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Type 38 Schnellboot build

Steve D

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As I've been promising, here is the start of another scratch build, this time the enemy, an S-boot also at 1:48th scale.  The s-boot is actually almost the same length as the Fairmile B so the two will make an interesting companion pair when finished.


There seem to be basically 5 broad types of s-boots


  1. The early war low forecastle boats (Airfix do a kit of this type), a few sub-types
  2. The early (really interim) high forecastle type S 30 (or type 26, I'm confused) with an upsweep to the forecastle at the sides of the bridge
  3. The mid war type 38
  4. The later war type 38 with the armoured cupola (Kalotte) which evolved from an unarmoured cupola that was often retro-fitted to the type 38's
  5. The type 100 at the end of the war which is really the same as the type 38 armoured but with different armament and rear deck layout, build with the armoured cupola from the start


Most models you see on line seem to be of the last type, but I rather like the type 38 before they stuck a hat on it so that's what I'm making.  This was the main enemy boat in the middle years


In my research, I've bought a few books (some I had already).  To be honest most simply repeat the same stuff




I've also bought every plan I can find




Unsurprisingly, none are to 1:48th scale, however, these plans are...




Thanks to CAD rescaling and an A1 print and post service.  This is the early type 38 unarmoured and the one I will build, but forget the fancy paint job, seems that was mostly using in the Baltic, the channel boats were plain grey from what I've read.  The Med boats had cool red and white stripes on the forecastle as did other Italian warships for aircraft recognition, but I think I'll stick with the channel flotillas as that is what the B and SGB would have encountered


The various plans have 7, 9, 10 and lastly 20 sections for the lines.  I've naturally gone with the 20 section lines per the scan below and re-drawn them


type38 lines


This took a surprising amount of time (last 2-3 weeks between interruptions as the lines are really very subtle and lining these up with the other drawings had me redrawing them 3 times.  The lines and the large drawing are 1:25 scale and came from Paul Stamm Modellbau in Saarbrucken in Germany.  His package of information cost €62 but came with a disk full of drawings and pictures (finding a computer that had a disk drive was interesting...) and the line drawing above is from his drawing scanned and re-scaled.


None of the drawings show sections which is a shame, this drawing is a Russian drawing of an early low forecastle type which is not particularly helpful




However, in Paul's pack was this blue print which is actually really useful, if a little small




So, that's where we begin, lets see how this turns out



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The other new aspect of this build is that I've sent the frame drawing to 4D to have them laser cut on 3.2 mm ply.  This is why the drawing took so long.  Normally I would draw them, print them out, stick them on the ply and cut them by hand.  Any slight changed or mistakes, I re-do or sand, low quality level needed.. 


However, I want this build to be something others could do and so I'm doing my best to have aspects (such as the frames, the etchings and the printed components) repeatable, we'll see how well that goes later


Here is my artwork for the laser service (A0 size), sent off this morning.  The cost including materials and shipping is £95, should be here in a few days




The green is for an outer cut, blue an inner cut, red is engraving.  So, the frames will all be engraved so I don't get them confused.  The hull has a box out where the main engine room sits as per the SGB build, allowing that piece to be separate until very late in the build.  It also shows how this could easily be motorised  The other two long frame lock the transverse frames in place.  The drawing has to allow for a .2mm laser cut centred on the green hairline.  This has been driving me slightly insane, if it works, it will be a miracle.  The drawings provide for the tubes to be installed so the alignment is correct (🤞).  It will make more sense when assembled.


I'm not planking the hull, it's a little small so I'm using the method I used for the B and the WW1 ML, balsa block between the frame sanded back.  This is super cheating, but works, more later on that.  The hull looks simple at first, it's really not.


here's a real one




next job, 3D drawing of the propellers and off to have them cast in bronze while I await the frames



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This is going to be interesting......


51 minutes ago, Steve D said:

This is the early type 38 unarmoured and the one I will build,


Good choice more character than the later boats I think :thumbsup:


38 minutes ago, Steve D said:

I'm not planking the hull, it's a little small


@1/48 = 730mm long size matters eh Steve :wink:


Looking forward to seeing this progress.....


Avoid the numpties and stay safe



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48 minutes ago, longshanks said:

This is going to be interesting......



Good choice more character than the later boats I think :thumbsup:



Looking forward to seeing this progress.....


Avoid the numpties and stay safe




Agree with Kev - it has to be the most elegant of the S-Boats

That's quite some momentum you've got going Steve ;)

I'm in for the ride


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2 minutes ago, robgizlu said:

That's quite some momentum you've got going Steve

Like riding down a steep hill on a bike, great until you need to turn a corner...


