Dedicated page to highlight a long, photo rich article done by an IPMS Salisbury Club member. This will change periodically but two articles will be here for at least a month to allow anyone tackling a similar build to gain use of the photos and notes. The newest Article will always be at the page top so scroll down for prior article if you have been referencing that.
Article 1 by: Dec 'SIBO' Sibley Ma.K LUNADIVER 'STINGRAY' in 1/35 scale by Hasegawa.
I really like Ma.k and consider myself lucky to have become first acquainted with SF3D, the original form of Ma.k as a model making teenager. However I’m not fanatical about Ma.k. There are some designs that don’t attract me and therefore have never been on my “to build” list. Surprisingly, considering this article, the LUNADIVER is one of the Ma.k vehicles that never appealed to me, I love the idea of Armoured fighting suits, and the Walkers and IA vehicles are equally imaginative yet quite obvious in what they represent. When displaying the Ma.k fighting suits for example, observers with no real knowledge of Ma.k or Sci-fi modelling in general recognise what an AFS is; a man in a powered fighting suit. The LUNADIVER is a different matter. Designed as a single seat fighter and ground attack craft for use on the moon it is certainly a unique shape fitting its call sign “Stingray”. But it lacks wings or landing legs or even a cockpit windscreen, all the things that help identify a ship to the viewer and why so many famous film spaceships have these features.
So when I obtained the massive box containing the LUNADIVER STINGRAY kit I wasn’t immediately hooked, I was however very impressed with how HASEGAWA have put this model together. I have built a couple of HASEGAWA’s aircraft kits before and have always been impressed with the fit of parts and general presentation of the subject. I anticipated the same with this model and overall was not disappointed but the fit of parts was at times an issue which I have highlighted during the build article.
The box is big and packaged beautifully still including the famous SF3D coloured marking sheets. Two sets of very clear instructions are included with the bagged sprues one for the Stingray and one for the two miniature SAFS. There is a lot of plastic in the box, the majority in white with a single sprue (K) in dark grey for the cockpit seat and two crew figures. Also included are two sprues containing parts for a large display stand which is a must for a model that has no landing gear (L and Z) and a set of Poly caps.
The instructions are very clear and build is swift. Step one is refreshing, I was handling large components from the start and the size of the craft is apparent straight away. The body parts are big and very curvaceous. The cockpit is constructed early on with only 3 parts but they exhibit fine detail of wire and tubing. If the cockpit hatch is left open then the provided detail is adequate. A bigger hatch is also provided but the instructions show it glued into place so the requirement of a separate piece is not obvious, it does however allow extra interior to be viewed and with that in mind I decided to add to the basic cockpit seat. Armoured side panels, a tubular frame work with sprung seat mounts, radio boxes and a radiator were all added. I kept assembling the body around the added detail to ensure the hatches still fitted and apart from the radiator thought I’d achieved that aim, unfortunately later once the body was glued together properly the large hatch was not able to fit exactly, my fault for trying to make the tolerance to tight. If assembled as intended the kit would have no problems. I was not bothered by the fit problem as I’d already decided that the hatches would be removed to allow full view of the interior. It also allowed the fitting of the large radiator which I liked despite it being a bit too big. All the extra detail parts came from the chassis of a 1/24 Shelby Cobra cut and rearranged. The inside skin of the body components benefit from a coat of black paint to add depth to the interior and I also added some detail to the inner walls. The tail boom is hollow and fits with strong locating lugs. I added a set of wire strands to give the make the boom busy.
Immediately the build began I noticed that the attachment points of each part to the sprues were quite large and offset. I believe this is to ensure that the attachment stub does not mark the part in any way when being removed but I found it increased the work of removal. The biggest problem being caused by the stub looking very similar to the locating pins as it was off set. Also the stubs were often very close to raised details that meant a quick swipe with a sharp blade was no possible needing a number of chisel style cuts to remove the offending stub. This is not really much of a problem but throughout the course of the build does add a little extra time.
The bottom fuselage mounts the rail gun and parts are need to make the recessed mounting point. This area was the first to display alignment problems made obvious by the moulded pipe work that is a feature of the LUNADIVER. I elected to line up the pipe work and deal with any other joints after the glue had set as I figured the pipe work would be the harder of the two to fix. The joints shown run through the lower lobes that mount the engines and along the back of the ship. Join A in the picture below was filled and sanded, while B was left and treated as a panel. I dealt with the joints by rubbing Squadron white putty into the join line, the white would help the subsequent painting as it would blend in with the unpainted plastic, while darker filler would show through unless a number of primer coats were applied. The poor joints also extended around the rear up to where the tail extends from the body. While not major, these joint lines broke the smooth flow of the LUNADIVER’s form so need to be removed. To prevent dust from sanding entering the many openings of the body and ruining the already painted cockpit masking is required and to minimise dust wet and dry paper was used instead of sandpaper. Wet tissue was used to block openings and Kitchen foil with masking tape for the bigger area, the foil conforming easily and keeping its shape. A small square of wet and dry paper was used at a time, run under the tap before sanding begins so that the dust becomes a slurry that is easy to control and wipe away. The wet and dry paper clogs often but running it under the tap clears it quickly. When the paper becomes too soft, the grit starts to come away from the backing paper, simply use a fresh piece. A hooked scalpel blade redefines the pipe work where is has been accidentally sanded. Joint B is made into a feature using some of the many extra rivets that HASEGAWA thoughtfully include on Sprue J. These are also called out in the instructions to allow the builder to detail the body by adding raised rivets instead of the flush ones that are moulded in place. Filling and sanding was also done on parts C2,C3, C17 and 18, the Reactor pods. These rear facing curved ends need to be smooth and while the joints are not too bad extra effort will be worthwhile as this area is prominent on the finish model.
