Sep 17, 2012

Building USS Texas

It's that time of year again...

Ever since I've been playing War at Sea I've been fascinated by the scratchbuilds being made by the WaS community. Never having tried building man-made structures out of plasticcard (only did some extensive modding on existing ships) I decided to give it a try myself.

Starting from simple cargo ships I've worked up my game to the first highpoint, IJN Nachi. But after Nachi entered my glass cabinet it took almost a year to relight the fire and start scratchbuilding again, this time producing IJN Fuso and HMS Prince of Wales. That was almost a year ago. A year in which I stopped playing Warhammer, picked up Medievals, picked up Flames of War and kind of neglected my Naval miniatures. I think its time to start another project, and since someone has been knocking on my door to do so since the day after I finished the PoW I think it's kind of obvious what the subject should be.

Soooo, stay tuned for the building of USS Texas... I'll be updating this post as progress is made. Untill now I've only made a post on a project after I've almost finished it but thats not the case here since I'm still building (So in a worst-case scenario I'll blow the whole thing off halfway).

Update: I finally finished the model, scroll down for the total building process or just enjoy the pics at the end.


First stages: Printing my plans on adhesive paper and sticking it to plasticcard:


Since the deck plans only outline the extent of the deck, I made a few adjustments to facilitate the lower levels with the bow section growing wider as you get nearer to the deck. Of all those outlines I'll eventually use only a few, but I print and cut enough of them that I can mix and match to create the hull to my wishes.


Stage 2:
Building up the hull from the different card outlines, sanding and 'plastering' it with putty to create a smooth hull. This prompted my first major problem: In contrast to all the earlier hulls I've made, Texas is the first hull that isn't smooth on the outside. The hull has many different bulges and holes in it. This made the hull very difficult to model and I cut up quite a few of my layers to try modelling all the indentures in the hull.


That how far I've got till now... After the putty has dried some more sanding will be in order. After that I can make a start on the deck by laying the bases of the superstructure and marking the place of the turrets.

Update 1:

I've added the base of the bridge section and marked out the places where the turrets need to be. I also cut out some more plasticcard around the hull because the Texas has even more detail on the hull than I first noticed, especially the indenture just below the main deck all the way to the back of the ship was pretty hard to get right.

Drilled out the turretholes

And from the bottom I drilled out counterholes with a bigger drill. This way I can make the turrets a bit bigger on the bottom so they will be able to turn but wont fall out or get lost....



Yey, guns all but finished... I used greenstuff to make the sides of the turrets sloped. An experiment which turned out better than trying to sand the slope out of the plasticcard.

Barrels are brass tubing of 1 and 0.8mm from Albion Alloys.


 Some more work done on the superstructure, and guns in place (not anchored yet, for painting purposes)


Update 3:

Sometimes your just into a certain flow and things go smoothly. So this is an update in a very short time from last one. I finally got over my major 'hump' with this model, the superstructure. Every ship has certain characteristics that make it instantly recognisable, for some it is an oddly formed smokestack, gun layout but usually its the bridge section.


The Texas has a very unique bridge section because it is not solid. From the side you can just peek through a lot of it, thats something that I wanted to emphasize on the model. Problem is... Photo's of that part of the ship are very scarce, and the linedrawings dont show which part is solid. So I kinda got stuck there.

I finally found some 3d model that I could pivot around to get an idea how it all fits together and I could finally start on that part of the ship.

A second defining feature of the Texas is its 3-stepped bridge. It took me some time to get it right. I even had to take it apart just before I finished it, bummer, but it happens. I got the proportions wrong and when I compared my result with the line drawings I noticed that the centre of the superstructure was too high and the bridge floors didn't have enough room between them to get that characteristic 3-stepped look.

Another unique feature of the bridge is the fact that I actually made the front edge of each floor. Usually the thickness of the plasticcard suffices, but since the Texas has solid edges on the front of its bridge floors its a defining feature and I had to find some way to model that. Which I think I managed... with 0.5mm plasticcard.

Finished (after redoing the top part) the bridge, now working on the conning tower:


Finally added the antennae, so that kind of finishes the front superstructure, on to the middle section! But that's for another day and another update.

Update #4

Just before the end of this year I've done some more work on the Texas; I've made both cranes and the rear-mast. In addition to that I've added some of the secondary guns.


After that part I encountered another hump in the road: The Texas has a large amount of AA mountings on her deck and superstructure. On most ships the protective shields around them are round and I can model them by cutting slices of plasticcard tubing. On the Texas they have varying sizes and shapes, so I had to come up with a solution. I took a piece of 1mm thick plasticcard and curled it around a toothpick. I fastened the endings with a piece of stickytape and dipped the pick into boiling water. After that I put it in the freezer for a moment to set and voilĂ : a 'spring' off which I can cut as many protective shields as I want.

I'm going to add the AA mountings soon, and I'll show another update when their finished.



Update 5:

Almost done with the modelling now:

After the modelling seems to be finished, I apply my basecoat. At this stage I can finally see if all my work has paid off because any uneven surfaces will show. So ofcourse, a lot of corrections had to be made to 'finish' the modelling part because some parts weren't looking the way I liked, especially the hull got some more touchups.

Almost ready with her camo-scheme. My client requested a Measure 12 camouflage scheme, so I'm working on that.

After this it is time for her base!

And finally the finished ship in all glory:




It was a much tougher project to build than any other ship I've scratchbuilt to this point mainly because of the irregular hull. I'm real glad she's finished because now I'll be able to shift focus to my other projects.

Still it was an adventure building her and I hope her new owner will like her!


Reacher said...

I must admit to bein a bit giddy.

Shane Singleton said...

Would like to talk about possibly having you build one of these for me. email me at


Ecclesiastes said...

Hello Shane,

I'm sorry, but since the process of building a scratchbuild takes so long, and since companies like shapeways allow you to print miniatures at a fraction of the cost, I stopped doing scratchbuilds. Add to that the insane shipping costs from the Netherlands and there is absolutely no way to make it worthwile for you or me.