Star Trek USS Enterprise 1:2500 scale by Martin Schultz

Well, it’s time to document another build.  This time it’s the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 from the 1960’s TV show Star Trek.   My kit came from the AMT 3 piece Enterprise Kit #6618 which contained the original series NCC-1701, the NCC-1701A from the movies and the NCC-1701D from Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show.

You can get the same kit with better decals in the re-issued AMT Kit #660.  Yes,  it is a snap kit, but it can be built up into a nice looking model.  I’m going to use the Absolute models decals on this build and the re-issued decals on a second build later.

Here is what you get.  Again, this is from the original 3 ship set release, not the recent Cadet Series.  The primary hull panel lines have been removed on the Cadet series re-release.

For references, I am using an article from the February 1998 issue of Fine Scale Modeler, Issues #132 and 133 of the Star Trek Communicator magazine containing articles by William McCullars  and numerous internet resources.

First I assembled the saucer, sanded off the large panel lines and filled some depressions with Mr Surfacer 500.

Touching up the seams with Mr Surfacer after the first coat of paint.

Trying to square up some of the features on the secondary hull.

Another coat of paint.  I used a mix of 1 part Testors 34159 Sac Green, 6 parts 36440 Gull Grey and 24 parts 17875 Insignia white.  This was a combination I got from an article on Doug Drexler’s Blog

That’s it for this first segment.  Come back in a week or so for the next one.

10/12/12 Update #2

Here we go with part 2.  Time to put it all together.  I have a thick piece of glass I use as a surface plate, and I can see the grid on my cutting mat.  I used slow acting cement so I had time to position everything the way I wanted it.

Here is a view from the side.

It’s looking like a starship now.  I drilled a hole in the bottom for a small diameter brass rod, which fits inside a brass tube I put in a round base.

Next, I painted the dark grey parts using Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Grey.

I mixed copper and gold until I got a shade I liked, then painted the deflector dish and the area behind it.

I drilled out the deflector dish probe and added a .010 wire as a new probe.  I also decided to make a new bridge dome.  I took a piece of sprue and stuck it in my dremel tool and then rounded off the end with sanding sticks until I had a shape I liked.  I then cut the end off the sprue and sanded the back until I had the height I wanted.

I couldn’t decide what would look best on the engines, so I created a bunch of samples using transparent red and stoplight red over silver or gold base colors (some even striped).

Un-intended Saucer Separation.   I took the model on the base to a local club meeting,   The box fell off my car seat and turned upside down, breaking off the saucer.   🙁

This was a set back, but not a serious problem.  I reattached the saucer and prepared to fill the seam.  I also decided that I didn’t like any of the engine color combinations I created.  I decided to make this more of a replica of the actual prop hanging in the Smithsonian after the 1986 restoration.  This version had solid red nacelle domes.  I used a mix of 2 parts Italian red to 1 part Chrysler engine red.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Check back again next week for my decal application adventures.

10/18/12 Update #3

I had to finish filling the seam between the saucer and the dorsal section, and then touch up the paint just in that area.  Lots of masking to prevent overspray.

Now I am ready for decals.  I had decided to use the Absolute models decals since the decals in the original kit amounted to the name and number and not much else.  I picked these decals up at the Wonderfest  show in Louisville when I was there in 2009.  These decals have black windows and faint panel lines on the top and bottom of the saucer.  There were some spots where the background color was a bit pink, so I ordered another set to see if my sheet had color shifter over the past couple of years.  The new sheet looked just the same and would come in very handy later as you will see.

If you have the re-released cadet series kit, it comes with very nice decals.  There are no saucer panel lines and the windows are a mix of black and white.  It looks like this set can be used for a pre 1984 restoration version of the studio model.  I have seen the gizmotron sheet online and it looks like it has secondary hull panel lines and could be used to make a replica of how the studio model currently looks (1991 restoration).

I started with the decals on the bottom of the secondary hull.  You can see a bit of the pinkish grey in the center sections.  My paint color seemed to tone down the pink to acceptable levels.

Next were the decals on the pylons and engines.  For the engine inserts, I carefully trimmed out some of the clear areas to go over the control reactors.  I used Micro-sol (red) under the decals and after they were in place, I hit them with some Solveset if necessary.

