[Starship Modeler's 23rd on-line modeling contest: Departures]

   Never-Ending Battle

Scale: 1/32 & 1/72(ish)

What if… A Cylon Raider and a Colonial Viper somehow ended up in a dogfight in World War II?

In this diorama, a Cylon Raider in Luftwaffe markings ducks under a Colonial Viper in USAAF markings and invasion stripes. How they got there, and how they affected the course of history, can be found in the accompanying story, set (loosely) in the "Galactica: 1980" universe.

This project had its genesis in a model I saw a few years ago at the What-If Modelers website (whatifmodelers.com). A modeler on the site, "markmarples", had built and painted a Cylon Raider in Luftwaffe colors. I wondered what the back-story behind the appearance of a Cylon Raider in World War II would be… and what a Viper would look like, if it were painted to look like an Allied plane (right down to the invasion stripes.) I also wanted to try to build up MY version with a different paint scheme, as part of a forced-perspective dogfight diorama.

The Cylon Raider was the standard 1/72 Revell reissue. My wife (who is getting to be quite the modeler in her own right) actually helped out with this build a great deal, priming and cleaning up the parts and blocking off the interior of the kit. (I have a photo of the two halves of the Raider, after she scrubbed them for mold release, drying in our dish drainer…) She also came up with the color scheme, after I showed her pictures of a Messerschmitt Bf-109 in dunkelgrau, schwartzgrau, and hellblau, handed her a paper diagram of a Cylon Raider and some colored pencils, and asked her to come up with an original paint scheme. I did the same with MS Paint and a diagram of a Viper. The part that gave me the hardest time was figuring out how to do invasion stripes on a Viper- there were NO aircraft flying for the Allies that had a wing that was wider than it was long. I tried several layouts before I went with this one, which seems like a sensible compromise (and allowed me to place the USAAF stars and bars, as well).

The Viper is the 1/32 Moebius release. There were some difficulties with this kit, but they were mostly the fault of my deciding to light this kit AFTER construction of its sub-assemblies was complete. (I did trim the mounting plates for the wings, so they could be mounted in position after painting and decals, and re-positioned the guns so as to better match the studio model.)

After sealing off all of the visible interior structures on the Cylon Raider, and painting and assembling all of the subassemblies for the Viper, I decided to light both kits. (It probably would have been easier to do this if I had set out knowing I was going to light these kits FIRST. Live and learn…) I don't have either the budget for a pre-made lighting kit, or the experience to make my own, so instead I went with one pre-made 15-light blue-white LED string for each kit.

For the Viper, this broke down to 5 LEDs per engine. (I had already built the cockpit and front fuselage, so I couldn't add a green LED for the computer screen.) From my stash of kitbashing supplies, I took three chrome rims of an appropriate size, and mounted 5 LEDs into each in a star shape. (And people wonder why I buy old scrap car models!) I then diffused the clear exhausts with some dulling spray. The "engine" effect still wasn't diffuse enough for my taste, so I took some plastic model car rims and cut them to size, so the LEDs were slightly further back from the clear engine parts. I then painted the outside of the exhausts with Vallejo Gunmetal Gray, to provide a "gradient" from clear to metallic. All of these assemblies were glued to the clear kit parts, and then the wiring was run through SEVERAL kit parts to run down the mounting rod and into the base. (This turned out to be the most difficult part of the exercise.)

A note to anyone trying this method: I extended the wires for both kits by painting them red, blue, and black, and then cutting them in the middle of the painted area and extending them with similarly-colored wire. Since I had no idea which wire was which, I made extra sure to write "VIPER" and CYLON" on each battery case, so I wouldn't confuse them and (possibly) accidentally kill the lighting in my model.

The Cylon Raider was easier to light, although it had its own unique challenges. For instance, the LEDs were all blue-white, and the front "headlights" of the Raider are tungsten yellow-orange.

First, I tried to paint the LEDs with clear yellow, but this took many coats and still didn't look accurate. So, I decided to whittle down some clear yellow plastic, to go through the front grille, and then cut down the rounded front of the LEDs so they would mount flush with the clear yellow-orange parts. Success! I decided to do the same with the rarely-seen underwing lights, cutting down the LEDs and hooking them up to two pieces of clear sprue surrounded by Kotobukiya detail parts. (Kotobukiya parts also came in handy in covering over the holes in the Raider intakes where the original-release missiles used to go.) The Cylon engine lights were two sets of 5 LEDS in an "X" pattern, each set in a carefully-drilled-out landing-gear pod from an old IMAI "Space: 1999" Eagle- a noble use for a REALLY inaccurate kit. (Thanks to the SSM Iron Modeler Wonderfest Parts Dump for that one!) My wife lined the IMAI pods with aluminum foil, drilled out the pods, glued the LEDs in place, and encased the LEDs in AVES. (For those who were counting, the last LED was simply painted over and installed inside the body.) The entire electrical assembly went into the Raider before the two halves were joined together and seams were dealt with.

Painting, detailing and decals were next. Both kits were primed with Tamiya Gray Primer. I painted almost all of the Viper parts with Tamiya Bare-Metal Silver, with certain details picked out in Testors Gunmetal Gray (the exhausts were painted Testors Gunmetal Gray, with details picked out in Tamiya Bare-Metal Silver.) For the Viper, I used a mix of Vallejo and Tamiya acrylics, with a premade "black" wash from The Detailer (which actually left my bare-metal parts with a slightly bluish hue) and just a little streaking with ComArt Smoke. Panel lines were delineated on the Viper with a specialty Gundam pen. The invasion stripes on the Viper were laid out with Tamiya tape, and painted on with Vallejo White and Gloss Black.

For the Raider, I used a mix of Vallejo Model Air, Testors, and Tamiya acrylics, weathered with Tamiya weathering pastels (which also provided the burned "bluing" on the Raider exhausts) and just a little streaking with ComArt Smoke. Both kits were then coated with Future, to ready them for decals. The decals for both models came from various sources, and really caused me trouble in several spots- many of them were old, and broke apart while they were being applied. (Next time, I'll have the Liquid Decal Film ready.) A coat of Vallejo Satin Finish for both models completed the assembly.

The base is fairly simple: two pieces of varnished pine for each model pinned together with a copper rod, placed on a plank of Sintra (foamed PVC) with holes drilled in the bottom plank to make room for the battery boxes. The sides of the Sintra were planked with sheet styrene, painted with flat-black rattlecan primer, and finished with Testors Dullcote.

All in all, this was a fun exercise. It's been years since I've built and painted a WWII aircraft, so this was a real test of my current knowledge and abilities.

Image: He's on your tail!

Image: With lights

Image: From the front

Image: Raider

Image: Viper, climbing

Image: Side view

Image: Viper, WIP

Image: Raider, WIP

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