HobbyBoss 1/700 Arizona to Pennsylvania conversion

the Baron

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Hi, everybody!

I don't know about you, but if you're like me, you've been outside more and more as the weather has gotten warmer and the days longer. I haven't been able to pop in here as much as I'd like to, but I'd like to show you what I've got going with the HobbyBoss Arizona that I reviewed in another thread in this forum (thread here: http://www.scalemodeladdict.com/forum/index.php/topic,715.0.html). I started this for our fellowship build over at AgapeModels, I think I got started in March, and I've meant to share the progress with everyone here, too. So, without more jawin', here's where I am!

First instance of putting snippers to the sprue was to detach the turrets, the stack and the foremast's fighting top, and clean them up and assemble them. Here they are, on my bench:



The turrets required only a little sanding to remove the remains of the sprue gates, and you can see a pretty ugly seam on the front of the stack. The fighting top isn't too bad, but HobbyBoss chose to mold the parts as layers, which you assemble like a cake. That's how they molded the openings for the windows. I'd rather have had front and back halves, and just drilled out the openings, but it is what it is.

Here is the next simple piece that I assembled, as I was getting myself acclimated with HobbyBoss' design:



They chose to mold the very foremost part of the deck at the bow as a separate piece! Why?! The rest of the upper hull and deck are molded as a single piece, which is eminently practical. But even a separate but complete deck, to be glued into the upper hull, would have been better than this, which leaves a visible seam right across the bow, and that will be difficult to clean up.

Having attached those bits, I detached components of the deckhouse and bridge structure and did some dryfitting:



and from the port side:



Another issue caused by HB's design is that they molded all of the horizontal parts with seams that meet at the halfway point on the vertical surfaces. Again, it allowed them to mold the portholes and windows as openings, but the seams will be bears to conceal. Here's the bridge structure:



and from the port side:



Here is a shot of the parts for the mainmast's fighting top, still unassembled, so you can see what I mean about layers of a cake:



And this piece is HB's interpretation of an aerial frame attached to the front and after faces of this fighting top:



This gets sandwiched between two of the layers (mmmmmmm! two layer sandwich, aghlghlghlghlghlghlghl!), so the triangles protrude. I won't be using this piece, though, because my research showed me that this structure is actually a pyramid whose base is a square, and it was mounted with the botton edge parallel to the deck. I'm going to reproduce that with sprue, but much, much later in this build.

And the last piece for this post, here's the stack, cleaned up a little:



The seam took a couple of passes of Squadron putty thinned with acetone, and Mr Surfacer 1200, even after this picture was taken. It gave me more of an idea of how much work the seams require on this kit.

In the next installment, I'll show you what I found in researching the Pennsylvania, and what it meant in terms of modifications to the kit parts. See you tonight!

YbiC
Brad
 

the Baron

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The more I looked closely at the photos of the Pennsylvania, and at the kit parts, the more I noticed details that HB really didn't catch.

Here is a shot of the Pennsylvania underway, circa 1934-35:



That photo shows the raised conning tower that I mentioned, immediately behind Turret B (the second main turret as we head aft). You can also see the little aerial structure I was talking about, on the fighting top on the mainmast.

Here's another shot of her, off Panama, from the same time period, maybe even the same cruise:



It's a good broadside view. I've made these pics my wallpaper on my computer at work and here at home, so I can study them. These and other photos led me to decisions about modifications. Here is the first item that must be modified:



The supports that HB included in their molding must come off for the Pennsy in 1934. Actually, they're not accurate for either the Pennsylvania or the Arizona, at any time, I think. In any case, they have to be removed.

Here is another detail that HB missed, the very prominent rib detail on the splinter shield around the navigation bridge deck:



I think that's the navigation bridge deck. Please forgive me if I sound like I'm trying to be so smart about the terminology, I'm not showing off, but as I learn the details, I want to be as accurate as possible. Back to the topic--I have to add those ribs. And here is the modification I mentioned, even in the kit review, adding the enlarged conning tower:



That will be done with sheet styrene, laminated to as close an accurate height as possible. One of the levels will join to the kit deck and provide the catwalk around the tower, that led to a small searchlight platform on the forward side.

