1/144 Monogram Shuttle CHALLENGER STS-61A with

scratch built Mobile Launcher and Crawler Transporter

Gallery Article by Michael Jack "ApolloMan" on Oct 8 2015



STS 61A, 9th and final successful mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) is depicted in my model, but is dedicated to the final crew, who perished on STS-51L when exploding 73 seconds after her 10th launch on January 28th 1986. 

This is a Monogram Shuttle kit made years ago in my teens. I stripped it back and remodelled much of it, gave it a new lick of paint, then applied the very rare tile decals. I placed putty over the orbiter windows to represent the covers on pre flight and roll out. Then added the REAL SPACE orbiter engines, and painted them burnt iron and dry brushed with silver. After she was fixed and put aside I set to work on the ML base.

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Well firstly as I did with my Apollo 12 MLP/LUT build, I researched allot and downloaded as many reference pictures as possible from all angles. I started the ML with 2mm Evergreen plastic card, making a rectangular box. Adding stringers, pipes and details with Evergreen plastic I beam, channel beams of the like. Cutting out holes for flame trenches and adding more strength internal for the weight of the Shuttle stack. Raising the deck at the rear of the launcher with 2mm card and using 1mm square around that for the .5mm card to create the ramp to original deck. I gave it a dark grey spray paint at first, then near the end of the build gave it a few coats of light grey, only light coats to give the weathered effect I wanted. The rain birds are various sized tubes with I beam and various other detail added. I made flame trench water pipes from tubing and added the two service masts. Then drilled 1mm holes around the top of the ML base for the guard rails. Using 1mm rod up rights with half round as the horizontals.

Again made from Evergreen plastic, with thousands of pieces of I beam, H beam, half round, round, L beam, tubes, squares. For example the tracks (channel beam) from memory have all the feet the real crawler has. The 4 trucks have their motors, suspension arms, hydraulic arms, pistons. Each truck has about 500 parts. Most, if not all my measurements came from the cardboard crawler model, then I just transferred it to plastic card. I had some help with resin cast crawler sides mailed to me by Mike Costello. Cable trays were added all round, with guard rails also. The 4 centre hydraulic pistons are aluminium pipe, to support the ML and Shuttle stack when in that configuration.

PAD 39: 
This was made from 1mm and 2mm evergreen card, in two boxes that slot together. I scribed detail lines in the top to represent the pad. Added the pad legs with tubing of various sizes, added drain pipes, and various other pipes that disappear into the ML. The flame trench deflector has minor details and the walls were covered in a brick patterned card by two sided tape. Challengers mission patches surround the base with a memorial plaque of the seven Astronauts lost.

Michael Jack

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Photos and text by Michael Jack