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Old 08-26-2022, 09:08 AM
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STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400

For more reasons than one I havenít built in 1/400 in a long time. The main reason was I thought it had become too small for my eyes to handle. But I still had some unfinished business in that scale. My plan was to build all shuttles in 1/400, each on a milestone mission. I did Enterprise (ALT), Columbia (STS-1), Atlantis (First docking to Mir) and Endeavour (its last ISS mission with most spacecraft attached to the station).
But I still had to do at least two more.
When Challenger lifted off from LC39A the 30th October of 1985, it was another milestone in the Shuttle program in many ways. With eight people on board, it was the largest ever crew launched in a single spacecraft. It also was the launch of the first Dutch astronaut, Wubbo Ockels. And it was the last time Shuttle Challenger made a full flight from launch to wheel stop, at Edwards AFB on November 6. On the next occasion, 26 February 1986 and well, we all know what happened, I donít have to elaborate on thatÖ

For long, I had this plan to show Challenger during ascent, preferably at booster separation. But aside from all the drawings I still puzzled on how to actually do that in a way without too much clutter around the separating stack parts. And then I got this idea. Thin wires through the ET to the SRBís camouflaged with fluff to imitate the separation rocket plumes, and suspend the stack from the booster plumes with rods of some kind inside the SRBís to the base plate.


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1140552.jpg

Now what to use?
I experimented with some metal wire I had, but it was too thick for my liking. I had some used mandolin strings that were looking ideal but they were just too thin and flexible. While there was a heatwave going on, I cycled to the model hobby shop in town and bought some steel spring wire. Very thin but sturdy.
So, this will be the first time in actually years that I will build in 1/400. But against my expectations, it was easy. I could see what I was doing, the parts were cut out with precision and I again was amazed by the great fit of the shuttle parts in 1/400.
Of course I used AXMís model of Challenger with a very slight mod to the ET to make it a little darker to better resemble STS-61Aís tank. Alfonsoís shuttle model is so good. It still is very doable at 36% of its actual scale.


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150434.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150497.jpg


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150506.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150510.jpg

The shuttle was an utter joy to build. I left out some parts because edge glueing was enough to keep it all together. The cockpit part was slightly sanded on the edges to get a thinner edge. In this scale, paper thickness can be a nuisance but again, the fit is almost perfect. And the almost might just be because of my slightly ageing eye-hand coordination.
In the end I held a very pretty tiny Challenger in my hand.

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150512.jpg

The ET. Quite an uneventful build very smoothly. I gave the tank a bit darker colour to match STS-61-A's ET. I left out the triangular glue tabs here for the ogive part. Just edge glueing and an occasional small 80 gram glue strip inside. The ETís innards have a strip of rolled up piece of 80 gram regular printing paper and inside of that, three cardboard rings with a hole in the middle.
At the intertank SRB attachment points I made tiny holes. on the bottom of the central cylinder I cut out two notches where the SRBís attach.
Here the Ďmagicí has to happen. I left the bottom cap off of the constructed ET to be able to fiddle with the wire later on.


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150516.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150522.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150528.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1140552.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150434.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150452.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150497.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150506.jpg  

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150510.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150512.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150516.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150522.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150528.jpg  

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Old 08-26-2022, 09:20 AM
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Now, the SRBís. Second time I made them. In the STS-1 setup I detailed the boosters with extra rims around the outside. Thinly cut paper strips. It proved to increase detail and realism so I did the same again. I used my remodeled version of AMís boosters; where the seam will disappear underneath the cable run over the fuselage I reinforced the inside with a sturdy rolled-up piece of card, in which the transparent rod had a snug fit. I capped the inner tube off inside to make sure both SRBís would be equally high up.


