Estes Bull Pup 12D

Estes - Bull Pup 12D {Kit} (1270)

Contributed by Matt Gillard and Chris Fisher

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Published: 2010-06-30
Diameter: 1.33 inches
Length: 15.60 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Scale


Matt. The bull pup D12 is a sports scale rocket. I had one that I flew often and lost it on a roof. With the 2010 challenge asking for a duel review, I dusted off two kits from the build pile. Chris Fisher and I are both members of Midland Rocketry and meet up once a month. So he and I both built the kit.

Chris. First up I must thank Matt for giving me the kit. Of course I know it's just so he can score a few more points.

I loved the blister pack, I think it looks far more exciting than the usual plastic bag and cardboard affair.

Although they kits are the same, they came from different releases.

Matt bullpup is from the explorer series - E7000, in a cardboard box

Chris’s bullpup is from the explorer series – E7000, in a blister pack.

The parts for the kit consist of:

  • Body tube.
  • Engine spacer.
  • Engine mount tube.
  • Launch lug.
  • Green engine block.
  • Centering rings.
  • Die cut balsa sheet.
  • Elastic shock cord.
  • Plastic tail cone.
  • Plastic nose cone.
  • 12 inch pre assembled parachute.
  • 2 pieces of clay weight.
  • Decal sheet.

Matt’s comments on the parts:

The parachute on the instructions in the make it yourself type, with shroud lines, disks and parasheet, mine was the better pre assembled type.

The decal sheet is a peel and stick - I'm pretty sure that the last bullpup I built about 7 years ago had waterslide.

The die cut balsa sheet was not the best quality.

The centering ring sheet is warped, I had to ironed them flat.

The shock cord is far too short, but Estes kits always have too short shock cords.

Chris’s comments on the parts:

Parachute was I think pre-built - didn't pay much attention as always for me. I've a bunch of nice rip-stop nylon chutes and streamers in various sizes on snap swivels, so I just use one of those as appropriate.

I've not put the decals on my rocket yet, but they are peel and stick. Not sure what I prefer, at least I can usually get the peel and stick ones on the rocket in the right place and intact, but they never look as good as water-slide ones.

Centering rings were fine in my kit. Agree with Matt’s comment about the balsa, it was pretty awful, felt very soft.

Matt’s motor mount:

This rocket does not come with an engine hook, which I would have omitted even if there was one as I think it would ruin the look of the rocket.

One of the two rings supplied has a notch removed, where the engine hook could move, this will be for the top of the motor mount as I can then thread a steel leader onto the center of the mount.

White glue was used to glue the rings and engine block into place.

A steel fishing leader has been added to the mount, taped and glued in. I’m increasing using steel fishing leaders instead of tri fold paper anchors, or Kevlar loops. I find that they hold up to ejection charges much better, I have had Kevlar burn through in the past.

Chris’s motor mount:

I opted for a simple loop of Kevlar round the top centering ring on the motor mount, with loads of glue. I realised too late that I had attached the ring with the slot to the wrong end of the mount (doh!), so simply cut a new notch on the edge and pushed the Kevlar through that.

Matt’s tail cone:

The tail cone has to be cut from a plastic part. I remember this being a bit difficult last time, but since then I have purchased a razor saw, so the cutting was much smoother. The ends were then sanded down on sand paper.

The motor mount was been glued into position, with the boat tail slipped over later. There is a seam where the boat tail and the BT join, it's not much but I’ve coated the seam and most of the rear with model filler, which sands down smooth. As I’ve used a fresh tube, the filler came out a bit watery, so I had to sand and refill to remove all trace of the transition.

Chris’s tail cone:

I'm useless at cutting these kind of things usually, but I'm quite pleased with how this one come out. Very cunning use, of what looks like a transition designed for another rocket and reused as the tail cone for this.

