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A Tale of two Subs


Airfix’s HMS Trafalgar and Hobby
Boss HMS Astute in 1/350 scale
By Valentin “Aw Nuts” Bueno

 

Why Subs?

Having built AFV Club’s U‐Boat Type XXIII in 1/350th scale, I started buying AFV Clubs latest round of Japanese and US submarines. Being the fool that I am, I started having a hankering for a modern 1/350 scale sub. Airfix had just released their new tool HMS Trafalgar, so I picked one up and tucked into it.

The hull is in three parts. Why, only Airfix’s tool designer knows. These assembled OK with a little sanding and filling at the seams where I couldn’t get them to line up. After that, it was only a matter of adding a few more items like the prop shroud and the conning tower before I was ready for paint.

Beat to Death

A quick search if the Interweb revealed that these subs were quite the worse for wear. I wanted to replicate this wear and tear and give it a different camo scheme other than straight black.

Once again, I used the Digital Camo tape masks to create a patchwork look to the paint job. This is great stuff. So I sprayed the entire sub gray with Tamiya Neutral Gray from a spray can. Masked off the sub using the digital camo masks, sprayed the sub Gunship grey, masked more areas off and finally sprayed the sub with NATO Black. Once all the masks were removed, the sub looked like a mess.

Work in Progress

The inevitable paint ridges were smoothed out with a 3000 grit sanding pad and the entire thing gently buffed to a matt shine with progressively finer grades of sanding pads, topping off with 12000 grit. Decals were added to this buffed flat paint with Solvaset used to get the decals to settle into the paint. No silvering was encountered using this system. A protective coat of Tamiya clear flat was added to bring everything to a uniform flatness. This was again polished with the sanding pads to get rid of the surface texture spray paint usually imparts on a model.

I added blips and blobs of gray and green colored paint to represent barnacles and algae along the waterline. The sub was given a coat of thinned white paint to weather the surface and make what few engraved panel lines and torpedo tube doors stand out more.

The pedestals have not been painted yet.

How do you Display a Sub?

Having not built a full hull sub out of the water (my 1/700 scale launching of a sub doesn’t count as it has context for why it is a full hull model out of the water), how does one display it. I tend not to like the display stand with shiny bits as a method of display. But in this case, I was forced into it.

The green algae growing

I stole the plastic base from Cyberhobby’s 1/700 sale LCS‐2 kit. I covered the base with a wood veneer from KA models out of Korea and stained it with dirty thinner. The pedestals were painted with Metallizer brass and allowed to dry. Corresponding holes in the bottom of the HMS Trafalgar were drilled out and the model mounted on it like a fish out of water, which it is.

To give the model a sense of scale, I added a few 1/350 scale figures to the deck and conning tower. I used Fujimi’s 1/350 scale injection molded IJN sailors painted up as Royal Navy sailors. I dare you to tell the difference!

Work in Progress

The inevitable paint ridges were smoothed out with a 3000 grit sanding pad and the entire thing gently buffed to a matt shine with progressively finer grades of sanding pads, topping off with 12000 grit. Decals were added to this buffed flat paint with Solvaset used to get the decals to settle into the paint. No silvering was encountered using this system. A protective coat of Tamiya clear flat was added to bring everything to a uniform flatness. This was again polished with the sanding pads to get rid of the surface texture spray paint usually imparts on a model.

I added blips and blobs of gray and green colored paint to represent barnacles and algae along the waterline. The sub was given a coat of thinned white paint to weather the surface and make what few engraved panel lines and torpedo tube doors stand out more.

The pedestals have not been painted yet.

How do you Display a Sub?

Having not built a full hull sub out of the water (my 1/700 scale launching of a sub doesn’t count as it has context for why it is a full hull model out of the water), how does one display it. I tend not to like the display stand with shiny bits as a method of display. But in this case, I was forced into it.

The green algae growing

I stole the plastic base from Cyberhobby’s 1/700 sale LCS‐2 kit. I covered the base with a wood veneer from KA models out of Korea and stained it with dirty thinner. The pedestals were painted with Metallizer brass and allowed to dry. Corresponding holes in the bottom of the HMS Trafalgar were drilled out and the model mounted on it like a fish out of water, which it is.

To give the model a sense of scale, I added a few 1/350 scale figures to the deck and conning tower. I used Fujimi’s 1/350 scale injection molded IJN sailors painted up as Royal Navy sailors. I dare you to tell the difference!

The Astute pre‐weathering below the water line

Tale Two: HMS Astute

As usual, I am inspired to build a model by something I see on the telly. In this case, I saw a BBC special on the construction of the HMS Astute. This show highlighted the feature of the newest British submarine and the people and town that built it.

Conveniently, Hobby Boss released a 1/350 scale kit of this submarine. Whereas the Airfix kit of the HMS Trafalgar was a neat little kit, the Hobby Boss kit was light years ahead in terms of fit, surface detail and ease of assembly. Even with the large radar/sonar bulges on each side, it was a treat to build. After ten minutes assembling everything and maybe half an hour eradicating the seams to my satisfaction, it was time to paint. I sprayed the bulges NATO black and the rest of the submarine flat black. The model was then rubbed down with sanding pads in preparation for the extensive decals (extensive for a submarine in my opinion) that will be applied without a gloss coat.

After sealing the decals with a coat of Tamiya Clear Flat and of course rubbing this down to get a flat sheen, I gave the model a wash of thinned white oil paint to break up the uniformity of the black and NATO black colors. This filled in all the gorgeous panel lines and gave the model a worn look.

While I was weathering another model using MiG’s Weathering Pigment for Concrete, I noticed that it had a greenish hue. I thought (dangerous, I know) that it would make a perfect color for the algae build up on the hull. So I mixed a little with Tamiya thinner (aka sludge wash) and added it to the model below the waterline.

This gave the lower hull a distinctly weathered appearance while leaving the upper hull gray/black. Perfect, just what I wanted.

The Astute post weathering and the base is finished

The periscopes and antennae were added to the conning tower and the model glued to the kit’s stand. The Stand was painted flat black and sanded smooth. The photoetched name placard of the ship was added to the base and that was that.

More?

Between the two models, the Hobby Boss kit was the better detailed and better fitting one. I liked the stand of the Hobby Boss kit better as well. Of course with all the other AFV Club submarines waiting in the stash, I will build these and write articles about these too. If you want to stop me from doing this, write up an article about whatever it is you are working on. I dare you!

  The green represents the staining from the seawater

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