With the model fully assembled, it was time to paint. I was really pleased with how the build and lighting worked out and wanted to give the Enterprise a paint and marking job that was worthy. A little pre-paint-prep was needed.

    The model is covered with a series of small raised rectangular and circular outlines representing windows. They're all a little oversize and most are in the wrong positions so they were all sanded off. Correct windows would be applied as decals after painting.

   All illuminated domes and pre-painted areas like the copper sensor dish and sensor platform were masked off with masking tape and Parafilm "M" laboratory film (Fine Scale Modeler, Feb. 1993). The model was then primed with gray automotive primer.

   Before spraying on the main color, some parts like the impulse engines and the rear warp engine caps were masked off. These would remain the dark gray of the primer coat.


    One specific thing I can confidently tell you about the actual color of the paint originally used on the studio model, is that it was some kind of color of paint. Information about the exact paint and color used varies from source to source. I read an article by "someone who knew someone" who said that it was GM auto primer. I also heard from a "foremost authority" that it could only have been Chrysler truck primer. Another foremost authority disclosed that it was, without question Ford auto primer.

   To match the studio model's color from the photographs I took at the Smithsonian, I used colors from Tamiya's line of acrylic hobby paints. Using a full half-ounce jar of gloss white as a starting point, I mixed in the other colors little by little until I got something that looked like the right color for the Enterprise, keeping track of what I used:

White (X-2)........................2 jars
Chrome Silver (X-11).......1/2 jar
Metallic Grey (XF-56).....4 drops
Smoke (X-19)...................1/2 jar
Black (X-1).......................1/4 jar
Clear Blue (X-23).............1/2 jar

    The above list clearly shows that the process of matching the color had gotten away from me. By the time I finished mixing, I had enough paint to cover the 11-foot studio model. And, yes, I was serious about those 4 drops of Metallic Grey. Still, I thought it was a good match for color in the photos I took and I decided to go with it. 

   Being experienced enough to know better but thinking I could get away with it, I thinned the entire batch of the color for airbrushing, greatly shortening the mix's shelf life. If it became necessary to re-mix the same color later on for touch-up, I would be in big trouble. I needed to get it right the first time.

    Using a Badger 350 mini spray gun, the model was given three heavy coats of the color mix over the course of two hours. This Enterprise remained un-weathered, just as I'd seen it in the Smithsonian. I was pretty satisfied that I got the color right, or at least very close to the color in my photos. The model was then sprayed with Tamiya Clear to prep for decals. 

    For most of the kit's run, AMT-Ertl provided a decal sheet with letters and numbers in the typeface commonly known to Windows users as "MachineBT." I decided to use decals from Estes Rockets' flying Enterprise kit  instead. That decal sheet used the correct font, a very slight variation on the "Amarillo USAF" typeface which is commonly used on US military vessels, aircraft and even NASA spacecraft.

   The differences are illustrated at left. Also included is the font "Microgramma," shown here because it was used in Franz Joseph's STAR TREK BLUEPRINTS and many other drawings. This font was also used for starship markings in the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast and in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot.

   Early runs of the AMT kit included a decal sheet with the markings in straight-up Amarillo USAF. For a good look at both the original decal sheet and the later one, see page 3 of Jay Chladek's article.
    Some markings, such as the triangles on the saucer bottom and the mysterious, not-seen-on-TV shapes on the secondary hull bottom were airbrushed onto clear decal film before being applied to the model to help avoid positioning problems. Little numbers on the side of the hull were made from 1/4" dry transfers reduced to 1/32" on a copy machine (this was 1991; computers and printers had not hit the mainstream yet) directly onto decal film. New engine pylon grids were made by making an oversize master with Letraset diamond grid screen, reducing it down and copying that onto decal film.

   When building the model, some grooves were filled in on the backs of the warp propulsion units and on the hangar deck.  They were  replaced with 1/64" dry-transfer stripes on decal film.

    I made window decals by burnishing sections of Woodland Scenics white and black dry-transfer striping (1/32") onto decal film and applied that to the model for windows with sharp edges and corners. I used photos of the TV model and drawings in SHIPS of the STAR FLEET as a placement guide.

   The left side of the Enterprise studio model is devoid of any details and markings. This is where the wiring for the lights entered the model so it was filmed from the right side only. This allowed me to use some imagination (gasp!) for the window placement on the left side of my model.

   To save time and effort, I clear-coated the model and decals with Krylon Crystal Clear and finally Krylon Matte Finish out of spray cans. I could have used Tamiya Clear which was the same brand as the colors used on the model but that would have required me to set up my airbrush and compressor. Again, I should have known better but I thought I could get away with it. (What the hey, Tamiya and Krylon both say "acrylic" on their labels!)

   I learned something that day.

chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
chapter 4
chapter 5
chapter 6
chapter 7
chapter 8
chapter 9
chapter 10