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Scale Rocketry

Updated on June 10, 2013

Building and Flying Scale Model Rockets

Building scale model rocket kits is a blast!!! What other thing can you collect that gives you so much action? Nothing. Coin, rock, stamp, Pez candy dispensers, whatever... sure they might be fun to collect but once you have them, they pretty much just sit around on a shelf or in boxes. What fun is that? Sure you can take them out and look once in awhile, but doesn't that get boring? You can look at model rockets too... but you also get the fun and satisfaction of building them, then the excitement of launching them into the sky. Heck, you might even learn some history or physics along the way. So what are you waiting for? Get over your desire to collect boring, inanimate objects. Clean off a work space and get some basic hobby tools. Find a place close to home where you can fly them and start your rocket collection today:)

(Image: The Launch Pad)

Scale Model Rockets Are a Blast - Why I like collecting scale rockets...

My first scale rocket was a Centuri kit of the MX-774. I really loved that rocket - besides being my first scale kit, it was the first one that my dad helped me build. I was only able to fly it once though - I launched it on an overcast day and it disappeared into the clouds and I never found it. The Centuri kit very rarely shows up on eBay, and the price is usually unreasonable. Semroc offers a kit of the MX-774 that's a little bigger than the old Centuri kit, and you could also modify an Estes Bull Pup kit or download free plans and scratch build one.

Semroc MX-774 rocket kit

Making an MX-774 from an Estes Bull Pup kit

Free MX-774 Plans

Painting info for the MX-774

(Image: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

Free Model Rocket Plans

Centuri, Estes, and more...

JimZ Rocket Plans has free downloadable plans for almost all the old Centuri and Estes kits, including many scale models that were produced by these companies. Just follow the link below...

After losing my MX-774 I wanted something simpler, so I got an Estes Little John kit - a scale model of a US Army artillery rocket. The Estes kit is small and very easy to build, but they're out of production and hard to find. You can get free plans on line to build your own though, and there are at least 2 commercially available kits. The Rocketarium kit is 20" long and can fly on a standard C6-5 motor, and the Madcow Rocketry kit is 47" tall and flies with a 54mm high power rocket motor.

Free plans to build an Estes Little John

Rocketarium Little John rocket kit

Madcow Rocketry Little John kit

(Image: Madcow Rocketry)

After I finished build the Little John, I got an Estes Nike Ajax kit. This kit is pretty complicated compared to the other two, and I messed up the alignment of the two body tubes so I never finished it. Like most of the early scale rocket kits, this one is out of production but you can get free plans on line and decals are also available. Semroc doesn't offer a kit, but they do have a complete list of the parts you'll need to build one.

The Estes kit flies on a single C-class rocket motor. If your tastes run a little more exotic, The Launch Pad offers a 55" long Nike Ajax model that flies on a cluster of 3 D-class motors. Either one would make a stunning rocket.

Free plans to build an Estes Nike Ajax

Semroc's Nike Ajax parts list

Nike Ajax decals from Exelsior Rocketry

The Launch Pad Nike Ajax rocket kit

(Image: White Sands Missile Range Museum)

The Mercury Redstone is one of my favorite rockets, and also one of the most avauilable. There are at least 4 commercially available kits, ranging in size from the 7.2" tall Fliskits kit all the way up to a 40" tall kit from Sheri's Hot Rockets. If you prefer the discontinued Estes Redstone kit, it shows up fairly often on eBay or you can download free plans from JimZ's Rocket Plans and scratch build it.

I love the Mercury Redstone because it was part of the US Space program. Freedom 7, the first manned space flight, was launched on a Redstone rocket. It also has clean lines and is a good looking rocket. From a modeler's perspective, it's one of the easiest Space Program rocket to build.

Fliskits Mercury Redstone rocket kit

Dr. Zooch Mercury Redstone kit

Apogee Components' Freedom 7 kit

Sheri's Hot Rockets 1/24 scale Redstone Rocket kit

(Image: NASA)

I remember watching the Apollo moon missions and Skylab launch as a kid, so to me the Saturn V is the ultimate scale model rocket. It's difficult to build, but there are several high quality kits available to make it a "little" easier so if you want to add a Saturn V to your collection at least you won't have to scratch build it. The simplest kit is the Dr. Zooch "Ant Scale" version so if you haven't built many rockets it's probably the best kit to start with. The Apogee Components Saturn V kit builds into a museum-quality model, and Sheri's Hot Rockets has a 1/48 scale kit that stands over 7-1/2 feet tall. If you like the Estes kit, that's still available too.

Dr. Zooch Saturn V rocket kit

Estes 2157 Saturn V Flying Model Rocket Kit

Apogee Components Saturn V

Sheri's Hot Rockets 1/48 scale Saturn V kit

(Image: NASA)

Estes Saturn V - Great kit at a great price


Estes 2157 Saturn V Flying Model Rocket Kit

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The Estes 2157 Saturn V Flying Model Rocket Kit is one of the few "classic" scale model rocket kits that's still available. It's 1/100 scale, stands a little over 3 feet tall, and flies on a single D-class motor. It's a nice kit, and for the price it's hard to beat in my opinion. If you want a classic kit for your collection, this is the one.

What's Your Favorite Scale Model Rocket?

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