Colonial Viper Mk.II
1:32 Scale Revell
The opening of the 2003 BSG mini series establishes that the fifty year old Battlestar Galactica is soon to be decommissioned and is in the process of being turned into a flying museum and historical teaching facility. Her starboard flightpod has been sealed and converted into a museum exhibit filled with relics of the first Cylon war, which ended some 40 years previously. When the Cylons launch a sudden, surprise attack on the colonies, the majority of Galactica’s frontline Viper Mk.VII fighters are destroyed by Cylon Raiders. Through the use of a virus, the Cylon craft render the Colonial computer controlled fighters helpless and they are picked off at will.
With no other viable fighter cover available, the Galactica is forced to rely on an older form of technology to provide fleet protection. On display on the landing deck of the starboard flightpod are 2 squadrons of veteran Viper Mk.II fighters. They are swiftly moved over to the port hanger deck (the starboard launch bay having been turned into a museum gift shop) and are swiftly reactivated, rearmed and fuelled, ready for battle. When an in-coming Cylon attack force is detected, heading towards Galactica, the old fighters are launched to provide cover.
Armed with two wing mounted cannons and with the ability to carry conventional or nuclear missles on two underwing hard points, the Viper MK.II’s proved themselves in the first Cylon war. Now considered obsolete, they lack the sophisticated computer controlled flight systems of the modern MK.VII counterpart. This proves to be their greatest strength, however. Thanks to it’s analogue systems and lack of networked computer control, the Mk.II Viper is invulnerable to the Cylon virus which has managed to disable virtually every other piece of modern Colonial hardware.
After repeated heavy action, the Viper MK.II’s go from pristine museum exhibits to heavily scored and scarred workhorses, that are constantly beaten, damaged, patched up and returned back into action again. They remain as the Galactica’s main frontline fighter right up until the end, with the final ship to be launched from Galactica being a MK.II piloted by Admiral Adama.
The third of Revell’s Nu BSG kits is the series hero fighter craft, the Viper MK.II. Once again, the plastic components originate from the Moebius Models kit that was released a few years ago. Inside the end opening box, we find 49 parts moulded in white plastic, a sprue of clear components containing 4 pieces and a 2 part resin pilot figure. Construction is laid out in 25 steps, in Revell’s usual instruction sheet format and the final 2 stages deal with paint and decal application. As with the other 2 releases from the series, this kit supplied decal sheet is more comprehensive than the one found in the original Moebius kit, but more of that later.
The first stage of construction deals with the underside of the fuselage and straight away, you must decide if you’re going to do your Viper with the landing gear down, or with skids up. The lower fuselage belly pan is a single part moulding and we are supplied with optional open or closed gear doors. The closed ones simply slot in place from the inside of the lower hull, whereas the open doors locate from the outside, with integrally moulded L shaped brackets to secure them in position. If you are building the kit with the gear retracted, then you can skip the next 3 steps, because they deal with the undercarriage legs. Each unit is a 4 piece assembly. The main leg is split in 2 halves, which locate onto the skid with a separate circular pivot. Each unit has a fair amount of detail and appears to be pretty accurate to the full-size props used in the series. There is a small amount of flash around the edges, where the two halves of the mould have met, but a scrape with a knife should take care of it nicely.
We then move onto the cockpit and thankfully, we have a much better appointed office than the one found in the Viper Mk.VII kit. The main tub is moulded with the side consoles and seat, in place. We have 2 separate sidewalls, which lock into place on some hefty locating tabs. The instrument panel has an upper display added, along with a clear part to represent the main Dradis screen, which is useful if you want to light it up. The consoles feature some basic raised panels and switches, but some careful work with a fine paint brush should reward you with a decent looking tub. Should you not fancy that though, Revell have included a mass of little panel, dial and placard decals to help spice the cockpit up. The tub has no less than 13 to apply on the consoles, 2 more to use on each sidewall and a further 13 for the forward instrument panel, including a nice looking Dradis display screen. Most of these decals look great, but I do think numbers 56 and 57 look just a tad too gaudy for my tastes, so I’d probably paint those panels myself. The final decal in this area is the distinctive yellow and black stripe marking, which goes on the seat, behind the pilot’s head. Speaking of the pilot, the figure included with the kit is a very nice resin 2-part job, which features some lovely moulded detail (like the holstered sidearm) and really captures the look of the Colonial Viper Jockey. The right arm is a separate piece, which has the control column moulded into the pilots hand. It locates very securely with a square peg, into the torso. Once painted up in that unique pearlescent green-gold colour, the completed figure drops into the pit. There is a separate control stick supplied, should you not want to include the figure, however. The last item is a little throttle lever which locates into the left hand console. The completed unit can then be set aside, while we move onto the wings and tail.
