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A-3 Rocket



A-3 Rocket



by Mike Belcher



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The A-3 was one of the early versions of military rockets developed by Germany. Although the four rockets launched in 1936 were not fully successful, they did prove the liquid oxygen / alcohol propulsion design and the use of carbon exhaust vane control.



Building the A-3 Rocket

Running a resin casting and decal aftermarket firm single-handed (and part-time) doesn't leave a lot of time for modelling, so models I build for my enjoyment tend to be small and quick projects. I like scratchbuilding and am interested in rockets and bombs, so this seemed like a natural. Having a small lathe is a definite advantage for a project like this.

I found a dimensioned drawing reproduced in an old book on the history of the V-2, so I made a simplified drawing scaled to 1/48, chucked a length of acrylic rod in the lathe and started turning.

Making ogive nose cones is more a matter of working by eye, although there is a method to give some guidance.

Measure the nose shape diameter at regular distances from the tip.

When turning the nose, make a series of steps, then use a rough rasp to smooth out the steps, finishing with a fine file and sandpaper.

You actually use the files more than the cutting tools this way, but it goes surprising quickly.

I made the top and bottom halves of the rocket separately, then glued them together.

The fins were made from plastic sheet, and the tail ring was turned on the lathe. Apparently, this ring was intended only to support the fins at launch and fell off afterwards.


The Figure

Because the A-3 was smaller than the later V-2, I wanted to add a figure to the base to give a sense of size.

I went to the spares box (never throw anything away!) and found a figure of a guy holding a clipboard ... sounded perfect for a scientist / technician. However, he was wearing a jacket, and that didn't seem quite right. I decided to modify the figure to wear a lab coat.

Now, I am no figure modeller, and this was a new experience for me. I mixed up a bit of epoxy putty, rolled it out and wrapped it around my figure. It started out looking like a skirt, then a kilt, but eventually I carved it into something acceptable.

The figure was painted in enamels ... I admire figure painters but can't match their skills, so it is good from far, but far from good.




The Base

The base is a simple piece of plastic sheet, scribed to resemble concrete slabs and painted in greys. The missile sits on a square of plastic strip, painted to resemble rusted steel. I have only seen one very poor photo of the A-3, so details of the missile stand (and colour of the rocket itself) are just a guess.





I'm happy with the finished project and hope some day to have a 1/48 V-2 (Mauve kit) sitting beside it.


Text, Images and Model Copyright 2002 by Mike Belcher
Page Created 20 February, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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