Thursday, February 25, 2016

As most Star Trek fans know, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum has been restoring the model of the Starship Enterprise for the past year. This is the shooting model of the Enterprise, which was used during the original run of Star Trek from 1966 to 1969.

Walter "Matt" Jefferies was the Art Director on Star Trek, and he designed the USS Enterprise. Once a design had been approved by Gene Roddenbery and producer Herbert Solow, Jeffries made a rough four-inch-long balsa and cardboard prototype to show Desilue Production and NBC executives. A three-foot-long "pilot model" was then commissioned in August 1964 from the Howard Anderson Company -- a Hollywood firm that built models for motion pictures, television shows, industrial and training films, and the military. The Howard Anderson Company subcontracted the model to model-maker Richard C. Datin. This model was built completely out of wood. Because Datin lacked a wood lathe big enough to handle the model, he sub-contracted the saucer, secondary hull, and nacelles out to a local woodworker. The wood was kiln-dried sugar pine, which was free of knots and had a very fine grain that finished well and took paint well. Datin then assembled, painted, and detailed the model. The lettering and the stripes on this model consisted of commercially-produced decals, but other details were all hand-painted by Datin. A commercially-bought Plexiglass dome was used for the bridge. Datin manufactured the deflector dish and "cover" element behind it from rolled strips of brass which were then silver-soldered together and sprayed with a gold lacquer. Datin began work on the model on November 4, 1964, and it was complete on November 15. Roddenberry reviewed the model, and Datin made some minor alterations (probably adding exterior windows). The model was delivered to Desilu on December 14, 1964. It cost $600 ($4,578 in 2016 dollars). This model was used for filming the first pilot, "The Cage". It was later used for forced perspective shots in the episodes "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Tomorrow is Yesterday", and "By Any Other Name", and as a desktop model in the episode "Requiem for Methuselah". During filming, the model was damaged, losing its hangar deck clamshell door and the "intercoolers" on the rear top of the nacelles. This damage is quite visible in "Requiem for Methuselah". Additionally, as changes were made to the "production model" in August 1965 and April 1966, revisions were made to "pilot model" as well.

While the "pilot" model was being constructed, Jeffries spent six weeks refining the design (in particular, ensuring that the hull was completely smooth on the outside) and choosing another color scheme. After these changes were approved, Jefferies produced a detailed set of orthographic views of the ship. The date on which the "production model" was ordered is unclear, but most historians say it was December 8, 1964 (although one model builder remembers it as November 29). Once more, the Howard Anderson Company was asked to build the mode, and once more construction was contracted out to Ricahrd Datin. Datin, in turn contracted out the model to Production Model Shop -- another Hollwyood model-making firm. Datin supervised the construction (which was done by Production Model's Mel Keys and Vern Sion), but did all the detail work himself.

The saucer section of the "production model" was manufactured from 1/8th inch thick Royalite plastic sheeting, vacuum-formed over plaster molds. There was a top half and bottom half, and they were held together and reinforced with plywood ribs radiating from the center. The dorsal (or "neck") was made of solid wood. Extra ribbing was added inside the saucer section to reinforce the area where the pylon entered. Just two screws were used to connect the pylon to the saucer. These were drilled in from the top, and the hidden from view by a small plastic rib (glued to the saucer). The bridge was made of wood, with the center drilled out to allow for installation of the Plexiglas bridge dome. A second Plexiglas dome was attached to the bottom of the saucer section. The nacelles were built around a frame of plywood ribs that tapered toward the rear. Heavy pre-rolled sheet metal was then attached to the frame. A cut-out on each inward-facing portion of the sheet metal was made, and a flate wooden piece inserted from within. Solid wood rings were inserted at the front and rear of the tubes to help the ribbing maintain its shape. The aft nacelle covers were made of corrugated Plexiglass, with a shaped smooth piece of Plexiglass covering them. The forward nacelle domes were made of solid semi-hard wood (probably ash), and the antennae coming out of them hand-crafted of wood by Datin. The nacelle support pylons were made of a single piece of hardwood (either oak or walnut).

The secondary hull was contracted out, but it's not clear to whom. The subcontractor essentially built a barrel, creating the round secondary hull out of long staves of wood. These were glued together. Two solid wood circles and some extra internal staves just behind sensor array provided space for the electronics and for the pylong attachment. A single screw held each pylon in place. A solid wooden circle was inserted just behind the hangar doors to help reinforce the rear of the hull.

The intercoolers on the nacelles (made of metal) were also subcontracted out, but once again it's not clear to whom. All exterior logos, colors, and lettering were hand-painted.

