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Flower Class Corvette by Yves Vidal - 1/48 - Bensworx Virtual Kit

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Posted (edited)

Well, after the long and very involved U-552 Trumpeter Submarine kit in 1/48th scale, it was time to think about another crazy project. The Flower Class Corvette seems to be the perfect candidate for this new insanity, as it represents the nemesis of the U-boots.




This model is dear to my heart for reasons which will be explained later, but is not available as a kit in the scale of 1/48th. A couple of GRP hulls exist (mostly on the British market) but nothing else readily available. Until recently....


Fortunately, in the Spring of 2019, Bensworx came up with a "Virtual Kit" of the Flower Class Corvette. I debated for a long time, whether this Build Log should be posted under the Kits section or under the Scratch Build section. I finally decided to present it here in the Kits section as it is truly a kit, although "virtual". By virtual, I simply mean that you purchase a large bunch of files, a 70 pages PDF documentation and you are on your own !!! The set is sold for $50 under the CGTrader web site. Most parts are available but the Virtual Kit leaves plenty of room for details and modifications.




As you may have easily guessed, the large number of files are the description (.stl) model file of all the parts needed to assemble a generic Flower Class Corvette in the scale of 1/48th. This crazy project was also for me an "excuse" to start exploring 3D printing as it is now becoming very widespread and very affordable. 


Disclaimer: I do not intend to finish this project or more precisely, it may take a long time. At the very least, I want to complete the hull and decks and test the feasibility of such kits and models. Who knows, maybe the energy and time to complete the model will come to me....


In the Spring of 1980, while being a student in the city of Toulouse (South of France), I was visiting my favorite Hobby Shop and was struck by a new kit from Matchbox: 




The Artwork, the massive size of the model and the fame of the Flower Class Corvette were all contributing to make this kit a "must-have". I gathered all my savings (the kit was 650 Francs in 1980, about $115) and travelled back home the following weekend, riding a train with that enormous box under my arm and two quarters left in my pocket. I still remember the incredible excitement and pleasure to put together such a kit, a passion that was soothing and healing a recent heartbreak. Nothing better than assembling a kit when you are depressed or heart broken. Of course, the Matchbox kit was far from being perfect, no PEs were available, no wooden decks, no metal guns and my ability to build a model was not what it is now. Therefore, I promised myself that I would build another kit of that legendary vessel in 1/72th scale (Revell) or bigger... or maybe both.


Some of you may be well versed in 3D printing but I am a complete newbie. When it was time to choose a printer, I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of choices, types, jargons and technologies. The only thing I knew was that I needed a printing bed of at least 210 mm x 180 X  160 mm to print the nine segments of the hull. I first looked into the Bibo 2 printer, used by the designer of the kit but its price and availability were more than what I wanted to invest. I then ordered a QIDI ImateS capable of printing PLA and ABS but that model worked for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stopped spooling the filament and never allowed me to print anything else. It was quickly returned and I am awaiting for my refund. I finally decided to go with what is now a legendary machine, embraced by thousands of people around the world: the CREALITY Ender-3 Version2.




This machine is amazing, comes as a kit (which is a good thing to learn about 3D printer) and can be purchased for $270. It is no wonder it has become today the absolute reference for amateurs printing. In addition, numerous add-ons kits and upgrades can be easily found on the Internet. I assembled that printer in one evening and the following night was spent printing (with success) hull sections of the Flower Class Corvette. And no, I did not print a Benchy (even though it is a boat) or the "X-Y-Z" cube and jumped directly into the parts of my virtual kit.







Edited by yvesvidal
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Posted (edited)

Folks, thank you so much for this warm welcome and stimulating support and interest.


We are all going to learn new things as this virtual kit is most definitely something that is sitting between Plastic models and wooden models building, as we will see. I will describe the printing of one major part of the hull, to illustrate the process. This process will be identical for all parts.


First, this is the cover of the 76 pages documentation which is coming with the kit. The documentation is very well written and illustrated of many pictures and sketches. Overall, I am very pleased with it.




As we mentioned before, the hull is made of 10 parts, which are printed independently and later on glued together using plastic glue. The parts are "sized" to fit certain printers (large ones) and as the technology progresses, it may be possible to fuse multiple parts and print them in one swoop. However, as you will see, it takes time and late errors can cost a lot in money but mostly time. By the way, that hull is 1.24 meter long....




The next pictures will show you the implementation of  the section Hull_8, located towards the stern. It is the most interesting and challenging section as it holds the propeller shaft and the rudder axle. This model was created for Radio Control and Bensworx is providing a motor stand and servo stand for the rudder. My model will be static, only. The 9 sections of hull, are linked with Coam parts, that are printed separately. Note that the Ports are not drilled in the original virtual kit (same was true with the Matchbox kit, if my memory is right).


The .STL files are provided in the kit and are fed to the CURA program, used to "slice" the model.




Here, you can see (above) the HULL_8.stl file, imported in CURA. It gives you (at the bottom of the picture) a very precise indication of the size of the part.




