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Jim Kiker

Y-wing- 1/48 scale scratchbuild diary

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Hi all,

For various reasons I set this project aside back in the summer.  Then our photo sharing went belly up.  I have gotten back into the model and I have Flickr for my photo sharing.  I will be re-posting the earlier pictures over the next few days and updating the text a bit in light of the long break in time. 

Thanks, Jim


The Original Start:

I have wanted a model of a Y-wing for some time.  In my mind, the Y-wings are rather like the F-4 Phantom family- reasonably fast, rugged, multi-mission, and they were around for a long time.  As I thought about a Y-wing model, some baseline goals became apparent.

1.       I wanted one in 1/48 scale

2.       I wanted a model of a “real” Y-wing, not a model of a filming model

3.       I wanted the ship to be in flight

4.       I wanted to install lighting (a first for me)

5.       The cockpit needed to be deep enough to take a full pilot figure, and while I was at it, I wanted to make a two seater- the Guy In Back should be a WSO however, not a gunner.  We’re going to be carrying guided proton bombs as well as the proton torpedoes on a regular basis with this baby!

I started by assembling as much information as I could find and drew up some plans.  I found a few pictures of a Y-wing filming model from ROTJ from the studio with a tape measure in the image; I resized them to appear in half-studio size on my computer screen and that gave me a length of a little under 14” for a 1/48 scale model.  I used the images to make basic measurements and drew up a set of plans from which to build the model.  I began collecting bits and pieces, lighting parts, and interesting bits from many sources about three years ago.  I found some nylon plumbing pipe which would become the engines, and a wooden egg which I could use to vacuform the front engine domes and the vectral housings at the rear of the ship.  Without those elements, there is no Y-wing!  Now how can I build this beast?  I soon decided that creating open bulkheads, ribs, and stringers (following traditional aircraft construction) would not be as robust as I wanted.  Based on goal #2 above, I chose to build a ship with the “guts” on the inside; remember that the filming models were solid shapes with the “guts,” or greeblies, on the outside. But even if you want to show interior spaces you still need a robust model.  In reviewing the various Y-wing pictures on-line there appears that there could be a central tub in the fuselage; see the pic below.  They show the top edge of the tub shape I am talking about.


Y- fuse tub 4


My buddy Boz mentioned the idea of making something like the tub found in F1 racing cars, and that sparked the idea of having a central tub running from one end of the fuselage to the other.  I added a series of solid bulkheads plus quarter-round pieces to give greater gluing surface, and in the end I got a fairly robust tub which I could add details to, both inside and outside the tub itself.




More to come!



Edited by Jim Kiker
Update text and images.

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Here is Part 2:


The next question was, how to build in some strength into the engines and the main wing?  My choice was to use brass “C” section shapes for the wing spars, and run them through the engines out to the skin from one side to the other, passing through the fuselage tub.  The problem is, how to have sheet styrene, nylon tube, and brass structural shapes play together?  One answer- wrap the engine tubes and brass shapes in styrene sheet; virtually everything else can then be glued together with Tamiya’s Extra Thin cement.  The engines got wrapped with Evergreen .020” thick ribbed sheet on the front and rear, and the main part of the tube got the same treatment only with the ribs on the inside (this made the center pieces easier to bend around the engine tubes and glue them up with CA glue).  One of the vectral struts will later cover all those joints- they are all in one line.  Alas, I could not get the ribs to show on the front and rear pieces of the sheet plastic now on the right engine.  Too late now to try again!




Before beginning to add “equipment” into the tub, I had to figure out how the lighting might work, at least to route the wires around.  I settled on using a 1/8” RCA plug which will be in the top of the stand with wires running down under the base.  These will be connected to a wall wart power plug, with a switch to select Off or Wall Power. I decided to run the wires out to the engines in two tubes, in front of the front spar and behind the rear spar.  The wires to the cockpit to light some fiber optics would run to the front of the model inside the tub.  In reality, they run up, over, and down below various bits, and I hid them as much as possible.  The female part of the plug is mounted on the bottom of the fuselage.  Part of the reason for this was to allow me to take the model off its stand so I can transport it easier.  This should take a great deal of stress off the components compared to having the model permanently mounted on a stand.




Here is a shot of the tub with some “equipment”  ready to be installed.  Since the model has auto cylinder heads near the top rear of the fuselage, I thought it would be clever to use a 1/25 scale engine underneath them, and then hide it among other bits and pieces.  In all honesty, I was too clever since this required more work to route the wires and get them all soldered together than if I had simply made a shelf and lower front piece for the cylinder heads to sit on.  Learn from my mistakes, you should!