Matt’s fins:

I decided to leave the leading and trailing edges square. I used sticky backed paper to laminate the fins. Not that the fins needed to be laminated for strength, but paper lamination does completely remove any sign of grain. To stop the paper from delaminating I coated the edges with thin CA glue. I used CA gel to tack the fins in place, and then added three fillets of wood glue over a day.

Front fins have been added using the TLAR (that looks about right) method. Normally with split fins I use two rulers and clamps to align them properly, but given the size of the forward fins I did not bother. I then added beads of white glue to all edges, as well as adding two fillets to the joins.

Chris’s fins:

I was feeling lazy and the fins are so small, that all I did was sand them down a bit, no filler, no paper, no rounding. I did find that the canard fins were so tiny, that they simply stuck to any glue on your fingers rather than the rocket. So I now have 5 fingers and 2 fins on each hand.

Matt’s rest of the build:

Launch lug had its ends trimmed at an angle to reduce drag. Like the fins it was CA tacked and wood glue filleted.

Clay worms were put in the nose cone. I opened up the base of the nose cone so I could use a rod to stamp the clay into the top of the cone. Coated the inside of the top of the BT with CA to strengthen that up a tad. Added a length of elastic to the leader, used three foot of sewing elastic.

Chris’s rest of the build:

Didn't know the trick with trimming the launch lug, will do that next build.


Finishing the bullpup is every simple. The entire rocket has to be white; so the normal few coats of primer and then white spray paint went on the rocket. Next came the decals, and this is where I really have to lower the grade for this kit. The stickers are the peel and stick type, which really do spoil the look of the rocket. The first bullpup I built years ago had the waterslide type decals and the model was far better looking then.


Mine just had the usual primer and white gloss. Looks pretty good, and will look great once the decals are on.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Matt’s flight comment:

Having flown the previous bullpup several times, I know the rocket to be a good performer. There is plenty of room in the BT for the recovery parachute, and like all Estes kits the supplied elastic shock cord is far too short and needs to be added to by at least 2 foot. On C6 flights the supplied 12 inch parachute can give the rocket a lot of drift. I sensibly went for an A8-3. I like to build up the power on successive flights. My bullpup flew well on the A8, but in my normal luck, managed to land in a water ditch. No damage other than a muddle rocket.

Chris’s flight comment:

Matt really is a great big girl, putting an A8 in his. Of course I had the bravado of essentially having a free rocket, so stuck a C6-5 in mine. Flew really well in a drag race with Matt's. His was first off the pad, but mine obviously streaked away faster. Courtesy of some slack prep, I had failed to actually attach the snap swivel from the chute to the rocket, so had to rely on tumble recovery. Luckily our flying field is quite soft usually, and no damage was done.


Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Matt: A good rocket, good enough that when I lost my first, I went out and got another. Not a perfect scale rocket but still has a good look to it and it performs well.

Chris: I actually like this way more than I expected, so much so that the larger PML variants are looming large in my future shopping list. And it looks like it will be a good flyer.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

