Restoring the Original 44" Eagle 1 Studio SFX Model ........ from the Gerry Anderson television series Space:1999

Back to Eagle Selection Page Rewrite by David Sisson (Original full article appears here at Smallartworks) To Eagle One Recently

In 2002 I reached the grand old age of 40 and I got a fantastic present, something I had wanted for 27 years, the big 44-inch Eagle One studio model from my favourite science fiction television series SPACE: 1999.
Ever since I watched the first episode I have wanted an Eagle and then spent years building various versions from the first crude balsa wood model up to my own 44" near perfect replica. Of course I was never satisfied and always wanted better - but first I had to get worse - worse for wear that is!

Although I had seen Eagle One many times over the years I had not realised how much the model had deteriorated and although it was virtually complete the parts weren't exactly in good condition or securely fixed together. In fact on first examination I thought the model was going to fall apart in my hands; which was due mostly to the connections in the main (spine) frame being broken or missing. The engine section felt like it was hanging off, the nosecone wasn't properly secured and the panels on the four shoulder pods were detaching.

Over the years this model has been damaged and repaired on numerous occasions with most of these repairs being quick-fix's using a variety of glues. However it had now reached a point where such measures were next to useless and more extreme action was necessary such as a complete strip down and rebuild.

.At first I didn't want to do this as it can be seen to be damaging the authenticity of the model, the whole point of having an original prop is that it is original and not something that you have made.

However in this case the model was not in 'studio filmed condition', it had been through many peoples hands and had been fiddled with over the years. The overall white paintwork was not original, neither were the red bands on the Passenger Pod, the grey panels, the weathering, the coloured bands, the black window panels on the Beak and all the Alpha decals - which were just new reproductions that were peeling off. So I would not really be loosing anything original and could only improve it.

Plus I also hate to see sad old-looking broken models.

The Nosecone (Beak) comes in two halves and is held together by small screws that slot into the two wooden blocks between the pilot figures.
This first Eagle features a vacformed Perspex Beak detailed with a layer of similar plastic panels.

Sometime in the past the nosecone had been damaged quite badly and then repaired. An impact to the tip had split the front section almost in half and a large lump of glue had been stuck inside to hold it all together.

The rear half had also been split on the left hand side and this had also broken the collar framework that connects it to the mainframe. Whoever had carried out the previous repair had fixed the collar before attaching it to the back of the Beak but a correct fit was prevented by the small angled locating pins, as a result filler had been applied to the areas to hide the problem. I needed to strip down the parts and break the collar apart so that it could be reassembled in the correct position.

Right; Note the two vertical pipes have flat areas at the centre to allow a closer fit to the rear bulkhead.

The top Spine is disconnected from the two central framework sections by removing 16 small bolts. The metal frame sections actually comprise of two separate pieces that are just held together by the bolts and the internal plastic parts.The two detailed trays are just glued to the top of the shoulder pod supports and these front ones came out easily.

Inside the near 30 year remains of moondust from John Koenigs many crash landings. The central core is 3mm Perspex with one half having an internal lip so the two halves slot together. In order to get the walkways out I had to carefully remove the plastic kit dressing from the top and bottom panels. This detail was changed between the two seasons of Space: 1999 when the model was given a complete overhaul.

Note the connecting passageway to the back of the nosecone isn't to scale with the figures in the cockpit or the passenger pod door.

The parts were very fragile and a number fell apart and had to be glued back together. All the parts were attached to cardboard with double-sided tape and labelled so that they could be reattached in the right places. The parts had been covered in several layers of paint over the years trapping dust and creating an old look that I decided to keep, so I didn't clean them, just resprayed the main box section and left the side trays alone.
The brass framework was cleaned up with wet & dry paper to remove all dirt and loose paint, then checked for any broken joints. This front section was in very good condition and there was only two breaks on it.

The Spine was not so lucky, with well over a dozen breaks and half a dozen missing parts. All the wider connecting pipes across the bottom were hanging off or gone but the good news was that the spine was straight and wasn't bent at all. The paint on this piece had to be mostly removed to allow for the soldering.

When it was cleaned up I noticed that a large number of the connecting pipes across the top had been drilled through and had steel-strengthening pins inserted to help hold them in place. This is because the models were often held up on wires during filming, that were secured to the top pipes, and the weight of the model would pull then out. A publicity photograph from 'The Metamorph' shows the Eagles in the volcano and Eagle 1 has two missing pipes at the rear end of the spine; which is possibly the reason why they switched to using the second 44" model during the episode.

The rear section was a mess and to make matters worse it didn't want to come apart like the front section. Part of the problem was more plastic kit part detailing, a number of which connect from the two side trays to the central core. The second problem was that the engine section, which was removable in Season One, had been fixed to the cage during improvement work for Season Two. Also two pipes that supplied gas to the engines run and bend their way through the pipework to end at a point in the spine.
All of this made it hard work to dismantle.
As can be seen here the interior parts were covered in dirt and dust. A number of the parts are from the EMA Model Supplies catalogue whilst the most recognizable kit parts are from the Airfix B-29.

