Space Shuttle Launch Complex 39A with Challenger STS-6 (1:144)

Hello everybody,

I’m Manfred from Germany and I’ve been a passionate model builder since my childhood, initially making models from paper kits, airplanes, helicopters, ships etc.
Since my retirement I have been deeply involved in Real Space Modeling and in 2011 I started a long-term project in which I recreate the Space Shuttle Launch Pad 39A at the time of the first Challenger Mission (1983) STS-6, based on the legendary Revell Launch Tower Kit 4911 (1:144).

Unfortunately, since this kit has a serious scale problem, I had to make some compromises and decided to build the Crawler Transporter (CT) and the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) in scale 1:160, since the kit’s Launch Tower (Fixed Service Structure) and the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) are roughly to this scale. The MLP, on the other hand, is the absolute weak point of the Revell kit, as it only corresponds to 1:200 and is therefore much too small. Only the Shuttle Stack (Orbiter, External Tank and Booster) is scale 1:144.

I was inspired to this Long-term project by similar modeling projects in the German forum

If you are interested in this project, I could present it here in the forum under Real Spacecraft in a suitable form (maybe as a continuation?), since over the years it has led to an endless construction report, which I have been posting in five various forums since then.

On this image one can see Challenger’s Lift-off to her maiden flight STS-6 on 04/04/1983.

Source: NASA

I’m looking forward to your feedback.


I was there for the last flight on 1/28/86.

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Welcome Manfred.

The Real Space forum doesn’t get enough love and your build would be appreciated. At one time I considered doing STS-129 Atlantis but after collecting all of my reference material and pictures from the NASA site I knew it was going to be too much. I applaud your perserverence and am looking forward to your build.


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Hello Manfred,

Glad to see you made your 1st post. Make sure to check your mailbox here as discobot will help you understand how to navigate here.

Like @Colder Colins mentioned we sure can use your wonderful work posted here. Of course,

I learned little more about you with your post above. And it explains why so much detail has been put into your Space Shuttle…your retired and loving every minute of your hobby :grin:

Well, bring it on cause we are ready to follow and learn…

Here I am in front of the flame trench…and Atlantis. Enjoy the view!


Wow, nice one John. I am jealous. Have any pics that shows more of the Launch pad?

OMG, then you witnessed the tragic end of Challenger shortly after launch for STS-51-L mission, the first launch from the new Launch Pad 39B, which my friend James MacLaren worked on 5 years during construction.

This is an image from my build report celebrating the 40th anniversary of Challenger’s maiden flight (04/04/83), to which I have dedicated my long-term project in order to keep the legacy of the Challenger’s crew STS-51-L alive, who lost their life.



Welcome Manfred, and I for one would love to see the build. It sounds pretty impressive…

Thanks John and all other friends for your interest.

I will start an own STS-6 Project in Real Spacecraft with the link to my long-term project in (NSF) soon, so that everybody can follow the 120 pages there from the beginning …

It’s impossible to repeat the entire project, but maybe individual sub-projects would make sense, which I have to think about.

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Hello everybody,

after briefly introducing myself and my STS-6 long-term project in General Discussions, I want to present you an insight into my project, you can follow the following link and decide for yourself whether you are interested in it or not.

I’m not the typical kit modeler, I love small details and prefer meanwhile scratch-building by using a wide variety of materials as Styrene, paper, metal, wood, etc. …

Over the years, the scope of the project has gradually expanded. In the middle of that I also decided on lighting the whole pad with about 300 LEDs, and in the meantime even a diorama of the entire Lauch Complex 39A (160 cm x 90 cm 1/160) is planned with some typical vehicles like Payload Canister Transporter with Payload Canister, Astrovan, Tank truck and Fire engine.

Source: NASA

That could look something like this mini diorama (1/700) from Tomytec, whose base plate is only 35 cm x 29 cm “big”.

Source: Tomytec

So much for a first overview, although you would certainly have to plan a few days of vacation to read the 120 pages construction report, maybe too much for someone …


Manfred, I don’t remember reading this in your arc thread. So, you are going to build the entire Shuttle Launch tower/pad as a diormam…wow! That is going to be huge and a masterpiece. It makes sense know with all the detail. Have you thought about where will the ended up diorama will be displayed at? Perhaps, Smithsonian Museum or….

my spare bedroom? :flushed::laughing:

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OMG, wow…etc etc etc…that is unbelievable… What an amazing in depth build…
I haven’t read it all yet but what I have is seriously incredible…
Great skills Manfred :+1::+1:

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OMG Mike,

I don’t plan on displaying the diorama once it’s finished because I would have to build a special canister like the Payload Canister first, and I would not like the next Challenger Disaster.

But every year there is an open house at my house for my best friends from all over the world.


Thanks John for your nice compliments.

I also started small that time and never thought that I would be able to scratch such crazy tiny details. Practice makes perfect - Learning by doing! :+1:

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Regarding the initially mentioned Revell’s scale dilemma in Kit 4911 and the resulting problems and compromises, I have marked it in this image, what is meant.

Source: Revell

That’s why I had to make some compromises and decided to build the Crawler Transporter (CT) and the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) as well as the Diorama in scale 1:160.

Unfortunately, the new edition of the Revell Kit 4911 (2014) also has the old scale problems.

Revell Kit-4911


I went to see your build blog, and it is indeed remarkable, which is a gross understatement - fantastic build! I look forward to seeing your updates on the project.


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Very cool…great pictures :+1:

Hi guys,

sorry, with all understanding for your interest, if you can contribute photos of the Challenger from the time around STS-6, I have nothing against it and would also benefit from it, otherwise it’s going OOT (Out of topic).

There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of modifications made to the RSS…to be undistinguishable to the naked eye, occured from STS 1 through STS 135. The same can be said about the Orbiter, or the External Tank and SRB’s, i.e., also making those changes undistinguishable to the naked eye. Materials that have changed color configurations of the vehicle complex for example, is the use of the NASA ‘worm logo’, or the use of the NASA meatball…obvious changes seen by the naked eye. Other than paint/ID markings, I would use a model kit of the Space Shuttle for STS 1 as much as using the same kit for STS 135…just be careful of markings/decals for each mission you wish to depict by knowing which decal/nomenclature of Orbiter that matches the mission number. Also, the white ET had switched to an orange hue for the ET, all to save weight by not painting the ET after the first two missions. In the big scheme of things, as a Judge, I would not know those subtle differences at a contest, with such miniscule detail being unobservable because of the sheer small scale of the kit. Some black and white tile also had some configuration changes…so, changing which color paint you use depends on the photos that show those changes. Thousands of photos can show you heat protections zones.

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