Revell AG 1/144 Spaceship II/White Knight II
| KIT #: || 04842 |
| PRICE: || $29.99 SRP |
| DECALS: || One option |
| REVIEWER: || Scott Van Aken |
| NOTES: || |
New Tool Kit
The Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is a suborbital, air-launched spaceplane designed for space tourism. It is under development as part of the Tier 1b program under contract to The Spaceship Company, a California-based company that is wholly owned by its sister company Virgin Galactic. The Spaceship Company was formerly a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, but Virgin became the company's sole owner in 2012.
SpaceShipTwo is carried to its launch altitude by a jet-powered mothership, the Scaled Composites White Knight Two, before being released to fly on into the upper atmosphere, powered by a rocket motor. It then glides back to Earth and performs a conventional runway landing. The spaceship was officially unveiled to the public on 7 December 2009 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. On 29 April 2013, after nearly three years of unpowered testing, the spacecraft successfully performed its first powered test flight.
Virgin Galactic plans to operate a fleet of five SpaceShipTwo spaceplanes in a private passenger-carrying service, starting in 2014, and have been taking bookings for some time, with a suborbital flight carrying an initial ticket price of US$200,000. The spaceplane could also be used to carry scientific payloads for NASA and other organizations.
Nice to see what is basically a standard mold kit of this combo and in a scale that will not overwhelm a display shelf. You basically get one large and two smaller white sprues with two clear sprues, The two clear and two smaller white sprues are the same.
The kit has no interior, which is somewhat standard for the scale. There are, however, a lot of windows to put into both the mother ship and the space plane. You may want to paint the interior black. Each of the two fuselages of the mother ship will require 10 grams of weight to keep it from being a tail sitter. The kit can be built either gear up or gear down and comes with a nice display stand, something I think will get a lot of use. If you decide on gear down, you'll find nicely molded landing gear with separate wheels. For gear down, the gear doors will need to be cut apart. Each of thengine pods consists of two main halves, a compressor face, a one-piece intake piece and a one-piece exhaust section.
Instructions are the standard Revell AG type with lots of construction diagrams and paint references that only apply to Revell paints. Fortunately, this one is pretty much overall white with decals so no need to hunt up weird colors or mix paints. The decal sheet is quite comprehensive and looks great. If it is typical Revell AG, it will work just great.
Deciding to throw caution to the wind, I followed the instructions on this one. One builds the mother ship first before going on to the spaceship. First step was to drill a hole in one of the main fuselage halves as directed in the instructions. This required a #45 drill bit, though a hobby knife would have worked as well. Next the interior of all the vehicles was painted light grey using Vallejo Sky Grey as it was handy. One has to decide rather early on whether to build the composite as one piece, two separate kits or in flight. I decided to build this one in flight on the stand so did not put any weight in the noses. I did install the clear bits, which fit quite well, but typical of small clear bits have small dimples in the middle of them. The wheel wells were installed to provide something for the closed gear doors to sit on and the fuselage halves were glued together.
I then glued together the engines minus the intake rings which would be painted prior to being installed in the last steps. The wing sections were then glued together after opening up a few holes. All this was set aside while I tackled the inevitable filler on the fuselage, engine pods and the wings. Once all that was dry, the two fuselages were glued to the wing. I had stupidly cut off two small tabs on the front of the forward wing/fuselage join, thinking they were sprue stubs. Be advised that these should remain intact as they help the wing fuselage join. The tailplanes were simply pushed on as they are a very tight fit.
Meanwhile, I installed the clear bits in the SpaceShip 2 then glued together the fuselage halves after opening up the holes in the upper fuselage where it will fit to the mother ship. I attached the tail cone but did not attach the rocket nozzle as that will be added after everything is painted and decaled. It also needed seam work. The wings are in two halves and those were glued together as well. The two tail booms are single pieces and suffer rather badly from sink areas. I filled the most egregious ones on the inside and left the ones on the outside alone as they were quite shallow. The boom to wing join also wasn't the best and got some filler treatment as well.
Back on the main wing, the box that holds the SpaceShip was assembled. This is not a good fit and even the instructions tell you to add filler to it to smooth things out. Meanwhile, I masked all the windows save the ones I wasn't going to install until the end of the build. This was quite tedious, especially as they are all round or rounded triangles. The gear doors had the hinges removed and were installed. On the White Knight, the main door piece is a bit too small while all the other doors are just a tad oversize. For the SpaceShip, there are no covers over the main wheels so those have to be installed prior to gluing on the doors. The small fins on the SpaceShip and the engine pods for the White Knight were then attached and left to dry.
At this point it was pretty much time to think about painting. I sprayed the model with Tamiya extra fine white primer. When done, put on a coat or two of Tamiya gloss white using my air brush. When it had dried, it was time for the decals. There are a lot of them and so I started with the big ones on the underside of the two craft. The instructions tell you to use setting solution and you'll need it. In fact, many of the decals fit on convoluted surfaces or, like those on the fins, are in sections so I used Solvaset on them. There was no problem with that method and after several days, I got them all in place. I did notice that the black decals for the leading edge of the Space Ship II tail booms are far too small to cover the area shown in the instructions so painting is the only way to go. I also had to paint the leading edge of the outer stabilizers. Eventually, all the decals were in place and I could return to building.
Several of the decals covered up holes for antennas and other things so I sought those out and punched them back open using a pin. Had I installed the antennas and some other bits, installing the decals would have been a nightmare. I think that Revell and other companies should point out the need to keep these sorts of bits off until the end steps, but they do not. I also painted the engine compressors and installed the forward cowling pieces after painting them Light Aircraft Grey.
I had to hand paint the nose markings, which would look nicer even with partial decals, and when dry, both parts got a clear coat to protect the decals and the paint. I then installed the remaining cockpit windows, which takes some care. The small antennas were then glued in place and the SS2 was then cemented to the carrying section. This took a couple of tries as the connection point is not very positive. It was then set on its stand, which was painted black.
Those of us who like real space will want to add this to their collection. I was surprised at all the sink areas I found on the thicker parts and there were some that I did not fill as they were quite shallow. I also found the decals to be quite well done and though it took a while to put them all on, they fit well and conformed to the airframe using Solvaset. If someone does a masking set for this, buy it. It will be worth the money. The end result is an interesting model that will spark some discussion when showing it to friends.
Thanks to me for buying the preview kit.
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