When the two vertical boosters were removed the cross pipes along the bottom fell out, although one small pipe fell out between the two series and had never been replaced. After this two of the small fuel tanks fell away and the right hand engine was only being held on by the copper loop. At some point in the past the model had sustained a very heavy blow to the rear end braking a lot of the joints and twisting the structure - even after I finished all my repairs the unit is still a bit crooked. The small connecting blocks on the rear collar do not actually connect to the big combustion tanks but are soldered to pipes that run through to the aluminium engine bells. The tanks, plastic EMA hemispheres and wooden circular blocks, hang loosely on the pipe whilst the bells fix to the pipe ends with small Allen screws.

With the framework loosing its shape and coming apart there was no time to waste, only small areas around each joint were cleaned then soldering began before it all collapsed. The burnt mess could be cleaned off later.

Below left; the small missing pipe was not replaced as I considered it to be a minor unique feature on this particular model.

With all the parts now secure I could clean it up and prepare it for painting. One of the engine bells could not be removed during this time as its small gas supply tube wasn't broken. Its the Copper ring (yes Copper not Brass this time - and a smaller diameter than the rest) that loops around the engine unit that actually supplies the gas - and four small bent tubes branch out of this and go into holes drilled in the sides of the engine bells. Yes I have tried attaching airbrush gas bottles to the inlets but nothing happens. A lot more pressure is required to get the four engines to work and I believe that a Nitrogen gas cylinder was used for this effect on the show.

The four shoulder pods had minor physical damage but a number of the surface panels were coming off and had to be reattached. The pods comprise of a wooden core covered in thin Perspex sheets. The attachment arm, that plugs into a slot in the brass framework, is also just a wooden piece and on the front left pod the arm has been trimmed slightly, possibly for when it was fitted to Eagle 2 in the episode 'The Exiles'. As a result it now has masking tape wrapped around it to help it fit back into its proper place but it's still loose, as are the rest to different degrees, and care has to be taken when holding the model that the four pods don't just slide out and smash on the floor.

The pods were given a gentle clean with very fine wet & dry paper to remove the outer rougher layers of paint and dirt. The model had around nine layers of paint on it, one of which wasn't very stable and seemed to consist of a greasy dirt. My intention here was not to remove all the paint but just get a good surface to apply the new paint to and in the process uncover the original details that had been lost 20+ years ago.

The front left shoulder pod has three holes drilled in it, one is for the Grab-Arm locating point but I have no idea what the other two were for? The front right has numerous burn marks over the front and top which might explain why it had been swapped to the rear position.
Although the four pods are considered to be the same the rear ones only feature one of the Gemini kit part domes, not two like the front ones. Also the rear left is missing one of the rectangular panels - and did so in the series.

The four undercarriage assemblies are self contained units that simply push into holes in the bottom of the pods and can be easily pulled out - as required for all those crashlanding scenes. These pieces were not repainted or altered in any way. Note the footpads are solid Perspex (2nd season) and not the 1973 original versions that were thinner and made from mulitiple layers of Plasticard. Also the original feet were painted White to begin with, which then became dirty White and finally what most people consider to be normal - light Grey.

The small aluminium attitude thrusters were lightly glued into Perspex blocks which have brass tubes protruding from the rear - the purpose of which is unclear, possibly to allow the units to swivel or feed freon gas through to make them appear to work. Not something that was ever done in the series.

The Passenger Pod looked to be in very bad condition, however most of the damage was actually lumps chipped out of the many layers of paint; most of which simply disappeared when it was all rubbed down with wet & dry paper. The process was made easier by removing some kit parts and the thin Plasticard rectangular panels around the windows - luckily these were only glued on with a rubbery contact adhesive and they came away with little resistance. Various original paint details were uncovered, including this 1st Season Alpha decal (above middle), that were carefully masked off so that they could be incorporated into the final paint finish. One bit of damage that had to be fixed was the missing section above the door, although the hole in the door (filled with modelling clay) was left untouched.
Note a lot of panel lines on the pod and command module are cut into the surface not just drawn on. The roof of the pod has numerous holes in it, including one large area remade in epoxy filler. All the detailing that was uncovered was marked and photographed so that it could be recreated later. The inside of the pod features a couple of supports for two freon gas canisters (airbrush propellant), some of the connecting pipes and control solenoid. The interior surface is painted black, however in very early publicity photographs the windows in the top of the pod are still clear. One strange bit of detailing done to the Eagle models over the years is that someone has gone around 'highlighting' recessed areas with a thin black felt tip pen. This was very noticeable on the ends of this pod and the sides of the Eagle 2 pod.

Whilst the legs of the Passenger Pod were seen in the extended down position during the series this is not a working feature on the models and would require some additional parts. The pipes on the bottom of this pod (and most others) are brass but later pods also featured steel or plastic piping. The construction of these pods is mostly Perspex and Plasticard sheeting with the bottom side edges being wood..

Right; the finished pod now displaying the original decal and door panel detail. Many of the panels on the original model are light blue not grey. Grey panels were added later possibly because the blue didn't register on film as easily. Also the pod had red (Rescue) bands painted onto one side during season one and these were then overpainted with the normal white finish, however the darker colour could still be seen so the grey panels helped to disguise this problem.

Coloured bands on the frame are either Letraset and electrical tapes or painted detail. New Alpha decals and replacement Letraset rubdown transfers were supplied by Chris Trice..

.The model still shows a lot of the scars from the last thirty years and there are areas that are still unrepairable (without resorting to total replacement) but this just adds to the interest when viewing.

Overall the model is in good condition and should have a long life ahead of it.

To Eagle One in Recent Years

All photographs by David Sisson