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Hello folks. Time for me to venture into something completely different... but it was only a matter of time I think. If there is one thing to be known about me it is that I am a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) Battlestar Galactica fan. As such I've spent a few years collecting up a kit and various other parts to build my favourite fighter of all time, the venerable Colonial Viper Mk.II. 


The Kit



Moebius came out with a wide line of models back when BSG came back. For those who know the lineage of the models, please feel free to skip ahead. For those who don't, it basically goes like this (and I'll be speaking specifically to this particular subject). In 2009 Moebius started producing this kit with the sci-fi fan in mind. From the box art to the instructions, the kit was catered to the BSG fan. This included the instructions being printed with the cropped corners and almost like a schematical diagram you would be given during an int brief. The pilot figure was resin, and given it was a bit of a limited run kit, it was pretty good all things considered. NOT great, but good (more on that shortly). 


Fast forward to 2012 and the Moebius kit is now found as a prebuilt kit. The actual construct kit starts to hit shelves under the Revell banner. Gone is the resin figure (replaced with injection molded options), but present are all the traits of the Moebius kit which aren't exactly great traits. I say this, because if you're expecting this Revell kit to be pushing the bar with the line of kits Revell has been putting out as new tool offerings from that time period, you will be sorrily mistaken. The instructions however - the traditional Revell style instructions - are much easier to follow and are nicely laid out. 


The kit itself comes with 8 parts trees and a set of decals. Total part count comes in at about 60, with 4 in clear and the rest in a clean white plastic. The plastic is very easy to work with. Soft, easy to cut and sand but firm enough to hold a good shape. with no warping visible. There is a lot of flash, but for the most part it is contained to the sprues and not the parts. 








The details are very soft and if you are looking to build a very true to form Mk.II, fitment will also be an issue along with soft details. 




This is not a Tamiya kit where you put some parts in a box with some glue, shake it up and it builds itself. The fitment of parts is frustraing at times, especially everything aft of the cockpit. Although the engineering is sound with the kit, and there are some small additions here and there that do help (such as the tabs inside the sliding lock tabs of the wings to give the right dihedral), the application of those sliding parts and interlocking tabs will really test your patience at times. In fact the only traditional male/female locator pins are within the main fuselage halves and the cockpit tub.


Although the clear pieces are very crisp and clear, my canopy came with a surprise in that it had a number of small stress fractures in it. Hey Revell.... another reason to stop using those ridiculous boxes you keep shipping your parts out in. 




The decals themselves are nice and thin, within register, but are missing a few smaller detail items which I'll cover when I get to the final painting and finishing of the model. Suffice to say that I did order up the JT-Graphics decal set in red... although these appear quite a bit more maroon than red. 




The Extras


Though the new BSG has been off the air for some time, there are still some fantastic aftermarket sets out there that keep popping up. Whether this is due to a large fan following, random aftermarket companies putting out previously unavailable items, or somewhere in between, you won't hear me complaining at all. Looking around and reading various reviews, as well as wanting to have the flexibility to build the particular Viper I want, I picked up these sets: 




Green Strawberry has two superb sets out. The first set (00815) offers a great cockpit detail set and a couple of exterior extras. The second set (00917) is a very nicely made resit exhaust nozzle set with PE inserts. Then there is the PGMS detail set which covers both interior and exterior. As I mentioned, both sets have their pros and cons, and I'll deal with them as I move further into the project. 


The Subject


There are two variants of the Mk.II in the show, and primarily seen from the cockpit setup and are simply referred to as the early and the late Mk.II. Externally they are nearly identical (excluding the rivet-canopy frame that Starbuck has when she reappears). Although in the books and fan-made stories there different schemes, I wanted to make Starbucks Viper from early in the series. The model will be a simple desk display piece for me to take to work and have with me there, so no lights, and it'll be sitting inside a display case on it's landing gear. The display case itself will have a mirrored bottom to it as well. So, a simple, static model of the early BSG Viper Mk.II. 


Ahhhhh Starbuck. Honestly, it was her attitude in the show that had me turning countless times through the episodes and saying to my wife "you do that too" that made me want to build her viper. 


As for references, there are a number of great references out there which I'll be directly referencing to when I get to that stage (with links where available). 


So there's my long winded write up. Now it's time to get into the actual build. 

