Ok, ok, yes, the Viper does look like an X-Wing rip-off in some way. Even as a kid, I thought “Yeah, it is kind X-Wingish”. HOWEVER, despite the poor timing of Battlestar Galactica (coming as it did within a year of Star Wars) the Colonial Viper is a design that stands on its own and has truly become a classic.
Disclaimer aside, the Viper is pretty cool. In the original series a Viper one-on-one was a match for any Cylon Raider, having more than enough firepower to take one down. Add the “Turbo boost” and superior maneuverability, and the Vipers were generally superior in every way—except when in a hangar. Unlike the modern series, where Cylon ECM made the Colonial fleet helpless, the original Galactica had the fleet getting whomped in a Pearl Harbor like surprise attack. From that point on, when confronted with only one Battlestar on full alert, the Cylons never really could do too much damage, even with massive numerical superiority (which makes sense, since the series would have been over really fast if they could;). A couple squadrons of Vipers even packed enough punch to take out a Cylon Base Star, if it didn’t have a fighter screen to protect it, as seen in the original series pilot episode.
The pictures here are of an original issue Monogram kit I built in 1992 or so—not the 1997 Revell/Monogram re-issue. At the time, BSG was in reruns, and I was able to use tapes of the show for reference. This was built with the cheesy rubber band missile shooter built in (it fires out of the fuselage). I covered over the missile port during construction with sheet styrene. The rubber bands are probably rotted by now...just like the Raider. Two other mods I made to the kit in construction involved engine detail. The original rocket nozzles had grooves in them that had spacing different than the show. So, I wrapped the nozzles with grooved styrene sheet that more closely matched the reference shots I had. Also, there is some pipe detail that is molded into the area between the engines, and had typical draft angle issues. I replaced this with actual thick wire from a coat hangar, making it three dimensional. This was one of the first kits I did any real reconstruction on, and it came out pretty decent.
The orange markings are painted on—the kit decals were trash when I got them. This was one of the first kits I used pencils to detail panel lines, which works really well if you dull coat the kit afterwards to prevent smudging and to darken the lines. I do have another kit, and plan to build it with a clear canopy and aftermarket pilot figure. The aftermarket cockpit set is another story—I can’t see putting that much effort into a cockpit set that is truly impossible to see installed. I’m sure I can scratch something together. One other change I’d make is adding a plate along the top of the fuselage in front of the canopy—a detail the kit is missing.
Close-up of modified engine details