Horizon Models 1/72 Mercury Spacecraft Build Update 2 (Final)

Here is the final dash to the finish line for this build. With the decals complete on the retro pack, I painted the small posigrade rockets red and used CA to glue the straps to the retro packs.

The kit does not include any clear parts for the port holes or windows. To represent them I painted dark blue over the area where they should be.

Then each capsule got a shot of clear gloss over its upper surfaces. When that had cured I started applying decals. Some of the decals that needed to go over the corrugated shingles needed a few applications of MicroSol to get them to properly lay down into the details. They finally did flow into the details and look pretty good.

When the decals had dried they got a gloss coat to protect them and then a matte clear coat to reduce the shine. The window/porthole areas got drops of clear gloss to make them shiny again since they are supposed to be glass. I also applied a touch of clear gloss to the horizon sensors. Then the retro packs were attached with drops of CA glue applied to the ends of the straps. That finishes up the capsules themselves.

Next was the replacement base. I used a 4″ round base from Hobby Lobby and some metal rods. I cut the rods to different lengths to display the capsules at different heights. I also used the Mercury 7 logo from the supplied stand. I painted the rods and base black then sprayed the base with matte clear to reduce the shine. I painted the Mercury 7 logo with Alclad II black base and then Alclad II Chrome. It was then attached to the base with CA glue.

This kit from Horizon Models builds into a nice model for its size. I enjoyed this kit, it was a nice break once in a while from the stealth XST build. I really hope Horizon Models expands their line and makes a Gemini kit. Now it is time to move to the next build which is the BanDai 1/72 scale Y-Wing starfighter. I haven’t posted about this build yet, but I have been working on it between the stealth XST and the Mercury builds.

Thanks for looking.

Horizon Models 1/72 Mercury Spacecraft Build Update 1

I needed a break from the XST build so I went back to work on the Mercury spacecraft pair. I sprayed the forward part of the capsules with Tamiya white primer. After giving that a day to cure I masked off the top and then glued on the nose of the capsules. I then removed the ribbing from part of the nose for the horizon sensor PE part on each capsule. I also glued on the deployed destabilizing flap to the front of the noses. You will need to refer to the instructions to be sure you get them placed in the appropriate orientation. Once that was done I sprayed the completed capsules with Tamiya Fine gray primer.

I masked off the heat shield on each capsule and sprayed the rest with Tamiya NATO Black. When that had dried, I removed all the masking.

Next, I bent the PE retro pack retaining straps to the proper angles. It helps to use the retro pack as a guide on how much and where to bend the straps. With the straps properly shaped, I took one of them and used CA to glue it to the porthole (MR-3) version’s retro pack. I’ll wait to glue one to the window version retro pack until after all the decals are applied to it. The porthole version did not have any of the lines on the retro pack like the window version did. In the first two pictures I have the retro pack just dry fitted and will glue it on later in the build.

The decals on the window version retro pack were next and I started with the three decals that cover the end of the retro pack and surround the retro rocket nozzles. This was made much easier since they put a hole in the decal right where each posigrade rocket is on the retro pack. The posigrade rockets are the tiny bumps you see along the edge of the retro pack between each retro rocket nozzle.

The next decals to go on were the three decals that covered the end of each retro nozzle. I had some problems with these decals. First the lines on the decals are not long enough. They should go from the nozzle end all the way down the nozzle to the top of the retro pack. They only go down the mostly straight portion of the nozzle. The next problem they presented was that even though they had the backing for each individual line separated from each other, the backing still went too far from the center of the decal. This made it very hard to get the decal to lay down properly over the nozzle.

I had to remove the first decal and set it aside. I was able to keep it in one piece and placed it on a piece of parchment paper to dry. Once it was dry I used a sharp #11 blade and cut the backing closer to the center. I then put Micro Sol on the nozzle and reapplied the decal. This time I was able to dab small drops of Micro Sol to the lines and they then laid down properly. It was still difficult to get the lines properly separated from each other.

