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Electrifly 40" Seawind EP ARF Waterplane Review

Mike McDougall takes us through this very easy build and gets you air and waterborne with the Electrifly 40" Seawind EP ARF Waterplane!

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Introduction

The full scale innovative Seawind came to America in 1989. From the outset, the Seawind was a bold concept. Built on the principle, "If it looks good, it will fly well,” the full scale Seawind does look great and flies even better. Extensive use of composite materials helps make the beautiful sweeping lines of the full-scale Seawind a reality.

The Electrifly Seawind EP model faithfully replicates those beautiful lines and the results are stunning. The best news may be that, just like it's namesake, this model flies even better than it looks.

Wingspan:39.5"
Wing Area:234 sq. in.
Weight:21.4 oz.
Length:33.5"
Wing Loading:13.2 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Futaba S3114
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:AR6100
Battery:Electrifly Power Series 1250 mAh 11.1V 20C
Motor:Rimfire 28-30-950kV
ESC:Electrifly Silver Series 25A Brushless
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies and Finer R/C Hobby Shops
Retail Price:$99.99

Kit Contents

Kit Includes:

  • Molded foam fuselage with vertical stab and motor pylon molded in
  • Pre-drilled motor mount installed in fuselage
  • Pre-hinged and mounted rudder
  • Painted plastic motor cowl
  • Painted plastic and foam canopy with rare earth magnets
  • One-piece wing with hinged and rigged ailerons
  • Foam horizontal stab with pre-hinged elevator
  • Two wingtip floats
  • Elevator and rudder control rods and horns are pre-installed
  • Receiver antenna tube installed in the fuselage
  • Foam work and transport stand
  • Foam balancing fixture
  • Full hardware package including prop adapter, prop and 3 spinners
  • Excellent photo-illustrated 20-page construction manual

Kit Requires:

  • Radio (4 channel)
  • 3 mini servos
  • One 6" servo extension
  • Brushless Motor 100-150 watts
  • Brushless ESC (25 amps minimum)
  • LiPoly Batteries, 3S1P 1250 mAh 20C minimum
  • Epoxy glue, foam safe CA and thread locking compound

Recommended by Great Planes and used in this review:

  • Rimfire brushless outrunner motor 28-30-950kV; GPMG4560
  • Electrifly Silver Series 25 amp ESC; GPMM1820
  • Electrifly Power Series LiPoly batteries 1250 mAh 20C; GPMP0609
  • Futaba S3114 servos

Assembly

Wing

The Carbon Fiber wing dowel was difficult to install in the fuselage hold-down plate, but I tapered the front of the dowel and that fixed the problem. Once I got the wing into the fuselage saddle, I couldn't get the wing hold-down bolt started when I tried to bolt the wing on the fuselage for the first time. I measured and confirmed that the mounting hole in the fuselage was in the correct position, but it turned out that the tight tolerances of the kit required you to screw the mounting bolt most of the way OUT before you mounted the wing. If you backed out the screw until only 1 thread is showing below the wing, then assembled the wing on the fuselage being careful to make sure it is all the way forward in its saddle, the bolt would start every time. According to Great Planes, the problem was caused by a tight fit of the wing bolt in the wing. Owners of existing kits could solve the problem by simply removing the wing bolt and drilling out the wing hole with a 1/8" drill bit. Great Planes stated that future production kits will have this problem rectified.

Motor & ESC

The Seawind had a nice set of ESC extension wires pre-installed in the fuselage. Because the motor/extension bullet connectors would be buried inside the motor pylon, I chose to install a length of heat shrink over the completed connections. This not only waterproofed the connections, but it added a measure of mechanical protection from vibration and Ham-Handed wire pulling later in the build. The extension was plenty long enough, so I shortened the heavy ESC leads and saved .25 oz.

