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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 383
Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

Earlier, I posted a thread concerning my upcoming build of USS Tucson, SSN-770. As I mentioned in that thread, after I built a model of the USS Guitarro for a former shipmate, he asked me to build models of the USS Tucson, SSN-770 and the USS Arizona, SSN-803 for display at his local SubVets chapter. Building the Tucson is not a tough challenge, but on the other hand, the USS Arizona SSN-803 has not yet been built. As you can imagine, information is kinda sparse about it right now, so I reached out to the experts on the submarines forum. Many thanks to Tom Dougherty for pointing me in the right direction to the information that is currently available on the Block V design.

In my research, I found out that Arizona will have some significant differences from initial Virginia Class ships. The Arizona SSN will be a Block V submarine of the Virginia class. Interestingly, the new Virginia class of submarines has already gone through 5 significant changes, almost warranting establishment of a distinct new class. The most significant difference with the Block V ships will be an approximately 70-foot Vertical Payload Module inserted amidships, stretching the hull to about 460 feet from the 377 feet of the initial Virginia Class.

The Arizona will apparently use the same propulsion system as the rest of the Virginia Class, which is based on the S9G (ninth generation submarine reactor by General Electric) pressurized water reactor. The addition of 70+ feet will no doubt impact the performance of the ship in comparison to the initial Virginia Class maximum speed of 25+ knots.

For this model, I am beginning with the HobbyBoss USS Virginia kit. There are two drawings of the proposed ship that I am working from, shown below:
Attachment:
Virginia Block V 1-350.jpg
Virginia Block V 1-350.jpg [ 28.26 KiB | Viewed 528 times ]
Attachment:
Virginia Block V photo 2 1-350.jpg
Virginia Block V photo 2 1-350.jpg [ 72.72 KiB | Viewed 528 times ]

Readers who are more conversant with contemporary nautical terminology will excuse me, but the locations of the lower hull sonar bulges (I don’t know their actual names) differ between the drawings. From examining the two drawings above, it appears that I will have to modify the hull to relocate the ‘sonar bulges.’ If anyone can tell me which drawing to follow, it would be greatly appreciated.

Another difference I noted was that the sail appears quite a bit taller on the Block V subs. This makes a lot of sense; the Parche, which had a 100-foot section added amidships, also had a larger sail than other 637 Class submarines.

The drawings differ on rudder size, but it makes sense that the control surfaces would be larger on a larger boat, so I will opt to replicate a larger rudder.

As a bit of background, on 23 December 2019, the US Navy announced the naming of SSN-803 as USS Arizona. So you might ask, as I did, “What about the battleship Arizona that already carries the name? How come we’re going to give her name to a new ship?”

Here are some excerpts from Wikipedia.org:

“Unlike USS Constitution, Arizona is not perpetually in commission. Arizona is under the control of the National Park Service, but the U.S. Navy still retains the title. Arizona retains the right, in perpetuity, to fly the United States flag as if she were an active, commissioned naval vessel.”

Also from wikipedia.org: “The new Arizona will be built at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. SSN-803 through approximately SSN-812 are planned to make up the Fifth Block. Block V involves 10 boats and may incorporate the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which would give guided-missile capability when the SSGNs are retired from service. The Block V subs are expected to triple the capacity of shore targets for each boat. Construction on the first two boats of this block was expected to begin in 2019 but was pushed back to 2020, with contracts for long lead time material for SSN-802 and SSN-803 being awarded to General Dynamic's Electric Boat. HII Newport News Shipbuilding was awarded a long-lead materials contract for two Block V boats in 2017, the first Block Vs for the company. On 2 December 2019, the Navy announced an order for nine new Virginia-class submarines – eight Block Vs and one Block IV – for a total contract price of $22 billion with an option for a tenth boat. The Block V subs were confirmed to have an increased length, from 377 ft to 460 ft, and displacement, from 7,800 tons to 10,200 tons. This would make the Block V the second-largest US submarine, behind only the Ohio-class (at 560 ft).”
I don’t see any way around making numerous cuts to the hull during the stretching process, so to build this model, I’ve bought two HobbyBoss Virginia kits. I sure didn’t want to scratchbuild hull sections! :Mad_6: One of the hulls will make up the basis for the finished product; the rest that isn’t used will be discarded.

The new Arizona will no doubt have SHT (Special Hull Treatment.) I’m not going to try to replicate that because my customer is not insisting on this. I intend to paint the upper hull black and the lower hull and sonar dome a black-gray.

I will begin work on this model shortly; I’m currently waiting for a mitre box and saw to arrive so that I can make accurate and neat cuts. In the meantime, if you have any experience with building this kit, including tips and critiques, I hope you will post your comments. I'm especially eager to hear from anyone who is considering this kind of conversion or has already tackled it. Any input will be greatly appreciated!

John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:33 pm
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Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

My mitre box and saw came a couple days early, so I’m getting an earlier start on the conversion.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to cut a hull section out of a donor kit to stretch the hull to the proper length. This will add 2.85 inches to the model’s length, so that overall, the model will be 460 scale feet in length.

