Project Number Twenty-one
Russian destroyer Kaptain Belli (1915)
Completed in August 2011
Let's build another boat, shall we? And let's not spend more than a few bucks doing it, even better. How about a WWI-era Rooskie destroyer? The Kaptain Belli was a Orfey class destroyer, launched in 1915 and surviving into the 1950s before being scrapped. I'm going to model her as she was in 1915 at the time of commissioning. There are several good quality deck plans available online, mostly because the Rooskies have no concept of copyright infringement on naval history books. Here is a photo of the ship in Imperial Russian service...
Materials will be whatever I can find around the apartment and at work, I'm hoping to use only existing stocks of paints and materials. This is prison art at its finest! As to scale, I'm going to try something I've never done before, a tiny 1/700th scale model. 1/700th is a fairly common scale in the high-end model ship community, made easy by the computer-aided plastic molding process and the available of brass photo-etch parts. However, all that stuff costs money and I'm just not going to do that. So, I'm going to go with 1/700th, but I'm going to scratch build it with whatever I can come up with.
At 1/700th scale, this 321 foot long and 30 foot wide destroyer will end up being a model that's only 5 and a half inches long and just a half inch wide. That's pretty damn tiny, the smallest I've ever tried before is 1/350th. Let's see how this works out...
This page is going to be photo-heavy as I've been asked by a reader to do a better job explaining what I'm using for materials and how I'm going about the process. This will be of absolutely no use to 99.999% of you, so sorry about that.
First I used my computer to reduce the ship's plans down to the right scale and then traced them onto paper.
The three funnels are just 10mm tall and a challenge to keep straight.
The after deckhouse, the central engine house, and the forward bridge/citadel are made of paper of various types.
On top of each structure is a platform with different stuff like navigation gear and vents and radio masts and such. There are also railings and ladders/staircases to be made. Everything painted Sky Gray next, including the funnels.
Time to glue down what I have, so I got a scrap piece of wood for a base and secured the hull. I painted the top decks a rusty brown to mimic the rubberized linoleum that these ships carried, and painted the hull sides Sky Gray for now.
The four lifeboats are carried around the central structure on raised platforms that extended up from the hull.
The ship carries three 102mm deck guns in open mounts. The two aftermost guns are in a line with each other, which is a distinctively Russian shipbuilding quirk.
As with nearly all WWI-era destroyers, the ship's main armament are her three banks of torpedo tubes.
Railings are made from flexible plastic vent mesh, which is maybe too flexible, really. In fact, it turned out to be a frustrating mess as the mess twisted and bent like crazy while trying to glue it down. Unless I can find a better way to make 1/700 railings, I might have to step back up to larger scales where I have better materials.
The ship has two masts, one small one aft and a larger one forward with cross arms. Made with brass wire.
Rigging is cotton thread. It's probably over-scale but I don't have anything thinner and I'm determined not to spend any money on this boat.
And finally a nice water base to give the boat the illusion of speed and vigor. Base painted blue then caulk over that and dry brushed white for the wake.
And with that, she's done! Total time to build was a week, a few hours here and there. Total cost was zero bucks (yay!), as I used only existing stocks.
And here are the final pictures of the Kaptain Belli...
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