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Structural Integrity Device

Hans Erickson 1/350 Structural Integrity Device First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer Hans Erickson
Subject Structural Integrity Device Scale 1/350
Kit Number HE-01 Primary Media Steel
Pros Perfect cure for "limpus starshipus" Cons Pricy
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $89.95

First Look

Structural Integrity Device
Structural Integrity Device

I was browsing for ideas on the internet the other day and stopped off in the CultTVman Hobbyshop to see what interesting items had arrived to scratch my sci fi itch. Lo and behold, there was this strange looking welded origami part that had a familiar shape about it. On reading the description, I understood why.

Hans Erickson was confronted with the Polar Lights 1/350 USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (movie version) kit. Straight out of the box, the kit looks wonderful and offers lots of detailing and lighting potential.

The kit is molded in a softer styrene, so this presents the modeler with a problem. If you've built one of the AMT or AMTech C-135 kits, you understand the problem. Lengths of soft unreinforced plastic will sag over time. The wings of the C-135 start to sag outboard of the inboard engines and make for an interesting sight after a while. In the case of the C-135, Plastruct I-beams installed as mainspars all the way out to a point halfway between the outboard engines and the wingtips will keep the wings straight and true.

A similar problem exists for the Enterprise. The saucer section is huge and attaches at the rear, putting the strut between the saucer section and the engineering hull under quite a bit of stress. Likewise on the engine pylons - these are not mounted at a balancing point, so the force of gravity on the rear of the nacelles will twist the pylons over time. The result? To paraphrase Monty Python, "Limpus Starshipus".

What Hans Erickson did to solve the problem was create a steel endoskeleton that you install inside your starship. The steel structure will reinforce the struts and pylon and keep your Enterprise from (pardon the pun) "warping". When I saw this thing on the website, I had to get one.

To put this into perspective, this item is the ultimate garage industry product. This comes from an individual solving a major modeling problem, not an aftermarket company. Nevertheless, what I received in the mail was well done with clean welds and quality steel.

As you can see in the images, the endoskeleton is welded to a stainless steel pipe that will extend out of the bottom of your starship and will drop into a display base (not included). The tube is hollow, so you can run your wiring down through the tube to a power source in the base or elsewhere.

While the item is a bit pricy, it is a custom developed solution that you will not find anywhere else. I am very happy with the one I purchased and I'm looking forward to assembling the Enterprise around it.

I purchased this item at the CultTVman Online Hobbyshop.