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Old 02-11-2024, 03:57 AM
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dhanners dhanners is offline
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The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd

Been awhile since I built anything, so I thought Iíd break the drought with a conversion of Ken Westís X-15A-2 into the original, shorter X-15-1, 66670. With the help of some repainting by YukonJohn, this is how 66670 looked on Mission 1-81-141, flown 24 October 1968 by Bill Dana. It was the 199th and final flight of the X-15 program.

It takes a fair amount of strategic cutting to convert Kenís X-15A-2 into the shorter X-15-1. The X-15A-2, 66671, had been stretched 29 inches, the side tunnels were extended and there were numerous other alterations.

I shortened the fuselage and cut the side tunnels in a couple of different areas and fashioned new end pieces. Thatís the major surgery necessary for 66670, but I also cut the dorsal stub and rudder into two sections to make it more accurate. Other bits of scratchbuilding include the ventral camera installation, wingtip experiment pods, the Phase 2 MIT-Apollo Horizon Experiment and its box behind the dorsal, the corrugations and wiring added to the rudder end piece, as well as the third skid (and associated hydraulics) added inside the lower speedbrake well.

A lot of detail was added throughout, including scratchbuilding the XLR-99 motor, using Kenís pieces as templates. I deviated from Kenís construction technique on the wings and tailplanes. Maybe itís just me, but over time, the wings on my build of Kenís X-15A-2 sag in the middle. Kenís wings have no internal structure, just formers youíre supposed to glue at the root and tip. I wound up adding formers inside the wings so they would hold their shape. On the tailplanes, I corrected their cross section by a inserting a cardboard former (running from the tip to the root) down the middle of each tailplane.

YukonJohn did some fascinating recoloring, adding rivet detail to the wings and tailplanes. Markings-wise, 66670 carried only the U.S. AIR FORCE on the fuselage (staggered somewhat) and the serial number on both sides of the dorsal stub. The upper surfaces of the tailplanes had white photographic target stripes on them. YukonJohn also added the appropriate warning placards that appeared on 66670ís forward fuselage late in its career.

Modeling the X-15 in card generally presents one big problem: the monochromatic blackness of the vehicle. In real life, the Inconel X alloy the fuselage was made of took on all sorts of different hues and shades after being exposed to the heat of high-speed flight. I wanted to replicate that in some way, and spent weeks experimenting with (and discarding) different techniques.

I finally hit on one that seemed to show promise. I got a silver faux Sharpie from the local pound store (the U.K. equivalent of a dollar store) and before I cut the piece from the paper, I drew a series of parallel lines on the piece and quickly wiped it off with a cotton swab. It created a metallic gunmetal look, and I could vary ó and randomize ó the effect by wiping more. I also taped off different sections or panels to vary the effect.

By its last flight, 66670 was heavily weathered. I replicated that as best I could.

A couple of notes: I get my models printed on glossy stock at a print shop, so I have no idea how this would work on paper printed on a home printer. Also, I used an off-brand silver marker (and a bronze one on parts of the ventral) because a real Sharpie dries too quickly to wipe off. Or at least it did in my experiments.

I want to thank YukonJohn for doing a great repaint. And another tip of the hat goes to Ken West, for designing a great model that lends itself to conversion.
Attached Thumbnails
The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1727.jpg   The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1729.jpg   The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1734.jpg   The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1737.jpg   The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1743.jpg  

The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1744.jpg   The last X-15 flight, in 1/32nd-img_1749.jpg  
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Old 02-11-2024, 05:52 AM
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Kazziga Kazziga is offline
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I absolutely love your obsession with X-15s ;-)
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Old 02-11-2024, 06:07 AM
Davej Davej is offline
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Very nice. Complete precision.
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Old 02-11-2024, 06:10 AM
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You might not have built anything for a while, but your skills are as sharp as ever. Superb build as always!
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Old 02-11-2024, 07:52 AM
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Masterpiece ☝️
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Old 02-11-2024, 11:58 AM
Siwi Siwi is offline
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The metallic pen technique also works on dark laser prints, as it's also shiny enough to be wiped before it dries.
Once again a very professional build. Will we get to see all your stable of X-15s together?
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Old 02-11-2024, 01:17 PM
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dhanners dhanners is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siwi View Post
The metallic pen technique also works on dark laser prints, as it's also shiny enough to be wiped before it dries.
Once again a very professional build. Will we get to see all your stable of X-15s together?
Thanks, everyone. Folks here have provided a lot of inspiration and education over the years, and Iím very appreciative. This build has kind of incorporated all Iíve learned about the hobby ó and the X-15. That said, Iíd probably build another one if the opportunity presented itselfÖ.

As far as photographing them all, I could. I need to re-arrange my limited shelf-space anyway. Iíve got 11 X-15 builds in 1/48th, two in 1/32nd and one in 1/72nd. Iíve thought about trying one in 1/144th.

Frankly, Iíll probably get rid of a couple of them, packing them and sending them to author Michelle Evans, whose help (and research) has been most valuable. If youíre the least bit interested in the X-15, check out her book, ďThe X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space.Ē It is an exhaustive history of not just the X-15 but the people who designed, built, flew and provided support for the three X-15s. Itís a very human story filled with great detail.
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Old 02-11-2024, 01:31 PM
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Mechanic Mechanic is offline
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.

I'm always amazed when I see your builds, that you are able to add to something that is already pretty good right out of the 'box' and make it extraordinary.

.
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Old 02-11-2024, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dhanners View Post
Iíve thought about trying one in 1/144th.
You should do more than think about it!
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Old 02-11-2024, 07:54 PM
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ReynoldsSlumber ReynoldsSlumber is offline
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Gorgeous model, superb work! Especially like the attention to the finish and to the tail end details. 199 flights, didn't realize it flew that many times!
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