Rimfire Motor & Silver Series ESC

The recommended Rimfire 28-30-950kV and the Silver Series 25 Amp ESC was a perfect combination for the Seawind. The Rimfire has more than enough power for grass and water takeoffs, and the Silver Series ESC came properly set up right out of the package. I was impressed with the added safety features of the Silver Series ESC. On initial power-up, the BEC turned on the RX and servos. When the receiver acquired the TX signal with throttle at idle, the ESC beeped once, but the motor was not armed. The throttle had to be advanced to full throttle position to get a second beep which signaled proper programming of throttle travel, but the motor was still not armed. Only when the throttle was returned to the idle position, the ESC would give a series of four beeps signaling the motor was now fully armed and ready for flight. This feature adds an extra measure of safety for the pilot as well as the ground crew responsible for placing the plane in the water.

Radio Installation

All electronic components and connectors were given a generous coating of Corrosion-X and allowed to drain overnight before installation.

I was impressed with the S3114 Futaba servos. They are a perfect fit in the wing and fuselage, and the linkage fit exactly as described in the manual. The little 3114s had impressive specs, and they performed their flight duties exceptionally well.

Completion

The remainder of the build followed the manual exactly. I set up the CG using the included balancing stand and set up the surface throws exactly as described in the manual. The Seawind ARF was very complete, and the assembly was very straightforward. The manual claimed a 1 to 2 hour assembly time, but it took almost 4 hours for this reviewer to build.

Flying

Basics

The Seawind is a very stable airplane, and the first flight required only minor trim adjustments. When forced into a stall, it would drop a wing and then start flying again. Spins were very loose and hard to enter from level flight. Loops were nice and round and rolls were fairly axial. Stall turns were hard to get right. I then began to move the CG rearward and finally settled on a point that matched the CF wing spar location, and the Seawind started flying more like a pattern ship. Stalls were still gentle and the Seawind would slow to a walk for landings.

Taking Off and Landing on Grass

Even though the Seawind was designed as a waterplane, the manual suggested that it might be a good idea to try taking off from grass before you tried taking off from the water. A grass takeoff would allow you to trim the model for proper straight-and-level flight before you tried a water takeoff. You can see that the grass was pretty tall, but the Seawind took off just fine. "Grass" rudder was very effective. The Seawind was a pretty slick model and it took a while to bleed off airspeed, so I had to start the approach pretty far out in the pattern. Once close to the ground, I could begin to pull up the nose and let the plane settle in on the grass. The Seawind would then slide to a stop in about three feet.

Taking Off and Landing on Water

This is where the fun began. My first takeoff attempts were pretty bad. I tried everything I could think of from jamming the throttle to easing it up, flying the ailerons, and even mixing the rudder but I was met with only limited success. I was "going around in circles" a lot. The manual recommended holding some "up" elevator during takeoff to keep the nose up and keep the water rudder effective. The manual also recommended to "smoothly advance the throttle to full power" for takeoffs. I tried holding full "up" elevator throughout the takeoff run and slowly advancing the throttle, and what a difference! The water rudder was more effective, and the wing tips seldom dragged in the water. I finally settled on using high rates and full "up" elevator throughout the entire takeoff run for all my takeoffs. When the Seawind would just break off the water, I would ease off of the elevator a little to maintain a steady climbout. If I'd let off the elevator too soon, the plane would start skipping across the water. If I applied throttle before I applied elevator, I'd water loop. Check out the last video; using full "up" made takeoffs a non-event. Water landings were the same as grass landings. I had to start my approach pretty far out in the pattern because the Seawind takes a while to slow down. Once near the water, I could start applying up elevator to bring up the nose and let the Seawind settle in for a gentle landing. If I tried to land too fast, the Seawind would skip across the water till it slowed down enough to land.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Moving the CG to the CF wing spar location, really livened up the flight performance of the Seawind. Rolls were more axial and snaps were easy to enter. Stall turns became recognizable. Inverted flight only required a little "down" elevator. Inverted snaps and spins were spectacular! With a little power, they would flatten out - what a sight! But the Seawind would also stop its gyrations as soon as I neutralized the sticks. This was one fun little airplane to wring out. One interesting flight characteristic of high pylon mounted motors is that the nose of the plane will drop when you rapidly apply power. This was not much of a problem unless I was 6" off the water and decided to make a go around. If I was to firewall the throttle, I would probably make a big splash. If I slowly applied the throttle, the Seawind would accelerate and fly off as normal. It was not a big problem, just something to note.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. I wouldn't recommend a waterplane for any true beginner. However, now that RCGroups has covered the secret to taking off with the Seawind, any intermediate land plane pilot should have no problems with this plane.

