1/144 MS-21G Dra-G (Dra-C Cannon)

The Dra-G in all it's digicam glory. This is a weird MS to start, but it just seemed to need more...

The Dra-G in all it’s digicam glory. This is a weird MS to start, but it just seemed to need more…

The MS-21C Dra-C is a Zeon mobile weapon that was first seen in the Gundam OVA Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. It is based on the main body of the MS-06FII Zaku II, but is optimized as a high-speed space-only interception and attack unit. To this end, it has no legs. Instead, it has long propellant tank/engine binders below the waist and large, spherical vernier clusters on its shoulders.

The machine has appeared in three different Gundam series now; from 0083 it was retconned into the Zeta movies and has, most recently, been seen in the service of the Neo Zeon “Sleeves” in Gundam Unicorn. Depsite this, there wasn’t, until very recently, a kit of this obscure mobile weapon. Thankfully, this has changed, and Bandai brought out the HGUC version of the Dra-C in the guise of the units seen in 0083. There is a special, short run version in Sleeves colours, but this is very rare and, in all honesty, not really worth searching out unless you’re a completist or really, really have to have the fancy cuffs.

The Dra-C has another weird feature; it’s one of the only Mobile Weapons with only one hand! The other hand is actually a small gun, apparently a 40mm Vulcan-type weapon. However, if this is insufficient, the machine can be fitted with a normal arm, and carry a huge Gatling weapon. This is what the Dra-C carries in Unicorn, but the HGUC kit comes with both the small Gatling-arm and the big cannon. Hence my opinion that you don’t need the Special Edition kit.

Now, looking at it, you can see that the Dra-C is pretty weird. With no legs, balls for shoulders and a head that looks like a toaster, the Dra-C definitely cuts a strange profile. Sometimes, though, weird just isn’t weird enough.  I decided that I wanted to go all out and create something totally off-the-wall. I dug through the spares box, and as I was doing so, I formulated an idea.

What about a heavy-weapon Dra-C? Basically, take a light, fast machine and make a heavy attack suit out of it? It would be like the BK-5 equipped Me-262s; a heavy hitter version of something designed for slashing attacks. With this in mind, I set about finding extra weapons and figuring out how to integrate them.

The Dra-G has everything you need for both long range (big guns and heavy missiles) and short-range slashing attacks (machine cannon and beam sabre). It's an excellent all-aspects machine, better than any Feddie fighter.

The Dra-G has everything you need for both long range (big guns and heavy missiles) and short-range slashing attacks (machine cannon and beam sabre). It’s an excellent all-aspects machine, better than any Feddie fighter.

The Kit:

The basic Dra-C is typical of the new HGUC kits. Falwless moulding, excellent fit and no flash anywhere. The mech is fairly monochromatic, so you don’t get a lot of colours in the box. The mech is blue, and there are some grey pieces as well as clear yellow beam sabres.  There’s a rack of medium grey parts and some darker parts, and the stand comes moulded in black.

There aren’t many pieces in the box, so what you’re paying for in this kit is size, not part count or intricacy. The long leg boosters are three pieces (two halves and the engine nozzles at the back) and the shoulder spheres are in halves. Now, that’s not to say that the kit isn’t nice, because it is. However, for the price that this thing seems to command, I would have expected a lot more in terms of actual plastic.

The Mods:

 The main purpose of the Dra-G (G for “gunship”) is long range, heavy fire-support. To this end, I needed cannons. I thought of using the guns from a D-50 Loto, but they weren’t big enough, and the ones from my Ball twin set were too big. However, I found that the guns off the Gundam Seed B’Cue kit were perfect!  They are the right length, and with a tiny bit of expansion, the separation between them was perfect for the Dra-C’s head.

Here is the cannon pack all assembled. You can see the white styrene spacer between the cannon blocks.

Here is the cannon pack all assembled. You can see the white styrene spacer between the cannon blocks.

I added in a bit of sheet styrene between the two gun pods, and sanded it down so it would all look like one piece. I then had to see if it would fit on the Dra-C’s backpack. Unfortunately, with the way things were, that was a no-go. So, I mounted the Dra-C’s backpack to the machine, and then cut the top off. I cut it so that it would be level with the Dra-C’s shoulders and allow the guns to stick straight out over the body. I used my Dremel, and after a bit of sanding, had the contours more or less in shape.

