The Launch Pad ALARM

The Launch Pad - Alarm {Kit} (K001)

Contributed by Ted Phipps

Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 2.60 inches
Manufacturer: The Launch Pad
Skill Level: 3
Style: Scale

[Alarm Pic]The Launch Pad, a company specializing in military-style rockets and missiles, created this ‘scale’ kit of the Air Launched Anti-Radiation Missile (ALARM). The real ALARM is manufactured in Great Britain.

Digging into the components, the 2.6" body tubes and plastic nose cone are Estes strength (might actually be Estes parts). There seems to be some complaints about the balsa in LP kits, and this one was no exception. The included balsa was softer than I’d select for my personal use. A couple of impressions on the rest of the parts; the 18" copper-colored mylar chute is pretty cool, the provided shock cord (1/4" elastic) is too short, and there are no decals for this kit. All of it is pretty standard Estes type stuff.

The instructions are very good, but basic. Listed as a level 3 kit, many things are assumed, such as putting the launch lug in the right place and knowing what a cruciform is when laying out the fins. What this means is that you are free to use your own techniques as you go. You do get fin and transition templates.

When looking at the fin template, we thought we’d discovered a problem. LP marks the root edge of the fin on the template, and I thought it was a ‘grain direction’ mark. This would’ve made for extremely weak fins, but the instructions do specifically state "grain parallel to the leading edge". The problem was me misinterpreting the mark on the template.

After cutting out the fins, you soak them in thin CA for strength, and the finished product is tougher than I expected.

The ALARM features a boat tail and a cone over the tip of the nose cone (to change the profile). Both use heavy paper painted with CA to strengthen them. Don’t rush things here, be prepared for several rounds of filler and sanding, and the results will be much better. I also made some practice templates on a copier, to get a feel for how the curves would form.

The 24mm motor mount is recessed into the boat tail a bit, so we painted the inside of the boat tail with CA for durability. Motor retention is by a supplied motor hook.

You’ll need to make your own fin alignment wrap (I used VCP). With eight fins (two sets of four) alignment gets tricky, but getting them straight up and down is probably more important than being perfectly in-line. I replaced the supplied shock cord with a piece about 3 times the body length. I also cut the supplied 3/8" launch lug in half and glued a piece into the root fin of each set – upper and lower.

Finishing is simple. Fill, prime, sand and paint. The ALARM is red with a few ½" black stripes. We were going to use pinstriping tape from the local auto-parts store, but I couldn’t find any wide enough. What I eventually did was print the stripes onto blank decal paper and apply them like any regular decals. The final touch was a few light mistings of clear-coat to protect the decals.

The finished rocket looks very good, and seems to be stronger than I thought it would be.

The recommended motors are D12-3, E15-4, E30-7 (all single use 24mm), and the F25-7 RMS. For it’s first flight, we used an E15-4. The boost was a little squirrely, leaving a smoke trail that looked like a sidewinder tracking a moving plane. It straightened out nicely and the chute ejected fine. There was no damage upon recovery. I’m going to add some nose weight to try and straighten out that boost, this might also mean I’ll have to increase the chute size.

Construction: 3 out of 5 - Careful construction rewards the builder.
Flight/Recovery: 4 out of 5 - This is an exciting rocket that delivers.
Overall: 4 out of 5 - I like the building aspect of rocketry, so this was a satisfying project.

Don’t rush construction, and your kit will look and fly great. It’s big (44"), and the smallest motor suggested here is the D12-3, so I recommend building light.

* SPECIAL NOTE off of RMR from Chuck Barndt, President of The Launch Pad 

Other Reviews
  • The Launch Pad ALARM By Sean Walker

    The Launch Pad Alarm is a single staged rocket that is modeled after an intercepting missile used by the U.S. government. Two body tubes came with this kit, but I wasn't too impressed with them. Instead of the solid tubes I was expecting, I got Estes type tubes instead, but they turned out okay and they really made this kit light. There are two sets of fins with one set very high up on the ...



