Of course there’s an asterisk – there will always be little imperfections to gradually fill and sand away, but it’s done enough that work can proceed to the forecastle detailing and main deck work, principally getting the walls up. (Okay, I’ve already decided that at least one more fill and sand cycle will be required, but the point is that it’s basically done. For the moment).
The real reason I know I’m ready to move on it that I finally have the back corners of the forecastle in place. They’ve moved three or four times as I changed plans and pored over the deck arrangement, but I finally figured out where to end the forecastle and start the hangar walls.
The below photo of Coral Sea (CVA-43) was invaluable in that it both broke my heart (by making clear that the forward hangar walls are battered – meaning they actually lean backwards so that the pieces have to be cut and placed using both the main deck and the underside of the gallery deck as guides, which is more complicated than it sounds) and showed the details of the transition from forecastle to main deck. If I didn’t have not just deck by deck plans but plans showing the internal arrangement I could never have figured this out, or how to replicate it.
I added the shielding around the bow last night – it’s .010 strip .0556 high – which I know is accurate not because I measured it but because the plans say the shield is 3’ 3” high, and specify three different types of steel used as the shield curved around.
I was particularly pleased with the forecastle “knuckle”. Getting that sharp in spite of all the filling and sanding was a priority, so I wrapped a piece of .015 music wire all the way around the forecastle and Super Glued it in place. It then served as a guide for the knuckle and later the bow mount shield. I did this for the Essex-class forecastle knuckles on the SCB-27A/C ships, and it works really well preserving a clean line that would be lost through heavy sanding on plastic and putty. (But I did learn not to sand too aggressively – I sanded clean through one of the knuckles on one ship. So I’m backing off the scope and pressure of sanding as I go).
I know no one thought I’d end up with a decent stern after starting out like this …
… but I did. Even after changing plans midstream.
It’s not perfect, but the right shapes are present, and once the detailing around it is in place, it should look fine. (Candidly, it’ll always be in shadow). But with what I have to work with now, I’d have added deck by deck plans to minimize the puttying work and ensure I had the right shape “between” the waterline and fantail.
One thing I could “not” do was add the knuckles forward and aft that are down low on the hull – I didn’t realize they were there until too late, and the way the hull was built I really couldn’t easily add them. I tried forward, but it didn’t work out. Again, had I built the fantail deck by deck I could have built in a knuckle. But that low on the hull I can camouflage it with some weathering and perhaps add some trompe l’oeil shadowing.
A caveat here on bow and stern. The heavy puttying on both caused both ends of the hull to droop, and I had to add additional layers of plastic to keep them level. It also caused the angled corners of the main deck to warp slightly, so knowing that I’ll strengthen the framing on future builds. The drying putty apparently exerts a pretty significant force. I knew this – it pulled the bow of the Intrepid Corrected model shown below completely out of line – but I thought I was applying in thin enough coats that it would have the same effect.