Convair NEV

This is my build of the Moebius 1/144 Convair NEV (Nuclear Exploratory Vehicle). While it looks like the old Strombecker kit of the same, it’s not – this is a completely new mold.

This is a pretty simple kit to build with thick pins and attachment points that almost make it a snap-tite kit. It’s also very long and heavy – the kit parts are very thick. The NEV looks pretty bare out of the box so I printed a radiation shield for the engine and a small manned pod and I added an astronaut, for scale.

I left the engine, connecting spine and crew module unglued, for easier painting and transport.

The very basic pod is 3D printed in ABS plastic on my FDM printer. It has front and rear rounded caps, cylindrical body with a bump for the pilot and a docking tube underneath. The pod’s plastic was smoothed with Acetone vapors and some sanding removed all the remaining print artifacts. The canopy is a piece of clear sprue. The pod’s engines are from one of the Mercury capsules in the AMT 1/200 US Man in Space set.

The astronaut is from a 1/144 Mecha “Mobile Staff” from Wave. The tether is some ABS that I squeezed out of the printer to clean the head after changing filaments.

I didn’t like the kit decals, so I replaced them with decals from random kits. The UNITED STATES is from the Monogram re-pop of the 1/48 Space Taxi. It’s yellowed, but I like the effect.

I painted the NEV with Badger Stynylrez aluminum primer. Some panels were painted with Vallejo Metallics. The tank caps are a mix of Badger Stynylrez white and gray primers.

This was an easy and fun build. The long neck bends a bit from the weight (despite the thick plastic). If I were to build it again, I would reinforce the neck with an aluminum rod, or just replace it with an aluminum tube or rod of the same diameter.

A quick calculation online shows that it would take around 60-90 days to get to Mars in a Hohmann transfer orbit, maybe twice that long to get to Ceres. You have to be a dedicated astronaut to be willing to spend all that time in a fairly small crew module just to visit some smelly Belters!

Updated September 6, 2020