Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

24 December 2015

N1 1/96 [1] - The big bad rocket that would but couldn't

Oh yes. I started building the 1/96th version of the big N-1, Soviet Russia's answer to the Saturn 5. A couple of years back I did the smaller 1/144 version of the same rocket and I was so tired after making the 1st stage, I put it away for I think it was a year or so. Let's hope this won't take that long.
Around the same time, I was not yet equipped with an A3-printer and the 1/96th version was high up on my list, so I made a good A3 copy of it in the local copy shop. 200+ gram paper, so in other words, very heavy, and a nice gloss all over.
It was in storage for years but after the Ariane I wanted to do a nice "out-of-the-box" model, although in paper modeling we hardly have any models coming in boxes.

Anyways, I am not yet finished with the first stage, or rather, Blok A, but I thought it would be a nice seasonal present to get you all up to steam with what I am doing at the moment.

For a change this is going to be another one of those looooooooong posts, with lots of photos.
So, this is how it all started. Making the tank dome of the first stage.

The Blok A stage was 17 meters at its widest point. The Saturn V 'only' measured 10 meters. And while the Saturn used almost all available space inside its hull, the N-1 actually was quite uneconomical. The fuel and oxidiser tanks were ball-shaped, which meant that there was a lot of unused room left in the insides of the stages.

The vents on top are edge glued and that all goes reasonably well, keeping in mind that the whole model is printed by a copier, so it's a toner surface we're dealing with here.

Now, more of this after the jump.

So next came the first big pieces of paper. The hull of the Blok A stage has lots of fairings (marked in light grey here) that led the fuel lines over the outside from the upper fuel tank (kerosene) to the engine section underneath the bigger oxygen tank below. The N1 had a lot of engines, so it needed a lot of fuel lines.

I found a sheet of paper that had exactly the right colour for the small details. This was a lot easier than having to colour all the edges of all these little cut-out circles. 

Tank dome added to hull part. This is going to be a big one. Note all the slots I cut in the border between the light and dark grey parts. Here the fairings will be placed.

I can't help myself. iI need to tinker with my models. So there goes out-of-the-box. More added relief for a little realism.

Oh, and if we're in a detailing mood, then why not add some more? Tiny stuff.

Well, it does look good.

Now here comes the most tedious part of the build. The repetitiveness of the fuel fairings...

Nice match here with the colour pencil I use for the edges. It's a shade of beige/grey. All the scored lines on the fairings are coloured with it and the result is great.

After about 95931 cuts I finally had all the fairings cut out and ready for attaching to the hull.
To make it all a litlle less tedious I already did the lower skirt section (on the right) and the ring-shaped launch stand that was attached to the bottom of the rocket but was left behind at launch. This ring was where it stood upon when it was raised to vertical on the huge concrete launch pad.

This again is one of those builds that makes me glad I own one of these circle cutters. the N1 is reinforced with a lot of them and I add more myself to make it even sturdier. The ring below however, was just a couple of millimetres too large. Oh well. The inside was done with it.

Now, another part is I had to open all of those holes at the bottom. This is where the 30 engines of the N1 will go into. 30?! Yes. And circles the size of 1 cm or smaller are hard to cut. For this I use hollow punches. I just didn't have the desired 11mm for this job. So I ordered one at the local hardware shop. It took the guys almost three weeks to get this piece delivered. I should've just oredered it myself from the interwebs... Anyway, I got it in the end and the work was done in a whiffy.

The hollow punches even came in handy to shape all the engine bells. I printed them on metallic paper, for extra effect.

While the Saturn 5 could do with just 5 big engines, the Soviets realised they couldn't build them that large. So chief designer Sergei Korolyov thought, when I can't do it with a couple of big ones, why not many small ones? He went to engine builder Nikolai Kuznetsov and he designed and built the NK-15, a very able and powerful engine but you needed 30 to lift the super heavy rocket off the ground.

So in other words: Tedious times are here again.

All those engines were partially hidden inside the bottom of the rocket, only protruding a little, and covered in a skirt of insulation cloth. 30 pieces of that, too, sir. Yes, lets cut some more and enjoy the repetitiveness of it all. The rings are not circular but they all have a little pointy part on one end. There the flat V-shape will be folded upon, making a small surface where an exhaust pipe was protruding.

All engines got a little colour on the outside too. Gun metal.

9363647 cuts later, the rings are readied for glueing.


Now it's all edge glueing to the bottom. The inner circle of 6 engines have tapered skirts. Also attached here is the launch pad ring.

And that, friends, is where I am at now. All rings are glued and the engine bells can be added tomorrow. I suppose in the next couple of days there won't be lots of time to either check the internet a lot or to actually build a lot so I guess I'll be back after the holidays. Maybe there will be one more instalment before the year is out but I can't promise anything.

Have a good time, be careful and thoughtful, enjoy your time with the others you love and I'll see you 'round soon.

Thanks for watching.

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