A combination of the Space Race and the Cold War with the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R.)
in the 1950s and 1960s generated a lot of interest in rocketry -
both full-scale and hobby models. The shroud of secrecy
Iron Curtain) surrounding all aspects of the Communist
regime served to increase the fascination with any form of technology
that emerged in the public. Keeping prying eyes of of ground-based
entities was difficult enough for the Ruskies, but it is nearly
impossible to prevent observations of things in the air - like rockets,
helicopters, and airplanes. A lot of information can be gleaned
about a rocket, for instance, by its physical size and shape; exhaust
temperature, chemical composition, and sound signature; flight path,
etc. Military rockets were of greatest interest to the
Free Worlds' (which ain't so 'free' anymore)
investigators, but even models like the atmospheric sounding rocket
provided clues as to the state of the art in Russia. They made good
scale hobby subjects because of being unusual and rarely seen
(especially in the days before the Internet).
Count-down: Soviet MR-1 Meteo Sounding Rocket
Conducted by G. Harry Stine
Soviet rocketry is of worldwide interest and it follows that
Russian designs hold many scale modeling possibilities. The MR-1
Meteo sounding rocket is such a subject. It can be 'staged' in the
model using standard American body tubes.
Meteo model rocketsonde built by Otakar Saffek, president of the
Czechoslovak National Association of Rocketry. Decals homemade.
(Photo, left, by Stine)
The MR-1 Meteo: Soviet rocketry is not the secret enigma that
many people in the United States think. Photographs, drawings, and
performance data on a number of USSR birds have been openly published
in aerospace journals and magazines. Just as Soviet aircraft do
not show any obvious differences from their Western counterparts,
so Soviet rockets are really quite straightforward - taking into
account, of course, that some detail design philosophy differs between
the East and the West. USSR rockets have a tendency to be simple,
straightforward, and often over-designed.
There is also a prevalent opinion in the USA that the entire
Russian rocket program was stolen from the Germans and that the
program still depends on captured German scientists. This is simply
and categorically not true. Anyone who has taken the time to acquaint
himself with Russian rocket history knows that. The Soviet rocket
program depended no more on the Germans than our own program. It
is a matter of recorded history that the Soviets began supporting
two amateur rocket groups - one in Moscow and the other in Leningrad
- in about 1919 and developed their entire rocket program from the
progress of these two groups. Aeronautical historians know that
the Russians flew a rocket-propelled interceptor aircraft, the Berezniak-Isaev
BI-1, in 1942 and that they experimented with solid-propellant RATO
units mounted on a Tupolev I-4 in 1934-1935.
In addition to building ICBM's and space boosters, the USSR has
also been active in the field of sounding rockets. Typical of their
rocketsondes is the MR-1 "Meteo," a boosted rocket comparable in
many respects to our own "Aerobee." It was developed in 1948-1949
by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. During the IGY (1957-1958),
the MR-1 Meteo was flown by the Russians from launching sites in
Franz Joseph Land, in Siberia, and in the Antarctic, some 170 Meteos
being flown during that period.
Meteo will carry a payload of 158.5 pounds to an altitude of
about 60 miles. The payload separates from the sustainer, and both
sections are recovered by large square parachutes. The bird is launched
from a tower.
The following data on the MR-1 Meteo was obtained from the Czech
magazine Letectir + Kosmonautica published in Prague in October
1965: Take-off weight: 915 kg. (2013 lb); Payload weight: 72 kg
(158.5 lb.); Overall length: 9.12 m (358.59 in); Acceleration: 9.08
In the figures below, the first figure is for the booster, the
second for the sustainer:
Weight, 235 kg (517 lb), 680 kg (1496 lb); Length, 1.368 m (58.8
in), 7.0 m (275.6 in); Diameter, 0.435 m (17.12 in), 0.435 m (17.12
in); Fin span, 1.22 m (48 in), 1.22 m (48 in); Propellant, Solid,
Nitric acid + gasoline.
Propellant wt., 82 kg (180.5 lb), 380 kg (836 lb); Thrust, 8300
kp (18,300 lb), 1300 kp (2860 lb); Duration, 2.0 sec., 60 sec.;
Burnout velocity, 170 m/sec (558 ft/sec), 1100 m/sec (3610 ft/sec);
Burnout altitude, 150-180 m (492-590 ft), 28 km (92,000 ft); Peak
altitude, for sustainer - 96 km (59.6 mi).
