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Dr. Zooch Titan III-C MOL

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luke strawwalker

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Hi all... I'm going to post a short build thread on the Dr. Zooch Titan III C MOL kit that I recently built while vacationing at the mother-in-law's home in Indiana.

First, much appreciation to Wes (aka Dr. Zooch) for helping maintain my sanity as my wife and MIL discussed quilts and other 'girlie stuff' incessantly over the past few weeks. I put in an order for some rockets shortly before I left home to be delivered there and Wes kindly offered to hold the kits until shortly before I returned home so the box wouldn't "end up sitting on the doorstep getting rained on" awaiting my return. When I explained the situation and that I needed the kits for a diversion to help maintain my sanity amidst all the girl talk, he graciously offered to ship them labeled "First Aid Supplies" :D The kits arrived in a short time in good order.

So, let's get down to the build...

The kit comes packed in the usual 4x4x12 trademark Dr. Zooch shipping/storage box. There are 2 BT-50 SRB tubes, a LONG BT-50 main Titan rocket body tube, a pair of SRB nosecones, a Gemini nosecone, various sundry supplies including detailing components, screw eye, parachute swivel, poly-coated popeilium shroud and detailing string, and motor mount components and tubes. Also included were a page or two of wraps and paper transitions, SRB rocket motor nozzles, and details, and of course the signature Dr. Zooch smart-aleck instructions.

The kit starts off building the motor mount. Standard stuff so I won't go into it very deeply-- the usual "marking the tube, slitting for the motor hook, install the thrust rings and centering rings" type stuff, but a couple things stood out that confirms the thought Dr. Zooch puts into his kits... a 'reinforcing band' cut from cardstock wrap sheet and glued to the outside of the motor tube to reinforce the slit for the forward end of the motor hook, to help strengthen the tube against 'shotgun ejections' and other such stuff that tends to be hard on the motor mount. The other was the paper boattail that surrounds the motor and helps blend it to the tube, while 'spoofing' the heat-shielding shroud around the 2 Titan liquid engines and generally makes the rocket look cool. Otherwise the motor mount was basic stuff... just be sure to place the rings as per the instructions.

From this point on I kinda jumped around in the instructions a bit, as some steps require gluing time and other things can be done on other parts as the glue dries...

Here's a pic of the completed motor mount and the SRB "motor mounts" used for the flamefins and SRB nozzles later on... :)

More to come... OL JR :)

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luke strawwalker

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So, once the motor mount is done, you basically duplicate it (sans engine hook and reinforcements) to create the two SRB nozzle/mounts. The nozzles are cut from the wrap sheet and glued up as a simple cone-shaped paper transition would be. These are then (when dry) glued into one end of each of the SRB nozzle mounts. After applying the glue, they are 'cocked over' at an angle to simulate the angled nozzles of the actual Titan III. After drying, they are heavily filleted and allowed to dry thoroughly again. This locks the nozzles down HARD to the tubes, because you then have to sand away the inside of the nozzle until it is the same diameter as the tube, because the Flame Fins will slip up inside the nozzles into the mount tube for flight. At first I was a bit reticent about this, wondering if my sanding job would actually carve the inside of the nozzle down smoothly enough and to close enough tolerances to allow a centering ring to pass up through the nozzle and into the mount tube, but after some careful sanding/filing work my fears were allayed and the rings slid in and out perfectly. As this was a time consuming process requiring several gluing/drying cycles, I proceeded with other parts of the build.

