It is time to mask for the slightly lighter Black Gray for some of the panels. I first used Tamiya masking tape to outline the areas and then covered the rest of the bird in more Tamiya tape as well as blue painters tape. I then sprayed on the Vallejo Black Gray. When the paint was somewhat dry I removed the masking.
While the paint was fully curing I moved on to piping the external tanks. I started with the ammonia tank and the pipes that run from the pylon forward. I had to use a straight pin to clean out the holes on the stand offs a bit so the 0.015 round stock would pass through without a lot of pressure.
I chose the ammonia tank first since its piping was a little more complex than the oxygen tank. Several of the pipes need to cross each other on their paths. The scratch built sliver piece of hardware where you see three of the pipes going have holes drilled in them to help in attaching the pipes. I next moved to the back of the ammonia tank to add the piping there.
The back of the tanks have some piping needed to be added as well.
I followed a similar procedure for the front and back of the oxygen tank.
The external tanks have had their decals added. I started with the black stripe that starts at the forward black stripe and then spirals around to the back of the tank. The two tanks do not have the same spiral. The white tank has a spiral that goes from the top front around the tank and back to the black end also near the top. The silver tank spiral starts at the same place as the white one, but the spiral ends at the back near the bottom instead. Then there a LOT of info and warning placards on the tanks. There are eight on the front of each tank under the nose. Then there are four on top of the tank. Fourteen on the outside of each tank. Two on the inside of each tank. Five at the back of each tank. Finally there is one on the pylon of each tank. I then put on a light coat of matte clear to protect them.
The next thing up for them is to thread the piping on and through stand-offs. But now it is time to start painting the X-15 itself. I started by painting an area of Vallejo White from the ventral stabilizer and up to the nose gear door. Then another white area from wing tip to wing tip near the flap hinge line.
I then masked off exactly where I needed the white stripes to go. I used 1/8 inch wide tape for the wingtip to wingtip stripe and two strips of 6mm tape slightly overlapped for the stripe from the ventral fin to the nose gear door.
With that done I sprayed the model with a base coat of Tamiya NATO Black.
Now I need to let the paint cure for a couple of days before I mask off for the areas that will be painted with Vallejo Black Gray. That should give me time to get the external tanks all piped up.
At the end of the last update, I had the external tanks painted and ready for the final details to be added. I did that by using CA to attach a device that I had previously scratch built. I’m not sure the exact function of this device. I can’t find any documentation for it as of yet. However, it is built and looks similar to the one on the actual tanks. I painted it silver and then attached it to each tank. I then sprayed on a clear coat to prepare them for the decals.
I next moved back to the X-15 itself. I glued on the dorsal fin/rudder with Tenax. There is a gap that will have to be filled where the fin meets the fuselage, but it is not too bad. I also glued on the resin helium tank box. It will require a bit of filler to make it properly meet up with the air brakes. There are also a few small pinholes on one side that will need filling.
I then glued on the ventral fin. It too has a gap at the fin/fuselage joint that will need filling. It also had a much larger gap at the base of the air brake on the right side. I couldn’t use filler since the air brake was a moveable surface and should have a small gap at the fuselage. I ended up gluing on a strip of .010 sytrene to fill the gap. The end result looks good.
It was time to add the landing skids. I removed them from the pour plug. They are a two piece assembly. One small piece represents the hinge where the skid is attached to the fuselage. The instructions indicate to glue the hinge to the fuselage first then glue the skid to both the hinge and the fuselage at the same time. Of course by this point I have ditched the instructions long ago. I glued the hinge to the skid and made sure they were square and lined up properly.
I then glued that assembly to the fuselage. This worked very well and allowed me to get them on exactly where they needed to be and straight.
I then added some masking tape to the back of the ventral fin/rudder at the air brake opening. This will keep primer and paint from getting on the detail parts inside that are already painted.
I next tackled the APU exhaust ports. They are small pipes that exit the fuselage near the cockpit at an angle. I took a piece of 3/64 styrene rod and drilled it out to make a tube. I then cut off some angled sections and glued them in place.
After cleaning up some final spots that needed some more filler I sprayed primer over the whole model. This let me better see if I had some additional areas that needed filling. Of course there were. I had to do additional work on the wing/fuselage joints, the fuselage halve seam, the ball nose and a couple of spots at the back near the engine. When those were cleaned up I sprayed primer again.
After looking it over I decided that I had to add the BCS thrusters on the wings. The ones on the nose had been drilled out earlier in the build. They had markings showing where they were. The wings had no such markings. There were two upward facing thrusters and two downward facing thrusters. I went through my documentation and finally found some dimensions that the would allow me to measure where they should be on the model. I made some marks and then drilled out some nozzle representations.
I lastly went back and re-scribed some panel lines near the front of the tunnels that run along the sides of the fuselage.
The only parts left to add are a couple of antennas on the lower side of the fuselage and the two vent booms that project from the back of the rocket motor. I’m leaving them off until painting is finished since with all the handling that will need to be done I will probably break them off if I put them on now.
Next up is to paint the white stripes on the bottom of the aircraft and then mask them off prior to spraying on the base color.