# Estes (Astron) Cherokee-D: Through the years 1970-1983

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#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
I've been doing some research on this, one of my favorite rockets, for quite a while. And I've compiled the information from the catalogs in which it appeared (1970-1983). Also included is some info from the instructions I've sourced.

The Astron Cherokee-D was introduced in 1970, the year after Estes has been purchased by Damon, but the earliest kits didn't have the new logo. It made its last appearance in 1983.

Introduced
1970
Astron Cherokee-D
"it's recommended only for experienced rocketeers."
(Pre-Damon logo on catalog model (a drawing))
die-cut fins, 18" chute, quick-change engine mount
Cat. No. 694-K-47
Price: $2.75 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines D13-5, D13-7 1971 Astron Cherokee-D Degree of Challenge: Two (no logo visible on catalog model's photo) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. 694-K-47 Price:$2.75
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines D13-5, D13-7

1971 2nd Catalog
Astron Cherokee-D
Degree of Challenge: Two
(no logo visible on catalog model's photo)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. 694-K-47
Price: $3.00 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines D13-5, D13-7 use for first flights. 1972 Astron Cherokee-D Degree of Challenge: Two (no logo visible on catalog model's photo) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. 694-K-47 Price:$3.00
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D12-5, D12-7 use for first flights.

1973
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. K-47
Price: $3.50 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines: D12-5 use for first flights, D12-7 NOTE: All catalog appearances after this appear to have been derived from image introduced in 1973, and while the logo is mostly hidden, it lacks the white portion from of the Damon era's logo (which all subsequent logos have so far been derived from). 1974 Cherokee-D Skill Level 2 (pre-Damon logo on upper wrap) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. K-47 Price:$3.95
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D12-5 use for first flights, D12-7

1975
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. 1247
Price: $3.95 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines: D12-5 (First flight), D12-7 1976 Cherokee-D Skill Level 2 (pre-Damon logo on upper wrap) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. 1247 Price:$4.50
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D12-5 (First flight), D12-7

1977
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. 1247
Price: $4.50 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines: D12-5 (First flight), D12-7 1978 Cherokee-D Skill Level 2 (pre-Damon logo on upper wrap) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. 1247 Price:$5.00
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D12-5 (First Flight), D12-7

1979
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. 1247
Price: $5.25 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines: D12-5 (First Flight), D12-7 1980 Cherokee-D Skill Level 2 (pre-Damon logo on upper wrap) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Cat. No. 1247 Price:$5.75
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D11-9, D12-5 (First Flight), D12-7

1981
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Cat. No. 1247
Price: $6.25 Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm) Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm) Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr) Recommended Engines: D11-9, D12-5 (1st Flt.), D12-7 1982 Cherokee-D Skill Level 2 (pre-Damon logo on upper wrap) 18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount Kit Feature Symbol indicates Balsa nosecone* Cat. No. 1247 Price:$6.50
Length 21.6 in (54.9 cm)
Body Dia. 1.325 in (33.7 mm)
Weight 2.75 oz (78 gr)
Recommended Engines: D11-9, D12-5 (1st Flt.), D12-7

1983 Last Appearance in the catalog
Cherokee-D
Skill Level 2
(pre-Damon logo on upper wrap)
18" chute, pre-cut fins, quick change engine mount
Kit Feature Symbol indicates Balsa nosecone*
Cat. No. 1247
Price: \$7.00
Length 21.6 in
Body Dia. 1.325 in
Weight 2.75 oz
Recommended Engines: D11-9, D12-5 (1st Flt.), D12-7
NOTE: Metric dimensions were not included

*likely an error- The BNC-55AC's last appearance was in 1974's catalog. The PNC-55AC makes its appearance in the 1975 catalog.

Despite getting a longer body tube some time in 1970, the catalog never updated the length or weight of the rocket.

The earliest set of instructions that have been found have the shorter BT-55V (16.35" long) body tube, and most interestingly... two-piece, die-cut fins. Though released in 1970, the logos on the decals and (checkerboard) parachute do not have the new Damon era design. A short length of dowel was included to act as a standoff for the launch lugs, and the instructions mention that 'RAIL LAUNCHES ARE RECOMMENDED FOR "D" POWER MODELS!'