Here you see the original contours of the Dra-C's backpack. Note the line I've already marked in for cutting. I needed the backpack level with the shoulders.

Here you see the original contours of the Dra-C’s backpack. Note the line I’ve already marked in for cutting. I needed the backpack level with the shoulders.

Here is the same setup post-cutting. Its' quite a mess, but the cannons hide most of it. Note the two slots I had to cut to accommodate the fins on the guns.

Here is the same setup post-cutting. Its’ quite a mess, but the cannons hide most of it. Note the two slots I had to cut to accommodate the fins on the guns.

This is the finished backpack, with Apoxie Sculp to create the proper contours and the new engine holder plate (the white styrene).

This is the finished backpack, with Apoxie Sculp to create the proper contours and the new engine holder plate (the white styrene).

I then realized that I needed more weaponry, and found some old 1/100 Valkyrie reaction missiles. These come in pairs, and were mounted on a “T” pylon already! Awesome! I was going to bolt them right to the leg binders, but then I thought that I wanted something more. I found the old (and excessively lame) wings from my 1/1000 Yamato kit. They were the perfect size! I scabbed them onto the sides of the leg binders, and drilled a hole in them for the pylon post. Now, though, I had a hole in my wings. There were two little hexagonal shield projectors left from my 1/144 Destiny Gundam, and they covered the holes perfectly.

Here's the wing, where's the prayer? The Yamato wings fit nicely on the Dra-G, and the yellow bit from the Destiny just adds that perfect amount of "greebliness".

Here’s the wing, where’s the prayer? The Yamato wings fit nicely on the Dra-G, and the yellow bit from the Destiny just adds that perfect amount of “greebliness”.

Next on the list was propulsion. With the extra mass of the guns and missiles, I figured the Dra-G would need more thrust. I found that a couple of 1/100 Valkyrie FAST Pack engines would fit in the center of the backpack, but they needed  some way to be mounted. I used sheet styrene to blank off the existing trio of verniers, drilled some holes, and voila! Perfect engine mounts! The new thrusters are much bigger, and should help recover some of the Dra-C’s speed for the Dra-G.

Of course, more thrust means more fuel consumed, so I now needed extra tanks. The insides of the leg binders were still blank (and boring), so I bolted half of the Geberra Tetra’s Sturm Booster tanks on there. I also found some spare nozzles from one of the Silhouette Formula 91 kits, and using Apoxie Sculp, made a fairing to install them at the end of the tanks. This was really a “two-fer”, as it turned out; I got more fuel AND thrust in one shot!

This is the extra propellant tank and vernier support (Apoxie Sculp rules!) on the inside of one of the Dra-G's legs.

This is the extra propellant tank and vernier support (Apoxie Sculp rules!) on the inside of one of the Dra-G’s legs. The two puttied-in half-circles are the original verniers that were removed.

The only other problem with the Leg Binders was that you had to put the engine nozzles that go in the back of them in before putting the halves together. That’s dumb. Even though there is a seam right down the middle of most of the leg, I didn’t see a way to easily mask them. So, I made it so I could install them afterwards. I glued a piece of sprue into the top of the engine, and drilled a hole in the ‘firewall’ behind the nozzle. This acted as a located, so I could slip the engine nozzles in when  all was nicely painted and done.

This is the "post-in-hole" workaround I used for the thruster exhausts on the main "leg". The post is styrene sprue and I just glued it to the engine. I also trimmed the locating pins, as you can see.

This is the “post-in-hole” workaround I used for the thruster exhausts on the main “leg”. The post is styrene sprue and I just glued it to the engine. I also trimmed the locating pins, as you can see.

One thing I love on Zeon mecha is the commander’s aerial. This is seen on Char’s mecha all the time, but other ones have it too. I wanted a command version of the Dra-G, so I had to find something that would work for an antenna. I ended up using part of the fang of a 1/144 Shenlong’s Dragon Fang arm. Filed down, it worked great, and the panel line even matched up with the one on the Dra-G’s head!

Large and in charge. I love to have commander's aerials on my Zeon mecha. Thankfully, I had a spare Dragon Fang in 1/144!

