(by Nick Hills)
I have always liked kits, so I decided to try the Nike Apache kit from
Cosmodrome Rocketry. I made a great choice. As the kit is real nice, and high
quality parts used through out.
Upon opening of package, every thing was there all in one piece. The
transition and are awesome. They are done real well! You do want to
fill any minor dents in them and then seal them with sanding to make
them look better though.
The instructions are ok, the kit is not made for the beginner in
rocketry. But after you have built a few other mid-power rockets, this is a
easy kit to build.
The was made out of 1/4" cardboard tubing. They are on
stand-offs so the will clear the transition.
The fins and centering rings are made from 1/8" plywood . The fins are
TTW and they go all the way to the . The Apache's fins are though
the wall too! It was fairly easy to get all the fins lined up. The kit comes
with a to wrap around the body tubes, then you just mark it, go to a
door frame and extend the lines down the tubes.
Assembly was pretty easy. The hard part is doing internal fillets. The
instructions said to do the internal fillets. This eliminates the need to have
fillets on the outside of the rocket. This also preserves the scale look of the
model. The best way to do the internal fillets is have the rocket standing up
right, then, mix up a batch of 30 minute . Now get a stick and put some
epoxy on the internal fin/ joint and the motor mount/ fin joint and
let it run down the joints to form a . As this method works great. And
don't be concerned if it does not look good as no one will see it since it will
not be noticeable once you put the aft on.
You may want to put VERY small external fillets on the rocket to seal the
minor gap from the fin slots. Also since this is a scale rocket you will want
to fill the spirals on the tubes. Elmers Carpenter's Wood works well for
this. Just make sure to sand it smooth after it is dry.
Probably the hardest part on assembly is putting on the
antennas. You have to drill holes , but the trick is to get
them at a even level. Mine turned out OK. Also make sure to use plenty of epoxy
when you put the Apache on at the transition. And when you put the
into the Apache's nose cone. Overall this is a very sturdy kit when finished!
Once all painted it looks really nice. The hard part is the decals. They do not
have very good instructions for doing this part. In the kit panel they have the
decals centered between 1 fin, while in the instructions they say to put them
between 2 sets of fins. So I just centered it between a fin. But I do have to
say the decals are very high quality.
½ out of 5
For the first flight of my Nike-Apache I chose a Aerotech F40-4 White Lightning
reload. The boost was beautiful (even with the wind)! Could not have been
They do not give you anything for motor retention. So you can either
the motor or you can add t-nuts and clips, like I did, so the
motor will stay in place!
The 4 second is just right for the rocket. The 28" chute brought it
down just right, but on landing the tip of the Apache's nose cone broke off.
That should be a easy fix.
The is made of rip-stop nylon. The 'chute was nicely made and it
was purple so it was really easy to see up in the sky! The is
attached with a steel cable that is connected to the centering ring. This is my
favorite way to attach shock cords to rockets and is by far the strongest. By
the way, the shock cord is 1" flat elastic, it is about 10 feet long,
which is perfect for the rocket.
½ out of 5
The rocket is a great scale kit! But I would not recommend this for a first
mid-power rocket since this is not the "average everyday" rocket!
Overall this is a very cool kit and there are not to many problems with it!
½ out of 5
All Cosmodrome kits now come with a motor .
The Nike Apache instructions have been updated to simplify and clarify
construction. - Mike Kruger (Cosmodrome Rocketry)
(Contributed - by David Sindel - 08/27/09)
This is a very nice 1:6 scale model of the Nike-Apache sounding rocket suitable for E motors up through small
motors. It's a hefty and strong kit capable of surviving almost anything you throw at. This was my cert rocket.
The parts list:
- Conical balsa nose cone, 6" long and 1" in diameter.
- 5oz lead nose weight, 1" long and 1" wide.
- 24mm thick-wall tube 22.5" long.
- 2 4.85" pieces of 1/16" wire to be bent to make the antennae.
- 24/29 centering ring, 3/4" long.
- 29mm thick-wall tube 3.55" long.
- 24/29 centering ring 1/4" long.
- 4 Apache fins, 1/8" 5-ply wood, with a tight that needs only a bit of sanding and probably not even
- 11 feet of 3/16" tubular elastic shock cord.
- 3/8" dowel 2-5/8" long, to be inserted into the for strength.
- Balsa transition. (It's the famous Nike transition, which bumps a bit out from the Nike then goes way in
to the . It's a solid piece of balsa the size of a soda can. It's almost 6" long total and 2.8" wide
at its maximum, with 2.8" of length outside the rocket. 1" plastic screw-in anchor, for anchoring the screw
eye in the bottom of the transition.)
