Sharkit 1/72 Edgley EA-7 Optica: Part 2

At the end of my previous post in this build log, I had the basic colour scheme and much of the detailing in place. But there was a significant challenge ahead. Because I’d chosen to build the Optica that appeared in the cult-but-dire science fiction movie Slipstream.

"Slipstream" titleAnd I probably should have researched this a little better before I started work. When I started out on this project, I recalled the livery as being pale grey with random dark grey streaks, but when I rewatched the 4:3 pan-and-scan DVD which represents the film’s only English-language release, it became evident that the upper surfaces and under-wings were patterned with a stylized pattern of feathers.

Edgley Optica "Slipstream" aircraftSliptream Optica upper sideSliptream Optica undersideOops. So it was time to start printing some custom decals, producing my best “artist’s impression” of the patterns on the original aircraft, using only the blurry views available from the DVD.

Here’s an early test printing of the planned decals. (Given that I was going to use up an entire sheet of Experts-Choice decal paper, I planned to print multiple spares on that sheet.)

Sharkit Optica decal sheet test
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I got the shape for the wings by scanning and enlarging the plans from the kit to match the size of the model, and then sketching my patterns on top. The nacelle pattern was tricky, because the nacelle curves in two dimensions. I ended up measuring the nacelle circumference at various points along its length, drawing and patterning a narrow polygon with those proportions, and applying multiple copies around the curve of the nacelle. I also sketched a version of the peculiar symbol that is visible on the tail in some scenes. My first attempt (above) was too small, and the final decal sheet included an enlarged version.

Once I was as happy as I could be that everything would fit together, I printed the decal paper and sealed it with Microscale Liquid Decal Film, thinned half-and-half with ethanol-based surgical spirit and airbrushed on in a thin layer.

Here’s the result:

Sharkit Optica decals, upper surface
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Sharkit Optica decals, under surface
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After that, I placed the cockpit/engine assembly into the fan nacelle, and added the wheels. The engine needed a little more scratch building to provide the four stator struts that hold it in place in the real aircraft—the kit has it levitating within the nacelle.

Sharkit Optica assembled 3
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Sharkit Optica engine struts
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Sharkit Optica assembled 2
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The only thing remaining was to add a few more details constructed from styrene and fine brass wire—various aerials, a pitot tube, flap levers—and to slip a fine transparent rod under the rear of the nacelle to stop the thing toppling over backwards.

Here’s the final result:

Sharkit Optica completed 2
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Sharkit Optica completed 1
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Sharkit Optica completed 8
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Sharkit Optica completed 7
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Sharkit Optica completed 4
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Sharkit Optica completed 6
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Sharkit Optica completed 3
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Sharkit Optica completed 5
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I also acquired a Coastal Kits “abandoned airfield” display base, and tried a few poses on that:

Sharkit Optica completed 13
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Sharkit Optica completed 12
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Sharkit Optica completed 11
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Sharkit Optica completed 10
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Sharkit Optica completed 9
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All in all, a tricky kit to build—in part because of how basic the resin parts are, and also because of the poor fit of the vacuform canopy. But mainly because I was using the kit as a basis for an aircraft it wasn’t intended to represent.

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