The making (page 3)
Detailing of the side pods is done using pre-cut pieces of styrene, glued in place with black CA and then sanded to the right thickness.
Automotive tape (silver) is used for the more subtle recessed panels. The pods sections were then cut in half for moulding purposes.
The side pods castings are reinforced with 2mm (.081") brass rods to ensure they will support the weight of the model and not 'sink' over time. Picture below shows how the rods are held in place during moulding. Click here for a closer look.
The test kit is being assembled as the parts are mastered, moulded and cast in resin. This process ensures that everything fits correctly as the parts are fabricated. At this stage, the test kit is being fitted with the landing gear prototype. Click here for a closer look.
Landing struts will be made of brass rods, aluminium tubing and resin details (some not shown yet). The prototype is surprisingly strong and should easily support the weight of the model. Notice the VTOL engine between the struts. Click here for a closer look.
Sample of how the main struts will have to be assembled on the kit. All the aluminium and brass hardware will be included. Note the automotive tape stripes one the larger aluminium tube.
Another shot at the struts being assembled. The struts assembly will be the most time consuming step of the kit's construction but it will also be very rewarding if done properly...
Auxiliary engines tubing is installed on the rear engine sub-assembly. This whole assembly won't be permanently fixed to the model until the last possible moment for ease of painting and finishing.
All landing struts and foot pads are now installed and primed onto the test kit. Click here for a closer look.
The struts are surprisingly sturdy and won't have any problem supporting the whole model, including the dorsal pod and the two main tanks that will be fabricated later on. Click here for a closer look.
Planning of the dorsal pod pattern is done using cardboard. It's mush easier to see if everything will fit right and to make last minutes adjustments. It is also important to consider the shrinkage factor during casting (ie. a casting will be slightly smaller than its pattern...)
Styrene sheets of different thicknesses are used to make the pod basic shape.
Once the shell is completed, resin is poured inside. The pod is then cut into five sections, sanded (to make a groove at each end) and joined back together using those resin 'plugs' (grey sections).
After two coats of primer and smoothing out the surfaces, styrene details are glued into place using CA glue. There are approximately 200 bits and pieces to make the details on the dorsal pod...
Details are then carefully sanded to the right thickness using flexible sanding pads (very handy tools!) Subtle recessed areas are done using automotive tape.
Test-fitting the dorsal pod pattern onto the test kit. Looks pretty good to me! The little moon buggy is from the PE gift set and gives a better sense of scale. Click here for a closer look.
The two main tanks that go on the dorsal pod will be made out of one tank pattern. The basic shape is done using a butyrate tube with acrylic domes at each end and 4 styrene strips. Again, two coats of primer and smoothing of the surfaces are required before adding more details.
The 'toothed disk' on the front of the tank, which can be seen above (lower left), originally came from Aurora's 1/35 Flying Sub kit. I took the same part from the more recent Monogram kit and reduced it to the needed scale using a special technique I have developed during this project. Below is the original part and to its right a 'shrinked' copy with no details lost.
Test-fit of the tank pattern onto the test kit. It still needs lots of details similar to the dorsal pod. Click here for a closer look.