TUTORIAL PART 1- Building the 1:10 Galactica Viper Mk II by Ian Lawrence

Battlestar Galactica Viper MkII in 1/10th Scale.


Updates will happen in chronological order… top to bottom…

June 19, 2010

Greetings everyone!

As requested by a certain model loving maniac of our mutual acquaintance, here’s the opening bit to this build. Not so much a tutorial, more a ‘here’s how I did it and I hope you find the info of some use’ kind of deal.

Granted that some of the things in here may well make some exactness freaks/pro builders cringe but since i’m not really an exactness freak or pro builder, who the hell cares

The origin of this model is a client request to be done in scale with the Diamond Select Series 1 action figures. Now these figures work out to a close approximation of 1/10th scale. A simple enough scale to arrive at by use of a small but very useful tool called Scalemaster.exe. Said small bit of software can be found at the following URL:

You will find it about halfway down the page.

Now then, taking the action figure, this one:


And standing him within the vicinity of an ordinary ruler or your preferred measuring device, you get a rough read off of height.


So then open the Scalemaster program and you’ll see something like this:


Select the ‘Calculate’ and a handy drop down menu will appear.


Clicketh thee on the ‘Model’ bit and you should see this:


So, let’s assume for the heck of it that our heroic pilot fella is 6 feet tall.
Input that in the ‘Subject Size’ and then click the ‘feet’ thing.

Where it says ‘Display result in metric’ you can leave that or uncheck it to see the results in Imperial. Or ‘old money’ as I call it.

Lastly, in the ‘Model Scale’, input the desired scale. In this case, the number ‘10’ is entered.
Then simply click the ‘Compute Model’ button and you should get this:


It says our man in the cockpit should be some 7.2” tall if he’s in the 6 footer dept.


Close enough for me.
So then, that sorted and a scale arrived at, some skimming around the net is in order.
Making a beeline for the Battlestar Wiki pages, we find the dimension info required on the ship in question.


Now this info says its 8.4 meters (27.6 feet) in length. So back to the Scalemaster, input all the required info and the length comes out at around 84cms (33.12 inches)
Certainly in the ballpark enough to work with. So now we have a scale and length of model in said scale.
All very handy but, now to translate the figures into something a bit more tangible.

The Plan

Well the Cylons had one.
Theirs involved grand scale genocide, computer hacking and thermonuclear weapons for starters.
Mine involves some paper, lots of head scratching and a calculator to begin with.

Close enough…therefore good enough.

So then, some pretty pictures of the Viper of the size required at this scale needed to start with and pretty much the best damn all-in-one source is this page:

Viper MK II by ZOIC

Top, bottom, side, front and back views required and after some right click and save picture as action, the relevant pics duly secured on the hard drive. First off, taking the top/side/bottom views and resizing the pictures so they are the same in one measurement, in this case 1824 pixels width.

The front and back views resized going by the height in pixels of the top/bottom views. Bear with me here, it will all become apparent as to why.

So now we have the views required, time to print. Now not everyone has the same kind of printer so I can only show what I do with my beastie. It works like this: There is a setting that allows poster and multi page printing in my Epson printer settings thingy.

Bottom line is that any picture can be printed using standard A4 size except it gets enlarged grid fashion. So you can print the picture on a single sheet or 2×2, 3×3 or 4×4. So in essence you get a pretty damn big jigsaw puzzle come buzzing out of the printer. So to begin with, the picture:


And as it shows in the print preview thing.
You can see the grid and what will be shown on each page of the printout.


So that all set up, 9 pages duly printed. On the ones I did, I scrubbed out the ZOIC logo as it was not needed for the purpose and saved on ink. Now at the settings and picture resolution as noted above, what ya get is some large pics of the Viper in all the views that matter.

After trimming each sheet as required as it does not print all the way to the papers edge, some bog standard sticky tape brought into play and the large pics made up.
Like so.





So sorted and everything the approximate size the model will be, time for a measurement check.
An ultimately necessary thing so at least you will know all your pics are in register with each other or at least close with as small a margin of error as can be got that you can live with.

For this, it’s a fairly straightforward process. First off, pick a single detail and measure it. For the purposes here, it’s the forward part of the gun, which is clearly visible in the top/side/bottom pictures.


After going across all three pictures, this came out at:
Side 56.81mm (2.236”)
Top 56.61mm (2.228”)
Bottom 56.90mm (2.240”)

So a differential max of 0.29mm (0.012”)
For the size of beastie we are talking here, that’s well within acceptable to me so onward.
For a decent idea of three-dimensional shape, can’t go wrong with the Moebius Viper MkII 1/32nd kit. One of which has been got for just this purpose.
Incidentally, for another size check, measuring the plastic kit and multiplying that by 3.258 or thereabouts gets you in the ‘right size’ ballpark so a double use.

