The decals offered with the Revell kit are pretty poor. As you will have seen already, the kit itself comes with printed styrene sheets for the main tank skins, and these have the large 'USA' and flag markings already on them. I elected to turn those sheets inside out for this model, however, so I needed decals for these. Fortunately New Ware came to the rescue again, with an excellent sheet of decals which even incorporated the variation on the 'S' of 'USA' for the first stage fuel tanks. The first two tanks manufactured were built at Marshall Space Flight Centre and had a different shaped S, with a more rounded shape, than those manufactured later at Michoud Louisiana. The decals cover the variations of all the stages made.
Exact placement was another problem, but luckily the internet is full of such arcane information, and here:
was everything I needed to correctly place each marking. This was generally achieved by trimming masking tape to the required thickness and using it to mark off the positions relative to edges or other markings. The decals were then carefully laid onto the model and shifted to butt up against the masking tape, which was removed immediately after the decals were blotted.
First up were the fairings. Each of these was lettered, and two of them had a motion target: a pattern of black and white stripes on the lower edge of one side of the fairing. This was for the benefit of engineers reviewing the film from the myriad cameras around the launch site. They shot these things from almost every conceivable angle when they were launched, and markings like these were used to provide information on its behaviour once in motion.
On the fuel tank skin were a number of markings, including the large 'USA' lettering, stage serial numbers and position markers. In consultation with Emma we decided that this model would be of the Apollo 8 mission. Everyone does Apollo 11, but Apollo 8 was the first to send men to the moon, even though they did not land on it. That has also decided another issue regarding the top part of the rocket, but I'll mention that when I get there.
That meant it was S-1C-3, and the position of even the serial numbers varied. Then there was the placing of the position numbers. The Saturn V being entirely symmetrical posed a problem with regard to placement and assembly, as well as identifying which side of the thing you were looking at, which was solved by numbering each quadrant.
The flags on the LOX tank were initially a daunting task as I had to find a way to place four flags in the middle of a large blank white piece, with no obvious nearby markings. This was solved by noting that the flags aligned with the roll pattern, and were centrally located (usually: there was some variation). A strip of masking tape running between the forward skirt and the intertank, aligned with the edge of the black roll pattern markings, and with a mark halfway along its length, provided the guide for placing the flags.
Once the decals were in position and dried, the whole lot was given a coat of satin varnish to seal them in place. Once that had dried, final assembly was quick and painless. First the engines were put in place and glued.
After that the small heat shield and gimbal actuator supports were glued to the edge of the base.
The gimbal actuators were attached to the engines and supports.
Then the fairings were attached and the first stage was completed! Care had to be taken here to match up the right letter on the fin with the position markers on the stage.
Getting there was a pretty exhausting process, and took a long time. It's nearly three years since I was given this model now. Hopefully the other stages won't take so long. And then i only have four more model kits to build...