1/144 Scratch built Mobile Launch Platform & Launch Umbilical Tower with Airfix Saturn V Apollo12 part 2

Gallery Article by Michael Jack on May 30 2011


I started this model in May 2001, but had researched & planned it from 1997. I'm pleased (as well as my wife) to say it's finished, Well 99.99% finished. 

I built my first Saturn V from a Monogram kit In 1995 after a fantastic movie called Apollo 13.  It sparked a big interest in the space race with me, using the movie alone for reference, I was surprised & annoyed when later finding out the paint scheme was reversed & totally wrong, I think maybe as to copy right reasons. My second Saturn V was an Airfix, a great kit, but I had spray painted the black & white, & was not happy with the end result, due to paint seeping through & stringers & interstaging & trying to fix it just made it worse. My third was also an Airfix, I was very happy with, & did not have to fill in or sand to many parts, I spray painted the rocket with satin white, but masked up all black areas to be painted before hand, & brush painted satin black as I don't like painting over spray paints. The Saturn V was then covered with smaller details & the decals are from Space model systems, a fantastic decal set, with hundreds of decals to apply & allot of detail.

The Mobile launch platform is made of 1mm & 2mm evergreen plastic card. The corners, exhaust shoot & four locater points where the LUT rest were reinforced on the inside to support the weight of the LUT & Rocket. Then various piping, stringers, i beam & channel beam were added for the legs & details around the MLP. The base was spray painted medium ghost grey, & piping white 22.    

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The Launch Umbilical Tower was made up from Evergreen plastic also. I beam, channel, square, round, half round, tubing of every size, you name it, I used it. In all 4 Humbrol tins of scarlet matt 60 were used to paint the LUT, I have read the tower is an orange colour, with all the pictures I have & seen, it seems red ish. I used humbrol Grey 140 to paint the first level, & white 22 for the tips. Early in my build it had a slight twist which I think happened when the LUT fell off the table, when a gust of wind pushed my blinds into it, surprisingly nothing broke. The twist was taken out by counter twisting & masking it with tape & applying glue in various areas. Once dry & tape removed, the twist was gone.

The 9 access arms were challenging to say the least, I spent several weeks on each alone, although not 100% accurate, they are made to the best I could possibly achieve at this scale. Some small work may need to be completed yet to a few of them. No3 arm was stowed against the LUT, with my research it was only used to assist the connection of hoses on No4 arm. Plus I wanted to show one in the stowed position. The biggest problem with this model has been the depth of detail I should go to & make it to. I did not help myself either when I made the outside first & then had to slide in all the elevator shafts, cable trays, tool boxes, control boxes & stairwells from the back. I left off the rear guard rails & 45 degree beams & piping to do so. I have estimated approximately 600 pieces of plastic in each level, & up to 90 pieces in each of the access arms. (I get called insane allot)

The Hammer head crane was made up of channel beam, i beam, card & rod. It also rotates & the lightning mast can be set in the raised or stowed position. The crane also has a see through cat walk (as do all the LUT levels) made from a wire modelling mesh. keeping it straight & from warping was hard. It was painted half matt 60 scarlet & half 154 insignia yellow. I'm not sure as to what these cranes lifted (maybe equipment to levels of the LUT), as I have seen no pictures of them in use, all I can gather is that it's rated to 25 ton in the yellow & 10 ton in the red.

The black base stand, was made from 1 mm Evergreen card in a 3 rectangular box configuration to represent the launch site at 39A/B, along with the flame trench & blast shield. I would love to have made the hole launch site. The patches around represent the manned Saturn V Launches, Apollo 11 being at the front (for obvious reasons), & also with Apollo12 as my model depicts, (My Favourite). I hope you enjoy my model, As I'm very proud of it. Ten years is a very long time. 

Michael Jack

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Photos and text by Michael Jack