by Darren J Longhorn
I'd been looking to build a general purpose G/H/I powered rocket for
general flying for some time. After a long building hiatus, my HPR fleet had
decayed until I had nothing in a flyable state! I wanted something that would
be suitable for general sport flying. I didn't want a rocket that would be
going very high, or require extensive prepping. So anything requiring or
electronics was out. It had to be something interesting, not just 3FNC, and it
had to make a dent in the tube pile in the corner of the room. So, the
- Mid to HPR
- Interesting to build
- Easy to prep recover
- Eye catching
At the beginning of December 2003, the trailers for the forthcoming
Thunderbirds film began to appear. There was lots of debate about how good it
was going to be on some of the news groups and mailing lists to which I
subscribe. The new design Thunderbird 3 was appealing, but I would have a hard
time producing a working drawing from the short trailers. It did, however,
prompt me to reread the Thunderbirds section in my copy of "Spaceship
Handbook" by Jack Hagerty Jon C. Rogers (if you're not familiar with this
book it's basically a "Rockets of the Fictional World"). This
excellent publication features scale drawings of Thunderbirds 1, 3 5. Again, it
was Thunderbird 3 which caught my eye, which was always my favourite
Thunderbird when I watched the Gerry Anderson series as a kid. I've also
admired the Thunderbird 3 models flown by Adrian Hurt and Mike Crewe.
As mentioned in the intro, my primary source for this project was the scale
drawing of TB3, by Jon C. Rogers. I also used the model rocket plans by Tom
Beach for inspiration. There are also many, many images of TB3 available on the
The model makers working on Thunderbirds built several models, of varying
size, of each vehicle, which were used for the various scenes in which each
vehicle appeared. So one size for the launch scenes, another in flight, landing
or docking and so on. That's fine, but unfortunately, these models were often
used inconsistently, with the regard to the relative scale of their
surroundings. This gives the vehicle depicted the appearance of being larger,
or smaller, depending upon the scene. Working out the "actual" size
of the vehicle is therefore technically impossible. Jon admits this in the
Thunderbird 3 drawing notes, which state: "This drawing is a composite of
several scenes and represents the best data available". This composite
drawing then, which is as good as it gets, gives an overall length of 4108
Incidentally, if you think this problem with scale from scene to scene was
a bit amateurish of Gerry Anderson's model makers, then look carefully at the
docking scene the next time you are watching 2001. The Orion is much smaller,
relative to the station, than it has any right to be!
So that's the length of the prototype sorted. How did I decide what scale
to build at? Well of course I didn't. When scratch building, you might expect
to be able to choose the scale you build at. But, unless you are prepared to
roll your own body tubes, the scale is usually determined by the diameter of
the available body tubes, and this project was no exception. So what scale is
it? As I'll explain later, various compromises were made along the way and some
dimensions are either slightly over or under scale, but, everything is built
around that main body tube, which is 80mm in diameter. The drawing gives this
diameter as 345 inches, which gives us a scale of:
scale = model diameter / prototype diameter
= 3.15" / 245"
= 1 / 109.54
Let's call that 1:110 scale. It was at this point that I realised just how
big the "real" Thunderbird 3 is meant to be! Much bigger, I think,
than is suggested by the scene in which it flies through the roundhouse on
"The way of the Tube"
This tube collection didn't happen overnight, but has been painstakingly
collected over the years. If you're into scratch building in any significant
way, you begin to see the world in a different light. At the shops you select
products as much for the contents as for the products contained within. You
become attracted to skips. You look in bins at the back of shops. You check the
post room at work, and offer to deliver stuff to people's desk so you can ask
them for the postal tube. Word gets around. Family, friends and colleagues keep
their eyes open too.
