The Neubauer Rockets Mercury Redstone is a sport scale model of the famous rocket that launched Alan Shepherd and Gus Grissom in a Sub-orbital ballistic path into space and then the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Canaveral. The completed kit stands 9.75" tall, weighs 1.5 oz. and is approx 1/100 scale.
Construction Rating: 3 out of 5
The Mercury Redstone kit comes in the familiar plastic bag. The cover art has a slightly blurry picture of the Redstone launching, with all of the pertinent data for the kit. I mail ordered the kit from Discount Rocketry, the only place that carries the kits, for $17.
The package arrived with the kit fully intact, all parts in the kit and nothing broken. The kit consists of a standard friction motor mount and body tube, but that is where the familiarity ends, it also includes a cast resin nose cone with a clear Lucite rod already attached, along with a bag of parts to complete the escape tower, which include, toothpicks, a small dowel and printed cardstock for the tower lattice work.
The kit also includes a pre-printed self adhesive body wrap, and a real neat clear launch lug (be careful not to lose it!).
The instructions are printed on two 8.5x11 pieces of paper. One outlines the steps to assemble the rocket and the other shows the painting instructions as well as the standard flight prep instructions. Each step is illustrated with a simple drawing, and indicates what type of glue to use in that step. The steps are short, clear and concise, and expect previous experience in building. There are two supplemental instructions, one that recommends sanding the base of the nose cone for fit, and the other for assembly of the parachute. The order of steps fairly logical, but I would delay the attachment of the shock cord mount until the last possible moment as it always gets in my way in the following steps.
This is not your easy rocket build. It takes time, patience, and some modeling know how. I would rate it as a skill level 4 at least. Building the rocket is not easy, but straightforward.
However there were several gotcha's that I found. First, the shock cord should not be assembled so early in the process, it only gets in the way. Wait until after the capsule is ready for that step. The capsule base requires some sanding for a good fit, and that is a time consuming process, but I would rather sand to fit, than add tape for a fit. The tower cross struts are too wide for the top of the tower as they are printed, so you will want to trim them down, do this after you attach them to the tower, as the assembly is quite strong. Extra struts are printed, so you can remove one and try again, I had to.
The escape rocket motors are made from pieces of a small dowel "turned" into cones by sharpening them in a pencil sharpener, an interesting method. The body wrap has a dotted outline to cut on, this outline is way too big for the rocket. I cut mine square with a sharp hobby knife and a straight edge, and guessed at where to cut the top off. I ended up cutting the top just above the third row of black squares. Following this, draw a straight line down the body tube for alignment when you attach the wrap, otherwise you might get it skewed. The alignment line is not mentioned in the instructions, I feel this is an oversight due to the critical nature of this step.
Once the wrap was on I found that the body tube was 1/16" too long for the wrap (better too long than too short) so I cut the body tube to length, another reason to wait on attaching the shock cord.
The next step it to attach the plastic fins with epoxy to the body wrap. I was slightly afraid of the sturdiness of this arrangement so I cut slots in the wrap to glue the fins to the body tube, this was probably overkill, but I feel better. The launch lug was then attached to the rocket, I attached it to the seam in the body wrap, to hide both at the same time.
The rest of the rocket is easy, and consists of building and attaching the parachute and shock cord. One note here, drill a small hole in the nose cone for the screw eye, the nose cone is way too hard to thread it in by itself. The completed rocket looks fragile with the lattice work on the escape tower but is surprisingly strong. This is due to the clear Lucite rod that supports the assembly. Of the two launches and handling so far, nothing has broken.
In building the kit I used two types of epoxy, white for the fin attach, and clear for the launch lug attach, white glue for the motor mount assembly and shock cord attachment, and CA and epoxy for the tower assembly. I also used a small drill for the hole in the nose cone for the screw eye.
The main finishing requirement of this rocket is attaching the body wrap. Once the rocket is complete, the roll pattern needs to be painted on the fins and the capsule needs to be painted.
The tower is particularly difficult to paint without getting any color on the Lucite rod. I used a small brush and was very careful not to paint the rod. There are no decals, as all the detail is on the body wrap. A couple of details for the capsule would be nice, but it is very small and the details would be even smaller, tweezer size for sure.
The result is a credible scale model of the rocket, that for it's small size is a good representation of the Mercury Redstone rocket.
Flight Rating: 2 out of 5
The recovery system consists of an elastic shock cord attached to the body tube with a paper mount, and to the nose cone with a screw eye. The parachute is an octagonal 8" design made of a textured plastic. It is different from the flat plastic variety, and seems to open easily and not to weld itself shut. I still need to see how it behaves in the cold, but it seems more flexible than an Estes chute.
Preparation of the rocket is simple, friction fit the motor and pack the parachute with wadding and you are ready to fly.
The only motor that is recommended is the A10-3T. On my first flight I goofed and used an A3-4T motor. Once the rocket cleared the launch rod, it tilted with the wind, then into the wind, then stabilized to ejection. The 8" parachute was a perfect match for the rocket, lowering it slowly and safely.
My next flight used the recommended A10-3T motor. (It pays to read the instructions.) This flight went almost 100 feet in the air and performed a loop, not what I expected. The parachute was deployed at a heart stopping 30 feet off the ground, and the rocket was returned safely.
At this point I am not sure what is wrong, are the fins too small, or is there not enough weight in the nose, or was the motor nozzle clogged? I really don't want to launch this little beauty again and risk turning it into a lawn dart.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Everything Considered this is a sharp rocket. It replicates the look of the Mercury Redstone vehicle very well, and as a side benefit, it is 1/100 scale, the same as the Estes Saturn 5 kit.
It would be a great display model next to the Saturn! The instructions leave something to be desired, but if you are ready for a challenge, and tired of the shake the bag kits, this would be a good rocket for you to build. I am more concerned with the flight stability. This could be caused by several things on my part, including a bad motor.
My points of concern are that the launch lug is longer than the fins and almost sticks out as far, and the fins are small. The capsule is heavy enough to place the CG forward to where I would think it would be stable, but the launches showed something different. As a result I still am not certain of its stability, but it is a great looking rocket that has survived two launches well.
The following excerpt is
from "Sport Rocketry". The intention is to allow guests to get a
basic feeling about a kit. We strongly suggest that you get a copy of the
referenced Sport Rocketry and read the entire article. Inside you will find
many helpful hints in construction as well as other useful information. For
more information, use the two links above.
"The 1/100 scale Mercury Redstone from Boyce Aerospace is a
beautiful little sport scale model."
"The Mercury capsule nose cone is molded from solid plastic with a clear rod protruding from the tip."
"The body is covered with a self-adhesive, full body wrap decal printed in black and red."
"The A10-3T is the only suggested motor for the kit, which boosts the 18.5 gram model to approximately 450 feet. My test flight was perfectly stable despite the tiny fins."
"The only part of the kit that disappointed me was the recovery system."
"The thing I like best about the Mercury Redstone is how it looks . . ."
The entire article gives the impression is that this is a nice kit for an intermediate modeler.