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Rocket Racer Dragon

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[Scale Solutions]

by Murray Antypowich

Scale: 1/40

This year, "The Rocket Racing League" was co-founded and chaired by X Prize founder Peter Diamandis. The idea is to push the development of a new sport-a NASCAR-style racing league utilizing rocket-powered aircraft flown by pilots through a "three-dimensional track".

50? 70? Years later: Meet the DRAGON. This beast has vectored thrust nozzles behind copious amounts of power, steering assist rockets, smart skin wings rather than control surfaces, but its crowning jewel is the total pilot-machine interface. The pilot controls the machine with his/her mind through the use of a skinsuit, an AI, and multiple sensors throughout the craft, most notably on the nose. The skinsuit is also the life support system, and is almost indestructible. It holds the pilot in place but also can morph into a type of parachute in the event of a bail out.

My son Colin and I started out this project with a 1/72 scale Macross YF 21 but neither of us liked the idea of an airplane turning into a robot, so we decided to modify it into a rocket racer and then,'' did some one say YELLOW''?

I cut the humps and bumps off that would have made knees or something, and clipped the wings off 1/4'' from the fuselage. I then cut numerous wing shapes from card stock and let Colin decide which wing he liked best. The wing he chose I then built by laminated sheet styrene. I guided Colin in sanding them to shape using wet paper to avoid worries of breathing fine dust particles, then glued them to the plane. I puttied the seams and it was Colin's job to sand, primer, and resand until it looked right.

I turned the back part of the fuselage upsidedown , which brought the intakes way up. This took surprisingly little effort; only a little cutting was required on the top side and 2 short pieces of plastic glued in on the bottom to fill in the overlap, then puttied and sanded to shape.

The original wingtips were used at the back of the plane for the lower wings and the upper ones were repositioned. The canards were moved forward and inward to just behind and below the cockpit. This being a racer, the scale was way to big so I hacked the cockpit out, built a new canopy to scale it up. I thought I could squeeze a 1/32 scale pilot in but, he was just a little too big so I carved one out of a block of resin. I would guess him to be between 1/35 to 1/40 scale.

After all the final priming and sanding was done I helped Colin air brush on the first coat of white paint. The rest of the model I completed myself. I applied a second coat of white then masked and followed with 2 coats of Yellow. Trim colors of red,and black were added followed by a clear coat of Future. I made all the decals from leftovers , then sealed them with a final coat of Future.

The stand was made from a piece of wood cut out with my scroll saw, a piece of acrylic rod and a piece of high tensile wire from an old balsa wood bi-plane kit. I painted the base black, masked the sides, then spread dirt and small rock over white glue for the ground. The finish line pole was painted white leaving the clear lens between the checkerd flags for a 360' camera.

Image: Starboard side

Image: Close up, starboard side sensors

Image: Comin' atcha!

Image: Right/rear

Image: Rear view

Image: Overhead

Image: Underneath

Image: Sponsors

Image: Stand

Image: Base

Image: Ground-level

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This page was last updated 26 December 2006. © 2006 Starship Modeler