At first all tubes are gratefully received, but, eventually, you get picky
as to which ones you use. But you can't say no, it's not polite! And so the
collection grows, and grows. At work your unhealthy interest in all things
tubular, spreads particularly quickly and potential rocket chassis turn up on
your desk, unrequested, with worrying frequency. Ultimately, this tube
scavenging on your behalf reaches such epic proportions, that you begin to
dread the release of new calendars and wall charts from your company's
suppliers, because you know you will be inundated with postal tubes, by the
Eventually you have so many tubes that you can't take them all home. They
pile up, under, behind and around your desk. Tubes upon tubes, stacked, nested,
clustered, thin wall, thick wall, short, long, they never end, aaaarghhh! Err,
anyway, it can get to be real problem, so watch out.
In the corner of my "office", at home. I have a huge stash of
cardboard tubes, and so I had plenty of tubes to choose from. A quick look at
the drawings shows that Thunderbird 3 has three main body diameters: the
forward section, the aft section, and the central "radiator" section.
When choosing body tubes for any scratch building project, one of the most
important selections is the diameter of the tube that will mate to the nose
cone. Without the right equipment, scratch building nose cones is either time
consuming, or expensive. So I wanted to pick a diameter for which a nose cone
would be readily obtainable. I initially considered a forward body diameter of
about 2.6 inches. I had a tube for that, but when I worked out what that would
require for the aft and centre sections, I was out of luck. So I went up a size
to approximately 3", or 80mm. This worked out quite well. I had a suitable
tube, and the required diameter of the centre section worked out to be 107mm,
with the aft section 151mm. 107mm is approximately 4" and I had a
selection of tubes near that size. The aft section was more problematic, and I
didn't have a near match. I did have a larger diameter, approximately 210mm in
diameter, which, I thought, could be cut down to the right size. I've attempt
ed this technique before, with various degrees of success. But, the larger the
diameter, the better the results, and I decided it was worth a gamble.
I decided that I would make the docking collar from the same diameter tube
as the centre section, to avoid having to make a custom size. It's actually
meant to be a bit bigger diameter, but I don't think it's noticeable enough to
The rocket pods on Thunderbird 3 have a curved profile. I considered
modeling this, but realised it would be difficult. I could think of two main
ways to construct them, either turned from balsa, or hot-wired from expanded
polystyrene. Since I don't have a lathe, I would have to buy turned balsa,
which I knew from experience can be quite costly. I do have every intention of
building a hot-wire "lathe", but it's one of those jobs that I never
quite get around to completing. So, I decided that it wouldn't be too much of a
compromise to use straight tubes.
The pod diameter should vary from 37mm at the ends to almost 67mm at the
widest point, but I figured that as long as I used a tube diameter between
those two figures that it would be close enough.
I figured the required nose cone was a 3:1 ogive. These aren't as common as
you might think. PML and LOC plastic cones are both longer than 3:1. In the end
I found 3:1 ratio balsa cones from US Rockets. Despite what reading r.m.r might
lead you to believe, I found Jerry Irvine to be very easy to deal with, and the
quality of the cones is very good. We did have a few problems with
international money transfer, but nothing that we couldn't sort out. But, in
the interim, I got a LOC cone from NSRG colleague Brian Best, which is what I
used. This means my Thunderbird 3 is longer than it should be, but when I get
the chance I'll replace it with the USR cone.
The biggest worry I had were the transitions. They transitions between the
aft and centre sections and the centre and forward sections looked easy enough,
but I immediately decided that the curved profile of the aft end of the rocket
wasn't going to possible. That being the case, I decided to make that as a
simple truncated cone too. The easiest way I could think to make them was from
cardboard, strengthened with fibreglass. That was what worried me! My fibre
glassing experience is very black and white. It either goes very well, or ends
in disaster. In this case I was to be pleasantly surprised.
