Another classic kit returns. The Hornet, based on an original Centuri design. This classic kit flies on 18mm motors up to 775 feet and each flight is recovered with a 12 inch parachute.
This kit came packaged in a plastic bag with header panel and along with the instructions, it included the following:
The instructions with this kit are the typical Estes format with lots of excellent illustrations and text. Also included in the instructions are the BT marking guide and the shock cord mount.
Being a simple 4FNC (four fins and a nose cone) rocket, this is a skill level 1 kit and I found it very easy to build with no issues. This would make for a great beginners kit.
The construction starts with the preparation of the fins. I started by sanding the fin sheet smooth with 320 grit sandpaper. Next, the fins are carefully removed from the sheet and stack sanded and after that, I sanded the leading edges to a round shape.
Next up is the motor mount assembly. First, the rings are removed from the die-cut card and the MMT tube is marked at the locations shown in the instructions and then the motor hook, retainer and rings are all attached and afterwards the installation of the thrust ring and fillets to the centering rings and then the MMT assembly is complete.
I then carefully cut the marking guide out from the instructions. Before I marked the tube, I slightly scuffed up the surface with another piece of 320 grit sandpaper. Although this not mentioned in the instructions, I highly recommend it as it promotes optimum adhesion of the fins to the tube.
All the lines were carefully marked and the fins are attached one at a time at approximately 1/2 inch from the bottom of the BT and then checked for proper alignment.
After the glue on the fins was dry, I attached the launch lug at the 4 inch mark on the LL line and allowed it to dry. At this point I added fillets to all the fins and launch lug.
Now the motor mount assembly is installed into the end of the body tube and once it dried, I applied fillets to both sides of the mount to secure it.
With the construction nearly complete, I inserted the threaded end of the screw eye into the base of the NC.
To complete the construction, I assembled and then installed the shock cord mount per the instructions.
At this point, the assembly was finished and all that remained was the finishing steps.
PROS: Builds fast and easy and in a logical order.
To finish the model I started by sanding everything, especially the balsa NC and fins smooth.
I sprayed the model with 2 light coats of white primer and sanded between each one and then sprayed the model with gloss yellow spray enamel.
I also masked off the shoulder of the NC and sprayed it with gloss black enamel.
The next day I masked off the body and three of the fins as this model is shown with a single black fin. The unmasked fin was also sprayed gloss black as well.
After the black paint dried I then applied the waterslide decals. Compared to previous Estes decals that were an absolute nightmare to use, I really didn't have too much trouble with these.
When the decals were fully dry I sprayed the model with gloss clear enamel to seal and protect the decals. I then attached the parachute and tied the shock cord to the screw eye and the rocket was all finished and ready for flight.
PROS: Easy to finish as shown on the header panel and the decals were easier to use than before.
Construction Rating: 5 out of 5
The recommended motors for this kit are the B4-4 (first flight), B6-4 C6-5
With this kit, the motor is held tightly in place by the motor hook and to protect the parachute, wadding is required.
For my first flight I went with the recommended maiden flight motor, the B4-4.
Liftoff was quick and the boost was almost arrow straight to maybe 400-450 feet and ejection occurred just a bit after apogee with a loud POP. This motor certainly had quite an ejection charge and after the rocket was recovered I noticed a pretty sizable slice in the shoulder of the NC where it impacted the BT but luckily since the cone is lightweight balsa, the BT was completely unharmed.
This is certainly one advantage of a balsa NC.
Had the cone been plastic, the BT would almost certainly have sustained a HUGE "Estes Dent".
I also feel that the length of the shock cord was not to blame and this was caused due to the VERY powerful almost cannon like ejection.
For the second flight, I simply put a small piece of masking tape over the slice and I really wanted to see what this rocket was capable of and conditions were calm so I loaded it up with a C6-5, put it back on the pad and started another countdown.
On this flight, the rocket lifted off the pad very quickly and climbed nearly straight up and appeared to go up higher than the advertised 775 feet. Ejection was again just after apogee and thankfully this motor seemed to have a gentle ejection charge.
Due to calm conditions, the rocket drifted down nicely on the 12 inch chute and landed maybe 100-200 feet from the pad.
PROS: Flies great, nice straight flights with no fuss.
I will definitely say the 12 inch parachute is just the right size for this model and this rocket also included an orange chute that was easy to see in the air.
PROS: Recovers well on the provided chute.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
I really like this rocket. It builds quick and easily, is easy to finish as shown and it really does fly and recover well, over enthusiastic ejections aside.
Although it did take a while for Estes to release this kit, it is finally available and inexpensive and I would highly recommend it and I will not hesitate to give it a perfect 5 rating.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5