What’s a K’nat?

My next novella will drop in July. So I’m introducing it early to generate some interest. The idea is to get folks to go buy it on pre-order so that it has a big first day when it finally comes out.

First things first. How do you pronounce K’nat? I pronounce it with a short a like in “bat” but a silent “K”. It’s spelled like gnat, with a Votainion “K” instead of a “G”. Make sense? Okay then.

So what is it?

K’nat fighters are the NexGen or Next Generation of starfighters built using the same technology that the Eclipse had in Book Four – Starstrikers. So if you have not read Starstrikers yet, you might want to read that one first. K’nat Trap takes place chronologically a few years after Starstrikers and features two Starstriker agents, Kiloe and Tamia on a secret mission to recover a downed K’nat fighter on a bog planet. If that premise seems vaguely familiar to you, you might be an aviation buff.

The source material for this novella is the Japanese Zero that crashed on an island in the Aleutians at the start of WWII. American forces recovered it and took it to California where they got it flying again and then learned the airplane’s secrets. The F6F Hellcat from the Navy was designed to specifically defeat the Zero fighter based on what we learned from the captured Aleutian plane. I used the name of that island as the name of the planet where my K’nat fighter crashed – Akutan.

Below is the model I built of the K’nat fighter. It was constructed of plastic and scaled to 1/32. There are lights in the headlights and engines.


This model was used for the book’s cover which hasn’t been revealed yet. Stay tuned next week for that! If you want to see some detailed pictures and commentary on the making of this model, you can check it out here.

It was even rendered as a 3D mesh by my son using Blender. His is sleeker, I suspect. 

The design was crazy complicated to work out, so I built a cardboard model of it first. Here’s that model along side stablemate Votainion starfighters from the same era.

Here’s a size comparison with a P-51 fighter from WWII. Just about the same wingspan as the legendary American fighter.

K’nat Starfighter Build, Part 5


This model poses some interesting problems when it comes to painting and weathering. The base color of the fighter is flat black, which means the only option for seeing anything against black is to go light. But it all starts with an even coat of Tamiya Flat Black. I taped over the canopy so it retained the primer gray.

I experimented with some dry brushed silver on the right side of the above picture. But that really didn’t make any panel details pop at all. Clearly something more was needed.

Above is a close up of the wing showing the silver dry brushing.

The bottom got some touch up with different shades of black paint brushed on.

In the end, the best way to show details turned out to be brushing on gray pastels. I mixed white and black to get an ash gray color and then used a wide, soft brush to dust the model. More gray around the engines than on the rest of the model to simulate the burnt metal look.

Votainion fighter use a blue-gray color for inside panels and details that are normally covered up with panels. I hand brushed this color on and then dirtied it down with black pastels.

Here is what the stern looks like after a proper dusting with the pastels. Even the top panels have some accent areas using the pastels.

Above we see the model getting it’s canopy painted in the sunlight. As you can see, it looks a deeper black in sunlight. For the canopy I used a mixture of black and silver to create a different shade of dark material.

Above you can see the canopy paint and the weathered top panels.

Here’s the completed fighter on the bench with a shiny canopy window.

Here it is on my desk at work with the headlights and engines on.

Engines lit and full afterburner.

And that’s a wrap! Next up comes a screen test against black felt in preparation for the K’nat Trap book cover.


K’nat Starfighter Build, Part 1

The K’nat fighter is featured in an upcoming novella set after Starstrikers, Book 4 of the Star Saga. It was mentioned briefly in Starstrikers as being one of the fighters based on the Eclipse starship. The novella that features this starfighter is called K’nat Trap and my plan was to build one in 1/32 scale for the cover of that novella.

Here’s the thumbnail that I drew to illustrate a possible cover idea. As of this post, I have not finalized the cover, so check back later to see how it turned out. In the meantime, let’s build a K’nat!

This is the very first drawing I did of the K’nat fighter back in the late eighties. It’s not exactly clear what the thing really looked like. So I did a cleaner version about ten or fifteen years later.

I still wasn’t completely sure what the thing should look like, so I decided to build a cardboard model of it to scale. After I had the look I wanted, I could then build the plastic version. Below are some images of the cardboard model.

The last image shows it in relation to the Votainion starfighters of it’s day. With the basic shape worked out, I was ready to start my studio scale build. This was actually the second model I built using RenShape for my mounting platform inside the model. I cut a piece to fit inside the model and then drilled out the holes for the mounting rod and the set screws. I would be able to mount this model from five different points.

After the RenShape heart of the model was finished, I could start gluing plastic to it with Gorilla glue.

