Model Rocketry and Spacemodeling Library
Estes Publications - The Golden Years
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June/July 1963: Volume 3 Number 3 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: "Fins"...all the basics every modeler should know; "A Rocketeer's Guide To Avoid Suicide"...the definitive article defining Model Rocketry and how it can avoid the dangers of "Basement Bombing"; "Sputnik-Too"...classic spherical satellite rocket; Technical Report TR-4 "Rear Engine Boost Gliders".
August/September 1963: Volume 3 Number 4 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: "reducing Drag on an Astrodynamic Vehicle"...First place science fair contest winning report; "Developing a Winning Science Fair Project"...tips on developing a winning science fair project using model rockets; "New Products"...Astron Space Man, Astron Sky Hook, Astron Cobra, 2-D Altitude Computer; "Notes From The Boss"...tips on improving model rocket motor ignition; "The Idea Box" ...How to build a standard NAR competition payload weight section, Stack Electro-Launch battery boxes for more power, Fin alignment during assembly; "Sky Hook" rocket Plan; "the Cobra" cluster rocket plan; Technical Report TR-6 Cluster Techniques for Model Rockets
February 1964: Volume 4 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Bring 'em Back Gently - Parachute Recovery basics; Idea Box; Loadlifter 1-A Plan #19...Design contest winner payload model; MMSV-II Plan #18...tiny high altitude two stage model; Technical Report TR-2 Multi-Staging...the definitive report on staging black powder motors.
November 1964: Volume 4 Number 3 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Build It Right The First Time...basic techniques from cutting and preparing body tubes, to fins, nosecones, engine mounting and more; The Mathematics of Propulsion...understanding impulse, specific impulse, thrust, mass ratio and more; Insulate Your Igniters...a simple method of insulating the early nichrome wire igniters; Sly (not "Sky") Bolt Plan #26...a sharp small sport model, Deacon Rocket Plan #27...sleek two-stage payload model, Technical Report TR-7 Front Engine Boost Gliders
March 1965: Volume 5 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Displaying Your Models...various methods of safely displaying your models on the wall, from the ceiling, on the desktop and more; Get Positive Engine Placement...simple tools for use during construction; For Marking Guide Lines...marking straight lines on body tubes using aluminum angle strips; The Commuter Rocket Plan #31...futuristic model with "landing gear"; Aerobee-Hi Plan #32...plans for the construction of a semi-scale model of the USAF AF6; Astron Rocket Society Safety Code...one of the earliest model rocket safety codes that is worth a look today; Lunar Derby 1965...a look at the developments in the Project Apollo.
June 1965: Volume 5 Number 2 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Photo Contest Winners...interesting look back at interesting scenes; Streamer Recovery...the basics of streamer recovery; Double Duty Doweling...make use of the dowel used for turning your nosecones; Look! No Cutting!...a no cut method for securing shock cords; A Good Primer Coat...home made primer coat for wood surfaces; Knife and Metal Ruler Make Handy Shaper...use this suggestion for maintaining shallow cutting angles; Whee II Plan #34...a V-2 like sport model; Vertex Plan #35...a cone & fin stabilized sport model; Technical Report TR-9 Designing Stable Rockets...just as good today as it was back then.
December 1965: Volume 5 Number 3 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Launching Systems...the ground floor on building your own launch system; New Shock Cord Mount...the birth of the definitive Estes shock cord mount used in kits to this very day; Engine Mailing Tube Uses...a couple of interesting ways of using the rugged mailing tubes; Some Dents CAN Be Removed...a bit of moisture and a soldering iron can do the trick; R&D Contest Results...Activator Tube for gliders, Pop Pods for boost gliders, Whirlibird "maple leaf" recovery, Parallel boosters; 260 Space Booster Plan #36...an ICBM-like sport model; Modern Rocketry In Perspective...a look at this nation's launch vehicles now (1965) and in the future.