While this image is a bit dark, you may also notice that the brass spars have been clad in sheet plastic and mounted into the tub.  There is also a thin strip of plastic on the "back" inside of each spar; how else would I glue the ribs in?  Stay tuned...

Edited by Jim Kiker
New photo sharing links

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Very nice work so far. I've always had a soft spot for the Y-wing. First in a series maybe? Would love to see you take on A-wing and B-wings too!

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Hi James,


Well, I've built a modified X-wing and a scratch Headhunter, and now this.  But I've also always liked Ralph McQuarrie's concept A-wing so we shall see.


And now on to Part 3!


Looking at the tub, there are a couple of large projecting sponsons that hang off each side of the fuselage, one behind the “neck” and one at the rear.  I chose to cut and glue up a base shape made of balsa or bass wood, then cover the shape in .015” plastic sheeting.  Each facet of these pieces got covered, gaps were filled, and things sanded into shape.




There is also a complex group of shapes on the bottom of the neck.    I note with some bemusement that the lower neck piece has five sections of venting and wound up needing 80 pieces to complete, including five wood pieces each covered in plastic sheet.  Here is the basic piece assembled; it measures 1 and 3/4 inches long in reality.




And here it is after paint.  Some additional weathering was added later on. The louvered section in the front-center of the unit (upper right in this picture) represents the controls for the anti gravity wave generator.  They work like a Venetian blind, allowing the waves to be directed downwards, or down and to the rear, for additional thrust; there will be an additional unit in each wing before too long.





With most of the interior of the fuselage filled, I tackled adding “guts” into the open spaces between the wing spars.  There are several ribs on each side of the wings, and I made assemblies that mimic the shapes on the original models- only they are smaller and fit into the wings, not on top of them.




You can also see that I've added the wiring for the engines running out along the spars.  I engineered the ribs and equipment so they interlock with slots and tabs, and there is one piece of piano wire running through most of the "guts" pieces; all added to give these pieces a little extra strength.  Some of the equipment in the fuselage is just sitting in position here, such as the top of the droid socket in the neck with the R2-D2 unit adding a little splash of color.



Edited by Jim Kiker
Images re-posted.

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This becomes more interesting with each post. Well done thus far, I will be following your progress with interest.

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Let's move on to Part 4 then.  As I have thought back over the process of this build I find I went back and forth from one area to another, usually when I hit a obstacle that I could not immediately solve, or I just got tired of working on a particular task.  I hope you'll want to hang with me while I do the same here.  With the basic engine shapes done and work progressing on the interior spaces of the wings, the next task was to work up the exhaust sections for the engines.


I started with a couple of resin intakes for an old Meteor project for the exhaust shrouds.  They are not quite as streamlined as the ones often seen on Y-wing models but I liked the shape. Remember too that the ribbed section at the rear of the engines extends past the rear end of the tank's cylinder; I found some acrylic domes from a model train store which looked like the ends of a pressure vessel (think tank cars); Luckily I found the domes in exactly the size needed to fit into the open rear end of the engine bodies.  I used 1/2" plastic tubing for the core engine exhaust piece.




I made some exhaust pieces similar to the studio models’ heat sinks to sit in the exhausts.  They were made from two sizes of plastic tubing with sheet plastic spacers glued in between.  For the interior side of these pieces, I cut a circle of clear plastic, sanded both sides to provide some diffusing of the LED lights, and painted a translucent ring of dark red around the edge.  The idea was to replicate the look of the Y-wing exhausts in the movies- white with a ring of reddish color around the edges.  In the picture below, note that the finished "heat sink" shape will sit on top of the partially-painted assembly on the left, and the Meteor intake slips down on top of that.  When done, these units just fit into the outer edges formed from the ribbed sheet and butt up against the edges of the original tubes.




And here are the finished exhaust assemblies.




That's all for today chaps; next time I'll tackle the "T" struts that support the rear maneuvering assemblies.


Cheers, Jim

Edited by Jim Kiker

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Lovely work.

They look great.

Meatboxes in space!


(BTW, I've run out of likes today!)

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Spectacular. I love watching a scratch build project come together especially as I mmyself struggle to cut plasticard in a straight line, never mind complex shapes. 

