Y-Wing Fighter

This classic rebel starfighter conveys raw engine power and serious attitude. Its battered and worn look tells stories of countless engagements and atmospheric re-entries. If I were to have one hopeless dream come true, it would be to fly this relic into battle with blazing cannons and a warrior’s cry.

The model looks like it has been dipped in glue and rolled in plastic parts. I just love that! Naturally, that was how I started this project. I went out and bought about 10 different model kits of trucks, battleships, and tanks.

The fighter’s main body frame was constructed from 3mm styrene. The bridge between the body and the engines was made from 8mm plywood for strength, and then laminated with 1mm sheet styrene. The main volume of the engines was based on two acrylic tubes, which I also laminated with sheet styrene. Styrene sheets are ideal if you’re going to add styrene kit parts later. It also provides a good surface for painting and is great for scribing panel lines.

I wanted to build the model with lights in the cockpit, engines, and in the R2-unit’s eyes. It was therefore necessary to incorporate this into the basic structure. There is room for a 9-volt battery behind the “snap-off” end plate on the body. A small bulb provides light for fiber optics (to be installed later) in the cockpit and in the R2-unit. Engine lights were based on two powerful brake-bulbs scavenged from my old car.

The only things missing were all the round parts. This project awarded me the challenge of vacuum-forming for the first time which gave me a huge headache. I had heard of industrial vacuum-forming and I soon realized this could be achieved at home.

I started experimenting with the kitchen oven and the domestic vacuum cleaner. The results were surprisingly good. I admit to shedding a few happy tears at the sight of my first successfully formed engine dome. I made the vacuum plugs by cutting styrene ribs and filling the shape with epoxy putty.

I repeated the process for the cockpit section, the canopy and the rear engine shields. Suddenly, there it was: the complete shape of a Y-wing.

For the cockpit interior, I converted a driver’s chair from one of the truck kits into a pilot seat. I rebuilt it, adding epoxy putty straight onto the chair. The pilot was made from epoxy putty as well, but I learned later on that Super Sculpey or Pro-Mat was better for sculpting figures. The details in the cockpit were mostly model truck parts. In addition to the kit parts, I used styrene rods and tubes. The hardest part was knowing when to stop.

The model was painted in Humbrol enamels. I dripped Maskol (liquid rubber) on the white plastic before the paint was sprayed on. When the model was finished I just peeled the rubber off to simulate chipping of paint. Most of the other details were hand-painted. The last thing I did was give it a dark wash of thinner and oil colors, plus a dry-brushing.