Black Brant Vc for Mini Motors

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Jun 7, 2018
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Some of you might have been following my thread on rockets built using BT-20 body tubes and 13mm motors. If you haven't seen that thread it's right here:

Well I have started my first build and it's Black Brant Vc. It'll be a nice addition to my Rocketarium Black Brant V and my own 29mm design 2.5 inch Black Brant VC.

I started with the motor mount and it is just a 2" long piece of BT-5 tube. I show it marked for the centering rings
Motor Mount Marked.jpg

The Black Brant has a step down in the fin can area so I used an 18mm engine block insertion tool to simulate that. I had to peel a few layers of paper off the outside of the centering rings so they would slide into the tube. I glued it in so the aft edge of the aft centering ring was even with the aft end of the yellow tube. The yellow tube will be inserted into the aft of the main body tube 1 inch.
Aft Tube.jpg

The yellow tube fits a little loose inside of the BT-20 so I applied a little more glue than normal. I inserted the yellow tube in one inch and used a piece of angle aluminum and a spare piece of body tube to insure it was all aligned correctly.
Aft Tube Glued.jpg

You can take the boy away from mid-power but you can't take away the CWF
Body Tube.jpg

And after sanding
Body Tube Sanded.jpg

Now it was time to move onto the fins. Could have made them from 1/16th or 3/32 balsa or bass but that would be too simple. Mine were made from 2 pieces of 1/32nd balsa with a 1/64th ply core. Then I sanded the taper going outboard, followed by the tapers on the leading and trailing edges. Then I made up a fin pattern for Avery label paper and printed out some fin skins. I creased each line and applied them to the fins. I trimmed/sanded the paper around the edges then sealed the edges with thin CA. Some fun facts: each fin was .03 ounces before sanding, .02 ounces after sanding and back to .03 ounces after papering

Next up was to attach the fins so I drew some lines on the body tube. I used the method of white glue applied to the root which was then touched to the body tube. lifted away for a brief moment before being set in place permanently. First time I have done this and it was kind of amazing how quickly it grabbed. Of course I had to put the nose cone on and take a pic after the tree fins were glued on
First Full Fit.jpg

That's it for now. Next week I will pick back up starting with glue fillets and the scale fin plates.

The glue fillets went well. I used a little Titebond Quick and Thick then started to work on the fin plates
Black Brant Vb Fin Plate.jpg

They are made from Avery label paper so they are self adhesive but I did use a little thin CA to lock them down
Black Brant Vb Fin Plates Installed.jpg

Then I sprayed the first coat of primer and I just sanded it down. I also needed to trim the overhang on some of the fin plates and on the fin skins.
Black Brant Vb Primer.jpg

Now I need to decide how I am going to do the white stripes down the side like in this picture
BB III.jpg

The white stripe is 3/16ths tall and 7 3/4ths long. I thought about printing it on the Avery paper and clear coating it but the ink ran during my test and I won't be able to lock it down with CA either. I could paint the stripe and use decals for the lettering but decals alway give me trouble. Any ideas? I'd love some advise.

That is indeed a BB III but the BB V was very similar during that same time frame. The decals on what-not that came with the Rocketarium kit I built are for this scheme. Most BB V kits you see are in that scheme. Why is this DeJa'Vu to me?

Anyway, Mr. Alway has the scheme in Rockets of the World and also in his book Art of Scale Model Rocket which is available free at the NAR site so I believe I can post it here

Black Brant VB Alway.gif

So while waiting for some advise on how to do the white strip with red lettering I got out the Rocketarium kit to see how it says to do them. So they supply two strips of Oracal gloss vinyl that you stick to the rocket and there are waterslide decals to apply to the vinyl strip.

Had a little issue this morning. I masked off the stripes and the one fin yesterday and sprayed them white. I had gone to HL at lunchtime to purchase a smaller can of Testor's but they had nothing in a white lacquer. I find the smaller cans have a finer spray which gives you a little better control over the paint. Anyway I ended up using a medium size can of Duplicolor universal white that I had in my box of paints.

I pulled the masking off and there was a slight ridge on the edges so I let it sit overnight. This morning I wet sanded the edges just a bit with 1,000 and everything was good, Then I cut some strips of masking tape to go over the stripe so I could paint the red. I needed to re-position one of the strips and this happened when I lifted the tape
Stripe Fail.jpg

Both stripes are removed now and it's time to try again. I guess I am going to have a go at it with the Krylon Acryli-Quik. I am trying to decide right now between masking the stripe area off again and just spraying them or spraying the whole rocket white. If I spray the whole rocket white I am sure the red will be much brighter and I won't have a ridge at the edge of the stripe to worry about. Then there's the fin to worry? about. What's gonna happen when I remove the tape from it?

Gonna think on this a bit,
I would have painted to whole rocket White. Then masked the stripe off the sprayed the rest red.
This way there are no edges on the white to easily lift.

White trim-cote is another good way to do the strip.
When I built the sustainer for my Black Brant VIII, I painted the whole stage white, and then masked for the stripe, and then sprayed the red. Any place you place tape there's likely to be a bit of a paint dam or ridge, and this was true in this case with the red.