Edited by Aurora Mark
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I'm going to try and follow the directions, especially with the dry fitting of parts being just a fun time, I don't want to skip and miss anything. So we start here: 




Not the cockpit or interior like every other kit I build. Going with step 1b, the first thing that is noticeable with this kit is it's lack of details in certain areas. If one were to assemble the gear legs open with the gear bays exposed, here is what you have: 






Even with the gear legs installed there is a serious lack of detail here. Now to be fair, try as I might going through the episodes, and through diagrams and any blue prints, there is no available reference material I was able to find specifically showing inside the gear wells. Regardless, something needs to be done with these areas. 


In looking at what is seen and how the gear extends or retracts in the very few shots, the nose gear well needs to be deeper. Almost touching the cockpit floor. Luckily, there is a lot of room to play with. 




Will the gear well be complicated? No. And this is something I'm going to have to battle with this model - it is not a second world war aircraft with ribbing and framing and wires and over complicated designs. It's a space-borne fighter, through and through. The over all look of the Viper throughout the series is a clean and simple design. The use of kinetic energy weapons without shields leaves me to believe that the armour protection comes from the skin itself. As such, an approach of stretched skin aluminum aircraft designs goes out the window. Thicker armoured skin, with straight forward layout of items is the approach here. 


So what does this mean? Well, I think it's safe to go with a fully boxed in gear well in the nose (and I'll start with the nose). No extra piping or extras that have nothing to do with the landing gear system. Basic plumbing, electrical and engineering with reinforcement for the combat landings we see them do when rushing back onto the hangar decks of the Galactica. So, the first step was to figure out how large to make the gear well.


For width I simply went with the outside width of the gear door hinge points. 17mm inside width: 




For the length, it made sense to have the gear well end flush with the front opening. As the gear leg is split into two, with the upper portion (the 'nub') rotating forward, and the strut itself (what is mainly visible) retracting backwards, I wanted to give more room to the rear of the nose well. So I gave myself 28mm total. As for height, I simply took it to the bottom of the cockpit floor. So with that the opening in the main fuselage needed to be cut to fit the box: 






With the cockpit tub and lower piece installed there's plenty of room to work with now: 





The next step will be to create the box, and start designing the remainder of the nose gear landing system that isn't readily visible. 

Thanks for looking. And if you're got any advise, reference material, questions or comments, please feel free to write them up. I'd love to hear from you. 



Edited by Aurora Mark
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Brett, thank you very much. I'm hoping to include as much detail in the write ups as possible without going overboard. The joy in these projects for me comes down to the research and trying to get it as close to what it should be as possible. As for the Green Strawberry items, I'm hoping it'll be very straight forward to use them as that'll be the only thing on this build that'll be straight forward.


As I sat watching some episodes again I was also reminded of two different versions of the viper (externally); the actual movie/series prop and the CGI version. The easiest difference to spot between the two (aside from one was shown on hangar decks and the other in space) is the nose gear leg. The CGI version (like the kit) has a more open gear leg while the physical (real?) Viper had a solid forward face-plate. I did come across some great reference pictures of Starbuck's full size prop from an auction, which I'll use when it comes time to build the gear legs themselves. At this point however it doesn't make any difference to the construction of the gear wells, so let's carry on with some good ole fashioned scratch building. 


There was a bit of head scratching as to how to build the box and have some structural strength as well. The initial idea of building the box and simply gluing it into the lower body piece (part number (p/n) 9) leaves the possibility that the weight on the nose gear will push the box up and break it free. I wanted to incorporate the top of the gear well with the cockpit floor. However, the cockpit tub  (p/n 20) oddly enough has an open floor where the top of the gear well would be: 




To hit two birds with one stone I decided to sand the cockpit floor down by a full 1.0 mm until the entirety of the floor was removed, and then use a piece of plasticard as the floor. Here is the floor sanded off:




1.0 mm plasticard measuring 60 mm x 20 mm was used as a new floor with enough overhang to cover the location of where the new nose gear well would be attached. A few reinforcing pieces were also cut, shaped and glued in to add some reinforcing to the floor from the top of the inside of the fuselage to allow for a solid piece for the gear well to be secured to: 








This new section will have a 'lip' added once the outside dimensions of the gear well have been completed and the gear well will then simply be glued in. This allows me to now continue with the gear well while leaving the cockpit as a separate section to be covered in future steps. 


