Estes - Der Red Max {Kit} (651) [2007-]

Contributed by Todd Mullin

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.64 inches
Length: 16.25 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport
Estes Der Red Max

Undt zo! Dis es das refew of der Estes Der Red Max rockutt kit! Undt now, you vill read itt und you vill find it ver-r-ry interesting! Yahvohl! Dat ist as order!

Another classic kit recently re-released by Estes with some modernization. The Red Max retains its zany fun graphics and original flight characteristics while getting improvements like laser cut fins and a skull and crossbones parachute.

I was extremely excited to get my Red Max kit. I had been planning to clone one for years but had never gotten around to it. However, Estes saved me the trouble when they rescued this design from its forgotten bunker hidden somewhere in WWII Germany...

The kit came sealed in the normal Estes plastic bag with hang tab and full color header card. All of the necessary components where in the kit. Included with the kit are:

  • 1 PNC-60AH
  • 1 10.5" BT-60
  • 1 3.5" BT-20 motor mount
  • 2 Flat cardboard centering rings
  • 1 Laser cut 1/8" balsa fin set
  • 2 1/8" Launch lugs
  • 1 Engine hook
  • 1 18" plastic parachute
  • 1 Rubber shock cord
  • 1 Instruction set

The instructions of the Der Red Max kit have lost much of their mock-German flavor, but they still have some. What is lost in humor, it gained in readability. The new instructions are very clear and concise as are most from Estes these days. Gone are the single sheet exploded assembly instructions, replaced with step-by-step instructions so clear a first timer could easily build this kit successfully.

The assembly starts with the motor mount. The engine hook is inserted into a slot that is cut into the motor mount. Next, the centering rings are glued in place over top of the hook. After assembling the mount, it is glued into the main body tube.

Estes Der Red Max The fins are next. They are sanded and removed from their balsa carrier sheet. They are then sanded into an airfoil. I adhered the surface mount fins to the airframe with yellow carpenter's glue with a couple of dots of cyanoacrylate ("super glue") to hold the fins while the yellow glue cured. After it had, I applied two heavy coats of yellow glue fillets.

The parachute for Der Red Max comes pre-assembled, like most Estes chutes these days. I opened the package and tied it to a snap swivel. I tied the shock cord to the nose cone loop. I did not connect the snap swivel to the nose cone but instead to a loop tied about 2/3 of the way from the body tube to the cone. Lastly, I glued the standard tri-fold shock cord mount into the airframe to complete construction.

Finishing for Der Red Max is pretty straightforward. Paint the nose cone gloss black. Paint the airframe gloss red. Then comes the slightly more challenging part: the decals.

While I had no problems with the waterslide decals, I have heard grumblings online from people that they felt that the decals were flimsy and difficult to work with. Take your time and make sure that the decals are completely wet through. When placing them, position the decal where you want it and slide the paper out from under it as opposed to trying to slide the decal off the paper and then position it.

One notable omission in the decals compared to those of the original kit is that the "X882" decal that went vertically on the nose cone was not included in the new kit. I have heard rumors that future runs of the decals might include this, but it was not in my decal set. Not a huge omission, but without it, the kit doesn't have the complete look of the original.

After the decals were on and had dried for 24 hours, I coated the rocket with Future Floor Polish with a foam brush. This was the first time I had tried this particular technique and was quite pleased with the very glossy top coat that it added to the model.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Estes Der Red Max

It was with a nostalgic feeling in my heart that I loaded Der Red Max onto the launch pad. I had loaded up a conservative B6-4 for the first flight. A large handful of dog barf wadding had been loaded to protect the cool new skull and crossbones parachute.

The motor lit and the rocket shot into the sky. The largish fins made the rocket weathercock slightly. Perfect deployment just past apogee.

After the first flight, I pulled out the stops and gave Der Red Max flights on both the C6-3 and C6-5. The C6-3 was just a bit short and the 5 second delay was just a bit long. I will probably keep flying on the C6-5s as it seems like a lesser chance of zippering.

I was somewhat leery of the rubber band style shock cord that I surprisingly found in the kit. Hadn't these cords been out of favor since the kit went out of production in the first place? I figured "what the heck, I might as well give it a shot." The length however was also a concern. It seemed a bit short. I doubled up the length of the cord by adding another length of rubber band from another kit that I had just finished and had replaced its rubber band cord with elastic.

I have had no problems to date with the rubber band shock cord. After several flights, it seems to be holding up fairly well.

I sadly must report that I have melted the parachute in a couple of spots though. I need to remember to add extra wadding because of the stubby body tube.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Der Red Max is a solid, classic 3FNC design that wouldn't be half the fun without it's wacky graphics. It is a pleasure to finally be able to build this rocket. While I built mine stock, this airframe is just begging to be souped up. In my club there are a few other people who have either upsized the motor mount to a 24mm or clustered their Red Maxes!

Enjoy building your Der Red Max, but also stop by JimZ's rocket plan site and download the original instructions. They are an entertaining read.

The original instructions also show a cool alternate WWII German camouflage paint job!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Der Red Max {Kit} (651) [2007-] By Douglas Gardei (September 19, 2007)

    Brief: Re-release of a classic Estes rocket! Includes a cool pre-assembled pirate skull 18" parachute! My first memory of the Der Red Max was a little over twenty years ago. I was between the age of 6 and 8, and my grandfather had given me $20 for my birthday. My parents took me to a mall and I was in Kay-Bee Toy and Hobbies. I was trying to find something to spend my money ...



D.R. (January 16, 2008)
I never had one of these back in the day, but now, as an adult, I suddenly appreciated the unique and colorful character this rocket has, so when Estes re-released it last year, I jumped and added it to the fleet. The building process is fairly unremarkable, your basic 3FNC sport model, but it's the decals and finish that make this baby. My only criticism is that the Estes supplied decals are WAY too thin and hard to work with. They also aren't true repros of the original decal set. I've flown mine once, on a conservative B6-4, and it flew like a dream, arrow straight, with no spinning or arcing, and came down within 50 feet of the pad. I'm looking forward to it's second flight, this time on a C. So I didn't have one as a kid like most other BARs did. But I'm proud to own one now, and I'm looking forward to passing it on to my own son when he's a little older!
J.T.S. (May 11, 2009)
I had one of these back in the day and have to say it was the most reliable all around flier in my fleet. As an adult I built a clone right down to modifying the nose cone to a proper profile. I had just a few (awesome) flights on it when Estes reissued the kit. Just my luck. My clone was lost to a swamp landing and my new wife needed an intro to the hobby soooo.... The new kit builds and flies like the original, ROCK SOLID! The laser cut balsa fin sheet is a marked improvement over the old die-cut sheet. Assembly is quick as one would expect with 3FNC, and we had it ready to launch in one evening. Flight was just as I remembered with a B6-4. It currently has 9 flights without a single problem. The only complaint I can lodge is with the decals. In a word, THIN. Too thin. a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear fixed this. That and the omition of the 'X882' for the nose cone.
Steve Lindeman (March 13, 2020)

I received a Red Max for Christmas and it was stamped 12/07/18 and it had the X882 decal for the nose cone. Speaking of decals, mine went on with on problems. Just finished putting them on and hope to fly at next it at next months club launch. Great kit.

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