JimZ's instructions are still from the early Damon era, and show the shorter 16.35" body tube, but now with single-piece, die-cut fins. Also, the instructions show the decals had the old estes logo. but the parachute and the instructions themselves have the Damon era logo.

His site also has a set of instructions that do not reference the later D11-9. The site's fin templates lack any indication of scale, and the decals are not original scans.

My physical sample (from a sealed bag), also doesn't refer to the D11-9. However the instructions, decals, and parachute all have the Damon era logo. My fins were measured with a micrometer, and are .0935" thick. Scans of the fins and decals can be found here. It came with a PNC-55AC (Part No. 71070) nosecone, and the 18" long BT-55 body tube.

It is unknown to me if the instructions were ever updated to reflect the D11-9 recommended motor.

If you have a set of original instructions, please look them over, look for the recommended engines, what body tubes are supplied (BT-55V (16.35" long) or BT-55 (18" long)), and which nosecone is used. If you find a set that isn't represented in the samples linked to, please consider scanning them for me. Thanks!

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#### Joekeyo

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I have the Estes Magician. It has the same diameter BT and fins. Wife says fins look upside down, but it's just the look. It has two BTs @ 18" and 6". I am not sure how this length compares with the BT for the Cherokee D. Picture shows rocket below payload section.

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
I have the Estes Magician. It has the same diameter BT and fins. Wife says fins look upside down, but it's just the look. It has two BTs @ 18" and 6". I am not sure how this length compares with the BT for the Cherokee D. Picture shows rocket below payload section.View attachment 410756
The Magician's fins are not a match for my sample of the fins, they are both smaller, and thicker. See below:

Please note the top edge of the image, and how close the Cherokee-D's fin is to it, compared to the Magician's fin. Also the image is rotated, ever-so-slightly, with the right side of the ruler higher than the left. When holding the two fins together you can clearly see the Cherokee-D's fin is generally larger all around, except for the length of the fin root. Another difference I've noted is that the Cherokee-D fin tips have just a little concave curve in them.

John Boren (JumpJet), the designer for Estes (and the designer of the Magician, and Cherokee-E), told me personally that the patterns for the fins in those kits were based on the original drawings of the fins. There is a very real chance that they changed between the original drawing, and when the dies were made. With the advent of laser cutting and computer design, it is my guess that this is less likely to occur in the future.

Your kit's fins were applied correctly. The Magician, and the Cherokee-E, but use the same fin patterns. The Cherokee-D only ever came with a single body tube (either 18" long, or 16.35" long) and a motor tube.

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#### Joekeyo

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Ok.. Not the same but very similar. The Omega also has a similar shape. Is this also a Boren design? I expected that my fins were correctly installed because I triple checked for correctedness. I was concerned because no matter what way I put them on they did not look "right". Do you get the same feeling? It would explain why my wife feels like they are upside down. Perhaps that was John's intention. IMHO The design is interesting but not aesthetically pleasing.

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
The Omega was designed by Mike Dorffler back in 1969-1970 (First appearance was next to the Cherokee-D in the 1970 catalog. Mike passed away on September 7, 2010. Before he passed away, he was active on YeOldeRocketForum (YORF), and his posts were stuck... You can read them all here. A word of warning... A lot of members of YORF have very hard feelings about The Rocketry Forum (TRF), and will not hesitate to attack it, and people who use it here. There's a lot of information stored in those heads, but some of them seem to have a few screws loose. Tread lightly. It also helps to use the search functions before you ask questions.

The Cherokee-D was designed by Gene Street around the same time. Everything I knew about him (and forgot about) was from Mike's posts, and I haven't re-read them again... yet.

The Cherokee-D is perhaps the sexiest model rocket out there (after the Omega (look at my icon)), and very likely one of the most cloned, upscaled, downscaled, and sought after rockets.

You might want to look at the Semroc Cherokee-D (KV-84), it is a Semroc Retro-Reproduction, and may not be an exact clone. Another option is to pick up a Cherokee-E as it has the correct nosecone, and the right length body tube, and with some balsa (as well as my decals and fin scan) clone the long original.

