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Gathering Scale Data for Model Rockets

ROTWI don’t know if I would exactly specify this as a "technique" but whenever I start to build a scale "real" rocket I always do my research. The "technique" I use to do my research, and the "Tip" I give others, usually starts with pulling out a copy of "Rockets of the World" by Peter Alway.

If you don’t have a copy, get one! This is one of the best places to find data on real rockets. Second, I usually send an email to the Smithsonian Archives Division ( requesting information on the type of rocket that I am looking for. My most recent request included information on the Black Brant II or BBII for short. There was already enough information on dimensions in "Rockets of the World" so I was good to go there but what I wanted was a paint scheme that was unique, not the standard black and white checker pattern. The Smithsonian replied in about three weeks to my request with photocopied pages of some examples. I ended up using one of these photocopies for my project and it depicted a BBII with an all white body, two black fins, one red fin, and a red nose cone.


PaintedI enjoy keeping all of my scale projects paint schemes based on actual paint schemes while still keeping them unique.


Other resources include the place in which the rocket was actually launched. Most of the scale rockets and missiles I build were launched from White Sands Missile Range so I am on a first name basis with the White Sands Missile Range Museum archivist ( to ensure that I have access to as much information as possible. Also, at the Smithsonian is a collection of scale drawings that were created by G Harry Stine. These drawings include such rockets as the V-2, Viking, Asp, Honest John, Nike-Smoke, I.Q.S.Y. Tomahawk, Black Brant III, Arcus, Astrobee D, and a few others. These drawings come in either A, B, or C size prints and are available at a minimal cost. If you don’t know the sizes then let me explain. An "A" size print is the size of a letter, a "B" size print is twice the size of an "A", the a "C" size print is twice the size of a "B".

You can also contact many of the museums around the country as to what they may have on file. Most of the information will usually be sent at a very minimal charge and the data you receive can sometimes be invaluable to completing your project.


Contributed by William Beggs

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