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1/72 Dragon Gemini Spacecraft

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While I was working on a recent Soyuz build I was thinking about my next build. I came to the decision to build one of the 1/72 scale Gemini kits that are in the stash.



I think I've had them since sometime around 2013 or so. It is the only injection molded kit in 1/72 scale.  It appears it is now discontinued since Dragon seems to only be releasing kits to the Hong Kong market. Realspace Models has a very nice resin kit in 1/72 scale as well, but I don’t have that one in my stash. The kit has options to build it with a space walker or with both hatches closed. I’ll be modeling it with hatches closed. Many of the Gemini flights had spacecraft with some visible differences. I haven’t yet decided on exactly which flight I’ll be modeling.


Here is a photo of the kit parts.



The parts are well molded. The astronaut figures are made from a soft bendable plastic that I’ve heard can be glued with typical model cements and can be painted like normal plastic. When I first saw them I was afraid that they were vinyl which is not easy to work with, but this is apparently not the case. The hatch windows are molded solid so you cannot see through them. I decided to start there. Here is a photo showing an original and one where I’ve cut out the window.



I next tackled the engraved lines on the adapter sections. For some reason, Dragon opted to model the black stripes seen on early spacecraft as engraved lines. In reality they were hand applied tape strips for thermal control. The engraved lines are fairly deep. I first tried using Mr. Surfacer 500. It is easy to apply but it shrinks a lot. I also tried using Tamiya white putty. It shrinks less that the Mr. Surfacer, but it’s harder to apply. Here is a photo of my testing of the two filler methods. The Mr. Surfacer is nearly the same color as the plastic.



Both methods work pretty well but take several passes to get them completely filled. Then a light bulb went off. What if I put some styrene strip stock in the grooves, trim off any excess, and sand down any raised areas. That worked great and was much faster to do. Here is a photo of the strip stock filler.



On the right is the retro adapter section. It has the strips applied but not yet trimmed or sanded. The one on the left is the equipment section and it has been trimmed and sanded.


After that tedious task, I started on the astronaut modifications. The kit gives you two figures. One in a seated position and the other in a spacewalk pose similar to the box art. Since I’ve decided that this model will be with doors closed, I need to re-pose the figure. This required quite a bit of surgery. The spacewalking figure is a bit larger in body build to the seated figure. I shaved a good deal off the hips and thighs. I also removed a bit of crotch area in order to glue the legs together so he would fit the seat. I can confirm that it actually was true, the soft plastic reacts with the liquid cement that I’m using very similarly to the hard plastic. Next, I cut a bit from the top of the thighs near the hip to get them into a more 90 degree angle. Finally, I removed some from the back of the knees to get a good bend that would fit the seat. Here are a couple of photos to show the finished product.




I used some Mr. Surfacer to fill some of the sliced areas. I also used some on both astronauts where they had a molded depression in their chests. Their arms will be added later after I get the cockpit built so I can be sure their arms do not interfere with anything. The spacewalker’s right arm will also get some surgery to remove the maneuvering gun.


I moved back to the retro adapter section to add the thruster packs and cable cutting assemblies. The two thruster/cutter packs had some strange pegs on their backs which had to be removed before assembly.



The rest of the bits fit well and will not need much filling. Here is a photo.



I have decided that rather than use the included stand I’ll drill a hole through the lower single thruster and use that with a metal rod to attach the model to the base. I’ll do that a bit later.


I continued the build with the heat shield and back cockpit wall. The heat shield has three pins to properly position the cockpit wall. Unfortunately, the top pin is too high. It keeps the cockpit wall from going all the way into the heat shield. Here is a photo that shows the problem.



I trimmed off the pin a bit until the cockpit wall fit properly.



Here is a photo after the pin was shortened.



Since I’m building an in-flight version, I needed to fill the hole in the side of the re-entry section that would otherwise have the horizon sensor cover attached to it. I’ll try to fix the shingles in that area with some 0.005 in sheet stock. Also notice the tiny indentations that represent the re-entry thrusters.



I used a pin vice to enlarge the holes to a more scale size. The indentations did help to make sure the holes I drilled were in the proper place.



Moving over to the equipment section, I test fitted the attitude thrusters to their holes and found that they sat raised quite a bit above the rest of the adapter section. They should be flush, other than the actual thruster housing itself. The problem is that the mounting tabs are too thick for the part provided. I chose to remove the tabs. Here is a look at the problem.



Here is the fix.



Thruster added.



They fit pretty well now. It will take a bit of sanding and some filler to finish them off. I test fitted the adapter section cover to see how well it fit. It seemed pretty close, but I couldn't get it to seat properly. I looked closely and found that the thruster packages that I had installed sat a bit deeper than designed. This required shaving a bit off the back of each thruster pack piece.



Another test fit found that it fit better but something was still getting in the way. This time I shaved a bit off the inside edge of the cover where it met the thruster housings. Here is a look at the solution.



This worked fine and the part now sits properly.


