Here is a quick update of the SA-5 progress. I glued on the antennas, the umbilical door, and the hydrogen vent pipes. The umbilical door is cut from .005 sheet stock while the antennas are cut from some strip stock I had that looked close. The hydrogen vent pipes look a bit different that the last update. I added the short straight section after the bend at the top of the pipes. I at first thought I could leave it off, but the more I looked at it the more I knew that the short sections needed to be added.
The bottom of the vent pipes needed to have a slit cut into them so they could fit over the stub fins. Also note that I have glued the fairings back on the base of the vehicle.
Here are a couple of pics of the stub fins dry fitted to the hydrogen vent pipes. Note in the pic on the left that I have also drilled the vent holes in the tops of the fuel and LOX tanks. The pics also show the LOX and fuel fill and drain ports.
I also fashioned some hydrogen vents for the stub fins that will be glued on later.
I have also filled the areas on the inboard nozzles where Airfix had molded in for the turbopump exhausts. The inboards on the Block II vehicles exhausted their turbopumps out the sides of the boat tail in aerodynamic ports which are not yet installed. The outboards will require some modifications to look more like the real thing. The inboards need some extra details as well, they were not simple curved bells.
Back to work on the SA-5 model a bit. Work continues on the S-I first stage. I got the puttying and trimming on the tanks done and they should be pretty smooth. I scratch built the gaseous hydrogen vent pipes that go down the first stage at three points. There was plastic rod included in the conversion kit but they did not include the bend at the top that was required to make the pipes meet their counterparts from the S-IV second stage. I had some Evergreen plastic tubes that were a close match to the diameter supplied in the conversion kit. I cut them to length and then cut a small section from the top at around a 30 degree angle. Then I rotated it and glued it back on the tubing. Then I needed to trim the back side of the angled section since the Airfix kit does not provide enough room. I then taped them to the side of the S-I to see how they looked. I think they will be fine.
Before I glue the hydrogen vent pipes in place I needed to add more details to the S-I. I cut some narrow rectangles of 0.005 inch sheet stock to represent the antenna mount points and glued them in place at each quadrant position. I also added the electrical conduits that run down the side of each RP-1 tank from the antenna mount to near the bottom of the tank at the boat tail. I still need to add the antennas, the LOX and RP-1 fill and drain ports at two places, and also the LOX and RP-1 vent holes at the top of the tanks.
In concert with the S-I hydrogen vent pipes I also removed the vent pipes from the interstage. They are mounted too close to the sides of the interstage and would end up not lining up well with the pipes on the S-I. I debated with myself about doing this since it will require more scratch building, but I just couldn’t let that one go.
Speaking of not letting things go, I also removed the fairings from the base of the S-I stage. They were just too clunky with the blocky attachment points. So I removed them and will glue them back on after trimming all the excess plastic off. This also allows me to move the heat shield down to the bottom of the S-I instead of being slightly recessed.
After removing the hydrogen vent pipes from the interstage I stacked the S-IV on it to see how they fit. I knew that the S-IV was out of round but I didn’t know it was quite so far off. I’ll have to do a good amount of work to get them to fit like they should.
Finally, I cleaned up all the fins and then adjusted them to fit on the base of the vehicle. Each one was different in some minor way and the Airfix base was not quite as symmetrical as it looks. Some of them also needed some putty to fill some irregularities. They are now properly aligned and I labeled each one so I would know where each one fits. They will go on after all the other details are complete.
Decaling is finally finished. Over 82 tiny decals beside the 112 panel decals. Yes they are thick. Yes they are difficult to get to conform to the fine details on the model. It does take a lot of Solvaset. It does take using a needle and #11 knife blade and a small bit of paint touch up. But, yes in the end they do look good.
As the underside decals were going on I looked ahead and found three places on the side walls where Bandai provided a decal to cover a section. Those sections have too many fine raised details to attempt to get the decal to conform. For those areas, I mixed up some paint (a mix of Desert Sand and Aged White) that to my eye was a close match for the decal color instead of using the decal.
The left side might be workable, but why bother when I already have to paint two other sections.
Here are some photos of the lower side completed. The second photo below shows one of the side panels that was painted instead of decals.
Now for the top side decals.
In some areas, especially where the decal needs to cover some small complicated details, it help to apply Solvaset to the area and then apply the decal. When doing this you need to be particularly careful to not work the decal too much since the Solvaset will soften the decal quickly. There is at least one of the panel decals (#94) that was a bit easier to apply by cutting it into separate parts. Decal #94 is the decal that covers the panels next to the antenna mount.
When the decaling was finished, I went back through each call out in the instructions and compared that to the position on the model to be sure that I applied all the decals. One reason I did this was because when I finished I had some extra decals. I wanted to be sure that the extra decals were true extras and not something that I missed. I did find two decals that I had missed in the call outs.
