Published by Jason Marshall on

The original USS Enterprise is one of the most famous ships in sci-fi, as such I’m not going to devote any of this write up to the design and construction of the original model. However, for anyone interested here’s a wonderful link to a page devoted to that subject: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Constitution_class_model_(original).

This article is about my build up of the USS Enterprise as seen in the 1st & 2nd pilot episodes as well as how it appeared while the show was in production. It was a unique project to take on because there were so many changes between versions and it was fun researching and then implementing them.

For the builds, I used the 1/1000 USS Enterprise kit produced by Polar Lights. Of course, this kit is ideal because it comes with parts for all versions. Size and cost were also factors.

I did plenty of research (I had done my 1/350 USS Enterprise in the 1st pilot configuration), but for those looking for a single source that covers almost every detail follow this link to‘The Enterprise Project’: https://enterproject.wordpress.com/


I would’ve expected to have trouble finding information on the studio model for the first pilot, given that it appeared in only a couple of shots, in‘The Cage’. In fact, I found less information on the 2nd Pilot version. Though, there were many more pictures available of it.

As it turns out the 1st pilot model had no internal lighting and very little detail. In no particular order here’s a list of the differences between the 1st pilot version and the production version:

The tallboy Bridge dome VS. the low profile Bridge dome.

The ‘bolt cover’at the rear of the saucer, above the impulse engine is less detailed. It’s also the same blue as the neck. The impulse engine assembly was smooth on the 1st pilot version.

The ring around the lower sensor dome is bare AND the raised ‘bars’at the base of the triangular hatches are only on the production version. *A note on the model, the triangles are etched and should be filled for accuracy. I couldn’t find a supplier that makes a decal for this, so I left the etching there on my 2nd pilot and production version. There were no raised running lights on the 1st pilot version. I installed the kit supplied lights to fill the holes. I had planned to sand them smooth before I finished, but forgot to do it.

The neck is a light blue with a semi-gloss finish. The raised detail on either side of the secondary hull (where the pennant is located) was bare. The big VS small Deflector dish. The Shuttle Baydoor was without detail.No vents on the Nacelle pylons. The 6 conduits on the nacelles (center and back) were without detail. I also forgot to remove this detail. The rear nacelle caps may have been bare on the 11-foot studio model, but the 3 foot may have had the raised rectangle. I opted to leave it on this one, but I had removed it from my 1/350 build. The Bussard collectors were a deep red, with a semi-gloss finish. For the hull color, I used Tamiya AS-20 Insignia White. I wanted to match the look of the ship onscreen rather than try to match what the studio model may have looked like.

The 2nd pilot USS Enterprise isn’t that much different from the 1st pilot version. The model may have been repainted as it was less weathered than the previous version. Some of the hull markings were changed and lighting was added. I took a few liberties with this one. I painted the hull Model Master Flat Gull Gray. I’m fairly certain this is not an accurate color, but I wanted to match the onscreen look. In my case, the ship tended to look dark and grainy. The neck may, or may not, have been blue. I fit was it was much less contrasty than the blue I went with. I did try to mix a more subdued blue but wasn’t able to get a result I was happy with. Due to that, I opted to go darker and maintain the contrast ratio of my 1st pilot build.

The Bussards were still a deep red, but I felt that they didn’t have a gloss or semi-gloss finish, so I opted for a dull coat. I also painted the spikes gold, rather than copper used on the previous version. The Nacelle pylons also have lightly colored vents.[/vc_column_text]I’m not certain if this is correct, but I left the Impulse Engine assembly the same color as the hull. I did, however, remove the molded detail.As far as the engines go, the 2nd pilot had the vented rear nacelle ports.The underside of the saucer is the same as the 1st pilot (the windows are different, but the decals take care of that). However, I forgot to remove one set of running lights on the underside.The lower running lights on the second pilot were set further aft than the upper ones (not lined up with the registry decal).


