Four Landing Probes (part # 5) are included in this kit but they are not to be found on the instruction sheet. One will notice a small slot on the underside of each of the landing pads. If one is going to display the LM in-flight, then the probes can be attached by using that slot. There are also two Egress Platforms, one to be used in the deployed position and I assume the other to be used for the in-flight position. The difference between the two parts is the angle between the locating pin on the undersurface of the Egress Platforms and the locating pin itself. Interestingly, if the model is to be displayed in the in-flight position, some surgery will be required on the landing gear.
There are 2 parts each of numbers 17, 18, 19, and 20. These parts are, as near as I can figure out, to be used instead of parts E1, E2, E3, and E4 (also 2 parts each). E 1, 2, 3, and 4 are short support arms for the lower landing gear braces. It appears that, if one were to model the LM in-flight, one would use 17, 18, 19, and 20 rather than the E parts. Of course, some surgery would be required to fold the landing gear braces into their in-flight position. I am not at all sure that I am correct in this assumption but I see no other use for the 2nd Egress Platform and the E parts mentioned above.
Lastly, Part C5 is mislabeled as B11 on the illustration in Step 1.
Construction of the body of the LEM is aided by the pole-and-hole alignment aids molded inside of the Ascent Stage, and also the biscuit alignment aids. Finally, the mating surfaces of the main parts of the LEM body are beveled, which helps to provide a large, flat, and strong surface upon which to apply glue.
It is possible to install part # B3, the roof of the LEM, backwards. Study the instructions carefully and make sure that the mounting holes for the antenna (part # C16) are on the proper side of the vehicle.
When attaching parts E1, E2, E3, and E4 I found that removing the locating pins on the ends of the parts made the process easier. I suggest removing those pins.
The painting guide is located on the bottom of the kit box. The paint scheme displayed matches up nicely with those schemes that I’ve seen. When painting this kit, the builder finds that there is the old “good news/bad news” pairing that we’ve all experienced on occasion. The good news: Dragon has provided the familiar gold foil texture that we’ve had to add onto other renditions of the LM. In the case of this Dragon kit, the foil texture is found in the resources listed in the “What’s Out There” section at the end of this review. The Descent Stage and some of the components for the attitude control rockets are textured in a way to simulate foil, and are also pre-colored gold or silver. These pre-painted pieces are very believable and very well done. It’s even been pre-painted in a gold color that is supposed to match the medium orange-gold that one sees on many spacecraft. The bad news: the entire descent stage and all four landing gear are textured and painted in that gold color, and that is unfortunately not correct. There are surfaces on all four quadrants of the descent stage that feature flat black foil, a dark copper-orange-gold color, nickel foil, flat medium grey, and flat aluminum. (Let me encourage you to acquire a copy of Mike Mackowski’s excellent resource publication mentioned in the “What’s Out There” paragraph. Mike’s publication is an absolute must for the builder who wishes to produce an LM model that is an accurate replica of the real item.) There is another good news item, however, that bears consideration. Dragon has certainly done its research on the descent stage, and has engraved panel lines that separate those areas that represent the gold foil and those area that represent black foil, or surfaces that are not gold foil. Very well done, Dragon!
- Best detailed 1/48th kit of the Apollo Lunar Lander on the market today.
- Fit of parts is excellent.
- The RCS nozzles do not need to be drilled out, as is the case with some other 1/48th kits. In fact, the external detail on these nozzles can be characterized as outstanding as well.
- An alignment device has been included so that the Ascent Stage can be separated from the Descent Stage, and then remounted with proper alignment intact. Note the half-moon hole in the center of the upper surface of the Descent Stage. Find the shaft (not identified on the kit assembly illustrations) that has a matching half-moon plug on one end and a shape that matches the hole in the Ascent Stage engine nozzle on the other end. You’ll figure out how the assembly functions once you’ve identified that shaft.
- The Overhead Docking Window (a small window above the left-hand crewmember) is represented on the Dragon kit by a molded panel. I have not seen this window represented on any other kit in any scale.
- The clear surfaces for the windows are represented by molded panels or panel lines rather than actual openings. There isn’t a need to glue clear plastic in the window space.
- The small gridlines that appear on the Ascent Stage windows are known as Docking Alignment Marks (the overhead window) and Landing Point Designator Alignment Marks (on the forward facing viewing windows). These marks are represented nicely on the decals.
- In step # 1, Part C17 is identified properly by its call-out number, but the illustration of the part bears little resemblance to the tripod design of the actual part. However, just to the right of the poorly drawn illustration is a far better representation of the part.
- In step # 1, Part C14, the VHF antenna, can be a problem. The illustration on the instruction sheet is not sufficient to guarantee correct orientation or placement. Without prior knowledge of its orientation or placement, it will be necessary to go to outside references.
What’s Out There?
The most comprehensive reference for Apollo LM models, including information specific to Apollo 11, of which I am aware is “Apollo Lunar Module,” Space in Miniature # 7, by Michael J. Mackowski. Visit http://www.spaceinminiature.com/ for information on this reference.
Another excellent general reference for the Lunar Lander is the Lunar Module Coatings Page by Paul Field. The URL for this page is https://pfinspace.com/lmdata/
This kit is highly recommended, with the caveat that those references (or others not listed) are on hand to assist the builder. This kit is not particularly difficult to assemble but, as construction progresses, the model becomes rather delicate and difficult to handle safely. There are a number of parts that can be easily broken unless caution is exercised. Thanks to the fine folks at Dragon-USA for the review model and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this excellent kit.