|By Vince Hoffman - images & text © 2000|
This is the Earth Alliance atmospheric shuttle, Kestrel class in 1:144 scale.Ever since seeing this shuttle on B5 for the first time, I have loved it's no-nonsence design using a lifting body as it's hull shape. I constructed two models. One is painted in the cargo and general transport colors, the other in Earth Force standard which is used to shuttle dignitaries and officials from place to place.
^The foam master for the fuselage.
Image: The fuselage master, with intakes and cockpit attached.
Image: Wings and tailplane.
Image: Engine masters.
Image: The first model, before decals applied.
Image: Completed engines.
Image: The second model, from the rear.
Image: Right, rear perspective view.
Image: Side view.
Image: Left perspective view.
^ The EA decal, in place.
^ The second model, from the front
Ain't she pretty? ->
Both models are resin casts I made from my own masters. They were fairly good "garage kits" with minor blemishes that went away with a little putty and sanding. A minor bump under the right wing root detracted from the underside appearance, but the black paint hides it quite readily.
The masters for the kit were produced by carving closed-cell insulation foam and sealing the foam with interior latex paint. The paint does a great job on the foam, filling all the pores and creating a perfectly smooth and very hard finish. After the paint dried, carved balsa air intakes and cockpit were glued onto the surface and smoothed into the curves. I did the same for the landing gear doors and details on the bottom side. The wings are expanded F-111 wings that have had their shape significantly altered. The tail planes equally are wing segments to get the right airfoil shape and panel lines scribed with a dental tool. The engines were produced by creating cones which match the dimensions of the model. The thrust deflectors and some exhaust detail are taken from the Starfury kit and altered to create the right shape.
Most of the markings were painted on, though the Earth Alliance Seal was a decal. The decals were produced using an inkjet printer using photo paper at 14400 dpi at double scale, then photo reduced on a digital copier onto decal paper. This method works quite well with quality equal or better than most Alps printers. J.C. Richard at www.webpan.com/b5earthside provided the artwork for the presidential seal and the cgi pictures I provided with the kit.
The models were painted using Gunze acrylics and weathered with chalk. The chalk does a very nice job when only light weathering is required. The weathering was sealed with Pactra clear flat. A 2" piece of brass tube is cut and epoxied at an angle inside the fuselage to accept an 8" length of tube which holds it up off the base.Conclusion
The model is quite accurate in shape and form, but the wings ended up slightly long. The shape of the air intake has come into quesion, since I received more accurate pics of the original cgi model after the intakes were attached. But aside from the minor flaws, it makes quite an impressive desk model, and it was easy to make.
This page copyright © 2000 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 31 March 2000.