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Alex Parker

USS Gambier Bay by Alex Parker - Hasegawa - 1:350 - PLASTIC

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Hi all,

 

I'm new to this forum, and relatively (re)new to model building.  Like many of us, I built plastic kits as a pre-teen in the 70's, dropped it, then returned to the hobby in my 50's.  My motivation was mostly liking to do stuff with my hands (I also build furniture) and a growing interest in WWII history, particularly naval aviation and, for that reason logically, particularly the Pacific war.

 

Until now I've been doing only airplanes, moving up through 9 or 10 of them in increasing complexity to try and build some skills.  The most recent was also the most complex, an Airfix 1:48 Supermarine Walrus (which as a flying BOAT I guess is legit to at least mention here) with the full Eduard PE treatment inside and out.  Plus, this was my first foray into rigging a biplane.    

 

Wanting to keep ratcheting up the challenge level, I decided that now was the time for a ship.  The specific choice of escort carrier Gambier Bay (CVE-73) was a combination of seeing the Hasegawa kit on sale for a very good discount and having recently read the excellent Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer, which describes the heroic fight put up by Task Forces 1, 2, and 3 in helping to repel a much more powerful Japanese fleet from entering the Leyte Gulf and wreaking havoc on MacArthur's famous landing there.  Gambier Bay was lost in that engagement, as were several other USN ships.

 

I also purchased the "detail-up" PE kit that Hasegawa sells for Gambier Bay.  In addition to a bunch of little details for the deck ordnance and such, this kit completely replaces the kit plastic for the masts and radar hardware (really most of the superstructure), and will without a doubt be the most complex PE construction job I've yet tried.

 

So far I have made a basic assembly plan, and started building the hull.  The assembly plan is basically to ignore a lot of the Hasegawa sequence, which bounces around between hull, deck, and planes/ordnance before tackling the superstructure, and do this instead:

 

1. Build out the hull, deck, and lower superstructure (the plastic part) separately, adding none of the deck hardware and ordnance, and only as much PE hull detail as lies within a solid color area of the complex Measure 23 camo scheme.

2. Separately make any PE parts that will get the measure 23 camo colors but cross color boundaries and can't be masked over.

3. Paint everything above the lightest hull grey color (I will use Gunze Mr Color lacquers for all of it), then paint the Measure 23 camo (which requires mixing colors, so I want to do it all at once so I don't have to match) on everything, going lightest to darkest color.  I plan to grey out all the darker colors a bit to give the "scale attenuation" effect.

4. Paint all the PE bits that go on the camo areas separately, then glue them on.

5 Spray the main deck with deck blue, and probably brush paint all the other deck surfaces to work around the molded-in hardware that needs to be light grey.  Use the decal sheet to guide masking off and spraying the ship number and landing strip lines on the deck (no way are decals going to settle over that texture).

6. Build and paint all the deck hardware and ordnance, then install it.

7. Take a deep breath.

8. Build the PE superstructure, and paint it.

9. Take a second deep breath.

10. Try to do a decent job of rigging it with EZ-Line.

11. Build and paint the aircraft that are provided (9 total).

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Here are some early process photos.  Hasegawa provides these excellent bulkheads that socket into the hull sides and make a very strong, rigid structure.  Unfortunately, when test-fit, they left a ~0.5 mm gap between hull halves along the keel.  I solved that by lightly filing down the sockets on each hull side so they fit ever so slightly deeper onto the bulkheads.  This allowed the hull halves to join almost perfectly.  Required a tiny bit of putty at the bow and aft of the rudder.  I lightly clamped up the hull while the Tamiya extra-thin cement set.

Hull Bulkheads.JPG

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Looking good in for the build have thought of this one myself.I am building a Hase kit also and loved those supports for the hull watch out for the Hase PE while it tends to be good is very fragile and delicate.It must be a common trait in many men keep the hands busy some kind of creative process I myself like to make some furniture.My favorite wood ATTM is Sapele and I have some  Philippine Mahogany for a new computer station. ;) Kevin

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Beyond brave men.  I remember spending a week in college history on this battle.   Not sure why but the professor was "old" navy.  He never said other than discussing the history behind the battle and the battle itself but it wasn't, shall we say, from a personal point of view.  Some of us students did wonder if either he or his brother might have been in it.   We ran into a lot of that back in high school and college.

