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AF-139/D Banshee

[Proudly Sponsored by BLAP! Models]

by David Hyde

Scale: 1/18

The AF-139 has been one of the most successful production run starfighters in TerraFleet history. The First Karkon Incursion in 2370 showed a need for more small fast attack craft as the enormous enemy battle cruisers proved to be extremely vulnerable to swarm tactics.

The basic design had been created almost a decade earlier as Aerospace/Pursuit project #139 by Shea Colonial Defense Systems for interdiction and anti piracy operations along the Tri-F border. TerraCo purchased the design and turned it over to a variety of subsidiaries for refinement and testing. The end result was a one crew, trans atmospheric combat vessel capable of incredible speed and maneuverability. Re-christened the AF-139/A, the "Banshee" [a nickname that stuck because of the screaming sound the prototypes made during high speed atmospheric maneuvers] was mass produced along with a fleet of modular thru-deck "micro carriers" and distributed throughout TerraFleet.

The Banshee also packs a solid punch for a craft of its size. Two sets of twin "Longbeam" heavy lasers fire linked pulses from their outboard positions and a mag-rail assisted missile/ torpedo launcher is mounted beneath. The internal missile magazine can automatically reconfigure to handle a variety of types of ordinance.

Pilots of the early A and B variants had discovered that the ships' shields could be tuned very close to the hull and channeled back toward the braking foils. Normally used only for atmospheric flight, the result was to use the shielded plates to squeeze the engines drive plume even tighter giving a sudden burst of speed. This technique known as "Flux Ruddering" quickly burned out the elements of the drive servos and foils and was only used sparingly as an emergency combat tactic. With enhanced servos and beefed up aerofoils, the ability to use this trick for extended periods of combat was incorporated into the AF-139/D introduced in 2382.

The model represents the AF-139/D designated "Longshot 6", piloted by Cmdr. Jacob Andrews during the evacuation of New Kell Colony. One of 16 surviving fighters out of a combined force of over 100, these small fighters - along with their attending micro-carriers and escorts - held off a far superior Karkon task force by luring the huge war craft into a series of skirmishes throughout the jumble of moons and debris that comprises the complex ring system of Kell Prime's outer 3 gas giants.

The model shows Longshot 6 as it is displayed at the Smithsonian Institute's "Defense of Humanity" exhibit resting on a combat lift recovered from the wreckage of TCCV Stryker, her home carrier.

About the model

Along time ago, I started an entry for the Spaceracers contest that due to circumstances beyond my control never got finished. I always thought of the racer design as a refitted aerospace fighter. One of my Bucket List projects has been to finish it up and build a second model of the fighter version to be displayed side by side. This contest gave me the excuse to finish at least half of that project. I saved my basic hull patterns but upgraded the concept a bit to construct a "later model". Maybe now I'll have inspiration enough to finish the Space racer.

This was a fun build and went together fairly quickly. Almost as important, my total materials cost [since I used so much scrap and leftovers from other projects.] was less than 30 dollars.... mostly spent on Zap-A-Gap. Being blessed with a lot of scrap Sintra, I used 1/8" and 1/4" flat sheet for almost everything, internal ribbing to outer hull. I used self-adhesive labels of various sizes for the raised panels and covered the hull with aluminum HVAC tape rubbed down tight with a soft wood paintbrush handle. The copper colored strips represent part of the ship's defense shield load-shedding hardware and are made of the copper tape strips used for faux stained glass projects. I painted the whole thing flat black then used steel wool to remove everything until I got the weathered look that felt right. I finished with long front to back sweeps with the steel wool to give it a constant "grain" effect.

Sheet styrene and a lot of bits and pieces from the old parts home make up the rest. I never thought I'd ever find a use for the franchise killing Kazon Torpedo but certain parts practically jumped off the sprue for this project. I also tried a couple of armored fairing designs over the main guns to hide the fact that they are pretty much straight up BattleTech Rifleman but they looked so good I ended up leaving them alone.

The landing gear was from an old die cast Ertl backhoe model I had laying around. I liked that they were narrow and had all the piston looking stuff mostly on them already. Plus they folded perfectly into the wells between the internal braces.

The cockpit has a lit instrument panel [I went kind of retro w/ the dial and gauge look] and LEDs that flash in sequence at 8 other points. The pilot seat is from a GI Joe submarine I found at a garage sale. Red and Green running lights top and bottom round out the wiring all powered by a 9v battery just behind the pilot seat. Fitting, since I imagine the reactor would have to be in about that spot.

The display base is a piece of shelving given the same HVAC tape finish but steel woolled in small circular patterns to contrast with the long horizontal grain of the ship.

A side note: several years ago I worked on a project that sent me to NASA to make castings of real space gear. The wonderful crew there gave out a few souvenirs to take back including some unused Emergency drinking water pouches that had been used on several shuttle flights. Whenever I do a custom space model like this I always include a small piece of the pouch foil somewhere so I can say that at least part of the ship has actually been in space. Totally geeky, I know.... In this case I'll just say it's somewhere on the upper hull...

Now if I can just get my wife to let me keep it in the living room.

Image: Cockpit

Image: Top view

Image: Load shedders

Image: Front/right view

Image: Underneath

Image: Midships

Image: Firepower

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This page was last updated 8 January 2011. © 2011 Starship Modeler