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HMCS Bonaventure by NavyShooter - 1/96 scale - an RCN fitting out

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Ok, so this one is going to be a long one - and note that I am calling this a 'fitting out' rather than a 'build'.


Long story short, I got the hull, flight deck and superstructure late last year from another local modeler in the condition that you see here. 




He got it from an elderly modeler who was not going to ever be able to complete it, and after some discussions, I bought it from him.


The biggest problem with a 1/96 scale Canadian Aircraft Carrier is not the RC gear, the deck fittings, or any of that....it's the air group.  (Or Air Det in RCN parlance.)


There is no source for any of these aircraft in 1/96 scale:

  • HSO-4 helicopter
  • S2F Tracker
  • F2 Banshee
  • SH3 Seaking


But.  I had a 3D printer....and a concept....so I took up the challenge and decided to run with it.


As it arrived in my garage, the ship came with a single Tracker - the modeler I got it from had purchased that through a company called Shapeways at a cost of about $90.  This was part of why he sold it - he recognized that to build up a complete Air Det, he'd need to spend probably almost $1500 to buy aircraft...and that's a buttload of money for some tiny airplanes. 


So, the ship arrived as you see above, and it became my project to fit her out.


More to follow. 




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Since I had a 3D printer, I set about finding suitable models to print, and found an F2F Banshee.  It's not 100% the right version for the RCN, but, a good starting point.  I printed off a sample aircraft with some modifications (straight tail and landing gear) to see how it would look.



Then I printed another at higher resolution to get rid of some of the obvious lines and smooth things out:




This starting point gave me the confidence that I'd be able to make this work...so...off we go.  I'm going to finish this ship!


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I started looking for a suitable 3D model of the S2F tracker, and could only find ones suitable for 3D computer games - so I reached out to one of the 3D designers who had a model on CGTrader, and asked him if he'd be willing to work with me to generate a 3D printable version - that has worked reasonably well.  I recognized that I do not have the personal skill to make a 3D printable airplane - not yet...certainly not last fall when I started down this path.  


So, after considerable back and forth, I got a design from him that was 'mostly' workable.  I ran with it, and printed a bunch of Trackers.







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In the background, I knew there were some problems with his design - You can see in this sliced view of the model, there are some horizontal lines, that when you zoom in show as blank layers:



I tried rotating the model to see if I could fix that, and it actually got worse:



You can see the clear gaps in the model here.  


He made changes, tried to fix it, but he's not an expert at generating 3D models for printing...he does computer games.


So...I set off on a path that someone pointed me to, and found a guy on Cults3D (which is another 3D model source site) that had this model available:




And after paying the first guy $50 GBP (he's in the UK) I then downloaded this model for another $8.22 Canadian, and printed a test version.  No odd gaps, no slicing problems...and a very detailed model to boot.  It's been 'cut up' in a way that it's actually designed to be 3D printed, and when printing at 0.5mm steps, it takes about 31 hours to print.  I settled on this solution about a week ago...and now have 3 complete trackers ready to be glued together.  My goal is to have about 8 Trackers, since there are numerous photos of Bonnie with that many on deck.  





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So...I just lost what I'd started working on in this post...but it was basically a start of an explanation of 3D design.


This is a design for a radar dish that I found....I decided to modify it a bit to make it more like what I thought it should look like.



This is what I came up with - still not right, but it was an exercise in learning how to use some 3D design software.




The program I used for this is called "Tinkercad" which is a free online CAD program that runs on a website that you log in to.  It's basic, but it's almost intuitive - and it let me figure out some basic design aspects and let me learn how to do some basic 3D CAD work.


My RADAR dish project was set aside...and I started on a ship's crane.  This is version 1 of the crane:




Pretty basic still - not quite correct, when you compare it to the image below, but not a bad starting point:



Here you see my 'Version 4' of the Deck Crane.  You can see that based on previous versions, I've added more detail, adjusted, tuned, and so on.



And here is a comparison between Version 1 and Version 3. 



Here is the 'mostly' final product - you can see that I plan to have the crane functional as an RC crane - with a servo below deck to enable rotation, and a servo embedded in the crane body (5g micro servo) set for continuous rotation that will enable me to hoist and lower objects:


The 1.9 Gram servo that you see here has been switched for a 5 gram servo in the current iteration which you can see here:




This was a steep learning curve for me.  The nice thing is, I was able to go from design to printed object in my hands within a few hours.  


