On The Bench 248: John Klein’s Viper Mk II part 1

Here’s a look at my build-up of Moebuis’ 1/32 Viper MKII from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. I added a photo-etched decal set and created a custom pilot’s nameplate and tail number.

The Model

The Viper MKII is kitted by Moebius in 1/32 scale and comes very well detailed and researched straight out of the box. The instruction sheet clearly lays out the structural and cosmetic differences between the CGI and practical models, allowing the modeler to choose exactly the version he or she wishes to represent. Though the detailing is quite accurate, there are still one or two areas which could use improvement.

Modifications

One major design feature of the MKII is the prominent Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters which consist of various-sized ports located throughout the fuselage. They are represented in the kit as decals; I felt that these didn’t look realistic enough so I set about drilling out the RCS ports. To get the size and spacing of the ports correct I applied the RCS thruster decals in their appropriate locations and used these as templates for the drilled holes. The decals easily detach from the raw plastic surface so I marked the centre of each port with the tip of a hobby knife before I started drilling. After the ports were drilled, I backed each set of holes from the inside of the fuselage with plastic strip.

I added a photo etched detail set from ParaGrafix to refine the detail that extra little bit. One area which is greatly improved through the use of PE is the cockpit; the ParaGrafix set provides PE panels for all of the switches, gauges and displays as well as acetate and decals for the display and gauge faces. To install the panels in the cockpit tub, I removed the existing detail with a scalpel blade and jewelers’ files, then glued the PE in place with cyanoacrylate. I then cut the acetate displays and gauges to shape and glued them in their appropriate places with white glue and then replicated the glass faces with a few coats of Future.

After it all dried, I masked the displays with making fluid and painted the cockpit tub semi-gloss grey. I also added seat belts made from painted masking tape with photoetched buckles as well as the prominent tubing above the pilot’s seat which I represented with copper wire.

The ParaGrafix set also includes two pieces which more accurately represent a mystery component and its heat shield which are located in the front weapons bay. To install this, I removed the existing portion of the fuselage with a Dremel tool and files and then backed the opening with sheet styrene. The photo etched replacement component installs flat, but its heat shield is bent into a half-round shape. To achieve a consistent bend, I pressed a piece of half-round styrene rod into a block of Milliput. When this dried, I used it as a forming jig by pushing the PE into the groove in the Milliput using the half-round rod. These were the most difficult PE components to install.

The rest of the PE consisted of replacement engine exhaust rear walls which were installed after the existing plastic was removed and engine wiring which was simply attached on top of the exposed engine components in the rear nacelles.

The only other structural modifications I made were to scratchbuild the launching hook assembly for the front landing gear out of styrene strip and tube; and to blank off the see-though nature of the exhaust openings with black painted styrene disks.

on to part 2

 

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