Custom Rockets - Matra {Kit} (10018)

Contributed by Jack Bodem

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Manufacturer: Custom Rockets
Style: Military

Rocket PicBrief:
The Matra is a military "style" rocket that boasts a "scale-like design" and D-power. 

Construction:
Construction was typical of "level 3" builds with balsa fins and paper tubes. This model has a small fin area about two inches from the nose cone. This small fin area connects the lower body tube and the very short upper body tube (see picture).

Alignment of the three tube sections is critical for straight flight. The design of this rocket would have been better to have had four upper small fins to match the four large lower ones. I am not sure why they went with three upper fins but it makes deciding on how to align the fins difficult. I built two of these with different fin alignments and I get two different types of flight patterns. I suggest using scrap balsa stock and making a fourth upper fin to straighten out its flight pattern.

The kit includes a four page set of instructions and a extra sheet on how to pack the chute (I'll discuss chute packing later in the flight section). Custom Rockets come with a thin motor clip which I now replace with a thicker Estes clip.

Finishing:
Finishing was straight forward, I filled the tube lines and sealed the balsa before priming and painting. I chose to finish the rocket exactly as the package shows in red and white with a black nose cone.

The kit includes water transfer decals that went on well. I had to use a decal set (plastic model type) to get the wrap over decals on the leading edges of the lower fins to stay down (yes those are decals not paint).

I really like the looks of this rocket, its beefy and looks good on the pad.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
Here is the rub. DO NOT follow the chute packing instructions that come with the kit unless you like throwing away rockets. You are told to pack the chute in the small diameter tube connecting the two large tubes. During take-off my chute slid down the small tube into the larger tube becoming trapped. When the ejection charge went off the chute could not come out and was burned up with the wadding. This rocket was pretty well beat up when I recovered it which is why I built another one. On the second one I replaced the 18" mylar chute with a 12" plastic chute with a spill hole cut in the center. This made the chute small enough to be packed in the short large diameter tube at the top. This new packing method works just fine and I have had several safe recoveries with it.

The only engine shown on the packing for this rocket is a D12-5 and so far that's the only engine I have used.

It is my opinion that the three small fins at the top gives this rocket a some what curved flight pattern which is why I would add a fin. Both of the rockets I built had a heavy arc to one side.

Recovery:
Flight recovery was a bit difficult with the heavy flight arc (a lot of running to catch it). As I said the rocket is pretty beefy which is why I cut the spill hole in the chute. You may want to try this one on a streamer system in place of a chute.

The shock cord is the standard braided elastic with the folded paper attachment that works just fine.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:
This is a nice looking rocket and Custom had the right idea with it but they should have tested it a little more.

Again don't follow the chute packing instructions and add the extra small fin at the top. Making these two adjustments should give you plenty of great flights with this bird.

I am not sure if this rocket is out of production. I bought the only two my local hobby shop had.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Custom Rockets - Matra {Kit} (10018) By Bill Eichelberger (May 8, 2014)

    The Custom Matra is a cool faux-missile rocket with a difference that might not have been completely obvious to anyone checking out the picture in the catalog back in 1994-95. It has seven fins, set in a four on the bottom, three on the top pattern. While I doubt that this oddity would detract from the rockets performance, it would never sit well in my mind, so I had a decision to make. ...

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