That let me figure out a lot of things...and get much better at my 3D designing.  I'm not good in any way, but I'm getting better.  So that inspired me to work on other bits and details. 


Edited by NavyShooter
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One of those 'additional details' is the ship's crane truck (see the crane theme going on here?) as seen in this picture from 1960, the RCN's 50th anniversary:




Apparently, Bonnie had a couple of different crane trucks over the years, and apparently according to tales from the crew, one of them had to be replaced because the crane operator forgot to set his brakes and no-one chocked it...and the crane truck rolled off the deck into the ocean in high seas at one point.  OOPS!!!  


So....I also referenced Don Linton's build in 1/144 scale that has ended up in the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa...he built the above crane truck as well in his version of the Bonnie:



So.  Off I went to make my version of this...and here's my result, version 2:



You can see that I didn't get the rounded edges figured out....so....I went back to the drawing board, and we now have Version 3:





Version 3 actually has adjustable support legs that swing out, the crane boom can be elevated and lowered, and the rollers actually roll.


In the background, you can also see the deck tractors that I designed - again - a multiple version process that has seen improvements.  Here's the 'final' version:





And these are the images I based them on:








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So...I'll ask that you please forgive me if the telling of this tale jumps around a bit...I got the ship last fall, and have been plugging away at it for over 6  months now...there's a lot to do, and the bare bones have slowly been filling out as I move along.  I don't have an 'integrated' plan for how she'll look in the end, and in reality, I suspect that this ship will always be a work in progress.


In the background, you've seen pictures of other detail bits that I've worked on, so here's some shots of those...fire lockers, hose reels, air stations, etc:




Here's a view of the hose stations from Don Linton's model in /144:



You can also see the landing light system I made.


Here's how that started....with a tape measure.




Then I went into Tinkercad and did some basic work...then I cut the item up into 3 parts to print it.  The reflector lens, the light bar, and the base:



And here they are assembled:





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One point I'm going to make here is about artistic license, historic accuracy, and my thoughts on this for this ship. 


At no point did the HMCS Bonaventure ever have S2F Trackers, and F2 Banshees and S3 Sea King helicopters operating from her deck at the same time.  Ever.  Historically speaking, I'm wrong to put them together. 


That said, I plan to have these 3 aircraft mixed together in my Air Det.  


There will be historic perfectionist purists that will criticize me for doing this...to which my response is simple:


"Show my on your HMCS Bonaventure model how you made it right."


I am not building a museum perfect builder's reference model - that's not what I received when I purchased the hull/deck...I got what I got...and my plan is to make a ship that is representative of Bonnie's service in Canada in my own way. 


I'm using a lot of reference photos (the Snowie Book, the Shearwater Aviation Museum, and so on) and I am doing my best within my skillset to represent the ship as she sailed in Canadian service...but...I'm going it in my way, to my standards and will judge myself. 


I'm going to have Banshees on the model.  I think it's really cool that the RCN had fighter jets flying from an Aircraft carrier.

I'm going to have Sea Kings on the model as well - because every single ship I sailed on in my 26.5 year career in the RCN had a Sea King operate from it, and I want to recognize that aircraft as well.  


There are going to be inaccuracies...if you have built a model of the Bonnie and can show me how you got it right, and I've got it wrong, feel free to point it out to me.  I'll take that. 


Otherwise....I'll respectfully ask for constructive input rather than criticism.



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Note that I have not spoken much about the running gear - I got the ship with shafts fitted and props on her, but no motor mounts, no engines, no rudder.  


I started with the rudder...here's the build process for that.  I started with a big chunk of brass and a band-saw:



Then a brass rod for the rudder post:



Took it to the drill press and smashed a hole into it:



And then soldered the shaft into place on the rudder:





A bit of time on the bench sander later, I have a nicely formed brass rudder that's a nice fit!



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Here's the rudder post from inside:




You can see also some of the lead shot that I fiberglassed into place as weight - this also provided sealing to a number of the compartments.  The gentleman who built the hull did an...OK job in his construction.  it's rough in places, but functional...except where it leaked.  


