Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Whiterook

Battlestar Galactica Colonial Recon Viper

Recommended Posts

Back around 2013, I decided to build a Colonial Viper, issued by Revell as a 1/32 scale 30th Anniversary re-issue of the original series style. However, I decided to go off the show canon, and make it a Battlestar Galactica Colonial Recon Viper. (Disclaimer: This is the build log I am recreating concurrently, for my wargaming forum...which also has a small model building section...so I hope that's OK.)

 

Colonial-Viper-30th-Anniversary-Box-Art.

 

The Colonial Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica is one of my all-time favorite space fighters; though, it was also capable of atmospheric flight and ground landings! And looks absolutely plausible for flight, whether in space or over a distant alien planet. It's a sleek and sexy craft! It also screams 'fighter' to me. It's been updated with newly tooled details molded in light gray plastic, and clear parts.....far surpassing it's predecessor of many space moons ago. This kit comes with a detailed cockpit interior and pilot figure, which is an added bonus to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found that the kit doesn't have a huge amount of parts. I guess I was getting so used to building more complex pieces with tons of tiny little bits, so this really threw me a bit on first inspection, wondering how much of a challenge this kit would present, but in the end, it actually proved to be a satisfying build, overall. Being a Revell kit, perhaps this is more of a starter kit? But the addition of scratchbuilt extras and moving away from the kit out of box and tailoring it to a specific purpose brought the model to life for me!

As mentioned, what I ended up going to was straying decades before the events in the original Battlestar Galactica series canon, and modeling after the First Cylon War; a Colonial Marines Fleet Patrol (MFP) Recon Viper, Piloted by the intrepid, yet ruggedly handsome Captain Gallant ....inside joke. The MFP was a squadron of elite fighters based upon the new Battlestar Galactica, and served as recce deep in Cylon territory, which forced these birds to fly long sorties; fly in atmospheric low-level flight and duck & hide in asteroids and interstellar dust clouds; and well, just get the crap beat out of them. This means they were 'dirty birds' in more ways than one: Both in appearance, and in lethal stealth kills. These pilots were Top Guns of the Colonial Fleet....and damned good at Pyramid!

First up, the cockpit. Some decent detail in this clean-molded part. I painted it Semi-Gloss Black, and I planned to use primarily Tamiya Paints on this model. The 'metal' flat areas came out very nice and have a nice sheen to it; but the seat on the other hand is like one giant cushion. I don't remember what the original seat looked like in the show, but this is pretty cheesy...still, I worked with what I had, and jazzed up the seat with some scratchbuilding later, along with some brush painting enhancements! I added arm rest attachments which would also serve as extra instrumentation fodder. Then dryfitting the Pilot figure of Captain Gallant came next (and the sculpt on it was pretty basic), along with the framework of a new Pilot's Ejection Seat, which would be molded over with some air-drying clay later. I also wanted to make sure it'd fit inside the cockpit and canopy area, so I did a quick dryfit of that, as well.

Edited by Whiterook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So with the dryfit working, I started the sculpt of the ejection seat, and then some hoses...

 

v15.jpg

 

v16.jpg

 

v17.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, as you can see, this is all kinds of hybrid-thinking going on here! First, I had decided to make this an amalgam of the Mk I and Mk II Viper, and souped up to boot, so it is now a 'Hybrid Mk II'; and....

Second, I just HAD to make this a Recon Viper, complete with camera(s) on the bottom fusilage!

The original "Bucket Cockpit" of the original series, molded by Revell was just so boring, so I added some scratchbuilt customs to it! After adding on side-board instrumentation panels under the Pilot's arms, which fit more closely with a Mk II, and hence will compliment the new designation as a Recon Viper along with the camera and surveillance controls, this bird is now in uncharted territory! Since this is a Recon craft, the Pilot's compartment is a little cramped with all the added electronic gadgetry to accomplish it's missions! As this is a Recon craft, the Viper is subject to high-danger missions "up-close-and-personal-like" with the Cylon enemy, so there is a good chance that the Pilot need be prepared to exit the vehicle quickly, so a full modified ejection seat was scratchbuilt for the cockpit.

