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Scratchbuilt Maximum Security Vehicle

By Dave Ruther - images & text © 2003

After a break of a few years, I have got back into modelling. I have a number of projects on the go and always tend to do something else between projects to prevent myself becoming stagnated with the same models.

Whilst thinking of what I should do as the "something else", I decided to go for something a little different - something a little uncommon and at the same time fairly challenging. Perusing a 35 year old and tattered annual that I found in the attic I came across the very thing…

[Click to enlarge]

…the Maximum Security Vehicle from Gerry Anderson's 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons'.

The vehicles themselves were supposed to be heavily armoured transporters, fitted with four double wheels and gull-wing doors. However, they never actually appeared much in the series. They're probably best remembered in their rendition as "Dinky Toys" (nowadays highly collectable).

I opted for wood as the material of choice for the main body, with glass fibre forming the cabin area. The overall size of the model was decided for me by a set of wheels that I had in my "widget box". These were radio-controlled aircraft wheels that I bought from my local model shop several years ago for another model that never got off the ground.

I started by making up my plans in line with the wheels that I had. Then I glued lengths of balsa wood together to make up the basic shape of the body. This was then carved and sanded to roughly the right shape.

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Balsa bottom Cabin affixed Building up the final form

The cabin section was carved from 'Oasis' foam. This is the foam that you buy from the garden centre for sticking dried plants into!

I then coated this in fibreglass cloth and resin to form a hard shell. Once the fibreglass had dried, I simply scrapped out the foam from the inside. Also I made up some brass axles, which the wheels would fit onto. The ends were capped off with plastic tube to enable the wheels to spin freely.

The cabin was then fitted to the main body, using car body filler. More filler was applied over the entire model and the windows and vents were drilled out roughly. Also, part of the centre section was made up, using balsa and blended into the bodywork with more filler. The model was then sprayed using grey primer to show up any discrepancies or blemishes.

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Windows & vents Rear, rough form Front, rough

I found that after the gradual build up of filler, the wheels no longer sat properly inside the model. Therefore, I had to cut a small section out of both axles and shorten them. They were then joined back together using a larger piece of tube. I then cut a piece of Perspex sheet the same size as the bottom of the model which would form the base plate. In order to give the model some kind of suspension, I made up some brass swing arms which were fitted to the base plate and then soldered onto the axles. This enabled the wheels to move up and down.

I made up the wheel covers from plastic sheet cut into discs. These were then pressed over a smaller metal disc to give them the dish effect. Holes were drilled into these and centre parts made from plastic tube capped off with more plastic sheet.

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Chassis Wheel covers Bumpers

Next was the arduous task of filling, sanding, priming, filling, sanding, priming (repeat, repeat, repeat), until I was happy with the shape and finish of the model. Also, the window, light and vent holes were opened up to the correct shape.

Ribbed plastic card was fitted into the vent openings and the twin bumpers and fin was made from thick ABS plastic.

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Ready for primer and polishing Polished

Next the model was rubbed down with wet and dry sand paper until a smooth finish was obtained. Also any fibreglass air pockets were opened up and filled.

I decided early in the project to not build operating gull wing doors. And rather than just draw lines on the model to indicate their presence, I fitted thin strips of tape in position prior to the final 3 coats of primer. Thus when the tape was removed, I was left with grooves where the doors should be.

Painting and Finishing

At first I couldn't decide on the correct colour for the vehicle. The "Dinky Toys" version was white, whilst the one in my annual appeared to be metallic silver. However, the one in the series was light grey. I used Ford Dove Grey, which I got from my local car accessory shop and gave the model several coats.

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Ready for paint "Decals"

With the wheel covers painted silver, they were glued onto the wheels. The base plate was screwed into place and pieces of foam were fitted above the swing arms. The result was very realistic suspension! I understand that this was the method employed on the studio miniatures in the Gerry Anderson shows.

The "Spectrum" roundels were from the annual that I mentioned earlier. I scanned them into the computer and then printed them off onto photographic paper. These were fixed to the model using spray adhesive.

The black and red stripes are self adhesive "Trimline" stripes and the chrome stripes are self adhesive aluminium tape cut into strips. The lights were fitted with aluminium mesh covered with clear Perspex.

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Car completed with self-adhesive trim striping

Finally, the foam was painted black and secured better inside the model. I also fitted the windows, rear lights and weathered it accordingly. My final image, with the vehicle in a typical 'Captain Scarlet' diorama, was achieved by having the street scene mounted on a board behind the model.

All in all, this model only took me about 3 weeks to complete, working only in my spare time and I'm more than satisfied with the result.

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Completed model

[All done]

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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 20 March 2003.