I plan on re-scanning the decals as I see from the shadow they weren't flat on the scanner's bed. But it's too late to go to the shop where I do that kind of thing. So, it'll have to wait until tomorrow.

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#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
Here's my parallel thread's replies from YORF: (Warning: RANT AHEAD)

Earl said:
That’s a fairly comprehensive run down of the ol’ Cherokee-D. I just built my first one (from a vintage kit) in the last few years, but then again, I did much more Centuri stuff back in the day. I never knew it once came with two piece fins...interesting.

Thanks Earl! I was surprised to see the 2 piece fins myself. Here's the pattern that David Stribling sent me. It might mean that there's a hand-cut version of the kit out there too. We won't know unless someone can find an unused Pattern Sheet SP-47 from the two-piece, die-cut version. The pattern sheet shown in the instructions for that kit is partially hidden by the decals and the fins. From what I think I can see in them, we can see part of the paper shock cord mount, and the tube marking guide.

Earl said:
This is one kit that I am really surprised has not been re-released, amongst the number of kits that have been re-released the last 7-8 years.
ghrocketman said:
It may have been not re-released due to Semroc having it in production.
I think gh is correct.

Some time ago, the late Karl McLawhorn of Semroc acquired the copyrights to the kits that Estes had allowed to lapse, the Cherokee-D was one of those. He put it into production, and this effectively stopped Estes from re-releasing it in its original form. I suspect that Estes and eRockets have to do a lot of horse trading for Estes to do the older bring backs. I suspect that to avoid this Estes will sometimes simply modify an old design into a new kit (think Gyroc/TAZZ)). I also think this is why we haven't seen a re-release of the Estes Omega K-52P.

Earl said:
So, what is that one...a BT-60 I guess? I gotta say though: something about that package art is not very enticing...something about it looks a bit anemic to me and doesn’t really inspire a desire to get one. Something about it just doesn’t scream “E” to me, not that is a big motor necessarily. I’ve flown through L motors, but package art for that kit should be more aggressive looking.
"Anemic" That's the word! When I first looked at it, I felt that it was too long, and while it had the flavor, it had been watered down too much. It has since grown on me, but it'll never take the original's place in my heart. GOD how I wish that Estes would create the PNC-60AC nosecone. However, the Cherokee-E (2408) is a BT-55 kit. Basically it's a Magician (2440) without the payload section, replacing that with the PNC-55AC nosecone, and using blue, Cherokee-D inspired, decals. My recommendation if you do build an "E", glue the fins to the long tube, use the coupler for a baffle, and the 6" tube for a zipperless design... OR Make the 6" section a payload bay by using a balsa bulkhead with a screw eye. Either way, you can use the bottom edge of the wrap to hide the joint, and save yourself from doing the filling and sanding needed to hide it.

Rocketcrab said:
Isn't the Estes Magician essentially a Cherokee D with a 55/50 transition and a clear BT-50 payload section?
You forgot the other 6" BT-55 tube.

IMHO Cherokee-E (2408) is Estes' Retro-Repro (to use the Semroc term) of the Cherokee-D. It maintains the flavor of the original, but is not an exact clone. According to John Boren (JumpJet), in a personal conversation with me, the fins for the Magician (2440)(and thus the Cherokee-E (2408) which uses the same part number and pattern) were drawn from the original drawings of the Cherokee-D's fins. However, in the image above you can see that the Cherokee-D fin is taller than the Magician's fin (and, again, the Cherokee-E uses the same fins as the Magician), it is bigger overall, except for the length of the root edge. The height difference is even more than you think see in the image, as the ruler is ever-so-slightly lower on the left (Cherokee-D) side of the image, than on the right side. Also, if you look really closely, you'll also notice that the fin tip of the Cherokee-D fins is not straight. It has a slight concave curve in it.

