Grundor House Hercules Dropship
by Neil "blitz" Nowatzki

**Corrections**

Some errors in the assembly instructions have been brought to my attention since this article was posted:

1. Step 9 - The leading edge of part E6 should be about 2 3/4" from the leading edge of E4, not 1".
2. Step 17 - The part marked as F7 is actually F6.

Also, please note the assembly tips submitted by Earthwalker under the "Step 2: Parts" section. Some excellent ideas there that will simplify construction.

** ** **

For the CAV addict who wants a dropship now, here's a kit that will give you a sturdy ship with eight CAV bays, each big enough to hold an Ogre. Be forewarned, this is a fairly large project, and not something that can be done in a single afternoon. But it's fun to build, really.

The completed ship is 24" long and 16" wide. The game stats for this ship are up to the builder, since weapon emplacements and the scenarios the ship is used in will vary. I'll call the model built for this article the Alpha variant, the prototype. If builders want to create stats for their ships and name the variants consecutively - Bravo, Charlie, Delta etc. and post them on the Mil-Net forum, I'm sure the rest of the readers would appreciate it.

Here's what you'll need to build the Hercules:

  1. Foam core board, 40" x 60" x 3/16", about $10. Available at most art supply stores, this board comes in a variety of colors. For this project I used black foam core.
  2. Styrene tube, 7/32" and 5/32" diameters, <$5. Available at hobby shops, these are for the door hinges.
  3. Card stock that can be used with your computer's printer, for printing templates (optional).
  4. Spray paint that will not eat the foam core board, such as Testor's spray enamel, $2-$3 per 3 oz. can.
  5. Miscellaneous parts for creating weapon turrets.
  6. A sharp hobby knife (X-Acto is great) and scissors.
  7. Your favorite adhesives - I used Elmer's Glue-All for bonding the foam core board, 3M Super 77 spray adhesive for attaching the "decals", and a 90-sec two-part epoxy for attaching dissimilar materials, such as the styrene tubes to the foam core.

Step 1: Templates
Print out the part templates:

HerculesTemplates.doc (330 Kb)
HerculesTemplates.pdf (208 Kb) Thanks to LadyStorm for this Acrobat file!

If you have access to AutoCAD and a large-format plotter, you can try out these files, courtesy of KAMUT: "The plot is adjusted for “oversize – Arch E1”, which will plot to a 42”x30” sheet. Better yet a 30” inch roll of paper and whatever plotter used should auto rotate the drawing."

HerculesTemplates.dwg (162 Kb)
HerculesTemplates.plt (26 Kb)

You will be tracing these templates onto the foam core board, so I recommend printing them on a light card stock rather than paper. It makes tracing much easier, and the templates hold up better to use and abuse, especially if you build more than one ship.

Once all ten pages are printed, cut out each template. Many parts have rectangular holes in them - these should also be cut out.

Step 2: Parts
Trace the templates onto the foam core board. Try to trace the parts so that they share as many edges as possible. This will make more effiicient use of the available board, and will make for less cutting later on. The 40" x 60" board should be more than sufficient, with some left over if you need to redo a part or two. As you trace the parts, write the part number on the foam core board. The assembly instructions refer to the parts by their number (B3, F5, etc.).

Note that many templates require you to trace and cut out multiple parts. The bay doors, for example, have only one template, but that template should be traced onto the board eight times (B7 X8).

Cut the pieces out using a straight edge and a very sharp hobby knife. You should end up with about 75 foam core pieces (that's a lot of cutting).

On the Mil-Net forums, "Earthwalker" proposed a great idea: If you want to reduce the number of parts and construction steps, and have enough room on your foam core board, consider tracing multiple parts as one piece. For example, using the two templates for the wing, W1 and W2, you could trace them on the foam core adjacent to one another as one part. Then trace the other half of the wing next to the first, and you can cut out the wing as one single piece instead of four pieces. Other parts that could be cut as one piece: B1-B2, B3-B4, F1-F2, and E4-E5.

Step 3: Assembly
Assemble the pieces using the 25-step assembly instructions:

HerculesAssembly.doc (1.2 Mb)
HerculesAssembly.pdf (1.2 Mb) Thanks to GhostRider for this Acrobat file!

