Introduction: Rocketeer Cirrus X3 Rocketpack

I've wanted a replica of the Cirrus X3 rocketpack from The Rocketeer forever. I finally decided to build one, from scratch. Everything made by me, by hand. This was also a cool project because I finally taught myself to mold and cast. This is the culmination of about 5 months work. The Rocket pack seemed like an almost insurmountable project, but I soon saw that it was really many smaller builds, each with their own challenges.

Push the button and the Rocket pack comes alive with lights and sounds right from the actual movie.

Step 1: The Rocket Housing

Dimensions on the Cirrus X-3 are really hard to verify. I'm not shooting for EXACT screen accuracy, just proportional-correctness.The main booster are built from a 6" thin-walled PVC. The outer dimension is actually close to 6-5/8" so it's not too far off from the 7.5 size of the actual prop. I built a jig to hold each body and get the same dimension on the angle cuts.

Step 2: The Rocket Engines

The bottom/bell portion of the engine was built from a plastic bowl, a drainage fitting and various trim pieces. The rings were added with clay to mimic the look of the actual rockets. This part was then molded in silicon and slush cast with resin. Side note: This is the first time I've molded and cast anything. I'm really excited.

I scratch/kit-bashed the upper portions of the two rocket engines – made from various parts in my shop and from the hardware store. I tried to match the general look and topology of the screen-used rockets. It was cheaper to build both, instead of building and casting.

The stainless steel lines were drinking water lines bought at the hardware store with fittings made for the ends. I used Duplicilor Metalcast paint to create the heat distortion colors at the ends.

Step 3: The Nosecones

The two nosecones were cast from a master. First I made a skeleton for the cone shape from styrene. I cut the profile shape of the nose cones and glued them onto a brass tube in a radial pattern. This was then filled with expanding foam and trimmed. I fiberglassed and Bondo'd it into shape. For sanding I created a sort of "vertical lathe" with my drill press. The brass tube at the center allowed me to mount it vertically on the press and hold sand paper on each side and work it into shape. Had to run the drill press SLOW, but it worked great and saved time.

I marked and scribed the line work around the top and used a drill to mark the hole indents.

For the 16 little "finlettes" that go around the top of the cone I carved a single finlette from styrene and made a tiny mold to cast the 16 of them I need. All 16 were then glued into place.

I then created a brush-on silicon mold of the cone and slush-cast the two resin cones for the final pack.

Step 4: Eggs, Vents, and Flaps

The Cirrus X3 has several detail parts that was each a build process. For the two "egg" shapes on each side I created a clay egg shape, built a mold box and poured silicon over it. Two resin casts were made for the pack.

Each of the two rocket bodies also has a vent that I build from thin bars of styrene from a hobby store. To curve the vent, I applied a heat gun to the finished vent and poured a mold over the final piece. Again, two casts were made of resin.

1/8" sheet styrene was used to create the two flaps on the bottom of the pack. A heat gun was used to make the bends.

Step 5: Body Assembly and Rivets

The two nose cones were glued onto the end of each rocket housing.

Two structural supports were needed to join the two rocket housings together. First, a piece of 3" PVC was heated with a heat gun and "smushed" into a flat shape to use as the bottom connector for the pack. Getting the compound curves required a paper template before making the final shapes.

A larger frame piece (that will be hidden inside the finished pack) was built from 1/2" thick Sintra. This piece not only joins the two halves of the rocket, but provides mounting points for various other panels and electronics inside the pack.

The pack contains hundred of rivets that had to be drilled and glued into place. I designed a spacing graphic that allowed me to accurately mark each hole.

Step 6: Center Section

This large, organic center section proved to be the biggest challenge. I wanted this piece to be removable to access the inner workings of the pack. This required building the master right on top of the rocket. I built up the master with non-hardeing clay. Once that was perfect, I poured a rubber mold over the clay section. This was followed by a rigid mother mold. These pieces were then removed from the pack and the clay was discarded. This mold was used to slush-cast the resin center section to be installed on the final pack.

Step 7: Upper Radiator

The upper "radiator" on the pack was built from a series of individual fins that were cut from 1/8" styrene. These we are all glued together and shaped to fit in between the upper rocket nose cones.

