Before I get into the subject of the model, I have to tend to a little bit of business. In my haste to answer a question in regard to an earlier posting, I chose poor wording that slighted my brother. Offline, he chided me for it and he was right to do that.
I apologize to my brother and thank him and all of you for helping to keep me honest.
OK, so the other day, I said I'd show you some detailing of the wheelhouse. Well, I decided that this post wouldn't focus on the wheelhouse. Instead, I am going to not only show you interior detailing of the wheelhouse, but I'm going to show you the interior detailing of the conn structure.
When I started the LSM-59 project, I had in mind building at least 3 LSM/LSMR models. The first, of course, was going to be the LSM-59 and as you can guess, the second is going to be the LSM(R)-196. The third will be another model of my dad's ship, the LSM(R)-192 as she appeared during the invasion of Okinawa. You see, the model of the 192 that I have in the ModelWarships gallery depicts the 192 as she appeared as she was transiting to the combat zone of the Pacific. The next model of the 192 will depict her during the events of 4 May 1945 when she was struck by a Japanese fighter, which was reported to be a Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar. That will be another waterline project and building the LSM-59 has allowed me to develop the skills I'll need for that future LSM(R)-192 project.
Anyway, with those 3 projects in mind, I decided I'd try to ease some of the building headaches. One of the things I did was to set up an assembly line of sorts for the conn superstructure.
That meant building 3 conn structures in parallel. The benefit to this was that as I found and solved problems on one structure, I could apply the lessons to the other 2. Essentially, I wouldn't be re-inventing the wheel each time I started a new LSM/LSMR. The photos that follow are of one of the additional conn structures that are in the pipeline.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I dusted off the templates from the earlier 192 project to build the conn for the 59. These templates were provided with the fiberglass hulls my brother bought. Now, it might be me, but I had a difficult time making the templates work.
I found that the template didn't provide enough allowance for the circumference of the round conn and that the templates for the decks didn't match the USN blueprints. With that in mind, I made my local adjustments so that the conn structure would match the blueprints. For materials, I used either .015 inch or .020 inch styrene for the round part of the conn. I used either .030 inch or .040 inch styrene for the decks. For the vertical inboard bulkhead, I used .030 inch styrene.
The first step in building the conn superstructure is to form the round portion of the conn. Before starting, it is important to address the 12-inch 'air ports' around the wheelhouse portion of the conn. In my research, I found that when approaching a hostile beach, LSMs typically installed the battle covers for all of the air ports except for the forward-most port, which was left open. Since I intended to have the wheelhouse door open or able to be opened, and I wanted to detail the interior of the wheelhouse, I opted to open up all of the ports. Then, I installed covers on all but the forward centerline port. Now, if you embark on a project like this, you might decide you don't want to go to this trouble. In that case, you may choose to push the bounds of authenticity and install the combat covers on all of the air ports, leaving the wheelhouse closed and thus saving the additional work required for the interior detail.
One final note about the air ports. If you are striving for accuracy, you need to be aware that they are not equally spaced around the circumference of the conn structure.
The template was designed in such a way as to result in the seam for the round conn lining up in the vicinity of the mast. This is pretty handy, since the mast tends to hide any residual trace of the joint. As you can see in the photos, I've applied a generous helping of Green Stuff putty to the seam.
After forming the round portion of the conn, I next installed the decks for the wheelhouse and the bridgedeck, which was just below the wheelhouse. A bit of description of the layout of the conn superstructure: the radio and navigation space was located in the first level (main deck) of the conn superstructure. The overhead or ceiling of the radio/navigation space was the bridgedeck. Between the bridgedeck and the wheelhouse deck in the lower portion of the round conn was a 3-foot-high void that held motor-generators powering the radar equipment. It must have been a lot of fun to do maintenance in this space in the tropical heat of the South Pacific!
Above this void, as I said, was the wheelhouse and above the wheelhouse was the conning station.
A note about the conn of the ex-museum ship LSM-45. Postwar, many LSMs were upgraded with new armament and other changes. The LSM-45 reflected a change that might escape the casual observer: her conn structure was extended in height about 3 feet. This is visible from comparison of photos of the 45 taken during the war and postwar. This resulted in the motor-generator void below the wheelhouse becoming a useable space and no doubt, provided the personnel on the conning station a little better view. The 59, of course, had a standard conn superstructure and in one of the photos below, you can just barely make out the edge of the door to the motor-generator void space at the aft end of the round conn on the bridge deck.
Next, I began the interior detailing. In the wheelhouse, I applied a double layer of tissue to simulate the insulation on the inside of the conn. I painted this initially with dope and then white enamel. In the first deck space, I added the vertical and horizontal bulkhead frames. In the aft portion of the first deck, you'll see a diagonal frame, which is where the ladder that goes from the main deck to the bridgedeck is mounted. From m tour of the LSM-45, I was able to determine the location and arrangment of the ceiling frames in the radio/navigation room.
Another note about the conn superstructure. I decided from the start to install lighting in the wheelhouse and radio/navigation room. In the wheelhouse, you'll see a red LED in the ceiling, which was to simulate a rig-for-red light, and in the radio/navigation room, I have installed two mini-krypton flashlight bulbs to simulate what we used to call on submarines the 'DC' or Damage Control lights.
The remaining photos of the inside of the wheelhouse are from the conn on the model of the 59. Again, my tour of the LSM-45 helped considerably to enable me to detail the rest of the conn. After painting the wheelhouse deck gray, I began to install the details, starting with the handrails. The mounting brackets for the handrails were made of .005 inch brass, with the rails themselves made of .020 inch styrene. The handrail brackets actually go all the way through the wall of the conn so as to make a firmer bond. I constructed the radar set based on a photo that appears on NavSource.org. It is equipped with a green LED for the CRT. The radar operator's seat is attached to the deck via locating pins and the seat itself has a locating pin on which to glue the figure that would be installed later. I built a master of the Engine Order Telegraph and the compass, made castings, and installed the castings after painting. Radiators were constructed of wafered styrene. The raised teakwood deck for the helmsman was made of styrene strips painted with various shades of yellow and brown. The remaining details of wiring and panels were made from various thicknesses of wiring and styrene.
I've given you a lot to read and quite a few photos to examine, so I'm going to wrap it up here. In my next posting, I'll show you the progress on the hull after installing the tank well. Thanks for checking in!
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