As you'll see here the piece for the upper portion of the gear well has been cut to size and ready to use. The size of this gear well will need to both be large enough to house the gear completely when retracted, while also leaving enough room up front for the Lightning Javelin missile launch tubes and the guidance system located in the forward section on p/n 9 (just forward of the nose gear): 




The box will be a fairly straight forward design and will be shaped to the contours of the belly piece (p/n 9), and once everything is assembled for the nose gear well with the box, then I can move onto doing the same steps for the two main gear struts. 


Thanks for looking, 


Edited by Aurora Mark
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   Thank you kindly. There is just something about the way the Vipers look. From the original Viper, to the Mk.II, and onward... the conceptual designs people have made keeps the Viper series true to form - one heck of a fighter. The combination of 20th century look and feel without over-complicating things with tech that isn't believable, even though it is sci-fi, just makes this model build that much more fun. 


  Work continued with the gear well (and I won't lie, I had the BSG soundtrack playing in the background). The base piece attached to the cockpit floor from the last update had that outer lip added to it. This was made to fit the upper base plate for the gear well: 





I started construction with the forward bulkhead. Knowing I wanted the forward "knuckle" of the landing gear to mount to this, I used 1.0 mm plasticard and cut out the approximate width of the main piece of the gear to have somewhere secure to mount to. Then I put a second 1.0 mm card behind it: 





This was then shaped to match the opening on the lower fuselage piece (p/n 9) so that it would conform as closely as possible: 





And here is p/n 9 dry fit into place:





Although the forward bulkhead will be flush with the opening of the gear bay, there is no physical way the rest of the gear strut would fit within the opening in p/n 9, so the rear bulkhead was glued in about 3.0 mm back from the rear edge of the gear door opening. The same slow and tedious process of dry fitting and shaping, sanding and dry fitting again was repeated: 







With the forward and rear bulkheads in place it was time to add in the sides. These (like the rear bulkhead) were pushed outward beyond the gear door opening to be able to house the gear door retraction mechanisms that'll be made later on: 





And here is the gear well box with sides, sanded smooth on the outside and ready for a final test fit: 





The box installed into the cockpit floor without p/n 9: 





And finally with p/n 9 taped in place: 






With the forward gear box complete, work will now turn towards the two main gear wells. I'll construct the gear wells first and once they are done my plan is then to add some of the other smaller details.


I'm still toying around with ideas on what to put in for details (if any) into the gear well in the nose. The cockpit tub was designed to break away to act as a survival pod if the pilot couldn't eject, which will play into the design. The question really is whether the nose gear (as it was part of the cockpit floor) would break away with it, or remain with the forward (discarded) nose section.... I guess I'll just have to watch a few more episodes with Viper battles to see... oooooh nooooo....


More soon!



Edited by Aurora Mark
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19 hours ago, phantom said:

Very nice, you should transfer this thread over to the "The ain't real" group build.




   That is one amazing GB for sure. Lots of very interesting works (both sci-fi and what-if). I was thinking of initially asking to join that GB and post in there until I saw the date. There is no way this one is going to be finished by then. The usual stuff like home life (kitchen renos), work and the like always take the priority, so this one is a bit of a plug and play as I go along. 



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7 hours ago, phantom said:

Thats ok, you can keep going after it ends.


Definitely something to think about Phantom. Let me sit on that for a few days as I just had a bit of a hang-up (post after this one) that may be delaying things just a bit. 


22 minutes ago, Brett M said:

Nice work Mark. That's a huge improvement over what Moebius thought was "good". Looking forward to seeing more work like this as you progress.


Thanks Brett. This little bit of an improvement I hope will go a long way, and now that the box for the nose gear is complete, it is time to move onto the mains. 


The engineering behind this kit leaves me a bit baffled. The parts were taped together in order to get a good idea of what needs to be done with the mains, and I have to say.... in some ways the jig-saw style (or rather slide-and-lock) approach makes sense in some ways (I guess), but really leaves me to wonder what in the frak they were thinking (there, I said it hahaha).


This picture below shows the port wing (p/n's 4 & 3), along with the port and starboard engine intakes/grills (p/n 8),  with the forward fuselage components and belly piece (p/n 9):




 So... yeah.... anyway, rather than complain about the very strange engineering of parts that leaves a number of seam lines very difficult to get at to fill (and there will need to be lots of filler), let's just get into it.  


