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Barnstormer Boats 1:72 scale LA Class kit review - by Bob Martin (www.rc-sub.com)

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Postby Bob the Builder » Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:38 pm

The following is a preliminary review of Barnstormer Boats' (www.barnstormerboats.com) 1:72 scale US Los Angeles Class attack sub hull kit.

At the time of this writing, full information can be found on the manufacturer's website here: Barnstormer Boats LA Class Page.
The model measures approximately 60" in length and 5" in beam. Overall height of the model at the highest point is approximately 9".


Purchase and Delivery:

I bought this model off of Ebay, paying $250US for the kit and a beautiful 7-bladed scimitar prop. Tim, the owner of Barnstormer, contacted me that night to confirm my order and promised that it would be out within a few days.

The model did not end up showing up, however, for over two months. Several excuses were given, but the feedback on Ebay's forums show that long delivery times are pretty standard for this vendor. Tim would return email inquiries in a decent amount of time, when queried.


Unpacking and overview:

The hull came in a long box with very little to no packing material inside protecting it. I was quite fortunate that the package arrived in a good state of repair, with no dings or tears in the cardboard. The hull was, therefore, in good shape when it was pulled free. The polyester fibreglass hull is layed up with black gelcoat, a nice touch that should help conceal dings and scrapes during her operational career. The layup is, however, on the light side, and there is significant flex in the hull without stiffeners. This should be easily rectified once hull formers are put into place.

The control surfaces were well-packaged and arrived intact. They, too, are poured in a black urethane plastic finish. The 3" brass prop that my kit arrived with arrived in the standard packaging and was in an excellent state, though the pitch is reversed from what my plans show (LH vs. RH pitches). The conning tower is layed up in polyester glass as well, and there is a significant and ugly seam that runs down the center. A bit of grinding and sanding should make short work of it, however.


Fit and finish:

The overall finish on the hull is good. The hull is smooth, with evidence of light sanding. The hull division is arrow-straight and both sides of the hull match up nicely, even without stiffeners in place to hold the hull's shape. Control surfaces are a bit rough, but sanding should take care of the majority of those issues.

There are a few minor details that have been crudely scribed into the hull, and they will need to be filled and sanded in order to make a clean hull. There are no other details scribed into the hull. All markings will need to be scribed by the modeller himself.


Accuracy:

I have a set of Greg Sharpe's (Deep Sea Designs - www.deepseadesigns.net) 1:72 scale blueprints. I was initially very worried about the model, as I was hoping for more detail in the hull, and a more substantial hull as well. I was, however, pleasantly surprised (astounded, actually) to see how well the hull matched up to Greg's plans. The hull and the blueprints are bang-on. They match up exactly, and I would venture a guess that whomever did up the master model used the Deep Sea Designs plans as a basis for it. The hull form and fitting all match up exactly to the blueprints. This model, therefore, is a decent candidate to create a very scale model of the LA class boat.


Final comments:

A nice, basic hull for a decent price, though I'd consider it a bit overpriced for what you get. If you're not in a panic to get it, it's definitely a viable option for the basis for a great scale model. The kit is NOT for the basic builder, as much scratchbuilding will be needed in order to reinforce the hull properly, and a lot of scribing will be needed in order to detail the hull.

To sum it up... a decent hull for a decent price. There's better out there, but there could definitely be worse.

Would I recommend it? Probably not. The amount of work needed to accurize the hull means that anyone with the necessary skills to do so would save a lot of money and time just building their own hull. The LA class is easy enough to model in this regard.

I would welcome any questions about the hull that anyone might have. I can be emailed at [email]bob@rc-sub.com.[/email] A write-up of the building of this kit will be featured on my website at www.rc-sub.com in the near future.


Bob Martin
bob@rc-sub.com
www.rc-sub.com
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Postby silent runner » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:26 pm

It is enlightening to hear feedback on this manufacturer. I purchased his Type II hull almost 6 weeks ago now, also on ebay. This hull is molded in 2 halves, right and left, as is the conning tower. The supplied dive planes are a bit thin and will require a lot of cleanup. My hull came wrapped in about 2" of self-adhesive bubblewrap and had no damage. pics of the hull and parts are on my SC homepage
.

