The Quest Striker AGM is a fictional Air-to-ground missile. Since it is decorated with 'US Army' decals, I assume it is to be launched from a helicopter, as the US Army doesn't have planes, jets, blimps or other such aircraft. If you forget about the 'AGM' part of the name, it looks more like a surface launched tactical-range missile or SAM. Either way, I recommend this kit if it is not your first model. It is has decent looks, it is a good flier and builds easily enough. It is large enough to be rather impressive for a low power rocket, but as a result it will not fly high enough to get lost.
I got my kit as part of a group lot of kits on eBay, at a great price. Unfortunately the main body tube was crushed in the middle. Otherwise it was full of very good quality parts. The nosecone has to be assembled from two halfs, but with a little plastic putty it went together well. Everything fit well, the body tube shows barely shows any spirals in the finish, even though I didn't fill them in. Kevlar and elastic was provided for the shock cord. Probably the only weak item for me was the stiff plastic used on the parachute. It's working well now, but it seems to me that over time the Quest parachutes get too stiff to open or rip and need to be replaced after six or eight flights.
The balsa fins were laser cut from a very good, dense and stiff piece of balsa wood. I almost thought it was some other wood, but it sure looked and sanded like balsa.
Two of the parts stand out as unique to this model. The nosecone is shaped wider than the body tube and then tapers back in diameter. It also has some door and rivet details molded into it. The plastic tailcone adds a bit of boat-tail taper to the back of the rocket also. Add to that the second set of small fins and these features make this model stand out from all the normal 4FNC models.
This model went together easily and correctly using Quest's clear instruction sheet. The only two semi-challenging issues were having to assemble the nose cone from two seperate halfs, which then required some plastic putty and sanding to get a smooth shape.
Second, the tailcone and motor mount requires some CA glue (a.k.a. superglue) also, but fit perfectly in the body tube. The plastic tail cone had a built-in fin marking guide, which was awesomely simple to use.
The fins are also just a bit of a challenge. First, they are made from two seperate pieces which must be glued together first. Second, be very careful sanding the root edges of these fins, they are not simply a straight edge, and you may need to shape them to match both the body tube and the plastic tailcone. I accidently over-sanded them so I had to glue and fill them in specially to fit them on flush with the tailcone. The second, smaller set of fins will require a little extra effort also, but those are no more difficult than any other set of fins.
Quest doesn't say to do this in the instructions and I should have known better, but make sure the Kevlar shock cord is tied just short of the body tube end, or if too late to do that then add a bit of padding at that point on the cord that meets the end of the tube. This will prevent zipper damage to your rocket some day. I would also recommend making sure the ends of the knot between the Kevlar and shock cord are cut short and wrapped up to prevent them from catching on a parachute shroud, which will make for a hard landing.
I modified my kit in several ways. The most important change was because of the tube damage in the middle of the rocket. (You realize that was NOT Quest's fault!) It was not real bad, but certianly looked ugly and compromised the strength of the body, so to clean up the wrinkles, I wrapped the offending part in heavy-stock paper, attached with photo-mount adhesive (to prevent wrinkling).
Then, to provide structural strength to the damaged body tube area, along the length of the tube I glued eight 1/8" square basswood strips around and beyond the kinked tube area, just two inches long. The wood strips were tapered 45-degrees at the ends. This provided a good place to 'hide' the launch lug. I painted these strips gold, so they now look like a desgin feature of the rocket and not at all like an ugly patch job. I could have cut and spliced the tube I suppose, but it is very hard to find extra 35mm tube couplers.
I also added a small payload section behind the nose cone, about 3 inches in length for safely holding an Altimeter Two. The bulkhead was made from a tube coupler with a small disk of thin plywood glued into the aft end. From there I attached a small Kevlar loop to act as the attachment point for the parachute and shock cord. The altimeter fits inside this coupler, and the extended body tube section holds the nosecone above it.
I also tried a new experiment on this rocket. I paper-covered the fins by using photo-mount adhesive to bond the paper to them before sanding and finishing the edges. Worked great! I did not have to sand and seal the balsa to get a perfectly smooth finish on the fins. Since then I have been doing this to all my rocket fins, and it works very well.