I built up the seat head-rest with Evergreen plasticard to a flat rectangular piece of plasticard. After glued and dried, I filed edges down, and then used two different micro files to create the head cushion shape, and then sanded smooth. Next, I saw the air-dry clay wasn't going to work well, so I changed course and applied some Squadron Putty to the seat back, which was sanded smooth later, along with the addition of hydraulics to the seat, as well as ejection pulls. Then some paint to the cockpit tub to trick her out!

 

v14.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Viper butt!!!!! Yup, you heard me! I said it. Time for some junk in the trunk!!!

The Viper butt was the only part of the model that was difficult to line-up seams...tricky stuff, actually. With so much junk in the trunk, misaligned seams would stick out like a sawed in half daggit!!

 

v02.jpg

 

The base thank goodness had a flat laying base to start with...

 

v01.jpg

 

And the upper-angled engine panel's and "wings" were 1-piece moldings; however, required substantial clamping after gluing.....

 

v03.jpg

 

v04.jpg

 

v05.jpg

 

v06.jpg

 

v07.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of this produced smooth seams, thank goodness! It's always sketchy when working with big, clunky parts that have round and odd angles...it seems to me that it leaves more room open for things just playing nicely with one another. But not all was well, as a few gaps caused some issues which necessitated some crafty Squadron Putty work....love that stuff! And then, it was time for a little construction, and a bit of paint on the interior continued from this point with the intake turbines.

v21.jpg

v22.jpg

v23.jpg

v24.jpg

v25.jpg

v26.jpg

v27.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next up, the Recon Vipers main rig....the camera and camera pod! I hit the old spare parts bin and found a few cockpit and gun turret spares and looked for the best pieces that would really represent what I wanted to accomplish. I hit it way lucky with the PERFECT item....I have no clue what it went to, but I was glad to have it......

 

v08.jpg

 

The perfect answer for the camera pod, but it needed a mounting plate of some sort, therefore the following out of a piece of plasticard...

 

v12.jpg

 

v13.jpg

 

Of course, what good is a camera pod without a camera!

 

v09.jpg

 

v11.jpg

 

v10.jpg

 

Gluing of the camera in place, at the right angle was likely the trickiest bit up to this point. And then building the box framework for the walled camera bay, which was painted black inside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, thanks for the likes, all!!! That's very much appreciated!!! 

 

Building the camera pod was fun...I knew I just wanted something a little different about this bird, beyond simply building a Viper exactly from the show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And of course, it has to go somewhere! I placed the camera bubble on the bottom of the Viper, looking for not only the most viable spot, but one that would look right. After picking the spot, I held the bubble in place and traced around it with a mechanical pencil, with a little help from my trusty painter's tape to hold the hull halves together. 

Cutting out the section from the hull was a bit tricky, as I wanted to go slow using my #11 hobby knife. It went fairly well and I achieved the exact size I wanted, but a corner split a tad; but no worries, as I'd just putty it later when I did the seams. I then did a dry-fit of the camera canopy bubble onto the bottom of the Viper, to make sure I had the hole exact.

I should mention that I also dryfitted the nose atmospheric air scoop in the front of the bird, to make sure there were no conflicting components, and there was plenty of room. I also want to point out that the camera canopy was not glued to the exterior hull, but rather had a base plate made for (as mentioned) it with plasticard, so the canopy was lowered into the bottom of the hull; the plate lying on the interior floor of the hull. I made a 'box', attached to the base plate and painted the interior black. I left the camera itself gray.

