Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Manufacturer: Art Applewhite Rockets

Art Applewhite 6inch/18mm Saucer

Brief:
A flying saucer kit with pre-printed graphics and balsa fins.

Construction:
I won this kit as a prize a couple of years ago at one of our KCAR club contest launches. Art had joined our Yahoo group and donated some kits to the club for prizes. Thanks for the kit, Art! Most model rocket kits come in a long slender bag, but not this one. As kits go it's quite flat and wide.

The kit comes in a large flat plastic bag and contains several 8½" x 11" pages of instructions and patterns, large pre-printed cardstock sheets, a foam plate, a motor tube and hook, and slab of 1/16" balsa for the fins.. While a little unusual in construction technique, nothing in the kit is unfamiliar or unordinary. Everything is well packaged and the instructions seem well written and complete.

Art Applewhite 6inch/18mm Saucer Construction begins with cutting out the shrouds and wraps. They are shaped and glued into the appropriate cones and cylinders. These are joined to form the outside part of the saucer. A template is then cut out of the plain paper instruction sheet and taped to the foam plate. The center section of this template is then cut out of the paper thereby marking the foam plate. Cutting continues straight through until a circle is removed from the plate.

The plate is then test fit over the bottom of the outer saucer and with the inner cylinder and trimmed to fit snuggly. A slow steady hand is required here, a circle cutter would come in very handy! This isn't exactly hard, but getting a nice perfect circle will require that one go slowly and carefully. Judicious use of a quarter square of fine sandpaper will help with the trimming. Sneak up on the correct size and shape with several iterations of sanding and test fitting until it matches the inner cylinder. When it fits, it's then glued to the saucer. I used foam friendly RC/56 for this step--it's like white glue while it's wet, but dries to a very clear and flexible rubber-like texture when cured. It grabs even plastic pretty well, so it's perfect for this sort of thing. (It's widely used in the model airplane community for windshields and such.)

Art Applewhite 6inch/18mm Saucer While the RC/56 is drying, the motor tube is marked up for fins and a slit is cut in it for the motor hook. The fins are cut out, sanded, glued on, and filleted in the standard way. The launch lug is simply laid against a tube/fin joint and glued there. A flat piece of cardstock is cut out, trimmed to fit between the fins and glued over the hook. I added a motor block just above the hook. One isn't included in the kit and probably isn't needed, but I feel more comfortable with one backing the hook up. (Call me an Old School Retread.) This assembly is then test fit into the center cylinder, the fins needed a bit of sanding on the ends to fit correctly and the forward angle is matched quite well to fit perfectly against the top inside rim of the top shroud.

The instructions have one simply glue the two assemblies together just as they are. I decided to go ahead and fill the balsa fin grain with Aero-Gloss sanding sealer and paint the fin assembly with some gloss white before gluing it in.

This is definitely a builder's kit, albeit not a complicated one. While nothing is pre-cut for you, it is complete and easy to assemble. Mine went together with little fuss in the space of an evening.

Art Applewhite 6inch/18mm Saucer

Finishing:
As mentioned, I painted the fin/motor assembly prior to gluing it in. The kit instructions don't require that at all, a nice wood finish fin being a change of pace in model rocketry! The instructions do direct the builder to clear coat the shrouds to "set" the colors in the paper. I used a gloss lacquer from Duplicolor, which was a top coat left over from another project. The finished product turns out pretty nice.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight and Recovery:
The first flight was made at one of the KCAR launches using a B6-2. The motor went into the mount, the rocket was placed on the rod and the leads connected all with ease. At launch, it traveled up the rod and into the air on a column of smoke and noise. At apogee it flipped over and sort of floated to the ground.

This would make a good demo rocket since it never goes out of site--low and slow! A white lightning motor would be even more impressive.

Art Applewhite 6inch/18mm Saucer

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
PROs: Simple kit to build, but not exactly easy since the shrouds and center hole of the plate need cut out by the builder. Not hard, but not easy to get perfect circles, either. The pre-printed graphics are nice.

CONs: None!

If you're a serious rocketeer and do any demos for schools and scouts and things then you need a rocket like this is your fleet!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Flights

Comments:

avatar
A.S.T. (June 24, 2005)
Very accurate review. My daughter loves the Snitch, and when I saw one fly on an 18mm Aerotech reload at a club launch a month ago, I decided I needed to get one. Very fast service from Art Applewhite. Quick and easy build. I got the USAF design, and I do recommend hitting the printed sheet with some Krylon Crystal Clear (as Art recommends in the instructions) or some Workable Fixative, in order to protect it should it land someplace damp. Great flyer. Good for demonstrations or small fields. Kids love'em. Will probably get myself the 24mm and larger kits.

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