J.C. (April 1, 2001)
He is right about the fin templates! Be very, very careful. The lines on the templates are not the grain markings but where the leading edge is! This is directly opposite every other template I have seen, including other TLP kits!! I assumed the norm and cut the fins out the wrong way! Yuk! I didn't have any fin stock left so I tried to use a lot of CA to strengthen the wood but the finished rocket's fins are very fragile. I am almost afraid to fly it but I will (with a D12-3) and we'll see if the fins stand up. This rocket also has the paper nose cone cap which because it is pointed and not round at the top is extremely hard to shape properly. Good luck with it. Lastly, if you read my AMRAAM review, this rocket has the same problem, the engine is recessed a lot and the inside of the rocket body may get flame damaged. Being winter here, I haven't flown this rocket yet.
J.A. (June 1, 2001)
The 24mm motor mount appeared to be a standard Estes body type tube. I was not comfortable with this since I have had this same tubing distort even under a normal "D" engine burn. I replaced this tube with a Loc quality tube instead knowing that I would primarily be using Aerotech "E" engines. I too practiced my shroud making abilities and recommend this as well. The nose cone extension can be particularly tricky. I never could get my overall cone to look seamless even after building up the seam. Even so with the dark red color it is not too noticeable. Extending the shock cord is also recommended as the length supplied is about what you get in an Estes kit. The chute I got was metallic blue mylar which suffered burns on my maiden flight. I was concerned about the size (18") but feel it is ok for most landings. I did replace mine (since the mylar one burned) with a black 18" nylon chute that I had which looks good with the color scheme of this rocket. I was pleased with the quality of the balsa and found that the CA tip was helpful. I have been incorporating this technique into my other models. The rocket on a D12-3, its first flight, was somewhat unstable. After leaving the launch rod, the rocket proceeded to do the "Sidewinder" imitation and went sideways, fortunately away from the crowd. The 3 second delay saved the rocket from a nasty landing. I tend to build on the heavy side (epoxy and 5-6 coats of Krylon) and I am sure this contributed to the instability. The second flight at our local South Louisiana Rocketry (SOLAR) launch was picture perfect! I added appropriate nose weight and launched this time on an Aerotech E-184 reload. The rocket left the pad in that great white lightning roar. Wow! This was too cool. Definitely the engine to use for this bird. Overall, I am real pleased with this rocket. You may want to upgrade a few of the components (motor tube and shock cord). If you take your time you will end up with a beautiful and durable replica of the real thing that is a lot of fun to fly and is a real crowd pleaser. This is my first Launch Pad offering but will not be my last. I like the modeling challenge that these kits bring to the hobby.
GS (February 14, 2007)
I also have built one of these and I have to say that this is a nice kit. One thing though, although the manufacturer says it is an ALARM missile, it is definitely NOT! An ALARM (Air Launched Anti Radar Missile) does not have a pointed nose, and does have pointed wings. This missile is really a RAPIER. A british made surface to air missile. It is about a 95% match from a picture I have from defense web sites. Both the nosecone and wings match are a match to the rapier. So I painted mine military green and put the two yellow strips around the nose like I found in some pictures. Just look up Rapier , SAM on the web and you will find some good pictures. Have Fun, Ski
CB (March 2, 2007)
GS states that the TLP ALARM kit is actually a Rapier. 1: TLP makes a Rapier kit. The diferences are obvious. a: Rapier is a Surface-to-Air missile. ALARM is Air-to Ground. b: The fin shapes for the ALARM and Rapier are similar but substantially different. c: The forward fins for the Rapier have the trailing interferometer antennae. d: The nose cone for the Rapier is longer and more pointed than that of the ALARM. 2: TLPs ALARM kit is based on the prototype ALARM missile, and is advertised as such both on the website and on the color insert in every kit bag. ALARM was changed drastically before it entered production. The production missile has a shorter, blunter nose, a large sensor blister near the front of the airframe and the fins are slightly different. 3: Pictures of both missiles are available for comparison purposes on the TLP website: 4: One of several references which show the prototype ALARM is page 66-67 of "An Illustrated Guide to Modern Airborne Missiles" by Bill Gunston - 1983 Salamander Books, Ltd. London, UK. through ARCO Publishing. Although I am sure the Rapier paint job GS used on the ALARM is attractive, it would be most unusual to see such colors on an air launched missile. (Barring, perhaps, HELLFIRE).
T.N. (March 17, 2007)
I love this kit, I built the kit using just wood glue and a very little epoxy. I left the tail cone off, put in light plywood center rings and moved the motor mount down to the bottom of the airframe. I replaced the chute with a 24" nylon with spill hole and replaced the shock cord with Kevlar® using a small screw in eye on the top CR. No nose weight and no pointy paper tip. It flys on a D12 for low and slow flights and with an F21 it screams off the pad for nice high smoke trails. TLPAlarm.jpg

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