RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II Command/Service Module: Part 2

Having finished with the Service Module detailing, I had a little bit to do on the Command Module before I could start applying foil. I sanded down the original undetailed cabin hatch on the resin model, and added the photoetched detail from New Ware’s Saturn V Detail Kit. Then I added a hatch handle using a bit of styrene rod.

Bare-Metal FoilThen it was time for the foil—I’ve seen people use ordinary household aluminium, but I decided to try the self-adhesive stuff produced by Bare-Metal®Foil (as they seem to like to be known). I assembled it in panels, each panel taking in one bit of detailing—a window, a Reaction Control System thruster set, an S-band antenna. It minimized the amount of moulding and cutting I had to do, but it did produce an erroneous “panelled” look. The Mylar foil on the original CM was laid on in narrow diagonal strips, which would have been less than a millimetre wide if I’d scaled them down to this model. The folks at Bare-Metal insist it should be possible to make the junctions between foil edges invisible, but I failed miserably.

RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (3)
Adding the foil a panel at a time (Click to enlarge)

I trimmed the straight edges with a fresh No. 11 scalpel blade from Swann-Morton. You can buy these, unsterilized, surprisingly cheaply in packs of a hundred. They drift through the thin foil with almost no resistance. Properly mounted on the correct scalpel handle, they’re a great alternative to the traditional craft knife, with the advantage that you can dispose of them safely with Swann-Morton’s plastic remover unit.

For the little circular cut-outs around the RCS thrusters, I used a 2mm leather punch on the foil before I took it off its backing. This made slightly overscale holes, but had the advantage of making them neat, circular and reproducible.

The resin in the SpaceModels moulding has a slightly bobbly texture that isn’t really apparent until you start smoothing the foil. If I was doing this again, I’d sand the CM smooth and rescribe the small number of panel lines.

Quick Shine for canopiesFinally, some decalling with Space Model System’s Ultimate Apollo Command & Service Module Decals, which weren’t particularly keen to adhere to the foil. Once I had them delicately in place I carefully sealed them down with a couple of layers of trusty Quick Shine floor polish, the same stuff I use to restore scratched canopies.

Having used Ultra Bright Chrome for the Command Module, I turned to Matte [sic] Aluminum [sic] for the aft heatshield on the Service Module. This needed another circular hole in the foil (around the SPS engine nozzle), but considerably larger than those around the Command Module RCS thrusters. I used a circle-cutting compass while the foil was still on its backing. The circle cutter was used again to produce a couple of pieces of detailing—two arcs of heatshield that lie directly on the aft surface of the Service Module. (Because this is a pour surface of the resin model, there’s no detail on it.) The same foil was used to surface the umbilical cover that connects the Command and Service Modules, before that was glued into place.

Circle cutter and parts
Circle cutter with umbilical cover and aft heatshield components (Click to enlarge)
RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (4)
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Then there’s another piece to be added from the Revell 1/96 Saturn V kit—the Service Module’s S-band high gain antenna, which has to be placed in its stowed position, because it’s eventually going to have to fit inside the Spacecraft-Lunar Module Adapter of the Revell kit.

RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (9)
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So here’s the completed model.

RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (5)
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RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (6)
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RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (7)
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RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II CSM (8)
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Next up, the vacuformed Boost Protective Cover (from RealSpace) and the Launch Escape Tower (from Revell). The BPC was a nice friction fit over the Command Module in the original resin, but the foil covering seems to have reduced the friction just enough that the BPC now keeps popping off. That’s going to take a bit of fixing.

2 thoughts on “RealSpace Models 1/96 Apollo Block II Command/Service Module: Part 2”

  1. Dr. Grant could I bother you again for another question? Thanks to you I have worked my way up to the CSM and am confused (like usual). In photos of recovered CM the mylar insulation seems to be burned off in reentry. However, when the Saturn V launched, was the entire top of the CSM covered in mylar insulation prior to lift off? Even the window frames, hatch, and handles on the exterior? This seems to be what you did.

    I am seeing conflicting images on the web. Some show the frames and handles etc. on top of the insulation like this image:

    Would you have a suggestion please? Thank you, Tony

  2. It’s always difficult to tell from photos of reflective surfaces that are orientated at different angles to the sunlight.
    I think there are plenty views of various Command Modules which show the hatch reflecting to the same extent as the surrounding hull. There’s one of Apollo 10 here, for instance. So I’m sure the hatch was foil covered, albeit marked up with various labels. The same view I linked to shows that there seems to be a considerable amount of tape detail around the windows, 1 and 5 in particular. You can see that various other panels have also been edged with tape which has slightly different reflective properties from the general foil covering.
    The whole thing is complicated by the fact that the windows were deeply recessed structures, particularly 1 and 5, so in oblique views you can sometimes see interior detail of the window frames.
    So my interpretation of the windows is that there is reflective tape up to the edges of the frames, but that the tape has slightly different reflective properties and complex curves to it, so that it stands out distinctly in some views.
    For the EVA handles, I was convinced that they had their own foil wrap by looking at the classic photographs of Dave Scott’s standing EVA on Apollo 9. I’ve posted a detail here.

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