Once I had the size figured out, I had to decide how it was all going to go
together. For simplicity, I decided that the forward body section would be
extended to run the full length of the rocket, becoming the "main"
body tube. This meant that everything else could hang off this, via centring
Two large centring rings are used to attach the aft body tube. The centre
section sits directly on top of the aft section's forward centring ring. As the
centre section's forward centring ring is of larger diameter than the centre
section itself, this means the centre section isn't really centred by the
rings, and had to be manually located. The centre section's forward centring
ring was also bevelled to allow for easy positioning of the forward/centre
transition. Centring rings internal to the main tube are used to centre the
motor mount. A small centring ring forms the forward end of the docking collar.
I decided that I would use wooden dowels for the pillars, centred in the
pods with more centring rings. The buttresses would be cut from the same
plywood as the centring rings
RockSim is a great program, but you have to wonder how accurately it can
predict CP for a shape as complex as this. I did have a sanity check available
to me though. Spaceship Handbook has a set of plans for a smaller version of
Thunderbird 3, designed by Tom Beach. These plans clearly show the desired
location of the CG. Now, as any rocketeer worth his salt will undoubtedly know,
CP does not change with scale, only with outline. so if I placed my CG in the
same scale position as shown in Tom's plans, my CG would be in the same
position relative to CP as Tom's. The plans show the CG to be approximately 55%
of the overall length from the tip of the nosecone. This puts the CG at the top
of the centre section "radiator" fins.
As it turned out, it was good to have this calibration check, because
RockSim put the CP in roughly the same location as Tom located the CG! I don't
know how Tom worked out where to put it. Probably by 'eye' or trial and error.
Anyway, regardless of what RockSim was telling me, it seemed that the real CP
out to be further back than that, it's a pretty draggy shape, after all. What
had become overwhelmingly obvious was that I was going to have to add quite a
lot of nose weight! For the included Rocksim file (see link below) I had to
override the weight and CG location to get it to "fly right". So if
you take a look at the file, ignore the location of the CG CP!
At the design stage, I wasn't sure of what the impulse requirement might
be, but I was hoping to be able to fly on G, H I engines. Given the current
motor availability situation in the UK, which is pretty much limited to
Cesaroni, meant that would be the most likely motor type, and so I chose
a 38mm motor mount. The way things worked out weight-wise, a G impulse motor
isn't really powerful enough, leaving H I engines as the most likely choice,
though low J is a possibility.
In the "real" TB3 the engines are in the pods. The vast majority
of people who have seen this model have suggested that I "should have put
the motors in the pods". Replicating this feature of the prototype would
obviously have been very cool, but I don't have much experience of clustering
, and I wanted something simple. Also, the wide separation of the three
motors would mean that failure of any motor to ignite would lead to an unsafe
flight. I just didn't want to risk it and went instead, for a single motor
positioned, unprototypically, in the centre.
Again, because I wanted something that was easy to prep and fly, I didn't
really want to be bothered with any kind of electronics. So that ruled out CPR
and meant that the recovery would be of the "all out at apogee" type,
using a motor ejection charge. I had hoped that I would be able to use a
34" PML chute, of which I have several. I did use one of these on the
first flight, but the descent rate was just too great. For the subsequent
flights, I borrowed a large RocketMan chute from Brian Best, which worked very
Once the tunes had been selected and the design finalised, the first job
was to cut the tubes to length. This list of tubes to cut was main body, centre
section, aft section, docking collar, and the three pods. To mark the cut, I
wrapped paper around the tube, then used the edge as a guide for the pencil
line. For body tubes of this size, I use a junior hacksaw to make the cut, and
this was no exception. I went around the whole diameter first, making a shallow
cut. I find this helps guide the blade when making the final cut.
To create the aft body section I cut out a section of a larger diameter
tube. This is quite easy to do, mainly due to the large diameter. Smaller
diameter tunes are much trickier and tend not to be circular. First I drew a
vertical line along the length of the large tube. Then I calculated the desired
circumference and marked this on a piece of paper. The paper was wrapped around
the tube and this allowed the marking of a second vertical line. The are
contained within these two lines was then removed.
