Kip Hart's Scratchbuilt Shadow Fighter.

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Starship Modeler: Scratchbuilt Shadow Fighter

By Kip Hart - © 1999

My latest project is a Shadow Fighter. Since I did not like the fact that the Revel StarFury had no companion, I decided that the Shadow Fighter would be perfect choice!

While I do not consider myself to be a draftsman by any means, I felt that some sorts of drawings were in order to help construct the ship. As you can see from the drawings, I have broken down the ship into its major parts. While I know that the pieces, once assembled, do not look exactly like the ship, they are at least a starting point. There is a great deal of filling that need's to be done between the spines to get that smooth flow the body has. I should mention that anyone who attempts to build this model could contact me about obtaining more information on its construction. I have many more pictures than have been posted here, far too many to have placed here. They show the Fighter at different stages of its construction, and may shed some light on just " where " and " how" the areas between those spines should be filled.

The basic body was carved from a block of balsa would, which I sealed with dope and sanded smooth. The nose protrusions were made by sticking clay to the body and molding it to their rough final shape. Since I planned to make a casting of the body out of resin to attach the spines to I did not bother to final shape the nose pieces. Then I made a mold for the body out of Plaster of Paris. A word of caution here. If you follow the way I make my molds then you should not immediately fill the molds with resin after you remove the body. Wait until they dry thoroughly, then spray a generous amount of mold release into them. After you remove the resin body from the mold you can sand the nose section to its final shape.

Next come the spines. I developed a quick way to make these and once again inexpensive! I used clay again for the spine molds. The type of clay I used for this part is different than the clay used for the nose pieces, something called Plastalina Modeling clay. It is dry clay, as opposed to oil based clay like that used for the nose. I use the oil-based clay for the nose since you need something that will stick to the body - and the dry clay will not. The dry clay is used just for the molding process because it will not distort from the heat of the Resin curing, and generally "hold's it's own", so it makes for a good temporary mold! That, and it won't go sticking to every piece you make when you use it for a mold.

What you do to make the spines is very simple. Say you were doing spine B. For my Fighter, spine B measured 1/2 in. thick. I rolled out a piece of clay flat to 1 inch thick. Then I cut out spine B from the plans I had printed out and lay it on the clay. Then, with an X-acto knife, I cut down through the clay, staying at a 90-degree angle all the way around the cut out. I then pulled up the clay "cut-out" of the spine. At this point, I lay the clay mold on a flat surface and with a flat object gently pushed on the clay so it lay flat on the table. Then I just filled in the clay with resin. After the resin set, I pulled the mold off the spine and saved it for the next one. I then used a razor saw to cut the spine down the middle, giving me two identical spines, one for each side of the model.

From there I just repeat the process to make all the spines. When they're done, I shaped them to the desired pattern, doing each pair at the same time to be certain that they matched each other. After all those spines are shaped, I simply glued them to the body, paying close attention to getting all the angles right.

Next came the fun part, filling in the between the spines. There's a lot of filling to get that "even" and "smooth" flow the body has. The main thing I used as filler is Bondo, since it dries quickly, sands easily and takes primer well. And most importantly, it's INEXPENSIVE. I bought a gallon of it some time ago and still have yet to use it all.

After the filling, sanding, and primering of the model construction was finished. Then I simply used the same technique for the veins on the Fighter as I did for the BattleCrab.

[Completed, on a base]

[You shoulda seen the one that got away!]

[Start with a block of balsa...]

Basic hull shape.

[Basic body]

All spines on, filled and sanded.

[Close-up of the nose]

Close-up of the nose

[Making veins]

Making veins



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