A vintage Studio Scale Estes Maxi Brute X-Wing Fighter


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Hello, like-minded geeks! This is my first post here, but I've been lurking for years as I have intermittently powered through a build of the venerable old Estes Maxi Brute X-Wing Fighter kit. As an introduction I will share that I am a flying rocket guy who tends to focus on scale replicas that I fly in international FAI competition, but have great appreciation for the work shown here. In particular the guidance offered by the "One Stop X-Wing Thread" has been invaluable, with the only regrets that I didn't find it earlier before so many of the photos disappeared.

Here's a link to my Maxi Brute build, which has been documented over on a rocketry forum called, predictably, The Rocketry Forum, or TRF for short. I encourage everyone to take a look:

Note that my goal with this project is not to build a 100% screen accurate studio scale replica, although I'd like to get as close to that ideal as possible. Rather, my primary goal is to build the ultimate flying Estes Maxi Brute. Will I fly it when the project is complete? Probably not, but it will certainly be capable of flight.


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Here's a fun shot of the nose of the Maxi Brute, which was just hit with chipping. Note the break point for the separation plane between the nose cone and the rest of the airframe, which is the point where the parachute is ejected during flight.


The canopy has also been abused with some chipping. The cockpit windows are currently covered with masking tape, which is currently protecting gloss black. (There is no cockpit on this model, as the internal motor/stuffer/recovery system tube would make that extremely difficult.) Removal of the cockpit masking will not take place until after the final clear matte coat goes on.

Interesting project for sure...eager to see your next updates(y)(y)
Thanks, it's been a lot of fun, spread over the past three years. Those of you interested in a gory blow-by-blow recap may want to take a look at the Rocketry Forum build thread linked in the first post. Since this forum inspired so much of this project I though it might be fun to document the final push here.

Here's the current state of play of the assemblies, starting with four views of the fuselage.

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The wings, both outer and inner surfaces:

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The turbines and turbine extensions:

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...and the laser cannon elements.

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The markings are a hybrid of the Red Leader/Red One scheme as shown in the fantastic photos from the Greg Jein auction, combined with the outstanding set offered by OWModels on Etsy. (This probably places the model somewhere around the Battle of Scarif, give or take a bit?) The OWModels set seems to share a great deal with the Bandai Red One kit, which served as a great installation guide.

I tried to do masked and painted markings wherever possible. Still, there are over 200 separate decal bits scattered around the model! I especially like the fact that the Red One hero model has the three fin flash markings on the bottom wings, with the outer two flashes in a slightly different shade of red, indicating that they were probably installed as an afterthought.

Next steps will be to add some additional weathering refinements to the laser cannons and turbine extensions, hit the components with a matte finish, and bring everything together. Oh, and add the parachutes, too!
The rear bulkhead/plate/whatever of the Estes MB X-Wing kit is fantastic, easily the best component in the kit. The presence of the big motor mount hole in the middle of the plate bugged me, though, so I seized the opportunity to channel the kitbashing vibe of the ILM model makers back in '76-'77, and bought a Hasegawa Sherman Tank kit off of eBay to scratch build my own central assembly.

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Here's the final look with the paint and weathering in place.

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Here's a fun little addition that you won't find on other X-Wing models. While there is little chance that I will ever fly this model, I do want to honor the kit origins by making it capable of flight. The Estes kit comes with a part called a launch lug to guide the model during the initial boost, essentially a fancy bit of soda straw about 2" long. It works great, but it looks terrible. A far more elegant solution is to install a set of rail buttons, which fit into a slot on a specialized aluminum extrusion used as a launch pad. They're small, look vaguely like they might serve some actual purpose on the prototype, and are easy to install.

I've decided to install the rail buttons in the interwing area, generally hidden out of view. A pair of holes are drilled, a drop of epoxy is dropped into each hole, and the rail buttons are screwed into place.

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Here's the finished rail button installation.


Next step is to install the wings.
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With all of those detailing you're putting on to make it as close as possible from an original, I would be afraid to send it into the air:eek::eek:
I've spent over three years on this project, and it has not escaped my attention that this span of time is longer than the production of any of the "Star Wars" films. Still, the project came to a close late last night, and I'd like to share some photos of the completed project. To recap, this is a 45-year-old Estes Maxi Brute kit, and is absolutely flight capable although it is unlikely to ever be flown. The project was built about as far out-of-the-box as one can get, with scads of masters, molds, resin parts, and scratchbuilt bits added along the way.

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There is another one of these kits looming on the shelf, unbuilt. Hmmm...
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Just wondering, how did these fly?
I built and designed my own rockets in high school back on the 80s. I'd seen them for sale as old stock at local hobby shop back the but assumed they wouldn't fly very well and would likely break off a wing upon landing by parachute.
Just wondering, how did these fly?
These flew poorly. I've never heard a report of an Estes Maxi X-Wing that flew successfully without damage. I built and flew the very closely related NCR X-Wing kit a quarter century ago, and ripped a wing off during recovery. (The NCR kit used the same injection molded parts with a completely different vacuform fuselage, and was designed to fly using higher impulse motors.)

The smaller Estes X-Wing (1/40ish scale?) designed to fly on C motors flew much more reliably.

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