Sunday, September 1, 2019

New Estes Black Brant II, Changes Part 1, Fins & Tail Cone

Here's the instructions from the older Black Brant II kit.
On the tail cone there is a recessed ring. This leaves a gap at the root edge of the fin. You were told to make a triangle shaped piece of balsa, insert the piece and glue. Trim off the excess and apply a glue fillet along the root edge.

These are the fins from the new kit. With laser cut fins, I wondered why this filler wedge piece wasn't added to the root edge.
I mentioned this to Estes. Maybe it'll be incorporated in a future run of kits.

The scale fin tapers can be done with patience and a good sanding block.

This shows the fins and gap at the tail cone.

Sanding the suggested scale diamond taper looks okay but with the 3/32" thick fins the effect is subtle. If the fins were thicker the taper lines would be sharper.


  1. Man, Estes is killing it this year. They're haven't been this many rockets I haven't wanted in a single year since I returned to the hobby.

    I am looking forward to seeing how you mask the roll pattern. That's something that has kept me away from rockets with room patterns until now.

  2. Hi Steve,
    I built the older version of the Black Brant II last March:
    The roll pattern is done using (kit supplied) vertical black decal strips. It's confusing and not easy. There is one band that has to be cut to fit around the base of a fin. I'll show it in an upcoming blog post in a few days.

  3. Another benefit if Estes added the little triangle for recess into the laser cut pattern is it'd make it just a bit easier to line the fins up when glueing.

    Not that it's terribly difficult now, but I did find I had to pay special attention to making sure the angle at the boat tail was firmly seated down ... easy to not QUITE match it up. If those little tabs were there it'd just slot right in. You could almost do it with your eyes closed!

    1. Hi Beantown,
      I agree! It would make for an easier up and down alignment.

    2. I think the fun of rocket building is getting creative and NOT having guides for every step. Lining up fins and getting them to stick is a challenge that is fun.