- 1/2" to attach to the transition.
- 1.5" long quick-link for attaching the elastic shock cord to the steel mount.
- 14" long shock cord anchor of 1/8" steel wire.
- 2.6" wide heavy-wall tube 21.2" long.
- 2 sections of 1/4" launch lug each 1" long.
- 2 sections of balsa 1" x 1/4" x 3/8" for use as lug standoffs.
- 1 29mm thick-wall motor mount tube 7.5" long.
- 4 Nike fins, same quality as before and also. These require a labor-intensive knife-edge sanding if you
choose to build it absolutely to scale.
- Forward centering ring. 1/8" ply as above and has 2 holes to fit the loop on the steel cord.
- Aft CR, same as above except with one 1/4" hole for motor retention.
- 3/16" threaded rod 2.8" long for motor retention, plus spacer, washer, and nut.
- Paper wrap for forward section of Apache body tube.
- Paper wrap for Nike .
- 28" red circular nylon chute.
- 2 decal sheets.
It's a lot of components and a very good price--I got mine from for about 60 bucks. The components are
high quality and fit in well. However, there are four recommendations I'd like to make. First, buy a chute protector. A
sheet, available from Madcow or Apogee for about 10 bucks, is far easier than using lots of or risking the nice
chute. Second, get a 1/4" Kevlar®
shock cord and use the elastic to hold up your pants, as I was told. Third, epoxy clay makes this a lot easier to
assemble. Finally, if you want versatility or you're planning on flying it with HPR motors, then buy a pair of
buttons and epoxy them on. A buck is definitely worth the option of using a rail. I plan to add this soon.
The instructions are very high quality. The B&W line drawings are not quite Estes quality but are easily up to
the task. This is a large skill level 4 rocket; builders should have experience both in building scale models and
mid-power rockets. I am about a skill level 3+ builder (I can take anything Estes can throw at me) and have built a
handful of mid-power rockets, and this still tested my skills at every turn. It's perhaps the first kit I've ever built
that I do not think could be built by a dedicated newbie and requires previous rocketry experience.
The assembly sequence is fairly logical and conventional. It starts with the motor mount and Nike fin can, then
progresses noseward with the transition, Apache fin can, and finally the nose section. The one tricky bit is the aft
centering ring. The instructions say to slip it on without glue, epoxy in the retention rod, and then remove the ring.
This allows you to make internal fillets for strength and scale purposes, but it means that it's difficult to create
fillets on both sides of the aft centering ring. I chose to glue both centering rings to the motor tube at the same
time and put very strong epoxy clay fillets on the joints and settle for external fillets on the fins. I intended this
from the outset to handle HPR motors, mostly the Aerotech 29/180-240 system which I already own, so I figured that
extra strength in the motor mount was worth more than a little extra strength in already strong fins.
I built it pretty much stock with a few minor modifications. Building was well covered in the other reviews, so
I'll focus on my personal experiences.
I've seen comments about the balsa nose cone shattering, so I soaked it in three layers of wood glue and so far
it's survived a ceiling fan, my ceiling, 2 doorframes, a sod farm at 300fps, and a landing where the entire forward
section was supported by the very tip of the nose cone. It's got a few small dents, but nothing more.
I put the described 1/8" knife edge on the Apache fins, which took almost an hour total, but I declined to
put a knife-edge on the Nike fins to make it absolutely scale.
The 29mm motor mount tube provided is nice and thick walled, but only 7" long, so if you're planning to use
longer 29mm cases I'd recommend you get a longer tube. Also, some motors with paper labels may be rather tight in
The kit requires cutting 8 fin slots; 4 of which are approximately 3" long and 4 approximately 4" long.
While these should not be particularly difficult for an experienced builder used to working with thick wall tubes, I
struggled a bit with cutting them with a hobby knife. I eventually settled for using the cutter wheel of a Dremel tool,
which worked very well.
The transition was initially a very loose fit. This ended up being a problem later (see flight details). I did my
usual balsa coating sequence of adding three layers of wood glue smeared on. This smoothed it excellently for painting
and protected it from the with no filler and minimal sanding.
The kit requires you to mist two cardstock wraps to soften them, then wrap them around the body tubes, and dry
overnight. The Nike wrap went on very well and posed no problem with cutting the fin slots. The Apache wrap was a bit
harder due to the smaller tube. They're made of paper and don't sand smooth very well. I would recommend a coat of wood
glue or before you sand and prime.
