Descon StarBow

Scratch - StarBow {Scratch}

Contributed by Ted Phipps

Manufacturer: Scratch
(Contributed - by Ted Phipps) 

Ted Phipps

After the Acquisition Wars, the remaining Corporations assumed many of the responsibilities formerly reserved for national and planetary governments. Shown is a representative of the STARBOW class of ships, used for long-range transportation and colonization by the IBM/Microsoft/McDonalds/Mitsubishi Corporation. A happy accident of physics necessitated placement of the sensor arrays in the arcing structure above, well away from the distorting field effects of the low slung engine hull, and coincidentally providing this ship with one of the most elegant designs ever to grace a human starship. Crew and passengers were housed well forward, while the long boom contained fourteen vast cargo holds.
Pictured here is the BIG BLUE, flying Corporate colors. This ship was lost with all hands when the navigational and helm computers locked up and the ship flew into a star at full power. Similar circumstances later resulted in the loss of sister ships BIG MAC and BIG ZERO.

CONCEPT The original idea here was to create another ship from the ‘Cinderella’ world, this time a smallish courier or orbital fighter. After building it, I got to wondering if I could believably portray a very large ship with a very small rocket model.


BT-20 6" long (153mm)

NC-20 Estes ‘cockpit’ style from the assortment pack

BT-80 1" wide (26mm), sliced in half to give you a semi-circle

mini-engine spacing tool a little yellow tube Estes provides to insert a mini-engine block into a BT-5. Or use a 1.75" (45mm) length of BT-5.

mini-engine mount *without* the engine hook

shock cord


1/8" launch lug about .75" (18mm) long

1/16" (2mm) balsa stock

Rainbow tape aka Prism tape, look in craft or auto parts stores. 


1. Mark the BT-20 body tube for 4 fins, spaced 90 degrees apart.

2. Assemble the motor mount, glue it into the body tube.

3. Cut out the 2 fins according to the diagram and round the leading and trailing edges. Leave the root and tip edges square.

4. Glue the 2 fins to opposite sides of the body tube, even with the back end.

5. Glue the spacing tool to the bottom of the body tube along the marked fin line.

6. Glue the launch lug inside the spacing tool, making sure it’s straight.

7. Glue the BT-80 arch to the fin tips.

8. Make an Estes style shock cord mount and glue it into the front of the body tube.

9. Attach the nosecone.

Fin Diagram

FINISHING Fill before assembly, then prime and sand as you’d like before the final color coats. I used gloss white overall, then masked and shot dark blue. When completely dry, black automotive pinstriping tape was cut to shape and applied on the bottom. A little red model paint was then brushed into the inside of the lower tube. Next I printed custom decals (Tango Papa decal paper) to simulate the cargo hold doors and portholes visible towards the nose. A steady hand with a fine black felt tip pen can also do the detailing work. Spray the rocket with clearcoat to protect the decals/pen detailing, then apply ‘rainbow’ tape across the top of the arch.

Alternately, you can finish the Starbow as a small courier (or fighter), as originally intended. Mask and paint the cockpit, add some lettering and striping, and you’re good to go. (Hmmmm, the Corporation discovered that a 1/400 downscale, fitted with different engine technologies, was a capable craft in it’s own right...)


Make sure you friction fit the motor well, although I suspect that if it spits the casing instead of the streamer, it’ll be light enough to tumble recover without major damage.

First flight of the Starbow was made using a 1/2A3-2T. Very quick acceleration, but the delay was too short. Recovered without real damage, although a minor paint chip occured at the top edge of the body tube, probably from the nosecone ejection at speed. 

Second flight was made using a 1/2A3-4T. Another quick boost, and this time the delay was acceptable. Recovered without problems.

Third flight was attempted with an A10-3T. At ignition, the engine CATO’d, firing the entire propellant upwards through the body, knocking the nose cone off, then continuing upwards in a flaming mass. The casing was fired backwards, dinging the rear edge against the lip of the blast deflector, and landing in the grass about 5 feet from the pad. Inspection showed absolutely no damage done to the Starbow. Very lucky!

Fourth flight was successful on an A10-3T. Perfect flight, perfect recovery.

Unfortunately, although the Starbow survived a CATO’d A10, she didn’t fare as well against a 10 year olds’ knee. She was accidentally crushed. The remains have been towed into spacedock where a complete rebuild is under way. Photos will be coming as soon as the Starbow is ready to fly again. 

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