54 minutes ago, longshanks said:

size matters eh

always, this is a little one, should not be too tough eh?  :rofl: 

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Props drawn and ordered 👍 


Took me days the first time, but this time I was able to modify the sections I'd saved on the SGB props and so the process took hours only.  There are three different props, obviously a LH and RH but also the centre prop which sits in a bowl mounting at the leading edge of the center rudder as shown in this very poor scan of an original builders drawing (by the looks of it)




Word of warning, these are not drawn totally correctly.  I don't have the grid points for that (or the skill to do it really, watch a video on drawing propellers and you'll see what I mean :rage:).  However, the blades look OK relative to the pictures I've got and the boss shape is correctly pointed which is the key point that will notice.  Bored with a 2mm hole to take the turned down end of the 3/32nd prop shaft


Cost for casting in bronze by printed lost wax method from Shapeways, shipped and delivered early December, €50 for the three, not bad for custom props imho.  I could print them in resin myself for pence, but then they wouldn't be bronze would they?


prop models


Hopefully the models pass manual their Quality check and can be printed without modification  🤞



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The props look pretty neat and I understand what you say about the difficulty in drawing propellers. I'm in the infancy stage of teaching myself FreeCad, early days yet and whether I end up using it or not is another matter...so much to build.



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Package arrived from 4d today, seemed heavy and an odd shape, and when I opened it, it contained 8kg of granola :analintruder:, the guy had given me the wrong parcel....  Luckily, he hadn't driven off so I was able to swap it for a large sheet of ply, :phew:


Now the problems.  The etching uses three colours, red green and blue.  The red is engraving, the green is outer cut and the blue is inner cut to improve location on holes etc.  They'd not noticed the blue holes so none were cut out, I guess each colour is a separate process.  Then I tried to fit some pieced together and the ply is 3.3 mm thick not 3.2 as advertised...  This means that the allowance I'd made for the laser cut is wrong on every piece and all the cross joints will need easing with sandpaper which sort of defeats the object.  They are re-doing the whole sheet (after I opened up every slot 0.1mm and resent the drawing (tedious, very tedious...).  So, not much progress today, shame.


Anyway, for those interested, this is how it comes out of the box




Looks out of focus but that is the laser burn on the masking they stick to the ply.  Here they are cleaned up but unusable.




Only upside is that I'd noticed I'd forgotten to allow for the gun tub on the forecastle so while tiding up the drawings, I was able to stick that in....


Meanwhile, I've been having fun with the rubber dinghy.  This is an odd shape as the ends turn up, not straightforward to draw.  Still this is my attempt in the print control software with supports


rubber boat print


Large flat surfaces lift off the base due to shrinkage when printing so it helps to angle the work, but then it takes longer to print of course


Here it is out of the printer and ready to clean up




I think this will work out ok, I'll return to this piece later


Overall, not what I'd hope to show for today, sigh



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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the radio silence, the new laser cut pieces took a week to arrive, bit frustrating delay but well worth the wait.


Here they are, a 30 piece puzzle accurate to 0.1 mm




And this is what they look like 30 minutes later, dry fit together, as the Americans say, awesome!!...




So, now the mistakes.  Four slots needed a little easing, (only 4!), The engine room sides are too tall, I seem to have taken the line from the centre line not the line at the deck-house side, easy to trim, the forecastle sides are one frame too long (not sure what happened there, again easy to trim.  The frame 14a torpedo tube hole is off by 1mm, I used the frame position not the intermediate position, my bad.  Really, by my standards, this is a very good score, all easy fixes.  The key point is the sheer-line is perfect, and that is a very subtle curve, so hard to do by hand.  The drawing took ages but the results are worth is for such an apparently simple yet quite complex curved vessel.  The box structure make it very rigid and straight


While I was waiting, I'd made a good start on the wooden core for the charthouse which is probably going to be made in copper as that curved windbreak and the side doors are structural and need to be thin.  Here is is in position, nice fit




Rear view after the sides were cut down




And here are the torpedo tubes in place prior to gluing the frames




The prop shaft alignment is controlled by the holes and the keel slot, trial fitted here.  You can also see the rudder shaft holes in the stern flat.  They will be drilled out tomorrow through blocks glued above the flat so tubes can be let in to take the rudder shafts