Large and in charge. I love to have commander’s aerials on my Zeon mecha. Thankfully, I had a spare Dragon Fang in 1/144!

To boost close in firepower, I gave the Dra-G one of the spare 1/48 Aestevalis machine cannons I had lying around. It was short enough to fit over the Dra-G’s arm without running into the upper arm, and was thin enough it wouldn’t run into the body as well!

All tallied up, there are parts from over 9 kits in this thing, not including the original Dra-C!

Painting and Finishing:

I was trying to find a suitably odd colour scheme for my creation, and I hit on the idea of using digital camouflage. I got some Digital Cammo masking tape from Hobby King (in Markham, Ont.). This is basically a big sheet of Tamiya tape pre-cut into digital cammo shapes. There are three sizes, and I chose the smallest one. The size is dictated by the dimension of a standard digital cammo “pixel” or square.

The key now was to figure out a colour scheme. This is where my brother came in handy. He suggested Gunship Grey and orange. WTF? Well, it was certainly odd, and looking at it, it definitely seemed like it could work. So, I painted the entire Dra-G in Model Master Acrylic Orange and then proceeded to apply the masking tape. I was a bit disappointed that the tape really didn’t include all that many digital blocks. However, the best part was that when you remove the masking, you get the negative pattern on the master sheet. Thus, I was able to cut an entire mech’s worth of cammo out of about 1/3 of the sheet! This took a bit longer, but was far cheaper, and now I have some digicam left for another project.

Strange colours on a strange mech... PERFECT!  The orange/grey scheme was my brother's idea. Guy's a genius with colours...

Strange colours on a strange mech… PERFECT! The orange/grey scheme was my brother’s idea. Guy’s a genius with colours…

Once the masking was on, I airbrushed some Model Master Acrylic Gunship Grey over it, let it sit and unmasked. The result was astounding. The masking worked really well, bleeding in only a few places. Because I used MM Acrylics, I was able to touch up with no problems; something I can’t say is possible with Tamiya paints.  I decided to outline the mech like any other, and the black lines breaking up the digicam gave an interesting appearance.

From the back, you can see the extra engines quite well.

From the back, you can see the extra engines quite well.

I painted the thruster nozzles and verniers in MMA Jet Exhaust, and did the insides in MMA International Orange, which is redder than the colour I used for the cammo. I washed all the engines and hoses to make them look more mechanical, and then glossed everything.

I wanted to put some decals on this thing, and I had some Char’s Counterattack decals that I’d also gotten at Hobby King. These are actual “Gundam Decal” aftermarket decal sets by Bandai, and I’d never used them before. They are AWESOME. I had to use a couple of layers on the main Neo Zeon insignia on the shield, but other than that, I had no issues. They conform well, are thin but tough, don’t silver easily and stick well. Once all that was done, I flat coated the mech with Delta Ceramcoat Matte urethane, as is my custom.

The little "Neo Zeon" insignia and warning decal are GundamDecal decals, as are all decals on this kit. They are great to work with.

The little “Neo Zeon” insignia and warning decal are GundamDecal decals, as are all decals on this kit. They are great to work with.

Conclusions:

The basic Dra-C is a neat kit, and definitely something that anyone can build. It is simple and enjoyable, but there really isn’t much to it. However, as a canvas for customizing, it is great. I can see a lot of other uses for it too, including ELINT and SIGINT versions, trainer versions and even as a space recovery unit for damaged Mobile Suits.  Hmmm… maybe I should get a couple more?

This view highlights just how confusing the digicam is. It's very difficult to tell what you're looking at, even when you're the one who built it!

This view highlights just how confusing the digicam is. It’s very difficult to tell what you’re looking at, even when you’re the one who built it!

You can see that the separation between the cannons and the head is almost nil. However, the guns don't block most of the mono-eye's travel track (the black band), which is good for combat!

You can see that the separation between the cannons and the head is almost nil. However, the guns don’t block most of the mono-eye’s travel track (the black band), which is good for combat!

The excessive length of the Dra-G is apparent here; you need a lot of shelf space to properly display this thing!

The excessive length of the Dra-G is apparent here; you need a lot of shelf space to properly display this thing!

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