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Imperial TIE Fighter

by Bernd Korte



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The original - or what George Lucas' writers think it is...

During the prominence of the Imperium, the Tie fighter represented the standard hunter of the "dark side". It was designed in such a way by the Sienar fleet systems that it combined a maximum of expediency with an efficient manufacturing process that was as resource prudent as possible. Therefore the Tie fighter had no hyper-drive or shields and featured a standard armament of only two laser cannons. This weight reduction gave the Tie fighter high agility and speed.



Did Lucas' designers let themselves be inspired by the "Japanese-imperial" agile but badly armed and shielded hunters? The engine of the Tie fighter gets along without any moving parts and the pilots must always wear a space suit because of the lack of life support systems. Due to its extensive production the Tie fighter could be found in the proximity of most Imperium activities. A Star Destroyer for example usually carried 72 Tie fighters in 6 squadrons to 12 ships each.



AMT's TIE Fighter Kit


The kit consists of gray plastic parts for two identical models and a nice display showing part of a Death Star's surface. All parts are accurately molded and feature good detail. Pilot figures are included. The clear parts are a little bit too thick, so I didn't install them to give a better view in the assembled cockpits.



When building any vehicle from a science fiction movie, the color selection is always the most difficult task. In most cases you won't find any reliable color codes à la RAL or FS but only vague hints like this must be painted gray and that black. So, first you have to view enough "reference material" in order to make up your mind about the right colors. For Star Wars especially, the merchandising industry offers enough material like data sheets, plan books and so on. But different photograph with different shadings - of perhaps even different movie models - do not contribute much to the solution of this problem. As a result, the final decision is usually the most easily justifiable mixture of all impressions. The outside gray of the Tie fighter for example appears very bright in some scenes and even sometimes bluish in others, but averages "central gray". Walter Müller solved this problem for me in KIT issue # 5/99 (German model-magazine). I simply followed his choice, Humbrol 87. Assembly progresses from inside to outside, so the interior color was started first. The few existing interior photographs/designs show that the gray of the cockpit is always darker than the gray of the exterior. Therefore I painted all cockpit parts in a darker gray than Humbrol 87. After drying, everything got a coat "Erdal Glänzer" ("Future") and a wash with diluted black oil paint. The control elements at the pilot's seats got some color, following my imagination. For painting the pilot figures I found excellent pictures of the original costumes on the CD "Behind The Magic" from Lucasarts. Accordingly the figures were first brushed with a lightened black, the transparencies of the helmets, the gloves and boots where then emphasized with gloss clear lacquer and details of the life support system of the space suit with red and blue. The belt-buckles and the imperial badges to both sides of the helmet appear in silver. Some silver drybrushing of the hoses finished the painting of the pilots.



The most complicated part of painting was the hexagonal solar wings that are so characteristic of the Tie fighter. While the solar elements appear in a lightened black, the structure continues the gray color of the cockpit section. So the wings were installed after the whole paint-job was done. After several attempts at cutting masks on the wings had failed, I made some paper shapes that fit perfectly into the different solar segments. Since there are only two different segments, I only needed two different templates. I put these on a strip of masking foil and cut the needed pieces out.



As the spherical body had to be painted in gray too, it was now time to assemble it. I didn't install the clear parts to provide a better view in the assembled cockpit. The hatch was glued in place as the hinge to open it is placed on the wrong side. Seen from the pilot's view, the hatch should open to the rear and not to the forward.

After the gray had been painted, the masking on the wings was removed. Some spots where the gray had gone under the masking on the black solar panels were fixed. Now it was time for the mandatory layer of "Erdal Glänzer" in order to prepare the model for a wash with black oil paint. To finish the whole paint-job everything got a coat of silk-matte clear lacquer. Finally, the wings had to be joined with the body and the Imperium had two more space hunters. While the glue was drying I placed the Ties with the wings on a smooth surface, so that both wings lay in the same position to the body.

The Display Stand

The display stand is actually too small to offer two models equivalent place. Therefore I covered one of the two slots for the transparent stands with some plastic sheet, which disappeared in the surface texture after a lacquer finish. First, I painted the frame black. Some segments of the Death Star surface that should later appear a little bit shaded were likewise fogged in black. Then the black frame was masked and the surface was airbrushed gray. I took another gray than that of the Tie fighters, since otherwise the whole thing would look too uniform. When everything was dry, I applied a coat of "Erdal Glänzer" and washed the display stand with oil paint. Finally, a matte finish gave the right look.


The plaque contained in the kit was sprayed with a Humbrol Metal Cote color that was polished after drying to get that metal-like shine.




Summing up this is a well-detailed representation of this ultimate Imperial symbol from the Star Wars saga and is impressive by its size. Only the painting of the one-piece solar panels is somewhat time-consuming. Fine molds constructed this part far better at its 1:72 kit with the multipart solar wings, making painting much easier. Well, you can't have everything...

Special thanks to Clarence Wentzel who helped me with this translation (original German article can be seen at www.modellversium.de in the scifi-gallery).

Text by myself, pictures by Deun Yu, picture arrangement by myself ;-)


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model and Text Copyright © 2002 by Bernd Korte
Images and Text  by Deun Yu
Page Created 02 January, 2003
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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