Scalemates, scale modeling database | stash manager
login | faq | facts | about us | privacy | advertise |
scale modeling database | stash manager
Frank Spahr
Frank Spahr (Frank Spahr)


USS Robin

Project summary

Title:USS Robin
Timeline:Started on October 28, 2016

Project inventory

Full kits
1:400 HMS Illustrious (Heller 81089)
HMS Illustrious
Heller 1:400
2004 | Changed box
1:400 Oil Tanker "Glasgow" (Revell 05221)
Oil Tanker "Glasgow"
Revell 1:400
2004 | Changed box


View album
Updated: February 19, 2017
View album
Updated: October 30, 2016
View album
Updated: November 13, 2016
View album
Updated: November 11, 2016
View album
Updated: October 30, 2016
View album
Updated: October 30, 2016
View album
Updated: March 1, 2017


Show all 15 comments
Frank Spahr This is easily my longest-running project from the first idea to its actual execution. I received the old Heller 1:400 kit of HMS Illustrious / Victorious about ten years ago, and a while later bought the Anatomy of the Ship volume on Victorious.

In that book, I first read about the ship´s service with the US Navy in the Pacific in 1943,and found a photo of Victorious with a T3 tanker and Wildcats and Avengers on deck. I soon got the idea of building the ship at this time, but many other projects intervened before at some time I decided to tackle it.

Not least because I feared the many necessary aftermarket items would soon become unavailable, as 1:400 is surely not the most popular scale and old Heller kits not the most popular kits at a time when so many new and excellent kits are available.

So I bit the bullet and started by making a list of what was needed in the way of PE, aircraft, sensors and AA.
I ordered a big bunch of stuff from L´Arsénal, and luckily Peter Hall was so generous as to provide me with the last resin correction set for the misshapen island of the kit.

What with PE delivery problems things were delayed, I started with the aircraft. That is quite a good idea in a carrier project, as the aircraft are so labor- and time-intensive. So it´s good if you have them somewhere in store and don´t have to start on them after all that work on the ship.

The resin aircraft by L´Arsénal were assembled, slightly detailed and painted to match what was on the ship on my referemce image. Wilfried Eck of Nuremberg helped me with the paint schemes, and Frank Ilse dove into his decal dungeon to help me out with the requisite star-and-circle insignia - thanks to both of them!
I used this opportunity to finally (after 20 years) to spend money on a punch and die set by rptoolz, to bolster up the pitifully thin PE wheels of the aircraft. It worked very well and obviously now I try and find what else I can use it for.
30. October 2016 at 09:21:21
Frank Spahr Apart from the aircraft, I worked on as many subassemblies as I could. There are nigh on 40 20 mm Oerlikons plus half a dozen eight.barreled Pom-Poms, plus two twin and two quadruple 40 mm Bofors plus their directors.

When the missing second PE fret of the WEM set arrived, I started work on the ship. Cleaning up the hull parts, drilling open all the portholes was routine work, but the stern section needed some scratchbuilding, both on quarterdeck level and above.

The quarterdeck was added from styrene stock, with some bulkeads and an overhead, plus homemade fittings.

The aft end of the flight deck tourned out to be trickier. It was modified when Victorious arrived in the USA, from its original round-down to a flat and square end, with a gallery below it housing a number of Oerlikons and two searchlights. In the end, it all had to be redone several times, for several reasons. First I did not really grasp what I had to do, and then I followed the PE instructions but the PE stern gallery was sited too low and would not fit. So I had to refill the slot I had sawn into thull for the PE gallery and add a new one one deck higher up.
This homemade gallery in its original form was too flimsy and had to be redone in thicker material, a good opportunity to also replace all the PE supports with homemade ones from styrene.

The flight deck extension was one conversion, the resin correction set for the island another. The final island had very little kit parts to it, but a major resin section and a growing number of scratchbuilt sponsons and platforms for the numerous AA added. The masts had to be redone completely from brass tubing and wire and PE parts. The kit tripod mast is wrong on any level, beginning with the tripod being the wrong way around.