The instructions continually remind the builder to follow the correct order of assembly and for the most part this is a sensible as the components are such awkward shapes. I deviated from this in only two places. The tail boom was glued to the lower hull first rather than the top as instructed. This allowed me to add the detail to the boom and wire it under the cockpit tub. Step 6 would have you add parts A6 and A5, the car door shaped shield or airfoils. To save from damage and aid painting and decaling of the main hull I added these at the very end. I felt the armour shields looked too much like the original donor part so masked one to show it field repaired with a panel of unpainted metal that had tarnished. Navigation lights were added from scrap clear sprue into the shield recesses
All the Poly cap mounts work well and gave the Rail gun full movement as well some degree of pivot to the engine bells. The engines are “Plasma Rocket Motors” according to step 7, and have ‘Mr Color’ painting references. Unfortunately the numbers are not in the paint chart, only 9 colours are named. At first I was going to paint the engine bells metallic colours as per a normal rocket but noted the box art showed them the same colour as the main hull. Having no idea of the colour of plasma engines I went along with this and used ‘Lifecolor’ white oxide to colour the black interior with Burnt brown over the top. These colours are from the ‘Lifecolor’ TENESCROM range and give a range of useful washes that can be used in different ways to give depth to details or subtly change basic colours. I used the Oil wash with a little Burnt brown to change the engines colour a little from the main body to show the effect of heat and different materials. Salt was applied wet to the black painted bells in a random pattern and left to dry in place before the green overcoat was applied. Once dry it was washed and then lightly sanded to restore smoothness and give a worn appearance.
The body after preparation was sprayed in acrylic Ice Green, an unusual pastel colour. I just picked this colour at random as I was a bit fed up with greys and whites, the colours I’ve been using a lot of recently. Once applied it looked great and proved a great back ground colour for the Digital Cam decals I had created.
Despite the change from grey I still aimed to use the marking guide for “7th Yeomanry Regiment, 2nd Ground Attack Company – Flt. Lt Giotto Uffizi” so over the base colour dark red was applied as per the guide. I made a small mistake as I matched the colour to the colour card, I should have checked the decal sheet as the numbers which were shown on the card were in fact lighter and more vibrant. This can be seen in the final pictures though it does not detract at all. I masked off the tail and nose, and also sprayed the sensor head separately. Wear and tear was added with ‘Games Workshop’ Dwarf Flesh which was a touch lighter than the red I’d used, some scratches having dark grey as exposed metal. Intentionally weathering was kept light as I’d assume there would be less wearing effects in space. I did add impact spots to the face of the Radar ( E4) that was done in tan as such a flat area is bound to pick up marks from micro space debris as the LUNADIVER flies through the lunar atmosphere. The shields ( A5 and A6) were also sprayed red but the Railgun was left plain with just the Digicam applied. Most will added the extended air tanks (J7 and J8) as they really add to the Ma.k look but as I was modeling the craft as if in maintenance used optional J9 instead. Note the shape of B23 too as it conforms to the curves of the airframe but only if placed exactly.
The final finish of the LUNADIVER was the hook that overcame my apathy toward this kit. Once I’d decided I’d give it a digital camouflage scheme I couldn’t wait to get to grips with it and find a way to apply the scheme. My references covered a wide range of real world examples, Chinese tanks in bold digi cam, Aircraft in digital style swathes, real US marine fatigues as well as video game renditions. I wanted a close repeating camouflage so looked at the tight pattern of the US fatigues and dismissed the larger vehicle cam schemes. Any printed material will have a repeat patter but comparison of Digicam with normal Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) cloth showed a far large amount of material had to be viewed before the pattern began to repeat. This feature makes Digicam appear more random than previous style camouflage uniforms. I thought I could save myself time by applying the scheme in bands like a WW1 Lozenge pattern as seen on German aircraft. This was flawed partly as the repeat undermined the camouflaging affect of the digital scheme and partly due to the complex curves of the LUNADIVER body. In the end I resorted to individually cutting a piece to fit every area of the body, completely wrapping the craft in decals. The digicam took more than 7 hours alone and once satisfied a second round of decaling with the markings and warning stencils began. Using 'Crafty Computer Paper’s' Laser Water-slide Decal sheet. I produced my own Digtal scheme and printed it onto 2 A4 sheets of decal paper using a Inkjet printer. The clear areas allowing the base coat of the model to shine though. Before decaling an area at a time was painted with “Klear” Floor varnish to give the smoothest surface then each decal applied. Once dabbed dry Revell decal soft was painted on to ensure maximum conformity. This has for the most part worked with only a few spots of ‘Silvering’ appearing,I used judicious paint chips to cover the ‘silvering’ rather than reapply the offending decal.