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Model Update

July 7, 2008

This is the Anigrand X-20 “Dyna-Soar” model in 1:72 scale. It was photographed using a portable photo studio from Hammacher Schlemmer. This is one of the first five photos I did with the studio, no front flash, just using natural light from the front (on an overcast day) and the two included side lights.

The model is a simple build. There’s a pilot’s seat, but no other details since you couldn’t see them through the tiny windows anyway. As you can probably see, I didn’t try to fill the seam between the fuselage and the wings; it’s not as noticeable on the real thing, and it would have been kind of a nightmare. Sometimes you have to figure out what is overkill. The windows are Micro Kristal-Kleer. This version is apparently a 1959 design, not the early 1960s that was committed to actual blueprints. I may scratchbuild a “service module” for the spaceplane.

An excellent site with great CGI renderings is Dan Roam’s Deep Cold site. A great book is Dyna-Soar:Hypersonic Strategic Weapons System by Robert Godwin. And there are a lot of diagrams and blueprints available from Scott Lowther at Up-Ship.

Here’s the ISS MacArthur from Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote In God’s Eye:

There is a great story about how this became the MacArthur in the book. Pournelle tells it in “Building ‘The Mote In God’s Eye’,” which is now available in most editions of the book. (I recommend buying the book as an unencrypted ebook from webscription.net. Essentially, Jerry and his kids had this AMT model kit of the “Leif Ericson,” and they decided to see what they could do with it to make it a real spaceship in the book. The Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser has a long and interesting history as well, partly because it was designed by Matt Jefferies, who was the designer of the original Enterprise. There is a whole “Strategic Space Command” scenario continued by modelers based on this one ship.

This model is much smaller than the AMT version and was made by Alliance Models; it was marketed by Federation Models. It’s not on the current price list, so it must be out of production. The decals are some I found on the internet, including some by someone named Cosmo at this link. They had to be reduced to about 15 % of the original size. I also added some engine bells at the back, a “chin scoop” under the “neck,” and some detail inside the enclosed areas. Since the MacArthur could fire missiles I put the tubes in there with the “engines.” The chin scoop was added because the MacArthur could “fly” into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant to pick up reaction mass for its fusion engines.

Master modeler Chris Doll has another scratchbuilt take on how to render the MacArthur:

Chris Doll\'s ISS MacArthur

The planet below is supposed to be Mote Prime, the home of the “Moties,” the aliens contacted in the novel. The planet was described as being smaller and cooler than Earth, with larger polar caps. The Moties tended to overpopulate the place, so the cloud cover has a bit of a yellow-brown tinge from all the stuff in the air. Also, previous nuclear wars have caused most surface features seen from orbit to be circular, carved from bomb craters; unfortunately, after the cloud cover was added, the circular shorelines are very hard to see. If I had it to do over again I would most likely not use acrylics to paint the planet.

More models to come!

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