In February 2001, Charlie Battery got together in Lake Charles, Louisiana for Mardi Gras. We were to have a float in one of the Mardi Gras parades. What a better decoration for that float, than a full size HAWK missile. I had several choices, I could try to acquire a real missile or a training round from the Army. Knowing the way the government works, and the weight of a real missile, I decided that was not the way I wanted to go. So that left me with the option of building a full scale model. With no real plan of action, I made it up as I went along.

I wanted the model to be exact (or as close as I could get) in dimension to a real missile. I needed some blueprints. Now I can tell you these are not easy to come by. After searching all over the web, I just about gave up. Then took a wild shot and went to an anonymous military contact. After a brief explanation, the plans were faxed to me.

So to kick off this project, I popped a top on a cold one, and began.





First step was to cut out the fins. I choose to use 1/4" plywood. I know they are not as thick as the real one, but I was willing to make a few concessions. For strength, I cut the out in sets of two, and interlaced the together.






I needed a BIG paper towel cardboard tube. A friend in the construction business suggested a "sonotube". A cardboard tube used to pour concrete forms. They came in the correct diameter, but not in the correct length. So I was going to have to attach two tubes together.

I slit the tube with a power saw on four sides, and slipped the interlaced fin sections into place. The split sections of the tube were then stitched with drywall screws to a plywood circle inserted into the tail of the tube. This kept the split sections together in the proper shape. Then some flexible caulking on both sides of each fin bonded them to the tube. After they dried, it was a pretty secure section.



I cut a circle the same size as the ID of the tubes out of 3/4" plywood, and attached a 1" dowel, the length to the tip of the nose cone, to it. (The reason for the dowel will become apparent soon). I slid the plywood circle into the first tube (about halfway) then stitched the tube to the plywood circle all the way around with drywall screws.





Looking back I probably spent too much time on trying to get the radome to look realistic. Only HAWK people would have know the difference, and since the only HAWK people I know about were going to be on the float, it probably didn't matter. But I was going for accurate, so there!

Using the blueprint, I figured the exact taper of the radome. I cut out plywood circles to match the taper and spaced them at the proper intervals. (by this time I had begun to drink heavily!! Why did I ever commit to this project...what was I thinking??)



Next I slipped on the second tube and stitched it to the plywood circle with the screws. Then with a fine blade on the power saw, I cut out sections of the tube from where the taper started to the end of the nose.

(The neighbors began to wonder just what the hell I was doing on the carport. They would really begin to wonder in a few days)





Then I "clamshelled" the strips down to the plywood circles in the nose cone. I stitched the cardboard to the plywood with the drywall screws, all the way down to the tip.





I experimented with different ways of covering the nose framework. I first used paper mache' mixed with plaster of paris. The plaster of paris I had left over from my artistic days, was very old and didn't bond real well. I woke up the next day to find most of it on the concrete floor (the white powder underneath in the picture). So I got another drink and went inside to think it over. I was flipping through the channels and there was a home improvement show on. They were "taping and floating" a wall. I saw this new sticky, gauzy tape they were using. I went to the hardware store and got some rolls of it. After a good tape job over what was left of the paper mache, I covered it with new paper mache, mixed with new plaster and some powdered resin glue for strength. The next morning it was all still on the missile and not on the floor! Success!

Since the front end worked so well the behind end got the same treatment. The tail end came out pretty good. At my age I have seen more that a few tail ends, and this was one of the better ones...but that's a different story, so lets not stray!

Just to be sure, I caulked the fins to the tube one more time, and filled in any openings. I sanded over the plaster to make it very smooth.




The whole bird got several coats of white primer. The plaster took several coats, because it tended to soak up the paint.

Now this project is beginning to look like I just might make it. It was becoming fun, and I could see progress. The neighbors on the other hand, began to show great concern.




After passing final inspection by the local fat cat. It was time to put on that color we all know and love..Olive Drab!

Now I know some of you will say that their missiles were white. But the ones I worked with were OD, so that was going to be my color of choice.




Kinda looking like the real thing about now. Neighbors begin gathering and pointing. Law enforcement, start driving by real slow, but I keep on working.






In my prior life, I was a sign painter. I remembered enough of the skill to add the finishing touches. (No they are not stencils or vinyl lettering, all done by hand)





I built a cradle to hold it at the angle I wanted for the float. Covered it with that Army camo netting.

The neighbors are finally asking me what is going on. With my most serious expression I tell them I am getting ready for the "big one"...the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!!!

The cops have stopped cruising by every few minutes. Now dark sedans with heavy tinted windows drive by. What is so strange about a neighborhood missile site? I have taken the neighborhood watch program to a new level.




Estimated costs:
Materials- about $150
Labor hours - don't ask
Alcohol intake - yes, often
Would you do it again - no way!



It is parade day and time to build the float.

The trailer is backed up, and the launcher crew loads the missile.

The cradle holding the missile is screwed to the floor of the trailer. In case the driver comes to a screeching halt, we didn't want the missile to score a direct hit on the float in front of us.

Gregg and Geoff finish putting on the side rails, as Danny supervises, and does a quality check on the beer stock.

The completed float in line at the parade staging area. The mardi gras beads are loaded on the float. All that is missing is the Charlie Battery crew, who are probably getting loaded also.

Someone said I needed a radar to go with the missile, ok here is the Cajun High Power Illuminator!