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Old 07-10-2007, 03:44 AM   #1
JMChladek
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Default What I've been working on lately (black, white, with orange astronauts)

I haven't posted in awhile since I've been busy with a couple projects. One is modeling related, the second is book related and I won't be able to discuss that one for another month yet, but I will when I am able to. Anyway, I have been working on a 1/72 model of something that is black and white in color and is piloted by two astronauts wearing orange space suits. But it is NOT an Eagle. Instead it is this:



This is the Monogram 1/72 kit of the Space Shuttle with boosters and I finished building it over a week ago. The model had some accurizing bits done to it in order to fix some inaccuracies in the basic kit. But all things considered, the mods done to it were minor. The orbiter and external tank received most of the mods, while the SRBs remained pretty much unchanged externally, but had internal tubes mounted to sleeve onto a set of rods built into the display base so I could stand it on the base without need of a third support peg for the orbiter. The model represents Atlantis from STS-117, which in June of this year took the first astronaut from my home state of Nebraska (Clayton Anderson) to the International Space Station.







In the cockpit I added a pair of astronauts kitbashed from Airfix Apollo astronaut set. I cut the chest packs off and didn't fit the PLSS backpacks. I replaced the Apollo helmets with ones taken from the Monogram spacewalking astronauts in the 1/72 shuttle kit. The parachute straps are made with Tamiya tape. I glued on tiny US flags printed on paper to their left arms since I felt these looked closer to patches then decals would. The cockpit instrument panels were decalled with Alun's shuttle cockpit artwork, downloaded from the SFM:UK website (with his permission). In the rear, I added a spare shuttle control stick to the aft flight deck station. I also put in two HUDs on the instrument panel cowl made with photoetch and clear plastic from a bubble pack.

The cockpit windows of the Monogram kit are a little large, so I used strip styrene borders to size them down properly. I used a similar technique on the Airfix 1/144 shuttle I built in 2003-04, except here I didn't have to use epoxy putty to blend the dividers and borders into the nose profile like I did there since the window transparencies were already sunk into the openings a bit. After cleaning and polishing the windows (and a coat of Future, aka Kleer for our UK builders) you can see the astronauts in the windows easily. Look close in one pic and you can just make out the American flag on the left arm of the CDR. Other mods to the orbiter included a drag chute housing at the base of the tail, resin engine bells from Realspace models, drilled out star tracker ports on the nose and some additional tile patches on the OMS pods.





The biggest challenge to building the external tank was covering the seams on it without obliterating the raised texture on the tank. To do this, I masked off the tank except for the exposed seams and sprayed on a layer of Krylon texture paint. It didn't match the texture exactly, but it did the job.

The tile finish on the bottom of the model was achieved with the out of print Cutting Edge tile decals, which I also applied to the sides of the nose. To darken the sides of the nose down, I oversprayed the decals with a mixture of Tamiya smoke, red and blue clear tints to get a nice deep black tint. Straight smoke is too brownish gray in color for my needs. This duplicated the actual appearance of shuttle TPS (gray bottom, black sides and top of the shuttle) quite nicely and the texture of the tiles can still be seen under the tint.



Anderson was originally scheduled to fly on STS-118, but got moved to 117 after the original mission date for STS-117 was delayed from March to June due to hail damage on the external tank. As such, to make this accurate I needed to represent the repairs made to the foam of the tank. I matched the details as best as I could to photos shot of the tank during rollout to the pad and launch.





The display base has the STS-117 and ISS Expedition 15 mission patches on it. The model is now at the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland, NE where it will go on display starting Monday in an exhibit honoring Clayton (an Ashland native). It will be on loan there for the next two years.

So, it isn't an Eagle, but it kind of LOOKS like an Eagle if you squint I suppose. Its got rocket engines in back, two pilots dressed in orange, and it can do some amazing things I suppose. So what do you guys think?
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:47 AM   #2
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You've made a decent kit look fantastic! I also love that it represents a very specific time/mission for that particular shuttle.
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:06 AM   #3
Gumdrop and Spider
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Nice work JMChladek
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:41 AM   #4
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That's great work. The attention to the small details has really paid off.
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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BIG IS BEAUTIFUL! Nice stuff, JM!
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:16 AM   #6
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Nice write-up - thanks.
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:57 PM   #7
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Fantastic! And I really appreciate the explanation, it makes the model all the more enjoyable.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:16 PM   #8
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Great job indeed! I have always wanted that kit. Tell us the truth though.........didn't you really want to paint those helmets yellow????

Last edited by darthwalls; 08-10-2007 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:15 PM   #9
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stunning build,really great job there
cheers Paul
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:47 PM   #10
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Jay

As I said on the Space Modellers group, a fantastic piece of work. I must have missed it, but I didn't realise that Clayton Anderson is the first astronaut from Nebraska.

Best of luck with the book project too.

