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Russian AKULA II (Vepr K-157) by Cheif Don - FINISHED - Resin Kit

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Still hard at work on the LEE, however I wanted to share a build with you of a Russian 3rd Gen Nuclear Attack Submarine.


This is a High Quality resin Kit from Ships-n-Such from Russia.  For those who do not know most of my adult life was spent chasing or being chased by Russian subs. I love'em!!!


Before you close this topic as "Resin kit? Really? I've built the battle of Trafalgar out of one log," I might suggest you give a resin sub a whirl.  There is more detail on a submarine than you think.  Remember in a modern sub, anything on the hull could make noise, so we must come up with ways to make cleats rote into the hull, capstans lower to deck level, chocks are removable. Heck the who darn thing is coated in rubber!


So here you see the Ships-n-Such 1/350 scale Russian Project 971 (NATO Code Name AKULA.)  A little bit of confusion here. In the Russian Navy the Akula is called the PIKE Class.  In the Russian navy the huge SSBN TYPHOON as it is known to NATO is called the AKULA. Ok take some time with that.


First thing you notice on these late 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen Russian boast is the long stern. This is called the Hogner Stern.  So don't cut it off!.


Take some time and look over the hull a few times, note the many little boxes and lines that cover the hull. Unlike American submarines and their single hull design, Russian subs are double hulled. (Typhoon has 4 hulls.)  It is because of this double hull design that many access points must be built to allow repair and maintenance work between the hulls.


So you have looked at all the neat little do-dads, keep them in mind because you might have to remake them!  Resin kits are made with a pressure pot or the spin method. These methods remove air and allow resin to completely fill the rubber molds. Molds for the Akula are two piece units. The halves are fit together and resin poured in and pressurized or spun.  This can sometimes cause resin to run from one side of the mold to the next creating a lip of unwanted material. This is also caused when heat from the curing resin breaks down the mold.


No big deal, but be careful!!  The obvious way to remove this mold line is sanding...right?  Well yes, but you need to plan and use the ultimate in patience or you could really spoil the look of your hull.


Remember a modern sub hull is round. If you sand the side flat, you no longer have a round submarine with is what you wanted in the first place.


I take some model putty and place under or over the lip at the parting line. This is NOT to fill in the lip.  If you did that you would have a great parting line but an out of shape hull.  The putty is used to let me know when I have sanded the right amount as have still maintained my hull shape.  I tell myself,  "Green-Gone-Good."  It is a slow process, but the results will give you a mean looking underwater killer.


Next installment we will get some parts on and make a few extra details and make some decals.  Stay tuned!!        





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  • 3 months later...

Some more progress on the AKULA project.


Russian submarines trade drag for lack of noisy seawater pumps by using water scoops to feed in reactor coolant. These aft mounted scoops differ depending on boat and year built, so be careful.  I have included a chart to show which scoops go to witch boats.  To add to the detail I photo etched inlet screens for the scoops.  The scoops were then attacked and filets formed from putty.


    With all repairs and flaws filled, and sanded I gave the hull a primer coat to see it everything looked ok.  While this dried I began my research and design of the decals I would need to replicate VEPR K-157  (Wild Boar) It seems like a bit of overkill with the decals, however Russian Attack subs feature more than one type of detection system. These include Shark Gill bow mounted Active/Passive,  Hull mounted Flank HF/LF active/passive, MT-70 Under Ice Sonar.  AKULA also carries non acoustic detection systems.  These sensors like sonar are hull mounted above and below the water line.


Bumping an array or sensor with a tug boat is really not the best career moves, so AKULA hulls are heavily marked.  Some mistakes have been made and the results are costly and dangerous. Here is a shot of K-154 What you are looking at is the spherical array of the MK-503 (Shark Gill) transducers.  Not good....not good at all. 


The norm these days is for Russian submarines to display emblems and other art on the sides or front of the sail and even on the submarines nose.  Again research is needed to get the right emblem or markings.             


Once the decals were done. I then made the photo etched hatch covers for the sail.  The non acoustic sensor arrays (SOK) were made and installed.


A final coat of primer and we are ready to paint this bad boy! 











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Thank you for your kind words.  These AKULA class SSNs are a force to be reckoned with.  I have tangled with a couple in my day.  Last year the Russians deployed this very ship to the Gulf of Mexico. He went undetected for a month or so. That means a Russian submarine with nuclear tipped cruise missiles could have taken out any number of US cities within minutes.  It is also very humbling to model a ship that at one time may have been able to kill me in a flash. On the flip side I maybe could have done the same thing.     

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Getting close to getting this bad boy on the shelf.


Found some major problems with the sail. The supplied masts PERT SPRING, (Satellite Navigation) SNOOP SLAB/SNOOP Pair are for the wrong submarine.  The supplied mast is for OSCAR II class SSNGN (KURSK.) The rear most mounted mast is called PARK LAMP (Direction Finder) it is not  easy to build, and if it were or even included in the kit the sail opening is not larger enough.


Here is what happened.  The Russian Navy employees several modifications of the AKULA class. Where as the hull of my submarine is an AKULA II  (971M) it seems Boris got his molds mixed up and I have a sail from modification (971MT)  There is only 1 AKULA thus far with this modified sail the GEPARD.