The kit requires fillets on all 8 fins plus the launch lugs. I recommend epoxy clay cause it's so easy. Did I
mention I love this stuff?
In order to insert the antennae, you must drill 4 small holes in the Apache tube and thread the antennae wires
through. This is a pretty difficult task and requires good lighting and lots of coordination. The antennae get bent
easily and necessitate extra care. If you aren't intending this as a perfect scale model, it might be a smart decision
not to attach them.
The instructions do not call for a , but putting a 1/8" vent hole just below the transition would
be a very good idea to keep the pressure even. On HPR motors, this thing can move pretty fast and the pressure
difference could theoretically cause an early ejection.
The Apache section has a 5oz lead weight that gets epoxied into it for . Make sure to get it nice and
solid as you do not want it rattling around and making your nice rocket thrash all over the sky.
The instructions call for the large transition to be glued to the Apache section near the end of construction.
However, since it is painted white like the Nike section below it, I masked and painted it with the Nike and glued it
One final thought: due to the retention rod the rocket will not stand up on its own and the antennae and nose
cone mean you've got to be careful. I recommend having a cradle to put it on or else building a large stand to hold it
One-half point taken off for the loose transition and not having pre-cut fin slots, which would make construction
Finishing was pretty easy. The body tubes were nice and smooth, and I didn't even bother to fill in the . I
put 3 coats of on the entire rocket, two thick coats and a thin one to fill in gaps. The primer was a nice gray
and I didn't have any gray paint, so I just left the primer for the gray spots.
The stock paint scheme given was white for the Nike body, fins, and transition, gray Apache body and nose, silver
on the Apache fin can and in two spots near the nose, and a ring of black on the small transition to the Apache fin
can. I chose to go with the actual scale colors (according to Rockets of the World, 4th ed.) and painted the
Nike fins red, but the rest of the paint scheme was the same.
Three layers of white, then three of red on the Nike fins left it looking very sharp, and the contrast between
the silver and gray on the Apache body is very subtle and cool. I painted the tiny black ring by hand. Make sure not to
get spray paint on the retainer rod.
There are three decals on two sheets, both large and colorful. These are sticky-type, not waterslide. There are
two for opposite sides of the Nike and one for the Apache. When finished and with the coat of clear gloss I put on,
it's absolutely awesome-looking.
Construction Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
Motors recommended by the manufacturer are F40-4W, G33-7J, and G64-10W reloads and F50-6T, G40-7W, and G80-10T SU
motors. (I assume this is the new G80.) I bought my kit from Apogee, and they recommend everything from an E18-4W
reload up through the G80 with mostly short to medium delays. It's fairly forgiving so a delay time that's a second or
three of will not be a big deal, especially if you use a Kevlar®
I would personally recommend pretty much any 29mm motor that fits so long as you build it with epoxy and use a
I built this for my L1 certification, and unfortunately I did not have a chance to flight test it on an F before
my cert flight. In retrospect, this was a very bad idea.
The smallest H reload I could find at NERRF was an H165R-M from Hangar 11. I loaded it up, and packed the chute
inside the chute protector. The approved the flight and I got the paperwork filled out.
The motor ignited quickly and it roared off the pad on the bright red flame. At , it all fell apart. It
seems that since the transition was loose, and possibly because I neglected to put in a vent hole, the heavy lead
weight pulled the forward (Apache) section off the draggy lower (Nike) section at burnout, at approximately 600ft
and 600fps. The chute, packed to unroll fast as the medium delay simmed out as somewhat long, opened, but did not snap
despite the huge forces. Instead, the shock cord snapped right at the parachute knot, and the chute, chute protector,
Nike section, and Apache section rained down in 4 separate pieces.
The parachute was unharmed--a very high-quality chute, for sure--and the chute protector was nearby. I next found
the Nike section, which was remarkably unharmed. It seems the large fins allowed in to down on its side, landing
it (relatively) softly in the sod. Finally I found the Apache section. The fins and transition had made it perfectly
stable, and the nose was buried 15 inches deep in the sod. I could not physically pull it out, and Bob from Hangar 11
was nice enough to lend me a shovel. The main body of the Apache came out easily. The nose cone required a bit of
With a bit of encouragement from several of the members, I got to work. I scraped dirt off the nose cone,
and Al Gloer helped me put epoxy on to glue it back on. He also provided a Kevlar®
shock cord to replace the failed elastic. I used a pair of dental shears to drill a small vent hole and put lots of
masking tape to shim the transition to a tight fit. After getting my case cleaned by Carson's Motor Cleaning and
assembling a new reload, again an H165R-M, I tried again.
