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Horizon Mercury-Redstone

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale plastic model rocket ship kit
In the early days of the space race, the Soviet Union seemed to be winning. The USSR launched the first satellite in October 1957, and on April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. America needed to act fast, and it required a rocket that was reliable and safe for human travel. Modifying the U.S. Army’s Redstone ballistic missile, NASA launched Explorer 1 in January 1958. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard rode a Mercury spacecraft atop a Redstone launch vehicle to become the first American in space.

Opening the box, I was treated to three gray sprues — two identical frames featuring the body halves, launch pad, and fins, and another for the capsule, escape tower and stand for just the capsule. Two small frets of stainless steel photo-etch (PE), detailed, well-drawn instructions, and an absolutely gorgeous Microscale decal sheet round out the kit. The latter provides markings for any one of the six Mercury-Redstone missions.

Pay close attention to the concise instructions — there are a lot of paint callouts, as well as orientation notes for parts and decals, that can be missed.

The crisp plastic parts showed no flash, and the only sink marks I found were on the ring of the launch pad (they were easily eliminated).

As molded, the spacecraft represents later Mercury ships with the window of Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7, the one I built. The PE parts backdate the capsule with portholes as used for earlier flights, including Shepard and Ham, the chimp.

With relatively few parts and a simple shape, the build progressed quickly. I used a little filler to blend the two separate fins into the body. The other two fins are molded with the lower body halves. The body’s upper and lower sections fit together seamlessly.

Even the three-piece capsule went together flawlessly. Two flow generators are provided (Part M16), which is just as well, because they are small and I broke the first one.

Final painting and decal work is a snap. A one-piece decal wraps the upper body for the checkerboard pattern. Based on past experience, I was concerned it wouldn’t fit or match up correctly. I need not have worried; these decals performed perfectly.

Horizon did a fantastic job on the Mercury-Redstone, and I will build another. Kudos to the company for making these vehicles available in plastic. Now that we have the Redstone and Atlas, how about a Titan, Horizon?

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2017 issue.
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