Saturday, June 7, 2014


The Lindberg factual-futuristic US Moon Ship is a reissue from Round 2. The 1:96 scale spacecraft was released by the original Lindberg company in 1958.

Mat Irvine: The kit is classic for its era, with, upwards from the base, the engines, two fuel tank spheres, and a crew module at the top. The various elements are held together by spindly girder-like beams that terminate as landing legs. Add a dish antenna and a solar-boiler power generator and you have the archetypal look of a late-1950s spacecraft concept.

Box front (above) of the reissued Lindberg US Moon Ship. Box with the same information in French (below). This was a common point with Lindberg kits, ensuring that French-speaking Canada was catered for.

At the time of the original kit, spacecraft design was moving away from the ‘V-2 missile’ look of the 1940s and early 1950s, to a non-streamlined, ‘bits and pieces’ approach that would later become apparent in many of the craft featured in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and of course with real-life Apollo spacecraft, especially the spidery-looking Lunar Module (LM).

Inside the box (above). It's a newly-introduced 'opening' style, larger than the one that came with the original Lindberg kit.

Most parts (below) are made of white styrene, but there is a small runner in transparent red, holding components for the window ports and engine bells. The decal sheet includes a blue and white American star that was missing from later releases.

The tooling for this Lindberg kit is now over half a century old, and exhibits some flash. This is a well-known by-product of old tooling, where the two halves of the injection tool no longer fit quite as precisely as they did when new. The injection pressure pushes thin slivers of styrene - flash - in between the steel halves of the steel mould. Flash may be apparent around some of the parts here, but attention with a modelling knife and smoothing with a small file will soon clean them up.

Instructions for this reissue (above, below) are basically the same as those included with the 1958 Lindberg kit.

Apart from cleaning up flash, the kit is easy to build, with most of the work being in assembly of the main modules and supporting girderwork. Attach the rectangular landing pads to the legs, and that’s about it. Three figures are included, and these dictate a sense of scale for this future-faction subject. In my book Creating Space (see link at bottom) I listed the scale at 1:70, though Round 2 has changed this to 1:96. On reflection, I feel this is probably more accurate.

The completed US Moon Ship model (above, below). The fact that the design comes from a lunar orbiter, which wouldn’t require an egress ladder, is reflected by the model having no visible method of getting the crew from their compartment at the top down to the lunar surface.

The crew module has a set of transparent red ports (below) though neither airlock nor exit ladder are included.

The supplied base can be painted to represent the lunar surface, the three astronauts positioned where you wish. There's no sign of that ladder though, and it's something from the spares box that should be added to the model, if only for the sake of common sense.

Some parts are moulded in transparent red plastic, these for the nine windows of the crew section, and the five rocket engine bells. The windows can remain transparent red, but the engine bells are perhaps better in a metallic shade. In fact, later editions of this kit had them moulded in untinted clear plastic or opaque red.

The ship's design is not credited. Similar subjects from Strombecker - many reissued by Glencoe Models - were based on Walt Disney’s work with engineers such as Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley, and illustrators like Chesley Bonestell.

The pic (below) is a conversion project I completed, using a Glencoe-issued Lunar Lander as a basis, to represent the orbiter that Chesley Bonestell painted for Collier’s magazine in 1952.

My conversion is detailed in Chapter 3 of my book Scale Spacecraft Modelling (link at bottom).

Lindberg took some of Bonestell's designs and modified them, and like my conversion, used his Collier's magazine painting (above). Lindberg added landing legs, presumably on the assumption that a lander was more exciting to modellers than one that just flew around the Moon!

This is the fifth issue of the kit from US companies. Lindberg itself issued it three times, in 1958 as the US Moon Ship, then in 1970 as the Mars Probe Landing Module, and finally in 1979 as the Star Probe Space Shuttle. Glencoe Models also issued it in 1993 as the Lunar Lander. This latest release brings back the original Lindberg name, and virtually the original box-art, although the box itself is larger in size.

The box (below) for the rare Lindberg ‘5 Space Ships of the Future’ kit. It was from this box, which shows the Moon Ship on the left, that artwork for the new box was adapted.

There is a peculiarity with the number of parts, as listed on the box. The first issue (in 1958) had 40 components listed. This new version indicates 41, but there are actually 43, including a spare porthole. So to build the kit you really need the classic ‘meaning of life’ number, 42, but that doesn’t quite answer where the 40 or 41 came from!

The original box (below) from 1958. Note ‘40 parts’ sticker.

Scale stats:
Lindberg US Moon Ship
Scale 1:96
Parts: 42 (plus 1 spare)
Manufacturer's ref: HL602

Review kit supplied courtesy Round 2 Models.