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stefanj 06-04-2019 08:21 PM

1/70 Saturn 1B SM decal puzzle
1 Attachment(s)
Many years ago, when I started my resurrection of a badly-built Estes Saturn 1B, I purchased a nice decal for the SM from Excalibur.

Now I'm actually finishing the model (which I flew "naked" a few years back). Not trying to do a great job, TBH, just making it presentable for a July 20th launch.

I delayed gluing on the four service module attitude rockets, figuring I could glue them on after the decal, scratching away enough of the film to make a paintable service.

I measure down the specified .72" on the decal and found . . . nothing that would suggest a "pad" for the thrusters. But a little further down were little yellow rectangles.

Moreover, there was not way I could fit the entire decal on the model's SM. I know I wasn't very careful with this model (I started it in 1974!) but I couldn't imagine being about a half-inch off.

Then I noticed a fine dotted line a bit down from the "top" of the decal.

I got out my "digital" ruler, and sure enough, the yellow rectangles were about .72" down from the dotted line.

I'm asking the hivemind here . . . am I correct in my assumption that I need to trim off the top of the decal at this point?

Why was it on there to begin with?

Is there anything I need to know about this decal?

Earl 06-04-2019 08:35 PM


How much off is the entire length of the decal (top to bottom that is) compared to the exposed length of your SM (the top tube of the model where the chutes eject)?

That top silver band on the decal is not really necessary from a complete scale standpoint, but maybe that 'extra' area was added to give some trimable 'latittude' for variations in how much SM tube sticks up above the tapered Spacecraft/Lunar Module Adapter (SLA).

I'd probably measure the SM tube and then trim as much as needed off that top silver band to allow the decal to fit with no 'extra' decal left at the top.

Does that help?


stefanj 06-04-2019 10:37 PM

I think you're on the right track.

I looked at a bunch of pictures of real-life service modules, and there's hardly any gap between the white rectangles and the front end of the service module.

So Excalibur seems to have included some "slack." It's an awful lot of it! Makes me feel better about the job I did. With the section above the dotted line removed, my model's service module is maybe 3/32" too short. So I'll need to trim a little off the bottom of the decal as well.

The photos also suggested why the narrow white rectangles (one visioble in the photo, below the American flag). There's a half-oval antenna in roughly one of these locations. Similar to the "Scimitar antenna" on the Command Module. I will look into cutting out two more and fitting them to the SM after the decal is in place.

I also need to paint the thrusters silver rather than white! Or two tones of metallic.

It's funny, going to these lenghts after the awful mess I made of the model as a whole. Perhaps if the SM / CM look good, it will draw people's eye's away from how I glued the wraps on wrong (45 years ago!) and my goofy hand-paint-job.

BARGeezer 06-05-2019 02:30 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Interesting! I never noticed that. I just applied the decal without looking. By the way, it's Excelsior, not Excalibur. Consider yourself lucky to have gotten one of Gordy's decals. I got mine a few weeks before his printers started acting up. Not available now.
Below is a detailed pic of the CSM from Apollo 15. The vertical dotted line is on the actual module. And a pic of my decal on a Sat 1B clone, less the quad thrusters. Applied five years ago, maybe I'll finish it up by the Apollo 11 anniversary next month. Or not.

ghrocketman 06-05-2019 09:11 AM

I have a few sets of these wraps in 1/70 and 1/100 that hopefully I will use someday....

tbzep 06-05-2019 09:54 AM

There were some variations between SM's but I wasn't sure what they were so I found a pic or two of the actual Apollo 7 CSM. Since the Estes Saturn 1B kit came out before Skylab and ASTP, I'm sure Apollo 1 or 7 is what it was scaled from. The gold colored parts are your white rectangles. I'm still looking for a good Apollo 1 shot with the block 1 CSM, which I know is different from the decal set you are using.

High Res black & white:

tbzep 06-05-2019 10:04 AM

AS-204 (Apollo 1) CSM. Definitely different. The K-29 came out in the 1967 catalog which means it was modeled after Apollo 1. I don't know if the instructions were modified for later models. I am assuming the instructions were to paint the whole SM silver like the K-36 Saturn V.

Edit: I looked at JimZ's. It seems it was modeled after SA-201 (unmanned) going by the introduction date and the SA-201 photo in the instructions, but decals were modified as the years went by. The decal set on JimZ's shows SA-207, which was Skylab 3.

stefanj 06-05-2019 10:38 AM

Interesting! I hadn't thought of the variations in the SM.

Maybe I should save the Excelsior decal for my Apogee 1/70th Saturn V . . . assuming it doesn't have a decal of its own!

It would certainly save time to just paint the 1b's SM silver.

My next big challenge is finding the replacement Saturn 1b decals I THINK I bought many years ago. I still have the Estes originals from 1974, but I doubt they'd survive contact with water.

tbzep 06-05-2019 11:01 AM

If the decals at the base of the black tanks are SA-201, 202 or SA-204 they would need a Block 1 SM decal. The SA-204 was Apollo 1 and the booster was saved and later used to loft the LM in an unmanned launch with no CSM. Anything higher than 204 would have had the Block 2 CSM and would fit with your wrap. SA-205 was Apollo 7 (Centuri kit was modeled on it), 206-210 were for Skylab and ASTP flights.

I can't find any pics of original Estes 1/70 Saturn 1B decals. The 1/100 used the same SA-205 decal that it did when it was a Centuri kit. I believe the SA-207 decals I saw with the JimZ Estes plans were from the SEMROC kit.

Earl 06-05-2019 01:00 PM

Yes, with the variations there were with the SM, it comes down to which historical range of vehicles you want to model.

As tbzep pointed out, I think the original vehicle that the Estes model was scaled from was SA-201, launched in early 1966. It had a solid white SM and had no black band around the Instrument Unit (the area at the base of the Spacecraf/Lunar Module Adapter). Here's a photo link:

So, if you want to model that one, your SM is already done! Or, you can go for modeling the later manned flights (Apollo 7 onward) and use your decal. Or go more basic and just paint the entire SM silver.

Good thing is, you have choices which gives some flexibility.


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