HOBART Class Air Warfare Destroyers

Over the past few months (in 2011), Defence Models & Graphics was very busy with a new confidential project. After almost five years of working with companies involved with the preliminary project for the new Australian Navy Destroyers, we were approached by the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance about constructing a number of models of the new design.

Quotes and ideas were prepared and in December 2007, we were awarded the contract to construct three 1:72 scale models of the ships. Following signing of all the paperwork, Allan Pew of APS Models started construction of the master for the hull. Whilst Allan worked on the hull in his workshop, we began work on all the masters for the various weapons, sensors and fittings.

To aid in the construction of the models, drawings were prepared that allowed us to have many of the flat panels that made up decks and superstructure blocks, laser cut in the “Evergreen” styrene sheets we use. These were done by a local business, here in Tumbarumba, TJM Laser Engraving. Terry did a fabulous job and has saved us many hours by cutting the parts from plastic and ply. We were so impressed, we bought his business, and now it trades as Thunder Graphics.

By the time the first hull arrived at our workshop, many parts had been made and were ready to be fitted. Decks were fitted into place and then fibre-glassed and the underwater fittings including the new retractable bow-thruster, bilge keels, stabilisers, rudders and propeller shafts were fixed into place. We were assisted in the fitting of the decks and preparation for the superstructure to be built by Tim Sexton from DevilFish Boats of Tumbarumba. The super structure was now built up using the laser cut styrene sheet panels, edges smoothed out and vents and intakes fitted with their grills. Once the basic superstructure was all finished, fittings such as the SPY-1D Phased Array Radar panels were added along with guard rails, ladders etc.

The mast structure was one of the more complex pieces to construct. The mast rakes backwards and is constructed of square cross section tubes. Some are tapered so they reduce in size as the mast progresses in height. Many of these parts were cast in polyurethane resin, so they could be reproduced more easily in the following models. Yardarms and supports were made from various sizes of “Evergreen” styrene and glued together. Fittings were cast and glued in place and once again many of these were cast in resin so they can be reproduced with minimal fuss. In total we estimate that more than 90% of the models fittings were moulded and cast. Almost no fittings now have to be made for follow on models and construction time has been greatly reduced on future models.

Once construction of the major sections of the ship was completed, the model was painted in a white primer and any blemishes were cleaned off or filled. The deck areas were then painted in Pewter Grey and the lower hull painted in flat black. These areas were allowed to thoroughly dry and then masked off. The entire ship was then painted in the RAN colour of “AS/N-42 Storm Grey”. Once this coating had dried the masking was removed and deck fittings, which had previously been painted, were fitted to the deck and superstructure. Some other minor sections such as Radars, funnel tops and flight deck markings were masked and painted and the final fittings such as Satellite communications domes, Navigation Radars, lights and whip antennas were fitted into place. Finally, rigging of the HF fan aerials, and signal halyards were done and painted.

Finally the ship could now get her identity and her name bars and pennant numbers “39” were added along with her RAN white ensign flying from the back of the main mast. She received a final coat of semi-gloss clear lacquer and the models were fitted into their huge display cases. Each case was 2100mm long, 350mm wide and 900mm high and fitted to a hand made solid, polished timber base. The bases were made by another Tumbarumba local, Graham Pack.

All three models were handed over the Commonwealth and are displayed in Russell Offices in Canberra, the new Systems Centre in Port Adelaide and the third model is used at various trade exhibitions around the country. Two more models are also on display at RAYTHEON Australia’s main office in Sydney and the other in Canberra.

Two 1:100 scale models have also been produced with one going to LOCKHEED MARTIN in the US and the other to RAYTHEON also in the US. Several even smaller models have also been built in 1:250 scale and 1:350 scale for corporate offices.

It has been a great honour for us to have been tasked to build these models of the RAN’s future front line ships.