Removing the wing and working with just the aft end of the model, there was a lot of plastic that was going to be removed. First step was to get rid of the lower tabs protruding from the center rear of the two fuselage halves: 





And here is the same area cut cleanly to open up some space: 





With that removed I sized up I went back at p/n 8 in order to remove more plastic around where the gear legs would be. To be more exact, you can see in this picture where the mains are fixed at the gear 'knuckles' and although there is a sound design in the sense of providing a solid place for the upper portion of the 'knuckle' to rest against p/n 8, there is absolutely no way the gear would be able to retract. Combine that with being able to see completely inside the aft portion of the model from outside of the open gear wells, it needed to be constructed in the same manner as the nose gear box: 





Before cutting into p/n 8: 





And afterwards: 





So now that everything was cut open I was about to start laying in the parts for the box. There was one major issue (and it comes down to the engineering of the kit). For me to achieve a proper fit, without gaps or weird angles, p/n 8 needed to be firmly glued to the two fuselage halves. Otherwise, due to the slide-and-lock approach to the assembly of the rear fuselage the box assembly would get in the way. So, the parts were cleaned up, a quick drawing put on paper so I wouldn't forget, and the next thing that needed to be done was the cockpit in order to be able to glue the fuselage halves together. 


So this is the part were we deviate from the building instructions of the kit and start assembling the model in the traditional model builder fashion... in whatever bloody order seems to make more sense, hahaha. 


Okay, part one of tonight's update is done... next up... problems! 



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Right.... so, the cockpit. 

The steps seem pretty straight forward from the kit instructions.... skipping the figure, steps 5, 8a and 8b complete the cockpit in the kit: 





Although the kit does provide a cockpit with the figure, the details are fairly soft and limited in their detail. The approach of painting with decals for instruments will work no doubt with a figure and closed canopy. With an open canopy, and in 1/32 scale, there is a lot left to be desired. As such I picked up two aftermarket sets as listed in the first post. 


There are typically two cockpit designs recognized in the BSG series for the Viper Mk.II; the early and the late cockpit. Externally the Vipers were nearly identical in every aspect (aside from one episode where Starbuck came back with a new Viper and rivets in the canopy frame). Using the actual prop Viper that was auctioned off some years back that was modeled as Starbuck's Viper as my reference I wanted to make sure that the cockpit was correct.


The two sets shown here offer a multitude of additional details (for both back-lit and non-lit cockpit instruments):





The Para Grafix set (on the left) offers one cockpit (the early one) and the set from Green Strawberry offers both: 




These guys really did their homework as it was season 3 episode 16 where you see the new cockpits being filmed. Now don't get me wrong, both sets are very well made with fantastic details as you can see here. First the Para Grafix set: 





And here is the Green Strawberry panel: 





The easiest way to distinguish between the early and the later cockpit comes down to the area just in front of the joystick (it is literally a joystick used for the props). The later one had a smaller floating ball to show pitch and attitude where the early one had a sweeping gauge. Further to that the early one had 3 small pressure gauges just forward of the stick and the later one had them deleted. So which one to use? Well, here are a couple of great shots from Aaron Harvey who shot pictures from the aforementioned auction:




And here's a top down shot including the seat: 




As you can see from the photos above, the Green Strawberry set offers the later cockpit. Alright! On the right path! That is until I put the instrument panel (p/n 5) from the kit into the cockpit tub (p/n 20)...





So.... how do I fit rudder pedals into there? Doing some measuring up, the cockpit is way too shallow.... remember that open cockpit floor that I closed off? Ha, well, that's come back to bite me.


The open floor gave the look of a deeper cockpit tub, and allowed the figures legs to drop into them making it look deeper. There are a few other smaller details that are also bothersome. The cockpit seat isn't anything like the actual Viper seat, and there is a lot of open space to the back of the cockpit wall that needs to be reworked. 


I had two options... ignore this and carry on, but, I mean, there is literally 2.0 mm between the bottom of the panel and the cockpit floor without a figure, and leave myself wishing I hadn't taken that route... or option two, remove the floor aft of the firewall of the cockpit tub, rework the floor in the nose box, giving enough room to have a convincingly deeper cockpit floor. This also allows me to correct a few other items. 