The model was constructed with hooks embedded in the saucer section and the nacelles, so it could be suspended from above. The model was filmed only once this way. Afterward, the interior lighting was added and the model was too heavy to suspend. Instead, the production model was mounted on a stand, the stand serving as guide for the power cables. The port side of the model had no decals, lettering, details, or lights -- as the model was intended to be filmed only from the starboard side.

The model was delivered to the Howard Anderson Company on December 29, 1964.

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When NBC requested a second pilot for Star Trek, Roddenberry decided that the production model should be lit from the inside. Richard Datin made the revisions, which began on August 27 and were completed on September 8, 1965. Changes included: Removing painted windows on the bridge and adding cut-out, lit windows fore and aft; adding blinking starboard and port navigation lights to the top and bottom of the saucer; painting black stripes at the top and bottom edges of the saucer; cutting out "panels of light" fore and aft on the starboard side (painted panels were added fore and aft on the port side); removing the center window on the saucer bow and replacing it with a navigation light; adding rear-lit windows to saucer rim; adding a blinking navigation light port and starboard to the underside of the saucer at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions; painting over the black impulse engine exhaust area and painting eight small black dots there instead; adding a blinking navigation light to the underside of the aft secondary hull; removing the single round porthole near the starboard hangar doors and replacing it with two rectangular ones; painting a series of black lines and dots on the aft nacelle end caps; and removing the painted registry markings and replacing them with decals (enabling different names to be applied to the same ship more easily).

Once the first season got under way and it was clear Star Trek would be renewed for a second, Roddenberry demanded even more changes to the production model. These included: Lowering the height of the bridge (achieved by chopping half off the larger wooden base of the bridge); removing the painted-on panels from each side of the bridge; added a red "beacon light" to each side of the bridge; adding interior-lit portholes all around the bridge; removing the bands added to the saucer in August 1964; adding a rib to the cover over the screws, and painting it a darker gray; adding more lit portholes to the saucer rim; removing the bow navigation light and replacing it with a painted panel; moving the saucer underside navigation lights to the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions; adding lit portholes to the undeside of the saucer; adding a nipple to the saucer underside Plexiglass dome; painting the impulse engines a darker gray; restoring the original rectangular vents to the impulse engine exhausts; smoothing the port and starboard sides of the impulse engines into a rounded shape; repainting the dorsal from the earlier bluish-gray to the same gray as the rest of the ship (only the leading edge would retain the original color); adding lit portholes and windows to the dorsal; moving portholes and windows on the dorsal; adding a red navigational light to the top of the secondary hull; adding a green porthole to the top of the secondary hull; lit adding windows and portholes to the secondary hull; reducing the size of the deflector dish, and repainting it a lighter copper-gold; adding a Plexiglass observation blister beneath the hangar doors; adding a grill in front of the Starfleet pennant on the secondary hull; removing the smooth inside-facing inserts in the nacelles and replacing them with a grill-patterned insert with lengthwise ribs, painted dark gray; replacing the smooth aft nacelle caps with semi-circular balls; replacing the solid fore nacelle covers with frosted Plexiglass domes lit from within; adding brass grills the indent on each nacelle; changing the typeface for the decals (the number "I" changed to "1"); and weathering the decals.

The now-glowing nacelles were the most important change. Each of the Plexiglass domes was painted orange on the inside. A circular panel consisting of vanes and colored shards of mirror was placed inside the dome. Behind the panel were ten Christmas light bulbs (red, blue, yellow, and green). A fan motor made the panel spin. The starboard nacelle panel rotated clockwise, the port nacelle panel rotated counter-clockwise.

Work on the second revisions began on April 8, 1966, and were complete on May 17. The cost of these revisions was $6,000 ($43,760 in 2016 dollars). The revised revised production model was first used in August 1967 for the filming of the 15th second season episode "The Trouble With Tribbles". Filming of the production model ended with the second season. By this time, enough stock footage had been created that no more filming of the model was needed during the third season.

Much, much, much more and boatloads of pics behind here!!!!

The production model went into storage at Paramount Television, the successor to Desilu.

In April 1972, the model went on display at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. The college was hosting a big exhibit on space flight, and Craig Thompson -- office manager for post-production on Star Trek -- was now working at the college. Thompson contacted Herb Solow, and received permission to display the production model. When the model arrived at Golden West College, it was missing the deflector dish and the electronics were not working. Thompson managed to get the lights and nacelles working again.

