Those who know me personally know I'm one for weird and unusual paint schemes.
So what to do with a model of an incredibly ugly vehicle with only one possible
paint job? This is why I will never build a Ju-388 or one of those goofy little
Lippisch paper-project non-existent lawn darts.
I built this model for a build-the-same-kit contest we had in our IPMS-Phoenix
Craig Hewitt Chapter sometime last year, and I am embarrassed to say that it was
about the only model I finished last year (not really, but darn close).
But the problem is this: Even
though I am a serious Star Wars fan, I absolutely hated Episode I. It was
shallow, cheap, and poorly developed. I could have written a better story on a
manual typewriter. As a showcase for CGI graphics, it was ok. As a story, it was
weak. Queen Amidala was kinda cute, but the individual who conceptualized
Jar-Jar Binks should be shot without trial for creating the single most annoying
movie character in the history of cinematography.
The Naboo Starfighter is about
the ugliest thing in any of the movies, except for Slave I. And even Slave I has
its charm, in much the way the Ju-87 Stuka or the Blackburn Skua have their
So the question again: what to do
with the thing? I stripped off the chrome using Easy-Off oven cleaner and
thought. In fondling the plastic, I hit upon an idea - Navy aggressor! Folded
wings and tail! Landing gear!
images below to see larger images
And so I began the surgery. The
kit really has only about fifteen pieces, more or less. The fit is poor, because
it's a snap-kit and is made to be slammed together with the modeling equivalent
of a nine-pound railway hammer. I dug out my trusty-rusty Dremel (which really
is rusty from many years in Hawaii) and ground out all the internal fittings to
make room for the fun stuff.
I started out with wheels. The
kit comes with only a stand, so I cut a couple of convenient panels out of the
bottom of the ship and, test-fitting and test-fitting, grafted in wheel wells
made from half of a wading snorkel of an Academy Patton tank, bits of scrap card
plastic, plastic rod for piping and wires, the landing gear from a dearly
departed Monogram Su-25 Frogfoot attached to the wheels of an old Otaki FW-190A.
The tail wheel is a Monogram A-10 nose wheel glued to an Otaki F4U-1D tail wheel
strut/arrestor hook assembly, and the gear doors are merely scrap sheet stock.
Even though it doesn't look like it, there really is room for the wheels in the
After test-fitting the landing
gear and setting them aside to dry and then paint, I went to town on the
cockpit. The seat and consoles are from an old Academy F-14 Tomcat, as befitting
the Naboo's newly-acquired Naval heritage, and the stick is from a ProModeler
Ju-88A-4 (I believe). Boy, let me tell you, it took a LOT of shoving and cursing
to get the entire cockpit into that shallow little area, but I did manage it.
Just don't get too close to it with a flashlight.
Basic construction, otherwise,
went as well as can be expected, meaning you can successfully build anything
with enough methyl-ethyl-ketone. First, I assembled the wings and filled and
sanded the join, and then I cut them apart to make the wingfolds. Discovering
there are huge locating holes in the fuselage, I filled those with bits and bobs
from the scrap box, including bomb racks from a Monogram B-17G. I glued the
fuselage halves (top and bottom) together and set it aside with a prodigious
amount of tape to dry, and then went about creating the wingfolds. I faired them
in with rod plastic, shaving a bit off here and there to make it mate up as well
as I could (remember, I'm not trying to build a real model here) and then
attached the whole kit and caboodle to the lower fuselage. I even gave it guns.
I filled and sanded, attached the
engines and engine tail boom thingies (I'm sure someone who actually thought
that movie was good can tell me what those things are supposed to be), and then
cut off the tail. I had intended to make the tail fold sideways, like the Sea
King helicopters, and attached it that way originally. But BOY did it look dumb.
So I notched it on top for a hinge, added a couple of bulkheads and made it fold
upwards. It's a little poky-looking on top but I think it looks much better.
CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS
Paint was straightforward. The
lighter grey is standard Polly-Scale Light Gull Grey, the blue is, I believe,
Navy Non-Spec Intermediate Blue, and the darker grey is Dark Ghost Grey. I
wasn't trying to be particularly accurate; I was using what I had in my paint
drawer. Decals are from an old Superscale F-14 subdued sheet, mixed with
aggressor numbers from deep in the dark recesses of my decal dungeon.
It won the Build-the-Same-Kit contest. I thought that that was the funniest part
of the whole deal.
Overall, this project was a hoot. I will never build a Naboo in its
"authentic" garb, because as I said before I think it's hideous. But
this way it makes for an interesting conversation piece, and I can look at my
model shelves and giggle at it occasionally.