Apollo CSM details

These are details I've saved from the rec.models.scale and rec.models.rockets newsgroups, along with the space modelers email list. If anyone has anything to add, send me some email, and I'll add it. If you have pictures or sketches, uuencode them and send them also.

From: mlindroo@news.abo.fi (Marcus Lindroos INF)
Date: 14 Feb 1995 19:19:46 GMT

OK...while we are waiting for some kind soul to set up a WWW page for Apollo model builders...does anyone have painting suggestions for Revell's 1/48 scale Apollo CSM/LM model? Particularly the interior of the Command Module. Revell recommends Light Green, but the photos I have suggest that the main color was white. The front control panel should be painted gray with some black (=dials) and white (=computer keyboard) details. BTW, the panel is amazingly accurate...not many differences compared with the actual Block I panel.

The Apollo 1 seats appeared to be sky blue. The storage lockers beneath the crew's seats are not visible on any of my color photos, but a B&W picture suggests they were white or some other light color (sky blue?). The only exception is the computer/telescope console located on the floor, just in front of the docking tunnel. It should be painted black or deep gray, the keyboard area on both sides of the raised panel should be the same color. Finally, the tape recorder on the floor should also be dark.

The exterior of the early Block 1 Apollo CSM was totally white just as the artwork on the cover of the Revell box suggests. There are numerous differences between the prototype and the manned Block 2 Apollo CSMs (A7-17). Some important changes:

  • Two small antennas (fin-like structures on the Block 1 CM) were later moved to the SM.
  • CM/SM umbilical cord was located above the CM's EVA hatch; later moved 180 degrees on Block 2.
  • Block 1 had no docking probe - just a cylindrical tube surrounded by the parachute compartment. Again, the photos I have indicate the Revell kit is fairly accurate.
  • Block 1 SM surface detail is different; two large rectangular radiator panels between the RCS thrusters as opposed to eight small radiators located behind the CM and two large panels on the Block 2 SM. The Apollo 4 SM (=Block 1) was painted silver just like the later Block 2 SMs, but with white radiator panels. As noted earlier, the other Block 1 SMs were totally white.
  • The raised area on the rear end of the SM cylinder (just in front of the SPS nozzle) was rectangular on Block 2 but shaped like an hourglass on Block 1. A color photo of Apollo 201 (the first ballistic flight test vehicle) shows that this section was silver, unlike the rest of the SM. The SPS nozzle was black.

  • From: mlindroo@news.abo.fi (Marcus Lindroos INF)
    Date: 19 Mar 1995 21:35:28 GMT

    IMO, it is far easier to scratch-build a new Block II Apollo Service Module rather than modify the existing model...any cylinder having a diameter of 4.1 centimeters will do. Just attach the RCS thrusters , Command Module and SPS engine to it. The two fin-like antennas (part #8) should be moved from the CM to the SM. They are located 180 degrees apart roughly halfway between the aft radiator panels (white, rectangular areas) and RCS thrusters. The overall color of the Block II SM was silver, with white radiator panels and black RCS nozzles.

    The CM is basically OK, but you have to remove the CM/SM umbilical cord located above the CM hatch. It should be moved 180 degrees, to the bottom of the capsule. Also, there is no Boost Protective Cover - simply paint the CM (including its windows-) white to create one.

    The SPS nozzle (parts 12-14) is the wrong shape, although this is probably a minor gripe since it will be invisible as long as the CSM is on top of the Saturn V rocket. The raised area on part #12 should be quadratic, not circular in shape. Get the 1/32 scale Monogram Apollo Block II CSM, or check Robin Kerrod's The Illustrated History of Man in Space (Multimedia Books Ltd. 32-34 Gordon House Road,London NW5 1LP, ISBN 1 85375 061 1, printed in 1989) for some good illustrations of the Apollo spacecraft.

    As for the Saturn V rocket itself...there are many good illustrations of Apollos 8-17 as well as the remaining three boosters on display at Huntsville, Houston and Cape Canaveral. I have also managed to get some rare photos from 1966-67 of early Saturn V engines & other hardware. The Revell kit is fairly accurate, but the painting instructions leave a lot to be desired. Some suggestions:

    Instruction  Part#  Color
    2            5,6    Stone Grey (F-1 engine pumps)
    2            3,4    probably Gun Metal,cooling pipes and raised areas should 
                        be Silver or Steel
    3            7      60% Post Office Yellow + 40% Fern Green 
                       (500F 1st stage on display at Huntsville) 
    7            14     No roll pattern between LOX/fuel tank
    9            3,4    J-2 nozzles should actually be painted White,except for 
                        cooling pipe.
    10-11              (The rest appears to be OK)
    12           7      Leave unpainted,or paint the area hidden by the interstage                     adapter Silver or Steel
    15          12      The S-II hydrogen tank on display at KSC is painted Gold.
    17-18               No idea about the S-IV-B third stage engine section...
    20          10      The visible part of the S-IV-B hydrogen tank should be 
                        painted Silver (KSC Saturn V) 

    RealSpace Models sells a 1/144 scale Apollo CSM and LM adaptor to replace the out of scale items on the Monogram and Airfix Saturn V kits. Order from:

    RealSpace Models
    813 Watt Dr.
    Tallahassee, FL 32303

    From: msagara@lookout (Martin Sagara)
    Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 13:57:36 GMT

    The color of the Apollo command module seems to be a hot topic right now so here's some more gasoline for the fire.

