Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 2.60 inches
Length: 38.50 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Style: Sport

Estes Executioner

This is a large 24mm through the wall fin rocket put out by Estes. It utilizes the standard elastic shock cord and plastic parachute system that Estes is well known for, which in this case isn't the best option for this particular rocket. More on that later.

The components are of good quality. The instructions are well written and in logical order.

I found the construction of this rocket to be very straight forward. Everything lined up nicely and there were no "gotchas".

Finishing the rocket for me was a bit of a chore. I couldn't get the paint scheme right so I went with a slightly modified design.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

This rocket has flown on 24mm black powder Estes Ds and Es so far.

So far I like the D12-5 best because it gets right up there and the delay is long enough to keep the rocket within a reasonable distance to the pad. It can be flown on medium sized fields. The D12-3 provides more opportunity for the rocket to drift. Therefore I'd only launch using that option on larger fields.

Recovery of this rocket has run the gamut from excellent to poor, depending on what shape the chute and lines are in after ejection. The body tube is big and wadding sometimes doesn't catch all of the hot ejection gas before it comes in contact with the chute and lines.

Estes Executioner If I had it to do over I would have changed the recovery system by discarding the elastic shock cord and plastic parachute. I would have added a length of Kevlar® line from the motor mount to a length of waist band elastic (you can get this at Wal-Mart) and a rip-stop nylon chute. I'd also have made up a baffle since the amount of wadding needed to fill the body tube is substantial. I will probably make these corrections in the near future.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

This is a great flier. Mine has had many flights since I built it back in 2006 mostly on D12-5s, which in my opinion is a great engine for this kit. It provides for slow liftoffs and the five second delay allows for it to be flown on medium sized fields. The weakness of this kit is definitely in the recovery system. I've had a number of hard landings due to burned chutes and/or chute lines. I've had each of the three fins become loose and have had to re-glue them all a number of times. However, it's a tough bird and aside from some chute and shock cord replacements and some re-gluing of fins, this rocket has been a work horse. It's a crowd pleaser too since it's big and slow off the pad.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Executioner {Kit} (1951) [2002-2012,2017-] By Hank Helmen (November 13, 2008)

    This is a single stage "E" engine, three fin rocket built for parachute recovery. The Executioner kit includes one 65mm body tube made of wrapped cardboard. There are three pre-cut plywood fins. A 24mm engine mount and centering rings are included, as well as an E engine spring clip motor retainer. The shock cord supplied is 1/4" rubber band material. The nose cone hollow molded plastic. A ...

  • Estes - Executioner {Kit} (1951) [2002-2012,2017-] By Donald Besaw Jr

    New "E" motor rocket from Estes. This is a big rocket at 3 feet tall and 2.6 inches in diameter. It has a single 24mm motor mount and uses a 24 inch parachute for recovery. Flights to 600 feet are possible. The kit came in one of Estes' infamous plastic bags. The kit included the body tubes, motor mount tube, coupler, centering rings, spacer for D motors, launch lugs, retention hook, plywood ...