Step 8: Final Structural Assembly

Several final parts were added to complete the main assembly. A series of bolts were fitted to the main housing that will later accommodate a harness system. A back panel was attached to enclose the interior of the pack – again, removable for pack maintenance. A series of rods and connectors were attached to the bottom flaps.

Step 9: Painting

The final pack was primed and finished in Design Masters Modern Metals paint. The color is called Champaign Silver. It's a great metallic silver paint. Unlike any I've used, it dries fast and locks in the metallic particles so it doesn't need to be clear coated and doesn't rub off on your hands. The top of the cones were also painted a bronze color.

Step 10: Flight Harness

The harness system started with an aluminum subframe that bolts securely to the body of the rocket. I cut a series of 2" leather straps for the main harness system. This was riveted together into the final strap system. The padded back liner looks like leather but is actually a synthetic leather that attaches to the subframe with velcro.

Step 11: Electrical

The final pack is wired with lights and sounds and triggered by a push button. The LED light rings that hide inside the rocket bells are actually bright LED light rings for car headlights. Found them on eBay cheap. The vent in the center section hides a speaker that plays through the vent.

I purchased a custom programmed sound chip from which includes the actual sounds from the film – ignition, thrust and wind-down. Push the put-on and it all comes to life.

Step 12: Final Rocketpack

The final pack is the culmination of hundreds of hours over the course of 5 months. What seemed like an almost insurmountable project ended up being dozens of smaller builds where I was able to learn new things and complete small tasks all while moving ahead on the larger project.


JasonY40 made it!(author)2016-09-14

It is my dream to build this. Well done. It looks perfect :)

alames made it!(author)2015-10-30

Bravo. Very nice work. If I had one question it would be where you got dimensions from. Seriously nice work.

sradtke made it!(author)2015-10-30

I'm a member of the Replica Props Forum and I posted a request for members who own one of the kits to provide some core measurements. Mine is a tiny bit smaller due to the scale of the PVC pipe I used. But it's darn close.

sradtke made it!(author)2015-10-28

Boy, my Intractable is about the most exhaustive step by step I have done. Is there a certain part you have a question about? You say you want a in-depth "description" ... of what exactly. I'd like to try to help.


Jonbolte made it!(author)2015-10-28

I really want to make this is there any way you can send me a more indepth description

steampunker_de made it!(author)2015-10-13

great job! :)

BlackIceRedbone made it!(author)2015-07-22

Well, as he is a family friend I think that even though Billy may not be fond of his premier film, I believe he would approve of this build!

RyderS1 made it!(author)2015-06-03


LaserByte made it!(author)2015-04-08

This looks absolutely fantastic! Great work!

pheenix42 made it!(author)2015-01-12

I seriously wish something like this were real...

Well done, even if your helmet makes you look like a hood ornament!

Where did you get your skills from?

struth+novo made it!(author)2014-12-28

wow... just wow

bettina-sisr made it!(author)2014-12-26

Sweet! Thanks for sharing your positive experience, and reminding everyone that creativity and dreams are alive and flourishing!

yanito1979 made it!(author)2014-12-08

speechless!! What a work of art!

ZaneEricB made it!(author)2014-12-08

I...I....I just.... I have no words....

"Peevy, You'd pay to see a man fly. wouldn't you?"

Volthaus+Electronics+Laboratory made it!(author)2014-12-06

I don't know what comment I can make that hasn't already been made. I agree with all the other positive comments. Fantastic!!!

jarikcbol made it!(author)2014-12-06

This build is 99% completely awesome, and 1% TOTALLY BADASS.

Eric+Rocher made it!(author)2014-12-06

I couldn't agree more. Spectacular job!

chiok made it!(author)2014-12-06

This is a marvellous example of kit-bashing and modelmaking. What silicone and resin did you use for your parts and what did you glue the parts together with? The Design Masters paint looks amazing and if it can resist a scratch, then perfect. I have such a hard time finding good metallic colours that maintain their shine after a protective clear coat. Hope there's a distributor in the UK.

sradtke made it!(author)2014-12-06

Thanks! ... I used all Smooth-on product. Smoothest 300 for the resin, and Oomoo and Rebound for the silicon. This was my first time molding and casting and I LOVED working with this product. And yes, the Design Masters paint was a Godsend. I've never worked with metallic paint like it. The metal particles in the paint are suspended in the paint, and don't lie on the surface. Meaning they don't come off when you touch it, and you don't need a clear coat.

kenyer made it!(author)2014-12-06


starphire made it!(author)2014-12-03

Beautifully made. Well done!