Mike




Edited By silent runner on 1131171692
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Postby Bob the Builder » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:55 am

I'm currently working on the LA Class page of my site. It should be up and running in a few hours (hopefully). There are more photos there if anyone is interested in seeing what the kit looks like.

Link directly to the LA Class page: LA Class Project on www.rc-sub.com
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Postby Sub culture » Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:05 pm

Goodness me, Bob. I thought I had some projects on the go, but you take the biscuit.

Fair play to you, but do you reckon you'll ever get them all done in this lifetime? :;):

Andy
'Why are you staring at an empty pond?'

Want to dive your boat in crystal clear water? Then you had better Dive-in- http://www.diveintomodelsubmarines.co.uk
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Postby Bob the Builder » Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:37 pm

When I actually have time to work, things go very fast. Remember, Andy, most of the stuff on my site are kits, and should prove to be pretty fast builds. Its the scratchbuilding things that take so much time. Of course, they're also ten times as much fun and one hundred times more rewarding....
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Postby Pirate » Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:28 pm

Man, Mike. How many boats are you building? I'm lucky if I can build one every two years. But then again, I detail the crap out of them. Thanks again for your purchase though.

I looked at those Type II pics you put up. That thing is scarry looking. Especially the conning tower. Do the halves even fit together? The whole thing looks very rough.

Looks like you're going to be very busy this winter.

Pete
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Postby silent runner » Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:36 am

Pete,
Your Virginia kit is fantastic! Thanks for your efforts to bring this boat kit out. I build 1-2 boats a year, but being semi-retired I have the time to work on them.
You are correct about the Type II, if you think the pictures are scary, you should see it from my workbench. This boat is going to take alot of effort and will stretch my building skills to the limit. One reason I got it.
Not only do the conning tower halves not quite fit, the hull is a mess also. I have made several 'suggestions' to the maker of this in hopes that he will be able to produce a more usable hull. More will follow, but right now, I have a Virginia class, (SSN-777, North Carolina) to work on!

Mike
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Postby Bob the Builder » Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:37 pm

After I logged this review to the SubCommittee, I was emailed by Tim, the owner of Barnstormer. He was looking to improve the kit and see what he could do about making customers happier with their purchases. I made several suggestions to him, and he said that he will do his best to implement some of them in the future.

Time will tell if he's sincere. I wish him the best. It's a great starting point for an accurate model, and with a bit of work, it could really be a great kit.
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Postby silent runner » Sat Nov 12, 2005 2:52 pm

I believe that Tim, owner of Barnstormerboats is sincere about improving his kits. At this point, he only makes the LA class and The Type II. We have been emailing back and forth quite a bit, him asking me what he needs to improve. His kits have the potential to become really good over time.

Mike
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Postby silent runner » Sun Nov 13, 2005 11:14 pm

Tim, owner of Barnstormer Boats has notified me of updates made to his Type II hull, and will be sending me updated parts as he makes them. This is good news as this hull kit has great potential. Although this is an odd scale boat at 1/20th scale, Tim seems to be willing to make any adjustments or refinments we can suggest to him
Mike
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Postby JWLaRue » Sun Nov 13, 2005 11:28 pm

Mike,

I've wondered about why Tim chose the scale that he did. I believe that his model is of a Type IID which were 43.97m LOA. With a stated model length of 80 inches LOA, that appears to be a scale of 1/21.6388......!?!

However, since there is very little, if anything, available for U-boats in a scale even close, it doesn't really make any difference.

-Jeff
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Postby silent runner » Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:34 am

Jeff,
My understanding is that Tim bought the mold from the original builder. And yes, per our previous discussion, I came up with the same scale as well. I feel that 1/32 would be better, due to gun kits being available, etc.
I won't get started on this until after the first of the year, but may be able to work with Tim to produce a more usable hull kit as well as some additional parts.

Mike
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