I could always just completely scratch build the cockpit tub and seat and start with a clean slate, but then it's a matter of needing to get the right alignment tabs in the right location and that presents a whole other set of issues. So, I'm going to think about this for a bit, and by the next update I should have something to post up about the cockpit issue.





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Maybe Starbucks legs were a lot smaller than a normal humans? Something to do with banging her knee against a rock?


Looks like some work and brainstorming to do, but......that's why we enjoy these kits!

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Brett, GREAT reference! After some brainstorming on how to go about the cockpit, I didn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater as it were and toss the cockpit and start from scratch. A number of problems do exist with the kit cockpit, but then again, this isn't a three digit 1/32 purchase from major model manufacturers. So, sometimes you have to roll the hard six... I decided that there is still enough good detail in the cockpit to try and salvage it. 


The first step was to reinforce the addition of the mount for the gear well. I took some scrap plasticard and glued them together to make a wedge shape that will hold the forward half in place: 





Once in place and the glue cured, it was time for some plastic surgery. I started by cutting the floor (and the mount for the nose gear well) at the firewall. From there back I cut away the cockpit floor:





The seat and the floor mount for the stick and the panel will need to be redone as well so they were next to go. I cut as far back as the two studs for mounting the cockpit tub into the fuselage... effectively leaving me with a firewall and two sidewalls: 





While at this point I went ahead and cleared off all the instrument areas and cleaned up some of the edges to give a sharper look to the cockpit structure:





So now with the sidewalls ready for PE parts later on, it was time to figure out exactly how to go about this whole thing. As I was looking at the reference pictures I found a panel line in the cockpit sidewalls (visible in the second reference photo from my previous update).  If I added this extra section that would give the cockpit enough depth (it's about 3.0 mm) and still have room for the nose gear well (albeit with a little modification). So I added some side wall supports, a spacer, and then glued in a 3.0 mm tall strip of 1.0 mm plasticard to the bottom of the sidewalls. The forward part is cut at an angle, and the same angle will be cut into the gear well: 





That spacer I mentioned was to add the look of that lower portion of the cockpit sidewall in the reference picture so that I ended up with that raised edge look. Here is the finished piece in a fuselage half which now at least looks like a properly sized up cockpit tub for the Viper: 





With the kit panel piece dry fit into the tub, sitting on some plasticard, there is definitely more room for feet and rudder pedals now: 





Once dried the next step will be gluing in the cockpit floor and rear bulkhead/wall and then building up the cockpit from there. 


Thanks for looking,



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Brett, Starbuck will most certainly be able to have normal legs! Needed for all the a** kicking she does, right? It is a bit of work to get it "right" (as close to right as I can get it), but it's a lot of fun. I continued with where I left off by starting out with the rear lower deck of the tub. Again, it's all done using 1.0 mm plasticard. The two pieces were butted up and sanded round on the exposed joint: 





From there it was the floor followed by the angled plate just forward of the rudder pedals: 





So now that we're back at having a tub, I opted to fix the nose gear well in place as it would be easier to get the angle right and build up the nose gear well again. I added an even further extension rearward while I was added to give a little more room in that well for the gear. The extension was added by using some spare plasticard and then a little bit of 0.25 mm plasticard cut at an angle and glued inside the gear well to cover up the seams. Let's call them stressor plates to sound technical: 







The tub and nose gear well were dry fit into the cockpit half to make sure everything still fit right, which thankfully after all of this it did: 





Next up I dry fit the sidewalls (p/n 21 and 22) to make sure that everything still fit just right:




They fit just fine but there is a gap in the rear area between the sidewall and the fuselage half... and just in case, Moebius did us a favour by visibly casting the p/n's on the INSIDE of the parts for all to see.... 





Right.... anyway, the sidewalls have a curve to them and a bit of work needed, along with a very thick upper frame that isn't right. So as I've gone this far, I'm going to scratch up some sidewalls for the cockpit. But, the next step is going to be to build the rear cockpit bulkhead and work on the floor details first: 





Getting there slowly! Who knows, maybe by the end of the weekend I'll actually have some paint in there so that we don't all have to get a tan from so many white parts. 


