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Polar Lights Star Trek Galileo shuttle

Build review of the 1/32 scale sci-fi spacecraft kit with detailed equipment bays

⬅️ Watch the unboxing video here!
Technically referred to as a Class F shuttlecraft, Star Trek’s first small vessel is better known as the Galileo after its most famous on-screen appearance. Now, thanks to Polar Lights, the shuttle has been properly rendered in injection-molded plastic.

AMT released a box-scale kit (it measures out to 1/36 scale) of the Galileo in 1975 that included interior details but botched the exterior shapes. The sides have a break about 2/3 of the way back and taper from there, the rear end is replicated as a couple of flat panels and the characteristic curls overhanging the roof are non-existent.

Polar Lights’ all-new kit addresses all of these issues with an accurate rear end, including engine and equipment bays, smooth sides with the proper curls. In addition, the landing gear and crew step can be posed up or down. As designed, the crew hatch looks like it can be posed open, although no interior is provided. However, some aftermarket details are already available online.

Most of the parts went together quickly with big, sturdy locators getting everything in place. I built the warp nacelles but left off the separate two-part spheres at the rear and the clear Bussard collectors for painting; I airbrushed the inside of the latter white. Sanding and a little superglue filler eliminated the seams between the nacelle halves. Intending to pose the gear down, I built the simple front gear legs but left them separate too.

To replicate the complex rear section, Polar Lights divided it into a lower section with part of the belly and the mount for the rear gear leg, a middle panel with the equipment bays, and a three-part impulse engine section with overlapping openings and a clear backing. I painted the backside of the clear insert black and the exhaust area dark gray.

I deviated from the instructions here and didn’t assemble the three parts. Instead, I skipped forward to steps 7 and 8 to assemble much of the hull. Pay attention to the note in Step 8 and only glue the rear half of the seam between the upper and lower sides. Now, I could use the side to align the rear components. Clamps held the sides tight as the glue set. Then it was a simple matter to finish the body although finagling the roof into place involved a little work to pop it into place around the engine assembly.

I used a little Vallejo Plastic Putty and superglue to fill fine gaps around rear components and between the front and top panels.

Bigger gaps showed up between the pylon halves that I filled them with Tamiya putty. Gaps also marked the joins between the pylons and body, but you have a choice here. While the wings appear smooth on the filming miniature, there are matching lines on the full-size mockup used on the set. I filled them with a couple applications of Tamiya putty and superglue.

I painted the hull and separate engines with a mix of equal parts Tamiya white (No. X-2) and sky gray (No. XF-19) with a little desert yellow (No. XF-59) added to warm the shade.

Then I added the warp nacelles, filled minor gaps with Vallejo putty, and touched up the body color.

After picking out engine details with flat aluminum (No. XF-16) and spraying the entire model with clear gloss, I applied the decals. The markings proved to be trouble-free, but I recommend starting with the hull stripe on the door side, the easiest to align. From there, it’ll be easier to get the numbers and names located correctly. Titles and alternate numbers are included for Galileo as well as Columbus and Einstein all aboard USS Enterprise.

When adding the landing gear, I ran into the only major problem. The front gear struts are too long so the shuttle sits nose high, but footage from the show reveals it sits level. I cut 3/8 inch from the top of each leg and checked the stance as the glue dried.

Polar Lights has done a great job on the Galileo shuttle and the finished model is impressive. It takes a little filling to smooth a few joins, but the kit presents few challenges. This kit is a must for any fan of Star Trek.

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