Team Rocket Aircraft


Isn’t the Rocket series just a souped up RV-4?

Yes and No. The F-1 is an evolution of the HR2, and all parts are manufactured by Team Rocket.
The HR2 was derived from the RV-4, and uses many structural parts from the -4 kit.
Both the F1 and the HR2 use the 6 cylinder IO-540 engine; the RVs all use 4 cylinder Lycoming engines as standard equipment.

Huh? You mean there are two different Rockets?

Yes. The F-1 is our product and supported by Team Rocket, Inc. There are also a few hot rod 6 cylinder RVs, which are often referred to as having been ?Rocketized?, but those won’t be addressed here. There is the Harmon Rocket 2 which is sold and supported by John Harmon of D&J Harmon, Inc.?

What’s the difference between the HR2 and the F-1?

HAY CARAMBA! This is a tough one and requires a bit of history. The quick answer would be: The F1 QB is a stand-alone kit, and does not require the builder to purchase anything from other airplane manufacturers to complete the airplane assembly.
• An answer with a bit more history would be more like: Let’s go way back.... Ray Stits built a small homebuilt known as a Playboy. Dick Van Grunsven, of Van’s Aircraft, built one and then improved it. Eventually this design developed into the RV-3. The RV-3 grew into an RV-4. John Harmon built souped up versions of both the RV-3 and RV-4 --these hot rods were known as Rockets. Due to customer demands, John developed a conversion kit (more about that later) to modify an RV-4 into the HR2. Using knowledge gained during the assembly of at least 8 HR2 kits, including Bruce Bohannon’s Exxon Flyin’ Tiger, Mark Frederick then developed the F-1 Quickbuild kit to satisfy his customer demands. The F1 QB is a stand-alone kit, and does not require the builder to purchase anything from Van’s.

OK that’s a little history. So what’s the difference? To the untrained eye, not much, but then again an untrained eye can’t tell the difference between a Cessna 172 and the Space Shuttle....

The HR2 requires that you buy the tail, and parts of the fuselage and wing kits from Van’s. Unnecessary parts can be deleted from those kits. You then buy the HR2 conversion kit from John Harmon and start assembling your airplane. The F-1 kit is pretty much one-stop shopping, but...

HR2 appears to be a kit for the more experienced builders, as it is a combination of RV-4 parts from Van’s and the HR2 kit purchased from John, consequently requiring the builder to make the parts from one manufacturer fit those from another manufacturer. In other words, it is not a ?pre-punch? type building experience. To be fair, some HR2 builders have expressed a preference for this type of assembly process—they feel more involved.

The F-1 kit is a Quickbuild and presently sells for about $30,000 USD, where the HR2 is a parts-only kit, currently costing about $16,000. To make the comparison more of an apples-to-apples type, you would have to add the sliding canopy kit, various fairings, bigger brakes, and various other parts, included in the F1 kit, to the HR2 kit parts list. This changes the final HR2 parts cost to nearer $19,000. Some folks will look at the HR/F1 QB difference (approx. $11,000) and say this is money well spent; others will want to build their kits from parts for their own reasons.

News Flash 10/20/2000: Team Rocket is taking orders for a parts-only version now. The kit will debut at Sun-n-Fun 2001, and will cost $19,999.00, including the sliding canopy sub-kit. The F1 parts-only kit will be shipped with the firewall, fuel tanks, main spars, and spar bulkhead completed at the factory. The empennage kit is an additional purchase on both the QB and parts-only kits.

The visual (apparent) differences between the finished planes are subtle. The F-1 has 52 gallons of fuel, the HR2 has 42 gallons. The F-1 has a slider canopy, the HR2 typically has a ‘tilt-over’. The F-1 forward fuselage has a slightly different shape, stronger gear legs, and is delivered with substantial corrosion protection. The F-1 was designed for efficient production, so the parts naturally have to fit better (a real benefit for those opting for the parts-only kit). However, since it’s a QB kit, you won’t appreciate much of the 2 year design effort since it will already be mostly assembled when you get it. The HR2 parts are much like other kits....some fitting, trimming, and shimming, and keep building.

The engineering differences between the F1 and the HR2 are substantial. A close look inside a typical version of either type will bear this out.

I could go on and on but many of the differences become evident by reading the other questions, and doing a little simple research.

OK—I’m looking at the F1 or the RV-8 as my next kit. What are the differences between these two?

I would suggest the most apparent difference is the engine, but there are engineering and structural differences too. The speed range of the F1 is several notches higher, mainly due to its substantially different wing design. Interior room is actually very close between the two—luggage space and capacity is also similar, even though the -8 has two luggage compartments. The seating position is different: you seem to sit down into the F1, where you feel a bit more upright in the -8. Pilots also comment that the F1 instrument panel is about 3-4? further from your eyes, making the pilots’ ‘office’ seem a bit roomier.

The assembly process of both QB kits is similar in that both have approximately the same ‘job requirement list’ to get either ship into the air. As both companies have to comply with the FAA 49% rule, the similarity in job requirements place both kits at virtually the same starting point. Back to Top Handle JS Kit stuff

How about cost differences between the F1 and the -8?

The difference between two equally equipped ships would be closer than you might think. The F1 kit costs a bit more, but the engines (IO-540 vs IO-360) cost about the same on the used market. Props, radios, interior and paint would be almost the same for both. The difference in resale value puts the F1 ahead when comparing assembly cost to the sale price.

Isn’t the 540 a thirsty beast to feed?

The 540 has the capability to put out 250 to 300 HP. Certainly, using this horsepower capability does not come free. However, if you want to cruise with your buddies, you can reduce power to the same output level they are using, and use the same fuel flow to go the same speed. For example: an economy cruise setting of 2100 RPM and 21? MP at 10,000 will net a TAS of 220 MPH on 10.5 GPH. As you start with more HP at sea level, you also have more available at the higher altitudes. You can use this extra margin of power to achieve higher cruise speeds at higher altitudes.

How about flutter? A 275 MPH VNE is pretty fast!

Don’t panic. I’ve never heard of anyone experiencing flutter on the Rockets, or any other of the RV series. I have heard of one HR2 builder who has 340+ horsepower and can cruise at 275mph+ (try to imagine THAT fuel flow!!). Ken Fowler typically uses an entry dive speed of 300+ MPH in his aerobatic routine, with no apparent difficulties.

I’ve noticed that many of the Rockets use different empennage kits. Why?

Originally, the RV-4 tail was the standard recommendation for the HR2. Lately, several builders have opted for the RV-8 empennage since it has a balanced rudder, which supposedly would be more flutter resistant, and the increased area of the -8 vertical surface offers more stability. The -8 elevators are on the small side for Rocket applications (not quite enough authority in the flare at fwd CG/full flap situations), but the -4 horizontal surfaces work fine.

Team Rocket now has an F1 specific-designed empennage kit, also pre-punched in many areas. The vertical surface is enlarged over the -4 surfaces, and the rudder is counterweighted. The elevators have faired counterweights, and are sized to accommodate the wide CG range of the F1 (and the HR2).

Our thanks to Vince Frazier for allowing us some ‘editorial freedom’ with the contents of his FAQ page. If you have questions you think can benefit this FAQ page, please send them in!

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