used to build my IQSY Tomahawk. Perhaps the thing that I disliked most about building this rocket was gluing on the fins. You will have to do some test fitting to make sure that they all fit. The reason that this is a problem is that you have to snap the fins into place, then you have to remove them in order to apply epoxy. Removal of the fins is not easy because the fin locking rings grab so hard. All I can advise though is, live with it. The firm grip of the fin locking rings adds an incredible amount of strength, and they are well worth the hassle of working with. Be aware that epoxy can act as a lubricant and cause the fins pop out while it is drying. Keep on eye on the fins to make sure that they're down until the epoxy is set. Have a long, thin, wood epoxy stick handy. You'll need it to apply internal fillets to the fin tabs where the meet the inside wall of the body tube and the outside wall of the motor tube. This will make it so that you won't need to apply any typical external fin fillets. In fact, external fillets are not recommended because the fins are already shaped with a molded plastic external fillet on both sides. What I recommend, however, is to put a very thin bead of thick CA along where the molded plastic fillets meet the body tube. This will add more strength to the fins, and the CA will cover up any gaps formed between the molded fillet and the fin slot.

As with all other model rockets, the appearance of this rocket depends entirely on how much time you spend finishing it. The instructions just say, "paint this, paint that" but I put a lot of work into my finish because I used this rocket to compete in the Sport Scale event at NARAM-40. I used Elmers Carpenters Wood Filler to fill in the spiral grooves on the body tube. Along with several coats of Krylon White Primer, it made the grooves almost invisible. When painting, it is best to paint the nose cone separately from the rest of the rocket. When painting a fin black, use Scotch tape and trash bags to mask the rest of the rocket off. Remember, even the smallest black particle will be visible on white paint.

Once the paint is dry, you can apply the decals to make the rocket look like the actual prototype. The most tricky part of this is determining where to place the decals. You'll want to study the notes of the instructions and the included blueprint very carefully. In addition, you may have to try several times to apply the fin decals that have the bolts running in rows between them. It takes patience as well as many tries to get them in the right position.

Flight

Even though AeroTech might recommend an E motor for this rocket, I do not. An E will not take it high enough every time to the point where it is guaranteed to deploy the parachute before hitting the ground. Perhaps the best motor for this rocket is an F22-5. This motor creates a slow, realistic flight that is easy to follow. It takes the rocket to a visible, recoverable altitude, and the five second delay allows parachute deployment at apogee. AeroTech recommends a seven second delay with the F22 for this rocket, but that is way too long. Other good motors to fly this rocket on include the F20, F25, and the F40. You might want to use the higher thrust motors such as the F25 and the F40 on days when there is wind. You could put a G motor in it, but good luck getting it back is all I can say. As with every AeroTech rocket, insert the motor into the rocket and then reinforce the motor hook with a tie wrap to prevent the motor from being ejected.

The way this rocket flies, overall, is excellent. It flies as straight as an arrow every time. The 56 cm (22") parachute is the perfect size for it. The rocket descends quickly with minimal drift, but it does not come down so fast that it gets damaged on landing.

Grades

Design: A+
Construction: B
Flight: A+

I won third place in B Division Sport Scale at NARAM-40 with this rocket. This rocket is too cool.

Flights

Comments:

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E.M. (June 1, 1999)
This is a good beginner model if you want to get into bigger than D engine power. I must say I am extremely impressed with AeroTech. High impact plastic, precut slotted fin mounts and baffle system (NO Wadding!) made for satisfying assembly. AeroTech uses the FinLok system. The fins lock into rings that fit around the engine mount. This rocket has the look and feel of quality not found in many sport rocket kits and the price tag is justifiable.
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J.T.S. (July 1, 1999)
The IQSY Tomahawk was my first step up from "Model" rocketry toward "High Power". Though technically a mid power, I have seen this model accept a low power H motor (29mm) with very little mod. My sample was missing half of the building instructions. This really didn't prove to be a problem. This kit is so well laid out that I had no trouble figuring out the const. sequence. (Some time later I happened on a set of instructions and found I was on the money.) My motor of preference was the F25. Great flights, hot off the pad. I had used both single use and reloads with great success. On one occasion I loaded what must have been a G miss labeled as an F25. Performance was remarkable to say the least. I had about 30 or so flights on this bird when it met its demise. A typical launch on a single use F25 cut short when a defect in the motor caused the ejection charge to fire immediately after power burnout. Needless to say, a recovery system deployment at this speed proved disastrous.! I fully intend to build another and highly recommend this kit to anyone looking to step up from the Estes/Quest ranks. Aerotech gets an A+ on this one.
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T.K. (December 1, 2000)
When installing and gluing the fins, I found it much easier to apply the necessary force, without crumpling the whole rocket,"BY INSERTING A MOTOR FIRST". This allows you to really push the fins into the locking tabs without any fear of hurting the rocket.
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D.L. (May 16, 2004)
I followed the suggestion to insert and engine before attaching fins and the body tube looked much better than others i have seen. First launch on F25-9 went well so second was on G40-10W. That white lightening looked great since it burns for 3 seconds. Much smoke and great photos.

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