The recovery section needed a bit of attention as well. The part that represents the tip of the recovery section has a locating notch for the insert. But the notch is about 90 degrees in the wrong direction. I removed the locating notch so I could orient the insert as needed. The insert also needed attention. Its diameter is too small for the hole it is put in. I glued a strip of 0.010 x 0.040 inch styrene to fill the gap. It fits nicely, but I won't install it just yet. It fits so well that I might not get it back out, so I'll wait until the nose gets glued on first.



That does it for now. Time to get back to work.

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This is such a little guy ... and it's great to see you filling up those grooves on the aft sections. Yup, it's tedious, but it's gonna look a whole lot better!

The Gemini spacecraft is still my fave! ... so I'll be watchin'!



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I have this kit on my stash. I'm patiently waiting for Horizon to release a Gemini Titan in 1/72 but my fallback is fitting the Dragon kit on an Estes BT-60 tube and scratch building the engine structure. 

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Pete:  Thanks.  It is small.  I'm currently trying to scratch something that kind of looks like the horizon sensor that sits on the left hand side of the craft.  That's when you really realize how small this model is.


Habu2: I've got another one in my stash that I'm saving to build docked to an Agena.  I think Realspace Models makes a 1/72 scale Agena so I guess I'll have to get one of those to add to the model pile.  I too am waiting for Horizon to do Gemini in 1/72 scale.  I like to think they'll do a better job than Dragon.  Not that the Dragon is horrible, because it's not, but it does have some deficiencies that could have been avoided.



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I was doing some dry fitting of the two adapter sections and found that the locator pin for the two sections is misaligned.  If you build it stock the roll/yaw/pitch thrusters on the equipment section will not be oriented properly.  They should be 45 degrees from the translate right/left/up/down thrusters that are on the retro section.  This picture shows the pin.



Removing that pin lets me align the two parts as needed.  Fixing that alignment problem created another.  The back of the equipment section has the translate forward thrusters.  If you use the alignment pin provided then they are not in the proper place.  They should be in line with the translate up/down thrusters on the retro section.  Here is a picture showing the pin to be removed.



I also added the antenna to the nose piece.



I used some 0.005 sheet to create the new shingles where the Horizon Sensor Cover would have gone.



The upper row of shingles on the re-entry section is not quite right.  There should be two rows that run from the cabin section to the recovery section.  Between them is where the white line that covers the parachute harness runs.



I was originally going to drill through the translate up thruster to put the rod that will attach the model to its base.  After doing some dry fitting, it looked like that would be too close the the heat shield and might interfere with it.  So I drilled a hole below the translate up thruster.  Then I glued a short section of brass tube and then used some epoxy to seal the end of it to keep the mount rod from going all the way through.  Here are a couple of pictures.




I then moved to the crew section and added the third strap cover the is not included in the Dragon kit.  It extends below the cabin part since the back piece is not molded into the heat shield the way the other two are.



I then started on the part I was dreading.  The horizon sensors.  At 1/72 scale they are very tiny and very hard for my fingers to work with.  It is not exactly scale but I think it gets the idea across and at least there is something there that resembles the sensors instead of nothing.  Here is a closeup of the part I scratched up.



It is now attached to the crew section.  I'll put some Mr. Surfacer in the small gap between the ends and the capsule.



I think it will do fine.  Now I can do a bit of assembling and then I'll prime the parts.


Much more to do.

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One thing I forgot to mention on the equipment adapter section.  All the little point details at the back were removed.  Those are bolt covers for the bolts that attach the spacecraft to the Titan II booster.  When the bolts are blown at orbital insertion, those covers are blown off the equipment section.  So they had to go.



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Randy, for scale, there's a guy on these pages that uses a 6" coin and tells us it's a lot smaller ... you should put something near this kit ... just to show us how small this thing is ...  ;- D   ... or maybe just in the palm of your hand ... nah, you might have tiny, or oversized, hands ... nevermind!   ;- D))


And nice work on those shingle replacements ... they look better than my results in 1/24!! Your Horizon Scanners and the Strap cover ( I always thought is was an Umbilical connection ) looks Terrific! And the reworked Astronaut looks good too! Glad to read it wasn't that vinyl material and glued nice and easy!


Plus, the casting of the Radar looks amazing! In some areas, Dragon did a Wonderful job!



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That is a good idea.  I'll have to keep a coin handy.


You are actually correct, the cover is both for the titanium strap and some tubes and wires that run to the crew module.




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  • 3 weeks later...

More progress to report. The crew section got painted with Tamiya NATO Black. I also painted the umbilical/strap covers with Vallejo RLM23 Red. There will be more detail painting to come.



The adapter section got painted with Tamiya primer white and I painted the thruster nozzles Vallejo Black. The back cover was also glued in to prepare for adding the Bare Metal Foil gold.



I continued painting with the astronauts and the cockpit. The astronauts are Tamiya Fine Primer White. I painted the straps with Tamiya Blue and the visors were Vallejo Gold. The cockpit interior is Vallejo White Gray. I glued the cockpit assembly to the heat shield which had previously been primed and then the edge of the heat shield was painted with Vallejo RLM23 Red.



