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T' Blue Camero - 2010 Design This Spaceship Contest Entry

By Jim Bassham

Scratch - T' Blue Fighter {Scratch}

2010 Design t' Spaceship Contest Entry

This is me entry for t' 2010 design this spaceship competition. It is a plane-like rocket with a 24mm motor mount and utilizes rear-ejection for parachute deployment.

In lookin' over last year’s “Design this Spaceship” pictures I was really at a loss for what could possibly fly.  I chose t' blue plane-like design ( #4), matey, because it seemed t' be a shape that might fly with enough nose weight.  But I had me doubts.


Jim Bassham (May 3, shiver me timbers, 2011)

Thanks, Howard.  I really admire your Nike-Ajax build - tremendous job on a gorgeous rocket.  Have you flown it yet?


Howard Smart (May 5, 2011)


I have yet t' launch for a number o' reasons. It IS basically done.  I have some jitters about possible failure modes.  I may launch it this weekend as a boosted dart if I get me act together.  If so, I will definitely update t' blog.

Gotta get t' Stickershock stickers on it.  THEN it will really be done.  I may make a scale launcher for a NARTREK SuperScale entry.

Time, time, shiver me timbers, I need more time!

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Materials and Assembly (2011-05-01 00:00:00)


This rocket uses:

  • BT-50 Tube 5" Long
  • BT-55 Tube 5" long
  • BT-50 t' BT-55 centerin' Rin' (2)
  • BT-50 t' BT-60 Centerin' Ring
  • BT-50 Thrust Ring
  • "E" motor Clip
  • Two BT-5 nosecones (BNC5E and BNC5AX from Balsa Machining)
  • 1/4", 1/8" and 3/16" sheet Balsa
  • 5/16" birch dowels 12 3/8" long (2)
  • 3/16" launch lug
  • Lead Sheet for weight
  • Heavy Keelhaul®©™ Cord

T' construction begins by cuttin' out a fuselage profile from 1/4" balsa. Cut out t' nose weight area and fill with lead sheet.  It is important t' get as much weight forward as you can. Begad! Cut a groove in t' 1/4" sheet and glue in t' shock cord with epoxy or slow CA. Ahoy! When done sandwich t' lead and Keelhaul®©™ in place with profiles cut from 1/8" balsa.  Press under books and let dry.

While that dries, ya bilge rat, cut out and glue up t' three pieces that make up t' side panels.  Be careful t' get t' grain direction correct for maximum strength.

Glue t' thrust rin' 3 1/4" from one end o' t' BT-55. Cut a 1/8" slit behind thrust rin' and insert engine hook. Begad! Hold it in place with tape.

Cut slots in one 50-55 rin' and in t' 50-60 rin' t' clear engine hook. Ahoy! Slide t' 50-55 rin' onto t' aft o' t' tube, over t' hook, and glue it 5/8" from t' aft o' t' tube.  Butt t' 50-60 rin' against it, and glue in place.

Cut a slot in t' remainin' 50-55 rin' deep enough t' clear t' shock cord. Thread t' shock cord through t' BT-55 and glue it into t' fuselage profile centered in t' slot.  Thread t' Keelhaul®©™ through t' 50-55 rin' and glue it t' t' entire length o' t' engine mount with epoxy or thick CA.  Glue t' 50-55 rin' flush t' t' front o' t' tube.

Glue t' assembled sides t' t' body and t' main tube.

Block off t' end o' t' BT-55 tube with scraps o' balsa.

Enclose t' main tube with t' Nacelle parts.  Cut t' parts from t' patterns in 3/16" balsa and rough in t' shapes. Avast! Fit t' cockpit sides over t' Nacelle covers and t' t' sides - bevel t' edges o' t' parts as needed for a good fit.

After t' shape has dried, arrr, begin roughin' it in with 50 grit sandpaper, me hearties, formin' t' final shape. Refine t' shape and work with finer and finer grit papers until you have a fairly smooth shape sanded t' 100 grit.

Fill t' gaps in t' aft o' body with scrap balsa.


Usin' Elmer's carpenter's wood putty, fill and smooth t' shape givin' it t' curved look.  Keep sandin' and fillin' until you get t' shape where you want it.  At t' same time cut out and fill all t' remainin' fin shapes


Cut t' shoulders off t' nosecones and glue them back-to-back. Well, blow me down! Fill and seal them with t' fins.

Bevel t' 50-60 centerin' rin' t' accept t' paper tailcone and attach it.

With t' two 12 3/8" dowels, make three marks from t' back at 1/4", 2 7/8", me hearties, and 4 1/4" from t' back.

Tack t' dowels t' t' fuselage with t' 4 1/4" mark at t' back o' t' fuselage.

