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My attempt at sailing “The Cruel Sea”

Article by Matt ‘The Admiral‘ Parmenter

One of my favourite naval war stories is Nicholas Monsarrat`s ‘The Cruel Sea’ and I have the movie on video which of course starred Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliot and Virginia McKenna plus also in the supporting role as the Australian First Lieutenant Stanley Baker. His portrayal of that officer reminded me of an officer I served under during my time in recruit school. In my opinion the star of the film was the ship that portrayed the corvette” Compass Rose” from the “The Cruel Sea”

Cruel Sea 1

Whilst living in the big smoke [Melbourne] I was a member of another model club, “The Surrey Park Model Boat Club.” This club was a little different to our little operation in that we actually operated our models in their natural environments. I have in the past built a few models of the 1/72 scale Corvette by Matchbox which is now produced by Revell. One of the models which I made during the those good old days I often bought up to my caravan that was in the local caravan park and sailed it on the lake in Prince`s Park, when I came up to work on my block. I would always have an audience watching as I sailed the corvette. As many of the park residents were long term or permanents so when I arrived I was always asked have you got your boat? After I built the house and was no longer staying in the caravan park, sadly I just stopped going to the lake on a regular basis.

Cruel Sea 2

Having a couple of unbuilt kits in my stash of the classic ship it was an easy decision to make them up and return to my favourite form of the model making hobby, that is radio controlled working model ships. One of these I had started to modify as for some unexplained reason the kit came with two extra hull front pieces, so with a little surgery I have lengthened the hull a tad. With a couple of extra kits to build I again conned my mate Len into helping by making the “Platinum Edition” unit from Revell. Initially this was only going to be a static model, but having logged on to my old clubs website I decided to go the whole hog as they say. It was relatively easy to do the couple of minor alterations to the model to allow the motorization and fitting of the radio control gear. With two or more models I may even be able to Conn, you know who, into participating. I think that even he might be able to be taught how to work two levers with his thumbs at the same time if I really try [these days people call it multi-tasking.] Anyway Len has made up the new Revell kit and has left it in modules so as I can modify it to take the R/C gear motorization.

NOW WE COME TO THE BEST PART THE MATCHBOX / REVELL CORVETTE KIT

Cruel Sea 3

We are of course making two kits, the first one is the original Matchbox kit while the second is the Revell Platinum Edition release and maybe I will even make up the other Revell kit. I will start with making up the hull. This is made from four pieces which are a left and right hand bow piece plus a left and right stern piece. The bow and stern pieces fit together amidships by what I call square dovetailing. Surface details on these pieces make it easy to install a small section from the extra bows to lengthen the hull. Both sides are then glued together along the keel, stern and bow. Spacers or stiffeners are glued into slots across the hull below the deck level some of these I reinforce because I will be removing the centre from a couple.  At the bow it needs a piece of tubing to be inserted through the haws pipe and anchor holes so as to limit water ingress. The rudder post has to be hollowed out to take a working rudder, while the stern prop gland is enlarged to receive the prop shaft; a little putty finishes these jobs. The static model doesn’t require internal bulkheads but I fit a couple of mini ones to help in the fitting of the radio and motor gear etc. The only thing that needs to be accurate is the alignment of the prop and motor shafts so as to reduce friction load etc. on the motor. My motor of choice is an electric 385, which when coupled with an electronic speed controller will give complete control over the entire speed range ahead and astern. It is fairly easy to mount the radio receiver and speed controller by cutting a hole in the shape of the unit in a block of foam rubber and putting said block into the model. I approached the owner of “Micro Blast” a local computer/electronic bits shop here in the metropolis of down town Maryborough for a couple of capacitors to suppress the electrical spark and cut the interference from the motor [it plays havoc with the R/C.] He was amazed that anyone would want a basic set of capacitors to suppress the spark across the full speed range of the motor, he has apparently only ever came across the need to suppress at a set speed and I guess we both learned something new. Apparently the new models [electric powered aircraft etc.] all run the motors at more or less full power at all times.

Cruel Sea 4

After getting everything sorted out and the model made, it looks good and the radio controls work as designed. I admit that so far I have not sailed the model locally because of a few other activities that have taken preference. But it will come soon.

Now we come to the second model which is of a smaller scale of 1/96th   [The previous kit was of course 1/72nd scale] this smaller model is a “Deans Marine kit” and is actually what is known as a semi kit and requires a lot more work. As fellow club member Dennis has made “DEAN`S” models and he knows exactly what I am talking about with the problems that I am striking. One has to make most of the parts oneself as they are only drawn on the sheets of plastic and require cutting out and adjusting to size. Most of the fittings are supplied and are either resin or white metal. Some of the quality is O.K. and sometimes the quality is very questionable. I have several of these models; all are warship models of R.N. vessels of W.W.11.Era. I have given one to our esteemed fellow club member [Len[ and I often hear his words of praise for my gift even at about 500m distance and if the wind is blowing from my place to his it only lowers the volume level to a loud shout. It gives me great satisfaction to know that he likes to work on the model.

Now I realise that I have several models of flower class corvettes from various sources and they range from a large scale of one seventy-second, one ninety-sixth and finally one three-hundredth. Maybe I`ll try to motorize that one as well.

Hopefully I shall be able to bring all the R.C. models to a club meeting soon.

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