So, the underside looked like this...

v18.jpg

 

Edited by Whiterook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next up came the Main Atmospheric Scoop mounted in the nose.....

v19.jpg

v20.jpg

Next, it was back to work on the engines. As shown earlier, the top fin had been mounted to this point in the build, and the wings have added detail to be built on, but let me back track to that bloody fin first! The vertical fin was first glued together, and the fit was a little off and required some dedicated filing to even out, being careful not to take too much off to effect angles in an adverse way; and fortunately, only minor adjustments needed to be made, and therefore it all came out very well. You can see some of the unevenness on this next pic, prior to filing and sanding.....

v21.jpg

The fin mounts to this location, and another odd fit appeared, as there was a thruster clamp in the way, obviously missed as an obstacle in the design of the model. A little delicate filing and all was well......

v22.jpg

...so back to where we left of...the wing tips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next came the wing tops and the Kinetic Energy Cannons. The wing tops are gorgeous and really brought the back half of the birds' looks to life. The cannons fit like a glove but they required the most cleaning of pin marks and molding flash of any part on the kit thus far....so much so that my hand actually started to cramp up! But it was worth the effort, because they're a huge part of the 'look' of this bird. That little brush in the background, BTW, is a cast off makeup brush I got from my wife; it's a small little one and works great for small parts and hard-to-get areas!

v28.jpg

Here is an example of the small nub the cannon fits to.....

v29.jpg

v30.jpg

And assembled.....

v31.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After dryfitting the wing tops on the wing, I noticed the hole and join for the lower half of the ship and wing bottoms was visible and stuck out terribly. Bad design on this part of the kit. I added some Squadron Putty to the area, let dry, and then sanded it down. I wanted this to be finished and ready to go before I glue the wing tops on.....

v32.jpg

v33.jpg

So the main assembly of the Viper was seeing all the major components of the fuselage and engines come together, which only left the cockpit canopy and the stand to assemble. I completed worked on the top half of the wings, attaching them to the lower wings; along with a little more Squadron Putty added to seal up a nasty join. The wings married up nicely, with few gaps. I needed to do a little finish sanding to smooth them off a tad.

Also done was attaching the front fuselage to the rear engine/thruster section. This was a little more precarious, as the instruction gave no indication as to what adheres to what, so some eyeballing of the parts and guesstimation resulted in my slapping on some glue and hoping for the best; and luckily, I nailed it first time out! Now, it's starting to look like a Viper at that stage.....

v34.jpg

 

I LOVE that ejection seat! Of course, one could argue when it would be used. In my head, I am thinking on atmospheric sorties....a Viper Pilot would last 3 seconds out in space, in a wool coat over an unsealed cotton flight suit!

v35.jpg

v36.jpg

Those kinetic cannons look frakkin' AWESOME! I also really liked the way the camera bay turned out, and inspecting the craft from several angles, it looked like it was meant to be there....a good thing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next up... the Pilot's canopy, but there were problems with the dry-fit: The top thruster nacelle (in back of, and above the Pilot's shoulders) was elevated above the main (long) fuselage. This caused a nasty gap between the main interior cockpit and the canopy support to the rear of the Pilot. So the obvious solution was to cut down the rear of the clear plastic canopy section at the rear, which you can see here...

v37.jpg

v38.jpg

The ejection seat loops had to be moved forward a tad, as they became 'invisible' in the rear cockpit (or at least, they would after some paint went on the rear canopy). So to trim the back canopy down, I scored it with a craft knife, and then chipped pieces off with my sprue cutters. Worked well enough. 

v39.jpg

v40.jpg

 

Note that I painted the back support of the canopy, as it would be easier to do prior to assembly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After cleaning up the ragged edge of the clipped plastic (which is always a bit of a pain), it was time for a little paint before attaching. 

I decided to paint the inner portions of the thruster nacelles, and weather. The thought process was, it's naturally easier to paint the portions now, rather than trying to angling in with a brush later. This was another reason to paint the rear half of the canopy as well, done with "FolkArt Acrylic's" White. FolkArt Acrylics is super cheap in price (as well as quality), but remains a favorite of mine for certain paint application decisions. It goes on in few applications and can be somewhat bulletproof, for areas that need to look bulletproof!

It took several coats, which it typically is on this clear plastic. Later on, I would find that Future Acrylic floor polish makes this job much easier, for any acrylic paint applied to clear plastic.