 

If you don't have the book, have a read for background:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_off_Samar

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On 9/18/2019 at 8:52 PM, RGL said:

I’m in, I recently read the history of this ship and have the Anatomy Of the Ship book for it. 

Hmmm.  Would be nice to have that book as a reference, but it appears to be long out of print and copies on the used market are EXPENSIVE.  I wonder if there's any chance I could find it on inter-library loan....

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I also began assembling the deck.  Hasegawa molds little depressions into the supporting bracing that goes under the deck at bow and stern to "hint at" the weight reduction holes that they actually had cut through them, but you have to drill them out yourself if you want that little bit of realism.

IMG_2049.JPG

IMG_7138.JPG

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Test fitting the partially-built deck on top of the hull.  Fits precisely - essentially no wiggle at all.  Love Hasegawa.  Next I need to assemble the side walls and various gun platforms that ring the deck holding the 20- and 40-mm antiaircraft guns.

IMG_5090.JPG

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Curiously, one thing that does NOT come included in the Hasegawa detail-up PE kit is railings for the deck areas that need them (save for e.g. the crows' nests on the superstructure).  based on photos I've been able to find online of various Casablanca-class carriers, those little "balcony decks" definitely had railings, as did some areas on the sides of the main decks where the splinter shields around the AA gun positions didn't serve to prevent you from going over the side.  So I ordered some generic 1:350 three-row PE railing and will put it in everywhere that I can find photos to show that it belongs.  Photos also show a slightly different setup, with stanchions and a single cable, running across the bow (and I think stern too) end of the flight deck.  I'll need to think on how to build this to scale.  Maybe try to modify some of the three-row railing?

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Finally, my paint order has arrived!  So I'm ready to paint once I get to that point in the build.  For a change I was able to get most of what I needed from a single vendor (Sprue Brothers) and only had to eBay one color.  Mr Color paints tend to be stocked pretty spottily in the US, and I'm usually too impatient to order from Japan or HK if I can avoid it, so I end up making 3 or more separate orders to run down all the colors I need for a project.  

 

For a while I was using a lot of Vallejo Model Air acrylics, but I just love the thin, strong paint film and ultra-rapid drying of the Gunze lacquers so much that I've pretty much resolved to only use them going forward (plus All-Clad of course for NMF).  Even if I have to mix some colors, it'll be worth it for the convenience of lacquer (I do of course have a little spray booth that I use them in).

IMG_2669.JPG

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Built the sides of the main deck - for some reason there was a small gap amidships only on one side - took a little bit of Evergreen to fill it.  First photo shows it test-fit onto the hull.  It is snug, but it goes on.  Gun tubs will be next.  Also got the sponsons (Thanks for that bit of terminology Bob) faired in smoothly today.

deckTestFit.jpg

Evergreen.jpg

Edited by Alex Parker

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Got the gun decks installed; there was the same small gap requiring a bit of Evergreen sheet to close it on the starboard side.  Also dealt with the extra deep seam between the deck halves.  All that remains here before it is ready to paint is to complete installing the little cantilever supports under the larger gun tubs that house the 40mm guns.  All of the guns, liferafts, and PE railings will be built and painted separately before installation.  I will need to work out how I'm going to hold especially those tiny 20mm guns to install the PE bits and paint them.

GunDecks.jpg

gunDeckPatch.jpg

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I also need to decide how I'm going to paint the landing strip stripes and hull number (big "73") on the deck.  Either I paint the whole deck blue first then make stencils that outline those areas, or else I paint the colors for them (Dark Gray for the number, very light grey for the stripes) in the appropriate areas and make masks that lay over them, then paint the deck blue.  I'm leaning towards the latter.  Anyone have experience that would speak to one approach or the other?

