On The Bench 230b: LW Mahalak’s Viper Project

This was first featured in On The Bench 227.

Progress report on the Mk. IV:

Did a dry-fit of the whole thing. Wings, forward fuselage, and aft sections all “flow”. It’s starting to look right… even if the wings were just pinned on for the photos.

One note: in order for this thing to sit properly on the stand, I had to do two things. One, I packed about 1.5 ounces of lead weight onto the belly of the center fuselage as far back as possible. Two, I had to remove a portion of the top of the stand, since the bigger engines were hitting. A minor thing, but a heads-up to anyone who follows through with a conversion like this.

Cockpit interior is completed, including a side mounted joystick and a scratch-built ejection seat. My digital camera isn’t the best for detail shots, but you can sort of get a hint from the photos. As you can see, the fuselage is 90% finished. It’s fabricated in two sections, the forward portion containing the plastic turbine looking things from the Mk. I kit, and the aft section, which will be the shroud around the engine nozzles and Y-plate. Both sections were made from 2 inch Styrofoam insulation, carved and sanded. The forward chunk has a 1 inch piece of bead-board epoxied on to it to give it the right size. Haven’t gotten around to it, but the intake shroud and the rear shroud will be fiberglass and epoxy. Planning on using modeling clay to sculpt the intakes and then lay up two or three layers of fiberglass on the whole thing. The rear will just be laid up directly on the foam, and once cured, I’ll probably dissolve the Styro out of it. This should alleviate some of the headaches I’ve heard others experienced with them.

The wing extensions were made from a 1/2 inch thick piece of Styrofoam insulation, split to thickness. They’ve not been sanded to final spec yet, but have been glued to the stock Mk. I wings with epoxy. The scratch-built styrene grilles and duct work have been added as well.

The sort of slap-dash painted parts of it are in a test of the final paint scheme, sort of a take on a low-visibility tactical scheme, similar to the Navy, Marines, and Air Force fly currently. Once completed, the Mk. IV will wear an overall coat of Dark Ghost Grey (FS36320) with Medium Grey (FS35237) striping. Even half completed, sitting next to my Mk. I, “The Four” looks intimidating and mean.

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Vipers, Mk.I and Mk.IV. Note size comparison.

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Looking head-on at one mean ship.

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Looking forward. The Styrofoam will be fiberglassed, then the foam will be removed, leaving the rear shroud.

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You can’t really see it, but there’s a fully detailed cockpit in there. Everything built by yours truly.

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Mk.IV sub-assemblies. Y-plate and engine nozzles not shown.

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Foam core of the aft fuselage.

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Modified Mk. I wings with custom Turbo-lasers. Lower wing shows low-viz paint test.

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Complete fuselage core with stock Viper inlets dry-fitted. I used a Moto-Tool and two different grindstones to make the holes in the foam to inset the inlets.

L. W. Mahalak

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