Ship Models

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IJN Soryu - Bill Waldorf
Part 1 - Hull Construction

Hello again fellow modelers! Well, I am back again this time with a new project. I am attempting a scratchbuild of the IJN Aircraft Carrier, "Soryu", in 1/144 scale. I chose this scale for a couple of reasons. First off, the aircraft are available in kit form, except for the type 99 Val dive bombers which are reported to be out of production (sigh). Second, this scale is more manageable size wise. If you remember the Gambier Bay build on this site previously, she was done in 1/72 scale. 87" long and about 50 lbs. A bit tricky to move about at best. Soryu will be 65" long when completed and a lot lighter. That is about as big as I want to get from now on! Lets move on to the photos.

In this first shot you can see the port side stern area in the planking stages. Things are a little rough right now but they will improve as we go along. Notice I am using a mix of sheet and strip balsa wood in 1/8" thickness.

Full view shot of stb. side. Note the covering process is about halfway. To prevent excessive warping, I work on each side a little at a time.

This photo shows the basic structure of the model before the fwd. section is covered. I started with the main keel then added the bulkheads or sections. I then fabricated the forecastle deck. Finally I added the bow and stern decks which are actually part of the upper deck areas. This structure is quite rigid even before covering.
Overhead view of the model from aft and slightly stb. You can see the decks a little better here. Note the centerline. Very important to have this as I'll work off that for further alignment of things as construction moves ahead. Note wood pile on left.

Again a shot of the stb. side looking slightly fwd. You can see the arrangement of things here a little better.

Another view of stb. side fwd.
Here you can see the bottom of the ship. Note that I am using the strip balsa, 1/8" x 3/8" on the bottom areas and where there are compound curves. The sheet balsa is used on the flatter areas and these cover much faster than the rest.
Now that I have completed the covering process on the hull I'll use this stuff to seal all the wood. West System is used for repairs on real wood boats and is available through West Marine Co. This is only one brand of epoxy resin. There are many others but all do the same thing. Note the can of fairing filler. This is a powdery substance that you can add to the resin / hardener mix. It makes the mix thicker and adds more body. You can add as little or as much as you prefer depending on the application needed. Add enough and you'll get peanut butter.

Stb. side full view. Here we have sanded out the hull and are applying the resin mixture. Note that it dries shiny and takes overnight to cure fully before sanding. I'll apply 3 to 4 coats of the resin mix, sanding completely between each coat.

Overhead view looking from aft. Note the very end of the stern is not covered yet.

Port side view of the bow area. Note the very tip of the bow not yet covered. I will actually "fill" this area as well as the end of the stern with auto body filler( bondo). Much easier than trying to do it with wood. I mix the filler with it's hardener and then apply roughly to shape. As the filler starts to harden it becomes almost rubbery. This is when I'll form the final shape with very coarse
sandpaper, before it hardens completely...

The fwd. bow area has now been filled and shaped as you can see. I'll do this before the final coats of resin mixture.
Some other views here of the above procedure. The filler works well here and you can see the hull sanded out and ready for primer coats.
In this series of photos you can see that the hull has now been sanded and shaped to the correct specs., near as I can figure!! I have begun to apply primer coats. I'll apply many coats of primer again sanding well between each coat with finer and finer grades of sandpaper. The result is a very smooth, hard surface which is ready for part 2!
Well that's it for part one of hull construction. Hope you enjoyed the preview. In Part 2 we will add the gun deck and many of the related platforms etc. as well as roughing in the flight deck. Stay tuned!!!
Photographs: © Bill Waldorf