David Hanner’s Orion III

This is the ancient Aurora kit of the Orion III from “2001.” I built the kit when it originally came out in the ’60s, and being a kid at the time, I did a lousy job. For some reason, it’s the only model I saved from my youth.

A couple of years ago, I decided to re-do it. I took the model apart, removed all the old, yellowed glue, scraped and sanded everything and then re-assembled the model. I replaced or rebuilt parts that didn’t survive the dismantling, though. The ribbed portion separating the engine compartment from the forward fuselage (the portion where the blue “Pan Am” globes goes) broke while taking the model apart, so I removed all of it and fashioned an entirely new section out of ribbed sheet plastic, cut and bent to shape.

I ruined the little row of retro-rockets (or whatever they are) that goes across the underside of the engine section, so I made new tiny quarter-section globes by heat-forming sheet plastic over a small round pen cap tip, then cutting off each hemisphere, which were then cut in half to make the hollow quarter sections. I also made several to put on the upper section of the fuselage where the black half-oval shapes are. I’d seen photos and drawings showing them there, too, and the Aurora kit didn’t have them.

The only other additions during assembly where a scratch-built exhaust on the top of the fuselage, a scratch-built panel added to the bottom to cover the old display stand slot, the addition of a photo-etched vent underneath the engine section, addition of a couple of slices of styrene tubing to represent vents in the same area, cutting out what appears in drawings and photos to be some sort of umbilical connections on the engine section, and drilling out and shaping the intake-like structures at the front of the wing chines.

I drilled and filed a small opening underneath the model and glued in a section of square brass tubing, which was cut flush with the surface of the model, faired in with super glue and sanded.

I also filled the pebbled surfaces on the fuselage and wings (one of the more annoying features of the old Aurora kit) with putty and sanded the area smooth. Panel lines were then re-scribed, following by more sanding and then priming.

I sprayed it with flat white paint. After that had dried, I applied a gloss coat to prepare the model for decaling. All panel detail was done with decals. I spray-painted white over pieces of black and blue solid-color decal stock, achieving different shades off off-white. Panels were cut from the decal stock and applied to the model. The markings come from the excellent Tangent decal sheet.

David Hanners

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