Always test fit parts before applying any glue. Some of the parts may seem like they could be attached either way, but they usually can not. To ensure a sturdy assembly, use plenty of glue. Glue applied to the edges of the foam core board can get sucked into the foam, so a little extra glue really helps. Once the part is in place, wipe away the excess glue that squeezes out.

Before assembling the doors/hinges, I recommend skipping ahead, printing out the decals for the doors (if you're going to use them), and pasting them on first. There is a dashed line marked on the outer door decal, indicating where a cut should be made to create a door "handle". Cut along the dashed line, cutting through only the outer shell and the inner foam, but not completely through the board. Then press the board in along the cut, compressing the foam, creating an angled depression in the board that you can grab with the tip of your finger to open the door. The photos at the end of this article show the end result.

The assembled model:

Step 4: Priming
Assuming the provided decals are going to be used, the next step is cleaning up and priming the assembled model. Before painting, trim the foam core as necessary to make smooth surfaces for applying decals. The tabs on some of the parts, for example, may stick out slightly beyond the other adjacent surfaces. Many of the decals are designed to hide gaps and joints in the foam core, so it helps if all the surfaces are made flush first.

To match the decals, use a light shade of grey paint. If spray paint is to be used, be sure that it is compatible with the foam core board. A general- purpose can of spray paint from the local hardware store could eat the foam. Spray paint meant for scale models, such as Testor's, should be used. You really have to stretch a 3 oz. can to make it cover the entire model.

Step 5: Decals
You can detail and paint the Hercules however you want. To save some time and effort, however, you can print, cutout, and apply these "decals". The first link is for the original grey decals in MSWord format, the second is in Acrobat format (grey) courtesy of LadyStorm, and the third is for a tan version created by Jeff "Erion" Hoffman. Thanks Jeff!

HerculesDecals.doc (720 Kb)
HerculesDecals.pdf (684 Kb)
HerculesDecals_Tan.doc (1.2Mb)

The document has three pages of decal placement guides and 12 pages of decals. Once the decals are cut out, I recommend using a spray adhesive of some kind to apply them. Again, it's a good idea to test fit the decals before applying any adhesive. There are no insignia or unit markings on the decals, so you can print out and attach your own.

If you're really feeling ambitious, you can forget the decals and add physical details instead. Card stock, styrene sheet, and/or model bits could be attached to add panels, intake/exhaust vents, etc. Add to this your own custom paint job, and you'll have a dropship with a lot more class than the prototype presented here. If you do not use the decals, you may want to use strips of paper to cover up the gaps between the foam core pieces before adding details and painting.

Step 6: Weapons
Weapons type and placement are entirely up to the builder, but here's some ideas:

The first picture above is an anti-soft chin turret, one of three turrets. It was built using two Starhawk V gatlings and a Sovereign's missile pack (not meant to fire missiles, just providing a base for the gatlings).

The second pic shows a massive anti-vessel gatling (one on each side of the fuselage) made with styrene tubes and a Starhawk V missile pack, inserted into an opening cut out of a 1/48" scale F-18 external fuel tank.

The third photo is the aft missile turret, made from the new Rhino's missile packs, Starhawk V shoulders, some styrene tube, and the base of a Rebel laser turret from an old Star Wars AT-AT model kit.

The forward turret (last pic) consists of two new-Rhino GRC's, with the Rhino shoulders attached to the back of the cannons. Also uses some styrene tube and another Rebel laser turret base.

Step 7: Final Details
I finished up this model by first sealing it with a coat of Testor's Dull Cote. The engine intakes were painted black, and a pen was used to add some panel lines here and there. Then some black pastel chalk dust was rubbed on in spots to give it a weathered look, then one final spray with Dull Cote.

Some photos of the final product:

Have fun building! If any problems come up that need to be addressed, please e-mail me at blitz@mil-net.net.

Super Herc!

For NukeCon 2005, I built a highly modified Hercules. This one started with the basic foam-core construction, but then I added A LOT of cardboard, in many layers, to build up a more realistic and detailed dropship.

WIP photos:

And some photos of the completed model: