HMS Ark Royal 1976 (Royal Navy) by Dave Fortey
Brand: Scratchbuilt
Scale: 1/72
Modeler: Dave Fortey - Museum Quality Custom Airctaft Profile Prints

This model is awarded by Editor's Choice - Excellence Award!


Initial Build and Plans


Initially i wanted to build HMS Eagle (1972), as i thought she was a better looking carrier, however after considering the scale issues and availability of aircarft kits in either 1:96 or 1:72 scale i decided 1:72 Ark Royal was to be the more straight forward to build. The ships were to be scratch built however i was not prepared to build 40 or so aircraft from scratch!

In 1991 Plans were obtained from Greenwich maritime museum who supplied original ship drawings detailing Ark Royal as she was after 1976 refit. The palns were at a differing scale i applied a correction factor of x 2.87 to all measurements from plan to build.

The construction was plank on frame using marine ply framing and keel, hardwood stringers with steamed Red Cedar planking attached with pins and Cascemite glue, gently steamed via a kettle into the rough shape. Planed with a David planking plane. Once dry coated with West system epoxy. It was quite sad to prime the hull as the lovely planking was then hidden forever.

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Build progress & engines.

Although it was not a full time operation the build to flight deck was quite rapid, along with finishing the hull. The vessel was large, 13ft in total, hence consideration for ballast was significant, therefore from an early age water ballast was to be included. 6 main tanks were built between the frames allowing for 18kg of water ballast. these were controlled by 16 water pumps taken from scrapped car windscreen washers. Access was a big consideration so the flight deck was largely removable with the centre section running the entire length held in place by magnets. The pump control panel was on the port side of the flight deck, again easily accessible. Motors were 4 independent 12v car blower fans (50 pence each) running from a single car battery (12v 85amp/hr). She has four shafts each with a 3 bladed propellor. throughout her life the ark changed propellors, having 3,4 and 5 blades at various times, again the maritime museum assisted with this research.

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Build functions and fittings.

Wiring was a significant issue as it had to be incorperated before some areas being sealed. Due to the size of the vessel a bow thruster was required to overcome the over scale effects of windage, this was the only compromise to the shipps scale systems.

in addition automatic warping winches were included to allow for the remote use of tugs allowing retrieval of warps forward and aft. Anchor winch was built for the Port anhcor only.


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Launch and initial trials.

Ark Royal was launched at a local lake, she required more ballast than thought at 13ft she could carry the weight of two people.

Subsequently MDF flight deck was added along with the basic island structure. It was vital to test all the main systems prior to continuing with the build and finer detailing.

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Ship Fittings.

The majority of fittings were scratch built, the only exceptions being life rafts !

many were made of balsa then used as plugs for moulds, plasti card also featured heavily, masts and complex shapes constructed from metal rod and strip.

The plan was to have as much working as possible hence the radars all rotated (at correct speed) landing lights for the carrier landing light system, jet balst deflectors raised and lowered, howeevr there is abalance between the fine details, as all modellers know the finer the details the more damage caused in moving the model, especially when one is a working R/C craft. Aircraft have a system of pins which invisably hold them to the deck, however allow removal for stowage and transport.

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Ark Royal carried F4K Phanotms, S2 Buccneers, AEW3 Gannets, Sea King mk1, Wessx mk1 and the occasional Gannet Mk4 COD.

The Phantoms were Fujimi Yellow Bird Phantoms models, Buccaneers were Airfix S2, Sea Kings modified from airfix Mk3 RAF versions, gannets were composites made from Aero club conversions kits with Revell Mk4 wings ( expensive to build, hence they all have small motors to turn propellors), Wessex 1 was a Revell kit.

All aircraft were extensively modified to have canpoies open/closed, wings folded, lashings, chocks and blanks fitted. decals were from various sources all representing genuine aircraft serials and call sign number.

Flight deck equipment scratch built.

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  Photos and text © 2014 by Dave Fortey

September 10, 2014