Estes - Viking {Kit} (1949) [1986-]

Contributed by Curtis Williamson

Construction Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Diameter: 0.74 inches
Length: 12.10 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport

Brief
Very small, easy to lose, hard to see because it goes so high, but has a lot of building options.

Construction
Very cheap. Easy to construct, for the most part. All the parts were there in the package. There are 48 different fin arrangement possibilities, which I thought was very cool (I used the four fin forward-swept arrangement). The only special tool needed is a placement ring setting tool which came in the package. Fiberboard fins don't bond well with any good bonding agent, so you have to use a slow setting white glue, and the fins aren't slotted for the airframe, which was slightly bent, so it is difficult to get them set right.

Finishing
It come with decals, but I thought they were kind of lame (but I think that about most decals) and I thought the paint scheme was lame too, so I hand painted it a different scheme ( mine looks cooler [aluminum painted nose cone with yellow fins and a blue airframe] and rarely do I ever use the offered paint scheme). Do not modify the fins! I hate aerodynamically imperfect fins, but fiberboard does not hold up well under sandpaper. You may want to replace the fins they provide with balsa ones of your own.

Construction Rating: 2 out of 5

Flight
Use an A8-3. I promise it will go so high you'll loose it otherwise. You might want to replace the streamer with a small chute too. It comes down so fast that its easy to loose. It's very easy to set up, just shove a motor in the back. The motor was a slightly tight fit, so there was no real retention method. Only one square of wadding was needed. It would have flow almost perfectly, if I hadn't messed up a fin because they were very difficult to glue on and I sanded it a bit and messed it up.

Recovery
The shock cord assembly was incredibly easy. The recovery system, as I mentioned before, kind of stinks, so I'd recommend replacement. It goes way too fast, especially if you use an engine bigger than an A. I'd even recommend using a 1/2A if you really want to see it.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary
Only get this if you've got five bucks to spare and you don't get easily frustrated with bad fins, and you don't mind loosing it, because it goes out of sight very easily.

Overall Rating: 2 ½ out of 5

Flights

Comments:

