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Eagle One

A Complete Restoration by David M. Sisson

The complete illustrated story of how the original filming miniature was fully restored to it's former glory after more than a quarter century !

 Above and below: The original model before restoration work began.

The original 44 inch Eagle Transporter, designed by Brian Johnson for the Gerry Anderson television series "Space 1999". This was the largest of the initial set of four scales deemed necessary for special effects filming.  Built in 1973 by Space Models for a reportedly £3000, it was constructed from brass, wood, perspex, and aluminium. This heavy duty model, weighing in at nearly 35 pounds, was the principal effects model during the first series of 24 episodes and was the first of a total of three 44" models built. For the 2nd series the model was renovated, different detailing was used inside the two central cages and extra pipework was added to the rear engine section.

New detailed paintwork was added which during the course of the series was gradually obliterated by resprays to cover the repairs caused by the wear and tear of filming. During the last half dozen episodes the special effects crew were mostly using a newer (third) 44 inch model for most of the effect shots but this original eagle still had to be used as it was the only model equipped to fire freon gas through its main engines to simulate the rocket exhaust. After the show ended the model was again repainted and put on display at an exhibition in the seaside town of Blackpool, then in the early eighties it was acquired by Gerry Anderson fan/collector and model maker Phil Rae who repainted the red stripes back onto the passenger pod. Originally though, the red stripes were actually only painted on one side of the pod, allowing the model to represent the two styles depending on which side was photographed!

March 2002 the model moves to its new home in Nottingham.....


Although it looks to be in reasonable condition here, the model was severely damaged and had been repainted since the series had ended. That, along with many years of neglect, required that the model be completely restored.

Above: Loose Perspex (plexiglass) cladding on the shoulder pod removed exposing Jelutong wood construction and the beginning of paint stripping, showing original detailing beneath.

As a Space 1999 fan, owning an original Eagle is a dream come true but the reality is that after 29 years the model looked as if it had crash landed once too often and was in a bit of a mess.

The joints in the brass framework had come apart in over fifty places, the spine wasn't properly connected or aligned and almost split in two, the perspex cladding on the shoulder pods was loose in several areas, the nosecone was cracked and misaligned and the engine section was also twisted and broken.

The good news is that apart from a few bits of brass pipe it was all there and nothing was missing.

Ideally I would have preferred to have left the model as it was and not alter it in anyway as this could be seen to be destroying its originality. However there comes a point when you have to act and so to ensure that it will last another 29 years it was obvious that I had to strip the model down and completely restore it.

The decision was made easier by the fact that the model wasn't in 'filmed' condition. If it still had an original studio paint finish then I would probably have made just a few simple repairs with superglue - which seems to have been the case for the last 20 years!

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Content Copyright by David Sisson. This article is exclusively published on the Internet by Small Art Works.

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