||Great kit, needs some mods though...
by Jerry L. from Chicago area, IL on Jan 30, 2012
||Research, research, research. The book "Workshop Manual of Apollo 11" from Haynes Publishing was an excellent source, as was the Nasa archives online. The biggest blooper is that the CM needs to have the space sextant and star tracker added. It's on the opposite side as the hatch.
Use a magnifier for the decals. Engineering diagrams in the before mentioned book will give you accurate ideas for placement for the pitch, yaw and roll markings.
For the CM, drill out the holes for the EVA grips first. I used bare-metal chrome foil to cover the CM, burnished down onto the surface. I cut 1/16" strips and applied to replicate the ablative heat shield. Remember, the CM is a cone. In order for it to lay properly, first apply four strips 90degrees apart around the cone. I started at the middle of the hatch. Then fill in between. You'll get a really nice wrap-around effect. Apply the EVA grips last with a tiny dot of super glue into the drilled out holes. Paint them aluminum or steel.
The SM had some pretty bad gaps. The worse was that I had to laminate a strip of styrene to the very bottom of the SM so that the bottom would be flush with the sides. The RCS thrusters required no glue to be fit into the SM. Just a little push and they're snug. The same goes for the high-gain anntenae. Alignment of the photo-etched discs onto the anntenae frame was tricky.
The LM's RCS thrusters weren't exactly molded correctly. But they were close enough. However, when mated to the ascent stage, they are way too far from the blast deflectors attached to the descent stage. The ascent stage's docking target was completely incorrect based on photos.
I chose to extend the descent stage's legs. Based on my research, these were extended almost immediately after retraction from its housing on the last stage of the Saturn V. Attach the contact probes at the bottom of the LM's feet last, while the LM is attached to the CSM. Note, that there is NO probe on the front leg (where the ladder is). Again, research is very important.
Research will show that the LM descent stage is not all gold, depending on how the light hits it. The main body looks more bronze, with the foot pads and legs in gold. I painted it as I found that the bare-metal didn't adhere very well to the pre-molded surface.
Finally, and most importantly, ditch the kit supplied display base. Get a pre-made wood base about 4"x7" from Hobby Lobby for a buck. Paint it black or whatever suits you. Get some 1/16" spring steel about 2' long. During assembly, drill a hole into the base then holes through the CSM engine, base, top and through into the CM. Assemble the CSM then feed the steel through into the CM. It's tricky and will take some time. Curl the steel around to about 50degrees relative to the base and cut excess to desired length. Super glue the end into the hole in the base. This steel gives the CSM way more structural integrity when you display the LM connected to it. It takes a lot of stress off of the CM while supporting the load of the LM. This custom base is much less obstrusive than the kit supplied one and makes the finished model really look like it's floating.
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