First Pilot Model Construction

As previously noted, the basis for my builds is the Polar Lights 1/1000 scale U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 kit, originally released in 2003. Round 2 models has since reissued the model, which is still available in stores.

The current version of the kit from Round 2 is number PLO803, and the box art differs slightly from the Polar Lights version. Aside from that, both versions are essentially the same.

Although the Polar Lights kit builds into a fine model out of the box, the goal of this little project of mine is super-detailing and super-accuracy. However, feel free to construct your model any way you like!

But, for those seeking super-accuracy to the original filming model, here are some basic tips for construction and modification of the stock kit parts. These subtle-but-important changes will allow one to build a much closer approximation of the first pilot version of the Enterprise.

While the stock kit is an excellent representation of the real model, the fact that this is a “three in one” kit means that building the kit stock will cause the model to have some “wrong” features, no matter which version you’re building. For example, the molded-in running lights on the lower saucer are exclusive to the second pilot version, so any other version you build would feature this incorrect detail, unless you removed it.

(click on photos to enlarge)


The upper and lower saucer need a few modifications. The port/starboard running light holes on both parts need to be filled and sanded smooth–the first pilot ship didn’t have these lights, so don’t install them.

Also, due to a quirk in the mold, the B/C deck structure on the upper saucer has a slightly raised “lip” on the upper front edge, which can prevent the bridge dome from sitting flush. This needs to be sanded down to achieve both the proper fit and the proper look.

As for the lower saucer:

* The copyright information needs to be sanded off.

* The molded-in running light on the bow edge needs to be removed.

* The three tabs on the base of the lower sensor dome mounting ring need to be removed.

* The raised ribs at the base of each engraved triangle need to be removed, and the triangles filled in and sanded smooth (these markings were not etched on the original model). (REVISION–As it turns out, the markings WERE etched on the original model, so don’t fill them.)

* The molded-in running lights at 4:00 and 7:00 need to be removed, as this detail represents the SECOND pilot version. Also, two sets of three shallow dimples should be added in these spots. The position of each molded-in running light represents the middle of each set of  three dimples.

If you’re a serious modeler, then the sticker sheets that come with the kit are useless, since you’ll use the supplied waterslide decals. However, a  good way to add the missing dimples–and make use of the sticker sheets–is to take  stickers 36 and 36A (the sets of three round windows which go on the bow saucer edge–the stock decals/stickers 32 and 33 are too small and inaccurate), place them on the saucer, and use them as templates for cutting, filing, or drilling the dimples. Just be sure to align the stickers so that the middle port is positioned where the molded-in running light used to be.

* The impulse engine housing should be completely smooth–removed the crosshatched texture and fill the scribed lines.

* On the clear lower saucer sensor dome, gently scribe shallow lines across the surface, from 12:00 to 6:00, 9:00 to 3:00, 10:30 to 4:30, and 7:30 to 1:30.


* The scribed lines on the sides of the connecting dorsal should be filled in and sanded smooth.

* The two raised ribs and scribed panel on the port/starboard “deflector forks” should be removed.


* On each of the clear front endcaps, the three rectanglular shields are slightly misshapen. Check reference photos, subtly reshape them, and the change the angle of the front edge of each shield.

* It should also be noted that there’s a slight alignment problem with the nacelle endcaps. The outer edges of the rectangular shields should line up perfectly with the edges of the gray-colored “T” panel on the underside of each nacelle.

However, as is indicated by the green line in the photo below, the T-shaped panels are slightly larger than the width of the endcap shields.

In terms of accuracy, the scribed T-panels should be filled and sanded smooth, anyway. However, to address this problem, one can either remove the alignment tabs on the endcap pieces so as to slightly adjust the positioning of the caps on the nacelles, or one can mask and paint the T-panels with a slightly thinner width than the scribed originals, so that they don’t “bleed” beyond the edges of the shields.

* On the inboard nacelle pieces, remove the raised “dots” on the intercooler heads, and fill in the scribed “T” panels on the forward ends (fill them on the outboard sides, as well).

* Remove the raised ribs from all of the intercoolers. REVISION–This is incorrect. The “rollout” version of the 11-footer lacked ribs, but all three versions of the model as filmed had them.

* To depict the three-foot model, use the stock first pilot nacelle endcaps, with the rectangular plate detailing. To depict the 11-footer, remove this detail, and sand the endcaps smooth.


* You may wish to discard the stock display stand. I prefered to drill a hole in the bottom of the secondary hull and inserted a small brass tube which would serve as a sleeve for a smaller brass tube that would fit into a simple wooden plaque/base.

* Since this is intended as a snap-fit kit, you may want to lightly sand some of the pegs and connectors for a looser, more controllable fit if you’re gluing/filling the parts.

* The best way to attach the nacelles onto the pylons is to do some minor sanding of the pylon tabs (for a looser fit), then snap-fit/glue only the INBOARD nacelle halves onto the pylons. The nacelles can be held in place by wrapping a rubber band around the nacelle halves to keep them aligned while the glue dries. Once this assembly is solidly glued, then attach the outer nacelle halves.


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