When I returned to the hobby in my current BAR period, back in 2013, I got a Magician with the hopes to using it to clone my very damaged surviving Cherokee-D. I was sorely disappointed when I held the fins of the Magician up to the original, and found them to be smaller. I've been begging for people to post a new scan of original die-cut fins for years now. The image found on JimZ's site is so poor that I found it to be basically useless. The Semroc kit may have preserved the shape of the fins, I don't know. How could I ever know without seeing an unused original from Estes? I've never picked up the Semroc kit. The fears that the fin shape wasn't a match, the shorter body tube, and balsa nosecone put me off at the time. Yet, despite my pleas for a new scan over the last seven years, NOBODY has F****** bothered to put up a scan of original fins (or decals) with a ruler for scale. It's taken me THIS F****** LONG to acquire one from eBay to be able to do this. Not just for myself, but for anybody else that values these old kits. [/END RANT]

In seeing that shadow behind the decal sheet, I'm going to scan it again, with the ruler to ensure it's flat.

astronwolf said:
I thought the earlier Cherokees were shorter., and later Estes switched to the 18" body tube which made the Cherokee longer.
They did. I have yet to determine when the change occured. Because the length was never updated in the catalog, and the photo of the kit never changed from 1973 until the end of production, we can't be sure of when it exactly did. However, I have yet to do photograpic analysis of the images to see if I can determine if it showed up in the catalog photographs.

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If you like what I've done here, and if you choose to open and build an old unbuilt kit, PLEASE scan your kit's fins and decals with a ruler for scale before building it. Then post the scans here, or send them to me. I'm building up an archive of old kit's instructions, fins, as well as decals, and I'm looking to find information on all variants. JimZ's site, Ye Olde Rocket Plans and others are far from complete. And while I might not sim it up (due to interest, software capability, or time factors), you might save someone a lot of money, time and frustration trying to preserve our hobby's past. Also, it might lower the cost of those old kits for you collectors. If someone can clone an old kit and be happy with that, they might not be interested in competing with you on ebay the next time your mutual favorite comes up for auction.

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#### Joekeyo

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I think this is an interesting side bar about the general fin shape of the Cherokee D and other similar rockets. I find the Cherokee D to be a pleasing design. I think it is a combination of the decals, proportion of the fins v. BT and the "weird" fin shape.

I think what makes this fin pattern stand out is that the leading edge and trailing edge converge toward each other heading for the trailing edge in an asymmetrical manner. Nike Smoke the converging LE and TE but they are symmetrical thus a different look. Also the root and tip are not parallel. I think that we expect fins to be swept and the LE and TE parallel. This pattern is different enough to get attention.

When I was younger I thought aesthetics were irrelevant. I had a form follows function attitude. Now that I am older, I understand that there is definite a need for aesthetics. I would be a dull uniform would with it.

#### Joekeyo

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
OOps last line above should be: It would be a dull, uniform world without it.

#### AstroArlo

##### Active Member
The Cherokee is a simple but elegant design. However, the most impressive aspect is its flight characteristics - fast and really high!

I believe this was one of the first kits by Estes to use D engines.

This rocket went so high on D engines that it was difficult to track even in binoculars! I would only fly it on windless days, because if I lost sight of it I'd have to wait for it to (hopefully!) land nearby. My original was destroyed in an engine explosion (the only time this ever happened).

I built another one years later, but lost it when we couldn't track it.

Years later, I wanted to rebuild it, but couldn't find any kits. So I found the plans and cloned it as best I could. I couldn't find the same nose cone, so I substituted a similar one. I also changed the engine mount so I could fly it on an E engine. I didn't get the decals quite right, but it still looks nice.

I've flown it on a D engine, and it's flight characteristics are just as impressive as the original - almost lost this one, too!

I'm afraid to fly it on an E until I purchase a tracker from Apogee Rockets.

#### Joekeyo

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Based on your report, indeed, a tracker is order. Or... have you considered adapting to a 18 mm and trying a "C" or "B" engine? Lots cheaper than a tracker and don't have to walk as far.

To date, I have had little experience with "D" engines. One of those experiences, back in the day, I watched a Mean Machine disappear on a "D" engine. I thought that since it was a large rocket that it would not go as high. Boy was I wrong.

Good job on your clone. It looks real nice.

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
The Cherokee is a simple but elegant design. However, the most impressive aspect is its flight characteristics - fast and really high!