I’m not going to go into too much detail, as this is the version of the ship most people are (intimately) familiar with. Though, I will detail how I did the Bussard Collectors. I’m not a fan of how the part is molded. I’d have preferred that the dome be separate from the ‘collar’. Sadly it’s not, so my approach was to paint the entire part Tamiya Clear Orange and once it was dry (I waited 24 hours) masked the Bussard Dome and painted the ‘collar’ the hull color. While the Bussards were drying I painted the inner dome white and used a black sharpie on the raised ribs. On a side note, I forgot to fill the hole in the center of the inner dome. D’oh! Lastly, I frosted the Bussard Collectors with Tamiya Flat Clear. I’m very happy with the effect as it gives the part a bit of depth. Check out Part 2 where I discuss the various problem areas on the model (and in some cases how to correct them!).

The previous article discussed the differences in the TOS USS Enterprise studio model from 1st pilot to production. Part 2 will cover some of the problem areas of the 1/1000 TOS USS Enterprise from Polar Lights. TOS USS Enterprise from Polar Lights. Overall it’s a pretty solid model kit. The parts are clean and have little to no flash. I did find the larger deflector dish tended to be out of round a bit. Some sandpaper and a bit of patience can clean that right up. The only area that tends to need a lot of attention is the pylons and the Bussards and nacelle end caps. These items will be the primary focus of this article. NACELLE PYLONS

Remove ALL the alignment pins/pegs! The ones at the top of the pylons (where the Nacelles mate) interfere with the fit and you’ll go out of your mind trying to get the Nacelles to align properly. You’ll also want to remove the alignment tabs at the base of the Pylon assembly. This will give you a bit of freedom in the assembly. Without the tabs, you can assemble the secondary hull and make sure all the seams are closed, then slide in the pylon assembly afterward.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to file down the underside of the pylon assembly. It sits a bit high in the hull and removing some material now will save you a bunch of time and putty later. Once the pylon halves are assembled you’re left with a pretty large seam. This is where removing the alignment tabs really pays off. It’s way easier to fill and sand this joint without the assembly attached to the hull. At this point, you can go ahead and start the Nacelle installation process. I’d recommend doing this before sanding as you’ll need to do a little touch up where the Nacelles mate to the pylons…where you’ll need to make some further modifications.


The first thing you’ll want to do it trim back (but don’t remove) the tabs that go into the slots on the nacelles. I’d suggest cutting a bit off and then test fitting, then repeat as necessary. Once you’ve trimmed the tabs you’ll also need to widen the slots on the nacelles. There’s very little material between the slot and the seam between the nacelle halves. If you don’t widen the slot you’ll break open the slot, then you’ll have to do more filling and sanding. Personally, I prefer to keep my filing and sanding to a minimum. Next, you’ll need to deviate from the instructions. In them, you’re directed to build the Nacelles then attach them to the Pylons. Having down three of this in one sitting I can tell you the attaching the inner nacelle halves to the pylons first is the way to go.

This will give you the opportunity to see if there are any fit and/or alignment issues and take corrective action, should any be required. Before you permanently close up the nacelles do one more test fit to make sure enough material has been removed from the pylon tabs.

If you’re happy with the fit and there’s no gaps, close em’up and add filler where required.


Remove the alignment tabs! That’s all you need to do for the 1st and 2nd pilot versions. The production version requires a bit more work, but nothing overly complicated. As previously mentioned, remove the alignment tabs. Once they’re cut off you’ll need to use a hobby knife to remove excess material where the alignment tabs were molded into the part.Once that is completed, you’ll need to remove alignment pins from inside the rear of the Nacelle.


Remove the alignment tabs, they prevent the caps from lining up properly with the etched lines in the Nacelles.


Be sure to mask the connecting tabs where the neck meets the saucer. If there’s any paint on it, it won’t clip in properly. The tolerance is so tight!


The rest of the model goes together (pretty much) trouble free. Follow these tips and you’ll save yourself some headache during the assembly process.

Jason Marshall

I build top quality, highly detailed model kits.