April 1966: Volume 6 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Model Finishing...sanding and sealing fins, nosecones, and body tubes; Multiple Igniter Connector...copper rings for cluster ignition; Engine Puller...made from dime-store scissors; Altitude Calculations Made Simple...the basics of single station altitude determination; From The Camroc Eye...spectacular aerial photos using the Camroc; Gamma Plan #38...futuristic design using rear ejection; Mitosis Rocket Plan #40...a sharp and clean model using break-up recovery; Pittsburgh Convention...highlights from the first "classic" convention on model rocketry.
December 1966: Volume 6 Number 2 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Science Fair Results...summaries of top four places in the First Estes Science Fair Contest; Advanced Drag Calculations...the article that served as the genesis for the famous Estes TR-8 Technical Report years later; 1st International Rocket Meet...an overview of the ground-breaking event in Czechoslovakia; Fins Damaged At Landing?...making stronger fins with wood dowels; Compact Paint Drying Aid...using a small jar to aid in drying painted nosecones; The Bat...an interesting parasite glider; Stiltfin...a very uncommon fin design configuration; The Flying Why...when you see it you will ask "why?"; The Flip Flap...drag flap recovered model.
December 1967: Volume 7 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Nose Cones-Designing, Turning Finishing...using a drill motor and sandpaper to turn quality nosecones; Pittsburgh Convention...highlights from the second "classic" convention on model rocketry; Challenger Plan #51...a classic two-stage design; Jaguar JGD-2 plan #52...plans for sophisticated 3-engine cluster scale model; The Idea Box...Built Up fins, Rocket Stand-Off, Camroc Film Mask, Tube-Sizing Gauge, Clip-On Launch Lug; Cluster Techniques-Tech Report Tr-6...comprehensive look at ignition, engine arrangements, staging, construction, stability, recovery, launch systems and launchers.
August 1968: Volume 8 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Focus On Rocketeer Mair...a look at the mailroom operations and answering rocketeer mail; Spring Conventions a Growing Model Rocketry Feature...A look at the famous Pittsburgh and MIT conventions; Career Opportunities...Estes reaches out to its customers to fill positions at the quickly growing company; Launch Rod To Align Launch Lugs...line 'em up during construction with a launch rod; Pencil Compass & Kinife Make Ring Cutter...make centering rings using your hobby knife and inexpensive pencil compas; The Aero-Fin Plan #53...a sleek sport model using fin-tip plates; What Rockets "Push Against" in Space...a look at the Third Law of Motion and rocket propulsion; The Space Freighter Plan #54...a good rugged rear ejecting payload model.
February 1969: Volume 8 Number 1 - (High Quality PDF) Featuring: Model Rockets Help In Laser Experiments...model rockets are used by the Air Force to develop laser tracking systems; Notes From The Boss...Vern Estes notes that the average age of the rocketeer is 14 years as he looks back at the first 10 years of Estes; Make a Simple Scale...from a ruler, cardboard, shock cord, and a weight; Add a Ruler To Drawer Sill...for years the drawer sill on your desk was great for marking tubes, now add a way to measure!; Ganymede 274 Plan #59...a great futuristic plan that really should have found its way into the Estes catalog; Why Rockets Are Staged...understanding the performance and payload advantages that staging can offer; Camroc Carrier Plan #60...a very streamlined single stage booster for lofting the Camroc; Focus on the Wood Shop...a look at the Estes department where all the wood parts are made as well as recovery wadding and igniters.
Estes Catalogs - the 1960's
Vintage Estes catalogs set the standards for model rocket catalogs to this very day
Though Estes produced several catalogs in the early 1960's...and they are classics in their own right...it was the 1966 catalog that established the "standard" for all model rocket catalogs to come. To be fair, Estes' main competitor in the early years of model rocketry, Centuri Engineering, produced products and catalogs that in many ways equaled or were even superior to the equivalent Estes product. It was the promotion and marketing by Estes that brought them front and center in the industry.
Estes catalogs from the 1960's and early 70's have become much sought-after items sometimes buying and selling for over $100 for choice selections such as the 1966-1971 offerings.
