The SR-71 comes boxed like most Estes Challenger series kits. It is a level 3 and they aren't kidding but well worth the time.
First thing you should do is look at the directions very carefully and note the pictures. Very important for the nose cone to fit well. I personally did not like the way you glue the fins together in 3 pieces. So I bought some 3/32 balsa stock and made the 1 piece using the glued wing for a template; it's important that you leave it a little oversized for when you are gluing on the embossed paper. (oh I forgot use the glued fin so the grain is the right way, and make sure it is flat, not warped or it won't fly straight). The templates and jig fixtures are very hard to use because the glue takes so long to dry so I double glued the fins then while holding them against the templates I CA'd the fin on the outside with the gap filling CA.
Now that the wings (fins) are on now it is time to put the paper on, this is the most important: that you use epoxy to fillet the wing then instead of only gluing 7/8 inch back from edge, cover whole wing with glue (it strengthens the balsa). Now that you have left the wing a little long you can put the paper on and don't worry about the fit on the outside edge only the back and the nose (install nose for this step so be careful not to glue it to the paper).
Wait until it's completely dry. Now you can square off the wings and remove extra balsa (make sure both sides are even, measure carefully since this will help it fly straight). Now assemble the rest of rocket using the same gluing and epoxy fillets.
OK now that all the fins are on straight and strong this bird is too heavy to fly on A-B motors or even C a motor, so instead of using the 18mm motor mount I just used the spacer ring for a motor block (epoxy that in). Now you have a great preforming bird with a 24mm motor mount flies on D-12, E15, E30. But if you only have access to Estes or 18mm motors then build the motor mount like the directions tell you only using epoxy instead of glue and put large fillets and cover spacer rings with epoxy .
Now you are done and she's ready for paint. For the decals, they need to be individually cut out so they fit perfect and so they look like real little windows; don't conform to the curves in the nose that is why I say cut out each little one and the motor vents are too long also just take your time and measure and cut before you put them in the water. That this was my first kit review, I hope every thing was understandable if not contact me at Laapfa@aol.com .
Now the flying report; I flew it at the Magnum launch on 12/13/98 on a Estes D12-7, it was a perfect flight and recovery!. Thanks for taking the time to read my review I hope yours flies straight and high like mine, Paul Altman!
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