1/48 Monogram LM-11 Orion, Apollo 16 Mission

Gallery Article by Ricardo Salamé on July 20 2018

USA Moon Landing  - First Human on the Moon  (1969)



Apollo 16 was the tenth manned mission of the Apollo space program, the fifth to land on the Moon and the first to land in the lunar highlands. The second "J missions," the extended lunar missions. It was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly. Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:54 PM EST on April 16, 1972, the mission lasted 11 days, 1 hour, and 51 minutes, and concluded at 2:45 PM EST on April 27. They drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), the second used on the Moon, 26.7 kilometers. 

The Apollo Lunar Module (LM), originally designated the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for the Apollo program by Grumman Aircraft to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface and back. Designed for lunar orbit rendezvous, it consisted of an ascent stage and descent stage, and was ferried to lunar orbit by its companion Command and Service Module (CSM), a separate spacecraft of approximately twice its mass, which also took the astronauts home to Earth. After completing its mission, the LM was discarded. It was capable of operation only in outer space; structurally and aerodynamically it was incapable of flight through the Earth's atmosphere. The Lunar Module was the first, and to date only, manned spacecraft to operate exclusively in the airless vacuum of space. 

The Extended Lunar Modules (ELM) used on the final three "J-class missions", Apollo 15, 16 and 17, were significantly upgraded to allow for greater landing payload weights and longer lunar surface stay times. The descent engine power was improved by the addition of a 10-inch (250 mm) extension to the engine bell, and the descent fuel tanks were increased in size. A waste storage tank was added to the descent stage, with plumbing from the ascent stage. These upgrades allowed stay times of up to 75 hours on the Moon.

The Lunar Roving Vehicle was carried folded up outside Quad I of the LM descent stage and deployed by the astronauts after landing. This allowed them to explore large areas and return a greater variety of lunar samples.

In the Quad IV of the Decent Stage it was located the equipment for the lunar exploration was carried in the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA), a drawer mounted on a hinged panel dropping out of the left hand forward compartment. Besides the astronaut's surface excavation tools and sample collection boxes, the MESA contained a television camera with a tripod; as the commander opened the MESA by pulling on a lanyard while descending the ladder, the camera was automatically activated to send the first pictures of the astronauts on the surface back to Earth. The MESA for the J Series was modify to accommodate more batteries, lithium hydroxide canister for the Astronaut Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS), the LRV Color TV camera and other tools use for the astronauts in their mission. 

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The Monogram Kit 5303 or 6060
The Revell-Monogram 1/48 scale LEM and its 'First Lunar Landing' is the same kit produce in the mid-sixties one of the best mass-market plastic spacecraft models ever made way better the new Dragon 1/48 lunar module kit. It molds had somewhat inaccurately, it was design to represent the LM from an early mission, Apollo 11 or perhaps Apollo 12. It need extensive modification to represent later missions as the J Series mission. There is no kit or aftermarket resign or PE to represent this type of missions in 1/48 scale, my only option was to scratch build the parts to make an accurate representation of the LM-11. It dimension and details make the best start point for this kind of project 

The Descent Stage
None of the Quads for the Descent Stage are open so I have to cut the model and make the modifications to accommodate LRV deploy mechanism, the MESA, the ALSEP compartment, The LRV and cargo pallets.


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The original parts had upper outriggers with four apex pads. Those beautifully sculpted parts had to take the load of a full-weight LM at about 8 g's ultimate. The rings inboard of the pads are structural components of the Vent Cuffs, where outgassing from the blankets was diffused. The cuffs were not used on the J-LMs: It had to be sanded to take it to the right size.

The Mylar Color
I use several combinations of materials for the external insulation of the decent stage. Aluminium foil, Mylar and Mylar tape. The trick with them is to find the one that match the mission that you select to model. In generally all the LM look alike, but each has its own charm. To match the colours is a little tricky but not impossible. Mylar is the best option but you have to shop around for several brands to achieve different colours tones. Because the colour of the Mylar doesn’t match, I have to use the Tamiya and Gunze clears. I use Orange, Yellow and Red to achieve other tones of the banquets for the Descent Stage. I airbrushed them in aluminium foil, let it dry two days and then applied it to the craft. Use thin layers of the product until you achieve the desire tone.

