Meet Big Bertha...

One of my favorite rockets was dedicated to Vern Estes, the man who did more for Model Rocketry than anyone, even Orville and G. Harry, the inventors' of the sport. The picture above shows Vern loading up the ORIGINAL Big Bertha prototype. Amusingly, Vern confided that the name alluded to the nose cone resembling.. err, well, a certain style of mid-50's brassiere. ;-) R.I.P., Vern

Even though I was now very much into High Power Rocketry, I didn't forget my Model Rocket roots. I stayed active in NIRA, the suburban-Chicagoland chapter of the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), and one of my favorite things remained scaling up Estes kits.

My Big Bertha scale-up used my Endless Source Of Free Rocket Tubes, the 3" diameter, 9/64" wall-thickness core tubes from the G-size plotter paper rolls my employer discarded by the dozens. The only drawback to this tube is that no standard nose cone fit it, and so I had to make home-made nose cones, and later had them custom-made by DARE rockets.

The Maxi Bertha was designed especially for the Rocketflite G100 black-powder engine, and so had a 38mm engine mount. It flys really nice on the big Rockeflites!

Click to see huge liftoff photo

I couldn't resist that 38mm mount, so I have flown it on things like Vulcan H150-SS and Aerotech H45-WL. It's a very hot performer on a full H, perhaps 1200 t0 1400 meters. Alas, I took to putting a tiny 14-inch 'chute on it, in high winds, the better to assure recovery. It took a hard landing on one of these flights, and broke a fin. I re-shaped the broken fin, retaining as much of the fin as I could. After trimming the other fins to match, it was left with a small triangular fin planform, which, along with a new nose cone, totally changed the rocket's look. It's still a good, stable flyer to this day.

<Next Rocket Page>

<return to Hobbies page>