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USS Flying Fish SSN 673 by Chief Don - FINISHED - Yankee Model Works - 1/350 Scale

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A client hired mw to build this for him.  It was like a walk down Memory Lane.  Originally this kit was the child of BLUE WATER NAVY. In the early 1990s this was one of the only resin submarine kits to be had. In addition it was only one of two or three modern submarine models to be had anywhere.


If you can fins one of these kits be sure you take a look at the detail. It is not that great, however that is what to me is wonderful about this model. This was made before lasers and CNC, and 3d printing.  This bad boy was turned and scribed!! I have included some shots of the scribing prior to me working on this little jewel.



I decided to limit the modification to that which would replicate the clients memories of the ship he served on.


As you can see in the first picture, the builder is left with some mathematics to contend with and a bit of brain usage. No witness marks, no alignment guides, lots of sanding filling and love need to be lavished on this Cadillac of the US Submarine Force. I decided to add the WLR-9 Early Warning Acoustic Intercept and other transducers. I would replicate the mast and antenna array as was carried on FLYING FISH in the last years of her service  


The FLYING FISH was a member of  the 637 or STURGON Class of nuclear attack submarines.  This class is the follow on from the ill fated 594 class. Remember it was supposed to be 593 Class, however SSN 593 was the THRESHER.


637 Class Attack Submarines were designed to perform multiple roles.  Spying was the role in which the class excelled.  Of this you can trust me.  I served on USS RAY SSN 653; the things I could tell you would keep you up at night.


Sitting under an anchored Soviet KIROV class Battle Cruiser in a Libyan harbor waiting for a VICTOR III to leave port, all the while the Russian sonar code named HORSE JAW is pounding the water with such energy it boils sea water for 30 yards.  Yeah I got stories.


In addition to being top notch spies, this class could deliver the nuclear tipped anti-submarine missile SUBROC, the deadly MK-48 Mods1-4 and ADCAP torpedoes. MK-67 and later CAPTOR Mines. We could employ UGM-84 A  HARPOON Cruise Missiles as well.  My claim to fame is my ship USS RAY SSN 653 was the first submarine to carry UGM 109 Encapsulated TOMAHAWK Cruise Missile. We could carry A-2 (Nuclear Land Attack)  C-2 (Conventional Land Attack) B-2 (Ship Attack) and D-2 (Cluster Munitions.)


If a 637 class could not kill you with her weapons, the Special Forces capabilities of the class could.  With all the advantages and abilities the class was also top notch in crew comfort. They could dive deeper than the 688 class as well as out maneuver them.


Only in sound silencing and speed did the 637s lag behind the 688 Class.


Okay, now to the build.  First thing is to remove the over pour  "keel."   You are going to need a belt sander or moto-tool for this.  Hand sanding will take you longer than if you were building the real sub!  Also the dust from the resin is a major irritant so wear a mask!


When you are close to finishing switch to finer grades of paper and end with 0000 steel wool.


Next task is marking the location for your control surfaces.  The instructions offer little help in location. I have added a plan set here for you should you find one of these kits.


Since I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer I find it easier if I mark two sets of lines along the hull. The double line method lets me better center the control surface and it gives me a rough idea of any dips or bulges in the old resin.


Before I forget. 637 Class boats were not originally fitted with passive towed sonar arrays. This was a modification done during major shipyard refits. If you choose an early boat, you will need to sand off the towed array faring on the port side.


Prior to having a retracting towed array we used what was called a STASS. STASS was basically a "clip on" towed array. You have never known misery like surfacing in the North Atlantic in Winter, state 4 seas to drag the dam thing on deck by hand. 


The control surfaces in the kit are white metal. You want to file and sand these very carefully.  To give the CA glue greater surface area I scribe the glue contact edge in a cross hatch fashion. Prior to gluing I also give the white metal parts a vinegar bath for 20 minutes.  This micro etches the surface giving the paint prier some tooth to hold onto.  After the vinegar bath the parts are scrubbed with soap and water , rinsed and let dry.


The surfaces are then glued to the hull. Rudders on this class are not fixed to the hull. These are set into holes drilled into the resin.


More Later!!  











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Hey Again Shipmates!



Okay we have our control surfaces on.  Just a note about the Fairwater planes.  These are the ones sticking out of the sail.  In this class of submarine these rotate 90 degrees.  This is so we could punch through the ice.  I added a picture of my boat USS RAY SSN 653 when we surfaced at the pole.   I made a good Santa!!


