Estes Alpha III

Estes - Alpha III {Kit} (1256, 221256)

Contributed by Clifford Campo

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Published: 2014-04-11
Diameter: 0.98 inches
Length: 12.30 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport


I received my Alpha III kit recently from and was annoyed to find that all three fins on the plastic fin assembly were bent like a Bobby Hull hockey stick.  This was either poor manufacturing or improper storage along the way.  Something heavy was probably sitting on top of the kit package for a long time.  I soaked the fin assembly in hot water for about 15 minutes then I was able to bend the fins straight without breaking anything.  The fins are flimsier than I thought, I expected them to be more rigid.  The fins and NC have a Fisher-Price toy-like orange/yellow color to them.  This was corrected by spraying both with Testors Chervrolet Engine Red enamel.  This is a nice dark tangerine orange color.  The BT spiral are quite visable so they were filled with Elmers wood filler.  The launch lug was attached with Duco Cement.  Then the BT was painted with Testors Flat Black.  This give a nice contrast to the Chevy Engine Red.  A kevlar shock cord was tied around the engine mount and an elastic shock cord was attached to it.  The total exposed shock cord length is more than double the length of the rocket.  An 8" CATO parachute w/ a 2" spill hole purchased from Heavenly Hobbies will be used for recovery. 


  • Plastic one piece fin assembly
  • Plastic nose cone
  • The rest of the kit is standard Estes components



Construction is straight forward with typical Estes instructions.  No surprises here, simple and enjoyable.  I used Duco Cement to glue all the components together.  I find that Duco Cement is a reliable and easily controlled adhesive.  I use it on all of my rockets and have had good luck so far.  Simple and inexpensive upgrades to a kevlar and elastic shock cord and CATO parachute turns a good "starter" rocket into a great one.  Lets face it, it's tough to beat an Estes Alpha for good flight characteristics; reliability and durability.  Oh and let's not forget "FUN". 

Pros: Easy and fast

Cons: Watch for bent or warped fins when opening the package


A quick paint job brings the stock toy-like appearance up a notch.

Pros:  plastic components accept paint pretty well

Cons: BT spirals are noticeable and need to be filled. 

        Peel and stick decals are lousy.  When will Estes and the other companies like Quest give us water slide decals. 

Construction Score: 4


Overall Rating: 4
Other Reviews
  • Estes Alpha III By Jamie Martin (February 3, 2009)

    Brief: This is a very simple rocket of the 3FNC design. Basicly nothing more than a fin can, BT and nosecone Construction: The instructions are easy to follow with lots of pictures. Assembly starts with building a basic motor mount and glueing it into the fin can. You then glue the launch lug on to the body tube and glue this on to the fin can also. You then glue the shock cord ...

  • Estes Alpha III By Greg Deeter

    Brief: About the most simple there is. It's pretty much just a black gloss body tube, orange plastic nose cose, and one piece (3) fin unit. 12" Estes parachute. Modifications: Upsize of launch lug. Construction: This is a super simple rocket kit that can be built in less than 30 minutes with just CA (super glue). When building mine, I replaced the launch lug with ...

  • Estes Alpha III By Dave Sutter

    NOTE: This review is for the Alpha III in the Starter Set Ahh... Old Faithful. My first kit. Flown in excess of 30 times, and still going strong. A good flier, it always lifts straight and true. Works just fine on almost any 18mm Estes engine. I've made a habit of sending it up at least once almost every time I go out to launch. Had to re-tape the parachute shroud lines to the parachute, and ...


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