By Joe Brown - images & text © 2000
Is this ship truly "canon"? Heinlein never mentions space fighters in his novel "Starship Troopers", but it would be easy to assume that since he was discussing the Mobile Infantry and not the Navy, perhaps Rico didn't see them.
Image: The top of the fuselage.
Image: Rear view
Image: Front view
Only the fast corvettes and retrieval boats are specifically mentioned in the novel. Personally, a space-launched, ground-support tactical fighter makes sense to me. The TAC Fighter is only fleetingly glimpsed in the movie "Starship Troopers." There are some "in space" shots, but they are extremely hard to see. The one scene that DOES has a few seconds of decent views of the fighter is very, very brief (i.e., the "napalm" strike on the warrior bugs shortly after Rico, Dizzy, and Ace have joined up with the Roughnecks).
Gemini Productions, Inc. had a booth at Wonderfest 2000, and after looking at this kit all that weekend, I bought it on Sunday shortly before I headed home. This was quite a bit for me to spend on a single model kit, but I had tried scratchbuilding this one and just wasn't getting anywhere. Also, their display model was simply gorgeous! And in 1/48 scale, it's BIG!
WHAT YOU GET
The kit consists of 28 resin pieces; one is a clear acrylic support rod, and the other 27 are very high quality white resin. The entire kit came in a study cardboard carrying case, and other than the fuselage, all parts were individually sealed into their own plastic pouches. There were virtually no resin pits or bubbles (that means fewer than 10!) and while there was minor mold-seam line clean-up to do, it was very minor. I was able to wash clean all the parts of any mold release and finish the seam removal all in one evening (about 1 hour actual working time). I found the resin to be of medium hardness. It's quite firm and stable, but it can be carved or sanded with minimum effort.
The two biggest pieces are the main body (or fuselage) of the fighter itself, and the beautiful "Fleet" base. The base looks like the wings that the Navy uniforms sport in the movie and is very nice. It's a goodly sized piece at 7 & 9/16 by 15 & 3/8 inches, and it is wide and weighty enough to support the assembled fighter.
I have never before had the pleasure of getting a kit which virtually falls together right out of the box. I was delighted! This fighter can easily be assembled in a single sitting. But, I would suggest taking one's time with it to simply enjoy building a quality kit. The assembly instructions/painting guide are on a double-sided, color-printed page, and are very clear and explicit for parts placement. Sounds minimal? It is, but it's almost overkill--even with 28 parts this kit is a breeze to assemble! There were three spots where I used MagicSculp putty to hide join seams, and each of those was because I had been a little too heavy handed with sandpaper.
When I purchased the kit, parts were included for two main engine intakes; unfortunately, they were both for the port-side engine! And you can't just reverse them. I know, because that's the first thing I tried! So I e-mailed the company and explained my problem. They promised a free replacement, and when I received it, I discovered that they had tossed in a few freebies for my trouble!
I used the photos that D. Dymerski provided in Amazing Figure Modeler #17, and also on the Starship Modeler Hardware Reference page, in the Starship Troopers sections. There are also some great black and white photos in issue #27 of SciFi & Fantasy Modeler.
The hardest part of painting this model is that fact that it is so big! I used ModelMaster Acrylic paints, mainly airbrushing Light Gull Grey and darkened Neutral Gray for contrasting panels. I sprayed Flat White into the centers of some panels to attempt a soft color contrast. It's a very subtle effect, but I like it. The anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit, two areas of the forward wing, and the edges of the engine intakes were all sprayed with Tamiya Red to give the fighter a bit of color. The cockpit itself was inked with a Uniball Microfine pen Since this was done over the grey, there was a neat off-black look to it when I was finished. The base was painted gold (nice and simple so as not distract from the fighter).
For actual mounting, I used two diameters of brass tube that fit inside one another--a short wider piece in the base, with the slightly narrower tube going up as the support, and another of the wider piece glued into the fighter. I drilled a hole to accommodate setting the second wider piece into the fighter at its center of gravity; and placed the fighter at an upward angle, tilted to one side. This has become a habit with me, since it allows showing most ship models at a more dynamic angle.
I will (eventually) remove the solid resin cockpit and build a clear one; I already purchased two resin ACES II ejection seats for the flight crew in 1/48 scale. I'll have to do some creative fitting to shoehorn them into the molded-in cockpit tubs. But, since those are already there, that should make adding a visible cockpit even easier. This is one of those resin kits that I am happy to advise anyone who has the cash to buy it to go ahead and buy--it's a real winner!
This page copyright © 2001 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 7 February 2001.