Caveman Rocketry - Der Red Max {Kit}

Contributed by Tim Doll

Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Manufacturer: Caveman Rocketry


The Caveman "Der Red Max" is ostensibly a clone of the classic Estes "Der Red Max", first released in 1971 as part of the Estes Citation line. Although it is really just a simple 3FNC rocket, the politically incorrect, silly "Hogan's Hero's German" humor and skull & crossbones motif made "Der Red Max" a popular, fun rocket. The Estes Der Red Max was discontinued in 1986, however cloning Der Red Max is relatively simple since most of the parts are readily available - only the decals and nose cone are not currently available as individual parts from Estes. The decals are available from Tango Papa, the PNC-60AH nose cone is a littRocket Picle trickier (it was in the now discontinued Estes PNC-60B nose cone assortment - many low traffic hobby shops still have some) however the Estes Mean Machine uses the same nose cone if you don't mind doing a kit bash. On the other hand, there is something to be said for the simplicity of getting everything together in one box, so I gave the Caveman Der Red Max a try.

I purchased my Caveman Der Red Max via an ROL auction. Even though Caveman is located in the Netherlands, shipping was prompt and reasonably priced ($5 or $6 as I recall). The kit arrived in good condition, and the parts were overall of good quality. Being basically a 3FNC rocket, the parts list is modest . main body tube, engine mount tube, engine hook, centering rings, shock cord, plastic nose cone, pre-cut fins, launch lug, and decal sheet. The Caveman Red Max is not a true clone, in fact it is advertised as having a 24mm engine mount (vs. 18mm for the Estes original), laser cut plywood centering rings (vs. the normal Estes card stock), and a Kevlar shock cord and 12" nylon parachute (vs. the typical Estes rubber cord and 18" plastic parachute). However I quickly discovered that there were other aspects of the kit that were not true to the original. The original Estes main body tube (BT-60HE) was 8.5" long - the Caveman body tube is nearly an inch shorter, and the original fins were 1/8" thick while the Caveman fins are 3/32" thick. However the worst shortcoming, at least to me, was in the decals. The original Estes Red Max decals were actual two color - black and white - while the Caveman decals are simple black. I asked Caveman about the decals - they admitted that they were unable to print white, but didn't want to go with Tango Papa decals because the thin material makes them difficult to apply. In fact, the only part in the Caveman kit that is true to the Estes original is the nose cone.

Building Der Red Max is straightforward and typical of a 3FNC rocket. The Caveman instructions are original (not reprints of the Estes instructions) and were simple and easy to read and follow (although they lack the humor of the original Estes instructions). Since I wanted my Der Red Max to at least look something like the original, I replaced the main body tube with a BT-60 cut to the proper 8.5 inch length, other than that I kept it stock.

Finishing the Caveman Der Red Max is also straightforward. Simply fill the fin grain and body tube spirals, and then paint the rocket body red and the nose cone black. To get the "black and white" effect for the body tube skull and crossbones decal, I also added an appropriately placed white band to the main body tube (I decided that doing the same for the fin decals wasn't practical).

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

Much like the Estes original, the Caveman Der Red Max attracts more attention than the typical 3FNC rocket. The skull and crossbones motif still draws notice, and the silly "NICHT STOMPEN” and “MIT GRABBEN" decals always bring a smile. Plus, Der Red Max is a fine flyer. I've flown mine on both B's and C's (using a 18mm-24mm adapter) and it always flies beautifully. I've yet to try it with a 24mm engine (Caveman predicts 500 meters with a D), I think the 24mm mount may be overkill for this rocket.

Recover is by a nice lightweight 12" orange nylon parachute, attached by a beefy Kevlar® shock cord (this is the same shock cord Caveman uses in their larger mid-power rockets). Descent on with the 12" 'chute is rather rapid (the Estes original used an 18" 'chute), although that may be good if you plan to fly it with 24mm D or E engines. Despite the relatively rapid decent, mine has yet to suffered any significant touchdown damage - even when it landed on asphalt it just nicked the paint a bit.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

This is a difficult rocket for me to rate. On the plus side, it is an easy to build, fun, attention getting rocket, the parts are generally of good quality, and it is a nice flyer. On the negative side, it isn't a true "Der Red Max" clone. If you are looking for a simple, fun rocket that resembles the old Estes Der Red Max, it's a fine rocket. If you are looking to clone the old Estes Der Red Max, you can do much better.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

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