(Contributed - by Peter Clay - 12/10/01)
Single stage with payload
The Airframe is two 17" tubes with the separation point at the center.
There are 4 fins, made of light ply, and slotted into the MMT. The MMT is 29mm
x 5.5", with a 24mm adapter included. Recovery utilizes a 5/16" x 6'
elastic shock cord. The rocket is topped off with a Balsa ogive nose cone
The instructions are good, nicely illustrated, but needing some
proofreading. Two steps are mis-numbered, instructions for mounting shock cord
are omitted, and there are some errors in instructions for cutting fin slots.
The construction is sturdy, but the thin tubes may not be up to H motors
after a flight or two.
USR is in transition, barely in business at present, but plenty of
inventory exists. Easiest to access via Jerry Irvine, 01Rocket@GTE.net, who
accrues orders, ships about once a month, and will accept an order on ship now,
pay later basis in most cases.
The builder cuts the fin slots; otherwise construction is very simple and
straightforward. Peel and stick decals are included. Appearance is clean,
simple, and sleek.
out of 5
So far this rocket has only had two flights. I've used an E18-6 and a D12-3,
and both flights were nominal. The E18 put up a very nice flight and I expect
the F20 to be the ideal motor for this rocket. I'll post that flight
report when available, probably in April 2002.
Flight preparation uses wadding for ejection. It uses masking tape to
retain motor; I added T-nuts to facilitate motor retention when I use an RMS
Flights were straight and as clean as the design.
Body tube and shock cord are lighter than most HPR people would prefer, but
worked well in these two flights. Slight damage to coupler and one fin when one
section landed on the other on a packed road in the second, D12, flight. Prep
and recovery are very standard and simple.
out of 5
The biggest advantage and disadvantage are both found in the lightweight
construction. It likely will not hold up under a large number of G and H
flights, but should be adequate as long as tubes are undamaged.
The rocket is so light that it might fly on a baby H without so much as a
NOTAM. Careful preparation would allow an H128 flight at just under one pound.
out of 5
(Contributed - by Lance Alligood - 07/01/04)
The US Rockets (USR) Banshee is a MPR with a 29mm MMT, TTW fin attachment,
large payload bay, and streamer recovery. The kit also includes a 29-24mm motor
adapter allowing this lightweight design to be flown on motors ranging from a
D12 for small fields to H motors by the exceptionally brave. The Banshee would
make an excellent first MPR kit for someone looking to make the transition from
. It is also lends significant proof that many people (myself included)
often overbuild our rockets.
USR excels in communicating with its customers. I received a confirmation email
within 30 minutes of submitting my order and then another less than 48 hours
later stating that my order had been shipped.
The kit includes:
- 1 2:1 ogive balsa nose cone
- 2 18" x 2.25" body tubes
- 1 coupler tube
- 1 6" x 29mm MMT tube
- 1 3/32" poplar plywood bulkhead plate
- 2 3/32" poplar plywood centering rings
- 1 1" x 3/32" plywood disc
- 1 screw eye
- 1 tri-fold paper shock cord mount
- 1 7' x 1/4" elastic shock cord
- 4 3/32" poplar plywood fins
- 2 1/4" launch lugs
- 1 5' x 3" plastic streamer
- 1 29-24mm kit
- Instruction manual
- Advanced Information Report (AIR) #1 -- Motor Installation
All parts were present and in good shape. Kit is packaged in a long plastic
bag with hang tag that is on par with other kits you would find in your local
hobby shop. I was particularly impressed with the thick, strong, and nearly
spiral free glassine coated body tubes. The nose cone is dense high quality
balsa, which is unusual to see in an MPR kit. The fins, centering rings and
bulkhead are all on the thin side (made of 3/32" poplar plywood) but
should be sufficient for a rocket of this design. Two of the fins also had
knots in the wood, making them a little unsightly, requiring some extra effort
to get a smooth fin surface during the finishing process. All documentation
included with the kit contains a lot of useful information, especially the AIR
document explaining how to prep motors for rockets that do not have thrust
rings. That seems to be a common point of confusion for someone new to MPR/HPR
rockets. Instructions are thorough, easy to follow, and include pertinent data
such as CP, Cd, and motor recommendations.
Before beginning the build of the Banshee, I contacted U.S. Rockets (USR)
to find out any recommendations and/or advice they might have regarding what
kind of adhesive to use along with seeing if there were any potential
"gotchas" while marking and slotting the tubes (which you have to do
yourself), getting a smooth finish on the balsa nose cone, or painting the
Banshee. There weren't any gotchas to report, but USR did encourage the use of
aliphatic resin (yellow wood glue) in place of epoxy. The recommendation was
backed up by a link to http://www.rocketmaterials.org/,
where there is test data comparing different popular adhesives used in rocket
The first order of business is to glue the centering rings onto the MMT
tube followed by gluing the MMT into the body tube. Next, the body tubes come
unmarked and have to be slotted for the fins. That might seem like a daunting
task, however, it is made easy if you remember 2 rules: 1) Measure twice; cut
once, and 2) Use a new blade and take your time. I had only used white glue,
CA, and epoxy previously but was willing to give USR's recommendation a shot.
