The complete information source for building the R/M Starfury Mk I kit.

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Starship Modeler: Build a Better Starfury

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Revell/Monogram's new Starfury Mk1 is the first of what we hope will be a long line of Babylon 5 kits. Two years in the making, it is officially blessed by jms (series creator) as completely accurate.

Alas, jms is not a modeler. While the kit is pretty good, overall - and a step up from most of AMT's Star Wars and Star Trek offerings - it has fit and detail problems, inaccurate paint guide, and decals that could be better. However, it does not take a lot of work to fix these flaws, and with a little patience you can build a contest winner.

What you get:

Two gray plastic trees from which to build the ship, cockpit, and pilot make up the bulk of the kit - 56 pieces in all, counting the (crappy) two piece stand. One clear part, the cockpit glazing, is also included. A decal sheet containing markings for between 4 and 7 ships (depending on how you count 'em) and a twelve page instruction booklet/painting guide round out the package. On the back of the box are photos of built up kits, one of each main version on the decal sheet.

Detail is pretty good, for the most part. The nozzles at the front and back of each of the four engines are not quite correct - but I doubt they could be accurately molded in a kit of this price and complexity. Panel lines are indicated by raised ridges - which would be accurate if the joins were welds on the 'real thing', but are quite inaccurate on this craft. Detail hounds will want to sand these off, and either rescribe them or paint them on in contrasting shades of the base color.

Detail in the cockpit is acceptable, but not great. Note that this cockpit depicts a fighter from season 2 of the series or later. The earlier version had more 'greeblies' on the walls. Missing from the decal sheet are the many painted warning labels (including a narrow yellow and black warning stripe at the top of the cockpit, just inside the canopy frame). Also note that the kit is missing the overhead panels and buttons evident in a couple of episodes (most notably the Season 5 opener 'No Compromises').

Close up of the guns

Diagram of the guns

Upper guns

The biggest disappointment is the guns. The muzzles are wrong, as is the rear part of the cannon assembly. You can get close to the correct shape by cutting off the last 'ring' on the muzzles and beveling the one that's now the end. Then fill in the grooves with putty so you have an unbroken cylinder. Now bore out the muzzle so it looks hollow. However, the best way to fix is to get a couple of pieces of plastic or brass tubing of the appropriate diameters and completely replace the kit gun barrels. (1/4" and 3/16" tubing from Evergreen, #228 and #226, is perfect). You'll also need to fill in that gaping pit on the inboard side of the guns aft of the barrel. Don't use just putty - too much will melt the plastic. Fill in most of the hole with a chunk of sprue and putty around that. There is a ring of dashes around each gun - download a template to make a mask or (better yet) a decal for these (courtesy of Also note that there is no space between the upper gun mounts and the fuselage - cut a piece of sheet styrene ('plasticard' to the Brits) to size and blank this area off.


Assembly is relatively straightforward and you can even do it in the sequence outlined in the instructions (for once!). The ribbed inserts to the outer wings will give you problems - they do not fit all that well. Carefully sand and dry-fit them before gluing to reduce the amount of putty needed to make a smooth seam. Do the same with the inner wings - one of mine required an extra 1/32'd strip of styrene at the edge closest to the fuselage in order for it to properly mate. If you're very careful/ lucky, you'll only need a bit of putty where the top wing assembly meets the rear of the fuselage, and a little on the bottom where the rear fuselage fits with the sides.

I built up the kit all the way, sanding and dry fitting as I went along, until only the cockpit remained. The whole ship got a light primer coat of Flat Light Aircraft Grey at this point to highlight any flaws or seams that needed more work . Once I was satisfied with the outside, I painted and detailed the cockpit (note: all paints mentioned are Testors/Model Master, and available widely at hobby shops and discount stores in the US. Humbrol and Floquil make similar paints, not sure if they're matched to the US 'Federal Standard' though).

