Airfix 1/144 Saturn Ib

This is another one of my long-term projects.  I started it several years ago.  It got put aside because of other more important things and other distractions so I never found the time to get back into it until now.

SA-205 Apollo 7 CSMBefore I put it down, I had nearly finished the upper part of the model from the interstage to the Launch Escape System.  I used the Apollo Conversion kit from RealSpace Models to replace the obviously undersized parts that were included in the kit.  RealSpace has improved the conversion kit since I purchased mine.  It now comes with a pewter LES rocket and photo etched tower (I had to use the one that came in the Airfix kit).  The details on the CSM are also improved since I bought mine.  If I do another one, I’ll definitely purchase one of his new ones.

I also modified some of the details on the S-IVb.  I removed the hump on the attitude control pods that was only on the S-IVb 500 version.  Also the Airfix kit only has two ullage motors on the S-IVb.  The S-IVb 200’s that were used on the Saturn Ib had three ullage motors.  I tried carving an extra one from some scrap styrene, but my fat fingers made that a near impossibility.  Recently Airfix came out with a 1/144 scale Saturn V/Skylab kit.  It didn’t need ullage motors on the Skylab, so I stole one of the ullage motors from that kit and used it on the Saturn Ib.

To do the black roll patterns on the interstage, I made some black decals and applied them to the model.  It looks pretty good and I didn’t have to mask over the raised detail on the interstage.  That is never a fun job.  I made all the decals myself and printed them on my Alps 1300 printer.  I used the detailed drawings by David Weeks (also available from RealSpace Models) to create my decals.   David’s drawings are invaluable if you want to get anywhere close to accurate.  I didn’t add nearly as much detail as I could have using his drawings.

I could have done more to make the model more accurate but to me that just gets tedious.  I’ll add enough detail to satisfy myself and that’s good enough.

When I picked the model back up, the first stage was completed, but had only been primed.  It still needed final paint and decals.  I had started scribing dividing lines for the antenna frames.  Airfix just had them as rectangular blocks between the oxidizer and fuel tanks, but they were really two pieces.  Also they had all the antennas the same size.  When actually the only ones that were the same were the ones at quad I and III.  The antennas at quad IV  were different and at quad II they were only on one of the antenna frames.  So when I started to work on the first stage I decided that I would fix the antennas.

SA-205 Apollo 7First, I got some 0.010 sheet styrene and made some rectangles.  The left frame of each pair was slightly longer that the one on the right so I made sure that I made four of each size.  The antennas were of several sizes according to David’s drawings.  At this scale I decided that I would only make two size of antennas.  One group of long antennas and another group of short antennas.  They were made of lengths of 0.030 x 0.040 rectangular styrene strips.  I angled the front of each edge.  They were applied such that quads I and III had two long antennas, quad II had one long antenna, and quad IV had two small antenna and one long antenna.  They really improved the appearance of the first stage.

The final extra detail that I added to the first stage was the cable tunnel that ran down the length of each fuel tank.  I made these from 0.020 x 0.060 styrene strip.  The rest of the details on the first stage were all done with decals.  I made decals for the fuel tank markings, because as I said above, I hate masking.  They actually came out pretty good.  If I build another one, I will make those markings slightly wider.  When I made the calculations on the width I needed I forgot to include the cable tunnels that I had added.  So when the decal went over the those it came up just a tad short.  Not bad enough for me to remove them and start over, but noticeable enough to me that in the future I’ll be sure to fix it.

Anyway, I’ve included a couple of pictures of the model.  I had to use a flash so they washed out a bit, but I think you can see the model well enough.

Next up, I need to finish my Revel 1/144 Shuttle stack.  It has been sitting partially assembled almost as long as this one, so it really needs to be finished.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.