1964 - Cat. No 641 - (High Quality PDF) 5.5"x8.5" format, 60 pages two-color...many pages just B&W. It was produced on standard letter-size paper folded along the narrow dimension and stapled...a method copied by smaller "garage" model operations to this day. At first glance one would think this catalog was a remake of the 1963 version primarily with the spot colors changed but, though the content of some pages remained the same, they were tediously retyped and manually justified...not just simple "copies" of the previous years' pages. Making its first appearance was the Astron Drifter, WAC Corporal, Astron Falcon, Astron Farside, Astron Apogee II, Astron Cobra, Astron Spaceman, and Astron Sky Hook among an expanded line of parts and accessories, marking a significant expansion of kits and parts for the modeler. This one is ultra-rare and highly sought after by collectors.
Vintage Estes Model Rocket News "The REALLY Early Years"...the 1960's
"Old Rocketeers" and many "Born Again Rocketeers" remember these classic publications from Estes' early years in the 1960's. In many ways these publications surpass in content and quality more modern rocketry publications. Every issue had plans, technical reports, and the basic techniques that came to define the first twenty years of model rocketry and are still applicable today.
Each issue of Model Rocket News in this library is in PDF format. By clicking on the underlined issue it should automatically open in your browser in most cases. If it doesn't automatically open, you may need to reinstall your PDF view program and make sure that, if offered, you opt to have the viewer operate from within your browser. You can also Right-Click (PC) on the underlined title and save it to your computer for later viewing. The PDF files are set up to display in facing page view so that plans or articles which span two pages may be more properly viewed. You may manually have to set your PDF Viewer to view facing pages (viewing one page at a time is just fine, too). As a result, you will see the cover and then a blank page. All other facing pages appear as if you were reading the bound newsletter.
Estes Catalogs - the 1970's
Model Rocketry as a building hobby peaked in the early 70's and so did the "classic" Estes catalog...
Many consider the "Golden Years of Model Rocketry" as being the period from about 1968 to 1972 when the hobby grew almost explosively (no pun intended) and was touted as the world's fastest growing hobby. Alas, Vern Estes sold the company to Damon Corporation at the end of the decade of the 60's and within a couple of years model rocketry forever took on a different feel.
Estes' biggest-ever catalogs were 1970 and 1971 at 144 pages each (plus cover). There were even TWO different catalog releases in 1971 with the giant 152 page "fall" edition of the 1971 catalog featuring the Mini-Brutes...a line of models based on the new-to-Estes 13mm motor. Both Centuri and MPC beat Estes to the 13mm motor market by over a year but the Estes motor was the smallest and lightest and came to dominate the mini-motor arena.
1970 - Cat. No 701 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 144 pages plus heavy full color cover. Retained was the yellow paged "Model Rocket Manual", a bound-in 32 page guide for building and flying model rockets. Even though the Apollo program was in full-swing, the catalog left the Saturn launch photos of the previous three catalogs for a custom artwork of the Estes Orbital Transport. Talk of a re-usable follow-on to the Saturn launch vehicles was hot and Estes capitalized on the concept with the year-old model and its showcase location on the catalog cover. Many consider the artwork in the top 3 ever produced for the Estes Catalogs joining the artwork for the 1966 catalog and the "studio shot" of 1971 catalog.
1971 - Cat. No 711 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 144 pages plus heavy full color cover and full color contents. Many consider this the peak of the Estes catalogs. Rather than utilizing recycled artists renderings of the models...some going back to the early 60's...the Estes model lineup was featured as nicely photographed beautifully constructed models in space/planetscape settings. You saw the actual model that you were going to buy (or wished to). The front and back covers were an exercise in elegant simplicity featuring the new "Interceptor" just swinging from the darkside of the Earth into the Sun just peeking over the horizon.
1971 - Cat. No 712 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 152 or 156 pages (depending on insert version) plus heavy full color cover. This was essentially a reprint of Cat. No 721 with a different cover and an eight or twelve page center bound-in insert. There were two versions of this release of the catalog. One had an eight page insert which featured the new products released after the first 1971 catalog including the Mini Brute motors and models and the Transroc transmitter. The second one had an additional four pages which indicated Federally mandated "price freeze" pricing for all of the Estes products.
