Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Conversions of One Model

In the same vein as previously . . .

Yet another fire sale purchase: a pair of Vestals. This is a bit of a problem as, so far as I can tell, Vestal was a singleton. But even beyond that, I was a little disappointed to find that Vestal was depicted in her 1920s guise. The ship that sat alongside Arizona at Pearl looked DRAMATICALLY different, as her entire superstructure had been scrapped and replaced in a refit just previous to the war.So following in the footsteps of the institution I'm trying to model, I cut Vestal off at deck and built up from there.

You can see that I extended the fo'c'sle deck with some rectangular stock. Small cookies cut from large cylindrical stock serves as gun tubs for fours and fives. You can glue them to the deck and then file them down to make them narrower. Slivers of scrap serve as splinter shields and the breach sections of the exposed artillery and very small cylindrical stock cut to length works for masts and barrels. More cylindrical styrene stock squashed with an appropriate size of pliers makes half decent anchor chain.

I fabricated the superstructure from rectangular stock. The center of the bridge is two pieces sandwiched together with a third laid flat on top. I filed all of this down to a suitably angular shape. and added the detached wings with two more small pieces. The center superstructure is two long pieces sandwiched together. Another two pieces placed outside them serve for the odd outboard structures.

At this point, it's rather wise to paint any approximately "interior" spaces a suitably dark color (like black). Extensive "negative" space (like an open hangar deck, say) can be virtually impossible to paint later.

Being the occasional fool, I didn't. (I've always done this before. Why oh why didn't I this time?) I still find myself trying vainly to touch up brilliant white bits that I notice in the middle of everything.

But anyway . . .

Tiny pieces of strip styrene served to bridge the void so that I could place C in C boats and launches atop them. (C in C sells several sets of detail parts in their WWI line. They're well worth the investment.) You can bend a piece of modest cylindrical stock and cut it off just at the elbow to make ventilators. Small pieces of flat styrene cut to shape can be used for Carley floats and additional ships boats. Simply painting the center black will usually suffice to make it look contoured. Additional pieces of rectangular stock can be filed into triangular shapes to serve as deckhouses. All added together, they give the ship a suitably "cluttered" appearance.

Dip it in blue paint and you have a U.S. auxiliary suitable for use in the Pacific. (Okay, I didn't really dip it in blue paint. Nor did the U.S. Navy, but sometimes it's hard to tell.)

In some ways Harry Lee was actually easier. Of course, finding another WWII auxiliary of about the same size as a ship first ordered in 1904 took some doing, but once I'd found my candidate I was pleased to note that the superstructures were similar enough that I didn't have to scrap this one. Harry Lee was about 10 feet longer and about 2,000 tons lighter, which is pretty much within the margin of error at 1:2400.

The biggest difference is the deck. The fo'c'sle deck extends all the way to the bridge. In fact, it steps up just forward of the superstructure. This had to be filled and built up with more large strip stock. Masts, armament, and deck fittings worked much as on Vestal.

The only new items were hold covers and Higgins boats. For hold covers I use large squares of thin sheet styrene. The Higgins boats, or LCVPs, are carved out of the standard rectangular blanks. I used a small chisel to cut a shallow indentation for the suggestion of the troop compartment and filed the stern into a flat triangle. They're not perfect, but at table distance they look pretty tolerable.

Thankfully, I got to paint something other than blue for a change. The MS-21 truly disappears against my "ocean" in the right lighting conditions. It makes much much better "camouflage." But it's much less pretty and not remotely as much fun to paint.

So there's my first APA.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Good to see you pop up on my Google Reader feed earlier today. Nice to see some posts.

    How's life?

    Funny thing, I typed up this recent post and had mentioned you. So it's good that you posted some new content the same day. I've edited it to go to your new posts.

    Again, the ships look great.

  3. Thank you. I'm pretty pleased with it, particularly the APA conversion.