David Hart's Space Ships

Water, Earth, Stars and all the rest go here, whatif or whatever.
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David Hart's Space Ships

Post by MikeV »

The DSC-2: a Kit from the Dawn of Time makes a Spacecraft of an Alternate Future

I’ve been making “What Ifs” for fifty years now. My proudest modelling moment was when Mike McEvoy mentioned my 1/72 1985 P.1121 (Take one 1/72 and one 1/100 F-105 . . .) in his “Tailpiece” column. Now, as a regular exhibitor with SIG144, I slip in an occasional spacecraft diorama among my more austerely historical scratch builds.

The ancient Strombecker/Kleeware/Glencoe Marsliner, in clear line of descent from the A-4, epitomises the look of a 1950s spacecraft. So, in an adjacent timeline:
The fantasy
In the late 2030s, past and present are very different from today.
In 1952, the General Electric Fusormak fusion reactor made space flight practical. The Douglas Space Craft 2 of 1959 made it economical. My models represent the 42nd DSC-2 spaceframe, USAF 60-21577.

Entering service in 1963 as a VCSF-2, she served initially on flag officer runs between the old Clavius spaceport and Baskin-Robbins AFB, UT.

After her varied USAF career, Sure To of Selenium, WV, bought 60-21577 in 1997 as surplus from Ed's Wreckin’ ‘n Spacecraft Spares at Lagrange 3. Ed fitted an uprated reactor from a DSC-6 and an eckso (Asteroid Belt slang: exoskeleton) for asteroid towing. To increase visibility – a necessity in asteroid fields – a new control cabin taken from a wrecked Soviet Pobeda tug was grafted on.

In 2014, having avoided an orrie (where a fatigued eckso folds up – probably from Japanese origami 折り紙) and other hazards of asteroid towing, she returned to Ed's. By 2017, HeritageSpace, of Miami, FL, had restored her original configuration, for nostalgia excursions to low Earth orbit.

By 2024, demand for heritage LEO flights had fallen, customers preferring a $140 (oxygen extra) Moon trip with one of the low cost spacelines. 21577, with its powerful low-mileage reactor and sound spaceframe, was sold to Beauregard Bingley, MIT graduate and renegade spacerodder, of Nusquam, KY. It was for use in his "FTel" project, regarded as a scam by most reputable physicists, who never got invited to Beau's cookouts.

In 2029, Beau and "Spirit of Nusquam" disappeared near the Moon. A search for wreckage was unsuccessful, but eight days later the ship reappeared in Earth orbit, where it was intercepted by a Northrop FSF-9 launched from William Cody class SSBN USS Wyatt Earp. Bingley’s spectroscopic records and camera film showed he had orbited Barnard's Star, six light years from Earth. The era of human interstellar flight had begun.

21577 is now preserved at the Bingley Starflight HQ in Nusquam.
The Models
Just remember they must be 1/144th, because it says 1/144th on the Glencoe box.

VIP Transport
VIP Transport
A straightforward build of the kit with a little additional detail to represent structure over the fusion reactor area. The kit is simple in the extreme but the moulding of the fuselage in three sections, banana peel fashion, means filler will be needed. The markings are a mixture of home printed and spares folder USAF decals aiming to keep to the 50s theme. The Moon base and vehicles are scratch built from plastic card. I wish the spaceport building looked less like a chest of drawers.

Asteroid tug
Asteroid tug
The junk spacecraft look, as railway modellers will see, uses Peco bridge girder sides along with Evergreen girder sections. I thought that better vision would be needed so I added crew quarters in the form of a cabin from a junked Soviet Pobeda class space tug. This would usually place the crew ahead of an exoskeleton failure, giving them some chance of rescue by a US Space Guard or RNLI lifeboat (now there’s a thought). The sharp eyed can still see the lot number chalked on this part by Ed’s. The main finish is Holt’s Filling Primer to give the right weary shade of yellow, and weathering is with pastel powder, dry brushed acrylics, and watercolour crayons. The cabin remains in Soviet green, as there was nothing wrong with it and Ed’s customers ain’t lookin’ for fancy. The base is mainly DAS clay with N gauge ballast and small stones.
Asteroid towing does not, of course, involve tow ropes. Techniques vary for different types of asteroids, but for the rocky asteroid shown here one or more tugs will attach themselves with ground screws, represented in the model by heavy screws from wall fastenings.

Lunar Lady
Lunar Lady
My alternative future is more like a continuation of the 1950s than today, so I thought Streamline Moderne was the correct architectural theme, especially for Florida, and a bus from that era would be right. The GMC New Look bus model from Rapido Trains is lovely, but in 1/160th, so I went for scratchbuilding. A group of tourists is being shepherded into the HeritageSpace building to be sold souvenirs and fast food (from Crater Cater) and shown a film preparing them for their low earth orbit or suborbital lob excursion.

The rocket resembles the 1963 version with slight modifications, mainly by decals to represent picture windows (like a Grand Canyon Twotter) and revisions because of the larger reactor fitted for asteroid towing. It stands on a mobile launch platform on rails. It would be nice to show a 1/144th F7 or other cab unit ready to tow it to the launch site, but N gauge locos, as well as being too small, cost too much for this project.
The buildings are card tubes, and I printed the detailing as paper wraps using drawing tools in Word. The boarding tower is chiefly made of square Evergreen sections.
The vehicles are two jeeps and a M35 I converted to a fire tender. They all came from the very useful Butler’s Printed Models range.

Spirit of Nusquam
Spirit of Nusquam
The old ship carries Beauregard Bingley’s “Twist Drive”, built from a variety of Evergreen sections and metal mesh from my local model shop, and taking inspiration from Star Trek, Liberator, and concept drawings of Alcubierre drives. It is mounted on a base printed from a NASA frame of the Florida coast. The intercepting ship is made from a section of 1/48 drop tank. The US Navy has kept dark blue as the colour for most equipment. The Northrop space fighter was a real 1960s project for a one-person spacecraft to be launched on a Polaris missile from a SSBN to give a quick reaction ability to look at objects in orbit. See Bill Rose’s “Secret Projects – Military Space Technology”.

These models have given me great enjoyment and I am grateful to SIG144 for opportunities to show them even though their “12 Squared” credentials may be dubious.

Utah, West Virginia, Florida and Kentucky are real states of the USA.
Baskin-Robbins AFB became a centre for USAF space activities in 1959.
Selenium, near the Gauley River in WV, was named in a joking reference to moonshine by Otto Mann, the unfrocked geography teacher and bootlegger who was its founder.
Nusquam, in 2024 a small unincorporated community, population 19, is, in 2039, an enormously rich and rapidly expanding city in McGuffin County, KY, home of Bingley Starflight.
2039 Safety Note
Over two hundred and fifty FTel ships now operate from Solar System bases. Some scientists have expressed fears that the repeated disturbance of the space-time continuum within the Solar System may irrevocably alter the orbits of planets and satellites, but Bingley Starflight researchers have shown these concerns to be alarmist. The present two percent annual fall in the Earth to Moon distance is within the range of natural variations over the past 4.5 billion years.

David Hart

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