Thursday, August 23, 2018

More Adventures, This Time From Library/Hobby Room.

Our only son, and boat loads of our cash, went to Clemson University. So this year in celebratory combination of his birthday and the anniversary of his graduation I decided to build him a model of the USS Clemson.

In reality of course this ship had no real connection to either the university or the town of Clemson SC. The only exception being that a local resident rescued the ship's bell before she went to the breakers after the Second World war. In reality she was named for a young Navy Ensign who was killed during the Mexican American War. But the coincidence of name is enough of an excuse for me to build, modify and detail out another model ship.

As she would have appeared coming out of the mothball fleet in 1939.

The ship actually had a varied and interesting career. Completed too late to see service in WW I she was sent into the reserve fleet and later was mothballed after less than a year of active duty.

With war looming in both Europe and Asia she was recalled from the mothball fleet, refitted and recommissioned as fast auxiliary seaplane tender AVD-4. In this capacity she supported air craft scouting operations on both sides of the Panama Canal, mostly to the South and working out of the Galapagos Islands.

Revel Models produced the original molds for this kit and it was marketed under the name of several ship's of both the Clemson and Wickes classes of destroyers.

Revel was not known for highly detailed ship models and this one is no exception. To make it a presentation piece was going to require more than just glue and paint.

After the battle of Midway the Japanese threat to the Canal was considered greatly reduced. The Clemson was then returned to her orinal hull number and designation as a destroyer. She was transferred to the Atlantic fleet and saw extensive convoy escort duty earning several battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation.

Examining the model and instructions it was clear that the first thing that would be required would be to replace all the railings with photo etched brass parts. A set in the appropriate 1/240 scale was found a Tom's Model Works and also included ship's ladders that we not provided in proper  numbers in the origional kit.

Forward deck railing.
Note the drilled out gun muzzle.

Early 1944 saw her again in the yards and again refitted and redesignated. This time as a fast auxillary troop transport APD-31, capable of carrying a third of battalion of Marines. Transfered to the Pacific she earned yet more battle stars in operations around Palau and the Philippines.

Other details were added after examination of photographs of the Clemson and other ships in her class.

Note the faring added to the forward funnel, service ladders on the funnels, the open deck hatch on the midships gun deck and the added life rafts amidships.

Boat cradles and inboard support posts were added to the lifeboat launching rails. Open weave fabric was used on all the life rafts to simulate the netting used.
All these additional parts and details were made from brass sheet, stock plastic and fabric. All the rigging was done with .015" dia. Wire. The display base made from pine board in my shop. The drydock timbers were also made from pine scrap pieces. The display case itself is made from .060" thick clear polycarbonate sheet and edged with 3/16" extruded plastic angle and small pieces of flat sheet reenforcing the corners. Small details are yet to be added such as flags and painted on rust streaks in the appropriate places. There will also need to be some paint touch up as is revealed to be needed in close up photographs. I am also considering adding a mirror to the back panel of the display case so that both the port and starboard sides can be examined.

As the war in the Pacific closed in on the Japanese home islands the Clemson once again back in the shipyard for yet another refit and redesignation that would see her returned to her origional duty as DD-186. The Navy was planning for the invasion of Japan and no doubt felt that more destroyers would be needed to protect the carrier taskforces and the the invasion force troop transports. The Atom Bomb ended the war before this last refit was completed.  She was soon decomissioned and stuck from the Navy registry of ships. Sold for scrap before the end of 1945, she no doubt found her way into the automobiles, refrigerators and razor blades of the postwar boom economy.

Some would say that that was an ignominious end for a noble ship. Others would argue that it was symbolic of what she, the crews who sailed in her and so many other ships were fighting for in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Bells, antique restoration, swords and now highly detailed model ships. Is there anything you can't do? This is not your first one is it?


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