Brian Byrne's Federation-class Cruiser Conversion.

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By Brian Byrne - images & text © 2000

Scale: 1/537 - conversion for the ERTL Enterprise-A
Parts: 13 vacuformed styrene, plus instructions
MSRP: $14 USD , available from Sci Fi Spaceship Miniatures or Federation Models

[Top view]

The Federation Dreadnought conversion kit is by Sci Fi Spaceship Miniatures. The company released major Star Trek conversions and kits in vacuform in the early 90s, including the "Avenger" class (actually Miranda Class) USS Reliant, Oberth class USS Grissom, Constellation -class USS Stargazer and a Klingon Bird of Prey (which could actually be built with moving wings). All this was way before AMT ever released the Reliant and Excelsior injection kits.

I got my conversion kit in '94 and only completed it in mid '95. Working on it on and off, it took me 6 months to put together.

For your money, the Dreadnought conversion kit comes with:

  • a new Bridge section that has 2 primary docking ports on the left and right,
  • a new and wider dorsal hull with photon torpedo launchers,
  • warp nacelle,
  • dorsal pylon for warp nacelle,
  • [Rear] section of the secondary hull,
  • three magnatomic amplification crystals and
  • horizontal pylons for the existing warp nacelles.

The vacuform parts are pretty good and sharp in features. The paneling matches the injection kit's original parts. My main worry was on the dorsal section - how would a vacuform part going to support the whole saucer section without dropping off?. I reinforced the section with milliput and scrap plastic before joining the two halves of the dorsal section. Same goes for the third nacelle pylon and the horizontal pylons.



A section of the secondary hull needs to be cut off to facilitate the new hull section that will hold the horizontal pylons. Again you'll notice the paneling sections are the same as the injection kits. With a little milliput to close the gaps and seams, you can't tell the difference.

Building the Constitution -class parts were pretty standard. You'll replace the bridge, dorsal section and pylons with the vacuform parts. Extra care is needed on the third vacuform nacelle. First of all, the thruster section on the winglets at the rear end of the nacelle are too small and it doesn't match the original kits. This is easily remedied. Cut a strip of styrene plastic and attach to the front of the winglet, then use another piece of styrene to join to the back of the nacelle. Use a little milliput to fill up the empty space in the triangle and flatten the top and bottom, then sand to flatten the surface to fit the other two nacelles.

[Shuttle, coming out]Another problem with the third warp nacelle appears at the front at the warp drive intercooler. The vacuform part comes as a flat piece at the front and doesn't fit the other two original nacelles. Two rectangular holes need to be cut in the front of the nacelle and some milliput or styrene used to make the recessed areas of the warp drive intercooler that stretches up to the magnatomic amplification crystal at the top of the nacelle. Once the two halves of the nacelles were joined and the recessed areas built, I constructed the "T" section at the front of the nacelle and attached the magnatomic amplification crystal.

I also had difficulty with getting all the nacelles parallel and straight with each other. Extra care and lots of trial and fitting was necessary to get the nacelles in the correct position.

Joining the saucer section to the secondary hull took a bit of effort to get it level with the two side warp nacelles. Lots of gaps at the impulse drive had to filled. I fashioned a little shuttlepod out of milliput and docked it at the engineering docking ring just for added detail.

[Top]Painting and Finishing

Painting the Dreadnought took a while. I basically referred to the Enterprise A for the color scheme. The base was a medium grey. The Aztec design took most of the time spent painting. I masked a lot of squares and rectangles and airbrushed a dark grey, then masked some more rectangles and airbrushed a lighter grey or white. I continued this all over the ship, saucer, hull, nacelle and pylons. At this point, I had a checkered-looking model with lots of light and dark squares on its hull. I then airbrushed the medium grey base color over the squares, merging the light and dark squares with the base color. Keep the base color in a thin layer and the Aztec paneling will start to blend in with the model.

[Top of Saucer]Decals I salvaged whatever could be used from the Enterprise kit. I then made my own by using Letraset rub-on text (Eurostile Fonts) onto a clear decal to for the ship's name. I also used Grey Wolf Star Trek decals for the numbers.

The completed model is quite impressive and, with Warp's Destroyed Enterprise, is the only other conversion kit that I know of that can be used with the Enterprise A injection kit.

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This page copyright © 2000 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 18 July 2000.