The next stage is the trickiest. The curvature must be increased until the
ends butt together. To induce this curvature, the cut tube was rolled
progressively tighter and held in position. By rolling the tube tighter than is
required, the tube was "trained" into the new curvature helping to
hold the desired diameter when released. This had to be done gradually, or a
kink would have developed resulting in a decidedly non-circular tube! Once the
increased curvature began to hold, the removed section was glued onto the
inside of the new tube, and clamped in place. This acts as a strengthener.
Many people see tube slotting as a chore, and even though I quite enjoy it,
it was a bit labourious here! There are three slots where the fins join the aft
section, one on each of the pods, three on the forward section, and no less
than 16 on the centre section. It was this centre section which was by far the
most labourious. All the slots were cut using a cut-off disc in my Dremel. This
is reasonably easy to accomplish, if you have a steady hand. You need to keep
the disc parallel and a moderate feed rate, otherwise the disk will shatter. I
got through quite a lot of disks!
I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about centring rings. Many people seem
to get hung up on the best way to machine cut them, designing elaborate jogs.
It just seems too complicated to me. I use a pair of compasses to draw the
circle, and then cut them out free hand using a coping saw. It gives me a
feeling of great satisfaction.
Using the above "technique", I cut out two rings for the aft
section, the mid-section ring, the docking collar, two for the motor mount and
six for the pods. All of the centring rings were cut from 9mm plywood, which
was perhaps a little on the thick side, but it was what I had.
I used VCP to print out templates for the transitions. VCP is a great
program that has been overshadowed by RockSim in recent years, and I find that
many newcomers to the hobby have never heard of it. Whilst it is nowhere near
as sophisticated as RockSim, it's a cheap (The price is certainly right -
free!) tool for predicting CP, and it produces really great transition
templates, something that RockSim has only been able to do since the release
for version 7.04. Even then, VCP's templates are nicer, as they have tabs and
slots to help alignment of the ends. The beginner can get a long way using just
VCP for stability prediction, and wRasp, for altitude prediction, before lying
down the cash for RockSim.
I printed the templates out on paper, cut them out and then transferred
them onto card. The card was cut out and used as a template to mark the
fibreglass, cutting an extra bit at the tab end to ensure a small amount of
overlap. Next, with the template layed flat, I painted on the epoxy resin, and
laid the fibreglass on top, working the epoxy into the weave with a brush.
Before the layup cures, the transition was formed, the cardboard tab being
glued with CA to help hold the shape. Then a little more epoxy is brushed onto
the fibreglass overlap. This overlap helps strengthen the transition at the
joint. Once dry the ridge created by the overlap was sanded out.
The main fins were cut from the same 9mm plywood as the centring rings. I
roughly rounded the edges with the Dremel's sanding drum attachment, and then
smoothed them off by hand. I had initially meant for the fins to have full
length tabs, but I inexplicably cut them short, which led to problems later.
The "buttresses" that attach the forward body tube to the pods
were made form two parts. The forward parts were cut from the same 9mm plywood.
The rods that attach the pods to the buttresses were cut from 15mm diameter
pine dowel. I deliberately cut them over length at this stage, to allow for
adjustment to compensate for any cumulative inaccuracies in measurement.
The fins on the centre section were cut from much thinner 3mm plywood. I
usually don't mind cutting things out by hand, but sixteen of anything is a
real chore - it felt like my arm was made of lead when I'd done. These fins sit
on a backing rectangle that is the same colour as the fins, rather than the
rest of the body. I realised that this would be almost impossible to mask, so
decided to add a physical backing to each fin. This assembly could then be
prepainted. These backing rectangles were cut from card and then stiffened with
CA. This worked reasonably well, but if I were doing it again I would cut them
from styrene sheet. Once assembled, they were given a liberal coating in
finishing epoxy in an attempt to cover up any blemishes.
The tiny braces that sit under the docking collar were cut from 2mm thick
plywood, and again were prepainted, to avoid a tricky masking problem later.