The tail fin is moulded conventionally, in 2 halves, as are the wings. Each unit simply clips together with pin locators, although Revell point out in the instructions that in order to obtain the best fit, the inside surface of each wing half needs some mould release marks removed. Surface detail on the wings looks a little simplistic, but that is how they appear on screen after all, so it is authentic. The tail captures the chunky, mutilayered look very well and some washes should bring this detail out nicely.
With the flight surfaces complete, we move to the fuselage. The main bulk is moulded in 2 halves, split vertically. Into these halves, the cockpit tub locates securely with 2 large pins on either side, which should ensure the tub goes nowhere. Above the cockpit, the intake grille for the upper engine is cemented in place and a similar grille is also glued in at the nose. With that done, the 2 halves can be brought together and the Viper begins to take shape. The long, sleek, tapered snout has been captured very convincingly here. Detail wise, we have the recessed equipment bays on the sides, moulded into each half, which again look like they will take washes and weathering very nicely. Panel lines are at a minimum, just as they should be. The things that are missing though, are the banks of circular reaction control thrusters. To make up for their omission, Revell supply them on the decal sheet as black dots with silver outlines and they do look fairly good. I suppose you could use them as templates to drill out the ports, if you aren’t too keen on the decals, though.
We return to the belly pan, next. The rear gear legs are fitted in place from the inside, although this is skipped if your Viper will be in flight, obviously. The forward intake sections for the left and right engines, are moulded as one piece and this slots into place on the rear of the assembled fuselage section. The intakes themselves, have the fan blades for the atmospheric engines moulded in situ and once again, this detail matches what is seen on screen. The belly pan (either with or without gear) then attaches to the bottom of the fuselage. The forward landing leg can be fixed in place at this point or left until the end, depending on your preference.
The 2 wing mounted cannons are supplied as single piece mouldings. There is a mould seam to be cleaned up, running around the edges, but this shouldn’t prove too taxing. Their look could be improved by carefully drilling out the ends of the barrels, though. Once cleaned, they locate on to the underside of the wings with a couple of positive locating lugs. The completed wings then fix into place with the aid of some wide tabs, which lock into slots on the sides of the intakes and fix the wings to the correct angle, as well.
The centre, upper engine is tackled next. The Mk.II Viper has this engine partially exposed on the sides of the ship. This engine detail is represented in the kit with a 2 part moulding and it looks sufficiently busy enough. Looking at screenshots, there is some cabling or fuel lines that could be added, if you want to add a little more detail to this area, using lead wire, for example. With the engine halves together, step 20 has the word “TEST!” In bold black writing and it refers to the fit of the upper cowling over the engine. The cowling is supplied in left and right halves and each half also incorporates the rear section of the lower engine cowlings. These lower cowlings also feature cut-aways which expose some more engine detail and again, these could be dressed with some wiring, if required. Revell suggest test fitting the engine and cowling parts thoroughly, before committing glue to the mix. Once the cowlings are cemented together and fixed in place, the completed tailfin slots in from the rear and then the engine exhaust back plate can be added. This single piece includes all 3 burner cans and the centre detail area, in between. There is a nice amount of visual interest here, that appears very faithful to the original and is just crying out to be weathered up.
The crystal clear canopy is the last piece to add, once the frame has been painted. This should prove quite a simple job to mask up, with the frames being raised and very well defined. Lastly, one of the classic, 2 part Aurora style stands is included to display your Viper, if required. It is also moulded in clear and features an engraved pattern of planet Earth.
Colour call outs are supplied for Revell’s own paint range, as is the norm, but the scheme for this ship is nice and simple, being predominantly white or a dirty off-white, depending on how you want to finish it. The decal sheet is another lovely effort, which appears to be the work of Cartograf. The colours are bold, carrier film is to a minimum and the registry looks spot on. All the stripes are supplied, along with the codes and placards for a Viper belonging to Starbuck or Apollo, as well as all the stencil data markings and the yellow Galactica symbols for use on the wings, should you decide to paint the stripes on. There is a gold BSG-75 patch, along with silver “Viper MK.II” and “Battlestar Galactica” logos. The printed metallic effect on these is very impressive and will probably prove difficult to resist using them on your finished display.
In my opinion, this is the nicest of this initial batch of 3 Nu BSG kits from Revell. The Viper Mk.II is a very attractive subject, with great scope for weathering. The kit appears to be well engineered, with all those positive location aids helping to simplify construction and avoid as many pitfalls as possible, leaving the modeller with a great looking and fairly detailed model, with the minimum of fuss. At the current retail price, it also represents great value for money.