Card and Scratchbuilt
X-20 Dyna-Soar & Transtage
by David Hanners
X-20 Dyna Soar
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The X-20 is one of the great “what if” questions of America’s manned
space program, and I’ve always wanted to model one. It’s never been
available in styrene, to my knowledge, and the resin kits always seemed
pricey to me. Maybe I’m just cheap.
Once I got into card modeling, though, I found a quarter-scale X-20
online for free. I believe it was designed by a card modeler in Japan.
Although it is engineered pretty well, the English translation of the
instructions leave a lot to be desired and I found them virtually
useless. They led to a couple of false starts, but that’s one of the
nice things about card modeling: If you screw up a piece, just print out
a new one.
Construction and Modifications
I made several changes from the “stock” online kit. Although the X-20
was a USAF project, I wanted to model a civil Dyna-Soar in NASA
markings and I also wanted to add markings for various warning, rescue
and other instructional placards. I added those using the “Draw”
function of Word.
While I was at it, I also added “rivet” detail, using lines made of
gray dots. Construction was fairly straightforward, but I added a
cardboard piece to beef up the X-20’s “belly” and improved the design of
the internal “spine” that gives the model strength.
The X-20 itself is all paper except for a ball bearing I used for the
nose and aluminum foil (which I tinted by boiling it with eggs) used on
the fairing right behind the ball nose.
The transtage is entirely scratchbuilt of paper, using my own design
based on reference drawings I found online. It uses a combination of
heavy gray stock as well as a silver-colored paper that I found at an
art supply store. I designed the basic skin of the transtage and printed
it out onto the silver paper. The adapter between the round section and
the X-20 was built from heavy gray stock.
The twin nozzles were made using a scaled-up version of the Gemini-Titan
II nozzles available on Delta 7 Studio’s “Project Gemini” CD. The struts
holding the rocket motors are made from toothpicks. The reaction control
system quads were scratchbuilt from paper, and the RCS nozzles were made
from paper covered with aluminum foil and wrapped around the end of a
toothpick to get the proper “bell” shape. Other detail includes fuel
lines made of paper, warning placards and umbilical connections.
The finished model is 11½ inches long and the X-20 has a wingspan
of 5 inches.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:
Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004
by David Hanners
Page Created 23 August, 2004
22 August, 2004
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