Date: Mon Aug 3, 1998
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** Painting tips for assorted (real and fictional) space craft
[Q] What paints/colors should I use on my (Star Trek) Enterprise ?
[A] firstname.lastname@example.org (DMARKO@FREENET)
When I saw the Enterprise FX model at the Smithsonian, it
appeared precisely as described in TREK article "Star Trek Miniatures:
The Starship Enterprise", most prominently reprinted in the modeler
primer FAMOUS SPACESHIPS OF FACT AND SCIENCE FICTION. Of course this is
the Enterprise following the 2268 refit, apparently effected after Kirk
took command. The color scheme for the original configuration (2245-2268)
suggests overall neutral grey, perhaps compass ghost grey, but more
likely LIGHT compass Ghost Grey, semigloss finish. Hull and nacelle
details appear dark enough to likely have been a medium grey/silver mix,
while the forward sensor dish and mount were a deep copper.
I believe the correct color of the Federation insigniae is none
other than Cunard Red. Try Humbrol Vermillion, or even Testor Competition
Orange if you elect a light CGG hull color for your pre 2268 Enterprise.
I have read very little concerning the strange groupings of
graphic shapes visible on the nacelle and secondary hull undersides.
These are the most overlooked aspect of the Enterprise external
appearance, and file footage typically offers little insight. Currently
available through the Smithsonian are a series of prints offering
multi-point views of NCC-1701. These prints are the only official
publication that shows ALL of the shapes, including those on the upper
primary hull, behind the bridge deck and stretching back to Engineering.
Most, if not all, of these shapes seem to be present on the pre 2268
Enterprise. The only exception are the two wedge shapes on the primary
hull underside. Most of the shapes are medium grey, light yellow,
or white, bordered alternatively by black, grey, and cherry red.
Graduated numbers along the lower flanks of the secondary hull appear to
be absent from the pre 2268 Enterprise. Has anybody tried to determine if
these are in metres, feet, or signify something else (assembly
stations?)? I am stymied, for I do not possess sufficient photographs to
resolve the question myself.
The Enterprise following 2268 is metallic light grey, matte
finish. All insigniae and markings mentioned above are preserved, plus
the additions of the two wedge shapes, the numbers, and as well the four
"formation lights", the large rectangular illuminated patches on the
primary hull upper surface, readily visible in the post-pilot footage of
The weathering visible in the post 2268 Enterprise seems to be
concentrated at seams, edges, and corners of the craft, with additional
weathering flaring backwards from nacelle front ends, main sensor mount,
and the lower sail, the large support between the primary and secondary
hulls. I found that a very faint tint of green in the hull color, added
to ample browns and umbers in the weathering produces a very attractive
patina, similar to the appearance of the Small Model as it appears in the
Episode "Requiem For Methuselah". Apparently Majel Barrett is the current
owner of this model. Perhaps she can shed further light on its appearance
today, as well as how it looked brand-new.
I have never attempted to illuminate an AMT NCC-1701 kit; as
long as one does not use white for a hull color I have found straight
gloss white, as well as cream, depot buff, and even tan to make excellent
"porthole" effects. Dark grey or grey-blue simulates rooms or passages
with the lights out. I've found this effect to photograph far better in
this scale than any form of lighting ever could. My favorite method of
simulating the lighting of the nacelle front ends is first airbrushing
Antique Bronze (Floquil), then dusting it with Gold Flake (Metalflake).
Finally I airbrush flat white through a mask cut to imitate the "swirl"
pattern of the lights, holding it far enough away to avoid sharp
demarcation lines. A coat of polyurethane, tinted with yellow, goes over
all this. Old-fashioned shellac would work as well, and will acquire a
yellow cast after a year or two. The nacelle rear globes I paint powder
blue, then overspray with white to create a "luminous" effect. The large
dome light over the shuttlebay is done much the same way, but with yellow
as the foundation color.
[Q] Who makes the best Saturn V kit?
[Q] What is the "correct" paint scheme for the Saturn V?