This time, it held together at burnout and ejected about 2 seconds past at around 1700 feet. It descended fairly
slowly and hit nose cone first, which amazingly did not break it. There was no damage, and I am now Junior Level 1
The shock cord provided is 11' of 3/16" elastic. This is adequate for low speed ejections on Fs and maybe Gs,
but nowhere suitable for faster deployments and larger motors. It is well worth the money to get 5 or 10 feet of
tubular nylon or Kevlar®.
The shock cord mount is solid--steel wire attached to the motor mount with a small quicklink for easy separation of the
two parts. The forward end of the shock cord is anchored solidly into the balsa transition with a plastic screw and
metal screw eye.
The chute provided is a 28" red ripstop nylon chute. It's top-of-the-line, bright, visible color, very
sturdy, and circle-shaped with 8 . It's a bit overkill as descent is very slow, on the order of 12 to 15
fps, and a 24" chute would be better for smaller fields and windy days.
One point taken off for the loose transition causing premature separation if not prevented, and for the weak
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
I absolutely love this rocket. It's strong, good-looking, and not too expensive (I got mine for $60 from Apogee).
Plus, as my certification rocket, it'll always be special.
- High quality parts for solid construction
- Excellent value for the money
- Easily built for HPR
- Very nice parachute
- Looks great
- Weak shock cord
- Loose transition
- Requires cutting fin slots
- Doesn't include rail buttons
Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
(Contributed - by John Lee - 09/28/09)
Of the Consmodrome line, the 2 that have the most appeal to me are the Vostok and the Nike Apache. The Vostok has
been sitting in my pile almost since the beginning of my return to rocketry intimidating me. The Nike Apache is a
recent acquisition and does not seem nearly so intimidating. I decided to give it a try.
Construction started out by locating the 29mm motor tube and running a line down its length. An Estes angle tool was
used to do this. Tick marks were then placed 1/2" from either end along the line.
The kit came with 2 plywood centering rings. I had to locate the one with two notches, as opposed to the single
notch ring, and the steel . The loop in the steel cable was fitted through the 2 notches in the
centering ring and then slipped into place on the motor mount at one of the tick marks. The ring was then epoxied into
The other centering ring had only a larger, single notch in it. It was placed at the opposite end of the motor
tube with the notch lined up over the line and epoxied into place, making sure that no epoxy obstructed the hole formed
by the notch.
The instructions indicated that I was to cut 2 pieces of cardstock, one was a strip 1.5" x 1/8" and the
other was 1/2" x 1/8". A piece of threaded rod was then fed through the hole on the centering ring and the
tube was marked at the point where 3/4" protruded from the end. It took a while for me to understand the purpose
of the strips I had cut. The instructions said to place them between the threaded rod and the motor tube. They did not
indicate a purpose or an orientation. After a while, I realized that the longer strip terminated at the mark I had made
for the rod and deduced, correctly I hope, that they are just to give a slight angle to the rod which is used for motor
retention. I tacked the long strip in place and then the shorter one on top of it. The rod was then inserted to the
mark and epoxied into place, taking care not to let epoxy onto the lower threads.
The kit came with 4 plywood fins for the Nike portion of the stack. The instructions said to sand them down to a
knife edge on the leading and trailing edges. I marked the centerline, got out a sanding block, sanded a bit and then
reconsidered. There has to be a "good" way to do this right. After hearing back from Cosmodrome on , I
adopted the manufacturer's recommended practice for sanding in the correct profile to the fins. I applied a wide strip
of masking tape along the line I had marked on the side opposite to which I wanted to sand. I then put two more strips
of narrower tape right on top of it and did the same to the reverse side. A sanding block was then repeated drawn along
the side to be sanded gradually removing material. When the sandpaper had eaten through the top two pieces of tape, the
tape was replaced and the process continued. I found that for each surface of each side of each fin, I would have to
replace the tape about 4 times in order to achieve the "knife edge". Be advised that I am speaking in terms
of butter knives, I was afraid of ruining the fins by sanding anymore. I got 1 fin done per day because it does take
time and, frankly, it was not an enjoyable process for me. That being said, it was effective and I have no complaints.
I think the result will be worth it.
With three fins done and a fourth one waiting to be done, I stared dejectedly at my dwindling supply of course
sandpaper and looked wistfully towards my belt sander. Against my better judgment, I decided to give it a try. I masked
off the high areas as before, flipped the switch and hoped that I was not destroying the fin. It actually went easier
and slower than I expected with slow being the key word. I was able to give the fin an acceptable profile and
avoid a trip to the hardware store.
