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Mike

Apollo 11 Saturn V Rocket (03704) 1:96

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Apollo 11 Saturn V Rocket (03704)

1:96 Revell

 

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You may have heard that it is the 50th anniversary of Man walking on the moon, which was kicked off by JFK's speech and their collection of German rocket scientists that were brought back to America under Operation Paperclip at the end of WWII, most notable of whom was Werner Von Braun, who had dreamt of going to the moon since his childhood.  The monstrous Saturn V rocket was the result, and at the very tip of that particular spear was the Lunar Module (LEM) under a protective cowl, and the Service Module (SM) with the Command Module (CM) at the very top under the Launch Escape System (LES) rocket pack that was destined never to be used (thankfully) if the early launch process went awry.  There were earlier manned launches of the smaller Saturn 1 and 1B rockets, after which the Saturn V was the sole launch platform for the Apollo missions, totalling 13 launches by the end of Apollo 17's trip there and back again.  An adapted Saturn V was also used to launch the Skylab space station into orbit, although it eventually made an uncontrolled re-entry once the mission was over and the station-keeping thrusters had exhausted their fuel.

 

The Kit

This is a re-release of Revell's 1970s vintage kit in 1:96, and it's a monster.  The original boxing stated that it's almost 4 feet tall, while this new 50th edition gives us a length of 114cm.  The box is substantial, and has a captive lid that folds over the side and is secured by two large tabs.  Inside the box is divided into two portions, one containing the silver plastic parts and the paints that accompany the model, and the larger section with all the white styrene in there.  There are also two flat sections of card, which have shapes pre-cut, and can be used to store the completed model minus the third stage once you've finished.  The box contains 183 parts, and surprisingly to the uninitiated, there aren't any large diameter big long tubes for the various stages, as those are supplied as flat styrene sheet with the markings printed directly on their surface.  These sheets are wrapped round to form a tube, which is then pinned in place by the umbilicals and held to shape with the styrene end-caps.

 

Inside the box are the following:

 

11 x top/bottom fairings for the three stages in white styrene

4 x sprues of white styrene parts for the Saturn V Rocket

5 x sprues of silver styrene parts for the LEM/CM/SM

4 x white styrene sheets with printed markings for the Saturn V stages

1 x sheet of decals

1 x large silver styrene base

1 x bag with four thumb-pots of Revell acrylic paint, small Contacta glue, No.2 paint brush

 

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Add to that the instruction booklet, and that's everything inside the box.  The kit is a product of its era, but detail is pretty good and any flash seems to be mostly adhering to the sprues rather than the parts.  There are some well-documented inaccuracies in this kit, but in the marketplace of larger scale Saturn V kits (1:144 and above) that can be said of them all, so if you want to go BIG but not HUMONGOUS, this is still the kit for you.  I'm reliably informed that when complete it will fit into one of those floor-standing Ikea cabinets if you remove all the glass shelves.  There are probably three main ways to approach this project.  Build it as is and just enjoy it, build it and improve it as you go along, or build it with the aid of aftermarket and try to improve the accuracy and detail.  Most casual observers wouldn't notice the difference between each approach, so it's entirely up to you as usual how much effort, time and money you put into the task.

 

Construction begins with the base, as the model needs some support as it grows taller, so it makes sense.  Four triangular supports are glued to the base plate and painted red, which gives the model a little anti-topple protection.  The five big F-1 engines are next, made up from two halves with two additional parts making up the complex tubing above the bells.  These are depicted bare, but the actual launch vehicles were covered with batted insulation that gave them a different look, so here you can decide to leave them as is, scratch some insulation from foil or similar, or go all out and purchase the aftermarket engine sets that are available.  The completed engines are fitted onto a flat bottom plate, which then slips into the underside of the first styrene cap, resting on a small ledge at the bottom. The narrow black and white sheet is then rolled up to form the bottom tubular section of the stage and pinned together by umbilical parts inside and out, fitting to the top of the engine assembly using a keyed mating surface.  The four conical engine cowlings are added all round, and another styrene ring is added to the top of the growing structure, with the longest styrene sheet sat on top of that, then the top of stage 1 with its domed tank clearly visible inside.  The connection between the top of stage 1 and 2 is a cylindrical part that you often see being incinerated as it tumbles away in footage of the launches.  This covers the stage 2 engines, which consist of five Rocketdyne J-2 units, again with small parts added above the two-part engine bells.  These are glued into another tapered styrene cylinder, which fits into the top of the interconnect, and has the mostly white sheet used to create the body, with umbilical parts used to hide the joins again.  Another domed fuel tank top is inside the top of that stage, and a conical cowling fits into the top of that too.  The narrower third stage has a conical underside with one J-2 engine at the bottom, with another styrene tube made up and inserted into the top, and joined by another domed fuel tank on top.

 

Attention now turns to the LEM, CM & SM, which are also available as a separate kit, reviewed here recently.  The sprues are the same, the decals are all amalgamated with the kit markings, and the only thing that isn't included is the gold foil for the LEM, which you can easily replace by treating yourself to a chocolate bar or similar.  I won't re-tread old ground, suffice to say that all three sections are built up, although the LEM is fitted with its legs folded up so that it slots into the tapered cowling that it rides into space inside, one section of which is transparent for easy viewing of the completed model.  The CM and SM are installed on the top, and the LES sits on the very top of a short tower, to lift the CM clear using emergency rockets that can be seen under the flared base.   Also included is the lunar surface base and goose-neck stand for the kit, so the instructions give you some suggestions on how to use the parts if you feel like it.  I think most people will probably leave the three modules at the top of the stack though, as it's all about the going up part.

 

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Please note that the gold foil pictured above is NOT included with this model

 

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Markings

There's only one option for the markings, as you might expect, and much of the main body is either self-coloured or pre-printed on the flat styrene sheets that go to make up the blank tubular sections.  The decals are printed for Revell by Zanetti, and are in good register with plenty of sharpness and colour density.  The key part is to match up the black sections with the printed parts, and to paint the complex chequer pattern on the tapered cowling correctly.  The other decals are pointed out on diagrams on the rear page, which also shows you how to store the model in the original box once you have built it.  Given its sheer size, this is a very useful capability.  The diagram shows an in-built handle, which doesn't seem fitted to my box, which is a shame.

 

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Conclusion

The kit might also soon be celebrating its own 50th anniversary, but considering that it is still quite an impressive kit, not just for its size.  It has the undiminished appeal of the raw power it used to get men to the Moon, and can be built by a child with minimal paint, an adult with care and some precision, or a detailer with the assistance of aftermarket that's available from companies such as Realspacemodels.com and New Ware Models.  Beware your wallet if you go down that route though.

 

Highly recommended.

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Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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Mike, are you sure you've posted the right picture of the completed model? That base doesn't look anything like the one that came with my early 1980s reissue and there's no sign of the triangular supports you refer to in the review!

 

Here's the base of my model: spacer.png

 

From photos I've seen it looks as if you've posted the Monogram 1/144 kit by mistake!

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2 hours ago, GordonD said:

Mike, are you sure you've posted the right picture of the completed model? That base doesn't look anything like the one that came with my early 1980s reissue and there's no sign of the triangular supports you refer to in the review!

No, I think you're right - but that pic was culled from Revell before I spun it 90o, so we'll blame them ^_^ Well spotted ;)

 

I've removed it, as there's a complete pic next to the giant box anyway :)

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