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History

The individual history of these boats can be hard to track down, but No. 2757 built in 1956 by Vosper Thornycroft at Southampton, does currently exist on public display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, essentially complete and as original, Photo 1. She was delivered new in January 1958 to the Royal Air Force at Alness as a high speed motor launch and rescue vessel. Propulsion was from two Rolls Royce Sea Griffon engines giving a top speed of 39kts.

In 1974-5, the vessel was commanded by F/Lt. Colin Chandler, completing some 50 exercises and sorties, mainly involving RAF aircraft, though also with some operations together with the Royal Navy and Army. She was latterly kept serviceable at RAF Mountbatten, pending gifting to Hendon, this being the last 68ft High Speed Launch (H.S.L). in the UK. On 26 November 1977, she made her last voyage from RAF Mountbatten up the English Channel to London's Royal Victoria Docks, for onward movement by road to Hendon where she became a museum exhibit on 4th December 1977. She is having ongoing restoration and maintenance work, carried out both by volunteers and contractors. Length overall is 20.73 metres (67.96 feet), beam 5.8 metres (19.00 feet) and a displacement tonnage of 34.15. If you are to base your model on an actual vessel still around, then Hendon Museum is one such place to go, www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london for more detailed information.

This type of vessel was a development of the high speed rescue launch used by the RAF during the second world war. Their principal duty was target towing for RAF strike and anti submarine aircraft, but they were also fully equipped for search and rescue (SAR) missions, often undertaken with the involvement of helicopters, pioneering the procedures now used by the present day SAR organisation. There are some differences from No. 2754 onwards, these having a raised deckhouse over the engine room hatch and companionway doors facing port instead of aft, giving the builder much scope to investigate and add some super detailing themselves, such as a wood deck and even simulating the hullís diagonal planking plus a few figures.

The Kit

Some years ago when Laurie White of The Model Slipway was starting to show interest in model boats he came across a 1958 edition of Model Maker magazine with a well illustrated front cover of an R.T.T.L. (Rescue and Target Towing Launch) No. 2754, also including a free plan with a few detailed photos of No. 2753 by Vic Smeed. At that time it was constructed from wood and some weeks later Laurie had completed his first build. With that experience and now some years later, he reflected on how enjoyable it was, so he decided to produce a kit of the same subject as a representative semi-scale model at a scale of 1:40, for single screw with a length of 500mm and a beam of 145mm using modern day materials and construction methods. This would be of the 68ft Rescue and Target Towing Launch Mk.1B and based on No. 2754 built by Vosper Thornycroft in 1956, but tragically lost off Gibraltar in January 1976.

The kit, Photo 2, contains a one piece thermo (vac-formed) hull, deck, cabin, internal tray, motor mount, battery tray, rudder halves, windbreak, winch house and dinghy. Also provided is a sheet of clearly printed styrene parts for hatches, doors etc. Included is a set of white metal fittings, vinyl lettering for the all logos and numbers, quality motor, prop shaft/propeller, rubber coupling and tiller arm. There is a 25 page A4 instruction booklet giving a wealth of drawings and instructions, plus a large full size drawing leaving no stone unturned in the usual Model Slipway fashion. Items that require purchasing separately to complete the model will include fine model filler, tubes of superglue gel or liquid, styrene glue of the liquid type (not the tube variety), an epoxy glue such as Araldite and paints that can be easily purchased from a good model shop to complete the model.

Tools required

Due to this modelís simplicity and small scale, only basic tools are required and it can even be built on the kitchen table, wife permitting of course. The following tools are suggested, a sharp Stanley type knife or craft knife, a sanding block with a range of medium and fine abrasive papers, one or two sheets of each P240, P600 and P1000 grade. Heavy duty scissors (kitchen types work well), a small round and a flat file or nail file would do, steel ruler or good straight edge, pliers, screwdrivers and a few clothes pegs or bulldog clips, all of which most modellers should have.

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During the planning stage, The Model Slipway wanted to produce a kit that could be easily constructed with very few tools by the novice or beginner using as many pre-formed components as possible. Vac-Formings (VF) were the chosen method and these are best cut out with the use of heavy duty scissors, or if you are careful with a knife, and I do mean carefully. The hull components consist of three main vac-formings, the hull, deck and internal radio tray, Photos 3, 4 and 5. The instructions in association with the various drawings show very clearly with marked shaded areas which parts require cutting and trimming to size. The hull and internal tray once cut out, had the cut edges sanded smooth, making sure they were even all around, especially the internal tray edges that will face the hull sides. The outside of the hull requires some lengths of 1.5mm x 1mm styrene strip, from the printed parts sheet, to create the spray rails on both sides. These were glued on using my chosen liquid solvent glue (E.M.A Plastic Weld) applied with a brush. A note for the beginner - this is a glue that works by dissolving (melting) the area/surfaces where applied, thus creating a weld type joint once gently pressed together. The glue will then evaporate or dry out over time, creating one solid joint, thus the more glue applied, the longer it will melt and likewise the longer to become a solid. With that in mind one could easily make a mess by turning the area into one big molten blob of plastic. The thinner the plastic, the easier it will melt and distort. So be careful and apply just enough for the job and if unsure try out on different thicknesses of scrap plastic to build your confidence. To give you an idea, it took three minutes to apply the spray rail strip all around the hull, after which it was all stuck firmly, ready for a little fine sanding down. Itís as simple as that and with a little practice speedy construction is possible. A firm building base in the form of a boat stand can be constructed from either wood or stiff packing foam material. The hull shape I obtained by using a profile gauge, or it can be done by using cardboard templates in trial and error fashion until a good fit is achieved and then transferring the shapes to wood or material to hand.

