Airfix 1/144 Saturn V

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Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
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After almost three months of intensive accounts preparation and tax return work, I am ready at long last to return to the modelling workbench.

In order to preserve any form of sanity over the period and to give my brain a break from tax work, I've been reading up on project Apollo and have really built up a head of enthusiasm for doing an Apollo related subject.

I decided that it was about time I had a Saturn V in my collection - especially as it will provide an impressive comparison to my already completed similar scale Space Shuttle and Saturn IB.

The kit I have in my collection is the re-released and updated version of the now very old Airfix Saturn V. Like the Saturn IB model, Airfix released corrected versions in 2009/10. The main area of correction is the Command/Service Module (CSM) which is now of the correct dimensions and features the proper surface details for a Block II Command/Service module. The original kit had a Command Service Module which was under scale and the panel details were based on Block I designs - which were never used for manned Apollo missions.

As a consequence of the CSM dimension corrections, the Lunar Module Adaptor fairing is now also corrected.

Elsewhere the model remains much as it has since it was first released in 1970.

The moulds are definitely past their best and a close inspection of some elements, such as the first stage engines (the mighty F1) shows plenty of flash and, in one case, an actual hole in the engine exhaust bell - which will have to be patched somehow.

I'm not terribly worried about seam lines or damage etc on these engines because, in real life, when sitting on the pad ready for launch, these engines were "batted" i.e. they were covered in a heat protective ablative material - rather like a blanket. I intend to use foil to replicate this material and it will hide a multitude of mould flaws, damage etc.

I built an Airfix Saturn V way back in 1980/81 and it will be an interesting experience revisiting this monster after three and a half decades.



Brigand

2,423 posts

100 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
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I was looking at my dad's build of this a few months ago, and it was like a Russian doll - lots of sections to build and/or display! It certainly brings the whole thing into perspective when you see how tiny the capsule and lander are compared to the rest of the rocket which is just used to get it up there.

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
quotequote all
To be more precise - the 1st and 2nd stages were needed to lift 100 tons into low earth orbit i.e. an altitude of under 200 miles and a velocity of 17,500 mph.

The third stage was required to accelerate the 30 tons of Command/Service Module and Lunar Module to an altitude of 250,000 miles and a velocity of 25,000 mph.

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
quotequote all
Here you can see some of the problems apparent with the engines.



This is a picture showing one half of one of the six J-2 engines provided. The second stage had five of these and the top stage had one. You will notice a large protuberance in the centre of the engine bell. This did not feature in the original release of the Airfix kit. However, in 1980, when Airfix was owned by Palitoy, they turned some of their kits into what they called "Snap n'Glue" supposedly to make them easier to build. Large location holes and pins were added to the original moulds.
Whether they aided construction back then is a moot point. All they do today is get in the way and prevent even mating of the parts. So - one of the first thing you have to do in the construction sequence is remove all these unwanted lugs. Once removed, the parts fit much better.




The second picture shows one of the five F1 engines of the first stage. You can see the damage to the part which appears to be caused by a faulty mould. The mould is now 45 years old and is obviously really past its best.

I have place a backing plate of plasticard behind the hole and will fill the gap with putty.

As I mentioned earlier, the foil batting material will cover all these repairs and mould flaws.

Her's what the batted engines looked like in real life-


kellys hero

543 posts

181 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
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I look forward to following this. My build stalled due to a very busy summer. Whats the plan for the Command Module? Mine is on yet another milliput version..
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Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
quotequote all
Ignore it and leave it out.

As with the Saturn IB I built a few years ago, I will just build the model with the Boost Protect Cover and Launch Escape Tower attached to the Service Module.

The actual Command Module was never visible on a Saturn V when it was sitting on the pad anyway.

sgrimshaw

5,943 posts

181 months

Saturday 31st January 2015
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Eric Mc said:
To be more precise - the 1st and 2nd stages were needed to lift 100 tons into low earth orbit i.e. an altitude of under 200 miles and a velocity of 17,500 mph.

The third stage was required to accelerate the 30 tons of Command/Service Module and Lunar Module to an altitude of 250,000 miles and a velocity of 25,000 mph.
Maybe off topic but ..... and done in the '60s with less computing power than a modern washing machine ....

Hats off, balls of steel!

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Ironically, the computing power needed to keep a Saturn V straight and pointing the right way is probably a lot less complex than the software needed for multiple spin and wash cycles.

The really clever part of the Saturn guidance system was the use of gyroscopes and accelerometers which could sense what the rocket was doing and issue instructions to the F1 engines to swivel (gimbal) in the necessary way to keep the thing straight.

Essentially, it was a development of the technology used for aircraft autopilots which had been in use since the 1920s. The equipment was contained in what was called the Instrument Unit and it can be seen in this picture -



It's the narrow ring just beneath the Lunar Module adaptor near the top of the rocket.

