Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Review: Estes - Strike Fighter

I built this kit in the late 1980's. This model really looks cool and, despite the number of parts, was not that difficult to put together. It is a futuristic space fighter reminiscent of something from Star Wars or maybe Battlestar Galactica.  A copy of the complete instructions, including decals, are on JimZ's site.

The Strikefighter sports a unique nosecone that gives the appearance of a ramjet engine. The body tube is BT-55 and the fins are die-cut balsa. There are two main fins set 180 degrees from one another.

On the tip of each wing is a complex nacelle. I say they are complex because of the number of parts that went into them. They have a section of BT-5 centered in a BT-50 outer tube by six balsa vanes. The BT-5 tubes have simulated weapons mounted in the front. These were built-up from a small dowel, a section of launch lug, and numerous cardboard components. The kit included a support to hold the nacelles during assembly.

Three stabilizers are mounted on each nacelle, one as an extension of the main wing and two at an angle slightly greater than +/-45 degrees. There was a fin alignment guide to set the wing angles.

The model is painted solid white, except for the laser cannons that are silver. Trim includes a simulated scoop mounted near the rear, a clear cockpit, cardstock fairings mounted over the structural fin fillets, and a whole bunch of decals. A decal was even provided for the tip of the nosecone to look like turbine blades.

The recommended engines include the B4-4, B6-4, and C6-3. Since I originally built this as a display model for my son, it has only flown on B6-4's.  The recovery system included a rubber shock cord and a plastic chute. There was plenty of room to pack these in the BT-55 body tube. The flights were successful except for a few scrapes where the nosecone evidently rebounded into the body tube.

Its last flight was at NARAM-50, where it was signed by Apollo 7 Astronaut Walt Cunningham.  As a result, it is now retired.