This project came to life in preparation for a meeting of the Belgian Voyage Club (the Belgian Star Trek fan club, BVC in short). On each of these meetings we do some fun activity. As a maker, obviously I wanted to get my fellow Trekkies into making too. I set out to organise a workshop, but for once not for kids as I’m used to, but for a bunch of people with a young spirit.

I went for building model rockets (a familiar subject for me, as a member of the VRO, The Flemish Rocket Organisation). The classic Klingon Battle Cruiser was the obvious choice. With its back swept wings, large nacelles, long “neck” and small bow section, it is probably the easiest ship in the Star Trek Universe to convert to a rocket for atmospheric flight.

Obviously there is the classic Estes Klingon Battle Cruiser kit, but that one requires some serious modelling skills. In this project I worked out a simplified, so called “sports scaled” version that can be built by anyone (with some guidance of course). In the workshop the concept proved to be quite robust. Several participants had little experience in model building, but the concept proved to be quite robust and with some guidance all were able to build a flying Battle Cruiser by themselves.

This Ible should guide you when building this Klingon Battle Cruiser yourself, providing you have some previous experience in rocket building or in building flying models in general. For the fans that do not have any model rocket experience, I recommend to get help from someone who does. My friends from the Belgian Voyage Club can testify it’s a great project to share between newbies and more experienced modellers. For those familiar with the skill levels in building model rockets: I would consider it a Level 3 on the Estes scale of 5. Obviously, it could also become the base of a more detailed flying scale model.

Along the instructions on the build in this Ible, I also explain the choices I made to simplify the model and the lessons learned from the workshop. The pictures shown in this Ible are from both a test build on a couple of dark autumn nights at home and from the workshop. You can see the happy builders and their launches in the last step.

Building and launching rockets can be dangerous, but there are plenty of sources where you can get the info on starting with that hobby safely, so I’m not going into the correct way to launch model rockets. See for example this Model Rocketry 101 Guide.

As English is not my native language, please feel free to point out any errors or unclear text.

If you like this Ible, please give it your vote in the contests.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

The materials for one model, including one rocket motor and igniter, cost under 10 EUR each.

Materials (first picture, from top to bottom, left to right):
A piece of 2mm thick balsa, 100 mm by 500 mm
A thin walled cardboard tube 20mm in diameter and 235 mm in length.
This is half the length of standard BT-20 model rocket body tube. I used a body tube from Opitec’s “Rocket model II”
A standard 19mm model rocket motors should fit in it.
20 cm of a balsa “stringer” with a triangular section 2x45°-90°, 10mm wide or smaller
Available at modelling shop for building flying model airplanes
A piece of 5mm thick balsa or light plywood, about 100mm by 40 mm
A wooden egg 40 by 60 mm
In case you do not have access to sanding equipment, a wooden half ball 50mm diameter is a better alternative, as explained in step 6 on the bow section.
A (wooden) button about 30mm diameter
A half ball, about 10mm diameter, in plastic or wood.
I happened to have plastic ones, clear and with a mirror base, a feature I used in a simple “window effect”.
A printout of the pattern/skin attached in the next step
Half the length of a standard 19mm diameter model rocket motor casing (A, B, or C type), emptied.
A screw hook or eye, maximum 13mm wide.
A streamer or a small parachute.About 50cm of Kevlar string as “shock cord”.
I like to use the “QUEST-way” to attach the shock cord to the rocket by tying it to the motor hook. This works fast and reliable, which is particularly important in workshops. I do not use elastic bands with streamers and small chutes. Obviously you can do it the classic “ESTES-way”.
A motor hook for standard 70mm long model rocket motors.
A launch lug, about 9 cm long.
I use a piece cut from a tube sold to hold up air inflated balloons. Do check if your glue works on them, as the plastics used are sometimes hard to glue (PE-like).

Tools, paint and adhesives (second picture, from top to bottom, left to right):
Sanding paper, medium grit
Gouache paint (school paint). I mixed the colour from blue, yellow, red and white
PVA glue
Cutter knife
Cutting surface (I worked on cardboard, for the workshop it was not possible to provide enough self-healing cutting mats)
Scotch tape
A metal ruler
Spray adhesive (contact glue)
A hacksaw
A (columnar) drill and a 2mm drill bit (not shown)
If you use the wooden egg, a belt sander comes in handy (not shown)
Something to protect your working surface from (spray) adhesive (like old newspapers, cardboard… , not shown)
For the workshop we also used non-stick baking paper to work on when using superglue (not shown)

Launching equipment (third picture, from top to bottom, left to right):
A launch pad (I used a tripod made from water pipes) with deflector plate
An ignition system
A model rocket motor: B6-2 (first flight) or C6-3 (I used German WECO motors)
An igniter (I used KLIMA igniters)
An igniter plug (an Estes one is shown)
A 3mm launch rod
If only it were a glide recovery not a parachute. But still the best model rocket design I have seen. <br> <br>
Thanks.<br><br>A glide recovery would be cool indeed, but then it would be a challenge of quite another level.<br><br>This workshop was for people with little to no modelling experience, so I had to keep to robust sollutions and avoid the need for trimming.
Great project, looks like serious Trekkie fun :-) <br> <br>Do you have a video of a Klingon Battle Cruiser taking off? <br> <br>Y.
Thanks! <br> <br>No video, sorry. <br> <br>Y.

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Bio: Send me a message if you're interested in Technology or Science Workshops in Flanders, Brussels or the Southern of the Netherlands. I have over ... More »
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