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A.G. (November 1, 2000)
I found this kit to be a well designed kit. I liked the boat-tail feature and nose cone as well. It flies nearly out of sight with A8-3's and despite parachute shroud line failings (ripped from the now brittle parachute) it has survived well. The friction-fit motor mount stinks though and the shock cord needs to be replaced with a much longer one. I found this review to be right on the money.
C.T. (January 1, 2001)
Picture provided by Ted Cochran Got at Walmart for $9.99. Good Kit. It's a little tough to align for a beginner. A lot of people tore those little forward fins off because they make it unstable, but mine flies great. Straight as an arrow.  However, I also added extra nose weight to be on the safe side. I made exactly according to instructions and painting according to box and it turned out rather nicely. Looks really nice a great sport scale kit I used this at NARAM-40 when I could not use my blackbird.
M.T.S. (January 1, 2001)
In my opinion I believe that the Estes Bullpup 12D is a very well designed kit. I picked mine up at a local Walmart for $ 9.99. I got to work on it quickly and finished on the the same day as purchased (except for the paint), with the help of some fast drying R/C plane glue I was ready to launch it in about 1 hour. My first launch was with an Estes B6-4 and it flew perfectly. Since then I have logged 30 flights on it and its still in mint condition. The rocket itself is very strong and sturdy and its lightweight construction enables it to have fast and high altitude flights. Overall I really enjoy it. The only thing I would change in the kit is the engine mount. On several flights the engine actually blew out backwards and almost pegged me off in the head.
M.K.H. (October 27, 2001)
This is a pretty nice rocket. Estes appears to have slightly changed the kit, which renders the instructions obsolete. However, the changes mostly are to the parachute and fin stock, and so it does not matter to much. You just have to use your head. Watch out for misalignments in the fins. This is very easy to do. Model looks really nice. I haven't flown it yet, but it will be soon.
W.S. (January 18, 2002)
The reason that I bought the Bull Pup was because of its military history. When I built this rocket I had no problems. I had panted it like it had told me to do, and the decals were a little tricky. The first time that I launched it was with a B6-4. A picture perfect launch! The second launch I used a C6-5, another perfect launch! About the fourth launch I had used a C6-7, the recovery cord separated and that I never saw that pup again. Overall I liked it so much that I bought another one, and is waiting to fly it.
K.R.E. (June 16, 2003)
Totally awesome rocket. First flight was on a B6-4 and the flight was beautiful, straight and impressive. Make sure, like any rocket, that you use enough wadding or create an ejection baffle. Some rockets just seem to fry chutes more than others and this one is a fryer! A little scary was when the chute melted and the Bull Pup came down clay filled, sharp nose-cone first. Ouch, glad it landed in the grass!
D.B. (February 23, 2004)
Great kit! This was probably the coolest low power project I've done in a long time. Due to multiple fin alignments, this kit should probably be done by someone with a little experience first. The parts were good quality, although a motor clip (not included) would be preferred to the friction fit motor mount. Instructions were good, except for the reference to decals. The instructions stated that the decals were the water-slide type, however, they were self adhesive. I found this out after trying to soak one of the smaller ones! This destroyed the adhesive, so I had to use some white glue to repair that one decal. Apparently, this kit may come with either type of decal, so be sure of the type you may get! Looking forward to a spring launch, mostly due to the amount of snow here, and the possibility of having to find a white rocket I lost sight of!!
R.L. (February 27, 2004)
I recently built the 'Pup' after a 34year absence from rocketry. The rocket was constructed following the instructions except for finishing. I found the instructions to be very good however, with my kit a few of the instructions didn't match the drawings and some of the parts were different than pictured. One of the centering rings was factory notched to support the installation of an engine clip that wasn?t in the kit or mentioned in the instructions and the Parachute came already cut with the shrouds installed. I didn?t follow the instructions for finishing. I tried some Krylon paint for plastic. The can suggested that no priming or sanding was required before application. My thinking was that this paint was a thicker paint than the other Krylon paints so, I wouldn?t need to fill the spirals or prime. Wrong! The paint didn't cover any better and in fact the nozzle tended to drip and the drips would get sprayed onto the rocket requiring more aggressive sanding between coats. The first flight of this rocket was a disaster! On the way to the pad two of the fins fell off, poor construction on my part. Over the years I had forgotten that most glues do not stick to the glassine layer on the body tubes. A quick application of some CA and I was back in business. I launched using an A8-3 as specified in the instructions. It didn't go very high, but it went straight and had a good deployment of the 12" chute. It landed about 100 feet from the pad would have been a successful launch except when it hit the ground all the fins fell off except for those attached with the CA. I was hoping to attempt the streamer and parachute duration for NARTREK using the pup. I wish I had known about this website before starting this project. There are so many good suggestions that would have made the project so much more satisfying. I wonder why Estes hasn't incorporated some of these in their kits. My Bull Pup will fly again, with many of the suggested modifications. My thanks to everyone that submitted suggested modifications to this kit and others.