I also like to use Tamiya tape for my paint masking, as I've never had a situation where it would lift paint on me.


  • Sustainer Complete.jpg
    Sustainer Complete.jpg
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Well what you all have wrote is what I should have done but I did not.

I re-masked for the stripe and painted it with the Acryli-Quik. I painted the stripe wider than it needed to be. This white went on much better but there was still a slight ridge. No problem, a little sanding with 1,000 reduced it pretty quickly. That's one nice thing about small models--smaller areas to sand...

Then I masked off for the red. I was spraying mostly over gray primer mostly but there was a little white showing that needed to be red. It took more coats of the red to not see the underlaying color difference. I pulled the tape (Tamiya) that was covering the white stripe while the red paint was still a little wet, maybe too wet. The paint didn't want to let go of the tape and I ended up with little strings of red paint over the white stripe. I've never had that happen to me with the Acryli-Quik before (happened with Rustoleum enamal often) but I suspect it was because of the thickness of the paint.

Most of the red strings scraped off but the stripe edge is not very clean or straight. Don't know what I am going to do about it yet.

Then I pulled the tape off the white fin and of course some paint pulled off as well. I was able to touch that up so it's good now.

So lessons learned...

I knew in my heart some paint was going to pull off the fin. I should not have been optimistic about that. I should have pulled the tape off the fin, did any sanding on the fin as needed and I should have painted the whole thing white. Then I should have taped off the stripes and painted the red. and I think that the red paint wouldn't have got stringy on me because I would not have needed to apply the paint so thick to cover the difference in base coat colors. Option B would have been to use some sort of trim sheet or vinyl for the stripe. Problemwas two-fold though because I did not have any and HL doesn't carry Monokote and the other thing is that I take a little pride in doing as much with paint as I can.

I decided this afternoon I am going to try Createx paints especially on these smaller models. I just need to get set up to be able to connect my airbrush to a regular compressor. Working on figuring out the best way to do that.

As for my BB Vb I'll take another look at it Monday. If I can't make the stripe acceptable I could always revert back to the vinyl stripe idea. HL does carry Cricut vinyl if that would work. This month.s launch day is a week from tomorrow.

I evaulated the rocket this morning and decided to try to spray the white again. I sanded the ridge off with some 600, taped the stripe off a sprayed it with the Acryli-Quik once again.

It's not prefect but it looks much better now. I am trying to remember this is a windy day, don't care if it's dragged across the ground rocket :)

I need to make the decals now and I am hoping somebody can make this logo red for me. I can't figure out how to do it in Paint.
Black Brant Vb MPE Logo.gif

I did get part of the band around the body tube painted. I still need to add a silver band but that will be tomorrow
Black Brant Vb Paint Started.jpeg

Oh, what does everyone due for recovery? Estes included a 18 inch long piece of 1/8th rubber that you attach via the tri-fold paper method and a 12 inch long streamer that is 1.25 inches wide that they have you tape to the 1/8th inch rubber. That was for the donor Hi-Flyer kit. Is that pretty much the standard for rockets this size?


Silver band is painted and I tried applying decals today.

I actually made them last night using SunnyScopa waterslide decal paper. I sprayed several light coats of clear on last night followed by a nice cover coat this morning.

I used some warm water and I had no problem with them separating from the paper. I got one in position and "squeegeed" out the water but it didn't stick well. It keeps lifting around the edges and ends.
Black Brant Vb Decal Lifting.jpg

I have some Microsol and Microset but they are not with me right now. I'll post an update once I give them a try.

For a shock cord use elastic and not rubber. Make it twice as long as the rocket. 1/8 is fine. Most are too short and really stress the shock cord. The tri fold is a long time used method. There are others. Just make sure to make sure it is squished against the body tube far enough down with plenty of wood or white glue. I use a clamp of two coffee stir sticks and a small clamp to push the sticks together. If you want to you could create a baffle and put a screw eye in the top plate. Added benefit of protecting the shock cord from direct flaming debris. For that size rocket it is pretty easy to make or buy and there there is nothing yet stopping you from push it in (fast, don’t let it stick)
Active discussion in your other thread that's a complement to this one.

I was really thinking of my asking for help in making the logo red, but no worries.

Have I ever mentioned I hate decals!


Sir you replied after my post where I wrote "crickets" due to no replies up to that point. I was only commenting that the thread had been quiet for the 24 hours before that post.

I do have the other thread going where I was asking questions related to the mini engine BT-20 size rockets and there is a lot of posts on that thread but just not many on this one. I've tried to ask general questions over there and questions on this build here. I did mess up and cross over with the question about recovery systems.

I do read all the posts and I appreciate each and every one of them. The route I go ussaully ends up being a mix mash of all the responses to a question.

I'm sorry that your wife is in the ICU. I send my deep wishes for a full recovery and you and your wife will be in my thoughts.

Sorry if I offended anyone else as well. I did not mean to.

