Building MPC/AMT-ERTL’s
X-Wing Fighter

By Mike Muth

Introduction

In February of 2003 I wrote an IM article about building AMT-ERTL’s Imperial TIE Fighters. I needed a break from all the rigging and decals usually associated with World War I airplanes. I had a lot of fun making the TIE fighters into a Sci-Fi version of World War I biplanes. Well, the Force was with me once again and I decided to finish things up by doing a Rebel Alliance X-WING fighter. This one even looks like a biplane, especially when the wings are opened.

THE KITS:

 

 

 

Yep, that is not a typo, kits. I went into my wife’s Star Wars model stash, something she hasn’t done since the birth of our son 17 months ago, and found the MPC-ERTL “IT’S A SNAP” Return of the Jedi X-WING Fighter, kit # 8932. As I later discovered, this is the same kit as the AMT-ERTL “SNAPFAST” X-WING Fighter, kit # 38269. The kits are exactly the same in terms of content and decal options. If I had to venture a guess as to “scale”, based on the size of the pilot this would scale out to 1/72.

There are two sprues molded in light gray plastic and 1 clear sprue. The clear sprue contains a very thick, triangular shaped canopy, a small clear windscreen and a 2-piece stand. I never could figure out where the windscreen was supposed to go. Its location is not mentioned in the instructions. The MPC boxing is now out of production. The AMT boxing has a small cardboard box containing the clear parts suspended inside the bigger box; a nice idea, but a little unnecessary in light of the overall design of this model. The AMT boxing also advertises it comes with a poster. As you can tell from the photos, the “poster” is about the size of a post card.

The instructions break assembly down into understandable sub-assemblies. There are no written instructions, just exploded views of the sub-assemblies. There are some painting guides contained in the instructions for the cockpit, suggesting using colors “O” “R” and “K”. Unfortunately, they never tell you what colors the letters correspond to, only suggest that you use the box art. The box art fails to show any views of the cockpit. There are also some orange decals that can be applied using the box art as a guide. The ones in the MPC kit were pretty old with the backing paper turning yellow. The decals themselves were all right color wise. The decals from the AMT boxing are exactly the same, but the backing paper is a fresh non-faded off-white. I chose not to use any of the decals, but tested the MPC ones on a scrap wing and they went on without any problems.

This is a kit designed for younger children just getting into modeling. The MPC boxing suggests ages 8 to adult. Apparently kids have gotten clumsier since then, because the AMT boxing recommends ages 10-adult! (And I thought all of those video games would at least help with small motor skills) While the kit is based on the parts snapping together, the instructions call for glue to be used at different stages of construction. If an experienced modeler decided to make this kit, it would probably cause a lot of frustration. The seams don’t align properly. There is a lot of engraved detail on the engine pods that don’t line up. The fit for most of the parts is ok, but if you want to make a model to show off instead of one you will probably blow up with a small firecracker, this is not the kit for you. In reviewing my article on the TIEs, I commented there on how nicely the parts fit. Obviously, that isn’t true here. There are other kits of the X-WING fighter that would better suit the needs of the “serious” modeler.

CONSTRUCTION:

Construction does not begin with the cockpit because there really isn’t one. The cockpit, complete with pilot, instrument panel and some stuff along the side of the cockpit wall is molded into the top half of the fuselage. Because I had chosen a World War I RFC scheme of PC-10 over clear doped linen, a lot of painting had to be done before major construction began.

 

 

 

 

 

I have no idea what the completed sub-assembly is called, but I am calling it the engine pods. There are 4 of them, one for each wing. The 3 piece assembly (parts 6, 13 and 14) for each, while snapping together, benefits greatly from glue. There are what are supposed to be some sort of concentric rings around the pod, but they don’t align very well. Fortunately, the seam is not too noticeable. I waited until the wings were painted and inserted into the fuselage before I glued the pods onto the wings. The same held true for the 4 intake cowling fans at the front of each engine (part # 5). I lost one of these after cutting the parts from the sprue. I had already decided I would complete this project, so went in search of a replacement kit. That is how I discovered that the AMT kit which is now being produced is the same as the MPC kit.

The design of the kit is such that, once everything is painted, things go together quite simply. The wing assembly fits nicely into the 2 bulkheads provided. I glued both of the bulkheads into the lower half of the fuselage and then inserted the wing assembly before the glue had set. The fuselage halves snap together, but I would suggest glue being applied first and then snapping together. I had to do some sanding and use some filler to make the fuselage look passable.

The locating holes for the engine pods and the landing gear had to be widened, but only slightly. The landing gear was the next to last thing to be glued but not before a moment of panic set in. Would the tri-cycle gear result in a tail heavy model? Fortunately, the lack of tail booms meant no tail dragging and the model sits squarely on all three legs of the landing gear.

The last piece to glue was the canopy. I had given it a coating of Future acrylic floor polish to make it look good. While it is designed to snap in, I couldn’t get it to do that. I ended up cutting off the rear locating stubs and just used the front insertion tab, gluing the rest of the canopy to the fuselage with jeweler’s glue.

PAINTING & DECALS:

Since the TIE fighters were done in a German World War I scheme of lozenge on one and mauve/green on the other, their nemesis had to be done in an RFC scheme of PC-10 over clear doped linen. PC-10 (pigmented cellulose dope) was the color applied to a majority of British planes flown during the Great War. It was produced from a mixture of iron oxide and lamp black pigments. I believe the shades varied greatly and it is difficult if not foolhardy to definitively state what shade is the correct one. I decided to use Model Master Olive Drab enamel. For clear doped linen, I used Model Master Panzer Interior Buff. The yellow nose, rear hatch and engine fan cowlings were painted using Model Master Gelb.

I have always wanted to try and used Model Master’s Metalizer lacquers on a project and this gave me the perfect opportunity. No thinning was required. The engine pods were air brushed using Burnt Iron for the main part of the pod and Exhaust for the rear portion of the pod. There is a portion of the fuselage at the top/rear that has what looks to be engine stuff on it, so it was also air brushed Burnt Iron. The rest of the engine was air brushed Burnt Metal. The landing gear used Magnesium from a spray can. The cannons were airbrushed using Gun Metal. The difference in the metal colors came out quite nice and almost made we wish I modeled jet aircraft instead of Fokkers and Sopwiths.

The decals came from a Blue Rider sheet for RFC roundels and stencils in 1/72. They settled down nicely with only a little Micro-Set. Even the small roundel on the rear hatch snuggled into all of the crevices.

CONCLUSION:

A little over a year ago, Diego, a friend from the World War I Modeling List reminded me that I hadn’t finished my Star Wars project. I am glad he remembered. The weird paint scheme I chose involved a lot of masking but the angular nature of the craft made it fairly easy to mask. I hope Sci-Fi purists are not put off by the deviation from the film version of the X-Wing Fighter. For me, modeling is meant to be fun and relaxing. This build was both. Now, back to the Dragon Fokker D-VII, with a bazillion decals needed to get the lozenge to look right, not to mention the yellow and black diamond fuselage.

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