Centre prop shaft tube epoxied in place and all the frames glued.  Those slots are so tight, you need to work fast or the glue (PVA wood glue) locks them up, a bit stressful but done now




And here is the next stage in how to make a wooden hull without planking or carving skills, cutting balsa block sections to exactly 32mm long in my improvised table saw slide




And the first two pieces in place, only 158 more to go





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Lastly, one of the major challenges for this vessel is the VERY prominent Zeiss Rohrzielapparat 5 torpedo sight which sits in the centre of the open bridge.  David Krakow's Schnellboot in action has a great 3d drawing of this and the plan that comes with Carlo Cestra's Schnellboot Type S-38 and S-100 super drawings in 3D has a scale drawing of this little beast.  Between them I was able to produce my own 3D model of it (@1/48th scale this is just 35mm high)


target computer


And here it is out of the resin printer, with a coat of primer.  I printed this in clear green resin as I believe it's able to hold the finest detail.  Cheating or not, I really pleased with how this turned out.  There are two brass etched wheel and some .3mm brass wire to add, but overall, a result!.  THis sets the standard to aim the whole built at...





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Another beauty in the making, Steve.


I can relate to your 'mistakes'.  One of the big advantages to scratch building is these kinds of mistakes can be relatively easily corrected.  I've got to the point to where I don't make mistakes on my scratch builds, I just make multiple versions of the same parts.  :rofl: 

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This hull is a challenge, still, there is nothing like sanding a hull to understand the lines of a vessel.  Somehow the thoughts that were in the mind of the designer communicate through your fingers and you can really understand what they were aiming at.  Nothing else does this.  The process of sanding is very labour intensive and of course super dusty, but once you've got it right, you know.  This time there is a real benefit to having the frames laser cut as it leave the edges black from the scotch marks.  Sanding the balsa inserts it is easy to over sand areas, but watching the burn mark fade is a dead give away to how close the shape is to being right.  And, the bow is a total nightmare for such a seemingly simple shape.


As you can see, there is no need to be too fussy with the shaping before gluing, its easy to carve and sand once stuck




Here is the other side, first rough sanding complete




And here, both sides roughly sanded




The hull is going to be sealed with sanding sealer before a first coat of primer to identify the blemishes that I will fill with car body filler to achieve the final super smooth finish I want.  I was tempted to plank it (like I did for the Farmile, but looking at the pictures closely, they really did achieve a smooth finish on their hulls so really no values in all that extra work


This shot shows the alignment of the prop shafts and rudder shafts set into the hull and the stern curve cut with the bandsaw after the deck was installed.  The actual stern will be added to this in .8mm ply so that i can get the stern wedge shape right after the first sanding is done and before the filler stage




I also meant to add that the cast bronze props arrived from Shapeways, seen above in the foreground and below in closeup.  They each come in an individual jewellery pouch...




The decks are on now and sanded back to profile (0,8 mm ply).  The box out is for the main deckhouse which will be removable until late in the build as I did with the SGB




Here is the cheek line base plank installed (it will be further built up and sanded to shape later).  You can see that the forward deck line and the frames needed adjustment with some added balsa.  This will all be made good with the filler The uncut ply former is the front of the torpedo tube.  The actual tube will be in brass and the tube cover made from aluminium so that I can mark the rivets.  The raised forecastle was just added onto the type 20 hull, built up on frames set of the deck as I have built it




Here is the forward gun tub let into the deck.  This was made from copper and set in with epoxy.  Before anyone says anything, I know the gun tub shape is more complex than a simple cylinder, it has a conical section to the rear I believe to provide space for the gun retraction, but there are limits, even in my builds...




Lastly, this poor shot sows the outer prop shaft flanges (o.8mm ply) installed.  These will be blended in with filler later




So, a productive couple of days and the hull really taking shape.  The bow cut-outs will be finally shaped with filler, don't worry that they look rough at the moment


Huge amount of dust in the workshop, glad that bit is over.  Deck houses next



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57 minutes ago, beefy66 said:

worth all the work you put into your builds

Thanks Beefy,


If I give you our number, perhaps you could give my wife a call.... :wink:


Anyway, hopefully it will make a nice companion model to the other two



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50 minutes ago, Courageous said:

Having never worked with wooden hulls, this looks great

One day, you really must try it Stuart.  As I have said, there is nothing to compare to sanding the hull to the right lines, it is a tactile experience that I don't have the words to explain, even with the dust...



1 hour ago, Arjan said:

you seem to be building at a furious pace


Well Arjan, it does help my finally being retired :yahoo:

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