The Wildfire is one of MRC's old line of easy rockets. It is about on par with and EX2 kit. It features a plastic fin can and nose cone. It can be configured as a payload carrier.
The first step on the instruction is to assemble the nosecone. It comes in 2 pieces and is made of red plastic. The two pieces were joined with tube type plastic cement.
The nosecone was set aside to dry and the motor mount was taken up. The kit comes with a centering ring that is already split to accommodate the engine hook. When I test fit it though, it was clear that the slit was not wide enough. I opened it up a bit with an X-Acto knife so that it would fit. A slit was made in the motor tube 1/4" from one end and the hook was set in place. The split ring was then glued in place flush with the aft end. A retainer band was also glued over the forward end of the hook.
The kit is intended for use with a tri-fold mount but I wasn't having any of that. I tied a Kevlar® harness around the motor mount and applied some glue to keep it in place. I then cut a slit in the forward centering ring to accommodate the Kevlar®. The forward ring though, is not mounted on the motor tube at this point. Instead, the motor mount is inserted into the aft end of the plastic fin can and glued in place with plastic cement. Then the forward ring is slipped over the part that protrudes from the forward end of the fin can and glued.
The kit comes with three identical body tubes. One of them can be used as a payload bay. This would be the forward one. It is coupled to the tube behind with a plastic coupler. A screw eye was screwed into the coupler into the provided hole. This is actually more substantial than I had at first thought.
The other two body tubes are joined together with a cardboard coupler.
The kit comes with a single launch lug which is to be cut into 2 pieces. I used some rod to serve as a mandrel for cutting. I left both pieces on the rod and used it to apply the lugs straight. The lower one is almost even with the aft end and the other one is 5" forward.
With the lugs in place, I glued the lower part of the BT to the fin can and fished the Kevlar® through. I tried to align the lugs with the engine hook.
All that was left was the top BT. I glued the plastic coupler into the aft end and glued the NC to the forward one. I have no interest in launching payloads and the NC fit was a bit loose to begin with. The rocket was the put together and ready for finishing.
PROs: Easy build.
CONs: Centering rings not adequately cut for engine hook. BT extremely thin.
For finishing the rocket, the first step involved taping off the plastic nosecone and the plastic fin can. The original intent of MRC was to just use the molded colors for these, red for the NC and gray for the fin can. These were masked off and the BT was sprayed with Kilz primer. When the Kilz had dried, the rocket received a light sanding and was then sprayed with gloss white. Two coats were applied and then the masking was removed.
With the painting done, all that was left of the finishing was the stickers. I do not like crack and peel stickers. I prefer waterslide decals. That being said, the crack and peel stickers in this kit were of top quality and applied well. I had no trouble removing them from the sheets and they really dress up the rocket.
After applying the stickers, the rocket sat around for almost 2 weeks waiting to be launched. When it was taken out of its protective box, I found that many of the stickers had popped up and that the rocket no longer looked as nice as it had.
PROs: Simple, great stickers that really dress things up nicely.
CONs: Stickers instead of waterslide decals.
Construction Rating: 2 out of 5
Flight and Recovery:
On the day of the maiden flight, I noticed that the stickers were starting to come up. I smoothed them back down and prepped the rocket with an A8-3. The flight was straight and stable but it was fairly low. Even the 3 second delay seemed long as the rocket nosed over and began heading for the ground. About halfway back down, the chute ejected and it recovered fine.
For the second flight, I tried a B6-4. This turns out to be a perfect motor for this rocket. Ejection occurred at apogee and the rocket recovered safely.
PROs: It flew well, if not spectacularly.
Flight Rating: 3 out of 5
I think this is an adequate rocket that could have been a very good one. My impression is that the weaknesses were all due to cost cutting measures. The tubes were very thin and the stickers looked very good but would not stay down.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5