Airfix #5172 1/144

12" tall


Surely the most successful space vehicle design ever - starting life as an ICBM in the 1950s, it launched the first artificial satellite, put the first man (and the first woman!) into orbit, and with only minor technology updates has been the mainstay of the Soviet space programme for over forty years. The design has now been licensed to the European Space Agency, and is likely to be in use for the foreseeable future.

This particular kit could be built in several configurations spanning well over a decade, and for reasons of asthetics I chose the middle version, representing the launch of Yuri Gagarin's Vostok capsule in April 1961 - other options for the upper stage were the earlier Sputnik assembly, and the later Soyuz spacecraft. The Soviet Space Agency tend to name the booster after the payload it is carrying, which makes things confusing for bush-league space junkies like myself, but I gather that the cosmonaut's nickname for the vehicle, Semyorka - "Little Seven", has stayed the same... they love the rocket, as they know it will get them up into orbit safely...

     The real thing, launching a Soyuz SL4 in October 2001.


I like the way the bronze paint worked on the rocket cones... It was a little bland until then, with all that white paint, but the metallic shades really brought the kit to life. This was the first kit that I tried to spray paint, using a off the shelf spray can of enamel for the white body of the rocket. The result was good enough, in spite of my bad habit of hurrying and over-spraying - luckily all of the drips on the main fuselage were hidden by the by the strap-on rockets - but I really do need more practice...



Other Resources:

ESA's forty year retrospective

Ninfinger's Vostok Page

Vostok mission history



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