Fortezza Shuttle Tricks and Traps

Discussion in 'Space & Aeronautics' started by rlwhitt, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Hi space modelers!

    For the past few weeks I've been building the MarsCenter Shuttle Endeavour by Raimondo Fortezza. It's been interesting and enjoyable for the most part, but there are issues that come up here and there, and the instructions, while pretty good, come up short in a few spots. Along with a few fit issues here and there, it can be a challenge to get this thing together correctly. I'm by no means an expert card modeler, but I hope my experiences with this model might help someone down the road.

    It is certainly NOT a beginners model. It is quite detailed, moreso than most free models you'll find. But it is a rewarding and fun build if you are a detail oriented person.

    Below I've listed some thoughts and findings as I remember them. I should have been writing this stuff down as I went, but alas I'm not one of those souls who have the knack for documenting a project as I go. Too impatient I guess.

    I'm not finished yet with mine, and I'll add to this list as I get more information. I hope others who have built and will build this model will chime in here and add their tricks and traps, and maybe point out any of mine that are not valid merely because I'm unskilled or an idiot. ;)


    Parts 1-5 don’t seem to have any purpose - none that are ever spelled out in the directions, at any rate.

    Parts 1-6 have window colors on them, but they are in fact hidden beneath the like-patterned sections just to provide glue tabs. Don’t know why they bothered to color them.

    Even though it looks like they are cutting thruster nozzle and star sensor holes into the skin AFTER the nose section is built, you obviously want to cut those before assembly!

    On page 4 of the instructions you place the cargo bay assembly into the frame/sides assembly. The forward cross member (2-2) seems too high and will not let the cargo bay go far enough down. You may want to trim this, even before assembly (make the concave curve deeper).

    Parts page 6 is truly a mess. The white lines that form the “tiles” pattern on the bottom of the wing are too narrow, much more so than page 7. So the bottom of the wing tends to print very dark, even solid black. I shudder to think of all the paper and ink I wasted experimenting with various settings and even edits of the part sheet to try to get something acceptable. I was finally able to get a better print by selecting the “Print as Image” checkbox on the Advanced print dialog. Still not a match with the other wing, but a lot closer.

    On page 8 where you slide the body assembly into the wings, make the gluing tab on the top rear of the wing pieces go just behind the rear spar. That will put the rest of the back end in proper alignment. Frankly I never deduced what these glue tabs were for. If you glue them to the sides, you can’t get the rear section on, and they will be in the way of the elevon spar (see below). I just left them unglued.

    On page 9 where you attach the nose section is tricky. It certainly gave me fits. It does not seem like there is good alignment on the wings’ leading edges where they go into the slots in the nose. All I can say is do a lot of dry fit trial and error and good luck. Hope yours turns out better than mine!

    Page 9 begins making elevons. These have an airfoil shape and you will benefit from making the top sides curved before gluing as if you were making a tube. In most of mine, the top ended up coming short of meeting the edge of the bottom. I ended up trimming the excess of the bottom and coloring the resulting edges black, and all was fine.

    Page 10, parts 6-25 and 7-25. The instructions don’t address this, but you will want to have the widest part on TOP of the spar (the spar has negative dihedral, that is the tips are lower than the middle).

    When inserting the spar/elevon assembly into the back of the wing, the glue tabs at the top/read of the wings interfere. You’ll have to trim them.

    Page 11 diagram dealing with the rear bulkhead assembly to the engine block is a bit unclear. The box spar that is formed at the bottom of the bulkhead should go INSIDE the engine block.

    Page 12 OMS Pods. Parts are given for making an inside and an outside for the small nozzles (6-14 & 6-15). Much too hard! Just use a felt tip marker and “paint” the back of the parts sheet on the back of parts 6-14 before cutting them to make the inside black. Cut a small bit of the tip of 6-14s off as well to make them easier to roll into cones.

    Roll parts 6-16 to make nozzles INSIDE the 10 little thruster holes? Who are they kidding? If you like suffering maybe. I tried an alternative that worked pretty well and looks almost as good. I cut the holes out with a tiny twist drill bit and put black paper behind them for some 3-D effect.

    Cutting the pipes for the main engine bells (9-5). All I can say here is you better have a sharp knife and either very good eyes or good magnifier! Tedious work here!

    Building the doors, page 15. The next to the last diagram on the page shows the doors curved in the wrong direction! Just look at the parts and reason this one through. Also, the parts 10-8 and 10-9 do NOT need to be cut and glued such that they look the same on both sides as the instructions say. In fact, you will never see the 10-9 parts and only one side of the 10-8’s. So it’s much easier to just double up card behind them and cut them once. I’d even recommend triple layer for the inner ones.

    The doors have problems with fit as designed. The front of the doors have a slope designed into them that makes the fit way too tight at the top of the front bulkhead, by about 1-2 mm. I suggest cutting the front line such that it is that much shorted at the top. This will impact all the door pieces, so plan ahead!

