Mercury-Redstone kitbash

There's a fascinating kitbashing project using Glencoe's 1:48 Explorer I launch vehicle. You combine parts from two of the kits with Revell-ogram's 1:48 Mercury spacecraft to model the Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle. I've seen this model, and the results were spectacular!

Les Dorr, Jr.

rec.models.scale, 2 December 1994

The following is from the IPMS Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4. It's excerpted from The View from Space City by Michael J. Mackowski (used with his permission...):

The Glencoe kit is a fairly accurate reproduction of the Jupiter-C (actually, for the satellite launches, Juno 1 was the official name), but appears to be a scale foot (1/4th inch) too long in the cylindrical booster sections. In the kit, the topmost portion of the rocket (just below the conical fairing) is an equipment section. Although the booster for the manned flights was essentially the same as for the Jupiter/Juno launches, a longer pressurized instrument section was used. This results in a longer overall length between the base of the rocket and the payload separation plane. The result is shown in the accompanying sketch:

Accompanying sketch
The modeler needs to cut off the top of the kit booster, which is unique for the Jupiter-C, and add another piece from a second kit. This added section becomes the instrument section of the Mercury-Redstone. The cut line on the Jupiter-C is where a seam should actually be for that version's mating line between the satellite and the booster, but this line is not shown on the kit. The cut should be made 1/8th inch below the vent fairings. This will result in the joint being right at the bottom of the black-and-white paint pattern on the equipment section of the Mercury-Redstone, so practically no filling will be needed. This added section can be cut from almost anywhere on the second kit, but to make the best use of existing panel lines, I suggest using the bottom of the lower kit booster section (parts 12L and 12R). On the real rocket this is a 147 inch long piece, which scales to 3 1/16th in 1/48th.

The actual diameter of the booster is exactly 70 inches, but measuring the kit, it comes up two inches oversize. The base of the Mercury is 74.5 inches, and the Revell kit scales out very closely. There is a conical adaptor on the rocket that fairs in this difference, and this makes up the top 14.2 scale inches (0.3" in 1/48th) on the rocket. The difference in diameters scales out to about 0.052 inches. A thin sheet of 0.025" or 0.030" styrene can be used to simulate this. File or sand it to a taper before wrapping it around the top of the booster.

Mike is working on a SIM book about the Mercury Program, and is especially interested in getting details of this conical adaptor section. If you have any more details or information, please email him at:

David Weeks built an award-winning model of Alan Shepard's Mercury-Redstone vehicle using the Monogram issued Mercury capsule and the Glencoe Jupiter C kits. To see how he did it, click on this link