Sunday, July 17, 2016

Space Shuttle Atlantis Update

Finishing out the Thai Airways and further construction on Trump Force One have stopped for the moment while I concentrate on getting Space Shuttle Atlantis ready for the IPMS National Convention August 3-6.  I don't know if I will get this thing done, but I am going to try.  Here are the latest build pics.

The top of the SRB's where the parachutes is packed is a light cream color.  The average person (meaning not a scale modeler) usually would not notice this as it is very subtle.

Almost all space shuttle models were tooled very early in the program. No shuttle orbiter model in any scale replicates the thermal blankets which were developed to replace the white tiles on the specific heat vulnerable areas of the upper surface.

The ET (external tank) is a beast and is the single largest component of the shuttle stack.  The kit features molded on texture to represent the insulation, but it is lost when assembling, puttying, and sanding construction seams.  The answer is to use a rattle can of textured paint...

...but not this stuff.  This is "rough" stone texture, which I though I could use if I lightly sanded it a bit.  As I started to do so, it began to come off in chunks.  For some reason, it did not adhere will to the primer underneath.  In the end I had to remove it all with steel wool and start over.  I will still used a textured paint, but one not as rough.

My idea for replicating the thermal blankets was to lay out the pattern piece by piece with Evergreen styrene strip, then mask off and spray a heavily thinned mix of Squadron putty (the stuff in the red and white tube over there).  After that, I went back and manually textured each panel with an armor zimmerit texturing tool.  Zimmerit was a non metallic coating applied to German tanks in WWII so that magnetic mines would not adhere or be detonated. 

The grayish-tan is where the putty was applied.  These are thermal blanket areas.  Most everywhere else on a shuttle is either tiled (underside and high heat areas on top) or covered with a thin insulating felt.  The black tiles are for the high heat areas.  The really high heat areas (leading edge of wings, and nose), are made of RCC (Re-enforced Carbon Carbon).

The look of the putty after the zimmerit tool treatment.  A good effect.  The tiling in front of the blankets is also hand laid out and cut. All this manual work is intended to be representative, not machine perfect.  It is an enhancement to the overall look of the model for normal viewing.  Close up photography of any model will almost always reveal imperfections.

A look at the port side.

The tape is to protect the glass windows.  The one casualty I have had is the glass in the upper aft crew section.  It became unattached during bodywork and I have no access to fix it.  I had to plug the holes and am now forced to use a decal.

Here is the tool used to create the textured effect.