In 1973, former astronaut Michael Collins contacted Paramount and asked if the studio would donate the production model to the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum. The Smithsonian Institution received the model and its filming stand on March 1, 1974. Five days later, the model had been reassembled. The production model was in extremely poor shape: Since the model had never been filmed from the port side, that portion of the model was unfinished. Huge holes existed in the pylon ("neck") and hull, where armatures had supported the model during filming. Electrical wiring, used to light portions of the model, hung out of these holes. Additional holes, cut into the hull to make repairs and add lighting, existed in places on the hull, and had been patched with duct tape (now peeling from the model). The model had been stored in the open, where grease, grime, dust, and dirt attached to the surface.

Smithsonian officials also discovered that not only was the deflector dish missing, but also that the warp nacelle caps and their internal mechanisms had been lost. F.C. Durant III, assistant director of astronautics at the Air & Space Museum, contracted with Rogay, Inc., a Maryland manufacturer of museum exhibits and signs, to replicate the missing pieces. Durant specified that the nacelle covers be made of Plexiglass or a similar material, frosted, and the interior surface painted with an amber lacquer. The covers were to be attacked to the nacelles with small screws. The replacement deflector dish was to be made from Plexiglass or some other materials, painted bronze, and attached using epoxy cement. Rogay was also to replace any missing windows or portholes with Plexiglass, reattach the bridge dome (which had come off), retouch all exterior painting and lettering, fill two cracks in the bridge dome with putty and repaint it, and either push the wiring inside the model or attach it to the exterior using silver cloth tape. This restoration was took about three months. The restoration was generally applauded, although Rogay apparently used a "turkey red" paint for the interior of the nacelle covers and did not frost them.

The model was suspended from the ceiling in the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building in the fall of 1974. Three wires were attached to the model to suspend it, on on the inside of the starboard nacelle, one on the outside of the port nacelle, and one from the dorsal.

On July 1, 1976, the National Air & Space Museum building opened. The production model was hung from the ceiling in the "Life In The Universe" gallery.

In 1979, "Life in the Universe" closed, and the production model was moved to the "Rocketry and Spaceflight" gallery.

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In 1983, the Air & Space Museum decided to sponsor an exhibit of the work of artist Robert McCall, who had done extensive work for NASA as well as various motion picture studios. He'd worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and, significantly, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. At this time, the decision was made to include the production model at the entrance to the art exhibit.

In the ensuing nine years, however, the production model had been exposed to an immense amount of dust, grease, humidity, grime, and dirt. The only conservation it received was an occasional dusting. A second, more extensive conservation effort was made by Rogay beginning on August 8, 1984. The silver cloth tape was removed and the wiring hidden in tubing. This grey tubing was molded to the side of the model, and was made to cover only only the wiring hole but other holes in the port side of the model as well. All internal wiring that could be reached was removed and replaced with modern wiring, and any burned-out or malfunctioning lights which could be reached were replaced as well. A new mechanism for relighting the nacelle covers was created and added, although the paint scheme for the nacelles remained unaltered. The model was cleaned, retouched, and many of the external decals replaced. The restoration was complete on September 11, 1984, and the production model immediately unveiled.

After the McCall exhibit closed in September 1985, the USS Enterprise production model was returned to the "Rocketry and Spaceflight" gallery.

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In 1990, the Smithsonian decided to host an exhibit on the Star Trek franchise and its impact on space flight, science, and astronautics. Another comprehensive restoration began on December 10, 1991. This time, the Smithsonian relied on Ed Miarecki of Science Fiction Modelmaking Associates (SFMA), although Rogay was still involved. Relying on an extensive network of Star Trek memorabilia collectors, Miarecki was able to obtain an extensive number of very sharp, large photographs (both B&W and color) of the production model at various times during its use. The Smithsonian required that Miarecki videotape and document everything he did to the model. He was assisted in the restoration by David Heilman, David Hirsch, Steve Horch, Tom Hudson, Ken Isbell, Roger Sides, and Mike Spaw. The model was completely disassembled for the first time since 1974. This took three days, during which time Gary Kerr and another Miarecki friend assisted. Kerr took numerous pictures of the production model during disassembly, and made detailed measurements of it. Miarecki fabricated a new deflector dish which was much more highly detailed, and replaced the nacelle covers with new Plexiglass domes that more closely approximated the color seen in the television series. The light panels inside the nacelle covers were also replaced, creating an animated lighting display closer to that seen on television as well. The model was disassembled, internal repairs and updates were made, reassembled, and cleaned.