 

I'm not using the kit decals because I'm quite sure they won't lay down over the highly textured deck, no matter how much MicroSol I use.

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Also, I need to make some decisions about how much "weathering" I want to reflect on this ship.  Gambier Bay didn't live all that long, so not a huge amount, but am wondering how much at all one might expect to see the deck paint/stain worn from aircraft landing, exposing the wood below.  Any ideas, or good reference images?

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I'm not using the kit decals because I'm quite sure they won't lay down over the highly textured deck, no matter how much MicroSol I use.

 

Their is another product about 2x of microsol called Walthers I get it at HobbyTown in Mobile AL.Nice filling best method for wings of A/C. ;) Kevin

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For masking... either tape or if you have access to a stationary house, a product called "frisket".  I'm not sure that's the current term but it's a very thin, clear plastic used in publishing.  

 

Correction... it's still available:   https://www.google.com/search?q=frisket&rlz=1C1ZCEB_enUS832US832&oq=frisket&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.1511j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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6 hours ago, mtaylor said:

For masking... either tape or if you have access to a stationary house, a product called "frisket".  I'm not sure that's the current term but it's a very thin, clear plastic used in publishing.  

 

Correction... it's still available:   https://www.google.com/search?q=frisket&rlz=1C1ZCEB_enUS832US832&oq=frisket&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.1511j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Thanks for the idea, Mark.  I think I actually have some frisket laying around somewhere.  In the past I’ve struggled with it not being very adhesive, but for the flat deck surface that may be OK.  Certainly would help to have the clear material to trace the decal numbers through.

 

For the hull camo I an going to have to use Tamiya tape.  The kit instructions include full size templates for all the hull areas that need masking; we’ll see how well designed they are to fit the complex curve of the hull.

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That Walthers decal setting solution is Solvaset. It's pretty strong, since it was developed for laying down some older, thicker decals.

 

Check out GatorMask.com. Here's his aircraft carrier (CV) page: http://www.gatorsmask.com/cv.html

I think the Gambier Bay one is hull masks, but Bogue has deck number masks.

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I think I've decided to stencil (tape around the area to be painted, then paint) rather than mask (paint the color, then cover with tape before painting the background color).  I think it will be easier to get the landing strip striping truly straight if I can lay down two continuous pieces of tape for the sides, then tape across to define the dashes.  Putting a whole bunch of short mask segments down in a perfectly straight line would be hard, I think.

 

I made more progress today (assembled the plastic base of the superstructure, finished the gun decks including filling some tiny gaps), but did not take any pictures.  I have a business-travel-filled week coming up (i.e. the usual) so likely won't be able to do more until next weekend.  Next weekend I definitely WILL be spraying paint...

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After a week plus of crazy work travel and no time for models, this weekend I got a start on the splinter camoflage scheme.  I used the kit paper templates by cutting them out and using 2-sided tape to stick them to masking tape, then stick the masking tape to the model.  This worked kind of OK, but after the third color (so far I've done light gray, gray, and ocean gray in that order) the masks were starting to lift and not stick back down.  So I pulled them all.  Next weekend (the week will again be crazy with travel and a board of directors meeting) I will carefully mask just the areas that need to be black (I will use very dark gray) and paint them.  Then do a LOT of touching up.

Splinter1.JPG

Splinter2.JPG

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One of my failings as an airbrush painter is that I tend to be gun-shy.  I am nervous about putting paint down too fast and getting puddles or runs, and as a result I put it down too slow, from too far away, and get a kind of gritty surface from paint drying in the air before it hits the surface of the model.  I have some of that here.  In the past I've used the trick (with lacquers; if this happens with acrylics you are stuck) of re-spraying the painted surface with a LOT of Mr Hobby Leveling Thinner, which has the tendency to allow the paint to redissolve and smooth out.  I may try that here, but I have to be sure I don't lay on so much that I start to blur edges...

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