The last page of the instructions came with a fin marking guide of the type where you set the rocket on the
circle and make your marks. I generally prefer the wraparound type but don't knock any points for this type. This is
especially with so since, for me, the butt types are not as difficult to use with the larger tubes. It also helps with
both types when the sizes are dead on and this one was.
The Nike body tube was placed on the template and the lines for the 4 fins and the lug were
transferred. An angle was then used to lengthen the lines with the lug line running the length of the tube. Each of the
fin lines was marked a specified distance from the back of the tube; I think it was an inch but I do not remember. The
fins were numbered in pencil with the characters for one through four since I was not certain that they were strictly
interchangeable in terms of the sanded profiles. The fin lines were also so marked. The root edges of the fins were
then aligned with their respective fin lines having their rear edges along the previously mentioned marks and were then
held in place as a pencil was used to draw their outlines. A razor knife was then used to cut out the marked lines and
allow the fins to slide in.
The next step was to wrap the rear of the body tube with Saran Wrap. This is to protect it from the moisture that
is soon to come. When the wrap was in place, I retrieved the provided piece of cardstock and spritzed with water from a
spay bottle I swiped from you-know-who's laundry department. The purpose of this is to allow the cardstock to more
easily conform to the body. I wrapped the stock around the body and tied it into place to dry with some surplus shroud
line. The tube and wrap were then set aside to dry. A day later, I removed the string holding the wrap in place and,
sure enough, it had been re-molded into approximately the curvature of the Nike body tube. I did a little with
a razor knife to remove a tiny bit of material from one end to make a tight closure and then used some sandpaper to
fair up the edge.
Some slow cure epoxy (30 minute) was mixed because I perceive it to be a thinner fluid and was then brushed onto
the inside of the wrap. The wrap was slid into place flush with the aft end of the BT and with the seam along the
launch lug line. Some masking tape was used to hold it in place as it dried.
I worked on some other things and about an hour later removed the tape. The next task was to duplicate the fin
slots from the BT on the wrap. After several trial and error attempts, I decided that the easiest thing to do was to
make a slit down the center and then shave away from the outside while peering down the interior of the tube. I kept
whittling away until I test fit each of the numbered fins successfully.
A long swab was used to make a ring of epoxy around the interior of the BT just forward of the fin slots and the
motor mount was shoved part way in. When the forward ring was in, I paused and swabbed another ring of epoxy around the
after end. The mount was then pushed into place with the retaining bolt aligned with the seam on the lower wrap and the
rear centering ring flush with the end of the tube. The tube was set upright for a while so the epoxy would flow back
towards the rings as it set. After 10 minutes, I mixed some more epoxy and brushed it around the seam on the after ring
and put it aside to set up.
Next, I skipped ahead a few steps and pulled out the Apache fins. These again were made of
plywood and again needed to have a profile added. I marked off an 1/8 inch on each , drew a line and then
marked the line with a strip of masking tape. Since I had developed a little confidence with the best sander on the
last of the Nike fins, I decided to use it for the Apache fins as well. I took it slow and, while the bevels are not
perfect, they are good by my own admittedly marginal standards.
The first of the Nike fins to be installed was number 4. I test fit it once again and then applied some epoxy to
the . The fin was slipped into its slot and pressed into place checking for straightness. A bit of epoxy was
the filleted along each side of the BT with my finger and allowed to set up.
Fin number 3 was installed just as number 4 was except the slot was a bit looser and I needed some tape to hold
things in place as the epoxy cured. Further fin installation was interrupted by work concerns and I set things aside to
dry for the night.
When I got back to the Nike Apache, the last two fins were installed like the first two without any problems.
One of the things that I liked about this kit was the way the screw eye is mounted to the
transition. A natural worry with any rocket, especially a heavier one, is the screw stripping out at ejection even when
reinforced by epoxy. This kit goes a long way in lessening that worry with its approach. The screw eye was screwed into
a plastic anchor screw with large, aggressive threads and then backed out. A drop of epoxy was put into the hole of the
anchor and the screw eye re-inserted. The process was then repeated and the anchor was screwed into the balsa
transition, backed out, the hole filled with epoxy, and re-inserted. Epoxy was used to fill around the screw as well.
On the opposite end of the transition, a piece of wooden dowel was epoxied into the cavity to strengthen a potential
The base of the Apache portion of the rocket is a built up affair and I have to admit that I almost ruined it.
The kit came with a short length of 29mm motor tube which serves as the base and what amounts to a 29mm .