Not offended... but I also don't see the 'crickets' post. Did you delete it?
Ya know I hear the "cricut cutter" and a little vinyl can make a lot of cool 'decals'

Also as you have hinted, you want this to be a "It is windy. I WANT to launch rockets!" So don't invest so much that you are bummed if you lose it, or it gets dragged, etc. "Ok" is good enough for something you are will to lose because "I really would like to burn some N/S'" no matter how few. And it'll look the part at 5 meters or more away no matter what.
as you have hinted, you want this to be a "It is windy. I WANT to launch rockets!" So don't invest so much that ...

Yes sir, I keep trying to remind myself of that. It's just hard for me though..

"Crickets" was the first word in post 12.

I do have a Cricut Maker that I use to make paint masks. This is so I don't have to do decals :) It only works well on larger models, especially for lettering because it will only cut out accurately down to around 3/16ths inch tall in a "bold type" font. All of this is paint, no decals:
Cuda Finished.jpg

I found the microsol and microset so I'll be giving the decals a go in a bit.

as you have hinted, you want this to be a "It is windy. I WANT to launch rockets!" So don't invest so much that ...

Yes sir, I keep trying to remind myself of that. It's just hard for me though..

"Crickets" was the first word in post 12.

I do have a Cricut Maker that I use to make paint masks. This is so I don't have to do decals :) It only works well on larger models, especially for lettering because it will only cut out accurately down to around 3/16ths inch tall in a "bold type" font. All of this is paint, no decals:
View attachment 574548

I found the microsol and microset so I'll be giving the decals a go in a bit.

How big is that rocket?
16 + 16 + 8 = 40. That is pretty darn close!

It is 3" in diameter and 39" long. It's a semi-scale rendition of the Lockheed Cuda air-to-air designed primarily with the F-22 in mind. It's roughly 50% scale and is based on carefully measured photographs and the few measurements that I could find online when I built.

It was one of a "dynamic duo" that I built as Raytheon was also trying for the contract. It seemed only fair that I should build on of those too so I did.
Peregrine Right Side Painted.jpg

They both fly nice on Aerotech 29mm G motors

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Back to the BB Vb. The MicroSol and Micro set did the trick and the decals are on. It did not look like they were going to settle but the suddenly just flattened out. I over-worked the small print on one of the sides and it detached from the rest of the decal and got messed up. Luckly, I had printed out an extra so I cut out just that part of the decal and applied it separately.

In retrospect, it probably would have been easier if I had made each side decal in three sections rather than trying to put on one long, skinny decal.
Black Brant Vb Decals On.jpeg

Also, other good news is that I remembered I had a paint program loaded on my old laptop that Neil_w recommended to me a while ago. It is and is much more powerful to use than Microsoft Paint. I was able to search around thru the help files and found how to use the color replace tool and the majic wand to change the logo from black to red.

I just painted the nose cone white. It's a 2 piece nose cone that the instructions say to glue together with plastic model glue. I don't have any of that but I am wondering if Plastruct Plastic Weld will work. I have it from gluing the fins together on a Majestic and the booster that goes with it.

I use InkScape to make my own drawings in the computer for printing decals. It may be extra work to redraw them, but then they are in scalable vector graphics format that can be printed at the best resolution at any scale. Sometimes a scanned image does not scale up very well or has background colors you don’t want. They can be used as a starting point, and just make new vector graphics on top of them in InkScape.
The are Estes Pro Series parts. Use to be they had a pretty good stock of 2, 2.5 and 3 inch body tubes, nose cones, and couplers. Oh, and they had the 29mm motor mounts also. The main parts missing where centering rings. Now there is not much availble in the 2 and 3 inch sizes but they still have the 2.5 inch stuff in stock, at least last time I checked. There kinda hard to find on the site. Search by the body tube size, i.e. 2.5".

"I use InkScape"

I've heard of that program. The trouble is that I have a real hard time learning new programs because I don't remember very well anymore. I used to use a program Paint Shop Pro. It was awhile ago but the first release was fairly easy to learn and use. Then release after release came out, it got more and more complex to the point where I couldn't figure out how to do things I could do with the earlier versions.

Anyway, I have been thinking about graphic programs because I am thinking that wraps may be the way to go on these smaller models.

Here's a story to illustrate my memory. I think it was my second rocket as a BAR, that I built a version of the Nike Smoke. I used the Estes kit and the version I built had a olive drab finish with the lettering still on it from the days of being a Nike Ajax booster. I contacted Sticker Shock about some stickers for it and he told me that print was just too small. I decided to try a wrap so I made one. Here's how it came out but the thing is that I don't remember how I did it.
Nike Heat Assembled.jpg

I'm thinking I am going to search thru some old posts and see what I find. That's one thing about documenting my builds here is that when I need to remember how I did something on a particular rocket I can always look at the build if I don't remember off the top of my head

For a BT-20 BBV, I make the matching Talos to be a close fit to BT55. A few hundredths off - but who would notice. For a BBXIa (Talos Terrier BB), I'd use BT30 for the Terrier.