So, I ended up having to put a layer of gelcoat all along the inside of the hull.  That may not be a perfect solution, and I may end up having to sand the hull and re-seal it on the outside as well, but it's better than it was when I started.



You can see also the small bag of lead shot that I've got as adjustable ballast.  


When I put the additional layer of gelcoat inside the hull, I decided to add a layer of fiberglass cloth on as much of the inside of the hull as I could access, so I ended up cutting open some bulkheads that the original builder put in like this to gain access and seal things up.


I did a float test to confirm that the ballasting was right, and found additional leaking under the keel in this area, which I sealed, and the hole is plugged now.



From this view, you can also see how the prop shafts do not have a-frames to support them.  I've pondered this a lot, and my solution is going to be a complete replacement of the shafts at some point in the future.  They are somewhat functional now, but there's vibration at speed - so keeping the speed down will result in less vibration...


I've also ordered new props for her from the Prop Shop in the UK.  I'll note that the original Bonnie was found to have some shaft vibration issues with her port shaft, so they ended up putting a 3 bladed prop on her port shaft to resolve that.  So, the ship had a mix of a 3 Blade on the port, and a 4 blade on the Stbd shaft.



Engineering trivia:  Due to size, HMCS Bonaventure's propulsion  
machinery was divided into two major compartments located fore and aft,  
each having two boilers and one steam turbine engine. Each was  
configured with two boilers facing one another on one side of the ship  
and their associated main engine located on the other. Apparently,  
during builder's trials, excessive vibration was noted in the starboard  
shaft even though it was adequately supported with bearings (plummer  
blocks) throughout its length. The solution was to fit a four-bladed  
propeller on the shaft to dampen out over-all shaft harmonics. It worked!



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I installed some basic running gear (pretty rough) to test her out.  She has sailed...in a friend's 22 foot swimming pool.  That was interesting!  a 7 foot ship in a 22 foot pool....




This made use of some very old electronics (ESC and battery) that I had lying around.  I'll discuss radio solutions elsewhere...but for the swimming pool sea trial, she had an old 27 mHz radio system installed, and a ni-cad battery pack of questionable provenance.


Before that, I did a garage check - now...I do live on a lake, so getting the ship to sea is not so much of a problem...except in the winter...when the lake is frozen.


So, I took a page from a friend's testing/trials book and built a wooden box in my garage, lined it with plastic, and filled it with water to do float trials:






She ballasted down well, and looks OK with a full flight deck!



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My next 3D printed parts were the Crash Barrier....and for this, I switched away from TinkerCad to a program called "Designspark Mechanical".  It is less intuitive, but much more powerful.  It's a free download program that you can install on your computer, and it's a pretty good tool...and I am still learning how to use it.  


I started with reference information - from the plans, drawings, photos, and screenshots from videos:






From those drawings and pictures, this is what I produced in 3D:




And here you can see them in place on the flight deck:



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It was while watching some flight deck operation videos that I realized that I'd screwed up with my Banshees - I had printed them, I had painted them, I had gloss-coat sealed them...but...there was a problem.


Watching the videos...the only time a Banshee has its wings unfolded is when it's at the catapult to launch...in the air...or on the angled deck having just landed....


The minute the arresting wire is released after landing, they bring up the hook, and engage the wing folding mechanism so that they can move to the forward end of the flight deck into the parking area and shut down.


So....that means that I need all but maybe one of my Banshees to have folded wings.


That's not hard...right?


Here's some pics of the Banshees:











And here's a picture of the one that I clipped the wings on...I wasn't terribly happy with the look/feel of this...




Something I had not planned for was the very visible roughness of the lower surface of the wings.  You can see the steps quite clearly from the 3D printing process, and while I'd spent a bunch of time sanding the upper surfaces...I did not have the forethought to sand the lower wing surfaces as much...I figured it'd be mostly invisible...and so....back to the drawing board.


If I'm going to have 8 Banshees...I need to have 6-7 of them with folded wings.  Back to the 3D software, and back to the printer...this time with 0.05mm steps to improve resolution....and 2 weeks of printing later, I have 7 folded wing Banshees, and a total of 15 Banshees now...so back to painting, and so forth.