Well that’s it for the opening salvo so to speak, some lathe machining mucking about to follow so…

Stay tuned folks!

d4June 22, 2010

Greetings all and welcome back to the next round of hoo-ha in the hellhole.
So to begin the build, rather than go with doing the main bulk, I decided to start with the detail bits and pieces.
Namely the master patterns from which the guns and engine cans will be cast.
Starting with the engine cans, the bits outlined in red:

Now taking a look at the drawings, a measuring thing was brought in to play, this being the said thing:


200mm (8”) digital callipers, very useful for this sort of mucking about.

What we have, measurement wise for the large and small cans respectively, max length and width:
Big can, L: 61.48mm (2.420”) D: 76.73mm (3.020”)
Sml can, L: 61.97mm (2.439”) D: 72.16mm (2.840”)

Now just to be a nuisance, getting rather short lengths of pipe in said sizes was a bit of a non-starter idea wise. Well time to dust off the lathe then.


Not the most technically whoopee bit of kit ever but does what I need so okedoke.
So need something to shove in it.
Mine’s a pint…of resin that is.
Simple enough deal, plastic pint pot, a pint of urethane resin thrown in and left to cure. Presto, one base lump ready for hacking up.


Two of cast out, one for the big can, one for the smaller one.

So a good idea to get a centre on each end seeing as how this lump would be rotating at no small rate of revs. One nice little quirk of geometry is that the radius of any circle, straight-line fashion will almost precisely go into the circumference of a circle six times
So measure the radius, halve that and set a pair of dividers accordingly then mark off round the circumference of the wide end. Some point to pint scribing and center marked.
Same thing for the not so wide end.

Now the thing is, this lump is just a smidgen under the max diameter for my lathe to handle rotation wise. Normally it is certainly over size for the jaws to get a grip of if I want to turn down the whole length, which I need to for this gig.

So the current jaw set-up looks like this:


Made for center and internal diameter holding. So best give these resin lumps an internal diameter thing. Cue one large bore spade bit.


A bit of cordless drill action and one end set.


More than good enough for the jaws to get a grip of. On the not so narrow end, just a small hole as such provided by a auto center punch.


So holes at the ends set, time to put the beastie in place.


The back end is supported by one of these:


Given name is a ‘live center’ That somewhat nasty looking spike is mounted on bearings allowing it to rotate so holds the work piece and spins with it.
So mounted and set, tool post positioned and almost ready to go.



If I may be so bold to make mention of a couple of things.
First off, turning tools.
Now not every over enthusiastic tinkerer like myself has a lathe I know but if your considering getting one, may I be so bold as to impart some advice.
Now my one when bought came with the bog standard set of turning tools. Now looking a bit well used but still serviceable.


Now more than good enough for roughing out and getting rid of excess material but for a final finish, may I recommend you get a good set of turning tools, these are my personal weapon of choice.


Glanze indexable turning tools.
Down side, expensive. What you see there cost the better part of £75, over a hundred bucks to my American associates.
Upside, damn good turning tools with replaceable cutting heads. When the head is work down, just undo the screw, turn around, do up and continue, when worn again, extract, throw away and replace with new.


More than a bit durable and have lasted me VERY well thus far.

There are cheaper indexable turning tools out there but the weak point for the cheaper type is the screw that holds the head on. A bit of metal ricocheting about the place is not normally a good idea one would think.

Which leads me to the second thing, safety in use.
Yeah I know, yawn and all that but hear me out on this if your going to get something like a lathe and have never really used one before.

These bits of kit have no brain, they do not know when to start and stop, they just do as told the moment you flip the switch/push the button.

If you have long hair, tie it back. Loose long sleeved clothing, pull them up and keep them there. Read the manuals, get bloody well acquainted with the location of the off switch/emergency stop.

Any gloves other than close fitting latex/nitrile type, take them off.

I have seen the result of an experienced machinist having a lapse of attention and getting a long shirt sleeve caught in the turning chuck of a drill press.
Having your arm broken approximately every four or so inches from wrist to near shoulder is no fun for anyone.

Safety goggles are called so for a reason, get good ones and wear them.

Lecture over, onward.
So then, setting the rotation revs and time to go to work. On material like this, a single cut depth of 1mm (0.039”) is the max on the roughing out stage. Any more than that will be pushing it for the tool and lathe.


So back and forth we go. A possibly time consuming process but impatience will not pay off on this gig. Also stopping after about two to three passes and having at it with the hoover does no harm.


And continue until getting close to the mark.


So then, taking the widest intended diameter and setting the callipers accordingly with an extra smidgen to allow for later surface finishing.
In this pic, the set-up for the smaller engine can.


Finding the point on the material where the callipers fit and marking with standard pencil.
Then continue until that point is reached.



