Estes Super Big Bertha

Estes - Super Big Bertha {Kit} (2018) [1989-1993,2000]

Contributed by Mike Goss

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 2.60 inches
Length: 36.50 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Style: Sport

Rocket Pic
The Super Big Bertha is a re-release of the Classic Super Big bertha that Estes produced in 1989. This is an upscale of the venerable Big Bertha, one of the most popular Estes rockets.

Construction: Rating: 4 ½

The Super Big Bertha comes in a cardboard box that helps to protect the components very well. None of the parts were missing, and all were in good condition. The materials are the typical good quality Estes components. The kit includes two large body tubes, body tube coupler, nose cone, long motor mount tube, Engine hook, 4 centering rings, two balsa wood sheets for fins, assembled parachute, a ridiculously short shock cord, and a decal sheet.

The instructions are a reprint of the original 1989 instructions. Included in the kit is another sheet of instructions that points out the new shape of the engine hook as well as the pre-assembled parachute. The instructions follow a logical order and are illustrated heavily in the typical Estes fashion. A wrap around fin marking guide is also included.

The kit assembles easily. There is nothing out of the ordinary with this kit. The only thing that you will notice is that this kit is big. The length of the rocket can be a challenge to handle during the assembly process.

I did do two minor modifications to the kit. The first was to poke a row of holes down the attachment lines for the fins. This allows the glue to flow through the holes to form a stronger joint.

The second modification was to add a baffle for the ejection gasses. This was in response to the instructions calling for 12 to 14 sheets of recovery wadding, which I felt was a little excessive. The baffle causes the ejection gasses to make two 90 degree turns before it enters the parachute compartment. This will stop any of the hot particles and allow the hot gasses to continue. To add the baffle I followed these steps. Between step 7a and 7b, I took the one remaining centering ring and punched 8 holes around the ring. Then I took a hole punch and added 8 holes near the upper end of the engine mount tube. Next I took the disks that were punched out of the center of the centering rings, glued the stack of four together, and allowed them to dry. Then I sanded this stack until it fit in the top of the engine tube, and glued them there. Now finish step 7b as illustrated. In step 8 do not put glue in the remaining body tube, use a long stick and apply the glue from the top once the two body tubes are joined together. The rest of the kit is assembled in the normal manner. Baffle

The rocket is finished in the normal manner. Sanding sealer on the fins, primer, then an overall coat of white paint. Once this is dry the lower part of the rocket is painted red with the exception of one fin. There are two peel and stick decals that are to be applied, One is a set of red rings that are applied just above the section that was previously painted red. This decal can be used as a template if you would like to paint the rings when the rest of the red is painted in order to match the colors more closely. The second decal is the "Super Big Bertha" Logo, which is slightly redundant at this point. If you finish your rocket in this manner it will be unmistakable at any launch, not to mention it is almost three feet tall as well.

Flight/Recovery: Rating: 4

The only motor recommended for this bird is the D12-5. It is held in with the standard Estes engine hook. Then the 12 to 14 sheets of wadding are added along with the parachute on top. I used 2 sheets with the modification.

Both flights so far have been on a D12-5. The delay for this motor seems a tad long for this size of rocket. The first flight was near perfect with the ejection coming shortly after apogee. The parachute is sized almost perfectly for this model, I wouldn't even add a spill hole. The rocket was then quickly re-prepped for a second flight. This time the rocket weathercocked more and the ejection charge fired long after apogee, almost halfway back to the ground. At the speed of the rocket the nose cone was barely pushed away from the body and the parachute was blown back over the body of the rocket. The resulting swan dive crimped the body tube slightly in front of the last centering ring. The body tube also cut a crescent shaped hole in the parachute on impact. Considering this, I would like to try this on a D12-3 and see if the delay is more appropriate for this model. the old Estes catalogs list the D12-3 as the motor for the "first Flight".

Summary: Rating: 4

This is an interesting upscale of the venerable Big Bertha. The construction is easy, but the requirement for 12-14 sheets of wadding seems excessive. I would like to see baffle construction, since they can use the Centuri baffle, but I guess they have a vested interest in selling wadding as well as motors. Overall this model is easily seen and gives great slow flights on the "D" motors.

Other Reviews
  • Estes Super Big Bertha By Michael Doherty

    The Estes Super Big Bertha is an upscale version of the immensely popular Big Bertha kit. It is based on a BT-80, and has a 24mm motor mount to accommodate the recommended D12-5 engine. Recovery is via a 24 in parachute. The kit contains 2 sections of BT-80, die-cut fins on 3/16th balsa, parachute, plastic nose cone, a long stuffer tube, chute, centering rings, engine hook, and a very narrow ...

  • Estes Super Big Bertha By Darren Wright

      Estes' re-release of the upscale Big Bertha. Modifications: Converted to fly on dual-24mm motors and changed the upper body-tube into a payload section. The kit includes: Two (2) standard Estes BT-80 tubes Four (4) upscale Big Bertha 3/16" Balsa Fins A 24mm mount Paper centering rings A NC-80 nose cone An Estes 18" parachute An Estes standard chute mount ...


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