|NOTES:||Good hull for multiple projects, make sure you have white putty.|
The 97.5 meter long hull of the modern research vessel has spawned a number of ships ( see links below) that have state of the art systems for studying the depths of our oceans and seas in a way that Cousteau’s Calypso never could (alas!). No longer are scientists working from leaky WW2 cargo ships or converted trawlers, but instead have access to some of the most radical engineering in the world. Many of these ships have the ability to “hover” in a particular spot (moving not more than 1 foot) for hours at a time, using forced water jets linked to geosynchronous satellites, allowing the massive winches and cranes to lower sensing equipment or ROV’s (remotely operated vehicle) to a designated area day or night. Ships like the Meteor can travel for almost 10,000 miles, carrying a 33 man crew and up to 30 working scientists, plus all of the techno-do-dads for the incredible work they are doing.
The data yielded by such fieldwork is staggering, we have learned more about our planet in the last ten years than in the previous century, and the information continues to flow in daily. These simple hulls can be set and launched within a year, and outfitted in various configurations depending on the need of the country or society funding the oceanographic studies, making this a true “workhorse” vessel.
The 181 pieces contained in this kit go together to make a staggering ship, unfortunately in a rather painful fashion. The plastic is very, very brittle and has enough flash to make another ship (almost) ! Read the instructions over, over, and over again…and hopefully you will not be as confused as I was during the build. Whatever you do, don’t throw out the box, as you will need the photographs on the side, and especially the cover painting for reference.
The parts fit fairly well together , but you are going to need a full tube of white putty and a pair of hemostats or tweezers for fitting in the small (many of them) bits and pieces. The railings are thick for the scale, and you might want to try to find some photoetch replacements, as the kit’s can not be bent into circles, or around the myriad complex corners of the different ship levels.
Painting is done during construction, mostly with a brush or marker. Also, the ship that is pictured here is a proposed design, and should be considered a “what if” at the moment. I used a piece of stretched sprue to paint the windows and portholes, a simple dunk into the paint jar, and then just press to the area to be painted, ‘viola !
First off, you are going to want to build a hull jig, to hold the model during construction, the included kit jig is garbage. I have built a series of different sized hull jigs from scrap pine, cutting a sharp triangle in the two uprights and then adhering some felt to the inside angles…this holds the ship hull firmly at any angle, without marring the finish. After cleaning off the flash (3 hours on mine), assembly starts with attaching the port and starboard hulls to each other, set aside to dry very well. While this is drying, you can begin work on the wooden portion of the deck, if you haven’t read L. Roberto’s Constitution build, you might want to now…
(he has a simple way of making wood decks look very convincing. The complex vertical structures should be prepainted, portholes, doors, etc. before gluing them in place, the whole thing goes together somewhat like a layered cake, and you want to make sure to put in as many of the small railings during the assembly as possible ( I did not, much to my regret).
In step 3, the foredeck has to have a slight bend in it, do that in small increments, and keep on test fitting until you get the angle just right, then glue it down. Note: I painted all of the matte green decks prior to assembly using Testor’s Model Master “R.A.F. interior green”, it looks the most accurate at scale. I knew this was going to be a “theoretical” ship, with a helo pad and chopter, so I moved the main crane assembly to the aft middeck, to make room for the scratchbuilt hangar and pad. In steps 4-12, the additional decks keep on being layered , be sure to test fit every deck to the vertical pieces as you go, and I recommend using a slow setting glue for this bit, as I had to sand down various pieces here and there to get them to work together. Once again, putty , sand, and paint before you put on the next deck. Stairway pieces in two sizes are included on the sprues with the railings, these have to be cut to the proper length, fitted and painted as you add on each story.
The exhaust funnel is going to take a little bit of work, but it is only in preparation to the fun you have assembly the main mast in step 13 ! I have never seen so many arrows going in different directions before in any instruction sheet, and it is somewhat hard to puzzle out exactly how this thing goes together. After a lot of test fitting, and some rather harsh language, I finally resorted to using contact cement (the rubbery stuff) to adhere the three main pieces together while arranging it on the decks it is attached to. The mast is located off center, so don’t be worried when the whole thing looks somewhat crooked, once it is in place, it comes out fine. Once you get the location puzzled out, affix it with ca glue, and take a deep breath. I ditched the kit triangle stands, and made new ones out of sheet styrene.
The antennae’s can either be put on prior to the railings, or after, be careful with these, as the plastic is so brittle that they can snap off easily. The cranes were put on before railings were added, painted in MM Coast Guard Orange for an accurate scale match.
I waited until the ship was basically done to put on the railings, which turned out to be an error on my part, as trying to fit every little piece in was a tactical nightmare. The railings are thick, but cut easily to fit into designated areas after measuring with a pair of calipers/dividers…it is just very tedious (enough to make you want to rig a biplane in 1/144th to relax).
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
As noted above, it really is best to paint as you go with this one, with all of the different levels of little details adhered on. I changed the hull colour to yellow after a discussion with some scientists on Tonmo in regards to tropical temperatures, viewing that the dark blue would unnecessarily heat the interior decks. The area below the waterline was painted with Krylon primer red, then sprayed with a thinned down Insignia Red to add a bit more “oomph”. Fittings and stanchions were painted according to the instructions and a constant referral to websites and the box art. Using light washes of medium gray, doors were accented, and then outlined with a 2B pencil for definition.
The decals go on without a hitch, you do get two different versions of the ship’s markings, but they are rather bland. Ah well.
The helipad was made from grey sheet styrene, with undersupports of bass wood sanded smooth, you could also use scale I-beams. I sheeted in the barn/hangar with the same styrene, and added on some walkways for access. For the Helicopter, kitbashing and scratchbuilding created a Kamov-ish counterrotating blade scout helicopter, starting with a 1/350 Seahawk left over from another kit, and a fair amount of filler and sanding. Definitely my smallest scratchbuild so far !
The mast was scratchbuilt from sprue, and a “devo hat” light was added for aircraft avoidance (remember, this ship has a helicopter). Rigging was done on a minimal level, as 1/300 scale lines would be almost invisible. Mast rigging was made from leftover white sprue, and the crane rigging from black, with small bits added to replicate the tackle.
For the $$, you get a lot of entertainment for quite a while. The redundancy of attaching railings can get old after awhile, but the “oohs and ahhs” of all visitors will help alleviate this. With it’s bright colours and impressive detail, it really sticks out in a sea of drab grey ships, and is a welcome break from most modern ship models.
Review kit courtesy of: Myself and a sale at HobbyTown in Gilbert.
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