Dragon 1/72 Gemini Spacecraft
KIT #: 11013
PRICE: $24.00 SRP  
DECALS: Generic options
REVIEWER: Bill Michaels
NOTES: Can be built as Gemini 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.


The Gemini Program was a series of ten manned spaceflight missions launched by NASA in 1965 and 1966.  The two-man Gemini Program was the follow on to the earlier Project Mercury missions, and the predecessor for the later Apollo missions. The Gemini missions had several main goals (according to Wikipedia):

 -         To demonstrate endurance of humans and equipment to spaceflight for extended periods, at least eight days required for a Moon landing, to a maximum of two weeks.

-         To effect rendezvous and docking with another vehicle, and to maneuver the combined spacecraft using the propulsion system of the target vehicle

-         To demonstrate Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) or space-"walks" outside the protection of the spacecraft, and to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform tasks there.

-         To perfect techniques of atmospheric reentry and landing at a pre-selected location.

-         To provide the astronauts with zero-gravity, rendezvous, and docking experience required for Apollo missions.

 The first two missions were unmanned test flights.  Gemini 3 was the first manned flight, launched in March of 1965.   Nine more missions followed, with the last, Gemini 12, launched in November of 1966.  (There doesn’t seem to be any in the name of the missions— for example, you’ll find “Gemini IV” and “Gemini 4” used interchangeably.)

All of the Gemini spacecraft were launched by the Titan II rocket.   Externally, all the capsules basically looked the same- they didn’t carry names like the original Mercury capsules did.  Unlike the Mercury Capsules, which contained all the systems necessary for spaceflight with the capsule itself, the Gemini spacecraft consisted of two components.  The Re-entry Module (the black section) was the crew compartment, and the only part of the spacecraft that returned to earth.  The Equipment Module (the white section) held the power, propulsion, and life-support systems, and was jettisoned immediately before re-entry, like the follow-on Apollo craft would do.

 Gemini IV Mission:   Launched on June 3, 1965, it carried astronauts Edward White and James McDivitt on a 4 day mission.  The highlight of that mission was White’s 22 minute EVA, the first ever by an American. The EVA went well, and White was later quoted as saying that the return to the capsule was the “saddest moment of his life”. The mission had some other notable “firsts” as well:  it was NASA’s first multi-day flight, and it was the first to be controlled from the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas.  The mission was White’s last spaceflight- he later died in the Apollo 1 capsule fire.  James McDivitt flew one more mission- the Apollo 9 Lunar Module earth orbit test mission.


This is another kit in Dragon’s ongoing series of 1/72 scale models of significant spacecraft released in the last year, with more to come. (Dragon is releasing plastic kit versions of a number of their 1/72 scale die-cast models.) It is a great time to be a builder of Real Space models!

 Unlike the earlier Mercury Redstone kit, this is a kit of just the capsule, and does not include the Titan II launch vehicle.  As a result, the finished model is fairly small. The kit consists of about 40 parts, molded in Dragon’s standard light grey styrene.  Also included are two astronauts, a display base with a metal arm, and a piece of wire for the spacewalker’s tether. 

 There are two Astronaut figures- one is seated, and the other is spacewalking.  At first, I thought they were molded in that sort of soft plastic that lots of other 1/72 scale figures are molded in—the stuff that is hard to glue and paint.  But I later realized that they are molded in Dragon’s “DS” plastic—a special flexible plastic that Dragon uses for tank treads on some of their models.  This DS stuff is great- it is glueable with regular styrene cement, and takes paint well, too. 

If you’re a “Modeler of a Certain Age”, you likely built the Revell kits of the Gemini capsule back in the 1960s.   I remember building mine at the age of ten or eleven, and remember building and painting all the fuel cells, oxygen tanks, etc. that were in the lower section of the capsule.  As it turns out, this was Revell’s attempt to add more detail and interest to the model—the spacecraft actually flew with a gold-colored foil covering over the lower section—which the Dragon kit properly provided.   This certainly will speed up assembly!  (If you find a copy of the “First Production” kit, that part comes pre-painted.)

The kit comes with a simple little pictorial assembly sheet. Printed on a single sheet of paper, they provide basic instructions on the assembly of the model.  The model is so simple; it doesn’t need anything more complicated!   The instructions do have one small glitch-- they give you two options for the top of the nose cone, and don’t tell you which to use.  (The “cover” is for the spacecraft “as launched, while the “exposed stuff” option is for the “in space” configuration.) Finally, there is also a small decal sheet, one that is crammed full of little stripes and other markings. 

The only “con” to the kit’s design is the way Dragon handled the cabin windows. The windows are molded solid like they are in some of the other Dragon space kits.  For example, I built their 1/48 scale Lunar Module, and it had solid windows.  But in that kit, there was no interior, so providing decals for the windows made sense.  But this kit has an interior, and a door that can be posed open.  I would have liked to see the door molded with no window.  I suppose you could drill out the window and then clean up the opening with files— I didn’t do that, as I was building the model OOB.


