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LOHAN sees bright red over Vulture 2 paintjob

Tentative tin-rattling kicks off spaceplane livery

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

It's been a week of tin-rattling and seeing red here at the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters as we finally knuckled down to slapping some paint on our Vulture 2.

We threw the matter of our magnificant spaceplane's livery over to you, our beloved Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) fans, and you responded in fine style, with an inventive and entertaining range of suggestions.

In the end, the honours went to James Windmill and four-year-old Ariadne, whose dad got in touch from sunny Greece to insist his daughter had the design Right Stuff.

You agreed, and the nipper's artwork will adorn the Vulture 2's upper surface, while the underside is a bit of shameless gawd-bless-yer-ma'am Brit flag-waving:

The final Vulture 2 colour scheme

However, you'll note that we've tweaked the design slightly in the nose department. A regular reader got in touch to say it was a bit off to omit the Spanish from the scheme, given LOHAN's close ties with the country, and invaluable local contributions to the cause.

Quite right, so the aircraft's upper nose tip - in conjunction with the canards - now pay homage to LOHAN's indigenous team members, as you can see above.

So, with that settled, it was down to work. You'll recall that we've likened the Vulture 2's surface texture to a cuttlefish bone, and here's how it looked straight out of the 3-D printing machine:

The rear fuselage skin, showing the texture

We had a chat with 3T RPD Ltd - which hewed the vehicle from the living nylon - and they suggested a rub-down with 320-grit wet and dry, a high-build primer followed by off-the-shelf spray paint, sanding between coats as required.

Once the white van delivery bloke had called at the door bearing gifts...

Primer, paint and masking tape ready for the Vulture 2 paintjob

...we were set to attack the aircraft's surface. Here's the connection between the rear fuselage/inner wing and the outer wing after bonding with Scotch-Weld 2216 Epoxy and a light sanding:

A close-up of the sanded wing surface

After priming and an initial rub-down, the texture was still evident:

A close-up of the wing surface after sanding and priming

It's debatable whether it's desirable, or indeed necessary, to go for a mirror-like gloss finish, which would require extra paint and a load more graft. We decided to against this, but before committing to attacking the Vulture 2's body with paint, did a quick test on a less critical component.

The rocket motor retaining ring was the ideal candidate...

The rear of the fuselage and rocket motor retaining ring

...and after priming and sanding...

The rocket motor retaining ring primed

...we tentatively applied some striking red:

The retaining ring painted red

Suitably encouraged, we masked off the lower nose assembly's avionics bay, and set about it with paintjob gusto:

The lower nose section of the Vulture 2, with the electronics bay masked off

Here's the underside of said assembly in all its glorious redness...

The underside of the Vulture 2's nose, with its red paintjob

...and try the unmasked nose for size, now boasting the yellow upper which will form the Spanish flag with the canards:

The painted nose of the Vulture 2, with its yellow upper and led underside

Well, we're satisfied so far. We could buff and lacquer the paint, but again it's a question of whether that's necessary.

Regarding how to render Ariadne's contribution to the livery, we have a cunning plan, or rather, a Reg reader has a cunning plan, which we'll reveal shortly.

In the meantime, feel free to offer bounteous praise, withering scorn, or any other observation on our progress to date. As ever, your input is most welcome. ®


Further LOHAN resources:

  • New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • Join the expert LOHAN debate down at Reg forums.
  • All the LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vids live on YouTube.
  • For our SPB photo archive, proceed directly to Flickr.
  • We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

LOHAN - A Special Projects Bureau production in association with...

  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo
  • Random Engineering logo
  • Space Graphic Solutions logo

Paper Aircraft Released Into Space

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