1/72 Scale Sea-going Vessels
(from 1940s to 2000s)
So far I have collected a fair number of 1/72 scale model kits of sea-going vessels. In 2016, I finally finished building one. I expect the progress on this page will be slow, but someday I hope to display on this site 1/72 scale models of a World War Two British Flower Class Corvette, a WWII German U-boot, and a WWII USN Gato Class submarine. Other possible subjects include a German Schnellboot, a British Vosper MTB and a USN PT Boat.
U.S. Navy LCAC
(1980s to 2000s)
US Navy LCAC (LandingCraftAirCushion) (Google)
The U.S. Navy operates 91 LCAC (LandingCraftAirCushion) amphibious cargo carriers. The LCAC was developed starting in 1970 with three, different-sized proposed vehicles, designed by James L. Schuler and his team at the USN Naval Sea Systems Command. Following extensive testing of the middle-sized design (named "Jeff" after one of Schuler's three sons), in 1982 the U. S. Navy ordered the first six LCAC vehicles. By 1993, the run of USN LCACs was completed, plus eight units built for the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Force, delivered in 2004.
The LCAC uses four MTU Vericor TF-40B gas turbine engines (3,995 shaft horse power each) to power four lift fans that inflate the rubber air cushion and blow lift air out from under the rubber skirt. Twenty percent of the air thrust is diverted to the bow thrusters (the dark grey, elbow-shaped nozzles on top, just ahead of midships) to enable the crew to counteract crabbing of the LCAC due to wind and wave. A Service Life Extension Program will upgrade the engines to ETF-40B turbines at 4,745 s.h.p. per engine.
The engines also power the four-bladed propellers that provide forward thrust, achieving up to 50 knots of speed in calm ocean conditions, even at a full normal load of 169 tons (67 tons of payload). The LCAC can operate over water, swamp, ice, or land, making nearly 80% of the world's shorelines accessible.
With fully inflated rubber skirt, the LCAC is 91 feet 9.5 inches long, 47 feet 10 inches wide, 25 feet 10 inches high (34 feet 5.5 inches with navigation lights mast upright), and has a maximum range at full load of 300 nautical miles at 35 knots speed. (Squadron Signal Publications)
Years ago, I saw a scratchbuilt 1/35 scale model of an LCAC at an IPMS national contest; it was huge and magnificent. I thought "I'd love to build a kit of that, but no one will ever manufacture such an unusual subject." How glad I am that I was mistaken: In about 2012, I bought this Trumpeter 1/72 scale kit of the U.S. Navy LCAC as soon as I spotted it in a now-closed hobby shop (Chesterfield Hobbies) in Richmond, Virginia.
I started work on it almost immediately, but a search of the web for reference books revealed there was only one, very lightweight kid's book about the LCAC available. I searched the web again for pictures of the LCAC, and found many full-view shots, but very few closeup images that would help me add texture to this rather bland, under-detailed, unfinished-looking kit.
My internet research did provide enough information to allow me to draft in AutoCAD the black and white line art I needed to order some custom photo-etched brass for the screens at the giant, hoop-like shrouds around the propellers. While I was drafting and ordering this custom photo-etch brass, I decided replace all of the the kit's unduly coarse photo-etch screening with new PE, as well.
The framework part of the propeller shroud from the kit next to the custom made photo-etch screens for the Trumpeter 1/72 USN LCAC.
To amortize the expense of the custom photo-etch, I ordered a dozen or so sets of the brass PE, selling the extras on eBay. But the lack of really useful, comprehensive detail images of the LCAC ultimately caused me to set the kit aside on the Shelf of Forgotten Models. I was unwilling to finish it without better information to add detail to the model.
Finally, in 2016, Squadron Signal released an "In Action" booklet on the LCAC. I promptly ordered the book and dusted off the kit in anticipation. The "In Action" book was very helpful (a Squadron Signal LCAC "Walk Around" booklet would have been even more helpful) and I quickly spotted images in the booklet that helped me finish out some of the bare areas on the kit. Studying the pictures in the booklet made me aware of the relatively wide variety of subtly different versions of the real LCACs that were in service. From these photos I selected one particular vessel, LCAC-69, that most closely resembled what the kit gave me to work with, and postulated a very similar sister-craft, LCAC-68.
This was the largest, most multi-colored model I have built in a long time. Planning out the paint colors to use and the sequence of masking from color to color was challenging and fun. Attaching the one-piece, flexible vinyl skirt to the hull was particularly challenging. I never could get it perfectly straight and level in some spots.
All paint was Humbrol except for Tamiya acrylic at the white parts; small decals were from the kit; large alpha-numerics were Press-Type from Woodland Scenics; flat finish was Testor's Clear Flat Lacquer.
Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:
That must have been something REALLY important to deliver, on the deck of this LCAC.