4321go

314 posts

118 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Unfortunately, I have yet to visit the Johnson Space Centre, Huntsville or The Kennedy Space Centre where the three remaining Saturn Vs now reside. But the Smithsonian Air and Space museum has a quite awesome display of one-and-a-quarter F1 engines, mounted using mirrors to replicate the business end of the Vb stack. Photos on the web don't do the display justice, so I give you this:



A Saturn Vb launch was said to be the loudest man-made noise after a nuclear detonation. (But, FWIW, NASA engineers claimed that the concurrent Concord(e) program was a greater engineering feat.)

4321go

314 posts

118 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Unfortunately, I have yet to visit the Johnson Space Centre, Huntsville or The Kennedy Space Centre where the three remaining Saturn Vs now reside. But the Smithsonian Air and Space museum has a quite awesome display of one-and-a-quarter F1 engines, mounted using mirrors to replicate the business end of the Vb stack. Photos on the web don't do the display justice, so I give you this:



A Saturn Vb launch was said to be the loudest man-made noise after a nuclear detonation. (But, FWIW, NASA engineers claimed that the concurrent Concord(e) program was a greater engineering feat.)

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
quotequote all
It's just Saturn V - there was no Saturn Vb. There was a Saturn I and Ib though.

The Apollo project in totallity is one of the greatest engineering projects ever undertaken by mankind. It would be a difficult thing to do today, let alone 50 years ago.

However, the SLS and Orion should regain this lost capability.

I've been to the Johnson Space Centre (way back in 1981) and saw their example. I think it is indoors now - as is the Kennedy Space Centre example.

Halmyre

6,408 posts

70 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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4321go said:
Unfortunately, I have yet to visit the Johnson Space Centre, Huntsville or The Kennedy Space Centre where the three remaining Saturn Vs now reside. But the Smithsonian Air and Space museum has a quite awesome display of one-and-a-quarter F1 engines, mounted using mirrors to replicate the business end of the Vb stack. Photos on the web don't do the display justice, so I give you this:

Wonder how that would do on a drag strip...

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
quotequote all
Not that good actually. The Saturn V seemed to lumber off the pad. Initially the thrust to weight ratio wasn't that great. The Shuttle kicked off the pad at a much higher rate of knots.

The Saturn V only really began to motor along when the 1st stage was dropped off and the five J2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines of the second stage lit up.

The first stage of the Saturn V can be looked on as the low geared stage needed to just lift the other two stages and the payload to an altitude of 30 odd miles and a speed of around 5,000 mph. The first stage was a heavy hauler - the top two stages were the sports cars.

4321go

314 posts

118 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Saturn Vb. Yes, my bad. But there nearly was a Vb. It was a concept studied in '68 for a single-stage (or, more accurately "stage-and-a-half") to orbit launch vehicle. The plan was to make the four outer engines of the S1c (the first stage of the SV) jetisonable and recoverable once 70% of the fuel had been burned. The remaining centre engine would then boost the considerably lightened vehicle to escape velocity and LEO. Arguably, this would have given NASA a heavy-payload, reusable launch vehicle a decade before Young and Crippen flew Columbia.

4321go

314 posts

118 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Ps: Does anybody know why about half of my posts appear (to me, at least) to post twice, with a minute's delay between the two. I only ever hit the "submit" key once.....

4321go

314 posts

118 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Ps: Does anybody know why about half of my posts appear (to me, at least) to post twice, with a minute's delay between the two. I only ever hit the "submit" key once.....

Wacky Racer

29,446 posts

178 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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Will be following Eric's latest thread with interest. My dad owned a couple of large model shops throughout the sixties and seventies, and I grew up surrounded by Airfix, Revell, Monogram, Frog and Keil Kraft kits.

I can clearly remember when the Saturn V was released, it wasn't especially a great seller, which was surprising, given the recent moon landing..

Shame about the quality of some of the moulding in the current kits..

Eric Mc

Original Poster:

101,962 posts

196 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
quotequote all
They are a bit tired but nothing that can't be fixed. The new bits are excellent.

160

228 posts

76 months

Sunday 1st February 2015
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4321go said:
Ps: Does anybody know why about half of my posts appear (to me, at least) to post twice, with a minute's delay between the two. I only ever hit the "submit" key once.....
if your typing on a phone and press back I think thats what causes the double post.

Zad

11,546 posts

167 months

Monday 2nd February 2015
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I grew up with Apollo, although I was in infants school at the end of the programme. I "helped" my dad build and paint one of the early releases of this model, it seemed absolutely huge! I know that Mat Irvine and the BBC FX and modelling department used a lot of Saturn V kits for designs used in Blakes 7 and similar programmes. Between him and Martin Bower, they must have used half of Airfix's output!

You might be aware of NewWare's accurising PE/resin kits, its worth a look anyway as they do a small launch stand which seems to match the rocket model pretty well: http://mek.kosmo.cz/newware/#NW127

For anyone interested, Custom Replicas do 1:20th scale model kits of the F1 engines, at a smidge under $250. To be fair, the photos I have seen show them to be cracking models.



http://www.customreplicas.com/store.html