Left side, rear cockpit wall

Cockpit Photos

Left side, front

Note: The Season 1 Cockpit was different:
Rear wall, Season 1
Left side, Season1
Images from 'Babylon Squared'

Determining the colors for the cockpit was difficult, given that almost every time it's on screen it's lit by a red glow. Fortunately, we now have photos of the actual cockpit set to go by. To replicate those colors use:

  • Base color - SAC Bomber Green (FS 34159) brightened with a few drops of Pale Green (FS 34227)
  • Pilot's 'seat' - Neutral Grey (FS 36270); headrest cushions are Gunship Grey (FS 36118) darkened with a drop or two of flat black and brown letherette (Military Brown FS30117 is close) acceleration couch 'cushions'.
  • Raised Panels - Camouflage Grey (FS 36622)
Note that the seat should have a black three-button joystick on the left armrest. The instrument panel is shown upside down on the instructions; the decal goes on it, not on the clear canopy as shown. There is a black cable running along each side of the support arm, and some small squares and a light right next to the display. There are two strips on each side of the cockpit supplying the red lighting (thanks to Jeff Kuhn for the diagram help!). I found that the best way to replicate the red glow was to paint the interior, then overspray it with a light coat of Tamiya Clear Red.

While the cockpit tub was drying, I painted the pilot. The standard Earth Force uniform appears to be:

  • Gloves, Trim, Elbows, Knees and Boots: Satin black (I used Testors Model Master (TMM) Aircraft Interior Black)
  • P-suit - Grey overall (I used TMM German Feldgrau). Shoulders should be Flat Gull Grey FS 36440 ... but Light Sea Grey called for in instructions will do. Black Omega pilots wear a dark grey suit (I used RLM 70 Schwartzgrun - blackgreen). Shoulders are also Flat Gull Grey.
  • Helmet - Steel or Gunship Grey overall, with glossy black faceplate. Skip the face decal - I couldn't get that to even lay down. The ring at the bottom should be silver. Note that various pilots have logos painted on the helmet - Psi Corps for Black Omega, etc.
Note that the pilot should be strapped in with a five-pont harness (black, with silver buckles). The four straps should meet right above the groin. You can paint this on, but it looks better if you make straps from thin strips of tape, painted black. You can make buckles from very fine wire - or do as I do: simply paint them on with silver paint. Use this photo of Ivanova as a reference.

After all the above was dry, I added the instrument panel and glued on the canopy. I used thinned white glue to prevent the glass from fogging (TENAX is also suppoed to work well for this; don't use superglue or it will fog the inside!). Finally, after masking the areas that need to stay transparent, I was ready to paint.


I painted my first ship up as a Black Omega SABO. The kit instructions are wrong - the ship should be all over black (though Anthracite Grey Metallic weathered with black will get you a ship that looks close). Also, do not use decals 16 and 17. I painted the ship overall flat black, then masked off about half the panels, engine nozzles, inlets and fins and painted the rest pearlescent black (available from Testors, usually used on model cars). When dry, I overcoated the top and bottom wings with an airbrushed coat of Future (aka 'Kleer') floor wax to give the decals something to stick to.


Monogram's big, heavy decals are a disappointment, to say the least. The Presidential Escort colors are wrong (too light), and Sea Witch is really wrong (besides having her arm dropped so no hint of breast appears, the drop-shadow should be under the white letters, not the other way around!). The Earth alliance flashes are the wrong color (too grey) and should not have the top of the A sticking above the E (so just cut it off).

Because of the way they were made, these decals will need all the help they can get to lay down, especially across the hump on the top wing. After all painting is done (but before you weather) give the ship an all-over coat of either clear gloss (like Testor's Glosscoat). Better yet - spray on a light coat of Future floor wax (aka 'Kleer' in Europe). Let this dry thoroughly (only takes a half hour or so).

Monogram apparently uses some sort of different glue on these decals that makes them incompatible with setting solutions. This brings up a dilemma - because the larger decals almost require setting solution to snuggle down - especially over the hump on the top wing. You can do this one of two ways:

  • Add a little white glue (a drop or two) to lukewarm water and stir. Use this to soak the decals off - the white glue will stick to the decal, help it lay down, and dries clear. This method is especially effective with the smaller decals and the Black Omega scheme.
  • Use warm (not hot, but close to body temperature) water, with or without the white glue. Soak the decal until the back falls off. Carefully pull the decal out and wipe the back with a wet finger - carefully, since the bigger ones will want to curl. Place the decal on the model and apply setting solution (I used full strength MicroSol applied with a cotton swab). When I did this, the decal reacted normally to the solvent and did not turn into a raisin - the key apears to be getting rid of the glue.
You can help the large decals (Presidential seal, Sea Witch art, star-and-eagle art) to conform to the top better by placing small (1 - 2mm) slits in the decal, right at the point where the 'Y' on the top branches out. Use a very sharp blade after the decal is in place but before you hit with setting solution (if used).

More on the way ....

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Last updated on 29 August 1998