The Mosquito Fleet

The Estes Mosquito was my first rocket when I was a teenager. I built it as quickly as I could and flew it on a 1/4A3-2T before it was even painted. I never saw it again. When I became a BAR, I read an article in the Holiday '96 issue of Sport Rocketry Magazine entitled "A Big and Bigger Mosquito". I was immediately interested and set about building the two upscales detailed in the article. While I was at it, I built an original as I had a nose cone.

Soon after, I decided that I could build a BT-50 sized one as well. After that, I decided that I would build a fleet containing one of every size I could find body tubing for. The result is a collection of 15 mosquitos pictured and several more that could easily be built.

The smallest three are actually downscales. The tiny yellow one is built from 10mm Apogee tubing and a balsa nose cone I turned by hand with sandpaper. It has flown on a MicroMaxx motor.. The smallest (gold) one is made for MicroMaxx motors and is made of T2+ tubing from Totally Tubular and a nose cone turned by hand with sandpaper. I have built three these because the first two were lost on their first flights. The small blue one is made from Totally Tubular T-3 tubing. It is a .69x downscale, using featherweight recovery. I turned the nosecone from balsa with a drill.

The small red one is the original size, it is built from a balsa nose cone and 1/16" balsa fins just like the originals in the '70s. It has flown on MicroMaxx, 1/4A and 1/2A motors.

The small green one is BT-20 based and made from balsa fins and nose cone. It has flown on 1/4A and 1/2A motors and was easily recovered. It could fly on a C6-7 but would never be seen again.

The silver one is made from Totally Tubular T-.908 tubing which is a clone of Centuri ST-8. It has a mini motor mount and a streamer.

The small red one is BT-50 based and has a mini motor mount. It has a streamer for recovery. It has flown several times on 1/2A and A motors. I thought about leaving out the mount but decided I would never fly it on a D motor. It could not have a 18mm mount because the engines are too long to leave room for a recovery system.

The small purple one is made from 29mm motor tubing which I lightened by removing some of the inner layers. It has a 13mm motor mount and a 9" parachute for recovery. It is also one of two 2-stage mosquitos. It is pictured below with the lower stage attached.

The blue one is BT-55 based and has an unusual motor mount. It is just a thrust ring in the BT-55. I have built interchangeable mounts that fit in a BT-55 for one, two or three mini engines. Click here for more info about the 3-mini engine mount. This rocket could fly on a cluster of 3 mini motors. It has flown many times on A motors and once on an Apogee B7-4 for a GREAT flight.

The black one is BT-60 based and has an 18mm mount. It is the "Big" mosquito in the Sport Rocketry article. It was my first mosquito as a BAR and I have built it twice. The first was lost in a tree. It has flown over 50 times on A-C motors. I try to fly it at every launch I attend.

The yellow one is based on Aerotech 1.9" tubing and has a 24mm mount. It flew a few times but broke a fin every time. It has been rebuilt with basswood fins instead of balsa.

The dark red one is BT-70 based and has a 24mm mount. The fins are balsa and the nose cone is balsa, turned on a lathe. It has flown several times on C and D motors. It suffered a CATO in the summer of '99. A D12-3 blew a hole through the side between two fins and I never found it. Click here for more pictures of the aftermath.  It has been rebuilt with a new lower stage. It has flown a couple of times as a 2-stager.

The dark green one is the "Bigger" mosquito in the Sport Rocketry article. It is made from BT-80 tubing, basswood fins and an Estes nose cone. This cone is in the Fat Boy kit but this kit can't be used for an upscale because the Fat Boy body tube is too short. I lost it in a tree where it stayed for several weeks before I could recover it. It needed only a fresh coat of paint and a new shock cord and was ready to fly again. It crashed in 2000 and has been rebuilt with my versatile BT-70 motor mount. It also has a glow-in-the-dark nose cone. I used glow powder from Glow, Inc.

The burgundy one is built from 3" PML tubing and a balsa nose cone I turned on a lathe. It has a 29mm mount and a 28" parachute. It flys on F and G motors. It barely gets off the ground on an E18. It had a zipper at NSL/98 because of an early ejection. It has since been fixed. It flys great on F24-4 reloads and F23 BlackMax motors.

The orange one is my pride and joy. It is built from 4" LOC tubing and a nose cone I made from styrofoam and fiberglass. The fins are made from Basswood "plywood" that I made by laying the basswood in alternate directions and expoxying the layers together. It has a 38mm mount and flys on H or small I motors. It flew on an H128-S for my Level 1 certification. It should fly on anything from a G64 to an I161.