1972 - Cat. No 721 - (High Quality PDF) 9"x5.3" format, 64 pages plus full color cover. This this very day this is the only catalog which deviated from the "standard" format. This catalog was bound on its short edge rather than the traditional long edge. Gone was the "Model Rocketry Technical Manual" bound in the center. However, the "wide format" of the catalog allowed for photos and descriptions of four models per page without spanning two pages...conserving total page count and making for catalog of fewer pages. It was intended that this catalog be "pocketable" by folding in half or in thirds. As a result, the catalog had a cover that was of a paper weight only slightly heavier than the interior pages. The result was a very delicate catalog where the cover frequently tore free of the stables and the overall catalog took on a rather "ratty" appearance. Very few of these catalogs in anywhere near "good" condition exist today. Catalog in very good or "new" condition are extremely rare and very collectible.
1973 - Cat. No 731 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 80 pages plus medium weight full color cover. The 1973 catalog more or less established the standard for almost all Estes catalogs that followed to this very day both in format and general style. The cover art was uncharacteristically "uninspiring" for an Estes offering. Many think that the cover artist had the 1971 Centuri catalog cover in mind when creating this cover. Though the covers of this an all catalogs to come weren't of the heavy card material used in the catalogs from 1966 through 1971 this catalog marked the beginning of catalogs that tended to hold up fairly well in use because they weren't so thick that the staples pulled through and the interior paper was thicker and of the "coated" variety which tended to stay cleaner and was more resistant to tearing.
1974 - Cat. No 741 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 80 pages plus medium weight full color cover. The catalog was pretty much a clone of the 1973 catalog with respect to the graphics but the new "Scissor Wing Transport" was a standout new addition as were the ground breaking and giant "Maxi Brute" Pershing and V-2 scale of models. Also included in this catalog was the new Estes Aerospace Club (EAC) which continued Estes' dedication to trying to stay one-on-one with up and coming model rocketeers. This catalog seemed to regain a bit of the "excitement" that was a little weak with the 1973 catalog.
1975 - Cat. No 751 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 64 pages plus medium weight full color cover. The catalog marked the entry of Estes into hitching on to popular TV and Movie franchises and franchise-themed model offerings. The hobby of model rocketry was rapidly shrinking and the Star Trek theme was hoped to slow the slide. The the Klingon Battlecruiser and Starship Enterprise were probably the most challenging of flying rocket designs to pull off and Estes adoped lightweigh vacuforming as the way to do it. Nike-X, Renegade, Andromeda, Mars Snooper II, Russian Vostok, Maxi-Honest John were the only other new kits and the Cold-Power models were relegated to the back of the catalog. This is one of the more difficult-to-find Estes catalogs due to its collectibility by Star Trek fans.
1976 - Cat. No 761 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 48 pages plus medium weight full color cover. In just five years the Estes catalog had shrunk to about 1/3 the number of pages as it had at its peak in 1971...a reflection of the shrinking hobby. The Space Shuttle was all the rage and the first flights of the Shuttle Enterprise came shortly after the catalog's release. Of course, the flying scale Shuttle was the "must have" model of the year and Shuttle artwork graced the cover. The catalog marked the first of the "generic" rocket kits in the Star Trek starter kit to be assigned a yearly theme and recycle year after year through many themes. Antares, Icarus, Vigilante, Firefly, USS Atlantis, Photon Distrupter (another design destined to be "recycled" through various themes), Alien Invader and Nike Ajax were the new rockets in the catalog.
1977 - Cat. No 771 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 64 pages plus medium weight full color cover. The catalog was on the grow again. The Starlab was a new kit featured on the cover but perhaps the most exciting kit was the scale LTV Scout that carried on in the tradition of Sandhawk from 7 years earlier. The Starlab and Scout were joined by the new Challenger-1 (identical to the model in the Star Trek starter kit but with different markings), Scamp, Pegasus, Condor, Teros, Sky Raider, Odyssey and Maxi-Alpha.
