The Honest John: Real and Model


The Honest John is a rocket dear to many a modelers heart. Perhaps it is the shape of the flared olgive nose cone or just the fact it was a solid fueled propelled rocket, the Honest John is one of the most reproduced rockets in the modern modelers arsenal. The rocket was first tested in 1951 and deployed in 1953. The rocket was the first nuclear capable surface to surface rocket but also could be used with standard high explosive warheads. The missile was unguided and launched from a truck mounted launcher. This gave the missile great maneaverability in the field.
There were 2 versions:

* MGR-1A(large fins) had a range of 48 kilometers, takeoff thrust of 400 kN, takeoff weight of 2720 kg, diameter of 580 mm and length of 8.32 m.
* MGR-1B(small fins) had a range of 37 kilometers, launch thrust of 382 kN, launch weight of 2040 kg, diameter of 760 mm and length of 7.56 m.

There is an interesting story told by an officer about the pin system on the Honest John.The rocket prior to ignition is held secure by three large pins on its raised launching rail or ramp. The pins are painted red so they can be readily seen, but apparently the one in the middle is obscured from casual observation by some of the mechanism and might be overlooked. A failure to notice and remove that middle pin would set events in motion.

One of the U.S. officers gave this account:

“I was sitting there waiting for the rocket to fire, and finally it did. I saw this big cloud of smoke and flames, but I noticed that I didn’t see any rocket coming out of it. I thought, ‘uh oh!'” When the smoke cleared up a little, I could see the rocket was still sitting there attached to the truck. Then, the truck started to shake and bounce around, and pretty soon the whole thing kind of rose up slowly into the air — truck, rocket, and all! It got up about 50, 60 feet and then nosed over, and slammed into the ground. The motor was still burning, so it started rolling and bouncing end-over-end down range, until it finally blew up.”

Here is a link to the history and a monograph on the Honest John.

If you would like to purchase a kit of the Honest John you can contact one of these companies:
38mm Public Enemy Rockets
29mm Mad Cow Rocketry
Fliskits Micromax Kit

Scratch Building
Scratch builders also have resources for a BT50 version using one of these nose cones:
NCB-50HJ at Fliskits or the
Flared Oglive at Semroc

The plans for the Centuri model are here. The Estes model here.

Scale drawings are available from Peter Alway:
Large fin Version
Small Fin Version

Here is my HJ
(and the story behind it) and here is
A 700 pound full scale model

How about some video on the HJ?
Here are two pieces of documentary footage

An HPR HJ flight

This entry was posted in Rocketry Education, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Honest John: Real and Model

  1. Joy says:

    The MSU Space Cowboys Middle School Launch Challenge is a contest for middle school students (6-8th grades) to design, build, test, and fly a rocket with a scientific payload to 800 ft. AGL. Emphasis will also be placed on two written papers that will be due in the course of the contest. This contest is designed to introduce middle school students to not only rocketry, but to aspects of mission planning and teamwork coming together to achieve a successful mission. Flight reviews, budgeting, scheduling, logistics, teamwork, and safety are all important key topics (in addition to the vehicle and its flight) that will addressed in this competition.

    The contest will be divided into two distinct sections: the flight of the rocket and review papers. The review papers are designed similar to what real NASA engineers have to present prior to their launches. The papers for this contest show insight that the team has gained in the course of design and construction, and testing and validation. Each paper will be 3-5 pages in length. Feedback will be received from the Space Cowboys.

    The flight itself will be graded by: whether or not the team conducts themselves professionally, all safety guidelines and rules followed, successful flight, successful recovery, and altitude. Safety is paramount on launch day. Unsafe rockets or rocketeers will not be allowed to launch under any circumstances. The contest launch will be conducted in accordance with the guidelines set out by the National Association of Rocketry.

    The top three winners of the contest will receive a cash prize in the name of their school/organization. The total purse for this contest is $1,350, with $1,000 going to the winning school. There will also be other prizes handed out on launch day.

    February 1, 2008 – Entry Forms Due
    March 14, 2008 – Progress Reports Due
    April 7, 2008 – Readiness Review Due
    April 12, 2008 – Launch Day – Mississippi State University

    Contact or (601) 750 0325 for more information

  2. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Digg telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

  3. Jeffry Fontaine says:

    Getting the following message when linking to the links for scale drawings available from Peter Alway for the large fin and small fin versions of the Honest John rocket:


    Any chance of recovering those drawings and making them available again?



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  6. scale scale says:

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    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

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