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The New Scale Spacecraft Primer Reviewed

By John Lester - images & text © 2015

Type: Softbound, 38pp, b/w photos and drawings, by Michael J. Mackowski

MSRP: $12.00 USD (~$15.85 CAN/ 10.73 EUR as of 8/2015) in softcover (PDF download also available) available from Space In Miniature

Overall Rating: A good introduction to building historical spacecraft models

Michael Mackowski has been publishing the Space in Miniature series, books which deal with scale modeling of historical spacecraft, since 1990. The original publication, SIM #1 - A Scale Spacecraft Primer, has long been out of date. This new publication corrects that.

SIM #1.1 - A New Scale Spacecraft Primer is a completely revised publication, with 2/3 of the content being new to the book (including reprints of articles originally published in the IPMS Journal). To acknowledge the 25th anniversary of Space in Miniature (and the 50th anniversary of IPMS/USA, several retrospective articles are included, including commentary by Kevin Atkins, Sven Knudson and Mat Irvine.


SIM #1.1 includes the following articles:

  • An Introduction to Real Space Modeling - general notes on scratchbuilding, correcting and detailing kits, sources of information, and an overview of the book by the author.
  • Judging Guide for Space and Science Fiction - guidelines for modelers who want to enter their work in scale modeling contests.
  • A History of Space Modeling in the IPMS/USA
  • Guest Commentaries - perspectives on the hobby from Kevin Atkins, Sven Knudson and Mat Irvine.
  • Examples of Scratchbuilding - Overviews of various scratchbuily models by the author, including Ranger, Surveyor probes, Viking and Luna 9 landers, and the Curiosity rover.
  • Cardstock Modeling - A brief overview, with useful links, of paper/card modeling.
  • Accurizing Revell's Astronaut with MMU - How the author corrected Revell's kit.
  • Landsat 4 and Solar Max - Scratchbuilding these satellites. Includes scale plans in 1/72.
  • The Ariane Rocket - A detailed look at available Ariane rocket kits by Mike Idacavage, with a build guide for the Revell 1/144 Ariane 4 by Joe Suszynski.
  • Delta Clipper - Experimental - A look at scratchbuilding McDonnell-Douglas' experimental reusable rocket, with 1/72 scale drawings.
  • Orbital's L-1011 and Pegasus - A look at how to build Orbital Sciences Corporation's air-launched space delivery vehicle and its L-1011 "mothership". Includes scale drawings.
  • X-30 - Converting Aurora's Ragnark Orbital Interceptor into the conceptual X-30 orbital spaceplane. Includes diagrams.
  • Kit Reviews - Reviews of the Revell 1/144 Space Operations Center, Wave Space Settlement, and Hasegawa Unmanned Space Probe Voyager.


[Click to enlarge]

^ Back cover

[Click to enlarge]

^ Sample page

SIM #1.1 is a good general introduction to scale spacecraft modeling. The various articles are clearly written and easy to follow. Diagrams and plans are well-drawn and clearly labelled. As befits a "primer", most of the articles are relatively short and general. The plans, references and links contained in this book are valuable to those interested in delving deeper into the genre.

Those looking for more in-depth treatments of historical space subjects should definitely check out the rest of the Space in Miniature series, which (as of this writing) consists of the following titles:

  • SIM #2 - Gemini
  • SIM #3 - Space Shuttle
  • SIM #4 - Soviet Spacecraft
  • SIM #5 - Mercury
  • SIM #6 - Apollo CSM
  • SIM #7 - Apollo LM
  • SIM #8 - Space Suits
  • SIM TR-1 - Skylab
  • SIM TR-2 - Mir


Many thanks to Space In Miniature for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2015 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 28 August 2015.