MOL Re-entry Vehicle

The Hawk Manned Orbiting Laboratory kit was a neat kit based on a Convair proposal. I’ve always liked the re-entry “dorito” vehicles and scratchbuilt my interpretation years ago. I sold that model shortly after I made it and have always wanted to recreate it.

Hawk MOL boxtop
image from the Fantastic Plastic page about this kit. Note that the shape of the vehicle on the boxtop does not match the parts in the kit.

After years of procrastinating, I decided to re-interpret the re-entry vehicle in 1/72 scale. Using the same image of the kit parts, I drew the vehicle in Rhino 3D and sent the .STL file to Shapeways for printing.

They returned the part shown below. The fingerprint pattern on the surface is a printing artifact from the Shapeways printer.

I considered adding a cockpit tub that could slide in from the rear, but very little of the cockpit will be visible, even with the hatch open. If I redesign this, I’ll close the hatch and make the windows small indentations.

The model was sanded to remove the printing artifacts, painted with a hard white primer, then with a black primer and sanded again. The process was repeated until most of the printing artifacts were removed. For the final coat, I painted the model in a dark steel color (Vallejo Metallics) over black primer. The areas that receive less heat are in Vallejo Aluminum. I added some mild discoloration on the nose to represent reentry heating.

The decals came out a bit translucent which was a disappointment.

I left some of the printing artifacts visible on the underside, to give the flat areas some structure and to give the impression of thermal tiles or blankets. Unfortunately, some of them look like scratches. I used two dark metallic shades – Vallejo Magnesium and Vallejo Steel on the leading edges.

On the rear end. I used gold Bare Metal Foil to add some interest. I used BMF Chrome for the area behind the engines, which I knocked off to gain access to the area. The engines are pinned in place with thin brass rods:

This is my second interpretation and model of the re-entry vehicle from the Hawk MOL kit. The next one will represent the re-entry vehicle as depicted on the boxtop.

updated February 17 2020

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