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So, two part update. In this first one work continued on getting the aft wall of the cockpit cut to shape. Using a bit of cardboard paper I cut the shape out and then used this to mirror the cut line onto the 1.0 mm plasticard. Some trimming of the rear cockpit alignment pin-hole needed to happen, but it all worked out nicely:







The tiny gap between the wall and fuselage will be taken care of once the sidewalls have been installed and some (read: lots) of filler will be used to shape the rear of the cockpit:





The new piece was then glued carefully to the back of the cockpit tub and allowed to cure: 





Once it was cured, the reinforcement pieces up front were added (which the seat that needs to be made later on will be installed onto). You'll also notice the 'box' that the seat sits on. If you scroll up to one of the reference pictures the front edge of that box is visible just forward of where the seat ends:





Attention now shifted to the sidewalls. If you install them as per the instructions there is a substantial gap between the fuselage halves and the sidewalls, so I wanted to try and have them glued to the actual fuselage half. To get the alignment right, the tabs on the shoulders where the sidewall sits inside of were cut off. This way the cockpit can slide away sideways from the sidewalls: 





Once they were glued in along the upper lip of the cockpit, there was a noticeable gap between the side console and the sidewall: 





I slid in some spacers from scrap plasticard and this forced the lower edge of the sidewall out until it mated up with the side console nicely:





The same process was applied to the other side. Once those sidewalls are cured I'll start going at the back portion to get a nice smooth rounded face like the Viper had. So, that's that! Now, before I could progress any further, some of the smaller details needed to be taken care of, so onto part 2 of the update. 

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I needed to now turn my focus to the front portion of the cockpit - the instrument panel - to make sure that everything up from fit and would sit appropriately. As both Green Strawberry panels were identical in their shape and bends I used this one first as a practice. More over I needed to figure out how to bend this sucker right: 





For anyone wanting to use this set, the instructions don't indicate the order to bend the panel. That upper bend is a real pain as it has to fold over past 90 degrees, and as the 'groove' in the panel is on the forward face, this bend takes a good bit of.... motivation... to get the brass to do what you want. This is why I strongly encourage starting with this one first. Anyway, here's the order I found worked best: 





So with the practice panel done, it was time to go at the real thing. I started by cutting the parts out then using some 800 grit wet sandpaper to scuff the surfaces (where there wasn't any raised detail) to give both glue and paint something to stick to:





The parts were then bent into shape:





washed off with acetone and stuck to my "painting sticks" for a coat of primer:





I used Alcad II primer grey as a thin coat of this stuff sticks like nothing else out there. I wanted to make sure that I could avoid any paint chips as no matter how abused the Vipers were in the series, there weren't any paint chips that exposed metal: 





I shot the parts using either Model Masters Intermediate Blue (FS35164), or flat black (for the HUD and the instrument bezels). It was the closest colour that matched the actual colour chips. The forward instrument panels, pedestal and HUD mounting plate on the actual Vipers were with Benjamin Moore "Phillipsburg Blue" (HC 159), then given a clear coat (semi-gloss), finished with a fine silver powder overcoat. I used pastel chalks to give a bit of a wash to give the panels some depth and match them more with the finished panels in the show: 





I used the 20% on lighter used areas and the top of the panels, 50% overall in other areas, and 80% in more used areas and in the shadow areas. The use of pastel chalks like this with a short cut, soft haired brush, also gives a bit of a semi-gloss 'greyish' tone that I think gave the look of that fine silver powder finish pretty closely, although this picture (without flash) really doesn't show it that well unfortunately:






The bezels were given the same treatment, and then each one was individually glued in place. I had my doubts, I won't lie. Although I like the idea of separate bezels to make painting easy, even in 1/32 the thin bezels were very delicate. Further to that, the sunken in areas for them would be painted. I was curious to see if with a coat of paint if they would still fit. Low and behold, they did! I am honestly, truly impressed with the set from Green Strawberry. Although the bezels were tedious and monotonous in gluing the 10 bezels in place, they worked out very nicely:




Once the remaining parts to be attached onto the panel are in place (the attitude indicator, joystick box, etc), the bezels will be every so lightly dry brushed to make the depth/shape visible. 


In all, excluding the Revell decal set, there are 4 different options that I have here:




Top left is the paper print-out from Green-Strawberry.... and no. Just no. Bottom left is the Para-Grafix clear set which is meant to have backlighting. Nicely done, but wrong version of cockpit. Top Right are the Para-Grafix decals from JT-Graphics. Not a bad decal set if you don't want backlighting but still want to show off everything, but again it is for the earlier cockpit. Bottom right is the acetate film with black printed instruments. Intended to be back lit from what I gathered, I opted to go with these. 