[A] email@example.com (Peter Alway)
Steven J Baines (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: Hi all,
: Can anyone comment on the various Saturn V (complete rocket, not
: just Apollo craft) kits that are available. To my knowledge there is a
: 1/96th Revell (recently re-issued?) one which costs wads of cash, and I
: recall seeing a 1/144th model which is much cheaper but says on
: the box 'kit contains model rocket' only, whatever that means. It was
: unclear from the box whether or not the different stages were modelled
: (e.g. second and third stage engines?), or whether only the launch
: configuration could be made. I also saw another one, again at
: 1/144th scale, that did have separate stages, but from the box details
: appeared to have the second stage engines completely wrong (They appeared
: to have a flat plate to which the engine nozzles were directly attached,
: i.e. they didn't even look like rocket engines). One of these two kits
: was an Airfix product. I don't recall the name of the other manufacturer.
: Anyone who can add to these rather vague comments, please do so!
I think I must have posted these a year or more ago, since they are
all edited for 80-line screens, but here are my opions:
Saturn V kits currently available
Excerpt from a draft of an article
to appear in Quest Magazine
Copyright (c) 1994
Monogram 1/144 scale Saturn V.
The least expensive Saturn V kit available today,
MonogramUs Saturn V is probably the most fun. Not
only do all stages separate, but the Lunar Module
fairing opens in four hinged quadrants and the Lunar
Module features folding legs. If you want a Saturn V
to re-create every phase of an Apollo flight, this kit
is for you.
Unfortunately, this kit suffers from several
inaccuracies. Most grating to me is an undersized
command-service module. While modeled at the correct
length, the diameter of the service module scales up
to 135" as opposed to 154", about 12% too small. This
cannot be corrected without destroying most of the
functioning gimmicks of the model. The Service module
also features surface detailing characteristic of the
early Block 1 spacecraft, rather than that of the
manned Block 2 Apollo.
Monogram cut corners in tooling this kit, with the
result that some details are poorly represented. The
Reaction Control System thrusters on the service
module are integral with the Service module halves,
and are poorly defined. One problem inherent in a kit
build with stage haves is that the quality of the
corrugations is poor near the seams. The engines of
the S-II stage are especially badly represented. Only
the bottom halves of the engine bells (below the
second stage heatshield) are molded. Above the
shield, in plain view when the stages are separated,
is a gaping vacuum where the J-2 engines' mechanisms
The most conspicuous errors of the kit are the most
easily corrected. The recommended paint scheme (at
least in my 1986 "Young Astronauts" edition of the
instructions) is based on pre-flight documents, and is
not correct for any Saturn V flown. Monogram directs
the modeler to paint the original first stage roll
patterns used only on the unflown integration test
vehicle SA-500F. The black areas were greatly reduced
when technicians found the temperature in the
intertank area became unbearably hot. There are also
"USA" marking provided that appeared only on SA-500F.
The Monogram kit comes with eight ullage rockets for
the S-I-C/S-II interstage ring. This is correct only
for the unflown SA-500F and the unmanned Apollo 4 and
6 launches. To model Apollos 8 through 14 accurately,
you would need only those parts directly above the
first stage fins. Apollos 15, 16, and 17 carried none
of these ullage rockets. Unfortunately, there are
visible flat areas remaining if these parts are left
The Monogram 1/144 kit features an appealing, if
inaccurate "launch pad" display base with three tiny
figures that give a sense of size to the model.
Unfortunately, the base hides the F-1 engines of the
Airfix 1/144 Saturn V
Sold for a bit more in the US, the Airfix Saturn V
could easily be mistaken for the Monogram kit. The
chief difference is that Airfix put a bit more effort
into detailing and less into operating gimmicks. The
Airfix kit shares most of the inaccuracies of the
Monogram kit. Most notably the out-of-proportion
service module is a hair worse in this kit, and it
shares the out-of-date surface detail. The Service
Module thrusters are molded as separate pieces and are
much better defined. The second stage engines are
complete (if not highly detailed). The lunar module
shows a bit more detail, although the stages are
molded together and the landing legs are fixed. This
kit includes four integrally molded ullage rockets for
Apollos 8 through 14, but they are positioned
incorrectly. As was the case with the Monogram kit,
the corrugation quality is poor near the stage half
seams. Again the paint scheme is incorrect in my kit
(dating to the 1970's) but this is easily fixed. A
simple display stand includes a decal commemorating
the Moon landing on July 21, 1969, the correct date in
Revell-Germany 1/96 Saturn V
This is the largest, most detailed, and most expensive
Saturn V kit sold. The Revell kit is over 45" tall
and will dominate any model display. Going for nearly
$100 in Europe, imported kits may sell for as much as
$130 in the US. These comments are based on the
History-Makers edition of the kit released around 1980
and the instructions from the original 1969 release.
