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Big Navy Salute: John W. Young, Apollo 16, April 20, 1972

[Proudly Sponsored by BLAP! Models]

Sponsored by BLAP! Models

by Jeff Goldader

Scale: 1/12

This scratchbuilt, 1/12 scale figure represents Apollo 16 commander John W. Young, giving a “big Navy salute” in response to a request from lunar module pilot Charlie M. Duke on April 20, 1972. My model shows Young wearing an Apollo A7-LB EMU (Extravehicular Maneuvering Unit).

I recently built the Revell 1/12 Gemini astronaut, and was saddened that there aren't other 1/12 scale astronauts available. After much whining, I decided to make one myself-the first time I've ever sculpted a figure. (Why start with something simple when you can do something stupidly difficult instead?)

The armature was made from a wire hanger, in three pieces held together with plumber's epoxy putty (arms, torso/pelvis/left leg, and right leg). This was covered with the main body, made with Sculpey III. Those choices of materials were made to save money. The outer coating was Aves epoxy sculpt. The creases in the suit were made with a pointed clay-shaping tool.

The backpack (PLSS) was made from styrene card, cut to shape, with square tubing at the inside corners to hold the sides square. Blueprints are available at Karl Dodenhoff's website myspacemuseum.com. The pack was built so I could insert a clear plastic rod through the bottom to recreate Young in mid-leap during the “big Navy salute.” Once the basic construction was finished, I covered the outside with a thin layer of Aves to replicate the protective fabric.

The figure was painted with white primer from a rattle-can. I coated it with Future, then applied washes and dry-brushings to grime it up. Details were picked out mostly with Tamiya acrylics, though the umbilical connectors were with Testors enamel metallic red and blue. I painted the visor using craft acrylics, trying to match the detail in a high-res version of the principal reference photo (AS16-113-18339).

The hoses and umbilicals were made from 0.032” wire bent to shape, wrapped with masking tape, then covered with Aves. The suit-end connectors were made with plastic 0.02” styrene discs made with a leather punch set, then drilled out with a small bit in a pin vise, plus small bits of tubing.

The decals were home-made using Testor's inkjet decal film, sealed with Krylon UV Matte. I did the best I could to replicate the actual text using scans and hand-drawn copies of the instructions from various web sites, especially Karl Dodenhoff's. I even found the EVA cuff checklists online! Though the Testors film took the ink well, applying the decals was a nightmare; the Testors film didn't stick well at all, and it reacts poorly to Testor's own decal solvent (the decals curled up like dead leaves). Eventually, I got them on, though for a few I was so desperate I stuck them on with thinned white glue.

I made the base by first painting a little pine plaque black, then masking off the edges and putting ordinary drywall spackle on the central part. I stuck a few small rocks in the spackle while it was wet. I then coated the spackle with thinned white glue, and poured some playground sand over it. I sprayed the completed “lunar soil” with Krylon UV Matte, then airbrushed it with a couple of grays, spraying again with Krylon to seal things. Unable to find a simple clear rod to support Young, I used a window blind rod from the local hardware store. The flag was very simple to make. The flagpole is just 1/8” aluminum tube, and the crossbar is a small tube I found in the parts drawer. The flag itself is a US flag printed on adhesive paper (regular and reversed, to get both sides) then the two sides were stuck together. The clear rod and flagpole were set into holes drilled into the base using epoxy.

For my first attempt at making a figure from scratch, I was very pleased with the result. I had no idea that I could do this. Don't say you can't make your own figures, unless you've at least tried! I could've done better with the painting and the decals, but the level of detail is about as good as I could manage, given the available reference material and my own skill level. Just as I finished taking the pictures, I realized I need to build a geologist's tool to put in Young's right shin pocket. Ah, well. Maybe next week.

Image: Basic figure in Sculpey; helmet and early backpack are also shown

Image: Figure with outer layer of Aves-looks much better!

Image: Head and hands where they belong

Image: PLSS backpack pinned on using aluminum tubing and epoxy

Image: The best decal, the mission patch, is mostly hidden by the EMU's control unit

Image: Raw components for the umbilicals: Aves-coated wire, plastic tubing, and 0.02” thick plastic discs

Image: The suit end of one of the umbilicals

Image: Front view

Image: Left side

Image: Right side

Image: Rear, showing backpack

Image: Top view

Image: Close-up of visor

Image: Checklist-copies of actual pages

Image: Umbilicals attached

Image: Boot soles

Image: The base; I made the footprints using the figure's feet, before the spackle had dried

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This page was last updated 31 July 2009. © 2009 Starship Modeler