After completing the entire Saturn V stack, top to bottom, I had one small additional component to complete—the Lunar Module. This sat invisibly inside the Spacecraft/Lunar Module Adapter during launch and translunar injection, and was revealed only when the SLA panels were discarded during the lunar coast phase.
The LM that comes with the kit is incorrect in many details, and would need a complete rebuild or a resin replacement to fix. I contented myself with a few tweaks—adding some detail using pieces of styrene, filling the gaping hole of the docking port, and revising the depiction of the external strut that helped support the Aerozine-50 fuel tank on the left side of the ascent stage. The kit represents this last structure as a flange, which I removed and replaced with an appropriate section of rod. (The striking asymmetry of the LM in front elevation, including the presence of a support strut on the left but not on the right, is due to the different densities of the Aerozine-50 fuel and the nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer—to balance the structure around the thrust axis of the ascent engine, the heavier nitrogen tetroxide tank had to be kept close inboard on the right, while the lighter Aerozine tank was in an extended position on the left.)
After a lot of filling and sanding to patch together the two parts of the ascent stage, I painted the various panels with the peculiarly complicated pattern of different insulation colours specific to the LM5 of Apollo 11. The dark gold Kapton film on the underside of the ascent module was simulated with gold Bare-Metal Foil. I mixed up Tamiya’s Flat Aluminium, Yellow-Green and Buff to produce an approximation to the strange beige shade used for some of the LM’s panelling—it looks a bit too green in direct sunlight, unfortunately. And I used Tamiya’s Metallic Grey with a hint of Gold Leaf for the thruster quadrants.
The descent stage was painted black, and then patterned with silver foil and two shades of gold—Bare-Metal for the silver and dark gold Kapton, and some pale gold foil from a chocolate bar wrapper, stockpiled years ago when chocolate bars still came wrapped in foil. And although they don’t seem to be mentioned in the kit instructions, Revell does provide decals for the descent stages markings—an American flag and a UNITED STATES label, the second of which is distinctly oversized.
I should note at this point that the supporting struts for the lander’s legs are in the wrong position in these photographs—the locating lugs on the top of the lower (gold) V-struts needs to be positioned inside the apex of the upper (black) V-struts. This isn’t remotely obvious from the kit assembly instructions, and the kit parts themselves are reluctant to assume this position, but the LM will not fit into its correct location in the lower SLA unless the struts are assembled in this way.
Here’s what it looks like, properly stowed on top of the S-IVB stage—this is the view the astronauts would have had as they manoeuvred the Apollo CSM to dock with and extract the LM, during the lunar transfer coast.
And here it is with its legs folded for SLA stowage. (I tried to cover the foot-pads with appropriate dark gold foil, but couldn’t get a good result, so eventually used gold paint instead.)
And that was the final part of my long Saturn V project—three years from start to finish. Although I’m posting this after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing has come and gone, I actually finished work just after midnight on 1st July 2019, a couple of weeks before the Apollo 11 anniversary—closer to the wire than I imagined I would be, three years ago, but still on time.
In my next (and last) post on this topic, I’ll show you what the whole thing looks like, with all the stages stacked.