Conversion Options: 1/350 and 1/144 Scales
Posted by Matty on November 18, 2012, 22:34:58, in reply to "Bashing an RN S-class SUB"
Edited by board administrator February 10, 2013, 13:04:20
--Originally Posted 11/18/12-- |
Like subs of the British T-class, the RN S-class remains grossly under-represented (if at all) by injection-molded - i.e., widely available and affordable - model releases. Therefore (and just because we like to), the following will investigate the feasibility of converting each of three readily-available, often dirt-cheap kits into either of the S(3)-type variants in this class:
Click on Image to Enlarge
At top-left, Stubborn, photographed in 2/43 - and at top-right, Stygian, viewed circa 1943 - were S(3a)-class boats, each having an all-welded hull; 3-inch deck gun and single aft external torpedo tube (in addition to 6 conventional bow tubes). These two subs distinguished themselves by (among other things) towing the commando-midget-subs X-7 and XE-3, respectively, to their devastating minings of Tirpitz, at anchor in the Norwegian Altafjord, and of Takao, tied up at Singapore, respectively. At bottom, a pic of the S(3a) boat Seraph, circa 1944 - though grainy - shows clearly the opening for the aft, external tube.
The subsequent variant of the S-class was very similar:
Click on Image to EnlargeAt top, Selene, viewed 7/8/44, was an S(3b)-class boat, differing noticeably from the prior variant(s) in having a prominent forward extension of the sail, housing a rotating platform for a larger - 4-inch - main gun. Selene (again, among many other exploits) likewise distinguished herself by towing XE-5 to Hong Kong, where the latter successfully located and cut the submarine cable to Singapore. The S(3b)s lost the aft external tube, their aft casings tapered (in two steps) accordingly, as can be seen. A search for the best view of this aft taper produced only the (un-annotated) pic at bottom - which may be an S(3b), or possibly a yet-earlier variant (also lacking the stern tube), as its aft-most, second step down appears to be straight vertical. But, you get the idea.
Indeed, the S(3a) and S(3b) classes - both identically 217', LOA - were so similar as to both be depicted in one drawing which I found:
Note the (regrettably low-resolution) dotted lines, aft, indicating the extended S(3a) class casing - overlying the outline of the (step-) tapered S(3b) terminal casing. Likewise, note the light outline surrounding the deck gun - ostensibly indicating the platform/splinter shielding around the S(3b) gun - although note it appears actually anchored to the deck, with the indicated dimensions of the platform (indeed, of the whole sail) appearing rather questionable. Still, the crucial hull features appear quite plausible/accurate enough for use in graphic analyses of the feasibility of conversion, from the following kits:
Mirage 1:400 RN U-class kit
Click on Image to EnlargeThis corroborates our already suspected asessment of the S-class as a near-perfectly balanced mix of U- and T-class features - a conversion yet easier than for a T-boat, from this kit. Note the good match (bottom) in the pressure hull at both ends - a little less at the bow - the key filler between them being just a straight, cylindrical tube - very easily-installed - for about 25% of the pressure hull, amidships. Likewise, much of the top casing and core of the sail structure, is useable for either an S(3a or -b), the former requiring about 30% more additional casing aft - but of simpler shape - while the latter about 100% more to the sail/forward gun platform. Both require the same, prominent saddle-tanks be added wholesale, from scratch (and/or other spares).
This overlay - optimizing fit of the aft taper (i.e., most complex part) of the pressure hull - produces a build length of 7.4" - 26% larger than the Mirage kit - arriving coincidentally at exactly 1:350! (1:350.28, to be precise.) Clearly, most builders will prefer this, although anyone already having a 400-scale theme can match it precisely by reducing (shortening the hull insert, and shaving the beam, everywhere) 12.4%, for a build 6.5" LOA. As the smallest-scale of our options (see below), it might even tempt some (like me), to go clear down to 1:500 - 5.21" LOA - in a whopping 29.9% reduction. But this would seem truly a waste of so easy an option - inherently wanting - to build out at 350-scale. (The scale in which modern high-quality kits of Tirpitz, Takao and even, IIRC, the X-craft which attacked them, as well - are all now available.)
Encore 1:400 Soviet D-class kit
Click on Image to EnlargeThis analysis indicates - again, completely fortuitously - a conversion option requiring no hull-insert whatsoever; just a small finial, added at the extreme stern (and, no doubt, some minor reshaping at the bow, as well). While, of course, now essentially the whole of the top casing will have to be added, the above will more than compensate for any additional effort, here. Again, the entirety of the saddle tanks, and significant addition(s) to the sail - again, particularly for the S(3b) - will have to be added, still this conversion appears to be even less involved than for the Mirage U-class, above. The biggest drawback appears to be a slightly less-perfect depiction of the aft pressure hull - though of course the effort saved, above, could readily be put into sculpting/accurizing this. While this build will come out 7.7" LOA - scaling to 1:339 - a true, 350-scale target would need to reduce only by 3.2% - to LOA of 7.4" - much of which could be done at the extreme ends (if not undetectably "fudged" outright - e.g., hidden under the keel, top casing and saddle tanks), and thus, to most modellers probably be well worth the attempt.
This is our conversion coming closest to 300-scale (the scale of several classic sub- and DD kits), which some builders might want to achieve by enlarging 12.9%, to create a yet larger (8.7" LOA) build. Going the other direction, to 1:400 - LOA 6.5", would need a proportionally even larger alteration - 15.3% reduction - while going all the way down to 500-scale, and 5.2" LOA, would require a whopping 32% crunch. However, again the cost/benefit of such conversions - all of which require sawing (at least once) clear through the mold's pressure hull, amidships - compared to obtaining an essentially (if not exactly) 350-scale build without any major changes to the pressure hull - just doesn't seem "competitive" (all other things being equal).
Revell-Germany 1:144 Type 206A kit
Click on Image to EnlargeThis perhaps unlikely-looking candidate (middle) offers many of the same aspects for conversion potential as in our T(3)-class conversion - notably excluding its bow (sonar) dome, which now for the S(3) is all but unuseable. Still, the match with the S(3) pressure hull, overall is even more extensive - fully incorporating the 206A's aft taper, again when inverted, as shown. There is plenty of foundational material for the sail, including forward gun platform of the S(3b), and even part of the 206A's diminutive top casing appears useable on the S(3) upper bow.
When scaled as shown, the S(3) conversion comes out 17.8" long , and - again entirely coincidentally - essentially a match for 144-scale, at 1:147! An angel-perfect 1:144 would demand a 1.9% enlargement, to 18.08" LOA. Going the other direction - for those (like me), targeting a match with the classic Revell USN fleet-boat - a hefty reduction of 17.6% would be required, to arrive exactly at 1:178, with an S(3) build 14.6" long. Again, though, the latter hardly seems the best use of this mold - which innately "wants" to convert to an S(3a or -b) very near, or exactly 1:144 - so a 178-scale conversion would probably be better served by some (as yet unidentified) smaller-scale kit, as the foundation.
So, together the above look like a jackpot of options for modellers wanting to build an RN S-class sub in 1:350 or 1:144 - which, I'd guess, covers the vast majority of modellers wanting to build one of these.
Hopefully, including you, too!