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Before President Kennedy approved operation "Frigate Bird," he wanted to be sure he understood exactly what the launching sub looked like. This model was built to show him the lead ship of the new ETHAN ALLEN class of SSBN.


Operation "Frigate Bird," would be the worlds first and only launching of a fully armed nuclear-tipped ballistic missile. Upon studying the model Kennedy decided he needed to see the ship in person. Due to his back injuries climbing the ladders into the ship was not an option. Electric Boat fabricated a special cage that lowered the President into the submarine. Kennedy approved the operation.


The launch went off as planned. The warhead detonated over the Pacific with a force 15 times greater than the weapon used on Hiroshima. 


What happened to this model is really unknown. It appears that for security reasons at the time large portions of the interior were removed. Now that the class is no longer in commision and the technology is declassified I can rebuild the interior to what it should have looked like. However, I can still only do the unclassified version of the Engineering spaces. Even the Nautilus Engineering Spaces are still classified. The exterior will be detailed and repainted as it would have appeared in the 1960s.This model is almost 7 feet long!! This will be a fun project for SUBVETS and all who served on the nations SSBNs.     

Ethan Allen 1.JPG

Ethan Allen 2.JPG

Ethan Allen 3.JPG

Ethan Allen 4.JPG

Ethan Allen 5.JPG

Ethan Allen 6.JPG

Ethan Allen 7.JPG

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Chief, I remember building the Revell or Renwal model back in the day. I was just happy to have a model of more than the outer hull and sail. This looks really impressive. Thanks for sharing.

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Wasn’t the original version of the Revell Model pulled off the shelf because it was to detailed in the Engineering spaces. I also recall a story about the Russian Embassy in Washington running around to hobby shops in Virginia and buying upmthese models.


Also a retired TMC.


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Been a long while but I have been hard at work on the Ethan Allen SSBN 608. The model is in bad shape internally. I had to do some exploratory and repair surgery to the wood frames inside. The fiberglass is not all that great, to begin with, and is fragile. The hull is also warped and hogged fro years in extremes. 

After using an extremely hot water bath I managed to get the hull back into shape. The interior was cleaned scraped and then primed and repainted. 

Not knowing the state of classification of these old systems I opted to play it safe and rebuild the model in an unclassified version. Many former crewmembers are providing an entire ream of documents and pictures to help out

Most parts are designed in SKETCHUP. I am using original drawings and piping tab as a "base," for design. This is where I stretch my artistic license to the max. My goal is to show the components of the boat, not get the viewer qualified in submarines. Once parts are designed, scaled and corrected in NETTFAB. I use MAKERBOT to 3d print the items 

Since just about everything is missing I needed to get the bulkheads and decks made. I am using 1/8" plexi for this part.  I am finding that the model was very inaccurate when it comes to deck spacing and through ship passage, but again the model was not meant to be accurate.


Needing to distract myself from the enormity of the project. I am eating this elephant a little at a time and moving from task to task. I have laser cut templates for scribing exterior details not present in the original model. 


As of now most of the Engineering spaces are complete. The ops compartment will feature actual wood paneling. Kinda ironic that the real boats have plastic paneling.  

608 Interior readt to rebuild.jpg

608 BCP.png

608 TT.png


608 1.jpg


608 scribe 2.jpg

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As a 1960’s era Naval Reactors engineer this brings back fond memories as I rode the James K. Polk SSBN 645 on a sea trial.  I was not looking forward to this as I do not tolerate enclosed spaces well but the acctual experience was interesting.  The food was great and the crew claimed that the whole ship was on a diet but I saw no sign of this as one wardroom lunch featured a soup bowl of butter pecan ice cream drowned in maple syrup for dessert. The boat was crowded with Several EB engineers and I was supposed to “hot bunk” with one but I found a pile of life jackets on a lower deck to sleep on.  A highlight of the week long cruise was a test firing of the boat’s missle battery, although fiberglass sabots were substituted for the real thing.


Admiral Rickover had a cut away model similar to yours of USS Nantilus in his personal office and I am pleased to report that the reactor plant was no more detailed than the one that you show.



Edited by Roger Pellett

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 Thanks for starting this Thread.  My stash is up to 2 of the old Renwal Ethan Allen kits. It's about time I started one. I always wanted to try and get the corrections made to the interior so Please continue to post Pics.   I suspect this Ethan Allen model reconstruction will bring in quite a bit of interest.



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Yes, I will be following too.


As a kid I still remember the excitement when I could buy the Renwall Kit of that incredible submarine, in France. It probably was in the late 60's or very early 70's. I spent quite a few weeks putting it together and the final result was very impressive: it was a big model. I still remember the little spring allowing one of the Ballistic Missile to be shot from a tube..... a gimmick, but very pleasant to a young teenager. That model actually triggered a passion for Submarines that did not leave me until a few years ago. I have collected lots of kits and books and was once a member of the Submarine Committee. 