30. October 2016 at 09:32:53
Frank Spahr I decided to also build the tanker from my reference image, using an ESSO Glasgow kit in 1:400 of a T2 tanker I had in my stash. Even though the vessel in the image is the T3 USS Cimarron, my reckoning was that the T2 was close enough and that for sure the one or other T2 had sailed with Victorious during her stint in the Pacific.
For displaying the models, I decided to make one common base of 78 x 58 cm, and two individual bases for each ship. Thus, a common display on a show was possible, but also normal display in two display boxes.

So I got enough insulation board, cut it to size, made hull cutouts and so on. In the end I had to redo the common base later in the project, but before the ship was proceeded too far.
30. October 2016 at 09:37:09
Frank Spahr With these projects, it´s a very long phase where nothing much tangible happens. You toy around with aircraft, AA guns, directors, all sorts of small stuff, but enver get the glimpse of the entire project. That only came when the island had finally been completed.

Then, the hull and the island (and the numerous subassemblies) were painted. I used several shades of Vallejo ModelAir in bluish greys, after priming the hull in automotive primer. The idea was not to make the paintwork too uniform. Some weathering with artist´s oils brought more life into the general look.

That done, I also completed the quarterdeck, closed it up and added the numerous hull inserts, but only after adding their PE railings. That made access much easier.

Then I could finally add the flight deck and clean up its seams. I onlky this year started using Tamiya Extra Thin glue, and Apoxie Sculpt, and both products helped me a lot here.

The flight deck was masked and sprayed in various shades of grey, following my reference image. Nobody knows for sure which shades were used on that deck today, so some artistic licence was used.

The deck markings were masked and sprayed.
30. October 2016 at 09:44:25
Frank Spahr I could now add the island and get a first look of the vessel as awhole, and felt quite happy.

next came adding the island and then the numerous prepared subassemblies. The aircraft were placed according to their positions on the image, and then glued to the deck.

At this point, I decided to look for some upagrade for the rather poor ship´s boats, and for some extra Carley Floats. I found both at Shapeways, by designer micro master, and they are gorgeous.
30. October 2016 at 09:47:45
Torben Ke Great project, Frank! I´m in.
30. October 2016 at 10:47:34
Christian Bruer Good to see you're showing your interesting projects on Scalemates, count me in
30. October 2016 at 11:27:19
Frank Spahr Thanks, guys, I hope I can get it all done on time for the Lingen show ...
30. October 2016 at 16:41:12
Łukasz Gliński That's a very interesting project, have you already started with the tanker?
31. October 2016 at 10:33:05
Frank Spahr Thanks, Lukasz! I have the material together and have started grinding off some of the molded-on "railings". Right now I´m painting 1:350 figures and will soon switch to the tanker.
31. October 2016 at 13:28:58
Frank Spahr I´ve completed the model, at least for now. I added very convincing 3D printed boats and Carley floats plus NorthStar figures, followed by the iffy lattice antenna masts and their rigging plus the even iffier three radar aerials atop the island. A generous flat coat hopefully hid most blemishes ...
11. November 2016 at 06:24:25
Derek Huggett You write a great article Frank - Homer (the Greek, not Simpson) would be proud of narration like yours! I hope the project continues well.
11. November 2016 at 09:30:35
Achim Ribbe Well done ..I like this tiny details very much...thats why I have to ask.. HOW DO yOU GLUE THE PE'S?
11. November 2016 at 11:34:38
Frank Spahr Thank you both, Derek and Achim! I use an optivisor to begin with, to see what I do, and Zap-a-Gap CA glue in two viscosities, thin and medium. Sometimes I carefully dip the PE part into the glue, sometimes I use CA applicators (read this as wires of varying diameters in holders) or disposable pipettes. Letting capillary action take place works well, the glue thus runs to where I need it. Sometimes I also use CA accelerator spray.
11. November 2016 at 14:15:39
Achim Ribbe Thx, Frank.. your answer will give me a c(g)lue. Yes and a optivisor...sigh.. we are getting all older.
12. November 2016 at 09:41:25


© 2010-2019 scalemates | about us | privacy | advertise | links

We use cookies to give you a great and free experience on our website. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

You can change your Cookie settings at any time. (Essential cookies are for: preferences, security, performance analytics and contextual advertising)

Privacy policy »     Continue