Next were the larger decals for the sides of the secondary hull and the nacelles.

By this time I was pretty comfortable with working with the Absolute models decals so I was ready to tackle the large decals for the saucer section.  It took a while to do the decal on the bottom, probably 15-30 minutes.   I used lots of Micro-sol, water and patience and  a little bit of heat.  To warm it up I just held the model under my desk lamp for 15-30 seconds.   Once that was done,  I set it aside until my next build session a week later.

After it dried, I noticed a number of places where the decal was silvering (air trapped under the decal look silver or white when reflecting light)  I poked small holes with a sharp #11 blade and put a drop or two of Solveset on each spot.   I looked over the top of the saucer before applying the next decal and noticed that maybe my paint job wasn’t smooth enough to prevent silvering. 

So, before I put the top decal on,  I wet sanded the top of the saucer with 3600 grit sandpaper and then polished it with Novus #2.  This looked like it made a big improvement to the surface finish.

Now I was ready for the top.  Here is the decal on the sheet

and here it is trimmed out.  Note that the windows will wrap over the edge of the saucer section and up onto the bridge dome.

This is what the decal initially looks like when you first apply it.  With plenty of time and persuasion, it will conform to the complex shape of the saucer, with very little excess.  I did not use solveset until I had all of the air worked out form under the decal and I was satisfied with the position.  No additional reliefs need to be cut except  for a little trimming around the impulse engines.

Here is what it looked like when I was done.

saucer decal  I waited a day and then looked for more silvering.  There was a lot less than on the bottom.  but there were a couple of places I had to touch up.  I waited another week for the decals to dry completely and then masked off the engine domes and sprayed the model with Testors dullcoat (Square bottle laquer).  Well, I think I will leave the finishing touches and my decal disaster for next weeks update.    Thanks for visiting.

10/26/12 Update #4

After spraying the Enterprise with dullcoat, I was ready to move on to the finishing touches.  First up was painting the bottom sensor dome white.  I masked the dome with Bare Metal Foil and then cut out around the dome.  Then, as I started to mask around the foil, I tried to re-position some of the tape.    As I pulled up on the tape, the decal came up also.

Well, I was lucky to have already bought a second set of decals as I mentioned above, so I used some more tape to remove all of the old decal.  I then polished the bottom of the saucer with 3600 grit wet dry sandpaper and Novus #2 before re-applying the decal.  I took a few more photos of the process this time. Here is what it looks like when you first apply the decal.

With lots of careful blotting and application of heat it eventually looked like this.

I then had the bright idea to just use a circle of white decal paper to cover the sensor dome.  I used an old leather punch to create circles of various sizes and then picked the one that was the closest match.  A little heat and Solveset and it looked better than my attempt at painting the dome.  After letting the decal dry for a couple of days I put on another another application of dullcoat.  To finish the model off I attached the deflector dish and the new bridge dome. Here are some pictures of the final product.  The base is a piece of left over shelving with a Star Trek Card game card attached.

Here is what it looks like in the sunlight.

That finishes up my WIP article for this kit.  I hope you liked it.

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  1. TL says:

    Great job on such a small scale ship. It looks like the bigger versions with details and all. Will you be doing one with nacelle and saucer dome lights? and will you be doing a Buildup of the Enterprise-A? Thanks.

    • Martin says:

      No plans for lighting. I do plan on doing all of the 1:2500 Enterprise versions. Not sure how long it will take though. I have several sets of decals for the Movie refit and the A.

  2. Messaschnitzel109 says:

    Hmmm… I posted a comment but it seems to have never made it . I said that I love your build and want to do mine like that, but Federation Models wants $7.50 to ship $5 decals when they can just go into an envelope. Don’t know if a call to them would help? Do you have any other sources? I saw they also have 1701-A decals (at $10). Keep posting!

    • Martin says:

      Try Starship modeler, cultTVman or absolute models direct to see who charges the least for shipping. Unfortunately, I had to use the bottom saucer decal from the second sheet I had. Depending on what decals you want, you could try to get a replacement sheet for the re-issued kit.

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