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TIE M-1 Experimental TIE Bizarro

[Proudly Sponsored by BLAP! Models]

by Jay Chladek

Scale: 1/48
Shortly after the battle of Hoth, the Rebel Alliance began encountering new TIE designs in the Volonis Sector. They would strike without warning and prey on commercial shipping mercilessly. One of the most unusual and feared of these new designs was the TIE M-1 Experimental, which unofficially was known as the TIE Bizarro for its seemingly backwards design of two cockpit balls on either side of a central solar wing. One of the shortcomings of the original TIE Fighter design was a lack of heavy firepower; while the ship's two laser guns were effective for engaging fighters, they lacked the punch to do major damage to a larger craft quickly enough. The pilot sits in the left pod while the right one is occupied by a single turbo-laser cannon and its associated cooling systems. It can bring devastating firepower down on any medium sized vessel. The recharge rate is slower than a standard laser gun, meaning smaller and more maneuverable craft can evade the shots. But beware the opposing fighter if the pilot of the M-1 is a good shot as the turbo-laser can do major damage if it scores a direct hit on a fighter. Typically, one shot is enough to destroy an A-Wing and even an X-Wing with its shields fully charged will feel the impact. The ion engines of this TIE are also more powerful than that of a standard issue TIE Fighter, meaning this ship is also slightly faster.

Quick action by Rebel Alliance forces from the Mon Calmari cruiser Liberty resulted in the destruction of the research facility used by director Lenzer to build and test the new TIE/Experimental prototypes. But Imperial Admiral Zaarin was still able to salvage data from the station's memory core fragments in the debris field, which he then used to aid in creation of the TIE/Defender. It is unknown if any other TIE M-1s were deployed operationally in other sectors as there have been no other sightings of the TIE Bizarro since then.

The model is based on a design that first appeared in the LucasArts X-Wing Alliance computer game in a campaign called Secret Weapons of the Empire. My back story is based on the events of that campaign. My model was also inspired by a similar conversion of a 1/72 FineMolds TIE Fighter that appeared in the pages of Max Modeller magazine last year. For my model, the two cockpit balls and single solar array came from an AMT/Ertl 1/48 two TIE Fighter set which I had laying around.

The most time consuming part of the conversion was modifying the solar wing's outer hub to accommodate the second cockpit ball strut. It took a lot of test fitting to make sure the new strut would fit properly. Before the unused wing struts were removed, I back filled the balls and struts with Apoxie Putty to fill the resulting holes after my Dremel made short work of the struts. Two detail pieces cut from another set of outer wing hubs were attached to the outside of each cockpit ball.

The turbo-laser cannon was made with brass tubing and the barrel mount was made with an engine bell from a 1/144 Revell Space Shuttle and parts from a 1/48 Monogram AH-64 kit. To fit the cannon barrel and mount to the cockpit ball, I used a slightly modified rear hatch from an MPC TIE Interceptor snap kit. Color used for the model was Testors Model Master Light Gray sprayed over a black base coat to help accent the detail on the model a bit better (in a similar manner to a wash). Plus, the solar wing was a lot easier to mask and paint this way.

The cannon barrel on my fighter seems a little longer than the one on the polygon mesh in the game, but I feel it gives my model a more menacing look. I also made one other change as the TIE M-1s in the game were remotely piloted craft. Since I prefer my fighters to be manned, I have a TIE pilot in the cockpit (even if you can't see it). Overall, this was a fun project to do and I learned a lot along the way to help me with my next kitbash project.

Image: Front view

Image: Left/rear

Image: Menacing, indeed

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This page was last updated 31 January 2011. © 2011 Starship Modeler