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J.S. (October 1, 1999)
I kinda disagree w/ the review......I thought it was fun to build, and the paper board fins finished nicely, I never sand my fins into a airfoil shape anyway. I did not have any problems, except that when I was painting, the primer and the top coat were not compatible (oops) bring out the dremel sanding tool!!!! I am in the process of re-painting it, so I don't know how it flies.....
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T.W. (April 1, 2000)
Great fun for the price. Assembly is not that major, the fins are just a pain. This was my first 'put it together' rocket. I had an extremely difficult time with the fins. I was not pleased with the difficulty. I tried various bonding agents and the only one that seemed semi successful was white school glue. Painstaking slow. I know that success comes in small victories, but this 'fin battle' was intense. The rest of the building process was a real joy and the decoration was great. I painted the body black, the nose cone dark red and the fins dark green. One personal touch I have decided to add to my rockets is to paint the completion date either on a fin or at the base of the rocket where the fins are attached.
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G.M. (May 1, 2000)
I built this rocket with my wife's 5th grade class as a project. No one in the class had ever built a rocket before, and all were able to complete it. The fins go on best with Alene's Tacky Glue, using the method of gluing the fin on, removing it while still wet, adding another bead of glue to the fin, waiting about three minutes for the glue to become tacky, then attaching the fin. This method works great for Elmer's glue as well. Because of the large number of kids building them, a variety of fin configurations were tested. Most built them with three fins, which led to the highest flights. I built mine with five fins, but pointed them upwards. This resulted in a very graceful, stable flight. We used A8-3 engines which resulted in flights to about 500 feet. Everyone in the class recovered their rockets, and all were intact. I like this rocket because of the variety of designs that can be tested. It is fantastic for groups for the same reason.
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M.K. (October 1, 2000)
Attentions RSOs! As a veteran of many hundreds of cub scout rocket checks, I can say that the Viking has one tricky problem that sometimes crops up. The instructions lead you to believe that any configuration of fins you can cook up will work, but the example illustrations never show you one where the longest edge of the fin is used as the root. If you lay down three fins with that long edge against the body, you will move up the CP far enough to cause stability problems. I keep clay in the range box for scouts that happen to come up with the idea of making their Viking "streamlined" in this manner.
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B.M. (October 1, 2000)
I haven't put together a model rocket since 1985 but have gotten back into the hobby with my son. After using a couple of ready to fly models, I chose the Viking to test my modeling skills. I found the kit incredibly easy to put together. The instructions were easy to follow and all of the parts were in order. The hardest part was deciding on what fin configuration I wanted to use (I used 5 fins). Following the instructions advice, I had no problem attaching the fins using elmers clear glue. I painted the nose cone red and the body cobalt blue with a red lightning bolt going down one side. Instead of using the streamer that came with the model, I used a slightly larger red streamer that I cut from a plastic table cloth. Being my first model, I thought increasing the size of the streamer would increase my recovery chances. This was probably my first mistake. My second mistake was deciding to use a C6-4 engine on its maiden launch (going against other reviews AND the instructions with the rocket). The launch went straight up and I lost site of the rocket until the ejection charge activated. The streamer deployed perfectly but a strong cross wind hit (conditions were calm up til then) and the extra large streamer I had attached caught the wind nicely and carried the rocket at least 100 yards past the south boundary of my launch site, carrying the rocket into a wooded area - never to be seen again. This was the last Viking my hobby shop had hanging on the wall but I would DEFINITELY buy another one when they get more in. Well worth the $5.99 I paid for the kit.
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S.J. (January 1, 2001)
Some background: The Viking was originally a Centuri kit; most notably, it was the official Cub Scout/Boy Scout rocket, packaged in a bulk pack of 12 models. The Viking is still available in a bulk kit from Estes, and I highly recommend it for schools, clubs, etc. The kit is easy to build, and cheap enough that the teacher/club leader can use a few for practice and construction demos. The Viking also lends itself to "personalization." Each kid can use a different fin configuration and/or paint job. A big advantage over the pre-finished almost ready to fly kits!
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D.C. (August 1, 2001)
I have read some problems with gluing the fins to this model which I recently ordered from the U.S (I am in New Zealand). I used CA glue for the fins, and managed to hold them in place with my fingers until the glue set, I then put thick white glue fillets along each fin/tube joint, and it appears to work well.
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T.J.C. (September 17, 2001)
I have to agree with the use of CA glue method for fin attachment. It really works well and I now use it for all flush with the tube fins. I don't think the CA glue would be a hit with a scout troop unless an adult helped with every fin. CA is not very forgiving and you wouldn't want to send home little Johnny with a rocket stuck to his hand. The Viking is great fun to build and fly. Buy a pile of them and try all 48 fin combos!
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A.B. (December 5, 2001)
When I first bought this rocket I thought of the price which was okay (compared to quest!) building it was extremely easy and i chose five fins. it went up twice on C6-7's and the second time one fin fell off and a very kind person in my club somehow found the fin great rocket for high altitudes and also a relatively low drift rate but mine seemed to corkscrew and was also attracted to water. Great for spot landing contests :)