And this was yet another reference photo, which I marked up to highlight the areas to be modified:



In the next post, we'll get back to the actual styrene!
 

the Baron

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Another detail that I noticed after looking at photos long enough was that in 1935, the Pennsylvania did not have all of the blast shielding that HB molded on the deck parts. At least, I think HB meant for those raised walls to be blast shielding. Or maybe they represent canvas draped between the stanchions of the railings. Whatever they are, they had to come off. Since my Dremel was in the shop (literally), I broke out the sandpaper and files and got to work.

Here's a shot of the deckhouse from the port side, with the raised shielding removed:



As it turned out, it was a blessing that my Dremel was kaput. The kit is made of relatively soft plastic, and a rotary tool's best feature-it's speed-would have been a liability. It was relatively slow work, but I was able to remove the material more gradually and carefully. I am certain that with the Dremel, I would have slipped someplace and damaged the kit. Here's a shot in progress on the starboard side:



You can see how I just gradually sanded this detail off. I will replace it with photo-etch railings. Port side of the deck house again, with all of the shield material removed:



This photo also shows the problematic seam that I mentioned before. HB addressed the porthole issue by molding all decks with half of the vertical surfaces above and below, and with notches for the portholes. The seams are very noticeable, and I've applied several coats of Mr Surfacer to try and fill them. Lately, though, I've thought about gluing Evergreen strips to the faces and just drilling the portholes, haven't quite decided.

While I was working on the main deck, I started work on the bridge superstructure. First, I added the rib detail around the first deck:



Those are just tiny bits of stretched sprue. I don't have the actual number of ribs that appear, but it's close enough for my taste. Here's a shot from the starboard side of the tower:



I also removed the pillars or supports that HB molded on the kit, but which didn't exist. There was still more material to be removed. The upper bridge levels also had molded-on shielding that didn't exist, and also, the decks didn't run all the way around the tower, in 1935. At that time, the bridge tower almost looked like a flatiron building, at least on its foremost face. I also realized that I had to remove the two large supports at the aft end of the tower. They supported platforms for rangefinders, but these were added in a refit around 1940. Those platforms and the "wings" at the back of the deck below needed to be cut back. Here is what the structure looks like, with the material removed and the bridge attached:



Notice the white pieces--I was too smart for my own good and removed a little too much from that deck, so I had to cut a couple of scraps of styrene sheet to replace them. Here's a shot from the starboard side:



And a little closer view, from the port side:



The seams on each level will be a pain to clean up. Also, there is a pair of stairs at the aft end of the one deck; they will have to be removed. They led to a catwalk that ran around the stack, but that catwalk wasn't there in '35.

And here is the last pic, showing a close-up of the bridge from starboard:



The way HB did the portholes really irritates me--they're not even round! This is why I think that I might just glue styrene strips over those areas and drill the holes.

Also, there are some inaccuracies in the dimensions. The deckhouse should span the whole beam of the ship, at its widest point. If you look at photos of the Pennsylvania and the Arizona, you can see a prominent catwalk that was added at that point, to allow crew to pass fore and aft on the main deck level. The catwalk casts shadows. HobbyBoss made the deckhouse just a hair too narrow. Also, Turret B is too close to the bridge; there should be about 2 or 3mm more distance. The turret can barely fit, when it faces forward. And the turrets themselves have rather spurious molded-on details, deep channels for panel lines, and rivets or bolt heads that are the size of a man's head in 1/700. I'll have to putty and sand that down a little.

Still, I'm not disappointed. I got the kit for $10 and free shipping off eBay, and it's not such a bad kit. You can make a decent-enough model of either ship from it. As with many kits, it is what you make of it.

Next time, we'll take a look at reproducing the Pennsylvania's conning tower.

Thanks for looking, and comments/criticisms are always welcome!
 

Junkie

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Starting to really like ships. This is cool. Any updates here?
 

the Baron

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Thanks, Scott!

No, not enough progress to photograph yet. I've cut some styrene stock to plate over the deckhouse walls; I decided that that's the best way to deal with the seams and the grotesque porthole openings.

I'm in the typical summertime slow period now. It's been too nice around here to be indoors--though the cellar is nice and cool :D But I'm out most evenings getting some cycling time in. I'm shooting for 2000 miles by the end of the summer, and at the end of September, I ride with friends in a charity tour to raise money to fight MS.

But I'm getting antsy to put glue to styrene, too! Maybe it'll rain tomorrow and I'll have to stay in...
 

the Baron

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Scott, thank you very much for the nudge! You got me over a bit of a block, and now, I've finally got enough progress accumulated to show some pictures. I've got the conning tower finished.