_-MacGyver-_ made it!(author)2014-11-30

This is beautiful. :)

psavas made it!(author)2014-11-25

Amazing work! I second the comment about offering kits... :)

lbrewer42 made it!(author)2014-11-25

Did you remember to put the hole in it where the chewing gum should be put to plug it? I saw the original one of these at MGM studios - yours looks just as nice in the pics (BTW, they DID have the hole!). Great job - you sir, are an artist!

MTJimL made it!(author)2014-11-25

Congratulations on an incredible build. If I hadn't read the I'ble I wouldn't have believed it is not the real Rocketeer prop.

captaincombat1 made it!(author)2014-11-25

WOW a Thousand Thumbs Up sir... this is most excellent work!

lassensurf made it!(author)2014-11-25

Holy Cow! That is incredible! I'm really jealous....but not willing to put all the time and hard work that you did. Seriously, that is really great. Do you have a video?

pdicapua made it!(author)2014-11-25

Wow. The fit and finish on that thing is insane...What do you do for work? Would you be available to make other props?

Tenacious+T made it!(author)2014-11-25

This is an incredible Instructable!! I've wanted to make an X3 rocket pack since seeing "The Rocketeer" film in the 90's. Great job - and such AMAZING attention to detail. Now I might finally get around to building my own...

kayakdiver made it!(author)2014-11-25

Incredible piece of art! Thanks for sharing!

violingirl made it!(author)2014-11-25

Wow! This is great!

I watched The Rocketeer a few days ago and this looks just like the one in the movie.

rob2218 made it!(author)2014-11-25

now that is a God given talent there......astounding work sir.

MarcusAvery made it!(author)2014-11-25

You need to show us how you made that helmet! Smashing! Great Build!

monkeywork made it!(author)2014-11-25

Well done! I may have to do this to match my helmet!

Like_no_dukes made it!(author)2014-11-25

I really love this! How heavy is it?

sradtke made it!(author)2014-11-25

Thank you. I would guess about 20-30 pounds.

Euclas made it!(author)2014-11-25

How much?

antagonizer made it!(author)2014-11-23

I recently was watching Tested on youtube, so when I first saw this I could have sworn that you were Adam Savage and were just punking us. You should take that as a huge compliment as I can see a lot of his inspiration in your build, right down to the coloring of the metal lines in the engines. Very well done and a beautiful prop.

kylegilbert made it!(author)2014-11-20

Love this! Excellent work!

kurtnotkirk made it!(author)2014-11-20

very very cool.

TenchuDoug made it!(author)2014-11-20

This is beyond awesome and amazing; Great Work!!!!!

dmcleish made it!(author)2014-11-19

That is fantastic!! Awesome piece of art!

XaqFixx made it!(author)2014-11-18

This is one of my dream build costumes and props, you did AMAZING work! Have you thought about offering kits or pre-molded parts?

The+King+of+Random made it!(author)2014-11-18

Absolutely incredible work! Much respect!

Creativeman made it!(author)2014-11-18

Reminds me of the Rocket Man serials of the '50s...did you ever see that?

Creativeman made it!(author)2014-11-18

I'm awestruck! Your patience, persistence and creativity is unbelievable! Way more than I have, I'm sure. Congratulations on a super build and hope you continue your quest!

jcampos14 made it!(author)2014-11-18

that is unbelievable. great job!

jbriese1 made it!(author)2014-11-17

Totally sick

spiderham made it!(author)2014-11-17

You should post this on the RPF if you haven't done so already. The pack looks amazing.

Mr.+Noack made it!(author)2014-11-17

It's too bad you missed the deadline for this year's costume contest, but it will still be eligible for next year's contest.

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