To fabricate the external portion of the towed array. Brass tubing was bent to shape and attached to a indentation in the casting The other end is attached to the stabilizer and a filet made in CA. Once cured this is sanded smooth.


The screw as supplied was not correct. Now unclassified, I can model the correct blade geometry.  This was first drawn into my computer. Once I was happy, the image was mirrored and then printed on clear plastic. The image was then cut and the mirrored image aligned one atop the other, in a process known as registering.


Once this was done I  cut to size, and cleaned with 3200 grit sandpaper .005 brass sheet.  This was then laminated with photoresist.  The clear plastic was placed so as to sandwich the brass.  This was then clamped between plexi and exposed to 100 watt light for 20 minutes per side.


After exposure the protective plastic was removed and the imaged developed.  Following development, The new screw was etched in ferric chloride.  It took about 40 minutes to etch the screw. After etching the remaining resist was removed and the screw gently filed and sanded to final shape.  I like etching just a bit larger than the size needed so I can get a smooth edge filed and sanded.


With the  screw made and the towed array installed. I shot the hull with the first coat of primer.  These old castings will have holes you cannot see until you prime.  Go light on the first coat.  I indeed found some errors and used putty to fill the bad areas then another coat of light primer.











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Hello again all you Steely Eyed Killers of the Deep!


Now FLYING FISH has be bit of a history. I hate to leave your hanging but you an find some of it on the net if you look hard enough. Unfortunately if you find anything I cannot confirm or deny what you find actually happened, but if it is on the internet it has to be true....right?


With the hull primed it was time to build the mast and antennas.  The masts included with the kit were not very good or accurate so I made some.This was done using everything from solder to sheet plastic.  Like I stated in the beginning, this class of boat was a great spy platform.  To that end the sensors other than sonar were are some still are state of the art..  The ESM (Electronic Surveillance and Counter Measure) Mast sits in front of the cockpit.  In a nutshell this mast is used to collect and analyze radar information, as well as receive other forms of communication.


Want a creepy fact?  Where ever you are right now chances are your cell phone conversation has been listened to and recorded by a Russian Submarine.  Welcome to the real world!!!!  Oh if you doubt that it happens....well.


The periscope designated #2 is a marvel of engineering. It can follow a target, video, still pictures. ( If you are on a cruise and decide to go about in your birthday suit in your cabin, I suggest you shut the drapes.)      Like the ESM mast the #2 periscope has an electronic early warning receiver.   Some modern radars are able to pick up even the tiny bit of a periscope sticking out of the water.  Damn helicopters are good at that.  We want to know as soon as we can that someone is out there looking so we can get back in the basement.


Next are the multipurpose BRA-34 communications antennas. These are light green in color except for the fairings.


Nuclear submarines have back up diesel generators in case the reactor stops reacting. To get air to the engine a snorkel mast is used. This features a head valve that shuts should water wash over the snorkel mast.  Oh and when that happens the diesel sucks all the air from the inside the boat. That is really fun.


The submarine ID mast mast is a simple pole with an amber light on top.  This light is unique in the nautical world as it flashes 3 seconds on and 3 seconds off.


The BPS -15 radar is standard issue among most US submarines. Used mostly for Navigation.. The class also carried a VLF direction finder.


Once the masts were made I used RTV rubber to make a mold.  When cure the masts were cast in resin. 


Oh and a picture of me in crew"s mess of USS RAY SSN 653 on HALF WAY NIGHT under the ice. May 1986. 


Until next time!!!    All Clear on the Broadcast!!  All Stations Conn, going Deep      




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Masts, screw hull ready to go.  Base made and all the dandy funk added.


We need decals!!!!   I use a system to make my own dry transfers decals.


With this system the decal design is drawn into the computer. You can use any of a million programs to accomplish this.


Once the design is complete it is printed onto a special paper using a laser printer.  With the image is on the special paper, I need to change the black numbers into white numbers.  This is done by laminating white mylar foil into the black toner.


A special laminator is used which is the only really thing expensive in this system.  Once the white is added the decals is then again laminated with a clear carrier film. This process causes static to adhere to the foil and toner.


Then the decal is dipped into water which releases the image from the paper.  the decal is dried trimmed and then sprayed with an alcohol based adhesive.


The decal is positioned and burnished. The carrier is then removed leaving the decal in place.


If you are interested in the system let me know and I will get you the particulars.


The model was then mounted using brass tubing.


That was it guys hope you enjoyed!!! 











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