I decided to start on the Diana, which I bought while living in Ukraine in 2015. I have a number of models of the Pallada class In 1:200, the other ones are all of the Aurora depicted in different build years and by different companies, Polish, Russian and now this, Ukrainian, one.
Looks very impressive and I have not yet built one of their ‘super-detailed’ models, so here goes!
This is my second warship, the first having been the Ark Royal in about 2006. That was impressive, despite being a relatively simple Maly Modelarz ‘70s print. Unfortunately, that was stolen when our garage was broken into in 2011! Since then, I started on another Russian warship, Bogatyr, in 2016, but that never was finished and was damaged badly in our last move, so had to go to the great paper scrapyard in the sky 🙁
So this is my first attempt at a detailed warship, having primarily made a few architectural and aircraft previously.
I’ll skip the history etc and go straight to the model.
I decided to buy the laser-cut frames to save time. Nice is that it can be built either as a waterline model or complete with the hull below the waterline. I didn’t think to compare the laser-cut to those printed As templates in the sheets, I’ll definitely do it the next time, though. The reason I say that is, the width of the laser-cut profiles for the hull below the water-line was wider than the parts for the upper half. Not by a lot, but definitely so. A little less than 0.3mm all round, which is thicker than the card for the hull covering, which will leave an unsightly step? This also means probable trouble fitting the top half of the model? The frames fitted nicely together and were unproblematical, bottom and top halves being made separately, checking them regularly for squareness.
Each individual part of the frames is trimmed and sanded prior to assembly after cutting free, so there are no ‘nibs’ sticking out where they were cut from the card carrier-frame, which would possibly distort or ‘grow’ the assembly unwittingly.
Having glued them up and left them to dry, I filled the hollow frame of the hull with a new material I wanted to try out, but which it turned out is very messy (it leaves a fine dust which sticks to everything) and is too soft. Can’t even remember what it is called, but it was used at the wharf for coring out the reinforcements in the hulls. I shan’t be using it again. Below, you can see that the left hand side is finished and the right is not! It is also visible that it is subject to crushing and therefore difficult to glue.
After sanding the hull to shape, I then filled out the upper half above the waterline (NOT sanding it to shape yet), glued the upper and lower parts together put it all aside to dry and settle:
The next stage is the ‘copper’ hull: Not perfect, but doesn’t look bad either 🙂
I made the decision again to do the deck in real wood, planked as the original, like the sailing boat I have done – to me it really is worth the trouble. I still had some very thin veneer of the right sort and set about cutting strips about 0.7mm wide in preparation for the bow-deck. Here the deck is started, a sharp scalpel and ruler for cutting and placing the planks. A razor was used to cut the strips, the scalpel is used to cut them to length as I glue them to the reference base – a scan of the original checked for size (VERY important, as scanners and printers do the strangest things to proportions!) and printed out on very thin typewriter-copy-paper.
Cutting is a lengthy process and requires an extremely sharp and thin blade and a good straight-edge. As a straight-edge I prefer to use a scraper, as it is sharpened to cut on the edge. Very usefully, the mushroomed edge grips the paper or wood under it, which is ideal to stop creep while you are cutting. If you don’t have one or know how to sharpen it, any carpenter or furniture-maker will lend a hand, I’m sure. Any metal ruler will do, of course, too.
As a blade, use a safety-razor-blade, an old cut-throat razor (my favourite), a scalpel or a ‘Stanley’-knife, whichever is more comfortable. I actually use all of those, depending on the job, though for the decks, both the razors are more accurate for the strips, cutting a proper 90 degrees as the blade is so thin and doesn’t ‘cut and wedge’ like the thicker scalpel and Stanley tend to do, leaving the cut edges in a ‘v’ shape. Any tendency to wedge can be nasty when combined with a slightly angled grain, too, pulling the knife along it. A thin blade is paramount when ‘correcting’ the width of the planks, since realy minute amounts are shaved off to get them ‘just right’. What you cannot see, is that I actually sand the edges of some of the planks to get them at right angles and to be the right width 🙂
The forward deck is planked and there are some more planks ready for the aft portion of the deck, which comes next. Here are a few pics at the beginning of the planking process and the started work.