Once all the parts were complete, I did several dry fits, to work out the
assembly order. First I attached the fins to the aft body section, then
attached the pods. I used wood glue throughout. More dry fitting was done at
this point and I realised that there had been a measuring mistake, somewhere
along the line. The pine dowels were dry fitted into the centring rings of the
attached pods, as was the main body tube into the aft section centring rings.
It became obvious that the 'flying buttresses' that run from the forward
section to the pod dowels didn't fit properly. The dowels were too long and the
span of the buttresses too wide. It was easy enough to modify the existing
parts, rather than having to make new though. At this point I sorted out the
joint between the dowels and buttresses. I did this by putting notches in the
top of the dowels, the width of the buttresses. Once glued together, they were
roughed into shape with the Dremel before being finished by hand with
It was at about this
stage that I wondered about a launch lug or rail buttons. For me that's not
bad. I've been known to take rockets to the launch pad with no means of guiding
that first crucial section of the flight. Despite being recently attracted to
rail buttons, I decided that they weren't really practical for this rocket.
They would have to be on The aft body section, which isn't very long relative
to the overall length. For the same reason, it wasn't an ideal location for a
launch lug, either. I decided that the only real option was a semi internal lug
that would run from the base of the aft section, out the top, between two
centre section fins, finishing at the centre section forward transition. I used
some nice aluminium tube that is just over 3/8" internal diameter. The
hardest part was cutting the hole in the transition between the aft and mid
Next, the aft section
forward centring ring, with freshly drilled holes for the launch lug, was
installed, as were the forward centring rings in the pods. The dowel/buttress
combinations were now glued into the pods, using dry fitted aft pod centring
rings and main body tube to get the angular positioning correct. The centre
body section was glued into position on the aft section centring ring. The
nylon shock cord was now glued to the motor mount, and then the centring rings
were added. The forward centring ring being notched to fit over the shock cord.
The motor mount assemble was then glued into the main body tube.
The internal voids of the pods and aft body tube were filled with expanding
. Once this had dried, any surplus was removed and the rear
centring rings fitted. This helped secure the short fin tabs and the launch
lug. The void under the rear transition was also filled with foam to add
strength, as the fibreglass was still fairly flexible..
Next it was time to fit
the transitions. The main body tube was removed, and the two card/fibreglass
transitions, plus the forward transition were threaded on before the main body
tube was returned to it's final position, using The launch lug to get
everything in The correct alignment. I realise that I had nearly made a huge
mistake at this point, as I had paid no attention to alignment when locating
the centre section. I almost had the launch lug running through a fin! Glue was
now applied to all of the parts and allowed to dry.
Once the final layer of paint was on, the centre section fin assemblies and
the docking ring support brackets were glued into position. I used CA for the
supports and Elmers PVA for the fins. I also tackled the black discs on the
front of the pods. These were made from drawing pins, painted black, inserted
into pilot holes and secured with CA.
After the flights at EARS (see flight log below), I realised that my design
construction just wasn't strong enough to survive the landings. So I removed
the fins, pods and buttresses and thought about how I could add reinforcement.
It was crazy not to have done full through the wall to the motor mount fins in
the first place, but I hadn't, and needed a substitute. The technique I settled
upon was to "extend" the fin tabs using carbon fibre rod. I drilled
holes into the ends of the tabs on the fins, and into both the aft body and the
pods. The holes drilled into the pods penetrated both the expanded foam and the
central dowels, while those in the aft body went as far as the inner (main)
body tube. I used west systems fibre glassing epoxy to attach the carbon fibre
rods, mainly because the thin consistency meant it was easy to get into the
drilled holes. As an additional strengthening measure I added fibreglass
"fillets" to all the fin roots, followed by traditional epoxy
One of the drawbacks of scratch building with cheap tubes, saved from the
dustbin, is that finishing requires more work for the same result. The surface
of these tubes tends to be very unstable, with a very prominent spiral. The
first thing I did was to paint all of the tubes with finishing epoxy. I've had
good result using this method in the past, but not this time. I think the epoxy
may have been a bit old, as it went on very lumpily. The layer of finishing
epoxy was an attempt to seal the cardboard tubes and level the surface a bit.
