Little Joe-II Pages


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Little Joe

Original Little Joe
with Apollo CM/LES

The "Little Joe" (far left) was originally created as a simple solid propellant clustered rocket to test out the Launch Escape and Recovery systems for the Mercury program.

There was a Little Joe 2, which was, oddly enough, the third (not second) of the Little Joe Mercury tests to be flown. But that Mercury Little Joe #2 should not be confused with the Little Joe-II (far right) used for Apollo.

Early concepts for testing the Apollo Spacecraft were varied. One was to simply adapt the Apollo CM and LES on top of the original Little Joe (near left). Another concept was to scale-up the original Little Joe, to use a body to match the diameter of the Service Module and to include a Service Module (near right).

The design evolved to use a different design with different fins, a corrugated body, and a capability to add a guidance control system later. What it did share the most with the original Little Joe was the name, now called Little Joe-II, and the relatively simple and reliable use of clustered solid propellant rocket motors.

Concept for larger version of Little Joe-I

Little Joe-II
Mission A-004

A-001 ,    QTV,  & QTV SM

A-004,     A-003,     A-002   

QTV Fin Attachment

1/39.5 drawing of A-004 (3' x 4')

A-003 without lower BPC

The Little Joe-II pages in this portion of the website have been created to both help to document the Little Joe-II, and models of them. For models, mainly the ones that Tom Beach and I have built, and for the Model Rocket Kits which have been available through the years.

Individually, Tom and I both became aware of the Little Joe-II due to the kits available in the 1970's. Most notably the "Historical Brochure" which Centuri had in their 1/100 and 1/45 kits. The Little Joe-II was a neat looking rocket. And, one could buy and fly an "Apollo Rocket" a lot easier (easy for the Centuri kits at least) and cheaper than buying a Saturn-IB or Saturn-V kit.

Around 1978, Tom started collecting information and photos on the Little Joe-II. In 1989, thanks to Wayne Hendrick's interest, I started looking into building a serious scale model, and contacted Tom Beach who was known to be the person in model rocketry to know the most about the Joe-II.

This eventually led to the creation of drawings to document all five of the Little Joe-II's that had flown. Those drawings, plus photos, and a special article written by Tom, were featured in the May/June and July/August 1991 issued of the NAR's American Spacemodeling Magazine (Now Sport Rocketry, which Tom is the editor for).

Tom built a 1/100 model which won at NARAM-29 and took 3rd at NARAM-28. I built one at 1/39.5 scale that won NARAM several times, once with a scale pad. And a few other models, including one at 1/100 and one for pure fun at 1/22 (7" diameter).

When we created the data for American Spacemodeling we had thought there were going to be a couple of hundred extra copies or so run off on purpose, so that NARTS would have back-issues to sell as ready-made Little-Joe-II data-packs to people in future years. Unfortunately, that did not happen, and there were even less leftovers from the print runs than normal. So, for a long time I have wanted to put up some pages to make up for the lack of back-issues of that data. Finally that has happened, with these pages.

All of the drawings are here, plus some extras, including Launch Pad drawings Tom drew up. Also, all of the photos that Tom collected and scanned. As well, a second page of other photos.

There are also a lot of the original NASA reports on the Little Joe-II's, which are now available from the NASA Technical Server. So I have included a page listing the on-line PDF files I found, plus some samples from them and links to download them for yourself.

I have created a page for Tom's Models and a page for my models, including some construction notes and photos.

And, last but not least, a page listing all of the Little Joe-II Model Rocket Kits that have been produced.

I hope you enjoy them.

George Gassaway - December, 2008

Please see the links below, for this site and for other pages on the web.

Tom with 12-51-4 in New Mexico

George (far right) at JSC in 1979
Ric Gaff photo

Tom Beach at NARAM-28 (1986)

George's model at NARAM-34 (1992)
Tom Beach photo

      Real Little Joe-II

  • Article - Tom Beach's Article as used in American Spacemodeling Magazine in 1991. With some photos and drawings for context.
  • Drawings - Large number of drawings that George Gassaway and Tom Beach created for the May/June and July/August 1991 issues of American Spacemodeling magazine (Now Sport Rocketry). With some additional drawings by George and Tom, Pad drawings by Tom, plus an original General Dynamics blueprint from Tom's collection.
  • Photos One - Scans of Little Joe-II Photos collected by Tom Beach. Plus a list by Tom of known Little Joe-II Photos, with NASA Photo Numbers.
  • Photos Two - Additional photos from various sources
  • NASA Reports - Several reports on the Little Joe-II which proved invaluable in determining dimensions and details not found anywhere else.

      Little Joe-IIModels
  • Kits - Little Joe-II Kits from 1968 to 2008

       Other Useful links:
  • Confidence Booster - Air & Space Magazine article on the Little Joe-II, by Bob Craddock (June, 2008)
  • Sven Knudsen's Rocketry Site - An excellent site with a huge number of links about Model Rocketry, including scans of old Catalogs and Model Rocketry Magazine.
  • Jim Z's site - Scans of instructions and info for many model rocket kits.

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