Using Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue along with roughing up the glassine covered
tubes with 220 grit sandpaper, I found the wood glue to be as easy to apply
(and clean up!) as white glue while rivaling the strength of wood-wood and
wood-paper joints that epoxy is capable of. The thin fins made me nervous when
I first opened the kit, but they were held firmly in place and have almost zero
flex after being attached to the MMT tube followed by wood glue fillets. I
chose to glue the coupler into the payload tube but the nose cone is held in
place by friction fit. (The Banshee could also be easily built with a
zipperless design thanks to the generous payload tube.) Even with some minor
editorial issues in the instruction manual, the build offered no surprises
until I was coming down the home stretch. The kit includes a 29-24mm motor
adapter, which consists of 2 short pieces of tubing--one fitting inside the
other and then both slide inside the 29mm MMT tube when ready for action,
however, this step was left out of the instruction manual. I fired off an email
off to USR, who replied in a pleasantly short turnaround time with the
appropriate information for me to continue the build.
The recovery system is simple and contributes little weight to the rocket.
A self-tapping screw eye (the kind designed for screwing into wood and having
no nut) goes though the bulkhead and a small wood disc (glued onto the
bulkhead), providing plenty of strength from having it ripped out under a rough
ejection. A generously long (7') piece of tough elastic is tied on to the screw
eye. The other end of the elastic is attached to the booster body tube with a
heavier stock version of the Estes tri-fold paper mount. While some may frown
on this seemingly dated method, I think that it falls under the
if-it-ain't-broke-why-fix-it? mind set. I also feel that the 5' long streamer
is a good choice for recovery. Even with a small chute, the rocket is so light
that it would be vulnerable to drifting.
I made 2 minor modifications to the kit: 1) installing rail buttons in
place of the launch lugs and 2) drilling small vent holes in both the payload
and booster tubes to relieve air pressure (preventing premature separation)
during high altitude flights. The launch lugs are made of the same material
that come with Estes rockets, just bigger. Although certainly more susceptible
to damage than brass or heavy paper lugs, I think they would still work
sufficiently with the overall lightweight design of the Banshee kit.
Motor retention, as covered in the included AIR #1 document, is provided by
masking tape. Seeing how I pretty much stick to single use F and G motors,
which is what I planned on flying the Banshee with, and have had plenty of
success with the friction fit method, I did not find it a problem (nor a
disappointment) that a mechanical retention system was included with the kit.
Also, the 29-24mm motor adapter included requires that it be held in place by
friction fit when used.
I started with Elmer's Fill 'n' Finish for sealing the nose cone and fins, laid
down a couple of coats of Krylon primer, and sanded everything smooth with 320
grit sandpaper. Touched up any missed rough spots with F'n'F again before
another round of primer coats and sanding with 400 grit. The entire rocket was
then painted Krylon orange, wet sanded, and then another coat of orange before
being masked off for the Krylon cherry red accents. After the paint cured, I
used an old T-shirt to buff the entire rocket to a mirror-like shine and smooth
out any paint dam ridges with 3M Rubbing Compound. Then I attached the shock
cord (tied it onto the eye bolt and glued the tri-fold paper mount inside the
booster tube). Lastly, the rail buttons were screwed into place after putting a
couple drops of CA in each of the mounting holes. The kit does come with a pair
of decals that say "US ROCKETS Banshee", but I chose not to use them
because the backing paper has a matte finish. I'm sure that a couple coats of
clear would resolve that issue but clear coating is not a normal part of my
Also, the coupler had a pretty loose fit initially, however, I chose to
paint the coupler. The paint provided enough bulk so that I actually had to wet
sand the coupler for a smooth and proper fit into the booster tube without any
Ultimately, the spirals were all but gone and the balsa nose cone had a
flawlessly smooth finish. The final product was a rocket that screamed
"rocket god sacrifice".
½ out of 5
First flight was on an AeroTech SU F50-9T. A handful of wadding was
dropped in to protect the shock cord, streamer and beeper before setting it up
on the rail. RockSim projected peak altitude of just under 2200ft, so I thought
it a good time to use my new beeper (a slightly modified Radio Shack personal
"security system") to aid in locating the rocket. However with the
overall light mass of the rocket (10oz without motor and beeper), I decided to
pull the pin on the beeper and have it going off while the rocket sat ready to
go on the pad.