Here it is leaving the pad on an H123. It went about 1200' and returned undamaged. It also flys great on an H165.


On Sept 21, 2003, I launched my entire fleet in a single day, using motors from Maxx to H. At the time, it consisted of 15 rockets. I had a total of 17 flights as two of them flew twice. The 7x one flew on G and H motors and the 3x one flew on B and C motors.

Several other sizes could be built. I know of a nose cone made by Scotglas for a 7.5" upscale. They also make a 4" version.  At least one has been built around PML 11" tubing. It is pictured in the April/97 issue of High Power Rocketry magazine. It flew on an M motor. Polecat Aerospace has a 5.5" diameter kit if you want a big one but don't want to scratch build it.

If you are interested in building upscale mosquitos, don't hesitate to email me as I have plenty of experience. The toughest part of building most size mosquitos is fabricating the nose cone. Scotglas should make this much easier.

Following is a chart of scale information for every size of tubing I know of. It can give you the information you might need if you're trying to build your own mosquito.

My Fleet Description Tube OD BT Length NC Length Scale Fin Width Fin length
* T-2+ (MicroMaxx) 0.281 1.03 0.43 0.52 0.26 1.11
* TT T-3 0.375 1.38 0.57 0.69 0.34 1.47
* TT T-4 0.448 1.65 0.68 0.82 0.41 1.76
* BT-5 0.544 2.00 0.83 1.00 0.50 2.13
* BT-20 0.736 2.71 1.12 1.35 0.68 2.9
* T-.908 (ST-8) 0.908 3.34 1.39 1.67 0.83 3.56
* BT-50 0.976 3.59 1.49 1.79 0.90 3.83
^ T-1.04 (ST-10) 1.040 3.82 1.59 1.91 0.96 4.07
* 29mm motor tube 1.210 4.45 1.85 2.22 1.11 4.75
* BT-55 1.325 4.87 2.02 2.44 1.22 5.21
^ BT-56 1.346 4.94 2.05 2.47 1.24 5.26
* BT-60 1.637 6.02 2.50 3.01 1.50 6.43
* Aerotech 1.9 1.880 6.91 2.87 3.46 1.73 7.39
* T-2.04 (ST-20) 2.040 7.50 3.11 3.75 1.88 8.02
* BT-70 2.217 8.15 3.38 4.08 2.04 8.71
54mm motor tube 2.260 8.31 3.45 4.15 2.08 8.88
* BT-80 2.600 9.56 3.97 4.78 2.39 10.22
* 3" LOC/PML 3.100 11.40 4.73 5.70 2.85 12.19
* 4" LOC/PML 4.000 14.71 6.10 7.35 3.68 15.72
^ T-4.476 4.546 16.71 6.94 8.36 4.18 17.86
5.54" LOC 5.540 20.37 8.45 10.18 5.09 21.8
^ 6.15" PML 6.155 22.63 9.39 11.31 5.66 24.2
7.67" PML 7.672 28.21 11.71 14.10 7.05 30.2
9.25" MTR 9.5 35 14.52 17.5 8.75 37.3
11.6" PML 11.660 42.87 17.79 21.43 10.72 45.8

My Fleet indicates the ones I have built (*) or that are under construction (^)

Description is what the tube is commonly called

Tube OD is the outside diameter of the body tube, all scale data is based on the original Mosquito being an Estes BT-5 which has a diameter of .544"

BT Len. is the length of the cut body tube

NC Len. is the approximate exposed length of the nose cone

Scale is the scale factor, how many times the original size the model will be

Fin wid. is the width of the fins. They are cut at 55 degrees from the body tube.

Fin Length is the length of a fin blank.

Making the Fins: Instead of trying to post fin patterns which might not scale correctly, I am giving dimensions and instructions for making fins. To make the fins, start by making 3 rectangular fin blanks using the length and width dimensions given in the table. Make sure the grain runs the long way. Cut one end at a 55 degree angle, this will create the root edge. Use a compass to draw a half-circle on the other end and cut it out. You may wish to trim the leading edge round-over a bit more than the trailing tip (the tip that the rocket sits on when completed). Round over all edges except for the root. Presto, Mosquito fins! I would suggest through-the-wall fin mounting for all sizes BT-70 and larger. You will need to lengthen the blank to allow enough material for the tab. I used balsa for my BT-60 and smaller versions. I used Basswood for the 1.9" through BT-80 sizes and plywood or G10 for the big ones. If this doesn't make sense, email me. and I will try to help you make fins of the proper dimensions.

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