Horizon Models 1/72 Mercury Spacecraft Build

While I’m contemplating what to do about the fins on the Pegasus XST, I started building what should be a simpler kit that has been in the stash for a while. I bought the Horizon 1/72 Mercury Spacecraft kit when they were first announced back in 2015.

The kit contains parts and decals for two spacecraft. It even includes parts to build the boilerplate test versions if you want. There are only two heat shields included so you can build only two of the possible four versions in the kit. The molding is great with no flash on any of the parts.

For this build I’m going to do the porthole version that was flown by Alan Sheppard on MR-3 Freedom 7. I’ll also do the window version to represent the MA-9 Faith 7 flight piloted by Gordon Cooper. The kit parts are molded so that the window version needs very little PE parts to be added. The porthole version has four additional areas that need to be changed by the addition of PE parts.

The above image shows the parts tree and PE for one of the two models. The decal sheet contains markings for both kits and has markings for the flight versions as well as the boilerplate versions.

I started construction with the heat shield. Since this will be a flight version, a hole needs to be drilled in the center of the heat shield so that the retro-rocket pack can be attached. There is a dimple on the inside of the part showing where to drill the retro-rocket hole. Since I will be using the included stand, I would need to drill another hole in the heat shield to allow attachment of the stand. There is a marking on the back side showing where to drill that hole as well.

I then glued together the part that contains the cylindrical portion of the capsule. This part is also used to align the capsule’s conical sections. There are two small PE parts that cover the seam lines.

This part is then glued to the heat shield.

With that in place, the three conical sections can be glued on. You should take note that the vertical details on the cylindrical section need to line up with every other panel line on the conical sections. There are no keys to maintain this alignment. It is up to the modeler to do this. Also note that the three conical sections are not the same and you will need to keep their arrangement correct while gluing them on. The instructions on the back of the box will help you get things in the right place.

Once that was done I took the MR-3 capsule and started preparing it for the PE add on parts.

I removed some of the molded on details and recessed the areas slightly. I then used CA glue to attach the PE parts.

Next I’ll prime and paint the white area at the top of the capsule (and antenna cover) and then mask it and prime and paint the rest of the capsule. But that will have to wait for the next update.

Thanks for looking. More to come…

Pegasus 1/72 Lockheed XST Build Update 1

Work is continuing on the XST build. I have painted the ejection seat. I didn’t add any details to it since the cockpit will be closed. I did have to shorten the headrest section so that the canopy piece would fit.

I’ve been wondering what I was going to do about the intakes on the plane. The kit just has an engraved patchwork to represent the screens that covered the opening. I thought about some brass screen but I wanted to use something that I already had on hand. I searched all over the house for some scrap of metal screen to no avail. Failing that, I went through my spare parts boxes (three shoe boxes full) but I didn’t find anything that would really work. Then I noticed the box of Walther’s Factory Ventilation parts. I had used some stuff from those on a steam punk rocket a few years ago. I looked through the part trees and found some wall parts that had a molded in screen. They weren’t perfect but they were close to what I was looking for. I then carefully cut the existing patchwork from the model. The plastic was VERY thick. I ended up using my Dremel to hollow out from the backside and then used my X-acto knife to cut the patchwork out from the front side.

I then cut out a section of the screen wall to fit my hole and glued it into place. It isn’t perfect as I would rather not have had rectangles for the grill, but it looks far better than what the kit had.

Next, I glued the upper fuselage to the lower fuselage and then glued on the wings. The fit wasn’t great but the wings fit their openings far better than I had anticipated. They would require just a bit of filler to cover some small holes. What would require more work is the right wing that was just a bit short.

I also added about four BB’s to the nose just to be sure that it would not be a tail dragger when the landing gear went on. I then glued in the ejection seat and started adding putty to the top and bottom.

You can see from the bottom view that there are a few depressions that will need to be worked on. Either more sanding or more putty or both. Notice the large gap at the tail of the bottom. It require a lot of putty and some major sanding to get it to an acceptable shape. Also notice the extra putty where the rear lower fuselage and the front lower fuselage meet.

It is progressing nicely and is looking better than I thought it would. One thing I still need to make a decision about are the fins. They are too short. I can either ignore it or I can try adding an extension to get a better length. I’m still not sure which way I’ll go.

That’s it for now. Thanks for looking.

Pegasus 1/72 Lockheed XST (Have Blue) Build

Since finishing the X-15A-2 I’ve been going through my stash looking to see what I might build next. I remember mentioning the Pegasus ‘Have Blue’ kit while talking about the shortcomings of the short run Special Hobby X-15A-2. I admitted that I have started and stopped working on the kit several times over the years since buying it. This one also is a short run kit. It was first produced back in 1992 and, if I remember correctly, I bought my copy from a local hobby shop back in 1996. Comparing the Special Hobby kit to the Pegasus kit is like comparing a Revel kit to Special Hobby. The Special Hobby kit is much more sophisticated. By contrast the Pegasus kit is very rough and there are some inaccuracies and many fit problems. It is, however, one of only three kits of the subject that have ever been released. They are all three hard to find now. So, I’ve decided that it’s about time that I finally build this one, warts and all.