The reason for chosing the acetate film is quite simple - I can paint them back of them (like we all used to back in the day before pre-printed panels), but it also allows me to paint over the DRADIS and video screen as the Viper will be sitting without any power. So the only gauge faces visible will be the analogue ones


I went through my references and matched the colours as closely as I could. If they were white, I painted them white, if they were the glow-in-the-dark irradiated paint that was slightly yellow, I did the same. The two main screens were over painted with flat black, and anything red was matched up as closely as possible: 





It doesn't look pretty from the back side, but, eh, it's late, and it's the back side. I tried it first on some of the instruments that weren't going to be used, and then went ahead with the others. From the front side I was very happy with the results: 





Piece "R" for example has red needles, and when looking closely enough, they came out better than I could have hoped for: 





So that's it for tonight's updates. Once everything has cured nicely I will get into the final assembly of the instrument panel. Until then, thanks for looking. 


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22 hours ago, Ikon said:

Outstanding work on that cockpit.

Thank you kindly Ikon. Greatly appreciate the comment. 


22 hours ago, Brett M said:

I'll echo icon. Definitely looking the part of a Viper now. 


Now.....where are those pictures of the screens installed? :) 


It's becoming a Viper alright Brett! Slowly.... slowly.... so the screens aren't installed yet as I'm still building up a few other parts and pieces around and adding details to the panel. As I use both medium and fast CA glue I want to wait on installing the acetate film to prevent any fogging/frosting of the gauge faces. 


That being said, work on the control stick.... seriously, a joy stick, was started. 


The stick in the cockpit: 




The box around it is built up around the joystick, but the stick itself is nothing more than the SFS Flight Controller made by Suncom (the old joystick based on the F-15 control stick). Not having a spare F-15 stick in 1/32, it came down to cleaning up the one that comes with the kit. So I started by making a small box out of plasticard and the kit stick itself: 





I started with the box. Wanting to have those panel lines emphasized by pastel chalks I decided to start out by using some 0.2 mm plasticard and cutting the sections individually. I also removed a small portion from the box center in order to give it a bit more interesting depth as well. Here are the 4 pieces (with the outer piece given some screws for the 4 corners: 





The first few pieces were assembled and ready to be painted: 




The box and face pieces were painted in the same colour as the panel and given a pastel chalk wash. The small center piece and the opening in the box were painted flat black, and then put aside to dry. My focus then went to giving the stick some shape, a trigger button and a pinky button: 





The stick was then painted black and the buttons painted either a bright red or a gloss black (for the two HAT switches) as the real one had: 





I then drilled a small hole through a 0.5 mm rod in order to slide the stick in at the right height, and then glued it from the bottom. Here is a shot of the stick inserted before setting the right depth: 





Once it was set I glued it in place from the bottom and then trimmed that little stub so the bottom of the box was flush. Here's the finished work:







With that part now finished I'm going to hold off on gluing it to the panel until the smaller details have been added first. Next up is the artificial horizon/attitude indicator. 



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Huh, I guess they used whatever existing items they could for the show. I saw a headset I used years ago (minus the cord) in Razor.


Very nice work on the control column/joy stick, definitely looks the part. 

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Brett they were very creative with parts used for the prop Vipers. Lots of great reference material out there, although the prime site I was using to build up a plan suddenly is down once I decided to start building this model. Go figure. I've emailed the webmaster but no answer as of yet. So, using some of the pictures from google search and this is a great reference for the artificial horizon (and buttons I'll talk about later on):




Things garnered from this image:

-The artificial horizon assembly (housing holding the gauge) is significantly raised on the main panel;

-the buttons are flush with the main panel; 

-the small LCD screen is flat in it's finish, not a high gloss; 

-the bottom 4 toggle switches are silver; 

-there are three small green LEDs just above and left of the selection knob; 

-the main LCD display has a glossy finish to it; and

-the altimeter has a yellowish finish to it (as was painted on the acetate plate).  


