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Apollo Soyuz Test Project


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With so much time left of the GB I’m going to start a second project. After looking thorugh the stash during the weekend my choice finally fell upon the Dragon 1/72 kit of the “Apollo Soyuz Test Project”, or “Экспериментальный полёт «Союз» – «Аполлон»” as Soviet Union called it. That’s the joint mission from July 1975 where USA and Soviet Union docked their two spacecrafts in orbit, worked together and socialised for 44 hours. I remember watching everything that was televised before and during the mission, it felt like a big thing then, which it probably was.

 

I bought most of the various Apollo mission 1/72 kits that Dragon released when they were new, so this has been in the stash for a while now.

 

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These are all the parts. The Apollo craft should build up well, I’ve done it before, but the Soyuz craft is a new acquaintance. There are no decals for the Soyuz. I thought it carried at least the CCCP script and perhaps a flag. I’ll have to look into that and possibly print what might be needed. There is material for the solar panels supplied, but I’m not so sure about their look. We might have to look into that as well.

 

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Dragon’s instructions for the Soyuz fails to mention half of the parts and don’t show much. I suppose it’ll sort itself out.

 

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The main parts for the Soyuz craft and the docking module are moulded in some vinyl like plastic, not something I really like to work with. Also some paints probably won’t dry properly. I think I will spray the cleaned up parts with 2K automotive primer before any other painting or assembly happens, both to be able to choose paints freely and also to avoid any styrene surface in direct contact with the vinyl, which is something worth avoiding.

 

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Excellent choice - I'll be super interested to see how this builds up. I had read reviews about the vinyl Soyuz and wondered "why?". I never had the opportunity to get this kit at a decent price. Instead, I have begun, but not got very far at all with, the ARRA 1/144 resin kit. It's hard work.

 

Of course you know that the Air & Space in DC has the flight test back-up of the Apollo Soyuz spacecraft. I'm sure there are tons of pics online but I had the luck to live in downtown DC in 2019-2020 (not that being there in 20 helped) and can give you some walk-around pics if you like.

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6 hours ago, bianfuxia said:

Excellent choice - I'll be super interested to see how this builds up. I had read reviews about the vinyl Soyuz and wondered "why?". I never had the opportunity to get this kit at a decent price. Instead, I have begun, but not got very far at all with, the ARRA 1/144 resin kit. It's hard work.

 

Of course you know that the Air & Space in DC has the flight test back-up of the Apollo Soyuz spacecraft. I'm sure there are tons of pics online but I had the luck to live in downtown DC in 2019-2020 (not that being there in 20 helped) and can give you some walk-around pics if you like.

I suspect they choose vinyl to get away with simpler moulds to be able to release the wrinkled surface from the tool, as the vinyl gives away a little. Speaking of that I think the vinyl feels a little harder now than when I first bought the kit. I'm not sure that's a good omen...

 

A few pics are always welcome, thanks. I've mostly searched for in flight photos so far, not that many around it seems.

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10 hours ago, Bobby No Mac said:

Fantastic, this will be interesting. I've got Dragon's Apollo 17 "The Last J-Mission" kit so any guidance on the Apollo modules will be valuable :popcorn:

I've got that in my stash too, it looks like another nice kit in the box. It was my second choice here, but I fell for the Soyuz craft.

You might find something useful in my WIP-thread of the 1/72 Dragon Saturn V, in the latter half I'm doing also the CSM and LM.

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2 hours ago, Bengalensis said:

I've got that in my stash too, it looks like another nice kit in the box. It was my second choice here, but I fell for the Souyz craft.

You might find something useful in my WIP-thread of the 1/72 Dragon Saturn V, in the latter half I'm doing also the CSM and LM.

I am halfway through the Apollo 17 kit too - it's very nice (esp as my only other Apollo models so far are a half-done Airfix LM and the really old Tamiya kit that I guided my then four year old to build).

 

I'll put up some pics when I get a chance. 

 

The thing about the vinyl and the wrinkled surface makes sense to me.

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The vinyl parts are cleaned up. It wasn’t too much of a problem, a new knife blade cut some issues nicely and the edges were reasonably sandable.

 

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The other Soyuz and docking module parts where then cleaned up and test fitted. The docking rings are a very iffy fit, partly due to lack of precision in the vinyl parts locating points. I made these pre assembled sections, which I don’t think is exactly correct as there should probably be a little distance between each ring.

 

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  • Bengalensis changed the title to Apollo Soyuz Test Project
On 12/10/2023 at 14:20, bianfuxia said:

Great start!

 

At this link are my pics of the Apollo Soyuz in DC plus a couple of others you might find interesting. I'm sorry i don't quite have time to download and post them separately just now.

