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

Work is continuing on the 1/48 X-15.  At the end of the previous post I showed the progress on the dorsal vertical stabilizer.  Well, after looking at it, and then doing some dry fitting, I discovered that the wedge should have been flush with the back of the fin sides and the resin back piece should have been put in below the wedge.  So I removed the back piece and then cut a small piece of .01 x .01 inch strip and glued that to the back of the wedge.  Then I re-installed the resin back piece.  Here is how it looks now.

IMG_0936

I then moved on to the ventral vertical stabilizer.  It seems that most of the edges of the parts in the kit do not have vertical edges.  They are angled.  I guess for a short run kit they may have done that to make it easier to release from the mold.  It doesn’t help with the fit of the parts as it requires most edges to be sanded to get a good glue joint. Below is an example.  It is the wedge shaped fin edge piece.

IMG_0952

Anyway, before I started work on the ventral fin, I notice that the sides of the dorsal fin had a slight curvature.  To correct it I inserted a small strip of .01 x .01 styrene.

IMG_0971

I then got ready for the ventral fin.  When reviewing my research data, it looked like the ventral fin was slightly shorter than the dorsal fin.  Why didn’t I notice that when I was doing the 1/144 scale version?  Well, it turns out that both of my 1/144 scale X-15’s were modeled with only the fixed portion of the ventral fin that contains the air-brake.  So, I dove deeper into my research data to find some dimensions and sure enough, the ventral fin is 11 inches shorter at the back and 9 inches shorter at the front.  I guess I just never paid enough attention to that before.  Anyway, I converted those dimensions to 1/48 scale and drew then onto the ventral fin inside face as seen below.

IMG_0970  IMG_0973

The lowest line coming off the curved lower edge was to get a measurement line.  The next line up shows the fixed portion of the fin.  Finally the top line shows the amount that needs to be removed.  I made the same marks on the other side and then started cutting off the excess.

In the meantime I primed some of the parts to help highlight any areas that might need some more work.

IMG_1027  IMG_1029

I then did a little work on the nose gear door.  It required quite a bit of sanding and shaping to fit properly, and I still don’t have the scoop door added yet.  As an aside, the scoop door is what allows the nose gear door to open at a high angle of attack, otherwise the air stream pushing against it would keep the nose gear door from opening.

IMG_1031

Back to the ventral fin.  The movable portion of the ventral fin is ejected before landing otherwise the fin would hit the ground before the skids did.  The ejected portion had a parachute in it so it could be recovered and reused.  This meant that I needed to model a parachute door on the back side of the fin.  The supplied resin part didn’t have any provision for a parachute door and it also had piping molded in that never existed on ventral fin of the actual plane.  Removing the piping would pretty much destroy the part.  So it was just easier to scratch a new one.  I took a section of .01 sheet stock cut to the proper shape and then marked where I wanted the door to be.  Next I glued on sections of .01 x .01 strip stock to represent the corrugations.  Then I cut a rectangle of .005 sheet stock to represent the door.  Onto that I glued some more .01 x .01 strip stock.  I then glued that to the gap in the strips I had left.  Here is a photo of the original part and my scratch build replacement.

IMG_1035

I then went back to the ventral fin and started construction.  I began as I had with the dorsal fin, by gluing the leading edge.  I then added the top wedge, followed by the new back piece.  I also added the resin top of the air-brake.  Here are a couple of photos.

IMG_1037  IMG_1039

Here is a side by side picture of the dorsal and ventral fins and their size difference.  Note that I also have added some filler to both parts as well.

IMG_1045

That’s it for now.  I should be getting to the fuselage soon.  I have some painting to do on the cockpit parts before I can start on the fuselage.

Thanks for looking, more to come.

Special Hobby 1/48 X-15A-2 Build

I’m starting work on a new model for a friend.  He has had the kit for a long time and when he saw my other X-15 build asked if I would like to build his.  So I’m giving it a go.

Here is the kit box.

IMG_0722

The kit comes with a couple of sprues of injection molded plastic parts.

IMG_0719

It also has a bag of resin parts for most of the details of the kit.  There were a couple of small parts that had snapped from their pour plugs.  You can see them in the second from the right in the top row pour plug.  Also there are two VERY thin parts (first row third from the left) for the ejection seat fold out stabilizers, one of the pair was broken.  I’ll have to try and use some CA to fix it.

IMG_0720

Lastly a couple of sheets of decals are included.  I’ll have to see later if any of them need to be replaced with more accurate decals.

IMG_0721

Special Hobby is a Czech producer of limited run kits.  As such the injection molded parts don’t have locator pins and some of the parts can be a bit rough on the unseen inside face.  The kit parts are mostly pretty clean.  The fuselage parts do have a slight warp lengthwise that I’ll have to contend with when they go together.  It does have some fine engraved panel lines so that is good.  Some parts will need to have holes drilled in them to insert their resin detail parts.

My friend wants the kit built as an inflight representation so the cockpit will barely be seen through the small oval windows.  I’m going to try to make the canopy removable, if it will fit well enough, that way the cockpit can be viewed.  Here is the initial fit.

IMG_0849

After quite a bit of sanding and shaping, here is where I am.

IMG_0853

It is much better, but I’m not quite happy with it.  I’ll work on it a bit more before throwing in that towel.

Here I have attached the main control stick to the cockpit.

IMG_0814

The right side hand controller went on well since there was a hole for it to fit into.  The throttle was a bit harder since it was very thin and had no hole.  The air brake control handle needed a small trough added before it could go in.  Here is the cockpit with all the control handles added.

IMG_0819

I removed the ejection seat from it’s pour plug.  The ejection seat needed a couple strips of styrene added in order to properly attach the fold out stabilizers.  I also cleaned up the control panel.