1978 - Cat. No 781 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 64 pages plus medium weight full color cover. Star Wars was the big thing in 1978 and was another opportunity for Estes to capitalize on a popular franchise. Estes went "blow mold crazy" with a tremendous expansion of that technology with the Star Wars kits. New Star Wars kits were the Proton Torpedo (a redressed Challenger-1/Star Trek starter model), X-Wing Fighter (standard engine version), Maxi X-Wing Fighter (D engine version), R2D2, and Tie Fighter. Other new kits were Der Big Red Max, Wizard, Mean Machine, Cobra 1500, Black Brant III, Satellite Interceptor, Solar Sailer and 1/24 Scale Bomarc (a revised parachute recovered version of the gliding 1971 Bomarc).
1979 - Cat. No 791 - (High Quality PDF) 5.25"x8.5" format, 64 pages plus medium weight full color cover. Franchise mania was prevalent at Estes as the decade wound down and the hobby begain regaining momentum. Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica all had places in the new Estes lineup. Battlestar Galactica was the newest with the announcement of the Colonial Viper and the never-released Cylon Raider. Somehow the Laser Torpedo (and old generic standby) became associated with the Galactica line. Perhaps the most relevant and exciting develpment was the introduction of the AstroCam 110 which graced the cover. After the disappearance of the Camroc and Cineroc aerial cameras in 1976 the AstroCam was a welcomed and popular addition for the rocketeer (the AstroCam would come and go in various incarnations for the nex 30 years). Other new kits were Polaris, Gamma, Kadet, Eclipse, Stiletto, Delta Star, Colossus, Maxi Alpha 3, Starship Vega (an updated release from the Citation line of almost 10 years previous), Multi Roc and the AstroCam Delta II.
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1969 - Cat. No 691 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 128 pages (the first of five consecutive catalogs to exceed 100 pages) plus heavy full color cover and, for the first time ever in an Estes catalog, several full color pages inside. This was another benchmark catalog issue from Estes in that it introduced the yellow paged "Model Rocket Manual", a bound-in 32 page guide for building and flying model rockets. The "manual" was literally a stand-alone publication of its own. The "manual" was included in the next four catalogs and disappeared when the catalog changed format "briefly" in the early '70s. The "manual" would eventually appear again (also briefly) in an updated form over 20 years later.
1968 - Cat. No 681 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 96 pages plus heavy full-color cover with two and three-color contents. In most respects, this catalog was similar to the 1967 catalog with most pages and content being virtually identical except for changes in spot-color on the pages. Notable additions to the catalog were the Little Joe II, Trident, Drifter, and Starlight models. Scattered through the catalog were several "how to" pages on various aspects of building and flying model rockets, a "standard" feature that began with the 1966 catalog. This was the first catalog to list the "metric" model rocket motor system and included the equivalent "pound" system motors in the listings.
1967 - Cat. No 671 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7.25" format, 88 pages plus heavy full-color cover and two-color contents. The most dramatic catalog cover to date. Featured a Saturn 1 liftoff along with an inset of the new Estes Saturn IB. Otherwise, this catalog was a virtual clone of the 1966 version with refinements and a slightly expanded product line. This was the last catalog to list the motors of the "pound" model rocket motor system.
1966 - Cat. No 651 - (High Quality PDF) 5"x7" format, 80 pages plus heavy full color cover. This is THE defining Estes catalog. Challenged by Centuri's introduction of high quality small format catalogs, Estes went all out to produce a colorful, informative, and incredibly complete publication that set the standards for all to follow...from any company. The cover featured full-color commissioned artwork of the (by now) famous Mars Snooper. Contrary to what most believe or "remember", the contents of the catalog were either simple Black & White or two-color but the use of the single extra color per page was so vivid and appropriate that we remember it as a "full color" catalog. Notably, the catalog contained several "how-to" pages involving the construction of model rockets...items most would think would only appear in kit instructions. Originally intended as a 1965 release, long graphics production times led to the release of this catalog as a 1966 volume. The famed original Estes Logo made its first appearance in this catalog. Still, the catalog number of this catalog was 651 which indicates its 1965 roots. There was no 1965 catalog from Estes.