When all three nozzles were finished I applied the lines that go around the outside edge of the retro pack. The only tricky part of this decal is getting the lines to line up with the first decals that were applied. I cut the decal into three sections to make it easier to apply.

The final thing I did at this time was to drill a hole in the side of each capsule. I decided that I didn’t like the provided mount after all and would do one of my own. Mine will use a section of 3/32 steel rod to hold each capsule. I drilled the hole through the outside of the capsule and through one side of the inner cylinder. This will provide a solid mount that the will hold the capsule in the proper orientation.

This also meant that I had to fill the hole in the heat shield that I had previously drilled. I will then mask and repaint each heat shield before attaching the retro packs. The porthole version has a grayish heat shield that was made from beryllium. The window version had an ablative heat shield which was a reddish brown color. I’ll paint the window version heat shield for the next update.

That is it for now. Thanks for looking.

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…

LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

I’m bored to death waiting for the bubble to dissolve in my eye after my surgery.  My vision in that eye is such that I have a hard time with small items, so that rules out getting back to the Voskhod right now.  However, I did get the LEGO Lunar Module for my birthday.  My eye has cleared to the point where I can see the LEGO parts well enough.

So here is quick build of the LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.  I love the engineering that goes into these models to make it both a decent representation and structurally sound.

The build begins by making the display base.  Lego Neil showed up to help display the build.  The base is quite strong as usual.  You can see from the build gallery below that the sub structure really helps hold it together.  The craters are a nice touch.  They put in four circular pads for the placement of the LM landing pads.  Look near the flag and you can see Lego Neil’s footprints.

Part 2 of the build is the Descent stage frame.  Here is where they really nail the octagonal shape of the LM Descent stage.  They include representations of the fuel tanks.  They also include the MESA compartment with the opening door and camera.  There is a bay that houses the retroreflector that was placed on the moon.  The connection to the Ascent stage is firmly attached with a clever bracket assembly that firmly connects it to the Descent stage frame.  This allows the Ascent stage to be removed from the Descent stage without fear of tearing everything apart.

The equipment bays are attached at an angle in keeping with the octagonal shape.  They used ball joints and bricks to join them to the frame at an angle.  It is very effective and sturdy.  Lego Neil helps point out some of the cool things in Part 2.

Part 3 of the assembly will complete the Descent stage.  Stickers are provided to add additional gold foil detail.  Lots of gold bricks cover the sides and some of the top.  The legs are attached with struts and ball joints.  That keeps the spindly look of the real LM and makes it easier to connect them to the Descent stage frame.  The representations of the plume deflectors is a bit small but I’d have a hard time doing it better.  The look and feel is similar to the real thing.  Once the attachment of the legs is complete you can place the Descent stage on the base.

Part 4 of the assembly will construct the Ascent stage.  Lego Buzz volunteered to help show off the steps of this part of the build.  It starts off with the center section of the Ascent stage.  More stickers here represent some of the control panels in the real LM.  Next is the front section.  Here is where some of the bigger compromises had to be made.  There just aren’t any LEGO parts that will work exactly for the triangular windows of the LM.  So instead they use a normal windshield and then surround that with a lot of brickwork to give the impression of triangular windows.  Also the LM hatch is a two piece door rather than a single piece.  But, hey, the doors open and close.

Another compromise was in the attitude control thruster quads.  These are placed on rather thin stalks instead of slightly bulkier extensions.  It isn’t horrible, just not quite as representative.  The rear section has some more stickers for control panels and the other two thruster quads.  Notice that the front and rear sections are cleverly designed to be removable so that you can place Lego Neil and/or Buzz inside the LM.  The major antennas are represented and are somewhat positional.

The Ascent stage snaps onto the Descent stage as mentioned above.  It is a nice solid connection, but yet also removable.  Here is a walk-around of the assembled model.  Lego Buzz and Neil have taken their places in the final picture.

This was a fun build, even with one squirrelly eye.  LEGO has done it again with a nice representation of a real space subject.  This one went together much quicker than the Saturn V from a couple of years ago, but is also much smaller.

Thanks for looking and hopefully I’ll be back on the Voskhod soon.