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/P4ALiSnDmrbono3v9

 

 

Thanks a lot, I got them downloaded alright.

When you see the Soyuz naked like that it becomes very apparent how different the engineering philosophy behind the two sides space vehicles were. I can't help thinking it's amazing they managed to get the two systems docked and work together in 1975.

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I have made some good progress during the last week, despite a lot of other things in life needing attention, but forum updates have suffered I’m afraid. Some catching up is called for.

 

The vinyl parts got sprayed with 2K primer. I choose that to get a basic layer of paint that has a good chance of drying perfectly.

 

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Some basic coats of paint was then sprayed on the Soyus and docking module parts.

 

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When the white areas of the aft Soyuz section had dried I masked for spraying green, hoping that it wouldn’t lift all paint layers off the vinyl when removed...

 

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While waiting for paint to dry, or something like that, I started on the Apollo Command Module. The two mounting pegs for the bottom part are a ridiculously tight fit and needs drilling out a little.

 

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As I will glue the docked Apollo-Soyuz combination permanently together I don’t need the two small locating holes for the top cover, so these were filled.

 

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The joint for the bottom part doesn’t correspond with the heat shield edge, so some careful smoothing of the joint is needed. Or in this case it’s actually not that necessary as the Command and Service Modules will be glued together, but anyway...

 

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Studying research photos and trying to find as much as possible of the Command and Service modules for this specific mission I realised that this Command Module didn’t have all the exterior handles. More locating holes filled. That meant the Command Module ready for primer.

 

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I’ll continue the recap. Modelling time the last days has been very scattered and often it happens that I have a little time here and there and then something suffers, like writing the updates in this case.

 

I thought it would be just as good to assemble the Service Module for primer as well, to get it all sprayed in one session. A number of segments are assembled around two rings. The instructions are quite vague to say the least, so some attention is needed to get it right.

 

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Here we go. My memory from last time I built this is that it just went together very well, but I may have repressed some memories. This time it was difficult to perfectly close the gaps between the parts, as if the rings were just a tiny bit too large. I managed to squeeze it together quite well in the end, but next time I’ll trim down the rings just a little.

 

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The top gable is another piece of irritation I had forgotten. Somewhere in the tooling process Dragon must have flipped the cad model upside down. The part has three location pegs on the underside to join the top ring and one centred peg on the top side to locate the Command Module. But then it’s reversed so the rough side is upwards and the locating holes for the Command Module support structures is downwards. The instructions somewhere realised this, and wants yo to drill those holes through… and then there is a good deal of work with ejector pin marks and rough tooling to fix. In my case it doesn’t matter much as I’m gluing the two modules together so I won’t the detail in there.

 

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The Apollo-Soyuz boxing was apparently released after the Apollo 17 J-mission boxing as the bottom part has three small holes for J-mission parts added as the tool was modified. They aren’t needed here so I filled them with styrene strips and sanded smooth.

 

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Some force needed to squeeze the barrel to an even fit around the bottom gable while the glue dries.

 

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The rest of the parts were quickly cleaned up and readied for paint.

 

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As I studied reference photos from this mission I noted a gold coloured panel on the Service Module I had not seen on other missions. I’m not yet sure what it was, but it had a narrow frame and some fine detail in it. I thought a plain panel of 0,25 mm sheet styrene would do the job with some added painting and decal pattern. I hope.

 

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All Apollo parts where then pinned for spraying primer. As you can see in the background the Soyuz painting had advanced a little as well during this work.

 

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The Soyuz painting progressed with the green sprayed. The masking tape was removed without lifting any paint from the vinyl to my relief. Some detail painting on the smaller parts and dry brushing the wrinkles of the Docking Module was also done.

 

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After primer the basic colours of the Apollo parts were sprayed. This is mostly MRP metal colours. The greyish heat shield of the Command Module is drying and masking of that gold panel on the Service Module is done, ready for spraying.

 

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Then it was masking time for all the white panels. All straight lines so not very complicated, just time consuming.

 

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The white panels were sprayed with a 50/50 mix of Tamiya gloss and flat white.

 

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Then I realised I had forgotten to mask and spray the frame of that gold panel, which I should have done while I was at it the first time. Repeat work. The frame was sprayed with Alclad Pale Gold to try to capture the contrast seen on photos. Sometime here I also masked and sprayed the heat shield in a contrasting Titanium colour.

