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  1. Working on Deans Marine model Liberty Ship hope I’m going to get this right I have been making progress and will try to upload pictures. Well I see the photos weren’t a problem but adding captions under each photo is I would imagine the pictures explain the progress one other thing I would like to mention the last photo of the rudder is not scale as the kit cast resin rudder was a poor casting and the shaft was only 3/32 dia. Wire which I thought a little less then I preferred so it was replaced with one I fabricated. I know one of you will notice it doesn’t have the division half way down with right thrust added to correct fo the large prop torque on the full scale ship to save fuel but since I’m not going to cross the Atlantic I opted out on that detail.
  2. This is a build log of the Zebulon B. Vance, based on the Dean’s Marine kit of the St. Olaf hospital ship, which was a sister ship to the Vance. My interest in the Vance was kindled when I was casting about for a new project after completing my first wooden ship build (Bowdoin by Bluejacket Shipcrafters which is chronicled elsewhere in MSW). My late mother was a WWII war bride who sailed from England to New York shortly after the war ended, and I thought if I could find and model her ship it would make a lasting gift to our family. And an interesting journey it has become. Before I get too far I would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their feedback and assistance: James E. Atwater, Assistant Curator, U.S. Army Transportation Museum James Smailes, Ship Plans Office, Smithsonian Institution Textual Reference Archives II Branch, National Archives at College Park, MD Nathan G. Jordan, Archives Specialist, National Archives at Atlanta, GA MSW member Koa4225 The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. The Library of Congress An excellent book on the subject is Hospital Ships of World War II An Illustrated Reference, by Emory A. Massman; McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999; which I purchased during the course of the research. The photo above from the Library of Congress (source C. Seavey, 2017) is of the Zebulon B. Vance launch on December 6, 1941 at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, NC. The Vance was originally a Liberty Ship, the first of 90 to be built at the North Carolina shipyard. After several years of service the Vance was reconfigured to a hospital ship at the Bethlehem Steel yard in Boston, MA, one of six identical Liberty ships to be changed to support the growing need for transport and care of injured soldiers. In its hospital mode the Vance was renamed the U.S. Army Hospital Ship John J. Meany. In addition to new paint and red cross insignia the conversion added multiple decks and structural enhancements to support the new loads. The photo above, courtesy of the National Archives, shows the Meany in its hospital wardrobe. The Meany made six transatlantic voyages. At the conclusion of the last voyage to New York on January 1, 1946 the Meany was removed from hospital service and given a one month retrofit at the Bethlehem Steel 56th Street Yard in Brooklyn; to serve as a personnel carrier for the multitude of war brides and refugees traveling from England and Europe to the U.S. The Zebulon B. Vance name was restored. By this point the Vance was pretty tired and the quick changeover, illustrated in the photo below courtesy of the National Archives, did nothing to enhance its appearance. Pretty or not I’m guessing the Vance’s initial docking at Southampton, England was a welcome sight to over 500 war brides looking to escape the horrors and devastation visited upon their homeland. My mother was one of those brides who packed into the ship, three bunks high with no bathroom privacy, for the 16 day voyage. In later years she referred to the Vance as a “tramp steamer” and said she was sick the entire trip. When she arrived in New York in late February my dad met her at the dock. As they walked to the car he said, “You’re in the United States now, you have to know how to drive.” So he taught her, on the 150 mile trip north to Troy. She was a good driver after that, although I’m not quite sure how she did it after being sick for almost three weeks. I suppose it was child’s play after enduring the Blitz, V-2 rocket explosions while sitting in the park and other war traumas. So here we are. Having only one build under my belt I did not feel qualified to scratch build the Vance, nor did I feel I had the skill to kit bash a Liberty Ship model since the superstructure is so different in the Vance’s post-war configuration. I chose the Dean’s Marine kit because the St. Olaf was one of the six Liberty ships to follow the Vance’s reconfiguration to hospital ship, and because the post war Vance looks essentially identical to the St. Olaf except for paint. The downsides are the kit is large (54 inches) and the construction is fiberglass and laser cut styrene. Many of the new skills I learned with the wooden Bowdoin must be put on the shelf in favor of wet sanding, fiberglass resin and Bondo. The upside is that I have purchased the RC bits and pieces and I hope to recreate my mother’s voyage across the pond, with the pond near our house sitting in for the North Atlantic. Let’s get to it. The kit arrived well packaged, in a shipping box nearly as tall as the Admiral, and in a remarkable 4 days from England. In addition to what is shown the kit includes many sheets of laser cut styrene and a CD with a full range of photos. There are two instruction books, one more of a reference and the other more step-by-step. And about 1000 pieces of PE brass, 600 of which are railing stanchions. The Vance’s hull was placed on top of the Bowdoin case for scale reference. The Vance is 1:96 and the Bowdoin is 1:48.
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