The Trade Federation Battleship is an almost ready to fly adaptation of a ship from Star Wars Episode 1. In order to have a hope of stability, a long "flight probe" must be fitted to the movie version of the ship and that require weight and the addition of some clear plastic fins. The ship itself is built. All that needs building is the probe section and I had some time to kill waiting on other projects so I decided to give it a try.
Construction starts out with the plastic nose cone. The base is not installed because two pats of the Estes weight clay have to be pressed into the cavity. The base of the nose cone was then put into place with plastic cement.
The kit came with a piece of sewing elastic instead of the glorified rubber band I have come to expect from Estes. They get points for that but not for it being too short. The elastic was supposed to be knotted and fitted through a hole in the plastic reducer section. I've played that game before and decided that I did not want to play it again. Instead, I knotted a piece of Kevlar® and fitted that through the hole. I did not rely on the knot to keep it in place and instead fastened it with a few drops of 5 minute epoxy. A bit of the same batch of epoxy was used to mount the parachute tube to the reducer.
The lower part of the probe consists of 2 pieces joined by a coupler. The rearmost piece has a plastic flange to lock into the body of the actual battleship. The coupler was marked at the halfway point and joined to the two tubes with white glue. A bit of epoxy was then used to join the rear tubes to the reducer section.
As the probe was drying, I took a closer look at the ship itself. It looked nice and was pre-finished with stickers. They don't look like they will be very durable but they looked nice out of the package.
To make the rocket stable, a pair of clear Lexan fins are provided. They are flexible and snap into slots on the body of the ship.
To mount the probe onto the ship, a molded plastic plug has to be removed. It is provided for display purposes and removes by twisting it to disengage the lugs and then punching it out. I poked it out with a rod pushed through the motor mount. The probe was then inserted into the hole and twisted to engage the plastic lugs on the collar. A previous EMRR review indicated some problems with the alignment but I had no problems.
At this point, all that was left to do was to tie the sewing elastic to the Kevlar® and nose cone.
This rocket was pre-finished. The probe tubes and plastic nose cone and transition were already black and the body of the ship was gray with stickers applied. All I did was wipe off the dust.
Construction Rating: 3 out of 5
Flight and Recovery:
I had heard nothing but bad things about the performance of this rocket so I wanted to be careful for its first flight. I loaded it up with a C6-3 for the maiden flight while only one other person was present. He too had heard nothing but bad stuff about this rocket.
I called heads up, announced the flight and Tim pressed the magic button. From that point on we were both amazed as it took off straight as an arrow.
A bit after apogee, the chute ejected and deployed perfectly and it began to swing its way down. It landed pretty close by and I was already to fly it again until I noticed that the 2 piece plastic nose cone had separated and the forward end was lost. I will have to replace it and fly this one again.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
This rocket probably deserves its bad flight reputation, but my experience was almost totally good. It boosted well, deployed as it was supposed to, and landed safely. The one fly in the ointment is the lost nose cone. I am told that Estes has a reputation for using plastics that do not bond very well.
It would probably be best not to fly this one on a windy day. Some long burn Ds are surely in its future and I will fly it again.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5