I probably shouldn't comment about the finish since I finsished my model in completely different colors and pattern, and did not use the decals on this kit. I suppose the one important good quality about this kit is that there were no visible - or just barely visible - tube spirals after painting this rocket. I tried to 'blend' red, white and blue using spray paint, to less-than-stellar results. Overall it looks nice, but didn't get the smooth color transition I hoped for. On top of that I painted thin gold stripe details and added a few decals from my leftover box. I was careful to not over-paint this model as it is pretty heavy to begin with.
I have used the Striker decals on another model, and found them to be decent quality, perhaps better than other Quest decals I have used.
She is heavy, but that probably helps her to fly well. It certianly will not get lost on even a C6-3 motor, as mine only reaches a measured 250-300 feet. Assuming you don't build this with the small payload and the basswood strips on the side, you might get it up to about 400 feet at most on a good day, and that is certianly good enough for satisfying flights.
Heavy is good because not only will it not get lost but my rocket flies well even on windy days. It has yet to weather-cock and turn into the wind flying sideways, it always goes up! Since I only get up to 300 feet from a C6, I didn't have the guts to fly it on a B6. I know the B6 has a bit more umph and should work well enough for 100 feet or so, but I just want to be sure the 'chute has plenty of time to open.
I have mostly flown with a C6-3 motor. One time when the winds were calm I attempted a C6-5, hoping the added delay would give me another 30 or 50 feet. Instead, it turned around after apogee and dove towards the ground, gaining speed rapidly before the 'chute finally blew open with a loud snap. The 'chute held up well, but the Kevlar shock cord cut a 1/2" slice down the body tube. Zipper damage! Now I will only fly with a C6-3. I have only flown this on Estes motors so far, I did get some Quest motors but have yet to test them out on this model. I will add comments when I do. I don't expect them to be much different than Estes.
The parachute is the right size for this model, bringing it back at about 10 mph which is soft enough for a safe grass landing. The one flight with a C6-5 (which was too long of a delay) proved that the parachute was rugged though. The plastic parachute material is working well right now and the brigh yellow and orange is easy to spot. Like other Quest parachutes though, I expect after a few more flights it will no longer want to open up and remain in one piece. Fine with me, I'll be replacing it with a Nylon cloth parachute then and will protect it with a Nomex sheet so I won't have to use wadding any more.
As an altitude junkie, I sort of wished I modified this to take 24mm motors when building it so I could hit incredible heights with it, but it would have been a bit difficult to modify the centering rings which are specifically sized for the plastic tailcone. Oh well, it flies well enough with C6-3's. In summary, it is a well designed kit that flies great and comes with high quality parts, as good as I have ever seen actually. The suggested paint scheme was nice too, I just felt a need to step outside the paint box this time, as I am usually just happy to go along with the manufacturer's paint schemes, daring at most to tweak a color hue.
I like this kit a lot. This kit has all the important features to make it a definate recommendation from me: Low cost, quality parts, good design, big enough for satisfying flights and won't get lost.
With the plastic nose and tail cone requiring a little extra attention, I recommend this as a second kit (or in my case 24th kit), but not a first kit.
I do like Quest kits though, they all seem to fly well, and they have a decent Kevlar & elastic shock cord and not that ridiculous and cheap rubber-in-cardboard shock cord that Estes refuses to give up on.
What I find difficult about Quest kits though is the lack of third-party companies that provide support parts. I like to fix, modify and improve my rockets occasionally and it's very difficult to find spare nose cones, couplers, body tubes etc. for Quest sizes, which are generally in 5mm increments (25,30,35,40mm...). Even ordering these parts from Quest is hit-or-miss, currently they don't offer tubes, couplers etc. on their website, (but they used to - in only a few sizes).
To summarize the pros and cons:
* Quality parts, in particular the balsa, body tube, Kevlar and elastic shock cord, and plastic parts sized to fit very well.
* Unique design elements, the nose cone molding, boat tail design.
* Design flies well, even in windy conditions (within reason of course!)
* Clear, simple instructions
* Engine clip
* Water-slide decals
* 2-piece nosecone requires a little extra effort.
* Heavy, you might consider modifying to a 24mm motor.
* Hard to find third-party parts for these kits, Quest doesn't offer much.
* Stiff parachute material doesn't seem to last long.
...mind you these are all minor gripes, but I needed to think up something for the cons section!