Flight Photo/Video Gallery

Special thanks to Gary Gray, George Brugnoli, and Joel Schultz for these shots

Downloads

Conclusion

Great Planes has scored another Home Run with the Seawind EP. This little ARF went together easily and faithfully replicates the beautiful lines of the full scale Seawind. Once I learned to apply full "up" elevator for takeoffs, the Seawind was well mannered in all areas of flight. With the bonus of being able to operate off grass strips without the need for wheels, the Seawind became a true everyday flier for both water and land. What are you guys waiting for? Get your Seawind on order today. You're gonna love this little plane.

Pluses:

  • Unique looks
  • Short assembly time
  • Magnetic canopy hold-downs work very well
  • Predrilled motor mount fits the recommended Rimfire motor perfectly
  • Preinstalled ESC extension cable is a big help
  • Recommended Motor/ESC/Battery are perfect for this plane
  • Can takeoff of grass as well as water
  • Great flying waterplane

Minuses:

  • CF wing dowel tip needed tapering
  • Tight wing bolt hole
  • Recommended CG location is very conservative
  • Water takeoffs can be a problem if you don't use full "UP" elevator throughout the takeoff
Last edited by Angela H; Sep 17, 2007 at 08:10 PM..

Discussion

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Old Sep 17, 2007, 08:52 PM
E-flyer since 1981
Michael in Toronto's Avatar
Joined Oct 2000
1,494 Posts
Nice review.

Very timely; I'm assembling this kit now.

Your tip for take-offs is appreciated.

I enjoy flying my Gemini from water and grass, and this new Seawind should add to the fun.

I'm using an E-Flite 450 motor.
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Old Sep 17, 2007, 09:13 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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You're going to enjoy your Seawind. It's the most fun you can have in water without "Skinny Dippin".
Mike McD
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Old Sep 17, 2007, 11:18 PM
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Earthbound's Avatar
Seattle, WA
Joined Sep 2003
1,232 Posts
Recommended Rimfire motor has plenty of power. Performance with stock prop is outstanding. I'm running Thunder Power 1320PL 3S packs and get 20 minutes of flight with mixed use.

Be aware of extra steps needed when reversing the Rimfire motor in the manner used for the Seawind. GP is now instructing buyers to loctite the prop saver screws to retain the motor shaft. I removed the shaft and filed flats in it with my Dremel, then installed and used blue loctite on the prop saver screws.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 06:14 AM
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United States, OK, Sand Springs
Joined May 2007
3,919 Posts
When assembling my Seawind, in addition to grinding the shaft, I also reversed it and applied the C-clip to the prop saver end for further insurance. This is based on the recommendation of Dr. Kiwi (et al) in his review of the 28-30-950 found here .
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 06:32 AM
WAA-08 Pilot Eventually
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Darien,IL,USA
Joined Jul 2000
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GREAT REVIEW MIKE!!
Your descriptive writing, photographs and flight reporting with the videos is much appreciated.
Thanks, I'm inspired,
Don
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Last edited by donjiskra; Sep 18, 2007 at 06:48 AM.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 07:05 AM
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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Thanks Don. I really enjoyed doing this review. While no plane is "perfect", the little Seawind was a real joy to build and fly. I was actually surprized at how well it flies. It's such an unusual looking design, I expected it to be kind of quirky. However, Great Planes did their homework and got this one right - it's easy to fly.
Mike McD
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthbound
Recommended Rimfire motor has plenty of power. Performance with stock prop is outstanding. I'm running Thunder Power 1320PL 3S packs and get 20 minutes of flight with mixed use.

Be aware of extra steps needed when reversing the Rimfire motor in the manner used for the Seawind. GP is now instructing buyers to loctite the prop saver screws to retain the motor shaft. I removed the shaft and filed flats in it with my Dremel, then installed and used blue loctite on the prop saver screws.
Mike, have you tried grass take offs and landings? Results?