I believe this was one of the first kits by Estes to use D engines.
The first four Mighty 'D' Engine Powered rockets were found in the 1970 catalog. The Cineroc and Astron Omega Combo Offer (Cat. No. 701-RC-8) was found on page 45, The Astron Cherokee-D (Cat No. 694-K-47)(page 98) and the Astron Omega (Cat. No. 701-K-52P) (with payload section) and the Astron Omega (Cat. No. 701-K-52)(without payload section)(both found on page 99)

Nice work on your clone... Sorry to hear about the lost ones. I lost my first one to a tree and cows.

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
Just completed the photo analysis of the kit. The first photo that was clear was the 1971 catalog. So, I started there.

It's clear from the number of body tube lengths and nosecone lengths I used that this photo is of a rocket that had an 18" long tube.

The change in length had to have occurred between the 1970 and 1971 catalogs.

Now, then next thing to hunt down is whether or not it ever shipped with a balsa nosecone in the long form, and if the long form (with either a balsa or plastic nosecone) came with the old Estes logo on the wrap.

I also now need to get a scan of the decal sheet with the old logo (along with a ruler for scale).

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
OK... Earl was lucky enough to win an Ebay auction that just happened to have an open bagged (but otherwise intact) unbuilt 1970, two-piece finned Estes Astron Cherokee-D (K-47) kit. He's been sharing the files over on YORF, and sent them to me for archiving. We now have a very good (400 DPI) scan of the decals, and the fins, and the instructions, and the facecard and... WOW!!!

Problem is, the decals suffered a little damage (over the CG/CP markings and one of the Estes Logos in the large wrap). This will probably be fine for building, but for cloning.... er... So I measured them and recreated them digitally and saved them as a .png file (with none of those annoying .jpg blotches of color*) (click on the image, and download the original file from flickr).

The fins in and out of matrix... (Note the "hump" at the back corner of the fin tip**).

And an Intact! pattern sheet:

He also confirmed that the dowel included was 1/16" in diameter.

I've got some serious work to do on the sim of the early Cherokee-Ds to do.

*flickr shows the images as .jpg files (thus the blotchy appearance of the red in the decals). If you view the original image (and download it) you'll get the .png file.

**In a discussion with John Boren, I was told that the dies for the die cut fins were hand bent. This leads me to believe that though the intent was not to have odd humps or concavities in the resulting product, it was there (and I swear, it looks like it's there on the pattern sheet (but it could be distortion due to the paper not being completely flat). Likely, this would be sanded out by the builder, but not everyone sanded them out (as my surviving Cherokee-D shows). When it comes to documentation, the closer we can get to the original material, the more accurate it is.

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#### SCooke123

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks for all this info!!! A lot of work that is much appreciated!
Steve

#### dpower

##### Well-Known Member
This history is good stuff, my favorite classic design. I’ve built many of these, and lost most of them! Is there a website where you’re posting all the info you’re collecting? Or is it simply posted on various forum threads?

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
This history is good stuff, my favorite classic design. I’ve built many of these, and lost most of them! Is there a website where you’re posting all the info you’re collecting? Or is it simply posted on various forum threads?
Posted in various forum threads.... However,this thread, and my OpenRocket files thread is where I'm trying to focus this on this kit. I should probably link them.

#### Long_Gone

##### Well-Known Member
This journey through model rocket history needs to be presented in a video format in HD, I think it would be very cool.

LG~

#### XrayLizard

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks for the posts.
know I now, that I was 13 years old when I flew one. 1970.

#### Long_Gone

##### Well-Known Member
I found enough parts to build one but my tubes are not from a rocket company, my daughter gave them to be from her vinyl cutter so they are 15% larger so I SWAGGED it all and I'm making the body tube 20" long and printing Jack Hydrazine's nose cone a little upscaled and the printer sticker sheets are coming in Sunday. Going with the D-E power and hoping C5 or 6 will work also. I started last night at 11PM and I woke up today and started working on it and I am doing good so far. Take a look at what I go so far.....

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#### Long_Gone

##### Well-Known Member
I had this catalog and my Mother threw it away when I went to the USAF, to work on the Minuteman Missile.
LG~

#### Long_Gone

##### Well-Known Member
Miss those days................................