Saturn V S-IC stage
The most prominent part of the first stage is the five F1-engines. The thumbs below show how the combustion chamber and nozzle extension are done.
The next ones show how the thrust structure section and engine fairings are done:

Construction notes:

30 July 2004: The engine fairings are made of .3mm styrene held in place by grooves cut in the balsa stringers. Superglue is very helpful.. The "tiles" of the heat shield at the bottom are made from individual pieces of styrene with the edges slightly rounded. Hopefully, when the thing is painted, this will look like the joints on the real thing. The gimbal actuators shown are flexible to ease the fit with the F1's when eventually they are ready to be installed. Some reference photos show that the heat shield extends all the way to the engine fairings... some don't. Mine do, since I "forgot" to make the retroboosters under the fairings... The fairings where tough to make, so I'm not going to change that now...

Notes December 2004: Stiffeners on the inside of the engine fairings have been attached, and stringers of wire are glued to the outer surface. The S-IC has been painted and sanded a couple of times to cover the balsa stringers.Theupper, round parts of the fairings are worked on after the thrust structure section has been glued to the fuel tank section. Pieces of balsa are glued on and sanded into shape. You can also see how the large tubes are done by wrapping styrene around balsa frames.

Also done: the four fins made from balsa covered with .3mm styrene. They will be installed after they are painted and decals have been applied. Rick Sternbach from Spacemodelsystems has printed great sets of 1:48 Saturn V decals for me.

Notes April 2005: The lower section of the S-IC has been painted with the black and white roll pattern - it's really starting to look like a Saturn V. It still needs some small corrections as well as the titanium(?) parts of the engine fairings. I dare not apply the decals before the stage is complete, I'm afraid that handling may destroy them... but I'm very tempted! The intertank section has stringers of 1mm balsa. I think using 1mm styrene strips would have resulted in a more "clean" and crisp look, but balsa is much easier to cut (this applies to the thrust structure section as well). Using balsa requires a lot of fine sanding and inevitably leaves some small traces of excess glue and balsa dust in between the stringers (gluing balsa to styrene requires some more glue, styrene-to-styrene gluing is much more "clean"). Fortunately, it does not show in the pictures (!) and many layers of black/white paint fill the small irregularities of the balsa, so it looks good in close-up afterall...

Finishing the S-IC (apart from the engines, of course) should not be too difficult, but already now, the completed sections, including the LOX tank section, give a good impression of the scale of the whole model: the sections are pretty big parts! The sections are not glued together yet.

May 2005: More work one the S-IC. The stage sections, excluding the forward skirt and the tank dome, are painted. The two systems tunnels are still missing. The metallic parts of the engine fairings and the fins have been painted. This had to be done freehand since masking across the stringers is impossible. 

I could not resist starting to apply Rick Sternbach's decals ( ). And they look terrific! Using Micro Set and Sol, they slide into place just perfectly. See for example how the First Motion Target on the B and D fairings fit tightly around the fairing stringer. Also: the "USA" letters are cut out so that no excess transparent decal film is used. The "S" is a little tricky once it has come off the decal paper, but the decal is strong enough so that it can be put in the right position. The position markers (I-IIII) and the fin letters are applied over a blank white decal the same size to prevent the underlying colour to shine through.

On the inside of the bottom of the stage, on the opposite side of where the engines will be installed, I have glued more solid chunks of balsa. I think they will come in handy once the engines have to be mounted to the stage - I imagine that tubes from the engines can be secured into the balsa and hold the engines in place.

May 2005: The S-IC stage, still excluding the F1's, is nealy finished. I have not been able to find reliable info on what kind of instruments and electronics are placed inside the forward skirt. So what you see is some qualified guess work... On the back of every antenna I have placed a small grey box, and some bigger boxes are added, kind of like in the forward skirt of the S-II stage. Here you can see the tank dome and the forward skirt:

The two systems tunnels are each made from one long piece of balsa with thin fishing line running along them. I had to remove some of the stringers to install the systems tunnels. On the next few pictures you can see the patient on the operating table. Not shown: the surgeon's pulse is above 180...

The next pictures show a look down the inside of the stage before the tank dome and forward skirt were installed - an some from after this was done. Also: more of the great decals.

Notes August 2005: All of the five F1's are finished. I had to make a few changes compared to the one shown at the top of this page. I have replaced the yellow, green and blue rubber/vinyl parts with styrene tubing. This has two advantages: it can be glued much more easily and painted with the enamels I'm using. Also: I had to make some simplifications, since some of the plumbing on the real thing is very complicated. The engine at the top of the page was actually built before any of the other parts of the rocket. I figured that if I could get the F1's to look good, the rest of the project would be fairly straightforward!!! But simply because it has been more than a year since I built the first F1 I could not replicate one or two of the details any longer. After a base of Testors Light Ghost Gray Flat, they were washed with thinned down mixtures of gun metal and steel. The turbo pump exhaust manifold that goes around the thrust chamber was drybrushed with a slightly lighter aluminum colour. The heat exchanger was painted with a mix of brown and metal and the gimbal actuators with silver. The "ribs" on the nozzle extension and other details were highlighted with aluminum.

 Accurate Models has produced a 1/20 scale F1, and I must admit that this beautiful kit has helped me a lot...

Oktober 2005: The engines have been installed! The big holes in the bottom of the S-IC were intended to hold the engines, but they are not used. The F1's are held in place with a drop of superglue and the gimbal actuators.

June 2007. The fins have been painted and installed. Also: the systems tunnels have been finished. This completes the S-IC stage.

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