However, Miarecki made one change that proved highly controversial. Miarecki felt that the model had not been adequately documented before Rogay repainted and retouched it in 1974. Therefore, Miarecki decided to have the model completely stripped and repainted. Thankfully, the model was not actually stripped and repainted. Instead, it was heavily retouched. The only area of the production model left undisturbed was the port side of the dorsal, which was in good shape. Miarecki's retouches were designed to look good under full studio lighting, but under normal lighting some significant departures were noticeable. Most prominent among these were grid lines which Miarecki had painted over the saucer section. These were particularly noticeable from below (the side most vistors saw). Fans and studio professionals were extremely critical of Miarecki's paint changes. Model builder Richard Datin said the grid lines completely changed the nature of the model. Miarecki was greatly embittered by the attacks, and alienated from the Star Trek fan base.

This restoration was completed on January 24, 1992.

Another unfortunate change, this one far less noticeable, was made to the stand. The stand had been used to help support the model either during or shortly after the restoration (some time betwen November 1991 and February 1992). It seems that the stand became jammed in its support hole, and could not be pulled out. So Rogay Inc. cut the stand loose. Worse, the stand was bent while it was removed, further damaging it.

The production model was loaned to the Hayden Planetarium in New York City for a year, where it was on display with much of the Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit. When the model was returned to the Smithsonian, it went into storage for six years at the Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Gary Kerr, who had taken measurements for the model in 1991, won permission to take additional measurements during this time.

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In 1998, the National Air & Space Museum began planning for a new gift shop. The decision was made to display the production model in the gift shop, but there was concern about possible deterioration after six years in storage. The Smithsonian contracted with Maryland QC Laboratories to perform an X-ray analysis of the model. Smithsonian staff were concerned that, after hanging from wires for 20 years, too much stress had been placed on the model. The X-rays revealed a great deal about the internal structure and wiring of the model, especially in areas where no human eye had seen since its construction in 1964 and 1965. Unfortunately, the X-rays also revealed that the model -- built to withstand three or four years of filming -- was beginning to crack in a number of places. Museum staff decided the model could not hang any more, and two specially-designed stanchions and a display case were built to hold it. (The model was not powered.) The damaged original filming stand was also added to the display. The new Air & Space Museum gift shop opened in January 2000, and the new production model display in March.

The production model received no conservation or restoration work between 2000 and 2014, except for some dusting.

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In 2011, the Smithsonian began work on new exhibits for its new "Boeing Milestones of Flight" gallery, due to open in 2016. Officials immediately settled on moving the production model to the new hall. The production model was removed from its display case and taken to the Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility. Because of the massive outcry regarding the 1991-1992 restoration, Smithsonian officials decided to put together what amounted to a blue-ribbon panel to advise the museum on how best to conserve and restore the model. The issue was a tricky one. Smithsonian officials did not want to make the model look like new, because it wasn't new. They wanted a historically accurate model, but they also realized that parts of the model were missing and that the 1991-1992 restoration might need to be undone.

The panel of experts included:

  • Doug Drexler, visual effects artist, designer, sculptor, and illustrator and Academy Award-winning make-up artist (Dick Tracy) who has worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis. He designed the Enterprise NX-01 and the Enterprise J for Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • John Goodson, model maker and digital modeling artist for Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) who worked on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • Gary Kerr, hobbyist who made the first detailed measurements of the production model. Kerr subsequently assisted in the creation of a digital USS Enterprise for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribblations" and was a consultant for CBS on the 2006 remastered Star Trek for blu-ray.
  • Mike and Denise Okuda, who worked as lead graphic designer (Mike) for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise and lead graphic designer for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis and graphic and scenic designer (Denise) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: Insurrection. The Okudas also served as consultants for the 2006 remastered Star Trek and the 2012 Star Trek: The Next Generation blu-ray.
  • Andrew Probert, illustrator who worked on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and seniro illustrator on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and who designed the retrofitted USS Enterprise for TMP and the Enterprise-D for TNG.
  • Adam Schneider, studio model collector who restored the Shuttle Craft Galileo full-size prop.
  • Rick Sternbach, illustrator who worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • John Van Citters, Vice President for Product Development at CBS Consumer Products, who supervised the digital remastering and blu-ray releases of Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Bill George, senior model maker and visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and winner of an Academy Award for special effects for Innerspace (1987). He was a model maker for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek: Generations. He also made models for and supervised visual effects for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Explorers, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Galaxy Quest, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. (He was added to the panel in 2015.)
  • Kim Smith, senior model maker with Creature Art & Mechanics Digital and formerly ILM. She has worked on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: Generations, and Star Trek: First Contact, as well as the films The Hunt for Red October, Starship Troopers, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Galaxy Quest, Jurassic Park III, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Transformers, and Pacific Rim. (She was added to the panel in 2015.)
The first order of business was to determine the state of the model. The production model was taken to the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. In December 2014 and January 2015, registered veterinary technicians Marilyn Small and Peter Flowers of the Smithsonian National Zoo used a portable X-ray machine image the interior of the model. The machine produced "dicoms", incredibly detailed images 100,000 times more detailed than a jpeg. When printed at full size, the dicom images gave conservators a clear map of the interior of the model, without disturbing the original structure.

