The Launch Pad - Pershing 1a {Kit}

Contributed by Andrew Bronfein

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Published: 2011-06-07
Manufacturer: The Launch Pad

Rocket PicBrief:
A single motor mid-power (E+) scale rocket with recovery by 18" x 30" oblong parachute.

Kit includes:

  • One (1) main 3.75" body tube
  • Two (2) 2.6" centering sections
  • One (1) 1.6" upper body tube
  • One (1) paper transition shroud
  • One (1) balsa nose cone
  • Four (4) fiber 3.75 - 2.6" C/Rs
  • Two (2) 2.6 - 1.6" C/Rs
  • One (1) 1.6 - 2.1" C/R
  • Three (3) rear balsa fins
  • Three (3) forward fins (sculpted with card stock over balsa)

As a stock kit, a well experience rocketeer should be able to make short work of this kit, however I would definitely not recommend it for the beginner. There are issues here that need a patient hand and a good eye for detail.

I will begin with the 15" x 3.75" to 1.6" transition: This is a three (3) piece thick paper transition, looks like about 65# card stock, maybe a little thinner. As with all paper transitions there will be small section where the paper joins that is not even with the rest of the transition. For a quality build this area must be filled, and feathered into the rest of the transition. I do like the way Chuck suggests that you stagger each joint so that you don't get one continuous bump down one side of the transition. This is definitely the most difficult and time consuming part of the build.

Next the forward fins are sculpted to a taper using three (3) small balsa sticks and a section of balsa to keep them rigid. These sticks absolutely must be cut to the proper angles or you will wind up with sickly looking tapers. Finally there are runners (platforms) under each fin that is made from very thin balsa, which are recommended to have some glue built up under them for stability around the circumference of the body tube. I took a slightly different approach. After marking the center lines on the fins and on the platforms I ran one thin line of CA along the centerline of the body tube then matched the centerline of the platform to it not securing the edges yet. Once the CA cured I secured each side by using a bit if thin CA and pressing the platforms down so they actually contour the circumference of the body tube. I also glassed the paper shroud with 3.2 oz glass using a cutting template made from VCP. This adds weight to the rocket. If you plan on flying this thing with some of the more robust 24mm D motors on the market be sure, if you glass the shroud, that you have enough power to get this bird off of the pad safely. Even stock, Estes D12-3's will not cut it.

Finishing the paper shroud, if stock, definitely would require much filling and feathering to make the transition perfect. Glassing it like I did took a lot of that work away but again made the rocket heavier. Painting was a breeze as I used the stock TLP paint scheme just to get this one ready for a launch in time. I will go back and paint it to a color scheme that I like better. No decals here but Chuck provides you with instructions and sizes to make your own US ARMY decals if you want them. As all TLP kits, decals would make this bird totally complete.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Rocket PicFlight:
I flew the rocket 4 times during the launch on E15's and one E30. On the E-15's the rocket was very slow and majestic, almost reminded me of a good Saturn V launch. The E30 gave it a bit more juice off of the pad but it was still nice and slow. I plan to go with other 24mm E's and F's in the future but for that scale lift-off, as the Pershing was a very large and heavy rocket, the E15 just makes it look cool.

In all TLP kits you will find a bulkhead that will hold the parachute forward helping your CP/CG relation. This is a MUST in the Pershing, if it is discarded you take the chance of losing your chute into the 3.5" tube and it won't come out at apogee. Motor retention is a simple motor clip which I left out just because one day I might get brave enough to put this rocket up on a 24mm G motor.

I don't like the 1/8" elastic that Chuck uses in his kits so I replaced the shock cord with 24" of 35 pound Kevlar®. I also opted for a 30" cross-form chute instead of the 18" x 30" oblong that comes with the kit (because I like cross-form chutes). Rocket deployed just after apogee and landed nice and soft under this configuration, no crimps, cracks or bends to repair at all.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Many people complain about Chuck's kits because of the balsa being "too thin" or the paper shrouds. These kits are definitely a special breed that needs attention to detail and patience. Because they are not your every day 3FNC rockets a lot of parts have to be fabricated and to keep the rockets as light as possible paper, especially if treated with CA or a light finishing epoxy, is plenty strong. The detailing on Chuck's kits is bar none. He just needs, in my opinion, to find a good decal printer. As I stated earlier, the Pershing is definitely not a kit that you would want to start with, but if you are looking for a good challenge and you have good patience you will end up with a very nice rocket.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5



A.J. (June 1, 2001)
The Pershing 1a was my third Launch Pad kit. As with all Launch Pad kits, patients and attention to detail are key. If you follow the instruction -- the only modifications I've ever done was to substitute Bass wood for balsa -- you will be rewarded with a quality rocket that is both impressive and fun to fly. I only hope Chuck will be able to re-supply some of his other kits soon. This review is right on the mark. If you build this kit, take your time! You will be rewarded by the finished product. I've flown my kit on an F39-6 with great results.
L.J. (July 1, 2001)
I couldn't tell from the pictures how many scale features had been included. The overall appearance is good enough for NAR Sport Scale. Stability in the kit is indeed critical. The second stage fins of the real missile were much larger than the first stage fins. This was because Pershing flew so high that the air was too thin for smaller fins to work. I'll be taking a close look at purchasing this kit. I'd like to work with a Pershing 1a again! The article mentioned bending the 'pads' under the fins. This is not scale. The 'pads' in the kit represent the hydraulic actuators on the real missile. All six fins pivot to provide guidance. The surface of the actuator next to the fin is flat and perpendicular to the fin. The scale method of attaching the fin would be to build up the 'actuator' and sand it's bottom to conform to the shape of the tube. The author mentioned a 'realistic', 'slow', 'majestic' lift off. Pershing never did anything slowly or majestically! This was a solid fuel missile that relied on exhaust vanes and fins for stability and guidance. When fired, the missile erected from a near-horizontal position in 12 seconds. It was only about 20 seconds from the pressing of the launch button to the missiles rapid ascent on a dense, white plum of exhaust.

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