Edited by yvesvidal

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Creating the Mk 16 Mod 4 Torpedo.
It was hoped that I could design and 3d print a loadout of Mk 37 Mod 2 torpedoes for the Ethan Allen SSBN 608. However, both Printers went down and parts are in China. Add to that I have to have this big model ready to roll out the door and into its permanent home on Wed.

So I opt to replicate the MK 16 weapon carried during the earlier years of Ethan Allen's career. Unlike the MK 37, the MK 16 was what we called a John Wayne weapon. This means the weapon had no means of acoustic search, and attack. You could set a gyro angle for the weapon to turn to after launch but pretty much a straight shooter. It was a holdover from WWII and anti-ship only.

I would make a master and then mold. From the mold, I will cast the needed number of torpedoes.

Using plans from the net I cut a block of pine. This block was center marked and fitted to the lathe with a small spur.

Once turned the master was sanded and using a custom made 1/8th parting tool I marked the afterbody, fuel/battery, warhead, and nose sections.

Time is of the essence so I used a technique I sometimes use when making pens. As the wood was still turning thin CA glue is applied. An accelerator is sprayed on the still rotating torpedo to instantly cure the CA. 600 to 1500 grit sandpaper was used to bring the surface smooth.

Two-Part mold putty is used to make a one piece mold needed for torpedo production. Equal parts are kneaded until the color is uniform then the putty is placed around the master.
The fins, counter-rotating screws will be cast and laser cut and applied after casting. First two pictures are MK 37s then MK 16s

More later! Very tired.

Basic Mk 37 Torpedo.png

mk 16.jpg




Turned MK 16.jpg

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Completing the MK 16 Torpedo for the ETHAN ALLEN SSBN 608.

I have been using a new product in some of my building. Polybak is supposed to be used for backing used in countertops. However, as a modeling material, it is superb!

It will not burn. It is eco-friendly. It will sand, take stain and paint, and bend. It cuts clean and with the laser, it can render very small parts.
The fins and the screws were cut using of the 40watt CO2 laser at 35% power at 115 mm/sec.

Once cut the fins are attached to the torpedo afterbody by CA adhesive and Zip Kicker accelerator.

torpedo fin cutting laser.JPG

torpedo with fins 1.JPG

torpedo with fins 2.JPG

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I didn't realize how large that was until I saw you with it outside.   Even more impressive. 


Does the Polybak produce toxic fumes?   Looks like it might be an interesting material.

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I've had some model RR laser kits that use something called "laserboard". It's pretty thin stuff, with no grain, since it's a paper product. Used to build up steel framing for air vents with prototypical flimsy appearance. The Chief's fins look like they are a similar material.

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I have never heard of this Polybak material so will have to inquire further locally.


I used to work in engineering at Raytheon in Portsmouth RI on the sonar systems to track these beasts of the deep. Such an impressive vessel. Was in the James River and saw one of these boats come in from the sea with only the conning tower showing, plowing a giant bow bubble. I was just awed by its presence and what a true beast it was.


Lovely work and your skill set is impressive.



Edited by Thistle17
Info incorrect

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It is such a terrible and wonderful day. The restoration is complete. You would not think so looking at the pictures. Today I did a 30-hour straight effort to finish.


Yesterday the former COB of 608 and legend in the Submarine Force received orders to his final command. Barry "BEAR," Randell a Torpedoman of the highest order your watch is over. Good and Nobel Sailor we your students, and Shipmates have the watch. Rest your oars. The lesson you taught are far too numerous. Your love of your Brothers of the Phin, your dedication and your love of the nation and to the Submarine Force is engrained in just about every American submarine that goes into harm's way. You have and will save many lives. Thanks, Bear for being that cranky, fun loving, wealth of technical knowledge you are.


Today this model will be completed by 25 of your former shipmates. Each will place the remaining detail items one at a time into the model. As you would have loved there was a big demand to be the ones who installed the toilets.


Men who were once young and vibrant honor you. Men of USS COBBLER, USS TANG, USS SEA HORSE, USS TULIBEE, USS STONEWALL JACKSON, and USS ETHAN ALLEN. Now the old ones come to honor you. But look Bear! When you are talked about there is a sparkle of youth in their eyes. For a brief second the men are the 17,  18 and 20- year olds who took to the sea in submarines.  Loud bouts of laughter emit from tired lungs as the hundreds of old dirty jokes you told are retold.


You live in all of us who earned and proudly wear the Dolphins of the UNITED STATES SUBMARINE SERVICE.

608 done 4.jpg

608 done 5.jpg

608 done 6.jpg

608 finish 1.jpg

608 finish 2.jpg

608 finish 3.jpg

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Unlike most SSBNs, Ethan Allen did not use gas generators to launch her missiles. Instead, a huge  HP Air Flask was charged through compressors separate from the ship's service compressors This air was used to force missile up and out of the launch tube. Two aux compressors fed directly from the battery were used for emergency firing air.

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