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Good evening all,


We are up to part 5 tonight, and I'll say in advance that there will be lots of text in this one.  As a relative noob to scratchbuilding, I have probably written too much explanation, but I do hope it will spark some curiosity and encourage others to give it a whirl.


Another area of concern for structure comes in the “T” shaped struts that run out behind the engines to the vectrals.  Most models of the Y-wing use plastic struts for this; they are easy to work and glue up, but most pictures of Y-wing models also show droop in these struts over time.  I really wanted to find a way to get beyond that issue.  Eventually I decided to use 1/8” brass T shapes; the challenge was to figure out how to mount the brass struts to the engines.


I found miniature screws, washers, and nuts in a model train shop and the “great idea” lightbulb went off above my head.  My buddy Boz soldered two flat headed machine screws to each brass strut as you can see on the right in the picture below.  I drilled and tapped two holes for each strut in the engines, fitting and adjusting each one.  I added some epoxy to the flat of the “T” of the struts and secured them on the engines with miniature washers and nuts from inside the tubes.  One of the struts covers up the seams from the plastic sheets wrapped around the basic tubes of each engine.  Train hobby stores hold a wealth of miniature stuff like that, plus all sorts of shapes and pieces that can be used in Sci Fi modeling.




As you can also see in the above picture, I sawed off the vertical piece of the “T” at the end of the struts and gently bent the ends down to match the vectral rings; I will make the detail pieces to fit around and over these tabs once the completed vectrals are glued in place. 


From my earlier planning I knew that I wanted the scoop-like pieces at the rear edges of the engine domes to actually look like scoops, and it was natural to think of the tapering tubes as collectors for whatever stuff passes into those scoops.  The scoops were pretty simple; I started with a “C” shaped piece of Evergreen stock and cut eight pieces to length.  I sanded the C shape’s sides so they taper from front to back when placed on the domes.  I taped the dome in place on each engine and glued the scoops in place.  I then cut reinforcing plates to go on each side of the scoop from .010” plastic sheet, and later added a piece in the scoop as well.  In the picture below you can see one of the washers and nuts on the inside of the left hand engine.  On the right, you can see the scoops on the engine dome and the "collector boxes" straddling the struts; more coming on those...




Although this picture is  a bit washed out, you can also see some of the added details added to the engines on the outside.  I did not replicate everything you can see on a 1/24 scale model, but I think it remains in character.


Given that I now have the scoops done, how can I fit the tapering tubes and the housings that direct the flow into the engines?  After some thought, I found some plastic sprue from a left-over kit of the right diameter and cut sixteen pieces to about 1-1/2” long.  The finished length of these pieces was to be ¾”.  Each piece was chucked into my hobby drill and shaped into a taper with a sanding stick and smoothed out.  The tapered ends were then cut so that the diameter of the end matched the height of the back end of the scoops.  And then came the hard part.  I needed to make three rings (three being an arbitrary number in this case) of something to fit over the tapering tube.  I finally chose to try cutting thin strips of Tamiya tape, wrapping a piece around the tube and trying to stretch it a little to make the ring straight.  Once the tape was in place, I could apply a tiny drop of CA glue over the tape and let it sink in to set the tape permanently.  Times three rings per tube, times sixteen tubes.  How to make them all the same, or even nearly so?  Answer: make a little jig to hold all sixteen tubes in place, spaced apart so I could mark the position of each strip of tape and drape a narrow strip of tape over all the tubes at one time.  Then all I needed to do was cut the tape in between each tube so I could roll it around that tube and add the CA.  And even though the tape didn’t stick all that well, I found with patience that I could pretty consistently get two layers of tape in all three positions on each tube.  I quickly realized that I could only do a couple of tubes at a time before my eyes started crossing; needless to say that they took a while.  Here is my temporary jig in action.




Once the rings were in place I cut the tubes to length, fitting them one at a time.


The one set of pieces left to make were the “collector boxes” at the back end of each pair of intake tubes.  Strangely, on almost all the Y-wing model pictures I have seen including the ones of the filming miniatures, those little boxes straddle the T strut but do NOT extend down to the surface of the engine.  They just hang out there.  Well, I made intakes and then I made ducts, so these collector boxes need to straddle the strut but actually mate up to the engine, now don’t they?


