The Madcow Rocketry Sea Wolf is a semi scale version of the Royal Navy‘s (that's British if you didn't pay attention in school) anti-ship missile Sea Wolf Missile system. This is a 38mm semi scale kit with cool features like fin plates, fin tips, and staggered fins.
The instructions are very easy to follow, and like Madcow's other kits, they are a breeze to build. The instructions fit on one folded page, and when you factor in the fact that a quarter of that is a picture of the rocket and the kit contents, you can see there's not much reading here. Some well illustrated and thought out pictures and a few paragraphs of info is all it takes to build this kit.
All the parts fit perfectly together. The centering rings were just slightly oversize so that a quick "wipe" with some sandpaper cleaned them up and gave them a nice snug fit. The solid through-the-wall fins make this a sturdy kit. I used epoxy on all the fins, centering rings, and motor mount tube. I used wood glue for the couplers. I don't know why, but there are two couplers and three tubes for the airframe. Perhaps it's for ease of shipping, but it didn't really affect the build.
I thought I add a section here all by itself on the CG. This is important on this kit. The long and large fins on this rocket make it necessary to pay attention to the CG. The kit calls for the CG to be 24.5" from the tip of the nose cone. Because of the fins and the nose weight needed, I decided to do a RockSim on this one. Keep in mind that the CG changes with different motors so you need to know what the largest motor you will fly will be. (Yes, none of this is new info, but this is one of those kits you need to put all this to use.) My weight after finishing (but before adding weight) was 63.5 oz. After adding nose weight, mine ended up at 81.7 oz with everything but a motor. This put the CG at 24".
I used steel weight and put it in the nose cone through a hole I drilled alongside the eye bolt hole. I then added 2oz of epoxy and placed a piece of masking tape over the hole. Placing the nose cone in an upright position made the weight and the epoxy settle to the shoulder area. This was important because epoxy will not stick to the plastic. Instead, the epoxy covers the machine screw end of the eye bolt and, when hardens, becomes a mass around the screw. This effectively secures the weight to the base of the cone and secures the eye bolt to the nose cone.
The most time consuming part of the build is the fillets. With over 280 inches of fillets, you have a chore ahead of you. The "fin plates" have an added difficulty by being a flat section of 1/8" plywood glued to a curved surface. The builder has about a 3/16" inch gap to fill at their widest point. A suggestion would be to make them out of basswood. This would allow them to be easily curved to the airframe, cost less, and save weight at the end of the rocket that needs to be lighter. It would even cut the build time.
I painted it with two coats of Rustoleum gray primer, followed by two coats of white, and a few coats of black on the nose cone. I then painted the fin plates in red after a long morning of masking. I guess I forgot to look at the picture because I did it wrong. I did look at the picture to finish with the trim. For that I used 3/16" Pactra black trim tape.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
Don't let the ease of build fool you into thinking this is a wimpy rocket. The design and quality of the components will allow this rocket to rip off the pad on large 38mm motors. But, at only 5 lbs, it can also be lofted with a 29mm motor if you have an adapter on hand. My first flight was on a Pro 38 H153 to about 1,000 feet. I set the delay to about 8 seconds and this proved to be a little late.
This thing comes with a parachute, and I was happy about that. So many companies don't give you a cute these days on 4" and larger kits because, "it allows you to pick your own chute size". (I never did buy that excuse.) Well, I for one was happy to have them pick one for me.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
This is not the first Madcow kit I've built, but it is the largest. The ease and simplicity of the build, the quality of the components, and the coolness of this kit will make it a durable favorite. If it appears I had fun writing this review, I had just as much building and flying it. Please, pay attention to your CG/CP relationship.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5