There was also a tube to fit within the motor tube. The first thing I was instructed to do was to mark the
longer of the two interior tubes at 1/4" and then epoxy it into one end of the motor tube leaving 1/4"
hanging out. This was easily done but the coupler would not fit into the motor tube so I had to sand it down some,
removing my marks. It was easily marked again and then I decided to use white glue instead of epoxy. It was tight and I
did not think it was a realistic failure point.
The next step was simple enough. The thrust ring was glued in place at the opposite end of the motor tube. Again,
white glue was used. The interior joints at both ends were then filleted with white glue and it was set aside to dry
for a short while.
I took a look at the Apache nose cone while the base assembly was setting up. It was reasonably clear balsa with
just a touch of roughness on one side. I decided to harden it some by dousing it with some thin CA.
This next part is where things became dicey because I misunderstood the instructions. The instructions were
correct but I was letting a single word cause me to misinterpret them and even ignore (subconsciously) other verbiage
that should have set me straight. I was supposed to sand a bevel into the portion of the coupler tube that extended
from the motor mount. It was supposed to transition from its natural diameter to the diameter of the main Apache tube.
Essentially, it was to to 0". That part I got and most of the tapering was done with a sanding stick. It was
the next instruction that got me. I interpreted it to mean that the Apache tube would be butted up against the freshly
tapered coupler and epoxied into place with a simple resting upon a "surface" that had just been
sanded from a surface into an edge. I just knew it was going to be the primary failure mode of each and every
flight if the rocket even made it to the field without breaking at that point. I was already considering rolling my own
coupler to fit into both the original coupler tube and the body tube so that I would have more gluing surface and
something to try and hold things straight. As stupid as this sounds, I was convinced that was what I was supposed to
do. Thankfully, an uncommon bout of sense had me read the instructions again and the word that had thrown me was thrown
up in relief.
The aft end of the apache tube was to be butted even with the aft end of the base.
"Butt" had mislead me into ignoring the stupidity I was displaying. The Apache tube fit through
the sanded coupler, through the motor mount, and through the thrust ring. It should have plenty of support. I again
used white glue instead of epoxy.
With the Apache tube secured in the Apache base, I moved the base over to the fin marking guide for the Apache
and transferred the marks. Doing it with the smaller tube made me wish again for the wraparound type but the job got
done. An Estes angle tool was used to run the 4 lines the length of the base and one of the lines was run the length of
the entire Apache tube. Each of the lines was marked off 1/4" from the aft end and then the fins and lines were
numbered in the same manner as the Nike fins and slots were cut.
Mounting of the Apache fins was for some reason more difficult than the mounting of the Nike fins. This is not to
say that it was really hard, they just did not go as easily. The first fin was re-checked to make sure it fit and then
epoxy was placed in the slot and along the root edge. The fin was then pressed into place and held with tape. The
second fin also went on without any problem. The third fin was where it stopped going so well. It mounted easy enough
and I kept eyeballing alignment and finally realized that the 1st and 3rd did not line up as well as they should. I
don't blame anybody for that except me but it is a reason I prefer the wraparound guides to the butt end ones.
Fortunately, the final fin was OK. All were filleted with epoxy.
You may recall that early on in the building of the motor mount, the instructions called for the use of some
cardstock to wedge between the retaining screw and the tube. I recalled it as well as I got the next step and realized
that I had cut the strips from the wrong piece of cardstock. The piece I had cut was supposed to be used as the forward
wrap on the Apache. Fortunately, the wrap was a little bit big and needed to be cut down a bit. That helped somewhat
but there would still be an ugly gap in one part of the seam. It was something that I would have to fix with filler
I wrapped the forward part of the Apache tube with Saran Wrap to protect it from moisture and the sprayed the
Apache wrap with water to make it more pliable. It was placed around the tube, tied into place, and allowed to dry out
overnight. The next day it had taken on its new shape. Epoxy was then brushed onto the inner surface of the wrap and it
was applied to the forward end of the Apache. I tried to line the seam up with the long line which had been run the
length of the tube, however, I must have let it shift without noticing while getting things aligned. The wrap was held
in place with tape as the epoxy set up.
The wrapped, forward end of the Apache was pressed against the tube marking guide and the lines were transferred.
A mark was then made on each of the lines a specified distance from the forward end. If my memory serves, each was
5-13/64". These marks were to locate the penetrations for the antennae.
The penetrations were supposed to be made with a drill. To my horror, I realized that I had left my drill
elsewhere doing some actual maintenance to the house and that I was probably going to have to wait to work further.