We just finished slicing the model (which took a minute or less) and can see how this part is going to be printed. It also gives you (bottom of the picture) an estimate of the print duration 27 hours and 54 minutes and the material which is going to be used during the printing: 123g out of a spool of 1Kgr. We have to make sure we do not run out of PLA filament, while printing.


The slide below, shows a summary of some of the travels, the extruder is going to do during 27 hours.... That little Ender-3 is working hard on these part.




In the next segment, I will show you pictures of the finished part, that took only 17 hours to print.




Edited by yvesvidal
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I am very interested in your Corvette build.


May I ask....

Are you using PLA material in this printer.

What size nozzle will you be using?

How thick is the hull?


I am a novice 3D printer.  Using an JG Aurora A5 3D printer with a full set of nozzles.

I tried printing 1:64 scale 18th century gun barrels with black PLA filament, and gun carriages with PLA/Wood filament.  The barrels were impossible but the carriages were a success.  I had a friend from our local club print my barrels in his liquid resin printer.

I had success with a 1:12 scale gun barrel.



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A few pictures of the printed parts, so far.


I am using light gray Polylactic Acid (PLA) from Overture to print all these parts. The diameter is the standard 1.75mm which is extruded to 0.4 mm, at 200 Degrees Celsius. The bed (glass plate) is warmed up at 60 Degrees Celsius for adhesion and nice bonding of the filaments. The PLA is sold in spools of 2.2 pounds (1 Kgrs) and my understanding is that it will take about two spools to complete the hull.




First part printed: Took about 2:00 hours. All the parts displayed are direct from printing and I have not sanded or refined anything, yet. The Fused PLA is very hard, much harder than the polystyrene used in plastic model kits.




This one took 3:28 hours. The rear of the stern has some waves which are actually very superficial and will be easy to remove with light sanding and priming.




Hull_8 part took 17 hours. I prayed that the printer would not stop .... and it did not. Very nice and crisp details. The welding traces are actually very nice and will be perfect after some light sanding. Ports have to be drilled.




The entire stern put together. Very precise assembly and probably little use of putty.


For those interested in the printing process, here are a few pictures of the birth of the Corvette: 








8 hours done....7 more hours to go!!!




Done !!!! 







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37 minutes ago, yvesvidal said:



Thank you for your support. I am actually following your Build Log with a lot of attention as you will be my REFERENCE. I am planning to model the Snowberry, too.



Thank you Yves.

I am actually waiting for same reference material. It’s a slow process. Lol

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Very nice prints!  BZ

I see the section is a good thickness, I imagined thinner and thought you might have a problem.


Should be easy to glue the pieces but I would test your plastic glue on some scrap if you've not used it on PLA before as it might melt the part.  That was my experience.  I ended up using a 2 part epoxy.


I found the PLA a pain to finish (sand smooth).  They say a wet sand paper should be used.  Have you done this before?

Can't wait to see this come together.

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9 minutes ago, AON said:

I am a novice 3D printer.  Using an JG Aurora A5 3D printer with a full set of nozzles.

I tried printing 1:64 scale 18th century gun barrels with black PLA filament, and gun carriages with PLA/Wood filament.  The barrels were impossible but the carriages were a success.  I had a friend from our local club print my barrels in his liquid resin printer.

I had success with a 1:12 scale gun barrel.





I am myself a complete newbie as I started printing two days ago. The hull is very thick (4 mm) and incredibly hard and stiff. Sanding parts will not be as easy as regular plastic models, for sure.


Hull is printed with a nozzle of 0.4 mm with a layer height of 0.2 mm (usually half of the nozzle size), for nice overlapping of the layers. This is standard procedure to optimize speed, details and surface aspect.


To print smaller parts, my understanding is that you need to use a smaller nozzle (0.2 mm), reduce the speed and use a layer height of less than 0.1 mm. Resin is of course the way to go for ultimate details, than the PLA will never provide. 



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Dinner is Ready !! You have been served a new part.... Duration 20 hours and 21 minutes of non-stop (thanks God) printing.






Details of the anchor chain wells.


Hull_2 section is just starting..... expected duration 56 hours... It will be less once it gets going.





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3D printing one of my favorite military ships, and all done in an impressive scale by a very talented builder. Why would I be any where else? Looking forward to seeing what you are able to do with this Yves.


I was also able to acquire my first 3D printed model and besides trying to figure out where to put it as it is in 1/72nd scale I will be looking forward to seeing how you deal with the medium.


Here is mine:


USS Olympia 1892 Designed and printed by Haze Gray. Even though it is only 1/72nd scale it is still a little longer than yours at about 1.5M. In this picture it is just placed together, nothing is glued including the hull. The deck is held down by screws. Haze Gray did a fantastic job! The only thing of any importance missing in the parts is the launches, of which there are a ton of them on the real vessel. I have no idea if I will RC it or not, but my wife and I are in negotiations on where I might be able to display it! I have convinced her that it matches the house we live in. Our house was built in 1898 and the Olympia was Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898. 

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