Sunday 6 September 2015

Apollo Saturn V


This is yet another impulse buy of mine. Armed with some cash in my pocket, I wandered into my local model shop while my wife and daughter went clothes shopping. A short look around my usual 1\35 Armour kits revealed nothing to catch my attention. Wanting to waste as much time as possible in the shop to avoid going back to the "enjoyment" of clothes shopping with my family, I started to look at the other subjects available in the shop. It was only when I got to the science fiction and space section was my curiosity aroused by the one singular thing that will always grab my attention. Yep you've guessed it: A SALE STICKER! In front of me was a half price sticker of an Apollo Saturn 1\144 scale rocket reduced from £32.99 to £15.99. I couldn't resist taking it from the shelf for a closer look.

While I began to convince myself that this wasn't a good idea, I remembered that a few years ago I had bought a 1\144 scale German WWII U boat from the same shop whilst that was reduced to clear. I had loads of fun building something different and I still proudly display it in my office. Decision made I bought it and happily returned to my wife an daughter to continue clothes shopping in Cardiff (via a coffee shop first).

The Build

OK the first thing that I realised when I opened the box was that this thing is bloody huge!! I soon realised that in no way was this going to fit on one of my model display shelves in my office. A cigarette and coffee later I came to the idea of not actually displaying this model as a one piece rocket that can be taken apart to view the various stages as Revell intended. Instead I was going to display the model as it is in real life in the US; in sections on stands. By doing this it can be laid flat on an MDF base that I will make or even wall mount once complete. Because of this I will be removing the locking pegs situated on the various sections of the rocket as they will no longer be needed. The quality of the parts are really good save for a large amount of flash on the edges. The details of the parts that are unavoidably removed along with the flash are thankfully easy to replicate. The build itself is straightforward and I will simply post pictures in this section as I slowly progress each section of the rocket. I do intend on making a few modifications as I go along and these will be explained and photographed in the section below.


The modifications of the Saturn are predominately on the interior sections of the rocket. I am in no way an expert on the intricacies of these NASA produced spacecraft, however I was fortunate enough to find a web-site dedicated to these models:  I would thoroughly recommend this web-site as a place to visit for advice, guidance and modification parts if you don't fancy taking on the scratch building yourself.

One of the first parts I decided on scratch building was the S-IVB Thrust structure. There is a distinct lack of Helium spheres on the kit when compared with the real thing. I raided my daughters dress jewelry box and quickly ran down the stairs from her bedroom armed with a silver ball bracelet that just happened to have the right size balls to replicate the spheres (sorry Lauren). some quick cutting, stretched sprue and some primer and the spheres look great!

The second thing that I decided upon doing was additions to the S-II section of the rocket; in particular the dome and surrounding structure. Although the dome really only required some pipes and electrical wiring it added some interest to what would have been a very plain area of the model. The internal structure although not 100% accurate gives some further interest to what would be a plain tube inside:

being as I had decided to display the rocket in sections; the mounting points built into the kit so that it can be taken apart once complete were not really viable for the type of display that I was aiming for. These were carefully removed with a very fine razor saw and then sanded flat to the structure.

The very top section of the kit is really poor in its fit. I decided upon trying to remedy the fit by carefully sanding and filing the dome to get an accurate fit. Fortunately I was able to achieve a really good fit without losing any detail from the dome.

The final modification was to add a resin section from Martins-models as the kit items are just so bad there is no remedying them. The resin items are very good in their attention to the detail found on the real rocket; however I would point out that they are far from professional and clean when supplied. There is a lot of detail work and clean up to get them to look as they should. The supplied resin heat shield was discarded in favor of a scratch build plastic card one. There is a lot to be said about cost over quality, however I will quite happily state that the resin kit was value for money and it is the only one available for this kit.

A last minute modification to the kit is to add some of the framework that supports the main engines. This is some simple plastic rod but in my opinion adds a little more to the finished piece.

The Display base

The display base is going to be kept as simplistic as possible. A very long piece of MDF was cut and then sprayed matt black to accommodate the rocket in its sections. To this I will add the plaque left on the moon from this mission and the NASA mission patch. These were re-produced on decal film and then mounted onto a small piece of cut aluminium for the plaque and a cut piece of plastic card for the patch. They will be placed onto the bottom of the base once the rocket has been mounted

Painting and finishing the model.

The masking process for this rocket was painfully slow due to the shear size of thing! I plan on painting the white sections first in Halfords appliance white, followed by the black which is a tin of generic black paint from a £1 store. I had a few problems with the white paint in terms of it running and in some areas some air bubbles. The exact reason why this happened could be the thickness of the paint, my technique, ambient weather conditions (I live in Wales so its always wet!).No matter what the exact cause, it was quickly rubbed back down and re-finished.

I was pretty underwhelmed on removing the masking tape with only the white applied to the rocket. Once the white was masked up and the black applied I must admit that the contrast between the colours really makes this one hell of a striking paint finish. I'm really happy with the progress so far and I hope that when its mounted to the base board, it will make a really interesting model to look at.

Completed model.

The completion was a simple affair of mounting each of the stages onto the board along with the emblems that I had produced earlier. I have included one shot of the completed model on my living room rug and the other shots of the rocket taking pride of place on my office wall.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting together my "bargain basement" model rocket and I am really happy with turning what was potentially a young boys bedroom ornament into something a little more "grown up" for a "big boys office". I do hope that you agree.

As always any comments are always welcome.

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