I figured that the easiest way to reproduce this detail would be to make a template. After trying paper, and a piece of styrene stock, I remembered the clear plastic strips that I save from the packages from my dress shirts. First I tried using a marker to trace the outline:



because I figured I would cut away everything marked with ink. But I discarded that for a sewing needle, to scribe the outline:



This worked much better, and after some careful sanding, here is the template for the conning tower:



My plan was to laminate several pieces of styrene sheet, and then to use this template as a guide to remove material and get down to the finished shape.

I also needed to build up the section of the bridge structure where this piece eventually fits. The kit's molded-on tower is too short, even for the Arizona; the tower should protude a little above the deck. So I had to add a spacer first:



before I could add the extension to this deck:



This piece will represent the catwalk around the tower and the searchlight platform fore of the tower.

Next, I cut some pieces of styrene, to the outer dimensions of the template, enough to make the correct height, and glued these up:



Those "spider legs" are pieces of Evergreen strip that I used for one of the layers, to create some gaps. Those will represent the vision slits around the perimeter of the tower. When I paint the model, I'll run a little black wash into those to pop them.

I trimmed the "whiskers" from the blank, and traced the template with pencil:



Then I cut the corners off with a razor saw, and used a file and then sandpaper gradually to remove material and shape it to the template outline. The template is a little bigger than the final piece, but that works out well. There's a similar principle here as in woodworking and that is to be careful removing material, because it's easier to remove material than to add it back. So gradually, I wound up with a piece that looks like this:



And now the Pennsylvania is ready to take her place as flagship of the Fleet! Well, almost. More work is needed. Next time, fixing a hole (apologies to John Lennon).

Till the next installment, thanks for looking, and comments and criticisms are welcome, as always!

YbiC
Brad
 

Myke

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Hey Baron..., did you ever finish this project.
I've been going back and reading all the ship builds here on the forum doing some research before I build my first ship.

The attention to detail on this is incredible. I'd love to see the finished product.

All the best

Myke
 

the Baron

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Myke said:
Hey Baron..., did you ever finish this project.
I've been going back and reading all the ship builds here on the forum doing some research before I build my first ship.

The attention to detail on this is incredible. I'd love to see the finished product.

All the best

Myke
Myke, thanks for the bump and for the kind words!

No, I haven't finished yet--isn't that always the way? :D I hit a bit of a block researching some details, but
I do have the build queued up to resume, once I get some of the toy soldiers off my bench, along with the Red Baron hot rod.
 

the Baron

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Well, thanks to Myke, and thanks to Mark Tutton of Mark's Models/Starfighter Decals, I resumed work on the Pennsy. In doing so, I realized that I'm not too far from completion. That is, the major construction is just about done, and what's left is detailing.

I also realized that I really am trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and I run the risk of coming down with AMS (yet again!). So, I'm trying not to go too nuts, and I'm trying to keep in mind that I want to finish this build and get it off my bench ;)

So, here are the updates...

I finished installing her mainmast, which is the mast aft of the funnel. In keeping with terminology from the days of sailing ships, the mast atop the superstructure is her foremast. Here are the two tripod legs installed, with their platforms:



In 1935, the platforms held rangefinding equipment to serve the Pennsylvania's main battery when firing. On earlier versions of the mast, they were also for torpedo control--the Keystone Battlewagon had 2 torpedo tubes when she was launched, but they were soon removed--and signalling, there were searchlights installed. By the mid-30s, the searchlights were removed to platforms on her funnel, and 4 .50 cal water-cooled machine guns were installed as part of her anti-aircraft defenses.

Here is another shot, along with the meat of her AA defenses, 10 5" naval rifles:



Pretty fiddly work, assembling those, each one consisting of the base plate and the gun. I dropped several but was able to find them every time, so none were lost. HobbyBoss anticipates this, and includes a couple extra, in case the carpet monster is hungry that night.

You can see, too, that I got anxious to see how she'll look with some color, so I shot a coat of light gray:



I know that I still have some filling and assembly to do, but just had to see how the haze gray would look. Here's a view off her starboard aft quarter:



I may go just a hair lighter, but then again, it's pretty good. The decks will be light tan, to represent the holystoned teak deck planking of the time.

With this step, the major construction is finished. Everything else is detailing. That includes installing some .50 cal AA guns, her cranes and boats, and railings. And I still have to add the walkway from the admiral's bridge out onto the top of the conning tower--we're talking a scrap of styrene sheet about 3mm by 2mm, if that. I also am thinking of correcting the shape of the deck around the conning tower. I made it too square, but it should really follow the contour of the tower. Not a big problem, just some careful scribing with a sewing needle is necessary.

