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Revell's 1/144 Scale
OV-102 Columbia

by David Hanners


Space Shuttle Columbia


Airfix's 1/144 scale Space Shuttle is available online from Squadron.com






The original Revell kit was issued before the space shuttle even flew, so it requires several modifications to build an accurate orbiter. Modifications I made to the stock kit include:


  • Reaction Control System (RCS) thruster openings were cut out and backed with styrene tubing;

  • Star tracker openings were cut out, backed with sheet plastic and detailed with styrene tubing;

  • Gaps between the inboard and outboard elevons were cut out;

  • The body flap was widened with strip styrene;

  • Aft base of the tail was cut off and a drag chute compartment made from sheet styrene was added;

  • Tail cap was cut off and a Shuttle Infrared Leeside Temperature Sensing (SILTS) experiment pod was added. The SILTS pod was made from styrene sprue;

  • The nozzles for the +X RCS thrusters were replaced with styrene tube;

  • Panels were added to the lower portion of each Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod;

  • The kit Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) and OMS nozzles were replaced by resin copies made by Real Space.

  • Thermal insulation on SSME gimbal mount and fairing was made from aluminum foil.



Thermal Protection System (TPS) and Painting




Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation (AFRSI) was replicated with small squares and rectangles cut from 3M Durapore cloth surgical tape. The model was sprayed with gloss white enamel. Additional painting was done with a brush using Pactra, Testor and Badger paints. Testor Model Master Metalizer was used on the SSME nozzles.



Decals by Cutting Edge were used for the High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation (HRSI) areas, as well as for some of the Low Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation (LRSI) areas. I photocopied the Cutting Edge decal sheet onto an 8.5X11 sheet of white decal stock to have additional HRSI decals. Once applied and dry, a thin wash of Badger gloss black was used to darken and streak the HRSI areas.







I also made LRSI decals on my home computer using a brick pattern found in Word, which I printed out onto clear decal stock. Decals by Cutting Edge and Real Space were used for all markings and all detail around the cockpit and overhead window frames. Strips of solid-color decal were used to replicate the wing leading-edge Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) T-seals, as well as the seals between the sections of the payload bay doors and various other panels found on the Orbiter.

Finishing Coats


When construction, painting and decaling were completed, windows were masked and the model was sprayed with Testor Model Master Semi-Gloss lacquer overcoat. Badger Clear Flat was brushed onto all RCC and LRSI areas.



Weathering was kept to a minimum, and done with dry brushing.







Gray streaks were dry-brushed to the nose RCS housing, as well as the underside in the area of the front and main gear doors, the External Tank closeout doors, the body flap and the area immediately forward of the body flap. Black smudging was dry-brushed to the RCC nosecap and the wing leading edges, as well as an area on the LRSI behind RCC panel 9 on each wing. (The area around RCC panel 9 on each wing experiences the heaviest scorching on entry because it is where the shock waves that form from the nose and wing leading edges intersect. Those panels experience the highest surface temperature on the Orbiter) .


The insides of the SSME and OMS nozzles were dry-brushed with rust and flat black. 


Model, Text and Images Copyright 2004 by David Hanners
Page Created 16 January, 2004
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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