Yank Enterprises - Black Brant X (4") {Kit}

Contributed by Mark Rothman

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Yank Enterprises
BBX

Brief:
This is a very nice replica of the sustainer stage of the Black Brant X sounding missile. The rocket is a single stage, Level 1 or Level 2 certification capable with 50" parachute recovery. I used a 54 to 38mm adapter for my launches.

Construction:
The kit was very well put together and allowed for dual deployment out of the box coming with 3 flexible phenolic tubes, including one 20" payload section in the middle. The fins as well as the centering rings were 1/4" birch. While the instructions were originally from Yank and called for a 30' shock cord, LOC had modified the length to 25' (it showed the change in the instructions with a pen crossing out the old length and written in with the new). The nose cone was the standard 4" plastic ogive LOC nose cone and it came with all of the eye screws/bolts. A 50" standard round rip stop nylon parachute was included. With the kit being built the right way and perfect launch conditions, this could have been dropped down to a 42" chute.

Construction was very easy. Beside the slots being 1" short (mistake at the factory during machining which LOC apologized for), everything else went in perfectly with very little additional sanding to fit even the snug bulk plates and centering rings.

The scale finishing drawing detail was perfect and my only concern would have been the disorganized recovery system diagram in the instructions. The diagram was showing the parachute being in the middle of the chain while the typed instructions were having you put it at the end of the chain. A quick call to LOC confirmed that it needed to be put on the end of the cord.

Finishing:
I should have taken more time on the finishing of this kit as it is a big and beautiful rocket to begin with, but I got lazy and didn't fill the wrap gaps as well as I should and it showed if you get close up to it. No decals were included with the kit but that's alright with this rocket considering there were very few in a tiny font on the real Canadian rocket. Just the beautiful Black, Red and Silver paint job.

(I hadn't finished painting the red stripes on the base by the time the Florida Winter Nationals came around, but it still looked incredible in all black.)

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:
I started out with a Pro38 I285 for my level 1 flight and it screamed off of the pad and made it's way up to around 2,500 feet (according to RockSim's simulation with the 20mph winds that day).

Now with the stated wind, I was expecting some serious movement on the rocket but it cut through the sky straight as an arrow with not even a twist. Deployment at apogee was perfect and we took a mile long drive to pick the rocket up. When we got close to the landing site, the winds were still so strong that the parachute was dragging the rocket further down the field. We got to it inches from a drainage canal. I would have been really upset to have that kind of flight then lose the rocket to a canal.

My second flight was the next day and even though we had slightly stronger winds (just pushing that 25mph wind barrier), I felt confident considering the previous day's launch. (And I had the car ready this time for the chase.) I loaded it up with one of the new Pro38 I540s and the countdown began just as a big gust started to roll in. This worried me just a bit, but then at launch, that thing flew off the pad at least twice as fast as the day before and made it up to just above 3000 feet (again according to the RockSim estimate). It seemed to just hang there for a bit before the ejection charge popped just a couple seconds late.

Now the bad part of the flight: I had borrowed a 48" chute with a decent sized spill hole to give myself a shorter drive than the day before, but the parachute cord got tangled on ejection. I watched it go down thinking, "Well, that was nice..." When I made it out to the crash site though, the front end was fine and the rear end of the rocket only had a fin popped out with a clean break. Flexible Phenolic to the rescue for me. Wow, that stuff is strong. There was no crimp or damage to the fin other than being popped out. Some 5 minute epoxy at the field and I would have been fine for a 3rd launch, but I figured I'd fix the parachute problem before I launched again, like maybe using a deployment bag next time.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
PROs: great choice using the flexible phenolic, kept the rocket strong but still light. Beautiful kit. Flights are incredible.

CONs: I can't think of too much other than it won't fit vertically in most homes. I would have liked to see a 4" to 3" tail cone to make it more realistic.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

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