Work started with the HUD as this was the easiest piece to work with to start out. There is a cut-out that is visible when looking back at the HUD assembly when the fuselage is glued together, so I also added a few small 2.0 mm x 3 mm rods to simulate the actual gauges and then glued coloured threads as wires to give some depth in there. Once dried it was glued to the main panel. Details were then added to the main panel, including the red switch, green ejection button, and the silver switches, selector knob, and using medium superglue and green paint, the LEDs were added from behind the panel:








The kit piece for the artificial horizon is much like the gauge bezels with a small sunken area to put the PE piece for the gauge... and the acetate film is a simple black gauge (on the acetate plate pictured a few posts above, it's D). I started first by painting a portion of a pin head as close a blue and brown as I could match to the reference image (tamiya X-14 and testors brown mixed with a couple drops of black): 





The next step was to try and get the black ring around the horizon ball. I drilled a 1.5 mm hole in some scrap 0.2 mm plasticard, painted it black, then using a cut down toothpick to add the white and red. It looks messy, because it is, but very little of this will be visible:





The pin head was then glued to the back of this piece matching the attitude in the reference image as closely as possible (read: someone forgot to cage the ball). The pin head was then cut down and sanded smooth with the black piece and then cut down to match the shape of the PE piece. The PE piece from the kit was given a scrap section of the acetate with the thin boarder line that was glued to the back:





The parts were then glued together and the edge was painted the Intermediate Blue of the panel pieces:





 Once cured it and the joystick were ready to glue onto the panel: 





And here they are finally in place: 





I am very happy with how the gauge turned out and how it sits higher up now than the original PE piece setup would have been. In the next update you'll also see why I'm so happy... there is some noticeable depth in the gauge with the black collar and the round artificial horizon. And with that, onto the next steps; final assembly and gauges for the panel.  



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I started with the smaller LCD screen. I shot it with dull-coat and then back painted white for the four small buttons on the bottom left of the LCD panel: 





Next up were the gauge faces for the outside panels. Be forewarned, you need to trim about 1.0 mm around the edges of the black printed ink on the acetate for the two side panel gauges (H & G) for them to fit both on the panel edges and the inside bend. The overlap can be trimmed afterwards, but it is a lot easier to just cut them right away on the film... ask me how I know... anyway, here are the side panel gauges: 





The exact same problem with trimming the center film piece (A). It's not bad on the bottom, but the top and sides also need 1.0 mm trimmed off to fit right. Anyway, fool me once, right? Test fit before glueing for frakkin' sake... the panel went in, and although the gauges lined up, the buttons really didn't. Further to that, I was really disappointed with the acetate buttons along the sides and bottom of the main screen: 





They're flush buttons with the panel. This could have very easily been etched into the PE panel itself, and then allowed the builder to cut the acetate film piece so the 3 gauges on either side could be glued on their own like the side panel pieces (G & H). Not liking the buttons, I used a strip of 0.28 mm x 0.56 mm, painted the one flat face black, and then used the edge of my knife to scribe the squares for the buttons:




As you can see it took a few practice pieces. Medium glue was applied to the opening and using a toothpick the strip was pressed into place: 





The same process was then applied to the side buttons. Once they were in, wanting to make it look like a well used (but maintained panel) small areas that had chips from assembly were touched up with a fresh application of Intermediate blue: 





And there we go! Panel is done: 







I am honestly impressed with the Green Strawberry panel. Sitting here looking at it, it definitely it gives me the look I want - a used instrument panel with the aircraft power shut off. The modifications to the buttons and the artificial horizon would have been made much easier if the buttons were etched onto the panel, and the acetate film allowed you to paint the ball the way it was, but that's going a bit further than is honestly needed to get a good Viper cockpit. There are a few things that I wish this panel and set came with such as stencils or decals for the writing on the panel. It's in 1/32 scale and there is more than enough room to add them.


But those are small little things. Let's be completely honest here, short of diving into a scrap bin and finding decals for the gauges there would be no way I could make the instruments themselves look the part, and for that I'm thankful for this set. It's a HUGE improvement over the softly molded kit panel and well worth the $20 I paid. And that's just the panel parts used so far! This set still has a lot more that will still be used and the inclusion of both early and late panels is fantastic, giving the builder that much more of a choice on the particular Viper they want to build.


The next step will be the seat construction, and once that's done, it'll be the rest of the cockpit and nose gear. For now, the panel is being put somewhere safe as more work is still to be done. 

As always, thanks for looking! 


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