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150544.jpg

The wire setup is like this:
At first I wanted to try and Ďsuspendí the whole stack on the SRBís. With one piece of bent wire going from the base plate through both the SRBís and the ET. But it would be quite tricky to build the parts around that wire. Maybe I should try that later on a less intricate model. I settled for this:
Two transparent perspex rods, slightly bent in a curve. (a Tajine top did the trick to get two equally curved rods.!)



STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150548.jpg

They will be inserted into the SRB engine nozzles., camouflaged by fiberfill fluffiness. The ET will house two pieces of wire, one at the top and one at the bottom, providing the sturdier bit in the construction. These wires then will be connected to the separation motor locations on the SRBís with some CA glue. And again camouflaged with some fiberfill to imitate the exhaust plumes of the separation rockets.


The base plate.
A slightly large one because I needed some space for the curved trajectory. First I thought I would use a photo of the Florida Space Coast but I wanted to do something a little more creative, I guess. I used paint with birdcage sand, fiberfill for clouds and some paper to create this suggestion of the Space Coast with a little more depth in the landscape. It isnít 100% realistic but I like it for now. I can always change it to something else. Two 3.2 mm holes were drilled in the edge of the base plate ( a photo frame). Convenient, because the perspex rods have the same cross section.



STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150469.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150472.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150477.jpg

When placed on the rods, the wire protruding from the ET needed a little trimming. With some fluffy fiberfill around it, it immediately was hardly noticeable. I coloured some fiberfill with yellow fluid paint (ecoline). The fibery stuff was glued to the rods with a little drop of CA here and there. Some japanese art paper with big fibres was used for flames of the extinguishing boosters. A little bunt umber gave the flames and the smoky bits some depth.



STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150598.jpg
And after some modelling of the fiberfill fluff, there it was. Challenger separating from its boosters, on her way to orbit with Wubbo Ockels on board. Some quick beauty shots:



STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150573.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150575.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150590.jpg


STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150596.jpg

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150603.jpg

That is in short how I build the stack and I have to say, it went crazy fast compared to the last few months of slow builds...


I really enjoyed it! So I guess the next one will follow shortly. And it might be Discovery... Who knows?
Attached Thumbnails
STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150469.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150472.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150477.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150544.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150548.jpg  

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150573.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150575.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150580.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150590.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150596.jpg  

STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150598.jpg   STS-61A - Challenger booster sep diorama 1/400-p1150603.jpg  
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Old 08-26-2022, 11:40 AM
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Beautiful job, in any scale!
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Old 08-26-2022, 02:16 PM
sreinmann sreinmann is offline
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Great display. I love the extra work in showing the boosters as they separate.
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Old 08-27-2022, 01:04 AM
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awesome job and a great build sir well done indeed
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Old 08-27-2022, 04:32 PM
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Oh my. What an awesome display. Thanks for posting it, PK!
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Old 08-27-2022, 06:32 PM
PaperBender2021 PaperBender2021 is offline
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Excellent.
A really tragedy, but nice job trying to capture those last few moments before everything went so wrong.
I didn't know him that well, but I worked with the commander, Dick Scobee on an earlier mission he flew on.
Flying rockets is never a no risk business, but we could have done better here and with the Columbia as well.
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Old 08-27-2022, 09:26 PM
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VERY well executed!

I especially like how you figured out how to model this moment of the launch- Very clever use of the line and fiberfill.
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Old 08-27-2022, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaperBender2021 View Post
Excellent.
A really tragedy, but nice job trying to capture those last few moments before everything went so wrong.
I didn't know him that well, but I worked with the commander, Dick Scobee on an earlier mission he flew on.
Flying rockets is never a no risk business, but we could have done better here and with the Columbia as well.
Actually, this diorama is the previous Challenger flight, STS-61-A.

The Challenger disaster was STS-51-L; the explosion occurred before SRB separation, not after.
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Old 08-31-2022, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axm61 View Post
Oh my. What an awesome display. Thanks for posting it, PK!
Thank you for creating the opportunity for me to make it in the first place, Alfonso.
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