Then it was simply a matter of gluing the canopy to the fuselage. With the canopy lying EXACTLY on the cockpit perimeter, it was preferable to glue plastic to plastic, as the canopy will get a little paint on the 'metal' frame later, with heavy weathering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next was cleaning up some panel lines....always fun. Actually, it is! Very Zen. Note that I usually would have used some Squadron Putty to get an ultra smooth 'seamless' look, but most of this area will either be covered with decal or heavy weathering, so all that was required was a nice smooth and even surface.

Next, taping! A little Painter's tape did the trick nicely...I love my Tamiya tape, but sometimes the expensive stuff takes a side seat to the cheapo stuff (Hey, I'm from New England...Frugal, remember?),. Also applied to the cockpit canopy and the camera canopy under the nose.

v41.jpg

v42.jpg

v43.jpg

Next up, some airbrushing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Initially, after having taped the clear parts, as shown above, I airbrushed the entire model with Tamiya Acrylics X-2 Gloss White.

But, I was being lazy on the cockpit canopy....I knew I should have masked off the canopy so that the 'frame' was exposed, so that I could airbrush it; but again, if you didn't catch it the first time...I was being lazy, and figured I'd hand paint it. Bad idea! After thinking about it a bit, and coming to the realization that hand painting clear plastic is a pain and a half (streaky at first, and having to build up way too many layers); plus, good luck getting even edges, even with a steady Artist's hand!!! 

Well, I came to my senses and, I re-masked the canopy....

v44.jpg

v45.jpg

v46.jpg

v47.jpg

My method on that canopy was simple: Rip a small piece of Painter's tape, and lay it straight edge up just past the molded canopy frame (the model's molded canopy has a raised frame, to be painted and look like the metal frame holding the glass panels in). Then, use a set of tweezers to make sure that edge is positioned right. Next, press down against the other edges slightly with my thumb fingernail to 'find' the valley outline; and then use a toothpick to press the tape into the frame inner face, getting a good strong and clean crease. Next, using an X-Acto craft knife with fresh #11 blade, score against the raised edge several times to cut through the tape in layers. Finally, back to the tweezers, grab a corner and hold the fulcrum of the cut with the toothpick and gently peel the unusable portions of the tape off.

v48.jpg

v49.jpg

And then re-airbrushed and..... the canopy.

v50.jpg

v51.jpg

Edited by Whiterook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now it was time for one of my favorite products....Future Acrylic! Unlike a lot of my modeling friends, I don't airbrush it on (maybe in the future...  <--- see what I did there?). I brush it straight on my kits with a 3/4 Artist Brush, and then let it sit overnight to cure. It looks like Hell at first application, but then overnight, the weight of the floor acrylic somehow breaks the tension and settles to a smooth finish. Just brilliant stuff!!!

I always use this stuff for decals, and especially when I start the weathering process. I'll lay a coat of Future either just on the areas that need the decals, and when cured, lay the decals; or I'll do the whole model and lay cure, and they lay decals....I just follow my gut on it, dependent on the model and amount of decals to go on.

As for the kit:  I know one of the effects I wanted on the weathering was to chip the framework of the canopy. Then, dirty the bird up; paint the thrusters and exposed wiring/pipework; chip up the 'paint' of the decal stripes; some burn marks from energy canon hits. I wanted this Viper used and abused; an on the line Bad Bird. The thrusters need some carbon marks, and the kinetic cannons need some burn marking. Of course, hydraulic oil is a must!!! And I still needed to figure out what to do with the actual engine thrusters in back, with those clear plastic inserts.

BTW...at this stage, all I could think was, how much it looks like Apollo and Starbuck's original series Vipers after meeting the Beings of Light!! WHITE! Remember how, even their Frakking uniforms turned white!??!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now she looks fairly, 'factory fresh' at the moment, but that would be changing in short order, with oil washes (my first attempt at full blown oil paint washes), details, and then some chalk pastels.

As mentioned previously, I am going my own way with this Colonial Viper, and Galactica purists would probably try and shoot me with a Blaster for this. Their issue...not mine. 