The extra batteries compartment of the Lunar Module is not present in the Monogram model, so I had to replicate it to create that funny bump between Quad II and III. This is a detail that is not caught by many people.

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Other Details of the Descent Stage
The Monogram kit doesn’t have the radar but it had the heat deflector that protects the radar from the heat of the engine. The shape and the size of the kit part are wrong. The best solution to this was to make my own part and scratch build my own radar. Now you can avid this and buy the New Ware upgrade kit for the Lunar Module. This is only for the D, G and H series. 

The ladder is too thick and it had the wrong shape, so I scratchbuilt a new one and added the side hook that the astronauts used for hanging the samples bags. All the legs were covered with a combination of yellow painted gold foil and orange Mylar. The same work was done to the foot pads. The porch was made of aluminum and plastic

The radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) housing of the kit is completely wrong. There is no point to try to correct it so the safe bet is that you make your own.

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The MESA: One of the biggest challenges to represent the J Series mission is the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA). The data is almost not existent and there are several diagrams that contradict it shape. I based my in the only one that survives in the Cradle of Aviation Museum in East Garden City, New York on Long Island. I was lucky in of that one of my buddies had a personal encounter with it and shares some light. Thanks Karl Dodenhoff !!! http://www.ninfinger.org/karld/My%20Space%20Museum/index.shtml

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Making the pallets took me a while because the documentation is very hard to find and the pictures that you get are not as sharp as you want.

The Ascent Stage
To replicate the correct shape and wrinkles of the upper part of the LM I have to look for some material that will bond and adapt to the LM structure. The only issue is that kit is made of solid plastic and I was forced to cut all the unnecessary plastic skin to replace it with heavy aluminum foil. I used my reliable Dremel in the borders until I was left with the skeleton of the spacecraft. Then with a set of hand files I corrected the shape and left in offset space to cover the LM with heavy aluminium.

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I used different types of foil to cover the LM Ascent Stage. I covered the LM pane by panel, but first I painted the structure with gloss black and then with Alclad Aluminum color. Before I covered the LM I painted each panel with it's correct color.

The LM colours
In the dark days everybody said the LM was silver, only Karl and myself fought against it. This was not clear until Mike set it straight and cast it in stone in his SIM 7 Book. Guess who gets the credits. For my LMs I used the following grey colors: Model Master Enamel and Acrylic, Gloss Gull Gray FS 16440 and Light Ghost Gray, I combined them with a little bit of Pale Green FS 34227. I am not being able to match a pantone card against the LM 9 in the Kennedy Space Canter. So I have to depend on photos. Grumman thermal engineers were approaching the final "look" of the Ascent Stage. Most of the sulfuric acid anodized ("silver") 2024 clad aluminum shield panels were now chromic acid anodized 4 mil 5056 H191 aluminum. The slight amount of magnesium in that alloy gave the oxide coating a "beigish-with a hint of green". That why all LM except LM3 Spider had that greenish color. For colour information go to Sven's site and look for this document Coatings and Finishes for LM-10 through LM-14 http://www.ninfinger.org/models/lmspec/lsp-14-0027a_1.html or go to Lunar Module Coatings Page by Paul Fjeld http://home.earthlink.net/~pfjeld/lmdata/

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For the black panels in the Ascent and Descent Stages I used a sheet of bond paper airbrushed with flat black. After it dried I apply Humbrol matte coat. In the real LM this material was Inconel #600 foil painted with Pyromark Black. The paint was baked; the small flaws were sprayed black, leaving dark blotches. See the pictures of LM 11 in the Grumman plant http://home.earthlink.net/~pfjeld/lmdata/lm11ds.jpg. The best material that I used in my previous LMs was the black envelop that came with the Kodark and Ilford photolab paper, but that material is not available any more to me. 

The LM interior
There is no kit available in 1/48 scale to do the interior of the LM. So the technique is the same, do it by yourself with whatever material you can find. I find a good diagram of the cockpit and size it to the correct size. This is not easy and requires a lot of trial an error. After a few attempts I got the correct size mounted first on paper in the cabin then and I print the cockpit instrument in a clear plastic cellulose acetate. This was the base for start to build all the instruments inside of the font cabin.

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All the antennas are were throwing in the spare part box. There are inaccurate and too tick. I redo all of them 

I hope that you like this article

Ricardo Salamé

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Photos and text © by Ricardo Salamé