The SRB's are clad in beatiful roll-patterned wraps which are cut from the wrap sheet and glued onto the tubes. The SRB nosecones were lightly sanded and then hardened by soaking in Thin Hobby Lobby CA glue. While those dried, I cut out and glued up the wraps for the Blue Gemini spacecraft nosecone on the main rocket body, which is constructed identically to the capsule in the Mark II kit. The balsa nosecone is fitted with a bell-shaped wrap which is glued up and then slid over the nose of the balsa cone, which is then topped by a tubular wrap over the cylindrical portion of the top of the cone. The balsa cone requires a SLIGHT amount of sanding to 'square up' the top cylindrical portion for the band and make a sharp dividing line between the conical capsule bell and the cylindrical RCS section. Once dried these can be fitted and glued up. A small conical antenna canister goes on top of the balsa capsule above the RCS cylinder, and is carefully fitted and glued in place, and repeatedly filled with white glue which is allowed to dry and then refilled again over and over to make it a solid piece. This is a kind of time consuming process that continues intermittently throughout the build, so the capsule is technically 'finished' about the same time as the final work is done on the rocket. I deviated a bit from the instructions and added a couple small 'glue tabs' to the antenna can for the 'black dot' lid that tops off the completed capsule.

The main body tube also gets a LONG wrap with all the rocket markings on it, so finishing is really a snap on this model, but it looks AMAZING when it's done if you're careful with it!

The SRB nosecones were filled with wood filler, allowed to dry, and sanded down with 240 grit nice and smooth, primed with Walmart Colorplace 98 cent primer in two coats, dried, and sanded down with 240 grit and again with 600 grit 'wet sanding' for the final surface prep.

Here's a couple pics... More to come... OL JR :)

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luke strawwalker

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The next steps involve gluing in the nozzles into the SRB's. Be sure the nozzles are clocked with the nozzles cocked DIRECTLY AWAY from the wrap seam, as it is right beside the SOLID black stripe on the edge of the wrap that is glued to the center Titan rocket tube. That way the nozzles are pointed directly away from the center rocket, as they should. Then the SRB's are glued up to the main body tube.

There are patterns on the wrap sheet for some detail bits which have to be cut from the balsa sheet in the kit. These are for the two forward and two aft SRB Seperation Motors glued to each of the SRB's. Cut four forward and four aft motors from the balsa stock. Round the leading edges of the sep motors, and be careful that you are actually rounding over the LEADING edges, as the forward ones are pretty confusing since they are glued directly to the nosecone and thus are like an inverted triangle. I deviated a bit from the instructions and papered mine for strength and to make them nice and smooth for finishing. Cut a sheet of printer paper into strips about 1.5-2 inches wide, and then cut strips into squares. Put a big drop of white glue on the paper and spread it out with your finger in a circular motion so you leave a nice thin 'film' of glue on the paper. Put the sep motor on the paper, press it down firmly but smoothly (don't dent the soft balsa) and then fold the paper over the LEADING (rounded) edge of the sep motor and press the paper down firmly onto the balsa. I burnish the paper down around the edges using the edge of the ruler or a pen. Once dried they can be carefully cut from the paper and the paper trimmed neatly flush with the edges, and a final finish given by gently drawing the papered edge over a sheet of 220 sandpaper to sand off any loose fibers from trimming. They are then ready to glue to the SRB nosecones. The aft motors go on last.

Once the forward motors are glued to the nosecones precisely 90 degrees apart to form an "L" shape as seen from above, they can be filleted and once dry, paint the SRB nosecones with a fine brush using Testor's Enamel #1180 STEEL paint. The SRB nosecones are then glued onto the SRB's.

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory/transtage section is then glued up to the balsa tube coupler which forms the base, and it's wrap glued up. The Blue Gemini is then ready for installation on top. This makes a handy payload bay for small stuff... :)

The Flame Fins are cut from the balsa sheet using the pattern cut off the wrap sheet. I make mine rather smooth edged (not jagged like the pattern, just the 'general shape' of the FlameFin pattern so it's a bit more aerodynamic and less likely to snag stuff and break or crack the fins. After sanding, the fins are glued to the BT-5 flame fin tube in the kit, which has been cut in half and the 5/20 centering rings glued to them. The three flame fins are glued to each tube 90 degrees apart, forming a "T" shape like a four finned rocket that's missing a fin. I've seen some confusion about this online as some folks have put FOUR fins on the flamefins 90 degrees apart and then wonder why they got burned off in the motor exhaust! This kit, like the Shuttle and Lifting Body, use TWO pairs of Flame Fins installed in the SRB's and are basically supposed to be six finned rockets with four vertical fins, two up and two down, and two horizontal sticking out away from the rocket, when the rocket is laying on it's side. Like I said, I saw some confusion about this before on EMRR IIRC and so it's worth mentioning here to avoid confusion.

