Let’s Make Something Beautiful: Turn A Nazi Bomber Into A Spaceship

Scale model making is one true subculture that has yet to go mainstream and be turned into a reality television talent show.  Probably because it would be the world’s dullest program, populated by nerdy old farts who’ve sniffed too much glue.  Don’t believe me?  Go to any hobby shop– well, any of the few remaining hobby shops that still sell scale models– and watch the model makers in their natural habitat.  You’ll likely find it’s an excellent cure for insomnia, especially if you dare engage them in conversation.

I can say this because I am a scale modeler and I know it’s kind of a boring hobby to anyone who’s not also an enthusiast.  I used to feel the same way until I got into it.  There are many different kinds of model makers.  Personally, I prefer the subject of WWII aviation.  However, I also love science fiction.  But unless you’re just dying to build something from Star Trek, Star Wars, or Battlestar Gallactica, there are few options.  The good news is, with just a little bit of creativity, your stodgy old Jerry Blitz bomber can become a Martian warbird like this:

To find out how I did it, follow me after the jump for a rather photo-intensive explanation.

The only surviving example of the Arado Ar 234B, on display at the National Air and Space Museum

The Arado Ar 234 “Blitz” was the first jet-powered bomber and the last Luftwaffe plane to fly over England during WWII.  Like the rest of the Nazi’s jet engine program, it was too little, too late.  It’s frightening to think how the course of history may have veered into a completely different direction had these discoveries come just a year earlier.  It was state-of-the-art stuff for the era.  Not even the fastest fighter planes at the time could catch it.  Which makes it a perfect candidate for a spaceship.

Basic body construction:  I rummaged through the washer selection at the nearby Big Box Hardware store and glued together an alternating pattern to make that big rear engine.  I applied a coat of primer and drybrushed some gun metal on to see what it would look like.  Pleased with the result, I put the fuselage together and then sawed off the back end just after the wing roots.  I glued the wings on upside down, which made them point downward at a nice angle and positioned the jet engines and drop tanks on top.  Using Milliput and triangular styrene, I mounted the Blitz’s horizontal stabilizers into a V-shaped dual vertical stabilizing solution.

Here is the top view.  I added some sort of connector pins I found at Radio Shack to the underside of the wings which I thought would make excellent laser cannons.  Or photon blasters.  Or ionic disrupters.  I had to use a Satanically fast-setting glue to get them to adhere without screwing up the plastic.  I have also glued my fingers together with it before which was a frightening experience I don’t care to repeat.  Hence the glove.

Upon closer inspection, I thought the main rear thruster wasn’t quite right, so I added this brass nozzle bit to the back.  Sometimes just a small detail like that can make a big difference.

Next, I cut some sheet styrene into vaguely spaceship-looking wingamajigs and etched some panel lines into them.  Then I dug through my box of greebles and glued them into place.

Using Milliput to secure the space wingalings in place, I again dug through the greebles and used a few parts from an abandoned Tamiya Tiger tank kit to add some more detail.  I also added the Arado’s air intake to the top and used its two halves of the vertical stabilizer (the tail) to make a forward dual stabilizing solution.  This would undoubtedly prove useful in many a space situation.

Now we’re getting somewhere.  With a coat of Darth Vader black primer, it’s beginning to look like a spaceship.  I painted the cockpit controls and and pilot, who is missing from this photo.  But I glued him into place before…

Attaching and masking the canopy.

The first coat of paint.  I wanted something bold and bright and thought Tamiya’s Sky Blue was perfect.

This is where things started to go a little wibbly on me.  I love Tamiya paints.  They are exceptional as long as the color you want falls within the realm of the real.  If you want to paint a WWII machine, they make historically accurate colors.  But they don’t make a lot of loud colors.  There’s a Games Workshop up the street from me and I like to check out the amazing models and figures on display in the window.  The colors are otherworldly.  So I chose this intense orange from Games Workshop’s Citadel line.  I apparently didn’t thin it enough and it went on like latex.  When I pulled up the masking, I was heartbroken to see how badly it had leaked under the tape.

But one thing I’ve learned as a model maker is to work with the mistakes.  OK, so if it wasn’t going to be sleek, clean, and beautiful, I’d make it dirty.  I had to actually sand down some of the Citadel paint because it was quite thick and clumpy in places.  Next, I sprayed on a layer of gloss coat.  I went through my spare decals and found a few that worked. After the decals had set, I sprayed on a coat of very thinned Tamiya Smoke, which darkened the whole ship nicely.  Using sliver, white, and aluminum, I drybrushed out some of the details, including spots where the Citadel paint met the blue to give it a worn and chipped look.  Then I scraped a reddish-brown chalk pastel stick and sprinkled the chalk dust all over the ship to create a sort of “Mars dust” effect.  Finally, I covered the whole thing in two layers of dull coat to  keep the Martian dirt in place.

Now that it was done, the question of how to mount it eluded me for a few weeks as the ship sat forlorn upon a shelf.  I decided to try something different and use a stone I liberated from the beach as a stand.  I drilled a hole into it and bent the brass rod into a space-age semi circle.  I took another length of brass rod the same gauge and heated it up over the gas range.  Whilst very hot, I pushed it through a predetermined spot on the underside of the ship and had a custom-sized hole for the mount.

This was my first attempt at a kitbash and I’m quite proud of the way it turned out.  I’ve since used the stone mounting method for other aircraft and I think it looks really cool.

Hope you enjoyed that and if you have any kitbashed models you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.  I always love to see the beautiful things other people make.

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1 Comment

Filed under Art, Aviation, Crafts, Let's Make Something Beautiful

One response to “Let’s Make Something Beautiful: Turn A Nazi Bomber Into A Spaceship

  1. That is really, really cool. By NOT following the directions, you always end up with something way cooler. Sometimes you end up with big mess, but that’s how you learn. I always tell my students that art is all about rule-breaking; you learn the rules specifically so that you can break them.

    I can’t decide whether your creation looks more like Starblazers or Battle of the Planets… I’m siding with Starblazers. It kind of reminds me of the shape of the smaller fighter ships but the color scheme of the big bazooka battleship.

    It sounds like you don’t normally run into the problem of paint leaking under the tape so this may be a suggestion for a problem you’ll never have to worry about again. But it is a common problem with artists who mask using tape. What they have figured out is that if you first seal the edge with a fluid that dries clear and matte (such as acrylic matte medium or some spray like crystal clear) any seeping that happens is done by something that is invisible. Then after that, you put your layer of paint on and when you peel the tape you have a razor sharp edge.

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