Circa 1950s 2-man Army sub. Huh? Army submarine?
That's what I said to myself when I stumbled upon it a few years ago while visiting the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. While walking around the outside display grounds looking at all the giant rockets, there between two of them resting on a boat trailer, was this little sand colored submarine, small enough to fit in my garage.
I made my way directly to it like a moth to a flame, unaware of anything else around me, including my family. They wondered where I was going, and then they saw it. "Oh, no!" they exclaimed, "He found another submarine." As most of you have probably experienced in cases like this, I was the only one interested in this display.
That thing was cool! I took a bunch of pictures with the hopes of being able to build a miniature R/C version of it one day. Well, that day has arrived.
If you can't read the picture of the plaque, here is some sparse history I know of this submarine. The Space and Rocket Center is a museum where this sub sits, on the grounds of the Redstone Arsenal (Rocket range-www.redstone.army.mil/), where the U.S. ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and space program rockets were developed after WWII. When they tested them, firing them into the Pacific atolls, they used this little sub to hunt down the rockets and their pieces. I'm gathering it was sand colored to blend into the bottom of the ocean so it couldn't be spotted by roving Russian eyes in planes above.
The first place to start is with 4-view drawings and cross-sections that I can use to build it. So from the photos and some on-the-spot guessturements, I developed them. I wanted to make it big enough to capture the cool details of a machine from that era—screws, bolts, weld lines, etc., but small enough to handle and transport easily, and maybe even small enough to run in my above-ground pool. My 1/96 nukes can run across my pool, but that takes place in 3-4 seconds, and they can't turn. This thing is about 16 feet long, so I figure 1/8 scale, making it about 25 inches long, should be just right.
Here's a sample of the plan:
If there's enough interest, I may even produce this as a SubmarineWorks original kit for sale.
For those of you who are just getting started in submarine building, or don't have any of that fancy Computer Aided Drafting software and CNC equipment, I'm going to build this in a way that shows how almost anyone can make a model. This is a technique I learned from the great Steve Neill and Kevin McLeod. They've's posted a few of their builds here, and in The SubCommittee Report (great magazine), using the same technique. It's been called "The Lost Foam" technique, but I'm not going to lose the foam. I'm going to keep it inside and just use this method to build masters to make molds from.
I started with the spine-board I made to build my 1/96 Ohio model on. Then I spray-mounted loose cut-outs of the Xeroxed cross-sections from my plans onto cardboard to give them some rigidity. Then I cut them out to exact size. These cross-sections were taken in 2" sections to work perfectly with 2"-thick styrofoam. Here they are just placed along the spine-board.
You use the cross-section cut-outs as guides for a foam cutter. Place a chunk of foam between two successive cross-sections with a light coat of spray mount. Line up both pieces/side with the groove cut out to fit over the spine-board. I mount one section first. Then cut out the groove. Then mount the opposite section lined up with that groove. Then cut out the piece by pressing the cutter against the edges of both cross-sections.
Here you can see the successive sections taking shape.
Then you just sand them smooth while keeping the sections in place. I just use a little Bestine Brand Rubber Cement Thinner to remove the sections, then use the one needed on the next piece.
Multiple sections then glued (spray mount) together.
I left these pieces in larger sections, instead of gluing them all together for the full boat's shape, so that when I sanded them I could use a long, straight sanding board and sand right down to the edges of the cross-sections, using them as guides as was done for the foam cutter. This also kept me from over sanding down the foam, which can happen very easily. Then they will work the same when putting on plaster to fill in low spots and imperfections in the shape. I'll use a trowel across the edges and screed out the plaster. I use plaster first, before applying fiber glass, because it is easier to sand and less expensive than the bondo step on top of the plaster. Although I have to wait longer to let it dry, at this stage I feel it's worth it. Laying the fiberglass over the plaster-leveled foam will require much less and shallower layers of bondo on top of the fiberglass to get the final shape later.