Nailing down some of the plane’s details is compounded by the fact that there are so few photographic or diagrammatic images of it. To date I’ve only found seven pictures of it. It doesn’t help that a lot of information about the aircraft is still classified even though the plane was built back in the 1970’s. It also doesn’t help that neither of the planes that were built survived. They both suffered crashes. At any rate let’s get on to the build.

Above is the art work on the box. It shows a the first of the aircraft, Lockheed SN HB1001. It had a nose boom for some of the initial research on its flight characteristics. The second plane, SN HB1002 did not have the nose boom and was painted an overall gray. The planes never had any identifying lettering or marks on them. The only mark on the outside was a red triangular ejection seat warning stencil. They never received an Air Force serial number either.

Here is a look at the contents of the kit. It contains 11 injection molded gray styrene parts, one clear part, and four white metal parts. The white metal parts are for the landing gear, nose boom, and ejection seat. It also includes a small decal sheet with the two ejection seat warning stencils.

Inside the the two main fuselage parts there were some engravings from the mold showing the dates the molds were created.

A test fit of the canopy showed that there would need to be some shimming and filing of the mating surfaces for a good fit. The picture below shows where I drew some pencil lines to indicate where some shims are needed for the front of the canopy. It also has a line where I need to remove some plastic on the side of the cockpit for a good fit.

You can also see that the wing on the left will have to be filled when I glue the fuselage halves together. It appears that the mold did not get fully injected with plastic.

I will be using landing gear from an F-5 Tiger kit. The way the provided white metal mains were molded will prevent them from fitting into the landing gear bay slots, even after I widen the slots. The openings are too narrow even if I used the kit parts. The F-5 nose gear is a bit larger than the kit provided gear, even so I’ll go with the donor gear from the F-5.

The back half of the lower fuselage has already had the exhaust diffuser glued into place. You can also make out how rough the molding is. When the parts are put together there will be a fair amount of filling and sanding required to get a smooth finish.

After some further research I found that the nose gear cutout is quite wrong. I had to do some reshaping and I needed to add some styrene strips to get rid of the too large rear part of the opening. Also, the main gear wheel wells did not have a triangular forward shape. They were simple rectangles so some bits of sheet stock were added to square them up. You can also see in the above photo a small gap where the diffuser and wing meet. I will add some styrene strip to fill that in.

Note in the above photo that all three gear openings have been slightly enlarged to match the size of the F-5 gear. Next I glued the rear half of the lower fuselage to the front half.

With the lower halves glued together it was time to add the wheel wells. I built them from .015 sheet stock and a bit of .015 x .020 strip.

You might also have noticed that I placed a rectangular piece of sheet stock along the center of the lower fuselage. This is to provide a level base to glue the ejection seat. You might also notice that compared to the previous photos that the front tip of the lower fuselage is shorter. I snapped it off while constructing the landing gear bays. After the upper and lower fuselage halves are glued together I’ll use some putty to fill the area and sand it to shape.

Well that is it for now. Thanks for following along and look for more updates to come.

Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build Update 7 (Final)

This is the home stretch on the build. Just a few minor things to do. First was to finally remove the masking from the underside of the plane. There was very little bleed from the black over spray. It was easily touched up.

You can also see that at this point I’ve added the two underside antennas. I left the masking over the screw hole so that the upcoming clear coats will not gum up the threads.

I next sprayed on a gloss coat in preparation for the decals. Then decals started going on in earnest. I started the process about 7:00 pm one night and got on a roll and when I had finished I noticed that it was 3:00 am. Oops, I hadn’t planned on making it an all nighter, but there you are. Here is a view of the right side of the plane with al the decals on.

I used only a few of the kit supplied decals. Namely, the yellow NASA tail stripe, the large and small “Star and Bars”, “U.S. AIR FORCE”, and the large “USAF” decals. All the other decals came from the aftermarket Hypersonic decal sheet. This is an excellent decal sheet. I believe that there are markings for any variation of the three X-15 aircraft.

This decal sheet is meant to be used with a set of masks that they also sell. The masks are for the markings that come from the Special Hobby sheet. Those markings were originally the wrong size. Special Hobby did correct them for later runs of the kit. The kit I was working from had corrected sizes. However, I think the “USAF” markings were still just a bit large. Not a deal breaker, but still not quite right.

Anyway, after applying some MicroSol to make sure the decals settled in to any details and then giving them time to completely dry, I sprayed on a matt clear to take most of the shine off the airframe. Once that had dried, I removed the masking over the windows and the dot covering then screw hole.

Continue reading “Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build Update 7 (Final)”

Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build Update 6

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.

Continue reading “Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build Update 6”