Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build Update 3

Time for another update. Progress is continuing on the X-15A-2. I have the external tanks primed and the first color applied.

I then moved to a part that I’ve been procrastinating on. The windows on the cockpit canopy have to be cut from a supplied square of clear plastic. I started by cutting out a rectangle of the approximate dimensions and then I carefully sanded the rectangle into an oval shape that will fit the openings in the cockpit canopy. It actually wasn’t as difficult as I was imagining. It did take a while to get a shape that fit, but careful sanding slowly created window that fit well into the opening. In the picture below if you look closely you can see the window in place. I used Plasti-Zap CA glue. It does not fog clear plastic, but holds the parts together very tightly.

I then shaped another window for the other side. I only dropped a window into the carpet once. Fortunately I was able to find it and didn’t have to shape another window. Once they were glued in and the glue cured, I used some alcohol on a cotton swab to clean the windows both inside and out. I then brushed on a coat of Future Floor Finish on both sides of the windows. It not only makes the windows very clear, but it also helps to hold them in place similar to the glue.

Next I applied some Tamiya masking tape and used a fresh #11 blade to mask the windows for future painting.

It was now about time to glue the fuselage halves together, but before I could do that I needed to nail down how the model was going to be displayed. Special Hobby does not provide any stand for the model if you build it as an in-flight version. My friend supplied a stand that he had bought some time ago. He and I were both fairly sure it would not work. Once the external tanks were mounted, the stand would not fit between them. I looked on the internet for an alternative. I thought I had found one, but after it arrived and I started doing some fit checks, I realized that it wouldn’t work very well either.

The stand had a very long chrome bar that came up from the wooded base. Since the X-15 has a substantial ventral fin, this stand would have required the model to be mounted just behind the cockpit. That was the only way to be sure the ventral fin would not hit the chrome bar. This would have resulted in a very unstable mount. So back to the internet I went. I finally found one that looked narrow enough and had flat metal bar that would be next to the model that was only and inch or so long. That would easily clear the ventral fin.

When it came in I was even more pleased. It included a threaded insert that could be glued into the model and then it had a thumbscrew that secured the model to the stand. It also had another short pin that went into the model and prevented it from spinning on the thumbscrew. Here some photos of the model with the holes drilled and the threaded insert in place, but nothing is glued in.

After verifying that this was going to work, I added a small styrene fence and then poured epoxy all around the threaded insert to permanently affix it to the model.

Now finally I could glue the fuselage halved together. The halves were slightly warped, but that was easily taken care of by gluing the halves together bit by bit from the nose toward the rear. When I was about a third of the way down I shifted to the rear and moved forward. It went together pretty well. I used Tenax 7R and it welded that halves solidly.

It required a bit of seam scraping and some filler. Then I needed to re-scribe some panel lines where they cross the seam. I then epoxied the ejection seat into the cockpit. It looks pretty good. I didn’t go all out on the instrument panel since so little will be visible through the tiny windows.

The canopy didn’t give me as much trouble as I was afraid of, but it did take a fair bit of sanding, scraping and re-scribing.

The wings gave me more trouble than I was expecting. They were both warped. I hadn’t noticed this before, but then I wasn’t really looking at them very closely at the time. I soaked them in boiling hot water for a few minutes and then took them out and carefully bent them to remove the warp. I wasn’t able to get all the warps out, but they are now visibly straight and you need to look closely to see the remaining warp.

I also attached the horizontal stabilizers. Now it is really starting to look like an X-15.

The external tanks have been painted. All that is left is to paint on the final few details and then spray them with a clear coat prior to adding the decals to them. I’m sure that I will have to run a drill bit through the small holes to remove the bits of paint and clear coat so the 0.015 rod will pass through.

That is it for now. Thanks for looking.

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