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Scratchbuilt Mantee-Class Assault Lander

By John Douglass - images and text © 1997.

      This ship actually started off as something quite different. It was originally supposed to be a very large freighter facing the other direction. It languished unfinished (alas, a not uncommon fate) until Shadows of the Empire, the LucasArts game, rekindled an interest for me in smaller potential "bounty hunter" craft.

      Anyway, in construction it is fairly typical for me. I started with two sheets of .060 styrene (plasticard). I cut one to look like a thick, stretched-out "Z", cut the other to match, joined them along the bottom, then plated-over a couple of the upper surfaces, forming what looked from the front or back like a fairly thick wedge. The nose was another wedge. I glued the front edge together, plated-over the sides and back, then sanded-off (with my disk/belt sander) the front edge.

      The wide part of the top of the ship would look really silly if I didn't put something on it so that it would look like it was wide for a reason. So, I put wedge-shaped "shoulders" on it, from which stuck-out wings. That was on the original freighter, anyway. When I picked this ship up again I plucked the wings, tucking them instead under the "chin". If you squint just right the ship looks kinda like a prehistoric fish from the side. Yes, even when sober. Well, sometimes. Anyway, the shoulders needed an excuse to exist again, so I made them turret mounts.

      Most ships have vast expanses of relatively little detail, with a few areas, usually nooks and crannies, with lots of detail. In order to make the top less boring I "indented" a square section of the top, then packed it and the surrounds with some detail. Enjoy playing "pick the parts"!

      The rationale behind the finish was I wanted a lander that was one of a large contingent on a carrier-type vessel. This particular lander is camouflaged for a, well, brownish-green planet. What doesn't show in the photographs is that some of the panels are painted solid colours (look toward the rear on the side view), *and* in a similar camouflage pattern done in red and light-blue! As always, the variety of colours add a bit of interest to the ship surface, and (hopefully) lend a bit of reality to the subject.

Click on each image to see a larger picture - but be aware, these are BIG!

side view

Side View of Mantee-class Assault Lander.


The essential wedge shape of the nose and the body shows up better here. Note, too, all the detail parts fetching-up into the joints between the various major components.

top view

Top view - look at that detail!

      Also note the shadowed panel edges. To some people this may appear unbelievably heavy. The trick to carrying it off, if you're determined to attempt it in the first place, is to be consistent with it - it has to be done all over the ship. Anyway, this ship was photographed by FineScale Modeller mostly, according to the discussion I heard from the magazine employees setting it up, because the base, a black sheet of plexiglass, was painted along the edge in all the colours I used on the ship. Although the photos went unused in the magazine, the ship was awarded an Honorable Mention at the '97 IPMS 'Nats.

      John has been building about a dozen scratchbuilt ships a year, selling them in the Art Show of the annual World Science Fiction Convention. If you'd like to see more of his work, or chat about how he makes these beauties, drop him a note at

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Last updated on 3 February 1999