Thinking about it though, the bit I needed was small and the materials to be drilled through were not tough. On a lark,
I tried just twirling the bit between my fingers. It worked!
Surprisingly, the next step was one of the toughest for me. The antennae are formed by a
pair of styrene rods Each is to be pushed through a pair of opposing hole. Getting the rods through the first hole was
easy. Getting it through the hole on the other side required a commodity of which I am chronically in short supply:
patience. Then getting the one through orthogonal to the first is even tougher since the holes are at the same level. I
never would have thought I could get them that exact. When the two rods were in place, I made sure that the same amount
stuck out in each instance and then used some epoxy to fix them into place within the tube.
The kit comes with a hefty lead slug to be used as nose weight and move the forward. Installation of the slug
was simple. Some epoxy was slathered around the top of the Apache tube and the slug inserted. More epoxy was slathered
on the top of the slug and then the Apache nose cone was seated. The entire Apache assembly was then inverted to allow
things to set up in place.
The basis of the shock cord system is the steel cable already installed. To this is added a long piece of
-like cord. It was bent to the steel cable with a double sheet bend. At the opposite end, a loop was tied about a
foot back from the bitter end. The bitter end was then tied to the eye screw in the transition.
For the final step of the assembly, the Apache base was glued to the transition. Although the instructions called
for epoxy, I used white glue since this did not seem to be a major failure point to me.
The first step in finishing this beast was to mix up some Elmer's and start filling in the imperfections.
These included the grain on the fins, on the balsa, and the seams on the wraps. I put it on rather thick and gave it
about a week to dry completely. Then the laborious sanding process began.
The nosecone and Apache wrap were not too bad. The wrap still needed some more work but the was better
than it had been. The Apache fins and transition were a bit more work to sand. It was not difficult but it was tedious.
The appearance was definitely improved but there were still some pits in the transition that I was not happy with.
Likewise, the Nike fins and wrap were not difficult to sand, just tedious. I used a file and sanding stick to get right
up next to the wrap. That helped but there were still some pits to take care of on the wrap seam.
For the next round of filling, I decided to try some Squadron green putty instead. The seam of the Apache wrap
got a layer along its entire length but the cone needed nothing more. The Apache fins also needed nothing else but
putty was used to fill the pits on the transition. Finally, the Nike wrap seam got a stream of putty as well and the
Nike fins needed none. After a day to dry, I attacked the putty with the sandpaper. It took care of the pits in the
transition and nothing further was needed there. The wrap seams on both the Apache and the Nike were another story and
needed a bit more. I went back to the Elmer's Wood Filler this time, and after it had been dried and sanded, I was
satisfied enough to go on.
After dusting everything off, the Nike Apache was taken to the booth to begin the priming process. I started out
by spraying 2 sides with Kilz. A day later, the rocket was rotated and I sprayed the other two sides. The Kilz dried
for a couple of days and then I took a closer look. The rocket had developed a bad case of the
"fuzzies" especially where the wraps had gotten sanded while removing the filler material. I took it back to
the bench and sanded it smooth.
After dusting things off, it was back to the booth where the real painting began. On examining the directions, I
saw that the body of the Nike was supposed to be white. This was in accordance with my "memory" of the Nike
series. With that in mind, I went ahead and sprayed on a layer of white. What I had a question about, though, was the
coloration of the Nike fins. I had imagined the normal fluorescent scheme but they were not mentioned in the
instructions. The black and white photos I had seen were unclear on the matter and, for some reason, I thought that
this rocket would be different. So it is that I sent a message to Cosmodrome asking and he got back to me quickly. It
wasn't the answer I expected though. He told me the matter was unclear and sent me some links. Some versions did indeed
have the fluorescent red fins. The one that captured my interest though, had a dark red Nike body and fins. I altered
my plans then and there. It also had red Apache fins but of a possible florescent cast. That's what I decided to try
and do. The photo I liked can be seen here.
When the white had dried, I took the rocket back out and found that I had the "fuzzies" again, although
not as badly in the same places as before. A little sanding took care of that and I began to mask off the upper body
above the transition to protect it from the red I was going to use. I chose "garnet red" from Rustoleum for
the Nike section. The rocket was set in the booth and given 3 coats. The next day the masking was removed and I liked
the result. The Nike section was then masked off and the rocket was taken back to the booth. Two coats of white were
applied. Examination showed that the same fuzzies that had afflicted the Nike had done so to the Apache as well, but to
a lesser degree. They were sanded down with #400 sandpaper. The rocket was then taken back to the booth for another
coat of white.