Seeing as how I am in a rush to use this for my book signing I decided to make the best of what I have until I have a spare minute to make proper modifications.  Boris was very embarrassed but heck it happen and it gives me a challenge.


Following primer the upper hull was painted using Tamiya Paints.  Russian submarines are not painted all black like our boats,  They are a very dark blue.  To make this paint I mixed 6 parts blue to 4 black.  This I airbrushed and allowed to dry overnight. Once dry I applied three light coats of  acrylic gloss. (This prevents paint peel when masking.) 


The hull was then masked at the water line.  A little note here: Western submarines are for the most part single hull. This means that when you see the outside of an American submarine you are seeing the pressure hull.  Russian subs on the other hand are double hull.  What you see is an outer hull that provides hydrodynamic shape.  The Russians call this "The Easy Hull."  Double hull boats are slower to submerge however they can be controlled better at periscope depth. 


Double hulls can be a bit louder than single hulls due to mechanical linkage and other thru hull systems.  One advantage to double hull is reserve buoyancy.  With the vents grates and Kingston valves shut a Russian submarine is tight as a drum and can trim herself for a sea state.  The biggest advantage for the Russian subs is standoff distance.  Between the pressure hull and the "easy hull" Russian engineers have placed various materials in such a way as to mitigate the blast effect of an exploding torpedo. The theory is the overpressure wave of the explosion will be absorbed by the material and dissipate over the length of the hull rather than in one area.  While this might lesson the damage from an air dropped MK 46 or MK 50 torpedo, it is doubtful the system would lesson the shock and bending stresses imposed by a heavy weight MK 48 ADCAP or British SPEARFISH torpedo. Hopefully it will never be tested.


Ok once masked I painted the bottom half a mix of 7  to 3 red and black.  With this done I set it aside to dry while I worked on the masts.


Like I said I was having to make do.  The PERT SPRING was not to bad. I added the low horizon plates and painted it dull yellow and the plates black.  The SNOOP array was fixed up by adding the receiver elements at the top. I included a picture of how it should look. The incorrect RIM HAT(Over the Horizon Missile Targeting Receiver. was stepped where the PARK LAMP should be.  One of the hatches was open but no mast provided.  This hatch was for SHOTGUN HF Communications.  I made the mast by trimming the long leg from and LED, and painting the top gun metal. The hatch for the Submarine ID mast was also open. This was made by curing drops of CA on the top of a stick pin then turning it to shape using my moto tool.


Something interesting you might notice is the "Hogner Stern." See the long taper that sets the screw some distance from the control surfaces. This is Supposed to aid in maneuvering at high speed by offering less cross section.  One big draw back is that at slow speed and with the towed array deployed the screw seems to want to suck in the towed array. That can be very bad.    


Got some other stuff done but I will cover that later on.


Going Deep!!!           








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Lets get this guy on the shelf.  If you note the seven bladed screw, it might look like another propeller, but oh no.  Second and third generation Russian submarines benefitted from Toshiba selling Russia the machining equipment to produce such a fine balanced and precise screw.


Screws on submarines are so precise that in manufacturing each blade must be polished with the same number of strokes. Screw are x-rayed, balanced, and yes tuned. In dry dock they are covered, to prevent wind blown sand or debris from scouring the surface.  Even a scratch can cause a harmonic or what we call a "singing screw." Such a noise offender means death. The vortex dissipater is cast in resin and painted brass.


The ability of the Russia to use the technology from Toshiba closed the quality gap between the US and Russia.


Thinned black ink was used to fill the lines around the control surfaces.  Ink is great since it will fill the lines yet is easy to wipe off the surface if you get all butter fingers. Decals were made from photos.  I imported pictures into a program called GIMP 2.0 .  There I could manipulate the image to flatten or skew to the shape and size I needed. Since you cannot print white I used white decal paper. I scanned a swatch of the paint I made to the upper hull and used that to match the outline of the decal sheet. This would show up if at all as a small shadow.  Once satisfied the decals were printed and sealed with three coats of lacquer.  During application a decal setting solution was used.  In hindsight I should have applied coat of furniture polish to the areas to receive decals.  This would have made it easier to hide the edges.  Once in place selected decals around the water line were "distressed," to show wear.


Faint rust tracks from the limber holes were brushed on using dry pigment powder.  The silver gray of the acoustic window of the SHARK GILL Sonar was hand brushed to give it texture. what appear to be oppses around the window are in face correct.  The screw holes for the window mounting  are filled with putty and sometimes it is not the neatest stuff. 


The white line around the hull was also left kinda well... authentic.  Being at the water line and in the arctic makes getting the lines just so a little rough. 


One major system missing from the model is the anecroholic tiles. These square rubber tiles are vital in absorbing active sonar and holding in some of the passive noise offenders.  When my first submarine was fitted with them, we had a hoot bouncing coffee mugs off the hull. Then we got the bright idea to Armor All the boat  Big time booboo.  Once done the USS RAY SSN 653 was indeed a shining beauty. However there is a reason you do not armor all your brake pedal, seats or steps...you get the drift.  Adding these tiles would have been very difficult so I went with what I had.


The AKULA was given three coats of clear, and mounted on a stained poplar board.  I proto etched a name plate and secured the model and plate into the display case.


Kinda fun build and I hope it helps me draw attention to my books.









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