I’ve decided to begin the cutting with the upper hull halves. Here’s a photo of the two hulls before the slashing began!
Attachment:
File comment: The hulls look so peaceful and unsuspecting of what is going to happen to them!
20200919_01.jpg
20200919_01.jpg [ 160.43 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]

Since the Block V subs are new and there are no good drawings or photos, I am playing it by ear as far as where to cut. The upper hull in the photo below will become the Arizona. I gave myself some room to work with so that I wouldn’t destroy certain topside details; I made the cut about 1 inch aft of the weapons shipping hatch.
Attachment:
File comment: The cutting began with the hull that will form the finished model.

The lower half of the hull will require a lot of cutting to match the drawing that I am working to, so I will do the cutting on the lower hull halves later.

20200919_02.jpg
20200919_02.jpg [ 105.3 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]

In this photo below, I’ve cut the donor hull, which is at the bottom. My friend wants to salvage whatever I don’t totally destroy, so I didn’t damage the weapons shipping hatch on the donor hull. He says he wants to build the remnants as a submarine surfacing. In order to have the 2.85 inch section of the hull, I did cut the engine room access hatch.
Attachment:
File comment: I wasn't particularly worried about the donor hull since all I needed it for was for a 2.85 inch hull section, so I cut it a lot closer to the weapons shipping hatch.
20200919_03.jpg
20200919_03.jpg [ 91.86 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]

The photo below shows what I had left after making the cuts.
Attachment:
File comment: The leftover pieces from the donor hull at top and the hull that will be the final model below.
20200919_04.jpg
20200919_04.jpg [ 86.32 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]

Here are the three pieces that will be grafted together.
Attachment:
File comment: The final hull is going to be VERY long.
20200919_05.jpg
20200919_05.jpg [ 54.74 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]

The seam between the forward hull section and the forward end of the donor hull segment weren’t as precise as I was hoping, but I guess the results are better than cutting freehand. I’m using one of the lower hull halves as an improvised jig to get the alignment as close as possible. I added a piece of styrene backing inside the hull joint. Now, I will use styrene cement to bond the forward hull and the donor segment.
Attachment:
File comment: Now the gluing can begin.
20200919_06.jpg
20200919_06.jpg [ 69.22 KiB | Viewed 466 times ]


And that’s it for today. I’ve added the styrene cement and now I’ll wait for it to harden up before I move on to the next step, which is to bond the forward section to the stern section.

John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:48 am 
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Posts: 18
It looks like quite the project. I was planning on trying it on one myself someday. I dug up an old twitter post that had one of the official models of sorts. You should be able to right click and open the pictures a bit bigger. I liked the two pictures of the model even though they are not super detailed it gives an idea of the overall look of the sub. As far as where to move the middle WAA I just understand that they should be evenly spaced on the hull so that will fall somewhere along that new module. https://twitter.com/cavasships/status/9 ... 7672843264


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:26 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 383
Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi Jordin,
Thanks for tip on the twitter post. :thanks: As you suggested, I went ahead and downloaded those photos for reference. Every little bit helps! The model in the photo has me contemplating whether to try to build a couple tubes open or not. Going to have to mull that one over!

Thanks also for your comments about the WAA (Wide Aperture Array.) I knew I'd seen the name somewhere but just couldn't remember where, or what they were called.

Here's a quick update for this morning. My improvised jig worked and the forward hull sections turned out fine. I went ahead and added a backing strip to the stern section and then glued the stern to the forward section, using one of the lower hull halves to maintain alignment. Here's a photo:
Attachment:
File comment: Waiting for the glue to harden again. This time, I've joined the stern and the forward sections together. A lower hull half is at the bottom of the photo to give a length comparison.
20200920_02.jpg
20200920_02.jpg [ 111.2 KiB | Viewed 441 times ]


John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:46 pm 
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Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

Another quick update.

The bonds on the upper hull are satisfactory, so the next step is to start hacking up the lower hull halves. First, I cut the center section out of one of the halves and centered its WAA at the location on the upper hull shown on the Block V drawing. Then, I cut two segments out of the lower hull halves; one will be the lower hull bow segment and the other will be the aft section of the lower hull with the aft WAA. Here’s a photo:
Attachment:
File comment: I've installed the lower mid-hull section, centering the WAA per the drawing. The overlap of this section also serves to give the hull some strength so that it won't crack once it's mounted on the display base. This photo also shows the lower bow section and the aft WAA section. I've added backing strips to the lower hull midsection to give additional strength.
20200921_01.jpg
20200921_01.jpg [ 126.56 KiB | Viewed 394 times ]

Once the glue sets, the next step will be to assemble the lower bow and aft WAA section to the hull.