This is a Recon Viper from the early-service Battlestar Galactica, during the First Cylon War. It's part of Colonial Marines Fleet Patrol Squadron, Viper 3, commanded by Captain Gallant. Yup, I made myself a part of Battlestar Galactica lore!!!!! This is what she looks like factory fresh......

 

v52.jpg

v54.jpg

....yup, you gotta love Blue Tack and Cat Food Cups for modeling projects!!!

She bears the Galactica colors, and squadron/plane designation. The Pilot name and rank is below the cockpit; there's a Rescue pull handle and designation sign, along with a triangular warning sign that the Viper is ejection seat equipped, with canopy firing mechanisms....all of which that didn't come with the model kit. The main intakes have 'Danger' signs. And you can just make out caution signs above the side nose fuselage mechanics bay.

The decals for the 'Captain Gallant' signs were made from the Pilot decals that came with the kit, chopped up to form my name, and the 'Captain' from Apollo's. The rest of the decals were leftovers from an RF-4B Phantom jet build. 

Edited by Whiterook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My call sign 'Ol Bullet is painted on the nose.....

 

v53.jpg

 

Had some silvering on the decal, but that can be taken care of mostly, in the weathering process.

Next up will be the start of weathering, so hang on to your hats!

Edited by Whiterook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last bit of decaling I'm particularly proud of are the 'No Step' warnings. I'm pretty sure they were from a Phantom jet I built.

 

v55.jpg

 

v56.jpg

 

OK....next to come will be the weathering!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is where a model really takes on a life of it's own, in my view....in what you can do to it to make it speak to you!

I started with chipping. To recapture a thought on the direction I was heading, this is a Recon Viper, which is subject to a lot of abuse due to it's having to scoot and hide in asteroid fields, cosmic clutter filled with debris and nastiness, and also subject to many low-level atmospheric flights through all kinds of planetary weather conditions. What does all this mean? Well, it's going to get a lot bumps and bruises from rock dust and debris.

Done with a #11 blade on my craft knife, it was a matter of some strategic placing where it made sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chipping is done with the point edge of a craft knife with #11 blade, and digging carefully at the decals; and some with the sharp-flat of the blade in a scraping motion. Both methods had the stroke of the blade head, moving in the direction that flying debris would have taken out the 'paint'. 

Another thing I used was a plain old sanding stick. By the way, this is why I really wasn't horribly concerned with the crummy fit of the thruster nacelle decals, all bunching up on me no matter how I positioned them; because I had planned on roughing up the leading edge anyway, so it all worked out in the end, in my opinion.

As with all things weathering, the trick is knowing when to stop. This was new territory during this build, and I basically dared to fail, as the only way to excel is usually through pushing your comfort zone. I especially, like how the weathered wing edges came out.

v57.jpg

And I love the look of the top wing, which would take quite a licking. On the Nacells, they will get a fair bit of painting chips and grime later.

v58.jpg

v59.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, on to the scary stuff....my first oil paint and turp wash. OMG!!!!!!!!

The medium of choice for this round was Windsor & Newton Turpentine with Windsor & Newton Winton black oil paint, and also mixing in some Holbein Aqua Duo burnt sienna. The Aqua Duo is a water miscible oil, meaning it thins with water, but you can use it as a traditional oil, as well.

v60.jpg

I also bought a new Royal soft-grip Golden Taklon round in 20/0 for the task......

v61.jpg

I did the standard method of placing a blob of each on a small sheet of aluminum foil, and then mixed my puddles below; grabbing the paint with the brush and letting capillary draw do its thing.....

v62.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice work!

With oils, I recommend using a piece of cardboard for a palette. It will absorb the linseed oil, allowing the paint to dry faster and with a matte sheen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Whiterook said:

Now it was time for one of my favorite products....Future Acrylic! Unlike a lot of my modeling friends, I don't airbrush it on (maybe in the future..

Yes i started out brushing it. Went to airbrushing the stuff. And have come full circle on it and am brushing it again. I could never get the stuff completely out of my airbrush. Then it would play hell with the A/B next time i went to paint. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×