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Author Topic: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!  (Read 2970 times)

Pen-Pusher

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K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« on: July 29, 2016, 06:41:14 PM »
On 28 March 2002, the 'Hotel' Class soviet K-19 nuclear submarine was sent to the Nerpa Shipyard for dismantlement. The ship was decommissioned and its reactor removed in the 1970's and it had been in Ara Bay since 1990. The ship’s history, which earned it the nickname “Hiroshima,” includes a 1961 reactor accident that killed eight members of the crew, and a 1972 fire that killing another 28. Shortly after the second accident the K-19 was decommissioned from the Northern Fleet but in July 2002, an American movie about the first accident was made by National Geographic starred Harrison Ford as former Soviet Navy Captain Nikolay Zateyev.

Through the film's popularity, most of us may be familiar with the story of the first Russian nuclear submarine and the almost catastrophic nuclear accident on board which killed eight crew (who died within days from radiation sickness) and many others later. In real life K-19 seemed indeed to be one of those boats that was doomed from the start, having deaths that occurred during construction, a failed christening where the champagne bottle didn’t break, as well as all sorts of problems on the trial runs.

K-19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines of the 658 class (NATO reporting name 'Hotel' class submarine), the first generation nuclear submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles, specifically the R-13 SLBM. The boat was hurriedly built by the Soviets who were anxious to catch up with the United States' lead in nuclear submarines. After it was commissioned, it was plagued with breakdowns and accidents, several of which threatened to sink the sub.

On its initial voyage on 4 July 1961, K.19 suffered a complete loss of coolant to its reactor. With no backup system, the captain ordered members of the engineering crew to find a solution to avoid a nuclear meltdown. Sacrificing their own lives, the engineering crew jury-rigged a secondary coolant system and kept the reactor from a meltdown. Twenty-two crew members died from radiation sickness during the following two years. The sub experienced several other accidents, including two fires and a collision. What isn't so generally well known that in the final scene of the film, apart from the film's cast, men gathered at the graveside monument to the crew of K.19 were in fact surviving members from that first ill-fated voyage.

Zvezda's kit of the K-19 comes moulded in submarine black (a colour I really do not like for model kits) for the former and light grey for the latter with all parts contained on a single spru. Two clear blue stands are also provided and a small decal sheet provides the various details and hull markings. On first glance, this looks to be a very simple kit to build.

Assembly started with the hull which was fairly straightforward if not the best fit! For those who will use the two stands, you will need to open up the holes in the bottom of the hull to accept those. Personally, I prefer a single stand and cut one out from scrap plastic and cobbled a cradle-type stand together. The hull is split into right and left halves, with the flat upper deck provided in two separate pieces. (Similar to the Zvezda K-3 November submarine in my stash) and with some careful test fitting presented no problems in assembly.

Details for the main hull include the rear fins, fore and aft dive planes and propellers. These parts are identical to those found on Zvesda’s ‘November’ submarine. The rear fins are split in upper and lower halves and require a bit of fiddling and adjusting to get a good fit. On the hull itself, there are several bumps caused by the ejector marks on the inside that will need to be smoothed out as well (nothing a good sanding can't fix).

Moving on to the sail. This is constructed with three main sections. The top includes several holes for the various antennae and periscopes. Not mentioned in the instructions are the railings that go around the sail. The kit pieces have the attachment points, but the railings (twin bar) will have to be scratched built. I believe the original idea was to include PE parts but that seems to have been abandoned at some point! These railings however should wrap around the front and rear of the sail with breaks where the hatches are located.

For colour and markings this is pretty straightforward as far as the instructions on the Zvesda model are concerned with the hull painted in black above the waterline, and red below. White numerals are provided for the sides of the sail, with the remaining decals providing depth markers, sail windows, and hatch markings. Like those found in the November kit, this sheet includes decals for the sonar coverings, with a grid pattern present underneath the silver decal. The Flagman kit however seems to give you a better scheme of differing greys and optional codes (Which tally with my records) but aaah, we now come to the dreaded accuracy check.

Checking the accuracy of any sub is challenging at best but even more so when one attempts to check Soviet submarine accuracy. There are quite a few photos of these boats out there and a few good drawings as well. From my available references the kit is a fairly accurate representation of the Hotel-I submarine. There are two main areas of contention though: (1) The tail end of the hull and (2) the hull forward of the sail.