 This kit is a very simple build.   Before you start, there is only one decision to make when building the model—do you want the right door open or closed?  The capsule is molded with the left door closed, and provides two doors for the right side—one for open, one for closed.   If you choose closed, then there’s not much to do- you can skip installing the interior parts and interior painting altogether.

 There are two basic parts of the model—the capsule and the Equipment module.  You can assemble and paint them separately, and then join them at the end, so no masking is needed.

 Construction starts with the crew compartment.  It is fairly simple, but then again you can’t really see much inside, especially with the solid windows. The interior is basically a medium gray, with various details picked out for some contrast.  I just brush painted it with Model master and PollyScale acrylics, using a photo I found in a book as a general guide.  The seated astronaut needs to go in at this point- you won’t be able to get him in later.

 Fit of the capsule is pretty good, in most places.  The only part that didn’t fit well was the unidentified bulge on the side of the nosecone- it doesn’t conform to the curvature of the surface very well.  I filled the gap with some white glue—that was the only place on the model that I needed to use any filler at all.  

 Construction of the Equipment Module is simple as can be— everything fits properly, and no filler was needed.  I would recommend leaving the equipment shield off until after painting—that way you don’t have to do any masking.  I painted the EM with Tamiya flat white, and the cover with Tamiya gold.  There are no decals on this part so there is no need to do any clear or flat coating.  

 Somewhere along the way, I lost the little insert with the molded detail for the nose cone.  After doing the detail painting, I set it aside to install after the capsule exterior was airbrushed.  When the time came to install it, it was nowhere to be found!   I could have put the launch cover over it instead, but I decided to hold out in case the lost part ever reappears…..


 With the spacewalker, this kit can be any of the Gemini missions that featured an EVA.  You could say you have a model of any of these missions:   Gemini 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.

 The only color information is a comprehensive set of profiles on the bottom of the box. They call out three main colors—white, black, and gold, and a few detail ones. Painting the exterior is easy-- the EM is flat white, and the capsule is semi-gloss black.  You can paint them before assembly, so there’s no masking needed.  The EM doesn’t have any decals, so all it needed was a little black wash to add some depth and highlights to the louvers by the maneuvering thruster ports.  

 After the painting was complete, the capsule was given a brushed-on coat of future to prepare it for the decals.  The decals are the one part of this kit that could stand some improvement.  You get one tiny little decal sheet, with a multitude of little stripes in red and white, all jammed as close together as can be.  This makes cutting them out a real challenge, and means that you’re handling tiny strips of decal paper when trying to slide what are essentially skinny little pinstripes into position.  

 I found several of the decals just didn’t fit- the stripes around the doors, for example, are too short and just don’t fit properly. Also, the little red stripes that go on the nose of the capsule tended to disappear on the black paint.   After the first couple doubled over, tore, or just didn’t fit, I decided not to bother with most of the rest. (They are so small; you don’t really notice they’re missing.) Fortunately, the large white “United States” decals do fit well, are opaque, and snuggled down into the louvered surface detail very well, with only a little help from decal solvent.   


After the decals were dry, the capsule was given a coat of satin clear to seal in the decals and even out the finish.   The model was attached to the display stand with a dab of superglue.   The final step is to install the spacewalking astronaut.  The kit provides a piece of fine steel wire—you can bend into whatever sort of lazy loop you want.  Before installing it, I painted the wire with flat silver get rid of the shiny wire look. There was no indication of where or how to attach the wire in the capsule—so I just drilled a small hole with my pin vise in the floor of the cockpit to take the end of the wire.


Highly Recommended.  

 I bought this kit because I wanted a simple, quick build of an interesting subject—something that would be a change of pace from the more complicated projects I had been doing.  This kit fits the bill—it goes together quickly, and doesn’t require a lot of complicated masking or painting.  

My only complaint concerns the decals— as mentioned before, some of them are very tiny, fragile, and don’t fit well. And I do wish Dragon had included a decal for the display base—there is a recessed area that that looks like it would be perfect for a “Project Gemini” decal, but none is provided.  And while we’re at it, a decal for the instrument panel would have been nice, too. 

 But, despite the issues with the decals, this is still a fun, quick build.  This is my second Dragon space kit, and it won’t be my last! I like the idea that Dragon is producing Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo kits in the common scale of 1/72, one that fits in with all my other 1/72 scale models.  Next up:  The Apollo 11 Moon Landing kit! 

Review kit courtesy of my wallet. Note that while the retail price is $24, the kit can be found for less.  I paid $20 for mine, using my club discount at the local shop.  

Special thanks to Pip Moss of the IPMS Patriot Chapter in Bedford, Massachusetts for taking all the great pictures.

Update:    After the model was finished and Pip had taken all the pictures, I realized that I had forgotten to install the radio mast that was extended when the craft was in orbit.   The kit includes the part—I just forgot to install it before picture day.   

Second Update:  It has been two months now, and the lost part hasn’t reappeared yet….

Additional update: Gemini 3 through 7 had the black stripes for thermal control on the equipment section. There was no ribbing such as the Dragon kit has. Gemini 9 though 12 (and maybe 8) used small black squares instead of the stripes.

Bill Michaels

July 2012

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