Here we see the finished aft deck planked in various woods placed over the original printed sheet from the model. A nice weathered look achieved with Schellack and elbow-grease. Hopefully not over the top when it’s finished. The individual planks are never cut from the same strip when they are laid, I always mix them up, otherwise I could take any piece of veneer and draw the plank lines on it. My rather more complicated method gives a little more of an ‘authentic’ look and feel to it, I hope.
And here the fore-deck in the same manner.
You may even spot the array of tools and useful bits and pieces in the background now and then. Here is a view of my workspace in the ‘living-room’, where Maryna does her art (mostly painting) and I do my various tinkering. Looks nice and tidy here, doesn’t it!
While the deck was drying, in between I finished most of the hull below the waterline, as shown earlier. Before I can even think of attaching the hull-section above the waterline, the below-decks 75mm Canet guns have to be made and installed in the hull and the deck has to be completely finished.
The finished deck now looks fine glued in place:
Some close -ups showing the laid up decking:
The foredeck fitted + the entrance to the deck below – just trying for size before fitting the main deck.
Work on the 75mm guns has begun, but I’m still not completely satisfied. The drawings from the instructions are not very conclusive, but I assume that they don’t expect any greater need for detail; but if they include parts, it should at least be clear where they go and how they look when finished: That goes for a lot of the drawings, which out of economy of space, the reverse side of many views is omitted, leaving the builder to fantasise where the parts go, even if they are different to the side shown in the (very good) drawings. Here a few pics of work in progress and one of the reference pictures I found:
Here a later pic of work in progress on the Canet 75mm intended for inside the ship behind the hatches in the side. I am getting a bit of practice in for the ‘proper’ ones which will be on full display for the upper deck. Note the change in shape of the cradle for the barrel in the bottom picture, being closer to the archive photo of the gun above … Here unmounted and the edges unpainted.
Lots of detail to refine before I will be satisfied for the guns fully visible on deck! 🙂
So, the hull sides also have to have quite a bit of work done on them before fitting to the carcass: The gun recesses at the aft and the recess behind each anchor, for example. There are various other jobs in sight. I want to cut out the portholes and ‘glaze’ them. I was going to fit brass surrounds, but they are a bit garish, so I opted for gold paint instead 🙂
There are a pair of portholes for each anchor which have bars over them…
… Which I made from copper wire stripped out of some electrical leads and blackened with a permanent marker. Holes were pierced in the card with a sharpened needle and the wires threaded through, pulled taut and glued from the back, same as was done for the ‘risers’ for the hatches for the rear gun, seen below on the right.
Another detail I decided to add is the Hawse pipe, as seen in the second picture below: The Hawse hole on these ships is built up outside the hull and will be added later.
One of the storage bins (at huge magnification), which I decided to have a trial at building, despite there not being any help or diagrams from the instructions – I had to resort to the internet to have an idea how they really looked:
Having fitted the forward portion of the hull next to the forward deck, I also wanted to test the fit of the bulges which house the mounts of the Canet 152mm/45cal. Guns. It was not bad, but did need to be ‘modified’. However, I believe that was in part to my slightly oversize deck portion that stuck out. We will see, as all the others have now been trimmed to size! Amazing what half a millimetre can do! Difficult is the double curve aft, where the bulge ‘merges’ into the side. Next time, I’ll also bevel the inside edges to get a smoother transition 🙂 At a ‘normal’ distance, it still looks pretty good, though:
Here the whole starboard side showing all the installed gun ‘pods’
The inside of the starboard side showing the Hawse pipe, but before the glazing and the bars on the front portholes.
Those sides have now been glazed and the bars on the forward portholes near the anchor have been added, too. Tomorrow the wires on the hatches for the aft gun will be added, the rest of the gun mounts will be fitted below deck and maybe the starboard sides of the hull will be glued in place!
Now the same from the seen side!
Through the portals you can see the gun-mounts waiting for the barrels to be fitted, when it is ‘safe’ to do so!
