Fine Molds 1/72 Darth Vader's TIE fighter
“We'll have to destroy them ship to ship.”
As per movie tradition, the big bad dragon/villain needed to have a unique ship that would stand out among the underlings so Lucasfilm designed one. It had bent solar “wings” and a longer body unlike the anonymous TIE fighters and was the only Imperial ship to survive the Death Star Battle.
The TIE Advanced x1 featured a Sienar Fleet Systems I-s3a solar ionization reactor and paired P-s5.6 twin ion engines like the original Tie Fighter. However, the x1 had an original spaceframe, with an elongated rear deck and reinforced durasteel-alloy hull. The x1's most important innovation was the use of "bent-wing" solar array wings, like those used on the TIE/sa bomber, which had the advantages of increased surface area for more power while also reducing the craft's profile, compared to the TIE/LN starfighter's hexagonal panel wings.
Speed was only slightly improved due to the added mass of the vessel; a good deal of the extra power was bled off to the deflector shield generators. While less maneuverable than standard TIE fighters, it was more resilient in battle.
The 9.2 meter-long craft had twin heavy L-s9.3 laser cannons in a fixed, front-mounted position, as well as a cluster missile launcher. In addition to its shields, it had a modest Class 4.0 hyperdrive but no life support systems. The target tracking system was also more sophisticated than the already formidable advanced targeting system on standard TIE craft, used to overcome the extremely powerful electronic jamming used by all combat craft to defeat target lock in battle. For best performance, the targeting system of the x1 required frequent adjustment in combat.
Only the most elite Imperial pilots flew the TIE Advanced, and the starfighter was capable of fighting a T-65 X-wing starfighter to a draw.
For the last 35 years, the only (legal) commercially available version of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter was one made by MPC. It was approximately done in 1/32 scale and it had some fit issues which are on par with science fiction kits from the 70s. The kit can still be made into a decent model, but it seems from the online review sthat it requires a lot of modeling skill and putty.
Fine Molds’ Darth Vader Tie Fighter comes with three sprues of light grey plastic of some 40 parts, one small sprue containing two clear parts, one small sheet of decals and a sheet of masks for the clear parts. The parts are flash free and have no real imperfections except mold marks while the detail is very good and reasonably accurate.
I started by cleaning up then assembling the parts of the cockpit, the rear fuselage and the center section of the solar panel as subassemblies. The Darth Vader Tie Fighter is actually easier than Fine Mold’s Tie Fighter and Tie Interceptor as it was designed to minimize sanding and filling because the seams are actually panel lines. The only area I had to sand after assembly was along the trailing edge of the rear fuselage.
A few days later, I painted the cockpit as it was warm enough to open up the windows in the basement which allowed me to vent out paint fumes through my fume hood. The cockpit side panels and cockpit ‘pit were sprayed Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey with minor details hand painted flat black and then coated with Tamiya X-22 Clear to provide a gloss coat for the interior decals. Once dry, the decals were added to the side panels with some Micro Sol and Micro Set.
Darth Vader was painted gloss black, silver, steel and white. The figure was glued to the seat after the paint was dry enough.
A portion of the forward fuselage was sprayed the Tamiya version of RLM-66 as per instructions.
I glued the completed cockpit into the rear fuselage and then glued the forward fuselage to the rear fuselage. This assembly was held together with C-Clamps for a half hour till the bond was sufficiently strong enough to hold. Next I added the center portions of the solar panels which are keyed differently for starboard and port sides. I left the remaining solar panels on the sprue gates till final assembly.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The panel lines of the Tie Fighter were pre-shaded using a thinned coat of Tamiya XF-66 German Grey which was also used to paint the forward portion of the cockpit. This was done before the fuselage halves were glued together.
I sprayed the interiors of the solar panels gloss black and then let the paint dry.
The original “reel” model was painted using Air Superiority Blue. In a previous Tie family build, I painted went with Duck Egg Blue Blue but that was too light. Since I did not have time to look for and buy an Air Superiority Blue equivalent I went with what I had on hand. The closest paint I had to the original color was Tamiya XF-23 Light Blue.
I did the tedious task of masking the canopy (if you want to call it that) windows as well as mask off the gloss black panels on the solar “wings” using Tamiya Tape. This task took much longer than I thought (it took almost four hours instead of the one hour I estimated.) I also masked off the cockpit openings.
When I had time, I sprayed the canopy parts with Neutral Grey. Next I sprayed XF-23 in thin coats on the fuselage and top hatch to allow some of the pre-shading to appear. Next I sprayed X-22 clear coat to provide a base for the decals.
After the paint dried, I removed all the masking and added the 3 exterior decals to the top hatch.
The remaining solar panels were removed from the sprue gates, cleaned up and glued to the model. Next the remaining parts were added including the canopy pieces and the hand painted laser nozzles using Tamiya Extra Thin Glue. Finally, I hand painted neutral gray in the area surrounding the forward canopy.
This is one of Fine Molds better Star Wars models as it was very easy to assemble and relatively easy to paint despite all the masking required. Perfect for a beginner all the way to advanced. Well engineered and designed which allows the modeler to build it quickly into a very good model.
It only took me two weeks to go from arrival to completion. If I had time to concentrate on it instead of a couple of hours a week then I probably would have had it finished in a weekend.
Kit courtesy of my wallet.
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