[SSM's 15th Contest: Wrecks]

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I’ve Seen Worse

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by Thomas Carr

Scale: 1/35

GySgt Vandegrift took a long sip from his cup of coffee as he glared at the rusting hulk. The VMC-73 SEA DRAGON dropship was one of the first designs adopted by the Marines for their ship-to-surface transfer role. Over it’s 31-year career, this transport had landed Marines on some of the meanest, nastiest dirtballs in the galaxy, one squad at a time. It was not uncommon for young Marines to ride into battle on the same transport that carried their grandfathers ashore in the Colonial Wars.

And this one was one of the oldest he’d ever seen, probably started as a B-model, and was far from new before he stepped foot off the bus at Parris Island. This last deployment had been a hard one for Marine Assault Squadron 27, and the last drop of the deployment was probably the nastiest they’d ever seen, and this baby took a heck of a beating.

True to form, however; this durable brute got the Marines into and out of harm’s way before giving up the ghost. Common sense would have been to scrap what was left, and send her to the can yard for parts. But this was the CO’s bird and he considered her “Lucky”; and lucky trumps good 10 times out of 10. There was no question as to whether she’d be repaired.

Vandegrift wasn’t the first to work on this problem child of the 27th, but he was damn sure going to be the last. SSgt Cooley gave up on her last week after the thruster bank caught fire while he was working on it.

Glancing at the blueprints, Gunny mentally tallied his time to retirement, sized up the job and let out a slow whistle. Resignedly grunting to himself, “it’s gonna be close,” he motioned for his crew to start bringing their tools over and set to work…

This model started life as a Star Wars Trade Federation tank kit. I thought it would make an awesome dropship for 25mm miniatures gaming, and so I set about converting it.

I chopped off the side cannon spars and patched the holes from these guns and the turret mount with sheet styrene in order to smooth the lines. I added a set of engines, cockpit ladder, and some greeblies, and then proceeded to putty, sand and paint. I deliberately kept the fitup on the forward thruster cowlings rough because with all the exposed rivet heads, it seemed to fit better. It served like this for a while, but I moved and subsequently stopped playing the game for which I built it, so it went mostly complete into the spares bin.

One of the things I thought of when I heard about the wrecks contest was that it would be cool to do up something high-tech “up on blocks”. I knew I’d need a base, so I started with a 14x14 piece of 3/8” plywood. This was painted grey and then weathered using rust and flat black paint. Cracks in the concrete floow were drawn on using a sharpie.

From there I scratch built the cinder blocks from basswood strip, and the pipe jack from brass tube and sheet styrene. The cribbing under the various parts is basswood and the drafting table was scratchbuilt using basswood strip and some sheet styrene. The blueprints are actually printed from a CAD drawing and scaled down to 1/35th.

I ripped most of the parts off the port side, and painted the interior white for contrast, similar to modern aircraft. Then I built up the engine and internal workings for the parts that remained. The main engine is brass tube, styrene and kit parts; and the retro thrusters are beefed up using some small wooden spindles and caps from the craft store. Throughout the build, I stuck all the bits back together on the main model to make sure that pipes ran generally in the right direction and that the level of “stuff” didn’t exceed the interior space.

The holes were drilled on a drill press with a forstner bit, and scuffing was added with a dremel tool. I heated the pieces over a candle to effect the fire and battle damage. Then paint, decals, more weathering, and so on. Gunny came from a Vietnam-era M-113 kit, and his coffee mug is scratchbuilt from brass tube.

Image: Front

Image: Top

Image: Could be worse

Image: I'll need a 3/16" box wrench, to start with .....

Image: "Lucky", indeed

Image: Parts. Gonna need a lot of parts.

Image: Don't look too bad from this angle.


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This page was last updated 18 November 2007. © 2007 Starship Modeler