Dr. Zooch - Saturn IB {Kit} (Saturn IB)

Contributed by Chan Stevens

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.63 inches
Length: 17.00 inches
Manufacturer: Dr. Zooch
Skill Level: 4
Style: Scale

Dr Zooch Saturn 1b

Brief:
An amazingly detailed ant-scale model for a terrific price ($25 retail). This is a Saturn you can actually build and fly without fear of trashing your life's work (and a huge investment). While the novice builder can probably handle this, it's really best left in the hands of an experienced builder.

Construction:
The small box is definitely packed with parts and details. Here are the highlights of what is included:

 

  • BT-60 lower thrust structure tube
  • BT-60 S-IVB body tube
  • BT-20 upper spacecraft tube
  • Balsa transition (command module) and nose cone
  • BT-20 motor tube
  • Fiber centering rings
  • Balsa fin stock, dowels, and various doodads for details
  • 15" white plastic garbage bag chute with Kevlar cords
  • Elastic shock cord

As I noted in my Saturn V review, Dr. Zooch instructions are fairly clear, well illustrated, and loaded with either humorous or annoying sarcasm and humor. Personally, I like 'em.

Construction starts with a suggestion to pre-paint several parts. My two cents worth here says don't bother painting the short BT-60, as it's completely covered with a wrap later anyway (though the paint might make for a better fit, as the wrap was a tad long). I'd also suggest holding off on painting the transition/nose cone until you've built the tower, at which point you can shoot the whole assembly at once.

Next, the motor tube is marked with the use of a ghostly floating pencil. Lacking that, I had to settle for a regular #2 from my tool box. The tube gets 8 little stringers (spider beams) that serve as support and alignment aids for the fuel tank tubes. There are 3 centering rings on this tube and they need to be carefully aligned for the fuel tank tubes to fit properly.

The fuel tanks are made from pre-printed patterns on cardstock. This was very handy as it avoids the need for complicated painting and decal schemes. Further aiding the builder is the fact that the kit includes a wood dowel for use as a mandrel to roll the tubes to the correct diameter.

The tower is offered in two versions. For the lazy builder, there's a printed cut-out pattern that can be formed to loosely resemble a tower. For the builder, there's a dowel for cutting the tiny legs and a piece of music wire for cutting the even tinier support struts. Forget the shortcut, go straight with the real tower. Note though that you're on your own figuring out where the struts go as the illustration do not very close resemble the real tower and I wound up consulting Rockets of the World before building my tower.

The fins are cut from balsa stock and should be painted before attaching to the rocket, which was a helpful tip in the instructions.

Next up is the nozzle assembly. See my Saturn V review for details on how these nozzles are built. Suffice it to say these are the hallmark of the kit--incredibly detailed and look very expensive but are actually built with pretty cheap materials and a not too complex building approach.

The 15" chute is truly cut from a garbage bag and after receiving lots of suggestions for alternate colors, Wes has finally announced that he's going to switch away from white very soon.

Lastly, there are several details that can be cut from stock material using the tips provided. One issue I had though with these details is that there are no paint guidelines and only very limited placement notes. This applies not only to the decals but to the paper wraps as well. I had to consult a few different sources to make sure I was using the right detail in the right location.

Dr Zooch Saturn 1b

Finishing:
Since the kit makes extensive use of pre-printed wraps, finishing this is really not too difficult. Heck, other than the fins there are no two color parts. I do ding the finish score a bit though, for lack of more clear guidelines for finish colors.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
First flight went up on a fairly light wind day (under 5 mph) and I opted for a C6-3. The flight was straight as an arrow but spun slightly on the way up. With 8 fins, I was probably due to have one canted a bit. The delay was a bit early but not enough to slide this to a -5.

The 15" chute worked fine, though is a little tough to pick up in the sky, especially out here in the Ohio winter where everything is a shade of gray for 6 months straight.

 

Recovery:
Great flight and recovery was no problem. Other than a minor beef over chute color, I'd say this was flawless. The model was recovered without even a scratch.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
This is an outstanding little scale kit and it can fly very well on cheap BP motors. I'm planning on building the entire Dr. Zooch line and hoping they're all as fun and as well designed as this one.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Flights

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