Then we start with the detailing... Here's some pics and more to come... OL JR :)

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luke strawwalker

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Well, technically speaking we've already started detailing with the Forward SRB Seperation Motors. There is a supply of dowel stock in the kit and four toothpick ends. The toothpick ends are sanded (per the instructions but I found gently whittling a bit off with the hobby knife easier, personally) so that the blunt end will lay against the BT-50 main body tube. Basically taking a couple curling shavings off the toothpick blunt ends from about 1/4 inch from the blunt end cutting from the pointy end toward the blunt end and giving the blunt end a "D" shape is about all that's required. The flat part of the "D" shape then goes against the body tube when they're glued on. The four toothpick ends are then painted Testor's Enamel "COPPER" color (sorry I don't have the number and haven't unpacked that stuff yet).

The remaining dowels are cut to 13/16 inch lengths, for four pieces which are used for the aft SRB mounting struts on the rocket. These are similarly notched for the tubes and painted white and allowed to dry. They are then glued onto the aft end of the rocket per the instructions, with the two upper aft struts perpendicular to the SRB/Titan body centerline, and the lower aft struts angled below them into a shallow inverted "V". The upper struts, which are the copper colored toothpick ends, are then glued perpedicular to the body tubes at the very top of the SRB's. The instructions could have been a LITTLE better in describing the forward placement, but a little quick research online yielded a photo of the only flight of the actual Titan III MOL mockup, which quickly showed the proper location to glue them, and an additional detail I added to mine.

The kit also comes with two "steering fluid tanks" which are glued to the outside of the SRB's on opposite sides of the rocket. The Titan III SRB's were quite similar to the Polaris submarine launched ballistic missiles, which were also solid-fuelled. There wasn't room on the missile to install a swivelling nozzle and a TVC hydraulic system and have the missiles fit in the cramped confines of a submarine missile tube, so they developed an ingenious system that used a fixed nozzle with a number of ports around the inside of the nozzle. Pressurized 'steering fluid' was squirted through these ports by electrically controlled valves run by the guidance system, which deflected the rocket exhaust to one side or the other of the nozzle to steer the missile. The Titan SRB's used fixed nozzles and the same fluid steering type system, only using external steering fluid tanks instead of the internal tanks on the Polaris missiles. These are basically pencil size dowels with one end carved down like a crayon tip and the other like a mini-nosecone. The crayon end goes down. I did a little finish sanding with 220 grit on mine, painted them white, and let them dry. My research pic showing the actual launch showed a red band painted around these steering fluid tubes behind the nosecone to the second SRB joint. I marked the tanks and hand painted the red band using Testor's Flat Red Enamel. When I went to glue them on, I realized that the tanks have to ride a bit higher than on the actual rocket, so the bands don't align with the SRB joints like the actual rocket, but they add a bit of detail and look REALLY cool. The steering fluid tanks are glued to the SRB's with a slight gap between them and the main Titan body tube. The launch lug is then nestled in between the SRB and main body tube on the other side. The aft SRB seperation motors are then glued to the bottom of the SRB's to form a 90 degree angle with the 45 degree center pointing to the Titan in the center. Once filleted and dried, they can then be painted with Testor's Flat White enamel, along with the SRB main rocket nozzles. Once the paint is dried, either using a tiny point brush and flat black enamel or a Sharpie, put four black dots on the outer edge of each SRB sep motor fore and aft to simulate the four sep motor rocket exhaust nozzles.

Once the Blue Gemini antenna can has been filled with glue and allowed to dry about fifteen times, the cap dot is glued on top. Make a trifold using the edge of the cardstock wrap sheet, fold over the included Kevlar string for the shock cord mount, and glue inside the body tube. Tie off the elastic shock cord, construct the trash bag chute per the instructions, and screw the screw eye into the balsa tube coupler at the base of the MOL, remove it and apply glue in the hole and screw it back in, clip on the chute and the rocket is finished.