    More to come, in particular a hopefully better door hinge strategy than the stock ones given.

    Have fun!
  2. jparenti

    jparenti Member

    Ah, good old page 8! :oops: My wings didn't line up correctly and thus the nose assembly and engine block did not fit. Pretty much ruined an entire payload bay/wing assembly. I kept the nose and engine block, and will try again when I regain my composure. :cry:
    Really wish the wings were more like Leo's Buran. They went together easier, had stiffer internal support, AND you don't have to fight the skin to make it stick to the internal frame. Takes longer, though. But it's worth it!
    Oh, and ekuth has figured out a door hinge stategy involving toothpicks. Check the "Delta 7 shuttle" thread for details (it's become a no-holds-barred shuttle thread).
  3. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    I've looked at the pages of that shuttle model for a couple of years, wondering whether to jump in and try and build it. After reading this, I still don't know if it's worth it. I don't mind doing a little (or even a lot) of scratchbuilding and deviating from the instructions, but I usually have some faith that the finished product is worth it. While the kit parts appear to have wonderful detail, after reading this stuff, I don't know if the build is worth it. Is it?

    (And I agree about Leo's Buran. The framework was simple, made sense and made for a good-looking build.)
  4. NYC Irish

    NYC Irish Member

    Hey there

    I built the kit as soon as it was released and cannot remember having any major fit issues at the time. Certainly none that caused me to give up or ask why I am putting my time into it. Its an amazing kit and I now that the ISS paper model is being restarted I will have to build it again as I had to leave that version in NYC.

    This time I might do a little Photoshop editing before Id like to weather the tiles and fabric area's of the skin...bit more realism.

    A great kit..Knowing your work Dhanners...I know you will be happy, Its worth it alright

    John John
  5. jparenti

    jparenti Member

    Don't get me wrong. Despite my own difficulties, I find this shuttle to be very worth the effort. The details are challenging, and sometimes its frustrating, but just check out the finished product ("Delta 7 shuttle" thread has some).
    I'll attempt the entire ISS eventually, especially now that Dr. Fortezza has begun designing new modules after a long hiatus. :grin:
  6. GT5500

    GT5500 Member

    Has anyone tried to let the designer know of their findings? I see he is on the forum every now and then I think it might be worth while to let him know.
  7. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    I think it's worth the effort as well. Some of the issues might be design/fit, but probably more are the result of incorrect decisions about where to put something that then have ripple effects throughout the model. I just finished mine last night, and will be adding some additional notes to this thread, plus some pics.

    I never felt like abandoning it at all, but I know I got lax toward the end because I knew it would not turn out "perfect" (each of us has our own idea what that is).

  8. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    He mentioned on that ISS thread that he had been reading our comments and would be looking into fixes. Again, I'm not sure what he could fix other than the dark printing and the door front angle issue.

  9. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Finished! How about some pictures?

    Here is an overall view (note the nifty articulated arm that has 4 working hinges):

    Attached Files:

  10. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    And one of the cargo bay, including the Unity module:

    Attached Files:

  11. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    And here's the nose. I opted for putting in the extra thruster detail, makes it look nice:

    Attached Files:

    • Nose.jpg
      File size:
      89.3 KB
  12. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    And finally, the business end. You might need something to calm your nerves after cutting out that engine bell piping!

    Attached Files:

  13. Amazyah

    Amazyah Senior Member

    Da**, beautiful model!!!

    Really nice work!

  14. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Additional Notes

    OK, my final list of notes:

    Main engines. On page 14 of the instructions. I found the fit of part 9-8 within the gimbal part 9-11 a bit loose. Since the base of the gimbal is a bit larger than the space it glues to on the engline block, it would not hurt to roll this a bit tighter. This would also make the base (9-9) fit better. Frankly I was not very successful getting the whole paper spring thing to work out and left that off.

    Back to the doors (oh, those doors - my least favorite part of this whole thing). I modified them as I stated in the first post by marking back 1mm at the top apex of the front thus making the angle less pronounced and adjusting the parts around it accordingly. That fixed the tight fit at the top, but I had another big problem. Putting both doors on I find that the top where they meet is MUCH too high, way higher than the top of the nose section. Perhaps I somehow built it with the nose section too low. Looking at the tile lines on the side it certainly looks like it, and by about the right amount. But with the way the bulkhead and cargo section was built, I don't remember what sort of adjustment might help here.

    I also found that if you just let the door panels adopt the amount of curve of parts 10-9 and 10-9 they are not really curved enough, especially at the place where they meet the OMS pods in back. I held them more curved as they dried, probably stretching and deforming the 10-8 and 10-9 parts a little, though it's not noticeable.