The model would have lights in the nose and the engines but no actual cockpit would be built. Holes in the interior bulk heads would allow for the passage of wires. I would put a 9 volt battery inside, but not allow access to it. When the battery dies, the model will no longer have lights.

The engine exhausts are actually the lids to my after shave bottle. I glued an LED into them for lights. I really like the Gorilla glue for this sort of thing.

My youngest son is into 3D graphics using Blender, so he decided to render the K’nat for me. We applied a skin to it in this screenshot.





3-D KiV-1 Model

My son Spencer is getting real good at using Blender. He’s been iterating through models of the KiV-1 from my Star Saga Starforgers Trilogy. You might remember the plastic models I did for my book covers. He’s taken an earlier version of the KiV, the KiV-1 which has more square wings and built it in Blender. Here are some screenshots of his model. Couldn’t be more proud of him.

Kiv 1 everything but wings

Above he’s removed the wings so you can see the fins.

Kiv 1 everything

Above is the whole model from underneath, complete with landing gear doors.

Kiv 1 body with fins

Below are the strakes under the conical nose. He’s doing all the details I had on my old model

Kiv 1 Fins with body

I’d show you the card board model that he’s using as a reference, but his Blender model is sooooo much better! Calling ILM, need some modelers for Star Wars Episode 9?

Terrox Starfighter Build, Part 3

And then there was the canopy. I wanted it to have good visibility for the pilot and let people look inside to see all that detail I included. I later would put smoked clear plastic for the glass. The canopy was carved from plastic sheet and glued together. Lots of sanding was necessary to make the seams fade away.


Modern fighters usually have the insides painted white. In WWII they used to be zinc chromate a rust inhibitor. In Russia they use a teal blue color for their insides. I wanted to make this like Russian fighters, so I mixed up a blue and white and gray bottle of paint and this is the resulting color. I like it.


More fuselage details, the white pieces are from a WWI airplane model. No idea which one. The engines now have intake cowls made from kid toys. The colors will go away after primer.


Got her up on the mount while I add more greeblies. I like when I can get the model to this point. Makes working on it easier.


Plus you can tilt it over and work on the bottom. Which is way too clean right now.


Next up are the wings. I built them up like little boxes. The inside area is detailed and painted. Panel lines are scored with my scoring knife and some raised panels added. Done.


Here we are cementing the wings onto the engine nacelles. It took some fiddling to get the wing to stand off the side a bit the way I wanted.


Here is the fish, ready for boning, er I mean detailing the bottom.


This is a good shot of the engine intakes. I’m loving the shape of the whole fighter.


Coming at you, ready for detailing on the nose and some guns.


This is about to be awesome. I usually try and find greeblies that fit the area in which they are placed. It’s more art than science, although it helps to imagine what engineering purpose the detail might have.


More landing gear parts seemed to fit around the guns. 


The bottom area has a mount point. It must be covered when I’m photographing the bottom. So I slid a panel all secretly. Can you see what changed?


This is the oldest trick in the book and when you’re making up the ship from thin air, you can do whatever you want to hide your mounts.


Next up are the details for the back side. Again, form follows function. This area is highly functional.


One last look at the top and bottom as I focus on smaller details.


The bottom reminds me of a ME-109.


Here are some engine details including an area not covered with a panel on the left. 


Back side beauty pass.


Some shielding on the back of the canopy.


It took a while to settle on the details for the area behind the canopy but I think it came out pretty good.


Here’s the finished cockpit before painting.


This is the finished model with primer. Looking sharp. Up next – weathering.


Terrox Starfighter Build, Part 1

This Votainion starfighter has it’s roots back in the early 1980’s when it was known as the Triak. I think “Tri” referred to the middle energy thing coming out the back of the fuselage. I thought about doing that with this model but then quickly scratched it. Some of the things I liked about this fighter were the jagged lines of the fuselage and the wings. Both were retained and the twin engine design which was reproduced pretty faithfully.


I started the build with the engines. Painted green and white from over spray on other builds are 1/2″ PVC pipes run through one inch pipe. I used the engine of a 1/32 scale F-104 Starfighter jet for the gap between the one inch pipes. On the ends of the engines I put some PVC connectors for the exhausts.


Below you see I decided to cut the F-104 engine in half and stick to the one inch PVC for the covered parts of the engines. You can also see the beginnings of the cockpit, starting with an old get pilot sitting on a gas tank. Heh. I also have a paper cut out of the wing for scale.


