Tom’s Vashon Rocketry Site

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X-13b Rocket Plane
(and Beakers)

Vashon sold three "rocket plane" kits that were each basically a two-finned Valkyrie-1 carrier rocket with a parasite boost glider on the side. These kits were the Astro-Gnat, Baron, and X-13. I acquired an X-13 kit on eBay, but my X-13b model was not constructed from that kit (other than as a guide)—it was built from a different Vashon V-1 motor and parts that I had.

My X-13b carrier rocket incorporates several of the features of my Valkyrie–2b model (an ST-10 body, plywood fins, spring-assisted parachute deployment). The nose cone of the model is made of balsa instead of styrofoam, since that's what the X-13 kit I bought used.

My X-13 glider was built according to the Vashon plans. The glider was covered with orange Monokote. The markings were done by hand with permanent markers (except for the stars-and-bars decal, which came from a general purpose decal sheet I had on hand).

The most interesting feature of the X-13 carrier rocket is the "catapult" that separates the glider from the carrier rocket at ejection. A piece of Vashon plastic fin rail mounted on the glider engages into a similar fin rail on the side of the carrier, allowing the glider to slide forward and backward smoothly. A piece of Vashon plastic launch guide tube is mounted next to the fin rail and an elastic cord runs through this tube and out the bottom. A loop in the bottom end of the cord hooks onto a notch in the tail of the glider, pulling it forward. A stop (another short piece of launch guide) is mounted on the parachute compartment to hold the glider in place during boost. When the parachute compartment separates, the glider is freed and the elastic cord catapults it away from the carrier rocket.

(Click on the pictures of the X-13 at right and below to see larger images.)



I was not overly impressed with the glide of the X-13 glider—not surprising considering the low aspect ratio of its wing. So, I decided to build a second glider for my X-13b carrier rocket: a Beakers!

The Beakers is a canard boost glider that my brother John and I designed back in 1978. I've built and flown several variants of the Beakers over the years, so I knew it was a good performer.

This Beakers is very similar to the original Beakers 2 Hornet Boost Glider design from 1978. It uses 1/16" balsa for the wings, rudders, and canards. The fuselage is 3/32" balsa with some 1/16"-square spruce reinforcing strips along the fuselage ahead of the wing. The reinforcing strips were necessary because the tension of the catapult elastic was causing the fuselage to bend to the side (the fuselage of a Beakers normally doesn't encounter this sideways pull).

The model was covered in red, white, blue, and black Monokote.

In Norse mythology, roast Beaker was the favorite food of the slain warriors who feasted in Valhalla. OK, I'm kidding about that. In John Beach mythology, "beakers" is a term for "chicken," the favorite food of the Beach brothers.

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Page last updated April 11, 2007