    I have seen a photo of the Apollo CSM used in the Skylab 2 mission that shows the command module as white. The cut out areas in front of the forward looking windows (#2 & #4) appear to be painted black for anti-glare purposes. There is also a black (dark grey) semi-circular marking about 2 feet in diameter on the aft part where the heat shield starts. I am guessing that the white color is some kind of protective coating applied to the metallic surface of the CM because of the long exposure to the space environment. The service module colors and markings are the same as on the Apollo moon missions. The photo I saw was in a hardbound Skylab book published by NASA. Sorry, I don't recall the exact title.

    From: petealway@aol.com (Peter Alway)
    Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 22:34:17 GMT

    This is good and complicated. First you must differentiate between Block I and Block II spacecraft. Revell's 1/96 and 1/48 kits are Block I, as is the Heller 1/96 kit (which is labelled as 1/100). The CSM on the Monogram Saturn V is Block I as well. Only the 1/32 Monogram kit is Block II.

    Block I service modules were painted white (at least the cylindrical surface exposed at launch) with the exception of Apollo 4, which was silver with white radiator panels. I don't know about all Block I command modules, but those I've seen pictures of were white. Block II service modules were silver with white radiator panels. Some had other white panels as well. Apollo 7 had more white panels than the Lunar Apollos, for example. Some Block II command modules, including at least the Skylab module mentioned earlier, were white. I believe this was only true for Skylab, but I haven't confirmed it was true for all Skylab flights. The numbered Apollo missions and (Apollos 7-17) had silver command modules, as did Apollo-Soyuz. The command modules were very reflective, as they were covered with metal or metalized tape, as noted elsewhere.

    From: msagara@lookout (Martin Sagara)
    Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 14:38:52 GMT

    For anyone who needs to find a photo of the white Apollo CM used on the Skylab 2 mission there is one published in the book:

    Skylab, Our First Space Station
    Leland F. Belew
    Published NASA
    call number: TL789.8.U.6S5677

    The photo appears on page 102

    (note: According to David Weeks, only a portion of the Skylab Apollo CMs were painted white, with the rest of the spacecraft covered with the shiny thermal tape. When docked at the +X station, the portion that faced the sun was painted white.)

    From: mlindroo@news.abo.fi (Marcus Lindroos INF)
    Date:Date: 25 Feb 1998 16:14:27

    I just took a look at NASA's excellent WWW photo library and tried to figure out what the Apollo 1 & 4 CSMs "really" looked like. As everyone probably knows by now, these two spacecraft were early Block I Apollos...of great interest to modelbuilders since nine Apollo kits out of ten depict the earlier version rather than the Block II version which went to the Moon.

    The tricky part is how to paint the white areas on the silver-colored Service Module. An ASCII drawing of the upper half of the CSM:

                    .. = windows 
     /_{____\        { = umbilical
    I   __   I      __  
    I+ I__I +I     I__I= radiator panels (silver??)
    I  I__I  I     
    I________I       + = RCS thruster
       /  \
    I only have one photo (Robin Kerrod's Man in Space, p.160) [a B&W photo is available at http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/images/pao/AS4/10074810.jpg] showing this angle of the spacecraft. The large radiator panel located between the RCS engines appears to be silver, but is partly obscured by the launch tower fuel cell servicing arm so it is difficult to tell. See also: http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/images/pao/AS4/10074811.jpg

    The other half is much easier:

       /  \
    I   __   I
    I+ I||I +I   ||| = _white_ radiator panel? 
    I  I||I  |
       /  \
    In other words, the large radiator panel in the middle should be painted white. I have one good, unobscured photo of Apollo 4 (http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/images/pao/AS4/10074812.jpg) taken from this angle so there are fewer uncertainties here.

    I think it's easier to use Apollo 6 (which was totally white) as a reference when building the Revell 1/48 model. As for the 1/96 scale kit, I've decided to keep the original color (silver) and build Apollo 1/4 instead.

    From: gregb@gemini.ast.lmco.com (gregb)
    Date: 9 Oct 95 17:08:09 GMT

    One of the better books for Apollo pictures is:
    Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, Edgar M. Cortright, Editor, NASA SP-350, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1975, 313 pages.