It became immediately clear that the model is beginning to fail. Most of the glue used to keep the saucer section and the secondary together was failing, cracks in the dorsal section and the secondary hull internal support structure are large and getting larger, and the pylons used to support the nacelles are sagging.

After imaging concluded, the production model was disassembled completely for the first time since it was rebuilt in 1966.

The panel almost immediately agreed that the paint used in the 1991-1992 restoration should be removed. This raised the problem, however, of how best to remove this paint while protecting, preserving, and restoring the original paint below.

Analyzing the production model's original materials required small chips of paint, plastic, and metal to be taken from various locations on and inside the model. These were sent to the Department of Art Conservation at SUNY–Buffalo. Dr. Aaron Shugar and Dr. Rebecca Ploeger used μ‐FTIR spectroscopy and μ‐XRF spectrometry to analyze these samples. They determined that two different adhesives were used on the secondary hull: A clear polyvinyl acetate and an animal glue bulked with barium, strontium, and calcium. They verified that the rib/screw cover at the rear of the upper saucer and the nacelle ribbed endcaps were made from Plexiglas. They also confirmed that the saucer was made from Royalite. Oddly, they found it imbued with lead and antimony. Their belief was that the lead came from a paint or was used in the vacuum-forming process as a drying agent. The antimony was likely added to the Royalite at the factory as a fire retardant. Dr. Ploeger also discovered that the starboard side of saucer was lined with fiberglass, glued to the interior with a bisphenol A-based epoxy. (Fiberglass was used to bond joints and seams, making the saucer a single unit.)

Dr. Susan Buck, a conservator at SUNY-Buffalo, analyzed the paint chips. She discovered four layers of paint added by model-makers, and four layers of pain added by Smithsonian restorers. In a stroke of luck, when the saucer section was disassembled, a patch of unaltered original paint was found beneath the rib/screw cover. Smithsonian conservators will clean and stabilize this patch of paint, but otherwise not touch it.

After extensive discussion, the expert panel advised the Smithsonian to restore the production model to its appearance in August 1967, when it was first used during the filming of "The Trouble with Tribbles". This marks the last known modification of the ship during the production of Star Trek, and represents the majority of shots used in the series.

To restore the model to its original paint color, a new base layer will be applied that exactly matches the original hull grey. Smithsonian paint specialist Dave Wilson will create the paint which will match the color and sheen of the original grey. Then a "conservation layer" of paint will be applied. Two restoration layers are needed because the original paint is showing signs of "traction cracking" -- cracking open as portions of the paint adhere to the Rayolite and other portions "slip" along it.

Using high-quality photographs of the production model taken during the filming of Star Trek and by fans during the Golden West College exhibit in 1974, the production model will be repainted. Repainting will begin in April 2016. The 1991 nacelle lights will be removed. Smithsonian staff will build new a full-size mock-up of the original nacelle panel and motor, and replicate forsted and correctly-painted nacelle domes. They will then replicate the spinning effect seen during the show. This will be analyzed, and a new mechanism using LED lights will be used. This will avoid the problems with failing motors and hot lights that have both plagued the correct working of the nacelles as well as damaged the Plexiglas nacelles over time.

To save the sagging secondary hull, Smithsonian curators are fabricating two steel rings which will fit inside the hull. These will be inserted into the secondary hull at the forward and aft wooden bulkheads. These will become the load-bearing elements in the hull, and will almost eliminated the stress that the nacelles and pylons are putting on the hull and which is tearing it apart.

Smithsonian lighting specialists Zabih Sadighian and Larry Berger are designing an LED system to replace the miniature glass lights inside the model which light the windows from within. Flexible RGB LED NeoPixel strips will be used. These lights are remotely adjustable and programmable, which will allow the Smithsonian to control the intensity, color temperature, and blink pattern of the lights to match visuals seen in the series.

The 1991-1992 deflector dish will also be removed, and a new one -- built to the specifications of the original (per Jeffries' orthographic drawings) -- will be designed by ILM and manufactured with a 3D printer.

The Smithsonian will also build a climate-controlled display case that will greatly reduce wear and tear on the model. Heating and cooling are major problems for the sheet-metal nacells, and humidity allow the wood in the secondary hull and bridge to dry out and crack.

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