If I had the materials and expertise, I would have made up one collector and cast copies.  But since I do not have that knowledge, another way had to be found.  I eventually figured out that I could make the box to the height and width I needed, but make a long piece of it and cut the final pieces to the right length.  After gluing up some plastic stock to make the basic shape of the box I wound up with a piece about 2-1/2” long.  I cut a slot lengthwise in the “bottom” of the assembly to straddle the T strut.  I also cut a shallow channel along the bottom of the piece to allow the sides of the box to fit over the "bottom of the T shapes and rest on the engine’s surface.  Finally, I cut the individual boxes to length.  It was a little like cutting a slot into a length of salami, turning the log so the slot faces down, and then cutting it into slices.  The finished collectors were glued in place at the necessary length back from the front edges of the engines and the tubes were glued in place.  Wow, just writing this down makes me tired!


Here is a shot of one of the engines in dark primer.  I've tried this once before with mixed results, but I am after a more worn vehicle than I usually build.  At least you can see the intake tubes and collector boxes, and the added surface detail shows to good effect as well.




The finishing of these engines started with thin coats of my base light grey; with the very thin paint the darkened edges of much of the surface detail was maintained.  I masked and painted the front ribbed sections, but I got them too dark initially.  I mixed a drop or two of base paint in my airbrush cup with a healthy dose of thinner and lightly sprayed the mixture all over the pieces; this is known as a filter and I successfully lightened up the front rib areas with it.  Rubbing down parts of the finish, taking paint off the front edges of the details, and using a wash- medium to darkish gray, not black- gave me a subtle worn look.  I also added pastels for exhaust and staining and used the dot color technique to give a few areas an off-grey bit of mottling.  With the front domes taped in place, here is the end result of a lot of try, retry, wash, dry, repeat...




There is a lot of work in these but I am really happy with them!


Cheers, Jim


Edited by Jim Kiker
Fixed a broken image and a few spelling fixes as well.

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19 hours ago, Jim Kiker said:

I am really happy with them!

So am I. They look great.

And the detailed build/paint explanations are much appreciated too.

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Hi all,


A big thank you to those of you who have replied; I appreciate the kind words all around.  Right then, off we go on Part 6.

I made a couple of different tries to make pieces for the nose of the ship and the canopies.  Some Y-wing models have a fairly flat lower nose, looking from front to back.  I discovered that this is one reason that fitting a full pilot in them is an issue- not enough depth.  Based on my overall goals for the build, I found that I could create a little more "headroom" in the cockpit by giving the bottom of the nose a compound curve (side to side and front to back); the top piece already has this type of curvature.  I tried to shape sheet plastic by hand but found it does not like to bend smoothly in two directions at room temperature.  In the end, I used basswood to carve a separate top and bottom; the amount of curve and the dimensions at the front of the nose section dictated two different pieces.  I then carved the canopy and made vacuform pieces. 

Here are the masters:




And here are the vacuformed pieces.




This picture shows the cutout for the cockpit; I placed the clear canopy in position and drew the outer shape, then marked the inside dimensions and cut the opening out.  I also added strips of .020" rod, inset enough from the outline of the canopy to butt up next to the inside of the canopy; this will give me some gluing surface to work with when the time comes.

The lower nose has openings for the proton torpedoes.  The openings are there for tubes for the weapons, so I laid out where each tube would be placed, made the cut-outs, and glued plastic tubing into the lower nose piece.  This took a lot of trial and error, plus a lot of filling and sanding to achieve the final shape.  I painted the interior of the tubes black and glued in a piece of sprue to simulate the little torpedoes; if you shine a light in there you might just see them- but mainly, there is a real tube there just as a “real” Y-wing would have.  I spent some time thinking about the relationships between the locations for the cockpit tub, the two laser cannons, and the torpedo tubes. Based on the Incredible Cross Sections images for the Y-wing, there is room for the cannons to run just outside the lower cockpit tub, and the tubes for the torpedoes are just outside that.  I was quite pleased to find this is possible even though it is not obvious in the completed model, nor will anyone else even notice; but I know there is a workable spacing of components in there!  Here is a picture I took much more recently; you can see the torpedo tube from the inside.  The vertical pieces are part of the original tub for the vehicle; the cockpit tub will sit inside of that.




Finally, here is a shot of the underside of the entire fuselage.  You can see the torpedo tube openings and scribing on the lower nose.  Also note the lower assembly I built for the neck section; it is not glued in but I wanted to include it for this picture.  I am working on the rear section of the fuselage (where the hyper motivator sits), then it's back to the nose to get the cockpit finished and the nose itself put together.




Cheers all, Jim





Edited by Jim Kiker
Re-posted images.

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