Estes - Prowler {Kit} (2156)

Contributed by Larry Zeilmann

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.64 inches
Length: 40.50 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1

Rocket PicBrief:
This is a skill level 1 rocket with simple construction that makes great stable flights.

Construction:
Kit includes:

  • 3 12" BT60 body tubes
  • 3 balsa die cut fins from 3/32 balsa
  • 2 BT60 tube couplers
  • 1 PNC60NA Nose Cone
  • 36" of 1/4 elastic shock cord
  • 6" of white BT20 motor tube
  • 1 Engine hook
  • 2 1" long 1/8 launch lugs
  • 2 CR6020 centering rings
  • 1 black motor hook retainer ring
  • 1 24" plastic parachute

Construction is well illustrated and fairly easy to perform. The fins are mounted through the tube utilizing manufactured pre-cut slots. Additional sanding is required on the fin tabs to get a good snug fit. Care must also be taken to insure proper alignment when the three tubes are joined together. The instructions give a good hint here on rolling the tubes on a table while the glue is still workable. I would avoid using CA type glue to join the tubes because its instant setting time would prevent you from getting a good alignment on all three body tubes. I was also concerned about no method being offered to prevent the chute from falling down the full 36" length of the body tube. To prevent this I installed a additional tube coupler approximately 8" from the nose cone end. Then I built a floating piston so that I could launch without wadding. Other builders might wish to construct a ventilated parachute shelf or baffle system. I also chose to install a 24mm motor mount and fly on the D12-5.

Finishing:
Rocket can be painted in any color or design, I chose to paint mine in royal blue. The kit comes with glow in the dark adhesive decals. They must be cut out and care is required when laying them down. A trick in installing the larger decals is start from the center and roll outward, pressing out the air bubbles as you go. Looks great when finished and glows nicely in the dark. Manufacturer warns against night launches.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
Manufacturer recommends that the Prowler be flown on B4-2, B6-2 (first flight), C5-3, C6-3. I chose to build mine for a 24mm motor and flew it on a D12-5. I have seen the Prowler fly to a low altitude on a C6-3. I would guess flight would be on marginal power on either a B4-2 or B6-2. RockSim 5.0 estimated my D12-5 flight to obtain an altitude of 620 feet, I estimated that to be within a 50 foot accuracy.

Motor retention was the typical Estes Motor hook.

I flew the Prowler in light winds and flight was straight and true. Even when it took a slight gust off the rod, it gave a little wiggle and then settled into a straight and true flight. I think this can be attributed to the higher rod end speed on the D12-5. RockSim 5.0 estimated rod end departure velocity at 42 ft/second on the D12-5. Caution should be considered if flying in stronger winds on a 18mm motor.

Recovery:
The kit comes with a 24" plastic chute. Shock cord is still the poor Estes elastic type with installation being the typical Estes paper triangle glued to the interior body tube wall. Watch this shock cord closely if you choose to expose it to ejection charge heat. Bank on it becoming brittle and breaking after a few flights. This chute size works great with the 18mm motors, due to the low launch height. But with the D12-5 it can be a big floater on a 24" chute. I used an 18" chute and recovery was perfect with no damage. With my floating piston modification I was able to prep quickly with no wadding and retrieved a pristine chute every time. The stock construction requires wadding and lots of it.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
I really like this rocket. A great performer and with a few changes it can be an even better performer. A great buy ranging from $10- $18 dollars. Excellent bang for the buck.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Prowler {Kit} (2156) By Bill Eichelberger

    I picked up an Estes Prowler after seeing how well a very badly built example performed at my son's space camp over the summer. Despite being indifferently built with plastic model glue, having the wiggly fins stabilized with masking tape, and flown unpainted, the Prowler impressed the crowd with an excellent flight (and miracle recovery considering the poor construction. The recovery system and ...

  • Estes - Prowler {Kit} (2156) By Eric Miller

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  • Estes - Prowler {Kit} (2156) By Ben Robinson

    Oversized basic rocket, 24" parachute Three balsa fins, slots in the rear body tube section to help align them, 36 inches of tube and a plastic nose cone. Uses the standard paper shock cord mount. This was my first BETA series rocket, and everything went together pretty easily. The only tools needed are white or yellow glue, sandpaper, a pencil, and a ruler. The two tube couplers are ...

  • Estes - Prowler {Kit} (2156) By Nick Hills

    Modified Estes Prowler (by Nick Hills) Specifications: Length: 40" Diameter: 1.64" Motor Mount: 18MM The instructions are the "usual" Estes type. With diagrams for every step. The tools needed are: pencil, ruler, X-acto knife, glue, 3/4" masking tape, and sandpaper. All parts fit good without any sanding! I modified mine to take Aerotech 18MM D and E motors, ...

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