K. W. (July 26, 2004)
I just love this kit. The only issue I have with it is the lack of a motor retaining clip. The rocket flies higher and is a lot faster off the pad than I thought it would be. I've flown it ~5 times using A8-3 and B6-5 motors and have not had the burn issues others have mentioned. Recovery on the stock parachute has not been an issue.
Willy (September 26, 2004)
Great flying model...Have built 2 this year with varying paint schemes. I also had a beef with the lack of engine hooks with this particular kit. In attempt to head off any crisis before they got a chance to prevent themselves, I modified the engine mounts/tailcones to install a engine hook. A braided Kevlar® cord, about 20" long in conjunction to 36" of shock cord is employed to handle ejection tasks. I also use a 12" ripstop nylon chute with Kevlar® shroud lines....We have sans ALL plastic chutes from ALL models in the fleet. No matter how careful, no matter how much or how little the wadding is packed, the melt togethers and burn holes in plastic chutes are irratating to say the least! Good Flyin'
K.G.D. (October 4, 2004)
This is a really cool rocket - inexpensive and fun to build, and it looks really good when you're done. I wish I'd known about this website before I built it, because I used the stock shock cord, gluing it near the top of the BT. After I found this site, the first thing I did was order some Kevlar® shock cord and that is the only way I will make a recovery system from now on. Anyway, when I fired this rocket on a B6-4, the flight was perfect but it pretty much blew out the shock cord and scorched it. I'm probably going to build a scratch Pup now that I know a bit more about how to build this and how to do a recovery system.
W.M.R. (October 27, 2004)
This is my 2nd Bullpup, first one lost in trees many yrs ago. Kit has changed little, shock cord is not rubber and chute is pre-assembled. Constructed as per instruction. First flight: B64 engine. Flew straight and true. Chute was burned on ejection charge and failed to deploy properly. Had Slight damaged on paint upon impact on side of building...almost on the roof. Second flight: C65 engine. Flew straight again but drifted 500 feet where it landed on a roof of a house. Recovered latter to see more chute damage from ejection charge and scraped fins. I will use more wading than the instruction suggest next time, after a new chute is installed.
C.M. (February 5, 2007)
As a B.A.R. I've been re-introducing myself back into the hobby. I've always liked the BullPups and wanted to build a small one before trying an "upscale" Q-Modeling kit. As I couldn't find the Estes kit at Wal-Mart, I ordered it from Rocketry Zone online. The kit came quickly and well packed just two days after the online order. I have some observations about the kit and its construction. The Shock cord seemed too short and was made of sewn elastic, not the rubber band style shown in the directions. The centering rings were notched for a engine hook, not included. I received two small squares of clay weight. The instructions show the installation of one square, but say to use all the weight. At step five the full size fin illustration didn't match my die cut fins. My kit fins were 3/16" short on the leading edge and cut 1/8" short on the tip side. The upper fins were the correct size shown on the plan. I was very disappointed to find "press-on" decals in the kit. The instructions give directions for applying the water-slide type. The parachute was also pre-assembled. The kit gave directions for parachute assembly. Some of the knots slipped at I tried to pull them tight. I know now that the Estes kits are bagged in China. This is certainly not the attention to the kit's parts I was used to in the late 60's and through the 70's. These discrepancies might hurt a first time modeler's rocketry experience. I will try to send a copy of this review to Estes. Thanks for reading my review and good luck! Chris Michielssen
S.W.M. (March 22, 2008)
The Bull Pup 12D is probably my favorite of all model rocket. this was the first rocket I bought as a kid when I got into rockets back in 87 or 88 and I launched it countless numbers of times. I burned up several parachutes in it and even shot the motor mount almost all the way out of the body tube once, but repaired it and kept flying it until I got out of the hobby and eventually broke the model and had it lost as I grew up. I have since bought a new one in my re-birth in rocketry and can not wait for the paint to dry so I can take it out and fire it into the sky. In my opinion it is one of the best rockets you can get for a first time out.

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