Yes, I'm probably going to buy it!

I have 3 rimfires just waiting to provide explosive acceleration.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donjiskra
GREAT REVIEW MIKE!!
Your descriptive writing, photographs and flight reporting with the videos is much appreciated.
Thanks, I'm inspired,
Don
Do you plan to use an Axi motor?
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 11:16 AM
WAA-08 Pilot Eventually
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Darien,IL,USA
Joined Jul 2000
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Dave & Mike,
One of our club members brought his Seawind out to our grass field. He has an E-Flite 46 in it and it really honks. Man is it fast!!! Way to fast for me but it's a joy to watch as it screams by. One problem he has noticed is that the motor pylon has a lot of down flex when power is applied. He's trying to think of some way to reinforce it. Me, I would use a less powerful motor and not burn up the sky like a banshee!!! It is a beautiful bird in the air and with the recommended motor it flies nicely, (as in Mike's videos).
I probably will get mine for a winter project as I'm not into building right now.
But I'm thinking of the PBY instead. I like the scale look and speed. Your,question about which AXI motor I can't answer now as I haven't made a comparison. I have NO problem with the recommended RIMFIRE motor. I use both AXI and RIMFIRE, but I prefer AXI.
Happy flying,
Don
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Dave, yes I've flown off the grass at our club field a number of times with the Rimfire motor. It's got plenty of power and the Seawind behaves really well on the grass. Guess I could have put some of it in the videos, but the real thrill is flying off the water.

Don, good comment on the PBY. I've been thinking about getting one also, but the PBY is really intended for a completly different style of flying. I get bored pretty easily with "scale" flying, even with my J-3 Cub, and start flying inverted low passes and doing inverted spins just to mix things up a little. The Seawind has a much larger repertoire of maneuvers to pick from than the PBY, so I'm thinking of getting a second Seawind and putting on a larger motor. I've been known to overpower a model or two in the past, however I think the E-Flite 46 may be a bit too much even for me.
Mike McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Sep 18, 2007 at 11:41 AM.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 01:16 PM
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Mike, good reply. I know how boring "scale" flying can be but sometimes I just like to fly "low and slow" and not get ahead of myself. If you saw the Seawind streak along on the 46 you would not get bored, ha ha!!
Don
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 03:14 PM
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There's relaxing flying, and there's fun flying, and there's exciting flying, and there's white knuckle scary flying. I think I'll skip that last catagory. I get enough of that test flying other people's airplanes. Just this morning I got a frantic call to the flight line from a flyer who was having trouble flying his plane. It was pretty scary, but I got it down in one piece. Turns out he had selected the wrong model and even though all the surfaces were going in the right direction, all the trims were wrong and the the elevator and ailerons had way too much throw.
Mike McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Sep 18, 2007 at 03:33 PM.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
Dave, yes I've flown off the grass at our club field a number of times with the Rimfire motor. It's got plenty of power and the Seawind behaves really well on the grass. Guess I could have put some of it in the videos, but the real thrill is flying off the water.

Don, good comment on the PBY. I've been thinking about getting one also, but the PBY is really intended for a completly different style of flying. I get bored pretty easily with "scale" flying, even with my J-3 Cub, and start flying inverted low passes and doing inverted spins just to mix things up a little. The Seawind has a much larger repertoire of maneuvers to pick from than the PBY, so I'm thinking of getting a second Seawind and putting on a larger motor. I've been known to overpower a model or two in the past, however I think the E-Flite 46 may be a bit too much even for me.
Mike McD
Sorry, Mike, that was for Seattle Mike! But, thanks for the quick comments. I guess I'll break down and get one!
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donjiskra
Mike, good reply. I know how boring "scale" flying can be but sometimes I just like to fly "low and slow" and not get ahead of myself. If you saw the Seawind streak along on the 46 you would not get bored, ha ha!!
Don
I don't think an E-Flite 46 motor can be mounted in this small foamy.

Perhaps you mean the bigger Seawind offered by Great Planes?
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