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Balao Class

Static Submarine modelers unite!

Balao Class

Postby Springer414 » Fri May 11, 2007 10:54 am

I just ordered the Revell 1/72 scale Gato class kit, and have spent the last 2 days scouring the net for pictures and paint schemes etc. I haven't been this excited about something in a long time.

My dad served on the Balao class boat USS Springer (SS-414), so I would like to build this thing as Springer.

After finding this site yesterday, I was hoping someone here might be able to point out some of the key mods I will need to make to transform this kit from Gato to Balao class.

Any pointers would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Postby PaulC » Fri May 11, 2007 11:19 am

Howdy, neighbor!

There is a very interesting build thread on subpirates.com of a Balao class conversion: http://www.subpirates.com/viewtopic.php?t=2320. Fair warning: it is rated PG-13 for language :D . The boat is really turning out nice.

If scratch building isn't your thing then Nautilus Models just released a USS Batfish conversion kit for the Revell Gato. You can see it here: http://nautilusmodels.com/Gato/72Gato.htm. It includes a resin conning tower kit, guns, photo-etch, and a wooden deck. Their MBT flood templates are listed further down on the page.

If at all possible, I would encourage you to attend the SubRon5 r/c sub fun run in Georgetown, Texas the weekend of June 2-3. You can get a good look at the r/c side of submarine modelling and there will be extensive discussion of the Revell Gato kit. For more information you can visit our website: http://www.warfish.com/subron5/snf2007.html. Or contact me directly: paul@warfish.com.
Warm regards,

Paul Crozier
<><
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Postby Boss subfixer » Fri May 11, 2007 11:49 am

Springer414,
Welcome aboard! Paul is right, go to the fun run and chat with the people that have already walked the path your on now. You think your excited now just wait till you see what others have done! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Here is a link to a valuable resource on submarines to get you started.
http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08414.htm
This board is also a great place to get help and swap ideas, all you have to do is ask. There are a lot of talented people here and at Subpirates who are willing to help.
Don
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USS Springer (SS-414)

Postby Mkeatingss » Fri May 11, 2007 1:03 pm

All, very good advise. Follow up on as much as possible.
But, no one asked an important question, when was your father on her? This is important, since some these boats had some pretty radical changes, over the years. You don't want W.W.II configuration if she was a Guppy, when he was on her.
Mike K.
I don't suffer from ulcers, I'm a carrier.
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Postby Springer414 » Fri May 11, 2007 3:35 pm

I appreciate your replys, and have checked out some of the links already, and am seriously thinking about ordering the deck gun nautilus models. I don't think I can spring for the whole conversion kit, that's more than I paid for the model! I'll hafta use the pictures and get by as best as I can.

I'm also seriously considering attending the SubRon5 next month in Georgetown, I didn't know they had one of those. Thanx for the invite and the dates!

8)

Dad joined the crew of Springer at Mare Island, sometime between launch and commissioning, then served on all 3 of her WWII patrols.

She reached Pearl in Jan '45, and left Guam on her first patrol in Feb '45. She sank 4 ships, all patrol/anti-sub vessels, and plucked 9 B-29 crewmen from the waters off Tokyo Bay. She was attached to Mare Island Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet shortly after the war.

In 1960, she was refit and "lent" to the Armada de Chile as CNS Thomson (SS-22), and sold for scrap in 1972.
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Postby RickNelson » Fri May 11, 2007 3:59 pm

A very worthwhile reference you should acquire if you plan on doing modifications is Floating Drydocks Gato and Balao Plans book. It is available in CD form from

floatingdrydocks web site, look under update.htm

Scroll part way down the page and you will see a large picture of the sail of a Fleet submarine. Floating Drydock also has plan sets available.
Rick Nelson

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Postby Springer414 » Thu May 17, 2007 4:39 pm

Well, got home from work yesterday(16may07), and there she was, sittin on the front porch. No one was home to accept her cause the UPS tracking page said she was being delivered on the 17th.

Stayed up till 0100 reading the instructions, and have spent an inordinate amount of time today (don't tell my boss) collecting pictures of Balao class boats' conning towers off the internet.