So at this point, time to cut in the back end of the can. The pictured on is the small one.
Switching to the Glanze tools, a back shoulder cut, also the back ring and the four-degree taper of the next ring in. Then cutting in to the diameter of the can proper without the turkey feather detail.



Measure for length and add a little bit for finishing purposes. Marked in pencil then the parting blade brought in and secured in the tool post.
Final cutting off.


That excess lump like the one off the big can turning will have a use, which I’ll get to later in this diabolical debarcle.

So time to get shot of unwanted material inside this thing. Switching out the live center for a drill chuck unit and fitting a ‘zero screwing about’ spade bit.


Simple matter of slowly advancing the bit into the turning material.
A short while and much frag falling out later…


Sorted this end, now for the other. Just incase you were wondering, I couldn’t go all the way through as the point would run into the turning lathe chuck long before I got through it.
Which would have resulted in some expensive noises occurring I’m sure.

So then, time to fit the open jaw set for the turning out of the back of the can.


Resin lump about faced and fixed in. after a rotation check to make sure it was running true, time to get the rest of the unwanted stuff gone.

Spade bit done it’s work then in with the internal diameter rough turning tool.


Now what we have essentially is something like this:

Going to this:


Next up, set the tool post on a 10 degree taper, switch tools and cut.



So what we have is something resembling this:


Now the reason for the taper in is that as we go along, i’ll make up a cast resin cup that will hold any lighting set-up required and slip snugly into place on the shoulder. The taper is there so it will make it easier to remove when doing the dry fit testing.

So that end done and dusted, time to turn it 180 about and get the rest sorted out.

Once set in and ready, all outer surfaces were faced up to their proper diameters.


So inside material removal.
Tool post set back to center, internal diameter tool fixed in and much back and forth on the slides.

So roughed out proper, then the toll post set to a eight degree taper and the internal taper cut in.

From this, the stepping as seen on the CGI model and full size studio piece was cut in using the same taper and divisional marking.

The inner final ring was cut.


Then the tool stepped out for the next ring and so on.


In essence, the larger can was done in exactly the same method except the inward taper was ten degrees.


Now just to make sure I was in the right area size wise, the pic below with the engine cans and make note of the wide back rings on the large and small and how they line up.

You’ll notice that the back ends of the cans line up perfectly in the vertical plane.

So setting up mine like so…


At which point I allowed myself a slight grin, a swift but sincere thank you to the Lords Of Kobol and a cuppa.

Well that’s pretty much the deal with the base engine can masters and more or less the same details measuring and roughing out wise when it came to turning out the gun masters.

Going from the big picture measurements, I had appropriate metal bar stock to turn those down. This is the metal in question.



Some 20mm (0.787”) brass bar stock and 32mm (1.260”) Aluminium.
The brass would do for the barrel and the aluminium for the body.

This is the barrel and body in question.


So the aluminum bar was cut to length taking into account of body length plus enough for about 2mm (0.078”) on the front end for facing up and approx 30mm (1.181”) on the back for holding in the lathe chuck jaws.

Used only the Glanze tools for this and working very slowly and carefully.
Started by turning down the bar to the largest diameter of the gun body from measurements lifted direct from the drawings and then stepped cut in the two forward rings.

The thin lines were cut in with a fine point tool usually used for screw thread cutting.

Once done, a 10.10mm (0.397”) hole was drilled in the front end to take the 10mm (0.393”) diameter stub that would be cut into the back end of the barrel part.

Overall it looks like this.



The stub at the bottom will form the pouring point for the resin casting. This will be removed on the lathe when the gun is about to be assembled.

The gun barrel was first turned from the brass bar in one piece, then cut for specific reasons, one was to mill in the fluted areas on the barrel rear, the second was that if you look at the gun barrel, there is a very thin disc between the rear part with the fluting and the forward part. This part was machined to take a 0.26mm (0.010”) photo etch metal disc which will be used when the barrel is assembled.


The gun barrel parts were all turned out/milled and some 0.026mm (0.010”) styrene strip was glued into place to finish the surface detail.
The parts all looking like this in separate and dry fit assembly.



The front barrel part had some brass tube fitted to it and the rear barrel part had some tube of the next corresponding diameter tube up fitted.



Reason for this is when the gun parts are cast, brass tube will be in the mould and when parts are cleaned up, the front part of the barrel will fit in to the brass sleeve cast in to in the rear part. Making the completed barrel rigid and lining it up properly without fuss.


Like wise with the stub on the rear of the gun barrel fitting snugly into the body.




And that is that for this round.
Next up is the turkey feather and engine exhaust detail masters to turn out then some moulds to be made up, much casting, more moulds, silliness ad infinitum.
Ad absurdum and so on.
You lot go easy now, see thee for the next installment!


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