Late in 2016 I had a Navy mate who lives here in Uralla ask me about doing a model of one of his favourite postings, HMAS SNIPE (M-1102). We knew he hadn't been well for sometime and so I thought I would do my best to get a model of her done as quickly as I could. He couldn't afford to do a large model so we chose to do a model in 1:100 giving it a length of around 460mm. We had a spare suitable display case already made up so that saved some cost and time. However one problem was that there was no hull available. I managed to find some plans for the hull and a generic drawing of the RAN "TON" Class Minesweeper. However with changes that were done to the six vessels in the class it was very difficult to research exactly what SNIPE would look like during the time frame that Ian was on her. I went off what info I could chase up on her history and determined what configuration she was probably in at that time.
First job was to carve a hull. Using the drawings I laid up a hull in sheet craft wood. Once glued together it was the basic shape of the hull and and using a belt sander, Dremmel and sanding block it didn't take too long to make it look pretty good. It was sprayed with auto spray putty and sanded until the grain disappered and I had a nice smooth hull ready for detailing. I then drew up the main deck areas for cutting and engraving on the laser. The TON Class had timber planked decks. In fact most of the TON Class were built of timber as a metal hull would have made her an attractive target for magnetic mines that she was designed to hunt down and destroy. The decks were cut with all the planking engraved into it. This was glued onto the top of the hull and the edges blended into the hull. The hull was detailed with the rubbing strakes and all its underwater hardware and then the lower hull painted and masked up to protect it.
The blocks of the superstructure were cut and assembled from Everygreen sytrene and detailed with small details all made by hand from various thicknesses and shapes of styrene. The mast was done from styrene rod and brass and fitted above the bridge. All the superstructure was done as individual blocks and fully detailed and painted before it was assembled and added to the main deck. I thought it best to do it this way to avoide marking the timber decks and having to mask the deck around all the small fittings such as vents, cranes, lockers. These were all made and painted and put aside until the hull was completed with guard rails etc.
Now that the hull was painted and complete it was fitted to the base to keep it steady whist all the superstructure and fittings were glued in place. A few more minor fittings were completed and the ships pennant numbers, 1102, were placed on the hull. It was all then given an overall coat of semi-gloss spray varnish to seal everything up, and also even out any slight differences in paint finishes. The ensign was added to her ensign staff and the small badge for her funnel, which was a round badge in white with a black mine (a black oval shape with spikes) and a small red kangaroo over the top of it along with two small "SNIPE" name badges.
I then engraved a couple of plaques, one with Ian's service details and one with the ships details and attached them to the base before securing the display case over the model. The model was delivered to Ian who is on a constant oxygen supply and has already well outlived his Doctors and Specialists expectations and I feel he will continue to do so for a while yet. He was very, very happy with his little model of one of his favourite ships.