John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:35 am 
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Looking good. Makes me want to get to work on mine. I had a few I had started playing around with a while back and had sanded it down and cut the holes in the bow for the two payload tubes (from SSN 784 on). I hadn't figured out how I might build the doors to make them open and close but at some point I may just build some Virginia's with the Payload tubes shut and make some that are opened when I do decide. Not sure if you put any thought into yours yet I know you sounded like you were contemplating it on the tubes in the extension.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:50 pm 
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Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

JordinR wrote:
Looking good. Makes me want to get to work on mine. I had a few I had started playing around with a while back and had sanded it down and cut the holes in the bow for the two payload tubes (from SSN 784 on). I hadn't figured out how I might build the doors to make them open and close but at some point I may just build some Virginia's with the Payload tubes shut and make some that are opened when I do decide. Not sure if you put any thought into yours yet I know you sounded like you were contemplating it on the tubes in the extension.


Thanks for your kind words and suggestion about the bow tubes! I've thought about doing this, but at this point, it may be too late to do that, since I've already assembled the bow. The bow tubes would be pretty small, so they would be tricky and a whole lot easier to build up before assembling the hull. I'd like to see how your work on the bow tubes has turned out. I will be contacting my friend to see if he'd like the VPM tubes open, though. Whether I do that is still a 'maybe.' :thanks:

These photos show how far along I am on the hull.
Attachment:
File comment: This shows 75% of the hull assembled. Incidentally, the aft section of the hull with the WAA was a center section taken from one of the lower hulls.
20200921_01.jpg
20200921_01.jpg [ 73.52 KiB | Viewed 333 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: For the lower stern section, I removed the WAA off of one of the stern segments and installed the stern section. That leaves about 9/16 inch gap remaining to be closed.
20200921_02.jpg
20200921_02.jpg [ 275.4 KiB | Viewed 333 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: Another view of the lower hull and the gap. I will fill the gap by salvaging a piece from the discarded upper hull scraps.
20200921_03.jpg
20200921_03.jpg [ 264.92 KiB | Viewed 333 times ]


John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:52 pm 
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Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

The final remaining gap in the lower hull has been filled with a section of hull cut from a discarded piece of an upper hull stern. Since the piece also had part of the towed array housing on it that will need to be filed down, I glued a piece of .080 inch half round styrene inside the hull segment. Here's a couple of photos of the hull with the leftover pieces.
Attachment:
20200922_141440 (2).jpg
20200922_141440 (2).jpg [ 169.42 KiB | Viewed 300 times ]
Attachment:
20200922_141538 (2).jpg
20200922_141538 (2).jpg [ 117.27 KiB | Viewed 300 times ]

Next comes the worst part; filling seams!


John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:50 am 
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I like boat builds like this! Very cool!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:50 pm 
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I had doubts about this build at first, but man, oh man! You are doing such a very, very good job!!!

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 Post subject: Working on the seams
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:16 pm 
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Location: Port Orchard, Wa
Hi everyone,

A couple more kind and appreciated comments:

pascalemod wrote:
I like boat builds like this! Very cool!
navydavesof wrote:
I had doubts about this build at first, but man, oh man! You are doing such a very, very good job!!!

A great big thank you to both 'pascalemod' and 'navydavesof' for taking the time to post those encouraging words! It's great to hear the positive feedback and see the interest in this project! :thanks: :thanks: :thanks:

Since my last post, I haven't done much (I spent most of yesterday visiting friends) but after giving the glue on the hull some time to harden, I started applying filler. Here's a couple photos:
Attachment:
File comment: I am using Squadron White Putty on the seams. I've filed down the portion of the towed array fairing that was on the piece of upper hull I used to fill in the gap on the lower hull.
20200922_01.jpg
20200922_01.jpg [ 78.95 KiB | Viewed 204 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: Here's another view. The upper hull seams just to the right and left of center will probably be under the turtle back of the VPM. Once I measure out the VPM mods, I'll decide how much of those seams I'll have to fill.
20200922_02.jpg
20200922_02.jpg [ 85.26 KiB | Viewed 204 times ]


John :wave_1:


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:31 pm 
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Looking good, nice clean work there on the cut & shut.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:35 am 
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Hi everybody,

Thank you to Mr. Church who wrote,
Mr. Church wrote:
Looking good, nice clean work there on the cut & shut.

I bought a hobby mitre block and razor saw specifically for this project because I wanted the cuts to be as close as possible. Of course, even with a mitre block and saw, they're still a manual cut, but they turned out pretty well. Many thanks for the kind words! :thanks: :thanks: :thanks:

I did some filling and sanding on the seams during the past couple days. Afterwards, I painted them with Light Ghost Gray to reveal defects. I have a bit of touch up to do on some of the seams, and then I'll repeat the process until I get it looking the way I want it. Here's a look at the first go-around:
Attachment:
File comment: The two black marks on the top of the hull indicate the forward and aft edges of the VPM turtleback. Once I get the seams cleaned up, I'll start work on building the turtleback.
20200926_235728 (2).jpg
20200926_235728 (2).jpg [ 68.73 KiB | Viewed 147 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: I like the stern planes and lower rudder molded in to the model. They really are an additional nuisance if you have to glue them on and spend time aligning them.
20200926_02.jpg
20200926_02.jpg [ 68.13 KiB | Viewed 147 times ]


John :wave_1:


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