US Seawolf Project in 1/96 scale: Thordesign RC -2

This is my second ThorDesign SeaWolf project that has come across my bench. The first one actually ended up sold before I got it fully completed and tested, but this one is a commissioned build for a customer out of Canada and will feature working torpedoes! Here are some stats of the Seawolf class boats:

Displacement: 9,150 tons submerged
Length: 350 feet
Beam: 40 feet
Draft: 35 feet
Speed: 25+ knots submerged
Propulsion: S6W reactor
Depth: Greater than 800 feet
Complement: 133
Armament: eight 30-inch torpedo tubes, 50 torpedoes and missiles, or 100 mines

The Seawolf-class attack submarines (SSN) are quieter than the previous Los Angeles class, faster, have more torpedo tubes, and carry more weapons. They use the more advanced AN/BSY-2 combat system, which includes a new larger spherical sonar array, a wide aperture array (WAA), and a new towed-array sonar. Originally intended as a fleet of 29 submarines to be built over a ten-year period, the end of the Cold War and budget constraints dropped that number to three and led to the design of the Virginia class submarine.

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February 28, 2014

I actually started this project about a week ago and I have about four hours into it so far.

Up to this point I have cut the hull for the rear section, installed the pumpjet and run the rear linkages for dive planes and rudder. I have also 3D printed my WTC bulkheads and installed them.

1/72nd scale torpedo kits have been ordered from and I expect them next week. We'll see if I can fit them into the hull in a tidy manner for the new owner!

This is going to have a big Caswell cylinder that was custom built for another project for me by Dave Merriman. It has twin motors and a huge ballast chamber. It also has the Caswell SNORT system, but due to the large size of the ballast tank I think I will be forgoing that system in favor of the straight gas. That little pump is just too darned slow to be effective in this scale.

March 3, 2014

Got some great work done this weekend!

The hull itself is nearing completion. I basically just need to run the forward bow plane linkages and paint it and then it will be ready to accept the WTC.

I have started on the WTC modifications and I'm currently waiting on my order of batteries, receiver crystals and torpedo tubes in order to continue.

In the meantime, enjoy the video of the build to date!

March 18, 2014

Lots of finnicky work with linkages. My original setup didn't have enough throw to fully actuate the rudder or front planes, so I had to rework some of them.

The torpedo systems and torpedo actuators are in place and the WTC has been sorted out and is ready for testing.

From here I'll be likely be painting the interior of the model and then going on to some wet testing for trim.

Hoping to have the project completed by early April!

Stay tuned!

April 1, 2014

The sub has been painted and weathered and is looking like a real boat now.

The lower hull is a "freight car brown" color that is a dead ringer for red oxide primer. The upper hull is flat black and the nose is weathered gray. The scum line was accomplished with my airbrush using Floquil "grime" and a green overspray to represent the algae that collects on these boats.

I got the boat in the pool to start the trimming process and I'm happy to say that it sat at nearly perfect scale waterline at the first try. The addition of a few small pieces of lead got it laying at perfect surface trim.

Unfortunately I discovered that the overly large ballast tank caused catastrophic sloshing of the water in it and made trimming for submerged operation impossible.

To solve the problem I have inserted a rubber bladder in the ballast tank to take up about half of the volume. This will still leave plenty of capacity for this boat, as nuclear subs have very little freeboard. This will also help conserve gas for the ballast system.

Round 2 of trimming is hoped to be accomplished this week so that I can move onto torpedo system testing!

April 8, 2014

I'm very pleased to say that the build is, for all intents and purposes, complete!

Bench and trim testing went really well and I hope to have a maiden voyage under my belt by this weekend, weather permitting (it's supposed to rain for the next while down here in sunny Florida!).

This video is more of a technical overview, but some of you might find it of interest. I also have a few seconds of video showing the torpedo testing in my pool. It was tricky getting the footage and firing the fish, so don't complain about the cameraman!

I hope you enjoy!

April 15, 2014

I'm very happy to say that the maiden voyage was a success! I'm excited that the pond down the street from my new home is well suited to sub-driving. The water (at least at this time of year, is fairly clear and very calm. The weather cooperated as well and I managed to get a little bit of video.

The model will still need some tweaking for perfect and flawless performance, but based on this first initial outing, it's ready for deployment!

The Seawolf will be shipped out to its new owner who will need to go through it in detail, getting EXTREMELY familiar with how it's put together before taking it out on his own. RC subs are not for the newbie or novice. Only with great patience and a hefty dose of technical knowhow can you be assured that your boat will make it back after its patrol.

Enjoy this video!