    Notes: A collection of articles written by noted Apollo program participants. It is also a very good picture book. Recommended. USGPO stock number 033-000-00630-6, US$13.00 (October 1994 status).

    This can be obtained from a local USGPO bookstore (like Denver) or from the USGPO in Washington. They pay shipping with no sales taxes.

    The US Government has a good reputation of providing reprints to the general public of many very good documents. Many US Government publications (including NASA History Series) are available for sale (to those who are patient) at the following address:

    US Government Printing Office
    Superintendent of Documents
    P.O. Box 371954
    Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954
    202-512-1800 (Washington DC)


    US Government Printing Office
    Superintendent of Documents
    Washington, DC 20402

    From: pfjeld@istar.ca (Paul Fjeld)
    Date: 26 Aug 1997 09:58:31

    All of the Apollo Block II Command Modules were covered with aluminized Kapton tape. The Kapton is a clear plastic film (polyimide) amberish in color. A thin vaccuum depositing of aluminum was mirror bright. The adhesive was applied on the amber side so that the mirror side was out (thus the CM looks like a mirror), but, after re-entry, some of the aluminum was removed or the tape was burned and peeled up so that the remnants gave a yellowish cast. I believe that the tape was applied in 2 inch stips and it was hand done on the pad just before launch. The blue protective tape was peeled off and the Kapton tape was pieced on in sections.

    The Skylab CM was painted white on one half of the cone centered around the Commanders Rendezvous window. The other half (away from the sun) was painted silver. Just after the launch accident that ripped the Skylab's micrometeoroid shield off, NASA thermal engineers decided to add aluminized Kapton tape to the lower sides of the silver half of the CM the help the equipment bay reject heat from the Earth.

    From: divemaster@pobox.com(Tracy Kornfeld)
    Date: 5 May 1999

    Got a note from Alan Bean today. Barry Davidoff suggested that I share it with you for posting on your site.

    I asked him if he remembers the color of the INTERIOR walls of the CM. He replied that to his best recollection, they were light gray. He also suggested that I verify this by taking a trip to the Air & Space Museum in Washington. :) [He also inscribed and signed a very nice photo of him doing an EVA on SkyLab]

    From: Stewart_Bailey@jackson.cc.mi.us(Stewart Bailey)
    Date: 6 May 1999

    Having a flown CM sitting 30 feet away from me, I have the advantage of being able to check such things as colors. The base color of the CM interior is a light grey that has a slight hint of green in it. If you were to mix a light gull grey with a couple drops of British W.W. 2 aircraft interior green, I think you could capture to color very nicely. The instrument panel, the astrogation sextant housing and a number of other panels are a darker grey, somewhat along the lines of USAF Neutral Grey. Unfortunately, I don't my FS color chip book here with me at work, but suppose, the next time we have to go inside to change a light, I can make an accurate reading. (Unfoturnately, that may be a while, since we just replaced the balast in the light fixture a couple months ago.)

    From: QM1MIKEE@aol.com(Mike Earnest)
    Date: 6 May 1999

    I think I can clear up this mess with the paint color. The interior is indeed Light Aircraft Grey. The light pea-green color comes from the way florescent light plays on this color. This same color is used aboard US Navy vessels, and under certain conditions it can appear to have that "light green tinge".

    From: Stewart_Bailey@jackson.cc.mi.us(Stewart Bailey)
    Date:10 May 1999

    First off, I need to back off of my earlier suggestion about the green tint. After I shut all the lights off and looked at the grey with a flashlight, they were definately a flat light gull grey. (After 15 years as an artist, I shouldn't have been fooled by the lighting... although, since the real things were lit with fluroescent fixtures, perphaps the model should be painted that way for "scale effect.")

    Anyway, the cloth portions of the couch are a light greyish tan. I don't know if this is true of all Apollos. Apollo 9, like most all museum pieces has had a lot of "cosmetic" things done to it. The frames of the seats indicate that they are for training, and not for flight, so I don't know if the color is correct for all vehicles. Footrests for the seats are a dull aluminum color.

    The "joy stick" struts are the same color of dark metal as the seat frames. The only difference is on the one located on the left side of the commander's seat. On this one, the upper third is black. As for the control boxes, they are a kind of neutral grey color, but again, these items are not original to Apollo 9 and are actually wooden recreations. The same is true of the joystick handles.

    Now story has it that the CM pilots were given the the joystick grips as a "momento" of the flight. If this is accurate, then we have on display one of the units from Apollo 15, which was given to us by Al Worden (a Jackson, Michigan native.) This grip is a metallic silver color with a black "trigger" and a yellow strip of tape on one side bearing the words "Not A Handhold." Make of this what you will.