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It was about this time that I switched over to building the Liberty Ship in my other build thread...and you can have a look at that if you'd like.


There are a few other minor updates that I'll add, but this brings us mostly up to date on the Bonnie.


I have a complete set of decals for 8 Trackers, 8 Banshees and 4 Sea Kings from a company in Canada called Above and Below graphics.  They scaled up to 1/96 and printed them for me.  I have, just yesterday, received the decal setting solutions that I need to install them in conjunction with the instructions.


Progress on this build thread will now be mostly in real time...there's another post I'll add soon about the Island...suffice to say, my forays mentioned above and in the Liberty Ship build thread in terms of 3D design have given me the confidence and inspiration to work on replacing the bass wood and balsa-wood island that came with the model with a new one...image.thumb.jpeg.905a49d739c51356ec96ca3eb927eb76.jpeg

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It looks to me like you are building 85-90% of the ship using your own research and design. I personally would call that a scratch build in the RC world where almost everyone uses fiberglass hulls at the very least for builds such as this. 


As for your choice in the mix of aircraft, consider it a museum ship. Almost all museum ships in existence have combinations of features or equipment that span considerable time periods. It looks like you are taking considerable effort to make the ship itself as accurate as information allows.  

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So, here's a little pictorial view of where I started, and where I'm at with the 3D printed Bridge.


I posted the picture above showing Version 2 coming off the printer....this is a significant improvement over where the first 'snapshot' was.


I'm now working on Version 5 - the level of detail has increased considerably, and so has the accuracy.  


I'm going to continue to plug away with the model and see what else needs to be added, but I'm pleased with the progress so far.




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I've been working on the Air Department for the ship in the background...basically since I started.  Last night I was able to find a 3D model of the HOS4 helicopter that was operated on the Bonnie early in her career...and after a couple of hours of work tidying up the model, I think I have something that I can actually try printing.


The thing is, there are a lot of 3D models out there that are available for sale for use in computer game design.  This one was for '3D printing' but...it needed a bunch of work to get it to this point.  Scaling it, and then adjusting elements in the tail, tail rotor, main rotor hub and landing gear so that they are thick enough to actually print is the key.  Sadly, that impacts the 'pure scale' factor of it, but in terms of the 'it looks like a HOS-4 - I think I've got that.





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OK, my 3D printer seems to have had a blowout in the hot end.  Parts have been ordered (with backups!) and will be here in about 3 days.

So in the meantime, I decided to get working on the Air Det that I've already got complete.  


Tonight...I applied decals for the first time in probably 30 years.  A bit of a learning curve, but I'm generally pleased with how Banshee #1 looks.  OK...it's Banshee # 434...but whatever...


There's still a few more decals to add, but this was a good start.


Banshee Decals 1.jpg

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Looks like I made an error with creating a print file a couple of days ago and accidentally set it to "PETG" instead of PLA.


The PETG prints at a much higher temp than the PLA, and so it appears that it let the PLA 'goop' and leak around the filament guide tube in the hot end, and leak up on top of the heating block, puddling, and creating drips that would then drop onto the work-piece at random times during printing. 


Less of a 'blow out' and more of a 'drip out' I guess.


I tried pulling the hot end apart last night to clean it...and the puddle of goop is preventing disassembly. 




New hot end ordered, with a spare...arrives on Tuesday.  So in the meantime, last night I took my Liberty Ship for a cruise on the lake, and spent a couple of hours working on decals.

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Another 'detail' is the ship's boats.  I have an idea about making them functional RC Boats...but my skills with tiny RC stuff is currently non-existant.


That said, this boat will be printed at about 95mm long...which is right on the cusp of being do-able.

This is not even version 1 - this is version 0 - I got the 3D model from another person on Thingiverse who had it for his USS Wasp model, and have scaled it, and started modifying to look a bit more like one of Bonnie's boats.


Lots of work left to do, and I'm working in Tinkercad on this one because it uploaded there better than it did in DSM.


I just paid the Fedex bill for my printer parts - the import fees weren't too bad.  They are due to arrive tuesday.  In the meantime...my printer is awful quiet.  


Bonnie Small Boat.JPG

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