A few more pics here and to come... OL JR :)

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luke strawwalker

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Well, here's the last pics of the finished product. This is a really cool looking kit of a rare prototype that only flew a boilerplate of a two man space-tug equipped military space station unmanned once and flew the first vehicle ever to be flown in space twice, the Gemini capsule from from the GT-2 vehicle modified with a hatch in the heat shield to allow the astronauts to access the space station through the tunnel. The Blue Gemini program and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory eventually fell prey to redundancy and obsolescence-- it was found that photoreconnaissance satellites could more effectively gather intelligence and were more stable platforms for recon work than manned vehicles where people bumping into the walls caused problems, and grand plans that sounded good in the 50's like flying up to and inspecting or even capturing Soviet satellites and orbital equipment for intelligence reasons would be counterproductive and ignite even more dangerous confrontations in the new high ground of space. Even though the Blue Gemini and MOL program was cancelled and came to naught, it's still a rare piece of history in a neat easy model.

Pick one of these up, you won't regret it!

Later! OL JR :)

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foose4string

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Great job on that. Good, detailed, explanation of the build. Here's my beta version...

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luke strawwalker

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Great job on that. Good, detailed, explanation of the build. Here's my beta version...
Looks pretty cool there Fooseman...

I notice though no aft struts, and that you put the bands around the TVC tanks too...

I'll see if I can find that actual liftoff photo of the prototype and post it... it's a neat shot.

Later! OL JR :)

PS... here's the shot of the actual liftoff... WAY cool! JR :)

PPS... my bad... it wasn't a Blue Gemini, it was a Gemini B. Blue Gemini would have orbited independently and was quite similar to the standard Gemini... the Gemini B used with MOL was to have virtually no independent orbital capabilities beyond that necessary for retrofire and reentry after seperating from the MOL space station, hence it had a small service module like the regular Gemini's reentry module... later! OL JR :)

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dwmzmm

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Looks great, Jeff! Some of Dr. Zooch's kits are pretty difficult builds. I only finished the build of his Saturn I SA-5 a few days ago, and it's a real beauty.
Hope we'll get to fly these on this coming Saturday. See you then.
 

Fred22

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Well, here's the last pics of the finished product. This is a really cool looking kit of a rare prototype that only flew a boilerplate of a two man space-tug equipped military space station unmanned once and flew the first vehicle ever to be flown in space twice, the Gemini capsule from from the GT-2 vehicle modified with a hatch in the heat shield to allow the astronauts to access the space station through the tunnel. The Blue Gemini program and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory eventually fell prey to redundancy and obsolescence-- it was found that photoreconnaissance satellites could more effectively gather intelligence and were more stable platforms for recon work than manned vehicles where people bumping into the walls caused problems, and grand plans that sounded good in the 50's like flying up to and inspecting or even capturing Soviet satellites and orbital equipment for intelligence reasons would be counterproductive and ignite even more dangerous confrontations in the new high ground of space. Even though the Blue Gemini and MOL program was cancelled and came to naught, it's still a rare piece of history in a neat easy model.

Pick one of these up, you won't regret it!

Later! OL JR :)
Man I gotta tell you those photos are great:) Another good job luke:)
Cheers
fred
 

luke strawwalker

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Thanks Dave, Fred. Looking forward to the launch Saturday. Hope it's not TOO terribly hot though!

Thanks for the link Fred... that's a COOL website! :cool:

Later! OL JR :)
 

dwmzmm

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Thanks Dave, Fred. Looking forward to the launch Saturday. Hope it's not TOO terribly hot though!

Thanks for the link Fred... that's a COOL website! :cool:

Later! OL JR :)
The forecast calls for temperatures to be in the triple digits. I'm going to launch only three models (Thor - Agena B, Saturn I SA-5 and the Saturn - V) then leave. My wife has some plans for me in the early afternoon. I just want to see my Saturn - V fly!!
 
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