Below I used more paper to flesh out the cockpit, fuselage and a gun idea. The cockpit is closer to what I had originally drawn. It’s been reborn for the K’nat fighter.


Here we have the two primary starfighters for the middle trilogy of the Star Saga. The Alliance Spieron on the left and the Terrox on the right. These are the Swift and KIV-3 for the middle of the war. Man the Spieron’s nose is huge. Like, Klinger large.


After cutting up some plastic and positioning the cockpit I start building the mounting bracket for the aluminum block used for the mount. I wrapped plastic around the 1/2 inch tube to center it inside the one inch tube. You can see it sticking out in the image below. The cockpit is from a Tamiya F-14 Tomcat 1/32 scale.


Here I use camera tape to hold together the plastic so I can see the angles I’m dealing with. They are quite unique.


But that’s what I like about this model, it is all kinds of unique and different. It also has some call backs to familiar starfighters from Hollywood. Such as the Y-Wing from Star Wars and the Cylon Interceptor from the original Battlestar Galactica.


Here’s a look at the tail end. I still haven’t taken glue to it yet, but you can start to see the final shape a bit clearer. 


Here’s a close up of the cockpit details. I used a third party ejection seat from an F-4 Phantom in 1/32 scale. The top piece there is from the F-104 kit.


Next up we’ll start gluing things down and moving forward on the details.

Weathering the Terrox Model, Part 2

There’s not much to add about my weathering techniques. I just go slow and make multiple passes, each with a different layer of gunk or scratches or in some cases, battle damage. To this point I’ve mostly done none invasive stuff like painting, rubbing pastels or a bit of light sanding. But I have also done some pits and tiny holes around the port nacelle where some panels have been removed. Presumably due to battle damage. But not everything was removed and I may even put on some patch squares in different shades of gray or perhaps the blue-gray interior color. Which I imagine is some kind of rust protector coating.

For small nicks and pock holes I use a hobby knife or my hobby grinder. I lightly sand over the burs and nicks. The battle damage from fighting would require forethought and internal detailing, so I’m keeping it light. Surface damage only.


I also sprinkled some on hand decals around the model. I’m usually dissappointed with decals and avoid them as much as possible. I like this German unit decal and used the pre-weathered version.


Here is the other side along with a decal placard, too small to read.


On the shot above you can also see some nicks and bumps on the leading edge. This was done with my variable speed hobby grinder on low.


I had a triangle decal next to the canopy but it came off. The underlying lighter shade of gray is fantastic, so I’m leaving it off. I may use this technique again on the bottom for panels. Just cut squares of random decals and then pull them off after I weather.


The back side of the model is full of nice details and all I did was a black wash and some black pastel dusting.


I do like the contrast between the gray details and the blue-gray. I’m thinking the blue-gray areas are usually covered, but the covering was removed for ease of maintenance or perhaps as a weight savings field modification.


I like the nose and canopy weathering. I might like more fingerprints and such from ground crew. My inspiration for this is modern Navy fighters on carriers.

Okay, below are the beauty passes. Part three will show the bottom and whatever else I add in terms of damage.









Terrox Fighter Update

It sure looks different when you put on the gray primer, doesn’t it? I’m still trying to figure out what colors to use and whether I want a camouflage pattern or not. Leaning towards no camo but perhaps some unit colors. This model is an original design from the Starstrikers trilogy of my Star Saga novels. This is one of the primary fighters of the Votainion Empire. It was build to appear on book covers and is thus a Studio Scale model built from PVC tubes and plastic. It has no lights or moving parts.





Modeling Update – Terrox Fighter


This is my latest modeling creation – a Votainion Terrox starfighter from the Starstrikers Era of the Star Saga. This is one of several primary, or front line enemy starfighters the Alliance faces during the mid-war time period. This model is built from PVC tubes and plastic and is detailed with greeblies from kit models. There are two mount points, bottom and rear and no lighting. The scale is my standard – 1/32.

The above photo is what the model looks like at this point in time. The basic shape is finished and now I’m moving on to detailing. After the details are applied, painting begins, followed by weathering.

Alliance Spieron Starfighter

The primary starfighter of the Alliance in the middle trilogy or Starstrikers Era is the Spieron. It’s fast and sleek and well loved by pilots. I built this model in 1/48 scale out of poster board. But it’s due for a plastic update in 1/32 for the K’nat Trap novella cover. So I expect to be building it this winter.


The finalized plastic version will probably look like a mix between these drawings and the cardboard version. I’m excited to build this one in plastic with real mounts and possibly lights. You’ll be hearing more about this model’s progress this winter as I build it and the new Triak fighter.