J.M. (May 21, 2002)
I also really like this kit. I found the construction to be a breeze as stated. I did make some minor modifications to mine though. I replaced the elastic band with about 7 feet of 1/8" nylon rope for the shock cord. I also tried an 18x30" mylar parachute from another kit instead of the plastic Estes chute. I removed the forward piece of metal on the motor hook so I could use 24mm RMS motors rather than limit myself to the Estes E's. The adapter provided works great for a spacer for AT's 24mm casings.:-) First flight was with an AT single use E-15, 4. Flight was straight up and very high. Estimated around 1000 ft. Ejection was perfect at apogee and it floated downward. I realized the 18x30" chute was way too big for this light rocket. The second flight, I used another E-15 but a 7 sec. delay. 7 sec. was too long and the shroud lines on the mylar chute ripped through 3 of the 8 holes. The chute didn't open properly and it came down hard. Suffered 2 cracked epoxy fillets and about an 1/8" zipper. Repairable. I fixed the cracks with CyA and also switched to a 24" nylon parachute. The last launch I went to, The Executioner flew on an AT RMS F-12, 5. Thick black smoke and she was gone! Estimated altitude was around 1300 ft. Once again, perfectly straight flight. ejection was just after apogee and it floated down nicely with the new chute. This time, I also used a piece of 9x9 Kevlar® for flame protection as the 2.56" body tube is a wadding hog. I do feel the $32.00 price tag is a bit high for this bird although it is a great flier and could be radically modified for larger, more powerful motors. I'd put this right up there with the Big Daddy as an Estes favorite for mods!
J.S. (February 18, 2003)
The Executioner is a well-designed rocket that gives stable, predictable flights every time. The AeroTech E15-4 is a perfect motor for it. Some day when there is no wind I will try it on an F21. I almost never build an Estes kit stock, and the Executioner was no exception. I built it so that it separates in the middle rather than at the nose cone, a configuration similar to the anti-zipper design invented by Stu Barrett. I put generous epoxy fillets on the fins, and I threw away the Estes shock cord and used an 8-foot piece of elastic instead. With these modifications, the Executioner will be able to withstand E and F flights with ease. As other reviewers have noted, the flimsy plastic Estes parachute is not very appropriate for this rocket. Instead, I use a 16-inch or 18-inch nylon chute, depending on how much wind there is. If you have some basic rocket-building experience and you want to get started using composite motors, the Executioner would be a good choice, provided that you fillet the fins with epoxy and upgrade the parachute and shock cord.
J.A. (June 28, 2003)
The main review for this kit is pretty accurate. This kit looks great with the suggested paint job. It just requires a high level of patience and skill to achieve it! Since I opted out of commercial pin striping, I had to rely on brush paints. My rocket ended up looking real nice. The paint job and size of the rocket definitely gets attention at the launch site. I didn't discover any problems with my fin slots. The plywood fins on this model are real nice. Kind of reminded me of the North Coast kit line quality. My only disappointment in the kit is that the rest of the kit falls short in the durability department. I would like to see Estes provide a thicker walled air frame to go along with the nice fins. For about $35 you should expect a little bit better body tube than the standard BT-80 which is what you get. I made several modifications on this bird that beefed it up a little. I did this knowing that I would probably be flying this kit mainly on Aerotech Reloads. First, I replaced the BT-50 motor tube with a length of Loc/Precision 24mm body tube. I have had problems with the Estes tubes as far as holding up to the heat of the motors. Second, I added some wire to the foreward centering ring similar to what North Coast use to call a "Gorilla Mount." This is simply some wire that you make fishing leaders with. After looping it through the centering ring and epoxying it in place, I made another loop at the other end several inches below the top of the rocket. At this loop I attached a generous amount of 1/4" elastic shockcord (roughly 3 times the length of the rocket). I use this mount quite often on larger rockets and it works great. There was another modification that I made to this rocket. I used two (2) 1"x1/4" launch lugs. Finally, I substituted an 18" nylon chute for the 24" plastic Estes chute that comes with the kit. I flew my Executioner today for the first time at our monthly South Louisiana Rocketry (SOLAR)launch. First, I flew it on the recommended E9-4 Estes engine. There was no wind and it was somewhat overcast. The rocket lifted off the pad slowly and gracefully. The 4 second delay was perfect as the rocket arched over and deployed right at apogee. Because of the slow liftoff, even with a 5' rod and no wind, I wouldn't recommend this motor with any brisk winds. On the second launch I used an E18-4 White Lightning. This was an incredible launch! This time it jumped off the pad and went much higher, I am guesstimating somewhere around 1,000', although I might be wrong. However, I built it pretty light so I might not be too far off. The 4 second delay was again perfect and I recovered the rocket down range in great shape. Two perfect flights and deployments and not even a scratch! The 18" chute works well with this rocket. This bird is extremely stable and flies majestically. I really like it and can't wait to fly it again at our next month's launch. J. A.
R.B. (October 5, 2005)
This was my first experience with a larger rocket and decided to assemble it completely stock. The instructions were easy to follow and I didn't have any trouble putting this rocket together. All of the parts fit really good with each other. For my first 2 launches, I used the Estes E9-4 engines. There was about 5 mph wind present. Both flights went up smoothly, but tended to drift quite a distance. I was able to recover the rocket unharmed each time. On another day, with no wind, I loaded the rocket up with an Aerotech F21W-4 engine. The flight up was absolutely beautiful. It went about 1150 ft straight up. Unfortunately, it suffered some damage to the rocket during recovery. The end of the tube was zippered about an inch and the tube looked to be squished down at a few of the spiral seams at the upper end of the tube.. I was a little disappointed because of the time I had spent filling in the spirals, but I still can't complain too much as the motor was a little more powerful that what was recommended. Overall, this has become my favorite rocket to date and I can't wait to build another one, which I plan to reinforce in order to hold up to the F21W motor.
A.P. (December 19, 2006)
I purchased this and a Dyna Star Rising Star at the same time and was far more impressed with the quality of the Dyna Star product. However, this still makes a great addition to any collection. Some of the parts needed triming, but it went together fairly easy. The suggested paint scheme seemed too challenging for my limited talents so I just painted the entire body a light grey with a hot red nose cone that matched the decal and it looks great. So far three launches and no mishaps other than the stock parachute became so tangled that I replaced the parachute with an Top Flight parachute, longer shock cord, and a swivel from Discount Rocketry.
C.S. (December 27, 2007)
I would not have rated the construction such a generous 3.5 out of 5. The materials are just not up to expected MPR quality level: - the 7/64" plywood is 3-ply; soft, thin (but clear) veneer over very crumbly middle. The veneer dents too easily, the leading edges don't hold an edge well, and the tips break too easily. - the BT80 tubing is just a little too thin. Although, this helps save weight so the rocket can fly well on E9s. - the slots in the airframe tubing are slightly under 7/64" and so require widening. - the 24" plastic parachute is not right: too big, not enough drag, too thin. Again, the compromise of plastic vs. nylon is saving weight to be able to fly on E9s. - other similar kits include a baffle. You can add some stainless steel scrubbie to the long motor mount stuffer tube. As others noted, heavier BT50 would have been nice here. For the price, get a similar sized LOC kit with nylon parachute and good 5-ply plywood and sturdy tubing, and you can fly up to H motors. Or, get a Dynastar kit with good quality light parts and stay with D, E, and F motors. Or, clone the kit yourself for less than half price.
James Parsons (February 14, 2019)

The title is a misnomer... Estes - Executioner {Kit} (1951) [2002-2012,2017-] the original kit was almost 4" longer than the current version (2016), and has several other differences (including motor retention and recommendations).

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