After a (at the time seemingly endless) string of continuity issues--not to
mention being annoyed by the beeper squealing--we had ignition. The Banshee
s-c-r-e-a-m-e-d off the pad. I can say with good confidence that it came within
a couple percent of the RockSim estimate and got there in a hurry. There was
only a slight amount of weathercocking but it came in the latter part of the
The streamer included with the kit is a 3"x60" piece of plastic. I
knew with the light mass of the Banshee I did not want to switch to a chute but
something told me this streamer was a little on the small side.
Streamer Size Calculator showed that I needed to upgrade to a
5"x96" streamer. I happened to have a plastic disposable tablecloth
(less than $2 at your local party supply store and a huge choice of colors),
which also was a perfect material match for the stock streamer. Tying a swivel
onto one end of the streamer, I attached it to a small loop I tied in the shock
Ejection best I could tell came right at apogee. In fact, I was able to see
the Banshee with its neon green streamer for a few seconds before I could hear
the beeper. The plastic streamer brought it almost straight down with very
little drift. All in all, it landed within a hundred yards of the pad. Not bad
considering the altitude it'd just gone! The field was soggy but the Banshee
managed to find a small dry-ish patch and I walked right out to retrieve it. I
found everything intact--and there wasn't even a scratch or ding in the balsa
nose cone!!! Only problem was it took me forever to fish the beeper pin out of
my pocket to shut the darn thing off!
out of 5
The US Rockets Banshee may not come with all of the so-called "modern
niceties" (like Kevlar
shock cord, mechanical motor retention, heavier wood components, etc.) but I
learned that with solid construction, finishing, & flight prep techniques,
a solid rocket can be built to last and probably outperform comparable kits
that so many folks tend to (unnecessarily) overbuild.
It should easily fly on as little as a D12, up to take any H (for the
extremely brave/crazy/stupid/insane) that you can put in it. 'Banshee' is
indeed an excellent name for this rocket.
½ out of 5
Rockets Banshee review is provided courtesy of:
I was awarded this kit as a
7 prize. The owner of USR was on vacation, but promised it would ship the
week he came back. It arrived on my doorstep packed well and with all the part
contained in closed bag. I first checked to make sure everything was present
and then read over the instructions. The instructions were several pages and
contained diagrams. They were very nice except that there was no step 4 and 5
and several of the steps were mixed up (IE - There were two steps 8 and 9). But
with a little searching the directions are sufficient for this 2.25
diameter and 43 tall kit.
I started construction by sanding airfoils into the 3 ply balsa fins. This
might sound like weak fins, but the balsa ply is much sturdier than a single
sheet of balsa of the same thickness. I roughed out the airfoils on a grinder
and then made them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. The instructions detail
making the fins through the wall and slotting the booster tube. However, since
this was a lightweight kit that I did not intend to fly on high impulse motors,
I opted to just surface mount them. Since, I didnt connect mine to the
motor tube I could attach them before installing the mount. I used a little
5min epoxy to tack them to the tube and then I went back and added fillets. The
motor mount consists of 2 centering rings and a 29mm motor tube. The rings were
epoxied on the end and the mount was secured in the tube with 15min epoxy. Now
I moved onto the payload section. I epoxied the wooden bulkhead into the bottom
of the payload tube and inserted a screw eye. The payload bay is very large and
Im considering retro-fitting it for dual deployment. A nice surprise was
that the nosecone in the kit is balsa. This is not often seen with kits this
size. I sealed it with Bondo and sanded it smooth. The kit also comes with and
adapter for 24mm motors.
I primed the whole rocket with cheap flat gray that was on sale at the
hardware store. I worked just fine. I painted the nosecone and booster section
a navy blue and the payload section was painted with gloss yellow. I then
applied one of the included decals to the payload section.
I had this rocket ready to fly for quite a while, but the weather just
wouldnt cooperate. Finally, one Saturday, I lugged the rocket and a pack
off D12s over to the local high school. I substituted a PML 12 foot
streamer in place of the 12 chute. The chute wasnt great quality. I
secured the D12 and the motor adapter into the 29mm tube with the help of
masking tape. I flew it off a 3/16 rod in my Estes Porta-Pad however the
lugs are 1/4. It fit was fine and at zero the rocket lifted off slowly
and majestically and lofted its way to about 350. The 5 second
delay allowed the rocket to arch over just as the streamer deployed. The rocket
was rather impressive coming down. It was recovered without damage. I was
having way too much fun to give up now. I launched again on a D12 with the same
great results. I loaded her up for a third time and on liftoff she
weathercocked slightly, but still recovered perfectly. The next weekend I took
the Banshee to a larger site and this time flew her on a F20 Econojet. She
roared off the pad and deployed at apogee. However, the ejection charge was
rather powerful for the light-weight rocket and the elastic shock cord mount
snapped. The payload came home safely on the streamer but the booster landed on
its side and snapped off one of my surface mounted fins. It will be
repaired without trouble.
Overall, this is a decent kit
thats fun to fly on smaller fields and really rips on larger motors.
However, for what you get, the $35 price tag seems a bit steep in my