I first had this idea years ago, along with a couple of other projects I may move onto after it. With all the iron man stuff, photography, astronomy and knife making going on, it didn’t look like I was ever going to do it.
A few years ago, I tried to scale up a printed paper model from online and started a life-size cardboard version, but didn’t like the shape of it. After sitting in my shed for nearly a year taking up space, I destroyed it.
Next I grabbed a Mobeius kit and took Vernier caliper measurements from the physical model and multiplied them by the scale factor of about three. I made a concept model three times the size in cardboard and wood, threw some lights in it and worked out how the modular sections will assemble on site for transport and pull-down.
I only built one side of it so the other side could stay open for future visual planning. I mirrored a couple of photos for fun. (above)
I’ve been collecting plywood and foam, among other materials for many months. For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get shop drawings out of any CAD specialist willing to help, but I understand it’s a lot of work for free and it’s a big ask to dedicate the time.
Even using Vernier calipers to scale up x3, brought inaccuracies I couldn’t accept, so I really needed to get dimensions accurate.
Now that I have a CAD expert helping me, I finally have accurate shop drawings and have commenced building.
The craft is built of a variety of materials, applied for shape, strength and safety where applicable. The majority is plywood formers for shape, welded steel internal frame for strength, polystyrene foam fill for sculpting and skinned with fibreglass.
The cockpit and undercarriage is constructed in such a way that it is safe to support an adult’s weight and then some.
The entire ship tops out at 8.4 metres in length.
I have big plans for the rest of the ship, but I will tell the story as I go, rather than skip to the last chapter.
Since my first thoughts of this years ago, I was dismayed to go online searching for blueprints, not finding any, but finding at least two other full scale Vipers out there. One is a full aluminium build, but it looks like the project has stalled. The other is plywood, completed and recently unveiled in Manchester. I think they are both 1978 versions. Mine is the 2003 version.
Just goes to show what can happen if you don’t act on your dreams right away. Someone else will!