Building Colonial Viper MkII


There has never been a science fiction television series as great as Battlestar Galactica.  Of course, I am referring to the series from the 2000's and not the piece of total garbage from the 1970s.  Moebius models has fielded a number of kits, and this MkII was my first introduction to their models.  Overall it seems to be a good kit, but there are some challenges due to the engineering choices of the designer.

September 2.  Assembly of the cockpit is pretty straightforward.  There were a couple of tricky fits but overall it does well and has very good detail.  In this picture, the cockpit assembly is complete, and the fuselage halves have been assembled.  The intake is far from seamless, and with a grill inserted in there it will be a challenge to get it to look right.  A couple of modifications to the assembly will be made.
September 3.  Another view of the cockpit.
September 5.  While fit of this model is quite good, there are some specific mistakes that the designer made that will make final assembly quite challenging. In the upper picture you can see where the upper intake and stabilizer have been assembled.  This three piece assembly is done in place because the shroud will not fit over the intake baffle.  This is in contrast to the nose intake, which has an inserted baffle.  To the lower right the rear shroud has been severed from the upper shroud.  Initially, this was one assembly which would have to be completed in the same step as installation of the wings.

Look at the second photo.  The lower plate is supposed to be installed prior to the wings, which would require forced installation of the wings due to the nature of the tabs used for assembly.  So, without some changes, in one step you would: 1) apply slow cure glue to wing anchor points and insert, 2) glue upper tail and shroud assemblies, noting that you must apply glue and flex the fit around the baffle, 3) install baffle plate, ensuring wings are moved into place and the shrouds are popped into place....All before the glue dries, and while keeping no less than 6 joints aligned correctly. 

September 6.  Installation of the wing assemblies and cementing of the undercarriage.  First, the wing assemblies were taped into place.  Their precise final location cannot be determined until the lower portion, the undercarriage, is in place.  And the wings cannot really be installed with the undercarriage in place.  So, in the picture at left the wings are put in place, then in the second picture the undercarriage is cemented in, popping the wing supports into position.  CA was used as it seems to do better with this plastic.  The seams from the undercarriage are quite smart and will require minimum sanding.
September 7.  Wings glued in place by taping in place and cementing liberally (on the inside) with CA. 

September 8.  Main engine cowlings cemented in place and joints puttied (a minor amount of work needed).  As described above, separated the upper cowling from the main cowling made assembly much easier.  Next, the engine detail will be inserted, and then the tail section.  But before those two steps can be done the sequence of painting will have to be figured out.

September 11.  With all but the engine assemblies installed, it is time to paint and check joints.  Overall the seams are perfect and ready for final painting.  One small area near the main engine cowlings remains to be fixed.  Test fitting of the remaining parts indicates no finishing will be required.   The main engine part for the rear has been painted in Model Master Stainless Steel, and will be weathered and darkened.  The guns, fuselage details and the engine details will also be in this color.  If you look closely you can see some fuzziness near the intakes.  The nose and the three engines were filled with cotton to prevent having to repaint them.
September 14.  First phase of final painting.  The engine exhaust and panel have been painted, and the overall model painted a base coat of white.  Some earlier overspray of gray has been left to 'dirty up' the rear of the bird.  Next the recessed portions of the body on the fuselage and cowlings will be masked and painted.  It may seem backward to mask the whole model for small parts, but it is easier than masking recessed parts. Before doing that the white will be sealed with dull coat to protect it from the taping.  Once recesses are done, final assembly will take place.
September 17.  All spray painting complete.  The details were masked off and painted after the rest of the model.  The engines and guns will be weathered before installation, and then the model will be decaled and weathered.  Now that the painting is done, the canopy is removed, cleaned, and painted separately.
September 18.  Final assembly completed.  All that remains are the guns and canopy.  The guns will be installed after decals are complete, the canopy after weathering is completed.
September 24.  Decals complete.  Still need to paint the canopy frame, weather and install the guns, and weather the model overall.  The stand will also be painted once the whole model is complete.  The decals are nice, but in retrospect it may have been better to paint them given the contour problems.  Many of the decals are fragile and when moving them into position you can run into problems.  Overall, however, this model is looking pretty sweet.
October 5.  Finished weathering although there might be a bit more work for touch up.  The canopy turned out well.  All straight edges that were easy enough to tape and cut.  Final pics should be up by the end of the weekend.