The 75mm gun platforms have to be done on the upper deck, which turned out to be a real pain. On all the other models and drawings I have, these outriggers are drawn and constructed as a plain buttress, without reverse curves at the sides. Take a look at the pics and you will see what I mean. Definitely a challenge to build – at least the aft ones only have one side with the reversed curves.
Here is a construction series of that rear one, to show the difference between the straight and the curved side (huge magnification, about 4x life Size?)
And now with the ‘wing’ formed and stuck down from the inside and out.
And how it fits on the starboard side, prior to fitting the tubes through to the portholes and prior to touching up the white edges:
Now the other side is also done!
Slowly, slowly I move forwards. Our baby is due in a few weeks, so I’d better get on with it!
Here is the first companionway, as yet without painted edges etc.
Here a couple more pics from different angles (the same companionway)
And here installed in the forward deck, as yet without hatch and wire frame, but with the edges touched up!
Next comes the addition of the strengthening ribs around the inside of the hull ‘walls’, the storage boxes on deck and the aft superstructure, again not yet fitted with its railings – mind your step!
Oh well, the lighting isn’t great, but you get the idea 🙂
A little progress has been made, all the storage boxes are now fitted on the starboard side and another of the companionways, still without the tubular frame for the canvas cover or the hatch – they will come in due time.
Here is the step-by-step building process for the companionways: I noticed that the steps were too wide as drawn to allow the companionway to fit in the holes provided on the decks, If they would simply be glued on to the cheeks, so the only way to fit them would be to cut out the sides and fit them like one would with a real wooden staircase, captured between the cheek-pieces! See below:
So here are the other 4 assembled and ready to be fitted – all lined up like peas in a pod 🙂
And here they are with the top frames and the edges painted appropriately (with Aquarell paints) and with a 1 Euro-Cent piece for size comparison. The footprint of the staircase is ca. 8mm long.
Well, what a fiddle! Keeping all those bits together without squashing and distortion while they glue! One part was missing (28a, which was simple to make)but otherwise fitted together remarkably well for the first try. The next ones will rely on some spacers while building…. which is what the toothpick is for, by the way. EVERY time I picked it up, I somehow managed to squash the ends together 🙁 The part number 28a was nowhere to be found, but was easily made – the front panel, a squared ‘U’ shape.
Edges painted and tried out with the davit arm for fit:
The construction of the davit block was fiddly, requiring more than two hands and ten (fat) fingers, so I need time to work out a better way to do the other three with more precision and less luck. In the meantime I managed to steal a few minutes to cut out the hatches for the hull, which required some accuracy:
To complete the topside of the davit block, I decided to have a go at the blocks that the launch sits on. As proposed in the kit, these are flat-sided and so not very true to life, so I decided to make them three-dimensional as they should be, to improve their appearance in the rather prominent position that they sit in!
This is what they should look like, parts 28i:
And here a photo of the present Aurora, sadly no longer anything like completely original…
They were primed for folding as originally planned and carefully lined up on both sides. In between I placed a third sheet (made of two printed layers back-to-back after thinning them down by wetting, rolling and stripping the printed side from the white back). You will see that the sheet is both cut and punched to give the right shape, here only part-finished.
Look at the difference between what was originally intended (on the right) and my extra effort with the layer in-between:
After that, the pair I made were mounted on the first davit-block:
At this stage, after trying it out for size on the ship, I discovered that the curve of davits themselves was a bit flat, meaning that the launch wouldn’t be able to sit on the blocks at all, so that has been corrected and the others have been corrected to suit. The davit-heads still have to be addressed as well as other details before the davits are fitted properly later.
Like other protruding and/or fragile items that might become damaged while handling the ship during the build, these will be fitted near the end when I consider it safe to do so.
Some of these parts were included in the acid etch sheet, but would have been difficult if not impossible to incorporate, due to the construction. The whole sheet I find was filled with unnecessary parts and omitted many more that would have been far more useful – the wheels for the Lafetten, for example, that are missing altogether and would have been more appropriate. I shall use those left over from my Bogatyr 🙂