I then added more detail paint to the crew module. I painted the edges of the hatches and the hatch openings with Vallejo RLM23 Red. The ring around the nose was painted with the same color. The nose section holding the radar and the pyro cables were painted Vallejo White. I then went back and added some Vallejo RLM23 Red to the cables to indicate the bundling straps. The horizon sensor was also painted Vallejo White.



Here are the remaining parts and assemblies as they stand right now.



Now its time to turn to the decals which I redrew from a 1/48 scale sheet from Space Model Systems that I have and resized it to 1/72. I’ll have to do some testing to find out if any of them need to be tweaked to fit the Dragon model. I also still need to add the gold foil to the back of the adapter section.




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Gee whiz Randy, thank for the 1 cent comparison ... this little kit is smaller than I imagined!

Your repairs to the Adapter Section looks per-r-rfect! Nicely Done!


Tell me, when you paint really fine details, do you use a fine brush or toothpick or what? For instance the bundling straps on the nose and the RED ring around the nose. ...


And I went to a review of this kit and saw that the decals, the UNITED STATES, were not centred, so I'm glad to read you're redoing them.


Looks like you're close to completed!


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I got the decals printed.  I did a few dry runs on plain paper to adjust the sizes of some of the decals.  Some of the 1/48 scale decals for the Revel kit didn't quite match the Dragon kit after they were down scaled. But after a few attempts I decided that they should fit, so I printed them on decal paper.



I had a little trouble with the white ribbon.  It didn't quite stick properly on the double passes, but I think they will work anyway.


Here I have the decals applied.  The small decals on the nose are hard to see but they are there.  A couple of passes with Micro Sol and then a pass with Solvaset and the decals settled into the shingle grooves nicely.



I next used some Micro Kristal Klear to simulate the hatch windows.  Here it is just after application.



Here they are after drying.



I next glued the interior into capsule.



Then the doors went on.



Here is a nose on view.



Now on to the stripes on the adapter section.  I've decided that I'll do Gemini VI.  I was trying to figure out just how many stripes there were and where they were applied.  I studied photos for quite a while and I came up with the following pattern.



I came up with 88 total stripes on the Adapter Equipment section and 72 stripes on the Adapter Retro section.  After having come up with the layout from photos, I found on www.astronautix.com under the Gemini Technical Description section that they had the same number I came up with.  So I guess I'll go with that.


I'm not sure that my black stripe decals are narrow enough but I'm going to start and if they are obviously too wide then I'll remove them and print a new set.


Hopefully I can get that done soon.  I also still have to apply the gold foil to the back of the adapter equipment section.  Not much left to do on this one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I ended up printing a new set of decals with narrower stripes. They may still be a bit too large at this scale but I'm reaching the limit of what I can print with these so they will have to do.  Here I've started applying the decals to the retro adapter section.



I made a circle about the same diameter as the front of the retro section and then put in 72 radial lines that extend past the diameter circle.  This way I can place the part in the circle and then make tiny light pencil marks at the location where the stripe is supposed to go.  If I had been smart I'd have not glued the two sections together until after I applied the decals so I could have had marks for both ends of the stripes. Oh well, planning?


I repeated the process for the equipment section making the marks on the opposite end.  Not every line is exactly where it needs to be but they are close.  I ended up using only 70 of the 72 stripes on the retro section and 87 of the 88 on the equipment section.  I'm not sure exactly where I missed them, but I seriously doubt anyone will be able to tell.  After the decals had dried I went over the whole thing with MicroSol and let that dry.  I then clear coated the decals and finally covered that with a dull coat.  Here is a shot of the completed decal work.



Finally it was time to foil the back of the equipment adapter section.  I started by painting the center detail with Testors MM Chrome Silver.  I then cut wedges of Bare Metal Gold Foil and applied them overlapping each one slightly.  The last section ended up being just a narrow rectangular piece to fill in the last remaining gap.  I cut out for the two forward translation thrusters. Then I cut a small circle of foil to fill in the bottom and cut out for the silver section. Here is a photo of the completed part.



At this point all that remained was to glue the crew section to the adapter section.  Here are a couple of close pictures of the completed model.



Here is the other side.



Here are a couple more from different angles.




Despite the kit flaws it really turned out nice I think.  The base will be painted black and I'll add a couple of decals to indicate that it is a model of Gemini VI.


Now I've got Mercury and Gemini in 1/72 scale, I guess I should do the Apollo spacecraft in 1/72 as well.  Sounds like good next project.


Thanks for looking.

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Nicely DONE Randy! I was a little surprised to see you applying each stripe individually ... I thought you might have designed 'em in a radiused pattern whereby you could apply 10 or 15 at a time. But, this turned out wonderfully ... and yeah, no-one's gonna count 'em!


This little kit looks GREAT! The tiny details, the Radar, the Corrugations even the Sun Shield's folds and ripples on the aft section are cast really well!


I think the Gemini is my favourite Spacecraft ... there's something about its proportions that just, aesthetically, I find appealing!

And you did a terrific job on it! Now for an Apollo CSM!


Thanx Randy!


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Yep, I thought about that when I was about halfway through the retro adapter section. 🙄


I too have always thought that Gemini was a good looking spacecraft.



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