One other thing to note is the antenna decals. I applied them as Bandai specified in the instructions.
But then I noticed that the photos I have of the 5-foot filming miniature didn’t match. It seemed backwards. I then went to a copy of the Episode IV movie and looked for views of the back of the antenna in the film. When I found one it matched the Bandai instructions. Looking carefully it appears that the newer photos of the 5-foot version have the antenna mounted backwards and flipped 180 degrees. I positioned the antenna that way and it did look like the photos of the 5-footer. (Of course you can’t put it on the model that way since the parts are keyed to only fit one way.) So I’d say go ahead and trust Bandai and their research of the ANH Falcon.
Anyway, I’m finally done with the decals and will be moving on to weathering the Falcon. Wish me luck.
Back to the Millennium Falcon. I got the Vallejo gloss and dull coat and started out by testing it on a wall of the boarding ramp. It went on fine, maybe a little thick but it did not react with the underlying paint as expected.
I then took the boarding ramp part and applied the decals after giving it a clear coat. The decals are rather thick as has been mentioned in many places by others. There were some fine details that the decals needed to conform to on the boarding ramp. This required several applications of Solvaset. It really is much stronger that Micro Scale MicroSol. You do not have much time after applying Solvaset to work with the decal before it becomes too soft to touch. I let the Solvaset dry completely between applications and with each application I carefully eased the decal into the details. Even so, some details were just a bit tall or complicated to really get it to snuggle down. For those areas I either made a small slice with a sharp #11 blade or pricked it with a straight pin. Then applied more Solvaset. This seemed to work pretty well and the decals settled in nicely. After they were dry I sprayed them lightly with the Vallejo dull coat. It did not attack the decal. When that had dried I then applied a bit heavier coat to get the flat surface I wanted.
With these tests behind me I moved on to the rest of the model. I took the engine cover and gave it a clear coat and after that had cured I started adding the decals that would go under the engine flaps at the back. While those were being snuggled down with Solvaset, I started adding the decals to the engine flaps. When those were complete I finished the assembly of the engine cover by installing the engine flaps. Then I finished adding decals to the engine cover. It looks good and is just waiting for its dull coat. I’ll do that when I dull coat the rest of the upper hull.
I then put the two hull halves together. I got some foam padding and placed the Falcon upside down on the foam to begin adding decals to the lower hull. When applying the larger decals that color some of the panels, I made sure to trim closely to decal and remove as much of the clear part as possible. Some of the decals were stubborn with the raised details as expected and required some knife work to get settled down properly. In some instances this resulted in some of the base coat showing through the cut. I found that for the yellowish decals a mix of Vallejo Aged White and Desert Armour matched very well. Dark Ghost Gray worked well with the dark gray panels. A mix of German Red Brown and Red was a good match for the red panels.
In the process of finding the colors to match the decals, I first tried some Tamiya medium gray. The color matched fairly well but it did not react well with the clear coat on the test piece at all. My advice is if you start with Vallejo stick with it and don’t use them with any other brand of paint. Better safe than sorry.
I know this might seem like a lot of work rather than just painting the individual panels and then chipping the paint. That is probably true. The only problem here is that I have zero experience with paint chipping and I didn’t think that this would be the right model to learn on. I will take on the chipping process in a future build, but for now the decals are working well even if it is a bit slow.
While working on the decals I did notice that the details I had added to the Turbo Laser stations were more visible than I thought they would be. Hopefully it will still be that way after the Turbo Lasers are added.
That is it for now. Half of the lower hull is done, maybe in the next week I can finish the decals and can move on to staining/weathering the Falcon.
This is just a quick update before I jump back to the Millennium Falcon. I was preparing to attach the fuel tank portion of the first stage to the thrust structure. As I’ve seen before when I did the SA-205 Apollo 7 Saturn IB model, the tanks don’t exactly line up well with the thrust structure. There is quite a step out nearly all the way around the stage that requires a considerable amount of clean up to get a proper looking stage. While I was messing around with it trying to get the best possible alignment, I noticed that if I rotated the tank portion a bit in one direction most of the tanks lined up much better. The only problem was that it wouldn’t stay that way and it also tended to try and pop the tank section open at the seam.
I decided to try and remove part of the alignment guides that are on the thrust structure, hoping that would allow me to slightly rotate the tanks into a better position. That seemed to work pretty good. The tanks are now attached and are just awaiting some sanding, carving and filling to make them look good. But since the tanks line up better it will be a much simpler job that it would otherwise have been. There is still one of the tanks that will require a lot of work, but it is just one tank and not almost all of them which would be the case otherwise.
I only highlight one of the guides in the pictures above but there are four of them around the thrust structure and they were all trimmed the same way.
That is it for now. I’ll set this aside for a while I tackle the decals on the Millennium Falcon.