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1/288 STS-1 on Mobile Launch Platform and Crawler-Transporter

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By David Hanners

Here is my build of Alfonso X. Moreno's model of STS-1, the first flight of the Space Shuttle, sitting atop the Mobile Launch Platform and the Crawler-Transporter. The models come in 1/144th scale, but I resized them to 1/288th. It seems a good scale for my limited amount of display space. In 1/288th scale, the model stands 9¾ inches (25cm) tall, is 6 inches (15cm) wide and 6 5/8ths inches (17.5cm) deep.

Shuttle Stack:

A goodly amount of scratchbuilding and deviation from Alfonso's instructions went into building Columbia. I beefed up the payload bay box with strips of balsa to keep it straight and study, and the internal bulkheads were backed with cardboard. The nose involved a lot of work to get it to shape. The rest was built pretty much stock; there is a lot of pre-shaping involved to get a good fit. I beefed up the OMS pods with internal bulkheads. The kit Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) were used stock, but I substituted Alfonso's one-piece SSME bases for the more detailed (and complex) bases that come with the MARs Center/Fortezza shuttle; they come at 1/100th scale so they were shrunk to fit. These SSMEs actually gimbal.

The External Tank body was built stock, but I added plumbing, wiring, cable trays and scratchbuilt the Orbiter Attachment Fittings and other details. I dry-brushed the ET's surface with white paint to replicate the rough and patchy look of paint over the spray-on insulation. (The ETs on the first two shuttle flights were painted white. By STS-3, the paint was deemed unnecessary added weight, giving rise to the orange tanks we saw for the rest of the program.)

The Solid Rocket Boosters were built pretty much stock, except I added joint and stiffening ring detail from thin strips of white and black card. I scratchbuilt the cable tunnel down the sides, and I added detail to the lower skirts, including the structure for the booster hold-down posts, the thermal curtains and the separation motors.

Mobile Launch Platform: A goodly amount of deal of detail was added to the MLP, including plumbing, Side 1 deck detail, side detail, railings and other bits. (I had originally added scratchbuilt Sound Suppression Water System, only to discover that the SSWS plumbing wasn't added to the MLP until after STS-1. So I had to rip it out and touch up the deck. You can never do too much research....)

Crawler-Transporter: As with the MLP, detail was added to the C-T, particularly laser-cut railings for the walkways that surround the vehicle. Other scratchbuilt bits were added.

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Last updated on 13 April 2021.