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Started planning this project 18 years ago, began work on it 8 years ago.  Many stops, and burn-outs, but finally finished it this year.  This thread will feature some of the journey.


The plan:  A diorama of an X-Wing preparing for the assault on the Death Star  as seen in the original Star Wars.

The catch: Make the X-Wing into Red Leader, to match the ILM in-flight model as well as pilot helmet and his unique R5 astromech droid.


In other words, this scene:




But making it this X-Wing:




And with this pilot/helmet and R5 astromech droid:


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Primary subject:  FineMolds 1/48 X-Wing.


Changes: Rebuild wing cannon (mounts are much too long)

Feature open canopy

Massively detail cockpit

Corrected nosegear


Sorry, no pics on correcting the wing cannon.


Cockpit was totally rebuilt.  Placards added from ParaGrafix detail set.

Greatest challenge was the unit behind the pilot's seat.  Researching this aspect alone nearly led to burnout.  Here's how it went:





Brass guitar string (low E string & others) used for the thick hoses:








I don't wanna do this project ever again....but I was thrilled with the results after a couple of years of burnout.




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Red Leader was tough.  I abandoned the kit pilot.  I started with a Monogram 1/48 jet pilot, I think....filed/carved/sanded off most of the detail.  

Then did a total Frankenstein; separate upper arms, forearms, one hand, and head, all from different pilot/ground crew figures, to get him posed as putting on his helmet for flight.  I just really wanted to capture that moment.  

Detail added from masking tape (vest, straps) and styrene for other details.  Took a lot longer than expected but ended up far surpassing the kit pilot, I think.


Helmet made from a Monogram helmet, with the head/face removed with a roto-drill.  Detail added with styrene, painted to match Red Leader.












Edited by Andrew D Jolly Rogers guy
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Painting the bird was fun.  Do NOT follow the instructions calling for 36440 Light Gull Gray.  In fact, don't just go with 36622 Camouflage Gray either, it's still too dark.

The ILM birds were basically done in white and then beaten up.


What I did was, started with a mix of mostly Flat Insignia White, tempered with just a bit of 36495 Light Gray and another touch of 36622 Camo Gray.  

Afterward, I went back and accented the panels with straight light gray.  


Masked and painted the Red Leader markings with Testors (square bottle) flat red, with a touch of MM Guards Red mixed in.


Did replacement panels in shades of Testors yellow zinc chromate, some of them oversprayed with more light gray.  


Also sprayed the darker gray on the canopy and engines, then took fine sandpaper to the engine gray markings as well as to the markings sprayed on the cannon and the red squadron markings.  


Tried to match the damage/burns to the actual ILM photos.


Prepared a hopefully convincing looking oil/fuel stained temple floor.










Edited by Andrew D Jolly Rogers guy
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For the Rebel ground crew, I started with Hasegawa 1/48 USAF ground crew, then played Frankenstein with all of them.  Heads and hands were replaced and re-positioned.  Arms with sleeves rolled up were replaced.  Headsets were carved away or the heads replaced entirely.  For two of them, I had to carve away a jacket to make it into a coverall, and add a belt.


Did two helmeted Rebels, including a blue-shirted Fleet Trooper.  The Trooper was made from a Monogram figure (used in several releases) of a walking pilot, with helmet in one hand and helmet bag in the other (his helmet was used as Red Leader's helmet, shown earlier).  One hand was replaced, and the other hand turned 90 degrees since it was originally positioned palm-facing-rear.  G-suit carved away, then the vest made from masking tape coated with CA glue.  Helmet made from 2 parts of styrene carved, chinstrap from masking tape.  Boots were carved.  


Rebel Tech made with only one-piece helmet, and added the marshaling wands.  








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I discovered the larger ladder used next to the astromech droid in the actual filming was an RAF ladder used for their F4 Phantoms, the huge curve designed to go over and around the Phantom's intake to the WSO's cockpit.  

I discovered Flightpath makes a very nice representation of this in white metal and PE combination.  The other two ladders came from the Para-Grafix PE set.  The PG set does include the larger curved ladder, but the Flightpath one is far superior IMO.


Refueling hoses made from metal low-"E" guitar strings.  Since these strings only want to stay straight, they had to have every curve pre-bent.  Takes some work since it's a 3-dimensional job.  Two other cords, presumably for power or communications, were from 1/25 auto spark plug wiring.  







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I just had a quick look and came away impressed. I'll have a better look tomorrow when I have more time.

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Thank you!


Last step after the ground crew was installed, and the canopy installed after scratch-building the hinges:  scratch-building the lighting units which appear throughout the hangar on the deck.  I studied numerous images of the movie trying to get an idea of the dimensions, but this proved more difficult than I thought.  In the end, I used the SWAG theorum (Scientific Wild ***** Guess).  


Upon study, I could see the sides of the units were sloped, not straight up-and-down.  Bad enough to have to build one of these, but I would need multiple copies.  I did three, even though more would have been better; there's only so much punishment I can take.


The structures took two long days of work.  Light lenses were simulated with 2mm x 2mm sqaure acrylic gemstones/rhinestones, a definite score!  Power cords are 1/25 auto spark plug wiring. 













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Thank you! That was an important aspect for me when I first started to "envision" this; one of the iconic parts of the original film (to me) was the pilots "helmeting up" just prior to launch, and I wanted to capture that moment.  

After I tried arranging the multiple severed body parts, and then needing to find others when some of the originals didn't work, I figured I'd bit off more than I could chew....but finally after several burnouts it ended up ok.  Never give up!

Edited by Andrew D Jolly Rogers guy
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Well I'm glad I found the time for a second look. It's pretty darned epic. 

Obviously a labour of love. And well worth it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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