I also found a photo that answers a question about a detail that had me stumped. That was about the deckhouse, the structure containing her 5" guns, from behind Turret B back to the mainmast. I finally found a picture from the mid-30s that shows that there was a railing around the edge of that deck. I couldn't see it, in any of the photos I had until yesterday.

So, I can see the end of this project a little more clearly. I can order my photo-etch now, and also, some Vought scout planes, and start on the base. I won't jinx myself by setting a specific date, but with cautious optimism, I can say that I'm almost finished.

As always, comments/criticisms/questions are welcome, and thanks for looking!
 

Myke

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Woo Hoo! Glad to see you are back at it. Again... that level of detail and accuracy is second to none. Great work Mr. Baron!
 

TRM

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Think I saw this one a while back...forgot to comment! Wow, what an ambishous project as it would stand but in 1/700, the hat is coming off! Count me in for the rest of the build!! The Arizona is my all-time favorite, so you can't go wrong with one of her sisters!! ;)
 

the Baron

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Thanks, guys, I'm glad you're enjoying the build! I'm happy to see paint on her ;D
 

Jelly

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Baron, your ship build is going really well. I like it a lot, truly.

Being the photos that you´ve posted from before Pearl Harbor, it reminds me some pics of a PC grognard-wargame named War Plan Orange (from Matrix Games).

At 1:700 waterline scale, I think that the diorama / setting possibilities are almost limtless !!

Cheers, Baron
RG
 

the Baron

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Thanks for the kind words! Some of it has come down to compromising, too, between AMS and the desire to finish ;D

I may have another little update tonight, by the way.
 

the Baron

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Hi, all, here is this build's latest installment, which I've promised for some time, I know.

I finished adding a pair of pyramid-shaped aerials to the Pennsylvania's mainmast fighting top. I don't know what purpose these aerials or supporting masts served, except to say that I think they were part of the general radio/signals equipment added during the late '20s and early '30s. In any case, in many photos, they're prominent enough that I wanted to add them. And the kit parts were just unusable. Unusable, that is, to represent these aerials, but they came in handy in another way.

To represent these structures in 1/700, I figured that stretched sprue would work best (as Homer Simpson once asked of doughnuts, I'll ask about stretched sprue--is there anything it can't do?). And to make more than one of something, a template or jig makes it easier. So...

I made a jig out of the kit part:



Just glued them to a piece of styrene card. Now I could use this, to cut the aerial frames to length.

My idea was to make these out of 4 pieces each. First, I glued to pieces into a V:



and attached this to the face of the fighting top:



Then I would add the other 2 pieces, which were slightly shorter than the first 2 pieces (shorter by the thickness of the stretched sprue stock. Here is the first one, finished:



This was some fiddly work, to be sure. Those arms are all about 1/8" in length. And here are some views of the finished product:









I need to clean this up a little, to remove stray strands of cured glue. But I'm happy with the result. This was a proof of concept for me, if I ever build this in a larger scale (well, Trumpeter probably has this in photo-etch on their 1/200 Arizona). On the finished model, they'll look OK from viewing distance. They'll also support some rigging that I'll add, also from much finer stretched sprue.

The next minor phase of this build is to correct the shape of the catwalk or deck and searchlight platform around the conning tower. That is in progress now, but once that's done, it's really time for painting and adding the PE. The target is just over the horizon...

So, as always, comments/criticisms/questions are welcome, and thanks for looking!

YbiC
Brad
 

TRM

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Looking great brad!!! Not 100 Percent but those aerials might just be for the rigging the lines fore and aft. Also lines ran down from the fighting an they hung signal flag from them. Still giving you big props here for the scale and all these great details. Keep it coming!
 

the Baron

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Thanks, T! You might be right about those aerials/structures. It's difficult finding references on the Pennsy, for this time period. "Keystone Battlewagon" is my main reference, but I picked up Squadron's book on the Arizona, too. It has a lot of good photos of the Arizona from the mid-Thirties that I think apply to the Pennsylvania as well, since they were sisters and underwent the same upgrades during the same time.

I've fixed the catwalk around the conning tower, in the meantime. I'll get some photos up soon. Now I'm shopping for some photo-etch railing sets.
 

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