Imperial Star Destroyer

The Imperial Star Destroyer was a real burnout project. It stole a year of my social life from me and my body had to process about 3,000 gallons of coffee. It was the first scratch-built project I made in materials other than cardboard and paper. The challenges were endless and I had close to no knowledge of the required materials or techniques. Despite the seemingly hopeless task, I dove into the fire headfirst.

I made blueprints without any clear references, so they were not entirely correct. My best advice is to make enlarged photocopies from books and other source materials and then make your drawings from those. They will give you a pretty accurate outline of the correct shapes. It’ss always a good idea to draw the model in a smaller scale at first (A3 is good) and then scale it up. The scale and form is easier to assess if it is not too large. Find images that show the model directly from the side you need and start there. Be prepared to re-draw the blueprints several times, the errors you make here will hurt you tenfold when you start building. Also try to build a cardboard and foam mock-up of the model to make a 3D assessment. Then go back and adjust your drawings. Take your time.

Following clues from early ILM model shop pictures, I constructed the internal structure from plywood and steel tubes. The outer hull was made from aluminum. I cut it with an electric jigsaw and it almost destroyed my hearing. The aluminum hull had to be bent in order to fit on top of the plywood ribs of the inner structure. I did this simply by scribing a shallow cut along the center of the hull and carefully bent it over the edge of the workbench.

My model is vacuum-formed from styrene sheets. The cut was then sanded, filled and sanded again until it was gone. The hull was glued to the ribs with contact glue. The details on the lower hull were made from styrene. The upper sections and the bridge were made from acrylics and styrene sheets.

Seeing the final shape of the Star Destroyer taking form boosted my efforts. I felt like I was working in the ILM model shop, expecting the foreman to appear in the doorway any time to check on my progress.

Detailing was painstaking and slow. There was no kit-bashing involved. The details on this model were made entirely from scratch. I cut all the details along the sides and the upper levels from 3mm styrene sheets. This was extremely frustrating and there were times that I really hated this model.

When working on the engine section, I learned how to make silicone molds and resin copies. If only I had known this earlier. I made prototypes of all the larger parts and then made RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) silicone molds from which I cast the copies needed. Since I had no access to a lathe, the engine prototypes were made by laminating about 40 rings of styrene. There was a lot of sanding involved before I was happy with the results. The engines were also cast in resin.