Imperial Gunner / Death Star Gunner Helmet
As seen in Star Wars Wars Episode IV - A New Hope and Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi

Imperial Gunners were members of the Imperial Navy who manned the various weapons of the Empire's capital ships, military bases, and most famously the Death Star(s). On both Death Stars, the Imperial Gunners often called Death Star Gunners had the additional job of maintaining a careful balance of energy in the battle station's superlaser. 

The most distinguishing part of the Imperial Gunner were their large black helmets with a slit-like visor designed to protect their eyes from the bright flashes of light from turbolasers and the Death Star’s superlaser fire. Many Imperial Gunners regarded this helmet as useless as it limited peripheral vision and caused them to knock their heads into things. Their helmets remained almost exactly the same throughout the post-remnant Empire while their uniforms gained more armor than before.

This is my Death Star Gunner Helmet kit that I got off of a fellow 501st Member. This helmet kit is made of vacu-formed styrene. I will have to work hard on this to get it up to my standards by sanding, filling, sanding, priming, painting, assembly, and maybe more. The vac is rough and some spots have that orange peel texture. It will be a fun project to work on and complete. I will have to gather some supplies such as the visor, and a new comm box with greeblies.

I first started out by drilling out the pop rivets that were holding the helmet together.The reason I did this was to make it easier to work on the helmet sections.

I reinforced the inside of the lower jaw and upper dome of the helmet with fiberglass. The plastic was just to thin and I did not like it.When the fiberglass was dry I sanded down the fiberglass where it had some sharp areas.

The helmet was poorly vac'd. So I started sanding down the three helmet sections the best I could. I even added on some bondo and sanded it down the best I could.
There were still some high and low spots on the helmet sections so I filled them in with some more bondo. When the bondo hardend I sanded and smoothed the helmet sections out some more.
I put a coat of grey primer on top of the three helmet sections to see how it looked. Crap! Still some rough spots that need to be worked on. So a little more bondo and some sanding took place. The helmet sections are starting to look smooth or at least the best I will probably be able to make them.
Ok! Now after some more sanding, bondo, sanding, bondo, sanding, primer, sanding, primer, sanding, primer, sanding, primer, and one more sanding I think this helmet is as smooth as it is going to get.

Next I sprayed black primer on the inside and outside of the three helmt sections. I always spray the inside of the helmets I work on black for the most part.

The inside of the Lower Jaw and Top Dome are not nice and smooth. They do not have to be since they are on the inside of the helmet and you will never see it. Plus after I add in the foam to hold it on a head it will not even be noticable.

I will give it one more quick rub down to see if all is well.


The helmet sections are looking good! But as I did a test fitting I came to realize with the suggestion of someone on the Imperial Gunner Corps that the visor slit was not large enough. My gap measures 1-inch and it should be 1.5-inches to 2-inches tall. So I looked at my helmet and decided to fill in the lower jaw sides where it had the vac details.

I will sand it smooth. When that is smoothed out I will of course prime it to make sure it looks good. When it comes time to assemble the helmet I will have to mark the holes from the dome where it attaches to the lower jaw to make the visor slit gap larger.

The lower jaw is now sanded smooth and looking good.

It took a lot of work- I sanded, primed, sanded, primed, sanded and primed it just to make sure it was the best that I could make it.

Now that all three of the helmet sections are smoothed, primed and ready for painting they need to be washed to remove any dust and residue. Here is a picture of the three helmet sections before I wash them. As you can see I smoothed them out greatly.

 

Before they went into the tub I marked and drilled the holes where the helmet dome would be attaching to the lower jaw piece. So with all of that done into the tub the go.

Here is the visor material which is 1/8" smoked plexy. I had to heat it up and bend it to shape to fit my helmet. It took some time to heat, bend, heat, bend, heat, bend until it was just right. After it was bent into shape I marked it where it will later be installed into the helmet.

So now it is time to start painting the three helmet parts.

I am going to use Krylon Fusion Gloss Black. I started with the underside of the rear scoop / shield of the helmet as you can see here in this preview.

Here is a picture test fitting the dome and lower jaw of the Death Star Gunner helmet. It is ready to be painted.
Ok all three helmet sections have been painted. I figured while I am waiting on a new Comm Box to come I can work as much as I can on this helmet. So as you can see here I intsalled the visor and am riveting the dome and lower jaw together.
With the visor set in place and the dome and lower jaw together I went ahead and placed on the Imperial Logo decal. I am useing a 3" decal.

Now that the helmet is painted, lens installed and decal placed on now I have to wait until my replacement Comm Box arrives.

Here is a quick side pict of the assembled helmet.

Now this is the new Comm Box for my Death Star Gunner Helmet. Since the one that came with my helmet kit was too large, I bought this one off of Jeffery Kindal, a member within the 501st family.
Here is the comm box all trimed, fitted, and painted.

I then cut and bent an 11" piece of fence tension wire for the antenna.

I then hot glued it into the inside of the comm box.


I painted the little detail pieces and glued them onto the comm box. It is time to place the comm box onto the helmet and now it is finished!

IGC