by: Jim Lewis [ ]
If you're a Science-Fiction modeler, then you're most likely a fan of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. For me, the miniatures are the most appealing aspect of the 1968 film. Shown ever so brielfy was the Pan-Am Space Clipper to whet the modeler's appetite. Previous versions of this spaceplane were done in 1/144th scale by Airfix and Aurora. Unable to get either, until this year, I purchased the Airfix version and was really left wanting a better job. Soon afterwards I got a hold of one of the Wilco! Models Orion III - and thought it a better job.
Wilco! Models' kit is made up of just four pieces of resin - with two more to make up a simple stand. For the most part the resin castings are nice, but do call for some bubble filling and cleanup. On my example, the scribing was not even nor straight in crossing the circumference of the fuselage casting. I've read that the master for this casting was the original Aurora model kit, and incompletely cleaned-up seam lines do show in the resin castoff. However, these were simple to sand away and polish smooth. The bubbles were relatively easy to take care of with Squadron's Green Putty. On my example, the underside of the nose section was pretty bad - marred by seam lines and what appeared to be shifting of the master when the resin was poured. In building the model kit I found it more expedient to fill the offending area with Putty, and sand it all smooth. I then rescribed the panel lines and replaced the removed circular detail with sheet styrene. Not knowing what the circular detail was actually for - I scanned and reduced a Pan-Am "meatball" to print on decal sheet and apply to my model in that spot. It looks nice.
The Engine Housing is a separate piece that attaches to the fuselage via a male-female socket at the rear end. My example fit tightly and well - no real effort for extra cleanup was called for, except in removing the pour gates on the underside. These pour gates were pretty hefty in my kit example, and I payed extra attention not to remove raised details located precariously close to them. All the bubbles calling for filling was located on the underside of this part in my example. I noticed that neither the Engine Housing or Fuselage come detailed with the prominent half-circular braking thruster units that girdle the rear end of the miniature. I would eventually cut up plastic beads - first in halves - then quarters - to replicate this detail. Lastly, the tip for mounting the dual antenna "stingers" was not cleanly cast in my example. I rebuilt the area with styrene and added new antenna made from .010" stainless steel wire.
Wings and Finishing Up
The wing section comes in two parts - a main section with both wings cast as a single unit, and the other as a leading section for the cranked arrow configuration. Apprehensive that the panel lines would not match up when I joined them - I was pleasantly surprised that they did! I followed Wilco! Models' instructions and mated them on a flat surface - before attaching them to the fuselage-engine housing. These two parts were cleanly cast in the kit I purchased, with only minor seam cleanup called for. Note: consulting Simon Atkinson's artwork, you'll notice that the angle of the scribed panel lines on the trailing sections of the wings are incorrect. They should match the angles on the leading sections of the wings.Not much to say about the base provided - other than I didn't opt to use it. It was rougher cast and would call for more cleanup than the rest of the model did itself. The decals are inkjet printed, and acceptable, but since I purchased an Airfix spaceplace, I opted to use those "meatball" decals instead because of their sharper registration.
I've been waiting for a good model of the Orion III Spaceplane for sometime. Though some cleanup and extra work is called for in completing the Wilco! Models kit - I wasn't disappointed. It does capture the look and feel of the movie miniature. It is a hefty model too, some 14 inches long when all is said and done. If you want to go to town and superdetail it - there isn't much more to add. Wilco! Models made great efforts to provide most of that for you in the basic kit. I recommend it to modelers experienced with working with all-resin kits.
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Copyright ©2019 text by Jim Lewis [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.
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