The most striking feature of this huge kit is the
technique for building rocket stages without seams or
excessive weight. The smooth tank portions of the
model are made from flat printed styrene sheets rolled
into tubes by the modeler. The corrugated sections
are injection molded. The corrugations are uniform
all the way around the model. Aside from spacecraft
decals, the only markings provided with this kit are
on the pre-printed tanks, which must be left
unpainted. The result is a color mismatch between the
white of the tanks and the white of the corrugations.
There are no fin letters, or even quadrant numbers on
the first stage fuel tank. The original kit
recommended the SA-500F paint scheme.
This time, the service module is of the correct
diameter, but it still features Block 1 surface
engraving. At 1/96 scale, this engraving is too
conspicuous to ignore. I scraped all detail from my
service module, and applied thin striping tape to
simulate the radiator lines in the correct positions.
The kit also lacks the Boost Protective Cover over the
command module. I adapted a spare command module
piece (at the time, I had several 1/96 command-service
module kits around) to act as the cover, and glued the
escape tower to this part.
The Lunar Module shroud features a clear plastic
window, making the Lunar Module visible. I painted
this over in my kit. You may wish to add to clear
windows to each interstage to show off the engine
details. Engine details are a high point of this kit,
with four parts per engine, plus additional structural
parts for the outboard engines.
Unfortunately, many of the exterior details are not
dealt with so well. The kit provides 8 ullage
rockets, placed incorrectly. Correcting this will not
be easy, as there are large locator tabs on the
interstage ring filling space between corrugations.
The outside of the S-II stage is poorly detailed.
Among other errors, the five hydrogen line fairings
around the base of the S-II stage are spaced
incorrectly and are of the wrong shape.
This model is fragile and awkward to disassemble. Be
sure to set aside a display space for the kit before
you attack it. I store mine in the special "carrying
case" box, and find I have to repair it most times I
take it out. The assembled display stand cannot be
stored in the box, making temporary display
It may be possible to correct some of the Revell kit's
defects by using the decals and plastic parts from the
Estes 1/100 scale kit.
Estes 1/100 Saturn V
This kit is probably the finest flying scale model kit
of any rocket now available. As a flying model, it
lacks much of the detail associated with plastic
models. Internal detail is completely lacking.
Externally, however, it is good for a flying kit.
Corrugations are represented with embossed paper
wraps, and are not as three-dimensional as those on
the plastic kits. There is considerable rolling and
wrapping of die-cut cardstock, which requires extra
care. The body is made of spiral wound paper tubing,
and the fins are balsa wood. Both need some filling
for best results. Ullage rockets, S-II fuel lines,
the escape tower, and other details are represented
with injection molded plastic parts.
The model is well-proportioned except for somewhat
oversized fins needed for safe flight. This kit comes
with 8 ullage rockets. The locations are embossed on
the corrugation wraparound, so if you leave four off,
it shows. Careful burnishing may fix this problem.
The recommended paint scheme is correct, except that
Service Module is oversimplified. Decals are more
detailed than those of most kits, with several camera
targets included. There are no engraved details on
the service module, and the RCS thrusters are
oversimplified for extra strength in flight. The
first stage has dummy scale nozzles are provided for
display. These must be removed for flight. As a
flying model, the Estes kit is very light, and aside
from the dummy nozzle attachment it is more durable
than most plastic models.
Cox 1/130 Saturn V
This model hardly deserves mention. ItUs a pre-fab
A final note: since I put this together, Estes has discontinued
their Saturn V.
[Q] Are there any sources for parts to "accuratize" the common Saturn V kits?
[A] <72571.1107@CompuServe.COM> (Glenn Johnson)
For anyone who is interested in building the 1/144 scale kits of
the Saturn V but wants to have the Apollo section (CSM & LM
adapter section) in the correct scale RealSpace Models makes a
conversion kit in Solid resin. For more information contact
RealSpace Models at email@example.com
rec.models.scale FAQ, part 15
FAQ Table of Contents