Saturn V details

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

John Duncan has a terrific page devoted to the Apollo-Saturn V. It can be found at It contains a wealth of photographs of the Saturn V on display at KSC, along with drawings from flight manuals and references to Apollo Saturn documentation and oodles of other great stuff, too.

From: (Peter Alway)
Date: 7 Aug 1994 02:43:33 GMT

I believe the only Apollo-Saturn V (as opposed to Skylab Saturn V) that was painted significantly different from the rest was SA-500F the integration test vehicle that was stacked at Kennedy Space Center and never flown. Because so many photos were taken, it was used as the model for paint patterns for several models.

Other significant differences include the number of ullage rockets on the interstage ring between the first and second stage. One or two unmanned Saturn V's had 8 spaced around the ring, while by Apollo 11, there were just four.

Finally, the "block 1" and "block 2" service modules had different patterns of radiator tubes on the surface, and different color patterns. All manned flights had Block 2 spacecraft.

My "History-makers" edition Saturn V shows the SA-500F paint scheme, has 8 ullage rockets, and the Block I pattern of radiators on the service module. While they may have fixed the painting recommendations, I'm sure the molds have the same inaccuracies. You can probably leave off four ullage rockets without much filling work, but the surface engraving on the service module is a real pain.

One other thing. The Escape tower should not be attached directly to the command module. There should be a conical "boost protective cover" over the command module, covering it entirely at launch.

Some sources that might be helpful:
The Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, NASA
Rockets of the World, Peter Alway (Yes that's a shameless plug)
Saturn V photo and data set, Saturn Press (another shameless plug)
Saturn V and IB blueprints, Nat'l Assoc. of Rocketry tech service.
Please E-mail me if you'd like to follow up on my shameless plugs

From: (Peter Alway)
Date: 14 Aug 1994 18:59:51 GMT

I had been meaning to post something like this, and after speaking with Glen Swanson of Quest Magazine, we concluded it would make the core of a nice article for him. Anyway, here are my opinions of the Saturn V kits that are now available:

Saturn V kits currently available

Excerpt from a draft of an article to appear in Quest Magazine
Copyright (c) 1994 Peter Alway

Monogram 1/144 scale Saturn V

The least expensive Saturn V kit available today, Monogram's 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. [ed. note: a correct Apollo CSM is available from RealSpace Models.] 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 halves 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 belong.

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" markings 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 off.

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 first stage.

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 Greenwich time!

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 precarious.

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. It's a pre-fab toy.

Looking these over, I realize the Saturn V is unique in that there are kits with a reasonable level of detail, as opposed to those Revell missile and launcher kits and the Monogram missile collections where all the detail is in the launcher...

From: (Peter Alway)
Date: 29 Aug 1994 18:56:05 GMT
I just did some digging on the variations from flight to flight after a thread on various Saturn V variants on rec.models.scale.
Flight    Ullage Rockets   S-IC Retrorockets   Paint Scheme
500F      8                yes                 black on S-IC intertank
(not flown)                                    unique S-IVB paint job
Apollo 4  8                yes                 Standard Scheme
Apollo 6  8                yes               
Apollo 8  4                y
Apollo 9  4                y
Apollo 10 4                y
Apollo 11 4                y
Apollo 12 4                y
Apollo 13 4                y
Apollo 14 4                y
Apollo 15 0                no
Apollo 16 0                no
Apollo 17 0                n
Skylab 1  0                n
The S-IC retrorockets are not included in the Estes kit, the NARTS packet, or even my publications (yet). They are located on the engine fairings on either side of the fins.

My source is The Rocket by David Baker. He mentions that by Apollo 15, they decided they didn't need ullage rockets. Anybody know why not?

From: (CECorway)
Date: 17 Jun 1995 13:20:27 -0400

  • This is a very belated response to your posting from last August but I just obtained access to the net. About your questions on the S-II: I was a mechanical and Propulsion engineer for NASA on that stage for the Apollo program. The heat shield was there for all the S-II stages. They can be seen from the aft-looking cameras which were carried on the first two Sat V launches. As far as the ullage motors go, we found that the liquid did not behave as originally thought. The ullage motors were intended to produce the NPSH for the pump inlets to prevent cavitation and failure during startup. As the experience grew the motors were deleted since the NPSH was sufficient for engine start.

  • Well, at least that solves one unanswered question on the Saturn V ullage rockets and why they were later removed from vehicles SA-510 and later. Could you explain what the acronym NPSH stands for (I have it at the tip of my tongue but can't for the life of me remember what it is! Net Pressure Suction Head, right?)

    If I remember correctly, the retrorockets on the S-IC stage were removed from vehicles SA-510 and later. Was the differential drag at staging sufficient to provide a clean separation without using retrorockets?

    For those about to buy the Revell Saturn V kit: the configuration is correct only for vehicles SA-500F (the facilities checkout, which never flew), SA-501 (Apollo 4) and SA-502 (Apollo 6). The paint pattern is correct only for SA-500F and was changed prior to the first flight (Apollo 4); notably the deletion of the upper portion of the lower S-IC roll pattern (which had been already applied and was painted over for vehicles SA-501 through -503) and the filling in of the segmented roll pattern of the upper S-IVB/IU roll pattern to a solid black stripe. the 8 ullage rockets on the S-IC/S-II interstage were later reduced to 4 from vehicles SA-503 through -509 (Apollos 8-14) and eliminated altogether from vehicles SA-510 through SA-515 (Apollos 15-17, Skylab 1 and the two left over from the canceled Apollo flights). The CSM depicted in the kit is correct for an Apollo Block I (SA-500F carried only a boilerplate) -- all manned flights carried Block II spacecraft.

    The same mistake occurred to the modelmakers who built the Saturn V for the film Apollo 13 -- they applied the SA-500F paint pattern and configuration instead of the correct configuration for vehicle SA-508.

    From: (Marcus Lindroos INF)
    Date: 19 Mar 1995 21:35:28 GMT

    [ed. note: this is the only portion of the posting that pertained to the Saturn V. The rest of the posting concerns itself with the Apollo CSM.]

    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 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: (Henry Spencer)
    Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 04:35:00 GMT

    In article <> (Thomas J. Frieling) writes:
  • If I remember correctly, the retrorockets on the S-IC stage were removed from vehicles SA-510 and later...
  • If memory serves, some of the retrorockets were actually reinstated a flight or two later, because the separation *wasn't* clean enough.
  • No, both these assertions are wrong... If one reads Baker's The Rocket, on page 247 he details the ullage and retro motor changes on the Saturn V. He states that on AS-510 they removed *half* of the original complement of eight S-IC retros, leaving four and in this configuration were launched the remaining Saturn Vs.

  • Except that they changed their minds on the very next flight. If one reads Baker's The History of Manned Space Flight very carefully :-), one finds that four of the retros were indeed deleted for 510 (Apollo 15), but on 511 (Apollo 16) they were reinstated "...because insufficient separation had been observed with only four rockets installed...".

    From: Mr. Cooper
    Date: 9 Nov 1999

    Regarding the Revell Saturn V 1/96--This model uses pre-printed body roll-ups (with 'USA' , 'United States' and the US flag) for the smooth sections of the stages. The roll-up for the S-IV-B stage has USA printed on it. The manned Apollo Saturn V's did not have this on them. The modeler may wish to roll the stage sheet inside out instead, or to paint it over with white.