HMAS CANBERRA Dive Centre Models

Having served on HMAS CANBERRA during my Navy time, I could not resist the offer of a project to construct a pair of models of the once great ship. HMAS CANBERRA (FFG-02) was one of six "ADELAIDE Class" Guided Missile Frigates, built in the USA and Australia for the RAN in the 1980s. She was completed in 1981 and decommissioned on the 12th of November 2005. After much preparation to make her safe she was sunk as a dive wreck off the southern coast of Victoria in October 2009 in 28 meters of water.

Our client runs one of the dive tours of the ex-CANBERRA and thought it would be great idea to have two models constructed of the ship as she was in her Navy service so divers could get a good idea of what she was like. One model went to each of their dive stores on the southern coast of Victoria. The models were required to be approximately 1.2 metres in length so it was decided to build them to a scale of 1:100 giving them a length of 1.38 metres.

The models started out as usual with a once piece fibre-glass hull constructed by Tim at Southern Cross Models. The hull mould was completed and two beautiful hulls cast. These arrived mid 2011 and work began. Decks were fitted and fibre-glassed into place. Underwater fittings of stabilisers, bilge keels, rudder, propeller and shaft were fitted to each model. Both models were built side by side to make the job easier.

The superstructure was cut from styrene sheet on our flat bed laser and fitted to the main deck. The superstructure is a relatively easy build on an FFG, however the masts are a complex array of lattice structure and platforms with all sorts of sensors fitted to it. These took some time to complete as in all there are four mast structures on each ship. A short mast to support the Mk92 Fire Control (egg shaped dome on the bridge roof), the foremast topped with the SPS-49 air search RADAR, the main mast with several large platforms with sensors and finally another smaller mast behind this which supports the SPG-60 fire control system/illuminator.

Once these were completed they were painted and set aside ready for fitting once the main part of the model was completed. This was also done with most other fittings on the model. The Mk13 Missile Launcher, 76mm gun, funnel uptake, sensors and deck fittings were all completed, painted and put aside ready to fit.

The superstructure was completed, fitted with railings and finished off and painted. The deck was masked up and the sides painted with Storm Grey (AS2700/N42) which is the green grey colour used by the RAN. Once dry the decks masking was removed and all the previously completed parts fitted and glued into place. The models had their "02" side numbers applied on the bow and stern and fitted to a small polished base. As the models were going into large display cabinets in each shop, display cases were not required.

The models were delivered just prior to Christmas 2011 and quickly put on display. They serve their purpose well giving divers a glimpse into what she looked like before she ended up on the bottom of the bay. A useful end to a once proud and elegant warship of the RAN.

One more model maybe completed for another dive company on the Central Coast of NSW who now run tours of the ex-HMAS ADELAIDE scuttled in 2011 as dive wreck and artificial reef. She is another ship I proudly served on during my Navy years and will be very happy to build a model of her for them should the need arise.