It was only a partial success. It was nice and sandable, but didn't really
smooth out the surface much, even when I had removed The lumpy bits! Any
attempt at serious sanding soon went through to the cardboard. However, with a
couple of coats of high-build primer, the odd spot of filler, and the
attentions of an orbital sander, it looked reasonable presentable.
I actually "finished" the rocket four times. The first flight had
the rocket in naked finishing epoxy, the second and third flights were in high
build primer, and the fourth flight in red oxide primer. There's a lot of
primer in there! I tend to use Halfords rattle cans. They're not the cheapest,
nor the best, but it is convenient, and their high build primer hides a
multitude of sins! One problem was determining the colour. In my memory it's
most definitely orange, but Spaceship Handbook says red. A search of the
internet revealed a myriad of pictures in all shades from orange to red. I
could see that whatever colour I painted it, there would be people that say
it's wrong, so I went with what I preferred, orange. The actual colour is Rover
Blaze. I think that this is the colour British Leyland used on Minis around the
mid to late 70s. It's a bit redder than the Volkswagen Brilliant Orange that I
normally use. The other colours are Vauxhall China Blue for the centre section
fins and forward and aft transitions, and Rover White Diamond for the docking
ring and pod trim ,all Halfords rattle cans.
The decals are vinyl. I drew them using PaintShop Pro and had them cut out
by a friend of the Waddingtons. Not bad for the cost of a Marks Spencer gift
voucher. I got enough of the markings for the nose, so that I can do two nose
cones, the plastic LOC one and the balsa USR one, if I ever get around to using
that. For the black strips, rather than another mammoth masking session I
turned to Halfords self-adhesive automotive "go faster stripes". The
stripes on the pods are 12mm and the stripe on the nose 3mm.
For the final finish I sprayed on a coat of Halfords general purpose
lacquer. Once that was dry a coat of polish was added. I used Johnson Klear for
this, which, for those of you across the pond is the same as Future. I sponged
this on, taking care to remove any bubbles before it dried. This added a really
nice shine that can be seen in some of the photos. I was also going to use the
12mm stripling to do the black "strakes" on the buttresses. I tested
this out, and it looked ok from the front, but somehow unconvincing edge-on, so
I omitted them. However, as I wrote this article, a kind poster from the
starship modeler web forum pointed me to some excellent pictures of one of the
original models, which appears to use a very similar technique.
This was an interesting project to both design and build. I met all of my
initial criteria, apart from the ability to be flown on a G class motor. It has
been a real head turner at launches, and flies great on Pro38 H and I class
motors. Anyone fancy building a Thunderbird 1 to drag race against?
I've enjoyed putting this together, that I'm, almost tempted to build
another, including the details I omitted from this one, such as curved pods,
thrusters on the forward transition, ribs on the docking ring. If I were to
have another attempt, I would certainly make provision for some sort of effects
devices in the pods. I envisage that good results would be achieved using a
short duration, high thrust motor located in the main body for lift off,
together with long duration, smoky motors in the pods.
Another interesting point to note is the similarity in size of the main
tube diameters, to readily available commercial tube sizes. Using 3" for
the main body, 4" for the centre section, 6" for the aft section and
2.1" for the pods, plus associated centring rings, a very good facsimile
could be built from PML parts. The transitions, however, would still have to be
Launch: Copper Knobs
This was the big test. I had tried to develop a good model in RockSim, but
with a rocket this untypical, you can never tell how accurate it will be until
you actually fly. There was a fair bit of finishing off to do. The recovery
harness needed putting together. weight adding to the nose, and also attaching
the nose. I hadn't really thought through the consequences of adding so much
nose weight, 600g in all. This made the normal nose cone attachment point very
unsuitable. So I tied the strap to a piece of threaded rod, pushed it through
the small hole I made to pour in the , added a pour of epoxy and
pulled it tight.
