Rocket Pad USSC Shark

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Well-Known Member
Jan 19, 2009
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This is the Readers Digest version of the Rocket Pad USSC Sharky review (just the construction section since I got rained out today for flying...the full review with pictures will be up on EMRR soon):

There started to be some chatter about a "new" rocket kit manufacturer called Rocket Pad, but the online community only saw kits listed on eBay. The auctions would be one kit and then you might see another kit later on. One thing that caught my attention was the variety of kits. There are those controversial "clone" kits of old Estes and Centuri models, which I personally avoid. Then there are unique kits such as the USSC Shark, which caught my attention. I actually lost the bid (couldn't stay up that late), but e-mailed the seller and he told me he had another, so I matched the price.

The instructions were adequate for building the rocket, however there are quite of number of grammatical/spelling errors. There was also a few mistakes, such as on step #7 it says, "Mark the body tube (2.6" diameter) useing the enclosed marking guide. Use the marks with black dots only!". So this is a good idea since a general tube marking template is provided, however, there were no black dots on the Tube Marking Guide.

The potential problem for the upper fin is the direction of the basswood grain. First off, it is a good thing that it is basswood because these fins would not survive if they were balsa. However, the grain on the upper fin is parallel to the body tube verses the best known method of having it parallel to the leading edge. Notice the flex in the upper fin? Will it snap? Time will tell.


There are water-slide decals provided with the USSC Shark. I found these to require a longer soak period (closer to 60 seconds) to be able to slide. I also found these to be much less fragile (thicker) and actually a pleasure to work with. Bravo! I would have liked to see some blacken window decals included, but ended up cutting my own from some vinyl. Lastly I clear coated the rocket.

It is a fairly straightforward kit to build, but the instructions need some work. The parts fit nicely and I'm pleased with the quality of parts such as plywood centering rings, basswood fins, and plastic nose cone (glad to not have to finish another balsa nose cone). The fact that the kit provided motor retention, is Estes "E" capable and has decals (nice ones too!) are huge bonuses. Missing one part, and not enough stock to cut out the fins forces me to rate this slightly below average. If you're experienced, consider these items and then go get the kit... if you can find one!


P.S. Like my paint? Left over from my misfortune on the Tour De Deuce.

Cool paint job! I had built this kit also & launched it four times, one with an "E" motor(that went up high!!). You must be pulling real hard to get the basswood fin to bend! The bend does not look all that much though, it would have to hit REAL hard to crack the fin. It was nice that they included a spacer for the shorter "D" motors! There were some typos but all in all a real unique kit. Not the standard 4 fin & tube type rocket.
I built mine just the way it looked in the auction, hmmm I think next time I will try a unique paint job!
Nope I wasn't pulling too hard. Just the flex of the grain.

Yep agree that the basswood is the way to go, but alas, with one awesome-to-watch flight on a D12-3 (slow lift off, very stable, good pictures which will be on the EMRR soon), it landed on that upper fin and cracked it!

I will fix it and it will fly again, because I love the looks of this rocket. It has real potential, but others should be cautious of the upper fin.

A simple fix - epoxy/paper covering. I should have done that, however, most often I build per instructions to give a unaltered review of a kit.

From a kit perspective, instead of running the balsa strip parallel to the body tube, run it from the upper corner diagonally to the bottom-rear corner. It would still look good and be a brace.

Glad to hear your experience has been positive. The E and F flights are coming as soon as I fix this upper fin.

There are so many pro's about the kit, that with a couple of tweaks it would be outstanding.


Ok, what am I doing wrong, the wx was fine after work & a few of us got some flying in & I launched my Shark & can't get the tail fin to break. Yes our field is a nice & soft grass! Realy I launched it 2 times today with the tail still not breaking. Could I have gotton a stronger piece of basswood?
Less luck with another rocket, I think its on its way to Japan; the last we saw it!

I'm glad you are enjoying the kit. I too am enjoying it. I am 90% done with my fix and look forward to many flights ahead.

Perhaps you'd like to submit a full review to EMRR and some pictures as well?

Well guys, I just got done building a Lacrosse kit from Rocketpad kits this week. I went out yesterday & had a few flights with it & am going to do a reveiw on EMRR soon. Here is a shot of the model. I did it like the kit picture showed & it came ot rather well. It had some cool flights & I got it back! (there was some wind & we lost 2 rockets in a real large field!) The only thing a I dont always like is a balsa nose cone But this one sealed ok with sealer. Hey; it would be no fun if it did not take any work!(thats what I tell my son any way!!).
The instructions were better on this one!
The full review is now on EMRR.

Check out my hypothesis of why my tail fin keeps breaking while Aron's doesn't.

Aron can you check the location of your kevlar attachement?

Hi! I have the Kevlar cord tied up to the top centering ring, as per the instructions. The field I fly on by the way has grass that is cut not very high. I tried to flex the fin like you did & it seems not to move as much at all. Could there be that I have a harder piece of bass wood & you a softer? We will be flying soon some time this week & I will launch it again & see what happens. My dig camer is in for repair on warranty & I hope to get it back soon & get a shot of it on recovery. Will post it if I get it.
I asked Stan who is selling the kits on ebay & he said they just redid their kit instructions to correct some early problems. Ijust got another kit from them & will let every one know how the instructions are when the kit gets here. I had other things to take care of at home, but will do my review of one of the kits soon.
Originally posted by Aron Sanford
Hi! I have the Kevlar cord tied up to the top centering ring, as per the instructions.

Right, mine is too. What I'm asking is as you look down into your body tube...

Let's say holding the lower two fins toward you and the upper fin out and away. We'll call the upper fin 12:00. Is your Kevlar tied to the top centering ring at 12:00, 1:00, etc.

Mine is at 6:00.

Did you see the pic on how my rocket descends? Does your descend the same way?


I too have ordered (3) more RP kits and am waiting there arrival.

Hi Nick;
Ok, I am home from work. The cord is on the ring at the 12 o'clock position. The wx is fine outside, I am going with my son to the field to launch it again(don't have to drag him!). I will report back what happens. The field is big, if I have the guts; after the first launch with a D, I will try an E!
Too bad my camra is not back yet!
Well I launched the Shark again First with the "D" , good flight & the I put my first "E" in it. Awesome flight! Like the sound of the E's! Any way, there was no wind & it went up rather High. Seems like it took forever to come down but it did & I had no fins get damage. I dont know but I have not had any problems. I also launche my Terastar from Rocketpad. That flight was ok also though we did have to walk a bit to where it came down(missed a tree by about a foot!)
Could you tell if your Shark descended "tail" first (like picture above). My guess is that it did not.
It came down with the two long fins a little pointed to the ground. They hit the ground first,
ps: I better get back to work here!
YES! 1 piece of PROOF that the instructions should simply say to ensure the Kevlar is mounted on the same side as the Upper Fin (on the inside)!!!!!
I guess we should let them know about this fix!
I bet the test rocket went together like mine did so the problem never showed up! It can happen!
Hi every one!
After looking over what Nick said about the Shark's fin & recovery, we have made some up-grades to the shark kit.
First there is a change to the instructions so the centering ring will be installed in a better spot; and next, we changed the material for the top fin that Nick showed flexing, the material used now is Micro-Light Poplar Pywood. It has a weight just .1oz. more than the basswood, but a whole lot stronger. This fin is supplied with the kit pre-cut!
Thanks Nick & Aron for the feedback to help make a better kit.
All Shark kits now come with the upgrade!
For Rocketpad Kits,