IMG_0847

Next I repaired the broken ejection seat stabilizer and removed the pour plug from the nose wheel well.  The wheel well will never be seen, but I am going to include it for overall balance of the model on it’s base.

IMG_0860

I placed the ejection seat in the cockpit to verify my mod would not interfere with proper fit.  I’ll glue on the stabilizers after the cockpit and ejection seat are painted.

IMG_0861

I next moved on to the dorsal vertical stabilizer.  The plastic parts are pretty rough on the inside.  There are injection plugs that will have to be removed and the leading edge will have to be tapered far more on the inside to allow the proper angle on the wedge shaped stabilizer.

IMG_0855

You can see the amount of angle the kit had by the bright edge above.  It required a lot of sanding.  It is not nearly as bad as another kit is back in the stash closet.  It is a model of the Have Blue aircraft, the precursor to the F-117 Stealth fighter.  The wings on that kit (by Pegasus) are horrible.  I’ve pulled that kit out several time over the past 4 or 5 years only to stick it back in the stash after more sanding.  Someday I’ll finally get it finished, maybe.

Anyway, after sanding the proper profile into the inside of the stabilizer, they were glued together at the leading edge only.  When that set, I added the wedge to the top of the fin.

IMG_0854

I then removed the resin fin back piece from it’s pour plug and glued it into place with CA.

IMG_0856

That’s as far as I am right now.  I have a few more sub assemblies to finish before I can move on to the fuselage.

Thanks for looking and more to come.

Dragon 1/144 X-15 Build Update 6 (Final)

When I started this project back at the beginning of December I really didn’t think it would be the beginning of March before I finished it.  I had some distractions along the way that caused some of the delay and then life stepped in there for a while.  For example, I had to delay putting on the decals for a couple of weeks when it got so cold that the humidity inside the house dropped to 12%.  At that level, my decal setting solutions evaporated before I could get the decal on the model. But eventually the weather changed and I could complete the project.

Here they are with their topside decals placed.  At this point I still needed to apply Solvaset a couple more times to get some of them to really settle down into the details.  No clear coat done yet, just decals.  There are a few small decals that will go on the underside.

Topside decals applied

After putting on all the decals I let them set for a day, and spent the time on the base for the pair.  It is just a round wooden base that I picked up from Hobby Lobby.  It needed quite a bit of sanding, then primer and then some more sanding.  Once that was finished I added the rods that will hold the models in place and then sprayed on some Dupli-color gloss black.  After giving that a day to dry I put on the X-15 project decal and then two other decals that list the specific plane and mission being depicted.  Once those were dry I then gave the base a coat of Tamiya Clear Gloss to protect the decals from the Tamiya Dull Coat that was to go on next.

Base for the models

I then placed the models on the base.  There is a short rod that keeps X-15-1 from slipping off the base.  The angled rod is for the X-15-3 which I’m displaying in flight.  Here are a couple of shots of the planes on the stand.

Here are some closeups of the planes showing some of the small decals.

The end result looks pretty good and it will take it’s place with my other 1/144 scale manned space vehicles.  The decals took much longer to create since I kept finding more markings than I originally thought were on the planes.  Plus, I had to redo them a couple of times to get the sizes about right for the model.  I’m not sure how much longer my ALPS printer is going to last as the last set of decals I printed gave me a few problems.  As long as it holds out I’ll keep making custom decals when I need them.

I don’t know what the next project will be yet, I guess I need to go through the stash and find something that strikes me.

Thanks for looking.

Dragon 1/144 X-15 Build Update 5

Here is a quick update of the work so far. The birds have been painted and are just about ready to have the decals applied.

Here they are with their overall color of Tamiya NATO Black. It is not as black as Black paint so it gives them a better look.

Here is the business end of X-15-3. I attempted to paint the radial dark pattern you see in the photos, but not very well. I may try that again. The experiment box has also been painted. I painted the fuel/H2O2 jettison pipes with Tamiya metallic gray. The air brake actuators were painted the same color.

I painted the q-ball in the nose silver. Sorry for the blurry photo.

Next I painted the nose of X-15-1. I started out painting silver on the forward half and then added white stripes on the other half.

Lastly, I painted the XLR-11’s and the deployed airbrake actuators with the Metallic Gray.

That should do it for the detail painting. Everything else will be decals.

Thanks for looking.

Dragon 1/144 X-15 Build Update 4

I’ve make a lot of progress on the decals since the last update.  I’ve completed and printed them.  I started out by drawing them in vector form on Paint Shop Pro.  I then printed them on my laser printer and cut them out and laid them on the model in their approximate position so I could verify that they were the right size.

Laser printed decals cut out and placed.

Most of the smaller ones look like hieroglyphics when you zoom in on them, but at this scale once they are on the model you can’t read them anyway.  Here is a screen cap of the decals before I printed them.

Screen capture of the decal artwork.

I draw them on a blue background so I can see the white decals.  In order to print them I have to create a couple of separate files.  One for the white and another for the other colors.  The ALPS ink is rather translucent so if they are going to be placed on a dark painted area I underlay them with white.  So the first layer that is printed is the white layer.  I print that twice to make the white more opaque.  Then I run them through again to print the colors.

Here are the printed decals.  The small decal sheet on the left is the original Dragon decal sheet.

Original decals any my custom decals.

In all my research it appears that the X-15 US insignia did not have the blue circle around the star.  It was just the white and red.  Obviously I added a lot of markings that were not included in the Dragon kit.  Their decals really only allow you to build the original rollout version.  Even at that there were a few that were left off.

Now that I’ve completed the decals I have to get off my rear and paint the two birds.  It’s the home stretch now.  More to come. Thanks for looking.