The flight went well, quite straight even in the reasonably stiff breeze,
the ejection was just a little after apogee. Descent was too fast though, and
the combination of the descent rate and lateral speed caused two of the fins to
pop off. Everything came apart where it was joined though, so it went back
together easily enough.
Crewe's video [~3.2Mb avi format]
Crewe's video [~3.7Mb mpeg format]
Once back together, I wanted to try flying with a bigger parachute.
Unfortunately I read the wrong number from my RockSim print out - "time to
apogee" instead of "ideal delay" and so ejection was
approximately 1.8 seconds after apogee. TB3 had arced over and was pointing
straight down by then, though the parachute deployed OK, and landing was much
softer than the first flight.
Burrin's video [~1.5Mb mpeg format]
It was a long drive to Cambridgeshire to fly just once. So I flew it again.
This time on the I212. This was the best flight yet. A very straight boost,
tons of smoke and ejection precisely at apogee. Unfortunately, there was a
little damage on landing. One of the "flying buttresses" came
detached. It would have been easy to fix, but I noticed that some of the other
fin attachments were a bit wobbly, which was when I decided that a rethink was
Another flight on an H143. This flight was after the rebuild. Very nice
flight, from my viewing point on the ground, the silhouette from below clearly
showed all three fin pods. Unfortunately someone else was driving my camera.
I'm now starting to wish I had made provision for effects motors in the pods.
Anyway, the strengthening exercise was a success, as there was no damage
whatsoever after this flight.
Not very nice weather at this launch. When the wind and rain finally
cleared we were left with a ceiling of about 1500'. Just enough for a flight on
an I205. There was a lot of interest in the flight, not only were people
interested in TB3, but it was also one of very few HPR flights made that day. I
don't know who's idea it was to play the Thunderbird's theme over the PA, but
many thanks to Mike Roberts for coming out with a PRM. I couldn't actually hear
it until then! I've not yet seen a video of my "supermarionation
walk", but it appeared to amuse the spectators.
The launch and boost were very good, though perhaps not as straight as
previous flights. The delay was a little long, perhaps due to additional weight
of paint, and it arced over before appearing to deploy. Partially deploy,
anyway. The chute stayed in the end of the body tube and refused to come out.
The problem was later diagnosed to be the length of the chute shroud lines
compared to the length of the shock cord. Basically the shock cord could extend
to it's full extent without pulling out the parachute. A very obvious error in
retrospect. I must have just been lucky, on the previous flights, that the
parachute was completely pushed out.
Considering it fell from 1500', there was surprisingly little damage. The
damage is mainly restricted to the fin roots buttresses. One of the buttresses
has detached from the corresponding pillar, but will be easy to fix. The
forward section appears to have had a bit of a crimp, but it doesn't look
deformed, which is a bit odd. There is also a little damage around the
transition between the aft and centre sections, but it's cosmetic rather than
structural. One of the main fin roots has been partially pulled out, and will
need to be reseated and re filleted. So, in summary, lots of little things to
fix, all of which will be tricky without completely ruining the paint job.
Shackleton's video [~1Mb wmv format]
Woolhead's video [~0.5Mb wmv format]
Woolhead's video [~13Mb mpeg format]
P. Brown's video [~3.8Mb mpeg format]
Picture Video Credits
Many thanks for all those who allowed their pictures and videos to be used
in this article. If this comes as a surprise to any of you, I'll apologise now!
I did try to contact you with the most recent email address I had, but received
no reply. If you do not wish your pictures and/or video to be used, let me know
and I'll remove them as soon as possible.
All pictures are copyright the photographer. Thank you to: Chris P. Brown,
Damian Burrin, Mike Crewe, Ben Jarvis, Paul Lavin, Niall Oswald, Colin Rowe,
Paul Shackleton Pete Waddington. For individual attribution, see the filename.
Unattributed files are copyright the author.