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4 - Assembling Janus' Main Turret

Janus Mk VII
Product #
Janus Mk VII
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10 March 2000converted to new format
24 December 1996page first published

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The first thing I wanted to do was to check the gun barrel, to make sure it was straight. When long pieces of metal are pulled from the molds, they can easily become a bit warped. A straightedge confirmed there were no problems with the barrel itself.

There were no imperfections that I cared to do anything about, and no visible seams (they were hidden at the base of the vanes).

Turret Imperfections

Examining the turret for imperfections, I found:

  • A slight lip of metal below the spot where the barrel attaches. Probably invisible on the assembled model, but it was no trouble to file off, so I did so
  • A nub of metal on the front right face of the turret. I used flush cutters to prune off as much as I could, then filed to smooth out the surface
  • There's a visible seam all around the turret, but it is so faint that I'm sure the first coat of paint will cover it - I leave it untouched
  • There's a gouge on the right side near the inscribed oval, shiny but shallow, so I leave it alone figuring paint will make it right
  • There's a "grain of sand" sized nub of metal next to the ladder rungs on the right side, but given its location, I'd rather leave it alone than risk messing up the ladder rungs. Then I get brave and go after it with a knife blade, figuring I can just scrape it off. I scrape it off, but also put some nicks into the side of the turret - they're shallow, maybe paint will cover (I should have left it alone...)

Checking the Fit

The gun barrel fits on top of the turret, resting between two ridges. A pin on the bottom of the barrel fits into a hole at the front bottom of the turret, and the back of the barrel forms a 90-degree angle which mates with a hard edge on the turret.

This will be a strong joint, but it won't align itself without some guiding hands - there is wiggle room in the pin/hole, as well as at the rear joint. There's no risk of mis-elevating the gun, but you could glue the gun as far as 15 degrees off if you don't watch out.

Gluing the Gun In

I choose to use "runny" superglue for the adhesive, since the joint seems strong enough not to require epoxy, and there are no large gaps to require "gap-filling" glue.

I don't want to put glue everywhere that the turret and gun mate, since I've got to hold them together until the glue sets, and if I put that much glue on I'll never control it. So I put a drop of glue at the rear of the barrel, and attach it to the turret. The glue adheres instantly.

Now I notice a problem I missed before - the pin from the gun barrel is too long, and comes out the bottom of the turret. (Just a fraction, really, but enough to come in contact with the hull.) However, a few swipes with a file bring the pin to the right length, and then I fill that hole with superglue to hold the gun and fill in the gaps. I use "runny" superglue again, since my immediate concern is to have that glue flow in and seal up and down that hole.

Runny-style superglue has the advantage of "capillary action" - that is, is likes to flow into cracks between objects. Therefore, when I put a drop of superglue at the bottom of the barrel where it meets the turret, the glue is sucked up and flows into the joint between the turret and the barrel.

I could put more glue on from the top, but I decide this is enough...

Checking Out the Radar Array and Rocket Pods

The only imperfection I see is a little nub of metal on the rear, which easily files off.

Both rocket pods have a nub of metal at the rear, which files away easily. The only trick to remember is to move the file around the cylinder, not straight across it, to prevent filing a flat spot into it.

The pods (like many cylindrical metal castings) have one slight seam on each side. They also have in general a rather rough surface, with lots of tiny pits - but shallow enough that paint might solve the problem by itself.

My Flex-I-File comes to the rescue! It smoothes over the seams, and polishes most of the rough areas. (It can't reach close to the rectangular sections, though, so there is a lip of rough surface around these parts.)

Dry-Fitting the Radar and Pods

After studying the label picture for a moment, I come to the obvious conclusion that the radar array slides over the dorsal vents, coming roughly as far as the crest of the vent. Everything fits tightly.

The rocket pods, however, don't quite fit. Long pins extend from the sides of the main turret, intended to fit inside holes on the pods. However, the holes are too shallow (or, the pods fit too close in the label photo).

The easy solution is to shorten the pins. I'd rather lengthen the holes, however, since that gives a better joint (and I don't want these pods getting knocked off and lost). However, this takes a bit of time and patience with a pin vise (deep hole) - maybe you should compromise, shorten the pin a bit, and deepen the hole a bit.

The assembled front turret

Here is the turret-and-main-gun assembly, with the radar rack and rocket pods (only one is visible here) close at hand. In the foreground is a pin vise.

When test fitting the pods to the turret, be gentle with the pins. They are only soft lead, and are easily bent or broken. Also, recognize that when fitting a cylinder (the rocket pods) to a rectangle (the turret side), you will never have a perfect fit - just get the pod to fit along the side of the turret, ignore the gaps at top and bottom (you can glue them over later, if you want).