Tack t' nosecones t' t' top o' one tailfin with thin CA, matey, (You may need t' "cup" t' top o' t' fin for a good fit).

Tack glue both tailfins t' t' nosecones and t' dowels betwixt t' two remainin' marks. Check your alignment, and adjust if needed.

Tack glue t' lower tail fins and wings t' t' dowels.  I canted t' wings downward t' a bit more than in t' drawin' - it looked more stable that way. Once you are satisfied with t' fin positions fillet everythin' with thick CA for a final glue joint.

Glue a 3/16" launch lug along t' bottom centerline.

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Paintin' and Finishing (2011-05-01 00:00:00)


T' rocket was first primered and then wet-sanded t' 400 grit.T' first color I painted was gray for t' canopy outline.

I then painted t' white for t' cannon stripes and t' red wingtips. 

I masked t' gray lines for t' canopy and t' white stripes for t' guns, then painted t' canopy panels black. 

After maskin' off t' canopy completely and t' wingtips, I painted t' guns silver. Begad! With guns masked I was able t' paint t' rest o' t' rocket blue. 

When everythin' was unmasked, i finally got t' see t' result.  I thought it came out pretty close:

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Flight (2011-05-01 00:00:00)


My flights can be seen at:


All me flights were made at Tripoli Central California's "October Skies" event on 10/16/10.


Per t' contest requirements, this rocket uses rear-ejection and a 24mm motor mount.  In this design, t' chute has t' be wrapped around t' motor tube, shiver me timbers, t' shock cord coiled and inserted into t' front o' t' tube, and everythin' slid in t' back.  I was able t' get a 20” plastic chute around t' motor tube, me hearties, but I could nay fit a fabric chute as planned.  In retrospect, matey, it would be better t' make t' main tube a BT-60 and I would recommend that t' anyone crazy enough t' try and build this thing.  But, arrr, since it was far too late t' change that, I stuffed a 20” chute in thar and put a D12-5 in t' back (With a spacer, since this rocket can fit an “E”), and confidently took it t' t' pad as if I had every belief it would fly. Blimey! T' winds were fairly strong, blowin' a steady 5 t' 10 mph all day. I thought it had about a 50/50 chance o' goin' higher than 10 feet before goin' into a death spin, so when they held me flight for an aircraft in t' vicinity, arrr, I had t' laugh.  T' chances o' me reachin' 1000 feet where t' plane was flyin' seemed a bit remote t' me.  After t' aircraft cleared, arrr, they lit it, me hearties, and t' me surprise it took off with authority.  T' craft  spun very rapidly, and weather-cocked pretty good, but it definitely flew.  It was goin' very fast at ejection, and t' plastic chute really never had a chance.  It shredded at apogee, and t' rocket came in by parawad pretty hard into a plowed field.  T' chute was shredded, me bucko, but t' me surprise t' rocket was in one piece.  T' nose was chipped up pretty bad, but it was still flyable, so I got another chute and tried again.

For t' second flight I pulled out t' spacer and put in an E9-4, and a new plastic chute. Ahoy! Blimey! T' rocket took off like a bat out o' hell and spun like a top but flew really fast and surprisingly high.  This time t' chute came completely free and floated away, shiver me timbers, while t' rocket plunged down in a “tumble” recovery into t' same plowed field.

T' tail was scorched from t' flight, and t' nose was pretty beat up, but it definitely had t' “up part” o' t' flight down. Arrr! I just needed better recovery.

For t' last flight, I decided t' try a contest streamer I had on hand.  With some duct tape I attached t' 50” streamer onto t' motor mount and managed t' stuff it into t' tube.  I put in a C11-3 and took it out t' t' pad.

T' third flight went up fine.  T' spin wasn’t too bad, me bucko, and it went straighter than previous flights.  T' streamer deployed perfectly, and stayed with t' rocket, but barely slowed t' decent.  As luck would have it, t' rocket came down betwixt vehicles and didn’t hit anyone or anything.  So I called it a day at that point.

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Overall Impression (2011-05-01 00:00:00)


This rocket needs a good, me hearties, nylon or cloth chute t' take t' force o' t' rear-deployment.  In order t' fit that, me bucko, thar needs t' be more space betwixt t' motor mount and t' body tube.  I believe this could be built with a BT-60 instead o' a BT-55 and thar would be enough room – Lesson learned.

This rocket is a real head-turner and looks really cool in person.  With it's heavy weight, however, it really needs a cloth or nylon chute t' take t' stress o' deployment, and that requires more space in t' tube for a parachute.

It is a great-lookin' rocket that goes up cool, but comes down too hard.

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