The tail end of the hull of the Zvesda kit needs to be extended about 3/8”. This is easily done by cutting the tail off at the rudder line and adding a plug. This keeps all the scribed detail in the tail end of the fin while extending the hull and rudder to the proper length. Everything forward of the rudder line is correct, so some careful shaping of the plug to match the contours and this modification is done.

The forward hull is a bit more challenging, as there are several areas that could be improved. The first is the bow. The kit has this as a constant rounded front while the actual submarine has a near, knife edge where the torpedo doors are. Some careful work with a file is needed. The second area that needs a change is with the separate upper sonar dome piece. This is far too small in the kit and should be replaced with some suitable spru.

The major problem though lies with the angle of the upper hull forward of the sail. The kit has the entire upper deck flat from stem to stern but the actual Hotel-1 submarine has the forward deck sloping upwards from the sail. The cutaway drawing from the submarine's manufacturer, Rubin captures this quite well. What I don’t know is how the flood vents are arranged. If they remain in line with the aft ones or if they slope up with the deck line. As this is a rather major modification, it might just fall into the “I can live with it” category.

As a younger man I saw several of these 'Hotel' submarines from the air and had the opportunity to be up close and personal with one that was brought to Blyth for scrapping – I might add with some gratitude -without its reactor compartment!!

I've ordered the Flagman and will report on that in due course.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 09:38:42 AM by Pen-Pusher »

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 10:15:00 AM »
... and if you thought conversion kits are limited to our sphere of modelling, what about this 1/1 scale conversion for the aforementioned film. It was made in one piece from fibreglass and included an internal stairwell and four periscopes and cost a cool $Can:30,000.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2016, 05:00:22 PM »
Read the book; Seen the film - now... Happy bunny tonight! My Flagman K.19 has finally arrived and yes, I'm impressed. Nice mouldings and decals provide for two boats. Might look a simple kit but there is detail waiting there a-plenty... albeit just below the surface?

What is nice is the decal sheet provides the aluminium 'blanket' the Soviets applied anytime the Hotel class subs were in port. This was to disguise the sonar array (although it was invisible to the naked eye anyway). One point need more research. The 'sail' contained 3 R-21 (SS-N-5 Serb) missiles and as I remember the hatches to these were flush in the closed position. On this kit (which is the Hotell II) there is a depression between the three doors and they are not rectangular? Any other Soviet sub experts out there....?

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2016, 09:43:49 AM »
The build quality of the Flagman is less pleasing than its stablemate from Zvesda (although the same moulding?) A significant of Dewar's Patent Filler was required on the lower hull due to a slight warp and as expected, some attention was needed to the join between the upper deck section - but we progress....

From this early stage you can see the difference in size between the old Hotel boats and the Alpha.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2016, 08:23:47 AM »
Decided to attempt a small conversion and open one of the missile hatches. Looks a bit rough at the moment but hopefully a slap of magnolia will cover a multitude of sins?

PS> Not a word! The present Mrs D is looking for her favourite biro....

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2016, 11:39:36 AM »
One day I'll remember to convert imperial to metric. now it's the right diameter!!!

Haddock

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2016, 12:30:18 PM »
1" = 25.4mm

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2016, 06:11:58 PM »
Yes... I KNOW!!!!! (Now)

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2016, 07:30:12 PM »
'Dry' run with missile cone...

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2016, 04:14:26 PM »
A little research finds the Hotel Class I and II boats differed quite a bit. Curiously the Zvesda and flagman kits include some detail of both versions so depending on which you decide upon determines the amount of work. As the model is being depicted on or around the time of it's first nuclear emergency, I have had to retrofit some small detail to ensure this represents the Hotel Class I including the periscope arrangement, missile hatches and rear diving planes. However, these have proved quite easy and we're now ready for some substantial paintwork - hence the half roll of tape applied prior to rattle-can application...

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2016, 10:15:56 AM »
Some progress...

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2016, 05:01:06 PM »
K.19 progress. With Haddock's recent comments on acrylic lift-off under tape still to the fore, careful masking and grey upper surface brush painted with Tamiya Sea Grey acrylic has worked out fairly well. I have a couple of 'touch-ups' to make to the missile hatch and the props and periscopes (to fit) to paint before applying decals. So far so good and light at the end of the tunnel.....

(Stand borrowed from an 'Astute' kit. As they're always running aground they'll never notice!)

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2016, 06:54:11 PM »
Almost there.... I think?

Haddock

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2016, 08:02:10 AM »
Nice straight white lines, paint or transfers?
Haddock.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: K.19 - See the film and build the kit!
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2016, 12:09:59 PM »
....?