The rocket sat with the white drying for a few days as I attended to other issues and then the masking tape was
gotten out to cover everything around the base of the Apache except for the fins. It was then back to the booth again
where fluorescent red was applied in very light coats building up to give the red color. The photos make it look much
more red than it does in person. A few days later the masking came off. You can definitely see the difference between
the reds but its not unpleasing. I was also thrilled that there were no runs.
With the painting done, I could turn my attention to the last item of construction: the launch lug. The kit came
with a pair of tubular 1/4" lugs. I made the decision early on that I wanted to substitute a linear rail lug so
the originals were not put in place. The linear lug would need, however, a spacer to clear the transition, just like
the tubular lugs would have needed. I traced the outline of the lug on a scrap of balsa and then used a razor knife to
cut it out. I then held the balsa spacer against the lug and used sandpaper to make the outline conform better.
The location on the Nike BT chosen for the lug had some of the paint scraped away and then a hole was punched
through it to make for a better epoxy bond. A few drops of 15 minute epoxy were then mixed and spread on the back of
the spacer and the spacer was set in place on the BT. The spacer was then clamped into place. A couple of days later I
had a chance to take the clamps off. The rail lug was then set on top of the spacer and the screws were used to mark
the balsa. The lug was then removed and the screws were turned through the balsa and the BT and then removed. Some
epoxy was then mixed and brushed onto the back of the lug and poked into the screw holes. The lug was then set in place
and the screws driven in.
The decal work is seemingly simple on this one. There are 2 "United States" strips of text. They are
mounted on opposite sides of the Nike with one having the text run up and the other run down. These turned out to be
stickers instead of decals but the quality was good. I peeled the back off, set them in place and then burnished them.
The instructions made mention of one more decal that went on the Apache stage. I have no idea what it is supposed to
look like because I cannot find it. Let me hasten to add that this might be my fault and that of my chaotic work area.
At this point I thought I was done but as I was looking things over, I chanced to look into the body tube and saw
a problem. The screws from the mounting of the rail lug were poking through quite a ways. It was an invitation to rip
any chute that got packed in this rocket. I started to remedy this problem by taking a file to it and worrying down the
points. This went slowly and then I had a better idea. I took a scrap of balsa and pressed it down over the screw on
the inside of the tube. This took up some room. I then mixed some epoxy and used it to hold the balsa in place and
round and smooth off what was left of the protruding screws. My reasoning was that the epoxy would help to hold the
screws it better and give a non-ripping surface over which the chute could move past.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
Flight and Recovery:
The day of the maiden flight of my Nike Apache found me ready to go and the others in attendance eager to see how it
performed. I loaded it with a Roadrunner F60-4 and took it out to the pad. There it sat for a while as some low powered
launches took place and I awaited my turn. Liftoff, when it came, surprised me. I did not expect this rocket to move as
fast as it did but move it most certainly did. It was more like launching a light . The climb up was a good one. It
was straight, did not wobble at all, and looked quite impressive. The motor selection seemed to have been a good one.
When the pop of ejection came, the rocket could just barely be seen. We all saw the laundry come out and then we all
saw that there was a problem.
The chute was out but never really opened. I was "treated" to a terrible sight. The Apache portion of
the rocket was doing its best imitation of a lawn . It was struggling to aerodynamically make its way back to earth
as quickly as possible. It was constrained in this endeavor by three things: 1) I'm sure the unopened chute contributed
a small but real amount of drag; 2) the Nike booster was acting like a in its own right and trying to impede
its own impending doom; and 3) I'm am sure that the sound waves from my plaintive cries from the ground slowed it a
little bit as well. All of this was to no avail as it plunged downward.
A video of this sad event can be seen here.
An examination of the rocket, when I stopped crying, showed that the damage was not as bad as I had feared. The
fins of the Nike booster need to be reset and filleted but the entire booster is in pretty good shape. Even the Apache
came out better than expected. The nose cone snapped but it is something that is easily replaced. A member of my club
offered to turn a cone out of for me and I accepted his offer in the hope that it will be a bit more durable.
Flight Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
I was impressed by several things about this kit. It went together fairly easy for a scale project. It looked good
and it performed great. The blunders that occurred in construction were due to my own inattention to the instructions.
It looked great going up and even kind of cool coming down. I think that the nose cone is a bit tender and that the
instructions could use a slight upgrade, but the former is a property of the material and Cosmodrome has informed me
that the latter will be addressed. Its a great kit.
Persons wishing to follow the
exploits of this rockets can do so here.
Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5