 

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Here is where I am right now after detail painting the Soyuz sections and finishing the Command Module painting, that I forgot to photograph. It was sprayed Alclad Chrome on a smooth sprayed Humbrol gloss black enamel base. Alclad on gloss black enamel has been my standard chrome paint to good satisfaction for almost 25 years now (hard to take in that it’s so long), but I was going to try MRP Chrome this time. I did a plastic spoon test spray, but it wrinkled the gloss black enamel base in some areas and didn’t match the shine of the Alclad where it remained smooth, so I need to find out more how MRP Chrome should be used.

 

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I have been thinking about the Soyuz solar panels and the fancy blue reflective foil that comes in the kit. I’m not dismissing it, but it’s not really capturing what I see in photos. I think what I miss most is the square pattern that was clearly present. Yesterday I drew and printed the missing CCCP decals and a pattern intended for the gold Apollo panel, and then I drew a thin lined pattern (single lines actually) in AutoCAD and transferred for printing in white via Photoshop on my Alps printer. I wasn’t sure it would handle such thin lines well, but it did. I applied the test decal temporarily and got this result. The blue foil is seen brighter here under camera light than it usually is in real life. I think I like this better, but is it good enough, that’s the question...

 

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I drew all three sizes of the Soyuz panels needed, added them and a few spares to a sheet and printed. Not that much is seen of thin white printing in a photo like this...

 

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4 hours ago, 81-er said:

Very nicely done on the painting, Jorgen, especially the chrome. I really like that

 

James

Thanks a lot James!

Alclad Chrome is great when done right. Admittedly it can't be handled and messed around with too much, or it will wear, but I find it no worse than most water base acrylic paints in that regard. Or I'm not very good with acrylics...

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Permanently gluing the Command Module to the Service Module. Again some light clamping force added to get a tighter joint while the glue cures.

 

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The main Soyuz sections glued together.

 

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Now I felt I had reached the point where I could modify the two core parts between the Soyuz and the Docking Module. The Soyuz part was turned down a little in diameter to make a smoother fit to the Soyuz vinyl body and both were cut down in length to make a tight seal. We’ll see if I calculated this correctly later and beware that this may not be how it really should be done...

 

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I think it’s now getting close to start adding decals.

 

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I have also made up the display base. It’s only the supplied kit parts, with the base painted black, which may not be very sophisticated. But I printed what I understand was an official emblem used by both participants, on self adhesive paper to add a little atmosphere.

 

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It's all looking very good, Jorgen. I think the base is perfect in black as it lets the models be the focus of attention, and the logo is a very nice touch

 

James

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On 18/10/2023 at 23:52, 81-er said:

It's all looking very good, Jorgen. I think the base is perfect in black as it lets the models be the focus of attention, and the logo is a very nice touch

 

James

Thanks a lot James! I think the base will work OK, and the logo will have to remain, even if the base changes.

 

On 23/10/2023 at 12:38, bianfuxia said:

Looking amazing - I've been away for a few days and just catching up - great work and great updates. The silver shades look really good.

Thanks a lot! Glad you approve the colours.

 

21 hours ago, Mike N said:

That's some really sharp painting on the Apollo, it looks fantastic!

 

Mike

Thanks a lot Mike! Always a little nervous when masking is involved...

 

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Applying a few decals isn’t much progress, but anyway… The printed CCCP signs have been applied to the Soyuz. It’s impossible to place them correctly as almost noting else of all the details are placed or moulded correctly by Dragon... The more I compare to real photos the more compromised the Dragon Soyuz gets… But OK, it will still look like the thing.

 

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The white pattern I printed for the gold panel on the Apollo Service Module has also been applied. It is what it is, but it makes the panel look more like the photos I have seen.

 

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Yesterday I fitted the blue foil for the Soyuz solar panels and I have just applied the white pattern I printed to one of them. I dry fitted them both, not paying much attention to alignment, but just to compare them and see what happened. I like the look with the pattern better.

 

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I like the panels in the first pic, it's more dynamic and gives, I don't know, the impression of moving light as the ship moves relative to the angle of the sun or something. 

 

The gold panel on the SM - do you think that's exclusive to the Apollo Soyuz? Can't say I ever noticed it on the lunar ones.

 

This build is looking great!

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5 hours ago, bianfuxia said:

I like the panels in the first pic, it's more dynamic and gives, I don't know, the impression of moving light as the ship moves relative to the angle of the sun or something. 

 

The gold panel on the SM - do you think that's exclusive to the Apollo Soyuz? Can't say I ever noticed it on the lunar ones.

 

This build is looking great!

Thanks a lot!

 

The Soyuz panels are actually the same in both pictures, they vary a lot depending on what angle and light you look at them in. Is it called prismatic foil in English?

 

I think the gold panel on the Apollo SM may well be unique for this mission, I have not seen it before I researched this one. With that said I haven't gone very deep into the J-mission SM's yet.

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