Keith
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Old 08-10-2007, 12:45 AM   #11
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Nice work, I've always wanted to tackle a shuttle model but I have never gotten around to it. Does a Moonraker model count?
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Old 08-10-2007, 05:39 AM   #12
JMChladek
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I would count a Moonraker as a shuttle. In fact, one of the other Monogram shuttles with boosters that I have stashed away will eventually be built as a Moonraker as I do want to add one of those to my collection. I've seen some excellent orbiter only Moonrakers done, but I want one on the boosters baby! Moonraker may be the weakest of the Bond films, but for me it is a guilty pleasure due to the excellent miniature effects work by Derek Meddings.

As for being tempted to do yellow helmets, nope not this time. However, I was considering putting in a pair of mission specialist flight engineers behind the pilots until I correctly figured that nobody would see them behind the pilots once it is in the display case. I at least added the pilots since with the stack being oriented vertically, overhead lights would potentially shine through the cockpit like a skylight, illuminating the astronauts. I just wanted to give museum goers a little something special to look at.

If I ever do another one of these, then I suppose I might stick an Eagle pilot (or an MS with a yellow helmet) behind the two shuttle drivers to see if anyone with a pen light during judging might notice it. But unless I take one of these to Telford (not likely due to the extreme size), I doubt a typical US contest visitor would get the joke. I could also put one in the cockpit of a Moonraker I suppose.
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:58 AM   #13
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JM, how did u do the tiles? Decals or some serious hard work painting or scribing?
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Old 08-10-2007, 08:59 AM   #14
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Very nice job indeed, a beautiful finish and a cracking model.
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Old 08-10-2007, 09:02 AM   #15
JMChladek
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The tile work on the bottom is from the Cutting Edge tile decal sheet offered by Meteor Productions. It is a long OOP sheet, but I have a couple of them stashed away for my uses. I used the black tile decals for the bottom and sides of the nose (and the top of the body flap), but left off the remainder as they are too gray for the tops of the orbiter. To darken down the sides of the nose, I mixed Tamiya smoke tint with red and blue tints to get a deep dark black tint (smoke tint itself is too brownish) and sprayed it on the sides of the nose to darken the shades down to basic black, fading it out to gray as I got to the bottom. This is accurate for a current shuttle as during repeated reentries, the tiles on the bottom gray out depending on how old they are while the tiles on the sides and top of the orbiter stay gray.

I suspected it was this way for a long time based on what I saw in photos. But, I finally got to see it for myself when on July 1, 2007, the 747 carrying Atlantis (coming back from landing at Edwards after STS-117) made a stop at Offutt AFB near my home in Bellevue. When I shot photos of it, the late afternoon sun was hitting the 747 just right so as to illuminate the bottom of the orbiter. If the tiles down there were straight black, they wouldn't have appeared gray. Here is one of the pictures I took of it:



The white tiles around the cockpit windows also come from the sheet as well. I tried to use some excess white tile material on the fronts of the OMS pods as well, but the decals on this sheet were a little more fragile then they should have been (I had similar problems with one side of the black tile decals) and they cracked too much. So for those areas I used a black pencil to highlight some tile areas.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:57 AM   #16
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Nice little snap there.... How cool is that!!!
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Old 16-11-2007, 02:09 AM   #17
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I almost forgot. The model has been on display for a month now in its own display case. The currator thought it looked too good to place in the case with the ISS model that NASA provided since he wanted people to be able to see it from all angles after seeing it himself. So now it sits on display upstairs near the restoration gallery viewing area. As people walk into the museum, this is one of the first things they see. The case is lit internally to help show off the details. I wish I had one of these in my house!







And here is the nice description plaque they put in the case with it:



Eventually the Clay Anderson exhibit will be moved to a different location in the museum to make room for a travelling Space exhibit at the end of January and my understanding is that the model will join it in that semi-permanent area. The currator wants to display it with some hi resolution pictures of STS-117 at the pad so people can appreciate the details more.

I know people (at least kids) have been looking at it since I've seen tiny fingerprints on the case on the occassions I've gone in to check up on it. The currator has also periodically dusted the model to help keep it nice and clean inside. When STS-120 returned to Earth last week, students from Ashland-Greenwood middle school were on hand to watch the landing in the auditorium. So I imagine they had a chance to look this model over when they visited. I was further west at the time, trying to see if I could view the shuttle coming in on reentry as its path took it over central Nebraska. I didn't see it as it still came over further west then where I was. But at 11:46 AM, I did hear the distinctive rumble of a sonic boom as it passed overhead in excess of 200,000 feet.
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Old 16-11-2007, 03:20 AM   #18
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Looks really great Jay! I am in awe of your work! The display really brings out the beauty you did on this!
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Old 16-11-2007, 11:52 AM   #19
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I love the image of all those tiny fingerprints. The next generation of space fans!

A wonderful display, thanks for the follow-up.
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Old 16-11-2007, 09:23 PM   #20
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Hey -- I've been thinking about taking a trek over to the Strategic Air and Space Museum for a while, now. I'm headed back to my parents' farm in Denison, Iowa tomorrow. I'll be there for a week, so this may be a good time to make the trip. This gives me an added reason.

Your shuttle looks great, Jay.
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