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R.D.V. (December 11, 2001)
I am very disappointed in the component quality in the Viking and similar Estes kits. The tubes are much flimsier than what it used in the old days or in tube bulk packs. My son and I did a great finishing job on ours, but the components can't seem to handle soft landings on spongy sod. Because the tubes and fins are so easily bent, I wouldn't recommend it for large group assembly, since you will have a lot of bent tubes before you even get to the range.
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A.B (February 1, 2002)
This was my most loyal rocket I flew it 8 times on C6-7 and it kicked butt man that was worth every penny until i lost it to a ditch:(
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M.S. (March 21, 2002)
Well its a easy rocket to put together, but easy to find. I painted mine a nice orange. loaded a c6-5 and never saw it again, bummer
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D.W. (April 18, 2003)
After 5 flights on A8-3s, my Viking had developed a tear at the top of the body tube. I had never dared flying it on anything more than an A8-3, for fear of loosing it. As it was, obviously going to this bird's last flight, I put a bit of masking tape on the tear, and bunged in a C6-3 (not a recommended engine, but the most powerful I had). Me and my mate gave the bird one last salute on the pad, and pushed the button. WOOOSH! off went this bird, and just kept going up and up with an eerie silence. We just saw ejection happen, and my mate was able to follow the streamer to the ground, two fields away. We went looking, and found the nose cone, streamer, and most of the shock cord in some brambles. The body was another matter - it seems to have vanished! The recovered wreckage has now got pride of place in my fleet display. I fully recommend putting a C in this bird - just don't expect to get it back! Still, it only cost ?5, so no great loss; I think I'll get myself another!
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unknown (June 24, 2003)
I have built several Vikings, and love the kit. The fins are annoying, but I think that this is quite possibly the best beginner kit available. I have a tendancy to lose the suckers after only a few flights (I mean, hey, C6's cost almost the same as A8's). With three fins swept forward, the rocket flies beautifully.
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M.P.M. (November 30, 2003)
The Viking is a great cheap rocket that goes out of site. The only saving grace when using a C engine is that it returns very quickly due to the streamer recovery system. I have read a lot about Viking fins being "cheesy" and the tube being "flimsy" but I have not had any of those problems. I lose a lot of rockets due to maxing out the engine (my weakness -- if the engine fits, I'll use it!) but the Viking has gone about 25 - 30 times so far. It has begun to show the wear and tear that any kit rocket would show after 25 flights. This is an awesome rocket for a group build because of the different configurations the builders can choose from. I already bought a 12 pack and my friends and I are going to take the Viking Challenge! How high can we go and find it to launch again?!?!?!
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J.H.E. (January 5, 2004)
The Viking became the subject of my girlfriend's eighth grader's science project. The object was to determine which of three fin configurations gave the best altitude performance. We built 6 rockets (three as back-ups) and left them unpainted except for the nose cones and fins which were pained red and black for visibility. The plan was to launch each eight times, using A8-3s from the same batch. Frankly, I was skeptical how well they would hold up. Last Saturday we headed out to the middle school for the launch campaign. Actually, it turned out pretty well. We had one rocket CATO on the pad (a hastily glued engine block came loose) on it's third launch, and the back-up for it was put into service. One rocket shed a fin, which was replaced on the field, and one fairly consistently lawn-darted in and had to be cleaned between flights. All three were showing dents and tears at the top of the body tubes after five or so flights. By the time we were done, I'd say the rockets were ready for honorable retirement. Oh, by the way -- the results: The 3-fin rocket averaged 128m altitude. The 4 fin model only slightly less at 121m (I guess it was more stable). The 5th fin came in at 101m, which I suppose means that the added stability from the 5th fin came at a significant price in weight and drag.
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M.J.M. (January 15, 2004)
When I went to pull my Viking kit out of the bag, I discovered that the sheet of cardstock (i.e., "fiber") for the fins had a serious curve to it. Several days under a pile of books didn't do much to straighten out the curve, so I called Estes customer support. The support rep explained that this isn't an uncommon problem -- apparently, these cardstock sheets are shipped over from the Far East, and if they encounter moisture on the way, they can warp. At any rate, she promised to send out a replacement sheet. A few days later, an entire new copy of the kit arrived, and (I'm happy to say) the cardstock sheet was flat as a board in this new one. Good customer service, at least. So, if you go to buy this kit at your local store, I'd suggest taking a look at the cardstock first.
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A.S. (August 1, 2006)
This is a great rocket, and one of the best currently available birds. MUCH better than the overweight, no imagination or building required RTF toys. We built up from the 12 pack, leaving a few extra fins - so mine sports SIX fins, with the long edge on the tube as the root ( ala Centuri Vector V ). Flies great, very stable , although the drag and weight likely lessen the performance ( like you'd notice :-) I heartily recommend the Apogee D3 for this bird, if you can find one * huge grin * - we even got mine back, but not sure how . Grab a 12 pack, build a few and use the rest for vintage clones, lol - best buy in rocketry today.

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