    I had fits trying to edge color all those itty bitty handles, the marker pen just ran all over, so I ended up just coloring the whole things darker. I also coated them with thin CA after I installed them to make them stiff.

    Where are my hinges? Don't have any. I wussed out and glued the doors in the open position. With all my fit issues and my dislike for the hinge method given I just bailed on the whole idea. I figure it'll always display doors open anyway. Sigh...

    Cargo bay stuff:

    Cut the glue tabs off of hatch part 12-45. Well, you don't really HAVE to, but they are not really needed and it looks better without them.

    The whole square tube structure around the top of the vertical tunnel sits too far up as designed, gluing it to the supplied red dot places. Once done, it's about impossible to fit it under the side rails in the cargo bay without bending the ends way down. I cut slots in the rails. Ugly. You could glue the whole structure a few mm lower, bit then you'd see the red dots. You could cover them with a scratch built "tile" I guess.

    There are several parts on page 12 that don't seem to have a home (12-42, 12-31 (there are 2 different parts labeled 12-31!), 12-32, 12-53)

    I don't think the instructions mentioned the doubler pieces 12-22, they go on the end of the 2nd robotic arm piece, similar to the way 12-23 went into the first one.

    I experienced a fit issue with mounting the robotic arm. The little box at the base of the arm glues to the side of the cargo compartment, but the arm binds against the rail. Maybe I did something wrong here, but danged if I can think of what. I noticed that there were actually 2 of these parts supplied (12-30, 12-31) so I just glued the extra on and used it as a standoff spacer!

    Unity ISS Module. Page 5/6 covers putting the mating rings together and inside the end cones. They are very loose. I did this before doing the cargo bay stuff on the shuttle, so I was baffled a while until I realized what to do. They work like the one on the shuttle, by wrapping those long strips at the top of the parts page on to tighten the fit, and then capping the whole thing off with the ring parts 26 and 27. This is not mentioned in the Unity manual, they probably assume you will build it in the "right" order and just realize this is how it works!

    The end cone assemblies are a very tight fit into the body. I don't know if I made the body too small in diameter, but be on the lookout for this.

  15. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    You guys may have just talked me into it, although I'd be more inclined to build it with the payload bay doors closed. Then again, I have some great shiny silver paper that would look perfect for the PBD radiator panels....

    On the SSMEs, though, I'd probably ditch the kit parts (all that cutting!) and use my own design and approach, ala what I used on my shuttle-derived heavy lifter:

    (Sorry, I never figured out how to stick pictures in my post....)
  16. milenio3

    milenio3 Active Member

    The Shuttle is great! I MEAN GREAT!!
    Thanks for the tips, they sure are a valuable reference companion for Raimondo's models. ("Fortezza Shuttle for Dummies"?)
  17. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    If thats a freebie - you should enter it..... :) I am pretty sure it is! Great build and super clean :)
  18. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Thanks all,

    It is indeed a freebie so it's eligible for the contest, but I'm not sure I'll enter it as I was mostly done when it started so it feels sorta funny. I'm going to do another free model (GeeBee) and may enter that if it turns out OK. Haven't really decided....

  19. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    I can't wait to see your finished model. 8v)
  20. Fortezza

    Fortezza New Member

    Ehi guys I'm there!!

    Dear Rick,

    Thank you very much for your deep analysis of my Space Shuttle Model.

    After having spent more than 100 hours on the Space Shuttle Design, it will be a pity not to spend two more hours to correct the mistakes.

    I printed the affected pages, and I do not know what's happened during the conversion to pdf, but something went wrong and we have different patterns on the wings. I checked the original Canvas drawings and they seem to be ok. I used in the past three different methods for the conversion: Adobe distiller, Canvas conversion and printing on pdf and probably I used different way for the same wing elements with different results. For Instance other wings are correct. I have to decide now what is the best result.

    I'm sorry for the troubles I caused, but in principle it is better to correct the original pdf files on the marscenter site instead of promoting tricks and patches.

    Concerning the other mistakes, I have to check one by one. For instance you are right in the elements 1-15. They where used for my first design with fixed cargo bay doors. Then I decided to modify it and I forgot the pieces. Other point is the landing gear element. I used the same approach of Betaxa, but I decided to change the landing gear dumper and wheels (because I was not happy with the fidelity of the other model). But than I was attracted by ISS "ïnitiative" and I left the landing gear in my mind (together with the wisible cockpit in two version standard and new glass (digital) one. I apologize for that but it takes really a lot of time to do it.

    I promise you to check and correct the mistakes I made, but I'll tell you I will not build another Shuttle for it. My only Shuttle model contains still some prototype elements, it lost the tail and a cargo door, and I never had the time to build the final version with all the modified pieces. So I'll contact you to understand how to modify the pieces trusting you on what you tell me!

    I'll let you know on this forum on the advances on the corrections.



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