Need Help Establishing Estes Parachute Timeline.

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.....OpenRocket's ..... "Chuck Norris"
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Mar 27, 2013
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I'm trying to determine when Estes designs changed, and I'm hoping to get some help on this.

I'm aware of the Estes K-Kits website by Eric Higgins (, but I've found it isn't complete.*

I've found clear indication that the Type III (AKA Sunburst) design came into use in 1970, with instructions from the single piece fin version of the Astron Cherokee-D (K-47). I recently received a Citation Red Max KC-2 (the boxed version (ca. 1973)), and the included parachute is a Type III.

Here's the rub. Eric's site doesn't make a distinction between the early Type III, and later Type III parachutes. For clarity, I'll call the later one the Type IIIA design.

The early Type III 18" chute is printed on a clear plastic. It has a white Estes (Damon era) logo, in a black circle, around this are orange and white rays that extend out from there, and the trim is clear. The later Type IIIA 18" chute is printed on white plastic, and except for the trim, is otherwise identical. I'd like to know when they changed from the clear plastic to the white plastic versions.

Why is this important? Perhaps you're looking for a first edition of your favorite rocket that came out in 19XX , If it has the clear background parachute, it's the one you want. If it has the white background, it's a later edition.

So, can anyone help me learn when the Type III parachute made the change to the Type IIIA?

*The Estes Astron Cherokee-D (K-47) made the switch from the Type II to the Type III in 1970, but his site doesn't note that. In fact he seems to be unaware of the fact that there are two short versions, instead of one. With help, I found that there were two different versions released in 1970. The old one is shown in the instructions for the two piece finned version, but the single piece fin version has the Type III. In 1971, the kit was lengthened to include the 18" long BT-55 body tube, instead of the original 16.35" BT-55V tube. While I lack credible instructions for the K-47 long version, Estes kept producing the Cherokee-D as the K-47 until 1974. The BNC-55AC balsa nosecone appears in the catalogs until 1974, and was replaced with the PNC-55AC in 1975 (the same year the Cherokee-D was changed from the K-47 kit to the 1247 kit). However, the catalog's specs for the Cherokee-D were never updated with the different lengths and body tubes. Also of note the 1972 catalog was the last year the word Astron was used with the K-47 kit. I have been in touch with Eric in the past, and am going to try and contact him again.
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