Note: For more Mercury Redstone pictures, visit Dave's site.
This is a 1:17.5 scale model of the Mercury Redstone that boosted the first man into space, Alan Shepard. The model stands almost 5' tall (58") and is 4" in diameter.
This is such an impressive model that it is such a shame that Boyce Aerospace is going to stop producing this kit. We can only hope that someone will buy the castings and the rights of the kit from Boyce and continue to sell this magnificent rocketry kit.
The kit cost is $108.00 including shipping and handling. Taking in the consideration for the size and detail of the kit the cost is not at all a bad price. The kit came with a heavy 4" diameter body tubes and 29mm engine tube. The fins and the centering rings are made of a composite material sandwiched between fiberglass. They are quite strong and thick. The Mercury Redstone comes with 2 parachutes. The capsule is made of solid resin with rivets and hatch shown in great detail. The escape tower is made of heavy dowel rods which comes with a nice building jig to help in constructing the tower. This kit is definitely for the experienced modeler. The tower construction is quite time consuming (reminded me of the old Saturn 1B kit from Estes). I recommend buying extra dowel rods. I bought mine at Wal-Mart; this way you can make sure you have perfect tower sections. You have two options with the escape tower. You can make it removable for flight or you can make it permanent. If you choose the permanent method, it will require you to use thread around the joint coated with epoxy. I used fiberglass cloth cut into 1/8" x 1" strips soaked in epoxy to strengthen the tower. I have flown it twice with the tower and no damage sustained to it.
The one thing that I have noticed that I do not like about the kit. The fin body tube section did not come pre-slotted. You need to cut the slots yourself. This is only a minor problem, however. You just need to make sure your cuts are precise. Other than that, I think this kit is a colossal beauty. The large vinyl decals gives this model a realistic look with no clear, shiny decal edge.
After you have built this rocket, you may think to yourself that it would be a crime to fly it. After all, $108.00 plus all the extra costs of paint, epoxy, etc., you would be taking a big chance that it could possibly be damaged. Something could go wrong! This kit, if done properly, leaves you with a model that would be in Werner Von Braun's office and that would be a shame to crash. I took a big chance recently and flew it at Muncie, Indiana. The only G motor that was recommended is an Aerotech G80 because of the 3 1/2 pound weight. I am not a fan of fast burn propellants for manned space scale rocket models. So, on a tip from someone on the Net, I used an Aerotech G40-4 long burn white lighting propellant. It was a risk, not nearly as powerful as the G80 motor but I was going for effect! So the day came with great apprehension and I launched it on the G40 motor and boy! what a flight! Slow takeoff, lots of fire and smoke, and a perfect chute deployment, right at apogee. It was definitely one of the best flights I have ever seen on a G motor. This is one of the reasons that I got back into rocketry. We can now fly larger and heavier scale models with the higher power engines.
I hope to see this kit continue in production and would like to see other large scale models, such as a 1/70th scale Saturn V.