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1/72 NASA Mini Sniffer


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Well, I have cleared a few things off my bench so I can start in on this GB. I plan on building the NASA Mini Sniffer in 1/72 using the Muroc Models kit. Man, it is rather small! Here's what the real vehicle looks like:

MiniSnifferECN-4206small.jpg

For those interested who are not familiar with this UAV, here's a bit of information on it's background, compliments of a NASA web site:

The Mini-Sniffer was a remotely controlled, propeller-driven vehicle developed at NASA Dryden Research Center to sample the upper atmosphere for pollution. The Mini-Sniffer represents one of the earliest attempts by NASA to monitor the earth's atmosphere at high altitudes and was also considered for planetary atmospheric sampling flights over Mars. The number I aircraft had swept wings with a span of 18 feet, wing rudders, and forward canards on the nose. Twelve flights were made with the gas powered number I craft at low altitudes around 2500 feet above ground level. The Mini-Sniffer flights were made in the mid 1970s.

Here is how the kit looks as I begin the project:

MiniSnifferI002MJI070211small.jpg

MiniSnifferI005MJI070211small.jpg

Note the really tiny prop molded into the resin "sprue" along with the little bitty resin wheels (sort of). This just may need to be scratchbuilt!

On to the build!

Mike

:cheers:

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Thanks Luno13! You definitely nailed it, this is a tiny build, or at least for me. It's great practice in working on delicate modeling parts.

I have started this project in the usual place, the cockpit. Er......maybe not! It is actually a nice break to not worry about a cockpit and jump straight to the fuselage. I seperated the body from the resin block and filled in the obvious flaws. This is a pretty high quality resin kit but there are the usual pin holes in the resin and rough spots at various places. I managed to quickly snap off a canard while trying to sand the part in front of the wings but I repaired it without too much of a problem. After an overall sanding I shot a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to find the places that still needed repairs. Here's how it looks now after a coat of primer and some spot filing and sanding:

MiniSniffer1_002_MJI07242011small.jpg

MiniSniffer1_007_MJI07242011small.jpg

MiniSniffer1_009_MJI07242011small.jpg

To give this some scale, I am working on a small base and figure at the same time to go with the Mini Sniffer. More on those when I have something to show.

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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Here's an update on my slow progress on this little guy. I did another primer/fill/sand routine and got the Mini Sniffer looking pretty good in primer. I then gave it two light coats of ModelMaster gloss white. It's now drying for a few days (OK, maybe a week!) so I can lightly polish out the slight orange peel effect and then paint the hi vis red orange stripes on the under wing. Here's how it looks with the white body:

MiniSniffer_012_MJI08032011small.jpg

MiniSniffer_011_MJI08032011small.jpg

You can see the holes drilled out in the bottom for the 3 landing gear legs and the hole on top for an antenna. I am also working on a 1/72 figure to give the Mini Sniffer a sense of scale. Here's both of them together. The figure actaully looks a lot better to the eye than under the camera lens as the shades blend together.

MiniSniffer_015_MJI08032011small.jpg

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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I don't have a lot to report on this build as I am in the stage of finishing the main body of the Mini Sniffer. The paint has cured, the decals applied and now it is drying. After I hit it with a clear coat to blend the decals in and then a final overall satin clear coat I'll post more photos.

In the mean time, here is an update on my work on the landing gear. These are little bitty resin specks for wheels and some very thin wire for the gear legs. This is how it does look on the real prototype. I enlisted my little assistant to give some scale to the completed landing gear assembly. There are 3 of these things but as they all look alike, I stopped at getting one in focus!

MiniSniffer_019_MJI08032011small.jpg

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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I was using most of my modeling time this past week to work on another build that has been in progress for a loooong time. As fate would have it, I crashed and burned the other day when I shot a final flat coat over the F-16 and I ended up with horrible white spots/frosting over the finished model. :bandhead2: I tried to fix this with no luck (still looked crappy), so I just stripped off the decals and paint and went back about 10 steps. As a stress reliever, I did do some more work on the Mini Sniffer, mainly working on the tiny wooden (resin) prop. Here's how it looks after painting and clear coat. Thanks again to my little assistant for providing a scale estimate in 1/72! :D

MiniSniffer_025_MJI08032011small.jpg

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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Keeping up with my slow progress on this build, here's an update on the Mini Sniffer. The dayglo markings have been added, decals on and a clear semigloss protective coating applied. Now I need to to paint the engine and add the fiddley bits. I am so NOT looking forwrad to adding the tiny landing gear!!! :D

MiniSniffer_032_MJI080112011small.jpg

MiniSniffer_030_MJI080112011small.jpg

MiniSniffer_029_MJI080112011small.jpg

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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FINISHED!!! :banana: It's rare that I actually get a GB finished in time, so I am celebrating a bit. I was able to complete the Mini Sniffer yesterday and I must say that I am happy with the results. I was worried that the landing legs would not be even as it is a real challenge to cut the thin wire in equal segments and also drill the tiny holes close to an equal depth. I held my breath as I glued the landing gear on and placed it on the base. It worked! The wings are at an equal height. Also to my relief, the Mini Sniffer is almost a tail sitter but does balance OK on all 3 legs. Whew! All that was left was adding the small prop and making a small antenna wire which is partially black and silver. I also detailed the engine just a bit with a fuel line (exhaust?) added using a small bit of wire as this is visible in the photos of the real thing. Here's how the Mini Sniffer now looks. The 1/72 figure does add a nice scale reference to this little bugger! I'll post a few more photos in the competed entry section.

MiniSniffer_045_MJI09012011small.jpg

MiniSniffer_036_MJI09012011small.jpg

MiniSniffer_039_MJI09012011small.jpg

Thanks for following my build. This was a fun GB!

Have fun modeling!

Mike

:cheers:

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  • 3 months later...

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