Also noticed that in addition to differences in periscope shears, and lookout stations, etc....

The Gato has limber holes (I think is the name) in one row, which stop before reaching the conning tower, while the Balao pictures show two rows forward, with the top row running the length of the hull. That oughta be fun!

Anywho, time to get started. I'm sure I'll be on here from time to time with any questions I have. Thanx guys.
Last edited by Springer414 on Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby RickNelson » Thu May 17, 2007 5:33 pm

Hi Springer414,

The first thing you need to do is determine what year in the boats life do you want to capture. The only time fleet submarines looked the same, depending on class, was the day they were commissioned, and sometimes not even then. Their appearance when new also depended on what year they were built as war-time experience would show up as modifications to the designs. The Balao Class was an attempt to sum up all of the modifications made piecemeal to the Gatos (besides a thicker pressure hull).

Individual Fleet submarines, either Tambor, Gato, Balao, or Tench Class, became, over time, as unique in appearance as fingerprints. Commanding Officers had considerable latitude to make changes to improve a boats performance. Limber holes is one good example. Early in the war EB designed boats had single lines of limber holes while Portsmouth designed boats had multiple lines. The other shipyards building submarines used either EB or Portsmouth designs as they were the lead yards. Manitowoc followed EB designs and Mare Island used Portsmouth designs. But adding more limber holes was one of the first modifications and there was no specific layout. Each boat added them differently.

The Gato family is one of the best examples of the evolution of modifications to their sails. A boat built in '41 or '42 had its sail area completely enclosed to protect the topside crew from inclement weather. However, all of that metal created two problems; the boats had very visible silhouette; and they trapped air and caused dive times to be relatively slow. So COs started removing metal from the top area around the periscope sheers. Then they removed metal aft of the bridge and this area became a gun platform. In '42 permission was granted to remove the enclosed helm/steering station from forward of the bridge and it too became a gun platform. A venture was added on the top of the front sail to deflect wind and waves coming up and over the forward edge of the sail in order to try to minimize the amount of white-water the OOD and lookouts were subjected to. Eventually the forward and side portions of the sail were removed. The three major beam structures supporting the periscopes and lookout platform stood out. By 1944-45 the culmination of these changes resulted in the characteristic wartime openwork structure which also became known as the “Covered Wagon” look and is unique to the Gato.

Variations in the placement of the SJ, SD, and later SS radar antennas occurred. Other less obvious changes were made; one of the two lifeboats below the forward superstructure was removed; railings and radio antenna arrangements changed; flair pots were added in various positions; deck gun and ammo locker arrangements were different. The list could go on and on.

The bottom line is 1) pick a boat, 2) pick a year, and 3) do your research. Depending on the kit you start with you may end up adding or removing various items to be faithful to the rendering. But this is what I like about doing Fleet Submarines.

Good luck,
Rick Nelson

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Postby Springer414 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:52 pm

Let's see if I can post a pic. (probably not!) :oops:


Image

Image


I'm not extactic about the results. This was my first adventure with a Dremel tool, the linber holes look like the amature I am. I continue to futz with them.

The conning tower ain't quite right. The fore gun deck is lower than the aft, this is incorrect for Springer (and most Balao boats). Also, the conning tower is wider at the base, wrong; and the aft gun deck is still a smidge too long, even tho I cut some of it out.

Other than that.....
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Postby Springer414 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:57 pm

Latest update on the periscope shears.


Image
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Colors?

Postby Springer414 » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:26 pm

There's probably no one, other than actual members of her crew, who could tell me the colors used for the markings on Springer's conning tower.


Image


There's a guy has a web site (his dad was on Springer also), I've sent him an e-mail. Thought I'd take a shot here too.
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Postby Springer414 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:17 pm

Latest pic.

Not quite done yet!



Image
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Postby Springer414 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:26 am

The latest:



Image



Image



Image


Some paint, some decals..... Still need to order the 5" deck gun.
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Postby Springer414 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:40 pm

Well it's finally done. I took a 3.5 month hiatus, cause I get nothing else done when I'm reffin HS football, I bought my 5" gun and my bridge crew and finished her up.

It ain't perfect, but it's not bad.
Image
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