(Contributed - by Donald Besaw Jr - 12/23/01)
The Estes CATO is a model rocket designed to actually break apart in flight. It
is an E2X series kit. It is also becoming quite rare. It flies on Estes B and C
lower stage booster motors and uses three recovery modes parachute, streamer
I got my kit from an online auction. The kit arrived in a box rather than a
plastic bag. All the components were accounted for and in good shape so I began
The instructions had lots of text and illustrations as well as a section on
what to expect when you fly the model. By reading this, you'll know how the
break-apart theory works. Because of the simple construction, no templates were
needed. This rocket is very simple to build. I have about 6 hours in mine. Most
of that time was waiting for the plastic cement to dry. I never rush any
project regardless of simplicity. I started with the motor mount. I then set it
aside to dry. Next you glue the fin halves together then glue them into the
panels. I then attached the lug to the body tube.
PROS: Easy and rapid construction.
CONS: Motor tube a tad too long (Easily fixed).
Next is the piston assembly. It consists of two pistons and a wooden dowel
sliding through the motor mount tube, through an aft retaining ring and the
body tube. It should also be assembled carefully because this is the system
that causes the model to fall apart. I really took my time here. I then
assembled the parachute and then attached it to the large forward piston. I
then attached the rather large streamer to the motor mount by using the sticky
There is really no finishing due to the pre-colored orange body tube and dark
purple plastic parts. However, some awesome two color decals are included to
dress up the model even more. The finished rocket looks great.
½ out of 5
The recommended motors are the B6-0 and C6-0 red label booster motors. Estes
advises against using other manufacturers motors. One thing I really like about
this rocket is that it does not require recovery wadding. You just assemble the
sections, load the motor and fly. I've flown this rocket on B6-0's for every
flight. The rocket boosted straight up every time then POP, the rocket
disintegrated into exactly seven pieces. You then have the body on the
parachute, the motor mount on the streamer and the three fin sections and yes
the two nose cone halves raining down on you.
PROS: No wadding needed, Flies great.
Recovering seven parts may seem tricky but if you fly the model off short
grass, you won't have a problem. I found each piece every time. Read my flight
logs. The only thing that annoyed me is that the streamer gets scorched every
time by the ejection gas. Also, it is recommended that you clean the motor tube
after every flight. I also recommend that you take a slightly damp piece of
paper towel and wipe the ejection grime off the aft piston every couple of
PROS: Fun to watch.
CONS: Streamer scorches every time.
½ out of 5
I really love this rocket. It is one of my new favorites. Sadly, it is OOP. I
really think that Estes SHOULD reissue it PERIOD!!! Also, if you find one, it
will be a tad pricey. I paid $30.00 for mine. Other than that GRAB IT. As I
said it is becoming rare. Searching for one may take awhile. Main PROS: Very
fun rocket. Nuff said. Main CONS: OOP also rather expensive now.
½ out of 5