While the booster is a high-thrust solid, the sustainer engine
is a pressure-fed liquid unit utilizing hypergolic propellants fed
to a regeneratively - cooled thrust chamber. The rocket is a fin-stabilized
free-ballistic vehicle with no guidance system, depending upon its
launch tower for initial guidance and its fins for aerodynamic stabilization.
The MR-1 Meteo makes an excellent subject for scale model rocketry,
since its dimensions are such that it can be staged using the taped-engine
technique that we must follow to insure air-starts. Utilizing the
following body tubes, the model scales come out as: Estes BT-50
= 1:17.55; Centuri #8 = 1:18.88; Centuri #10 = 1:16.50.
The dimensions on the drawing must be reduced accordingly by
proportioning. Pre-fabbed commercial nose cones can be used directly
- the Estes BNC-50K, or the Centuri BC-101 (pointed by the builder).
Fins cut from 3/32" sheet balsa will suffice for all three scales,
since we have no exact data on the thickness of the prototype fins.
Fin airfoil is a simple flat wedge with a square trailing edge.
Considerable care should be taken with the balance of the model,
due to the aft location of the CP of the staged configuration. This
CP is within a fraction of an inch of the true CP, as calculated
by the Barrowman method. Two to three nose weights are required.
It helps if the nose cone and parachute section are made as separate
units with the recovery separation at the base of the chute section.
This requires a nose cone, a short piece of body tube, and balsa
nose block. The use of a turned hardwood nose would eliminate the
need for some of the nose weight. The nose probe should be made
from small wood dowel, and not from metal!
Because of the small fin area on the booster and the more-than-average
weight of the MR-1 Meteo model, the use of a Type B3-O engine for
the booster is recommended. This bird needs to come off the launch
rod with as high an airspeed as possible for stabilization purposes.
For restricted area flying, the use of a Type 1/4A.8-0 or, at most,
a Type 1/2A.8-0 in the booster can be tolerated, but it should be
a heads-up flight.
scheme, according to Otakar Saffek of Prague and Letectir + Kosmonautica
magazine is: Top stage: Silver overall with one red fin; Booster:
red overall with one silver fin.
Magazine photos (which aren't reproducible herein because of
their screening) show no details on MR-1 Meteo and no lettering;
they are typical Soviet photos which are just fuzzy silhouettes.
News and Stuff: Within a few months, the Second Edition (2nd
Stage?) of the Handbook of Model Rocketry should be published. The
response of modelers to this complete handbook has been astounding,
even to me. As a result, the first printing is almost completely
sold out. The 2nd Edition was long ago finalized and put to bed,
incorporating changes in the photos, drawings, and text to reflect
the tremendous progress in model rocketry since it was first published
in mid-1965. You wouldn't believe the changes that had to be made!
The whole chapter on multi-staging had to be revised, and an entirely
new chapter on boost-gliders was written. There were major changes
made in the parts dealing with ignition as well as in the section
concerned with range operations. And, throughout the book, there
were numerous little changes.
The Handbook has obviously served a very useful function in another
way, too. I brought up a number of questions that had not been answered
in model rocketry, a number of problems that had not been solved,
and a few things we thought were generally impossible. This was
enough to push the Start Button on a couple of modelers. They blasted
off to prove that the Old Rocketeer was dead wrong, or stupid, or
off his gourd. Lindsay Audin solved the problem of Krushnic Effect
(it's just nozzle over-expansion, as he so carefully and completely
proved in 1966). Pat Artis proved that parallel staging really worked
in 1965, and rammed home his proven ideas in 1966. These are just
two of the guys who were bugged by the Handbook. And I am completely
delighted. This is the way it should be!
I expect you characters to try to take me apart in spades for
what I write herein! I must only add that you'd better be careful
before you try it, because if you are not right, I will bite.
Attention, all Canadian readers! Now, at long last, you've got
your own model rocket organization. Thanks to Bill Paris of the
Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association and several other people
in Canada the Canadian Association of Rocketry is in operation.
Contact the C.A.R. at Suite 207, 2277 Riverside Drive E., Ottawa
Canadians, this is your model rocket group. They've worked hard
to get some laws and regulations changed in Canada to permit you
to fly, The CAR is affiliated with an FAI aero club and therefore
has a direct link to all of the international model rocketry that
is now going on.
Posted July 18, 2015