Anyway back to the plot - the internal tray required the propshaft access hole cutting out. This is to allow for gluing and sealing of the shaft tube to the inside of the hull using a small amount of 5min epoxy or araldite type glue, not forgetting to roughen up with sandpaper the area were the glue is to go, thus making for a good adhesion. The motor mount is part of the inner tray requiring two lengths of the 6mm x 3mm plastic strip supplied, for the elastic bands to hold the motor down in position. The rubber bands are not supplied, although easily obtained once the postman has been around, by looking outside the front door on the ground, where they all seem to discard them! Recently they are red in colour and are easily noticeable. The rudder is made up from two half vac-formings requiring cutting and trimming to fit together equally, allowing for a cut to length piece of 1.5mm diameter brass wire bent to shape to fit within the rudder mouldings to form the rudder post, Photo 6. This is better carried out on one half of the moulding, by gluing in position with either superglue or a blob of 5min epoxy, then offering up and gluing in position the other half vac-forming. Let all set hard, then apply model filler around the join line and sand to final shape. The rudder post tube inside the hull is a simply a piece of 3.2mm diameter plastic tube, cut to the required length, the placement of which is detected by turning over the hull and locating a small dimple in the moulding, approximately 33mm from the transom edge. It pays to carefully drill the hole out to size by hand, or drill a smaller hole and file to final size matching the same diameter as the tube. Then fit the interior tray (VF2) temporarily in position by holding in place with tape against the transom sides, drop a drill through the rudder hole from the outside of the hull previously made, locate and drill the next hole in through the internal tray whilst making sure the drill is vertical from all angles. The propshaft hole is then marked out at 140mm forward of the rudder post centre (towards the bows). The propshaft hole once drilled, needs to be elongated with the use of a fine round file, due to the angle of the tube placement,. Between the hull surface and propshaft tube, is required the fitting of the propshaft skeg, this being from the printed parts sheet. This sets the angle of the propshaft tube and gives added stability. This was glued in place using superglue, making sure it remained central at all times, Photos 7 and 8. The temporary fitting of the internal tray and hole drilled out accordingly is essential, to facilitate the lining up procedure.

The main deck comes next and needs to be cut out as per the plan and instructions. The aim is to have 3-4mm lip or overhang all around, Photo 9, and should be as even and as straight as possible, I found 3mm overall looked better and in scale once on the model. A simpler and safer way to achieve this, is to stick a piece of P240 grit abrasive paper to a flat surface, then by gently running the deck cut edge over the paper in a circular motion, an even all round finish can be obtained. Fitting the deck can be a little tricky, not forgetting to fit the support pieces, P2 and P3 first, because the hull appeared too big for the deck due to its tapered shape. The simplest cure is to sand a little amount of plastic all around off the top of the hull moulding as it is tapered, until a snug fit inside the deck lip is achieved. Once the inner tray and deck is glued on with styrene glue it then becomes a much rigid structure. The tow plates and top deck edging strip were also then applied from the printed parts, the spray rails having added earlier.

Superstructure assembly

The assembly of this is very straightforward due to its one piece well moulded vac-forming (VF5), Photo 10. Do not cut too much material from the bottom of the superstructure moulding at this early stage, this will be trimmed down later.

The areas that require cutting out have been indicated partly engraved on the vac-forming as a scribed cut line, but do follow the drawings as well. The use of scissors or a sharp knife would suffice in cutting out, followed by a light sand down with abrasive paper. The sloping back of the superstructure needs to have a 2mm lip or return edge all around. Two sidewall printed part doublers (P11), need to be cut out from the printed part sheet, Photo 11 and glued in place, Photo 12. Once these are in position, the rear bulkhead (P10) position is also then established. The cockpit was next is to be assembled, Photo 13. This is a simple box like construction, the use of a small engineers square or a small piece of square wood helps in the construction just to get the side pieces square to the base. It is worth noting that the printed parts if cut to the line (or very close) will be square on assembly - a good sign of quality printed parts. Its final position once any join lines have been filled with the use of Humbrol model filler and lightly sanded down, is to be glued to the underside of the main superstructure. Cutting out the windbreak VF6 moulding, Photo 14, could be a little fiddly as you need to leave a 2mm lip (or return), all around for gluing . Once again the limitations of vac-forming can cause the plastic to be thin in tight corners and one thing that styrene solvent glue does eat well is thin plastic, so once again take care at all times. I always find that a small brush with only a few hairs on it holds less liquid glue and that way just enough is applied to do the trick. For the window positions, Photo 15, I transferred all the required dimensions as per the plan,. Then as per the instructions, I cut lengths of printed styrene P21 to create the window frames these are very fine straight lengths of plastic, so a nice sharp blade is required here and 300mm long straight edge ruler, preferably a metal one. Once cut, the best way to hold the strips in place on the model during gluing , is with small lengths of masking tape making sure that the plastic is on the pencil mark and apply the glue with a fine brush only around the window edges and not the entire length of the plastic, once set the non required plastic strip can then be trimmed back with a scalpel or sharp knife by two light scores and broken away gently. Once complete, the inner window part can then be cut out and removed, Photo 16. The same plastic strip, P21, is also used around the front cabin lockers as per the plan, Photo 17. The roof strips P22, which have to be added, need to be spaced as per the plan, working from a centreline easily worked out, with the first ones 2mm either side of it making the spacing between each, 4mm until ten in total have been fitted. The engine room companionway is assembled from printed parts, P32-P34. Once again no real assembly problems here, just cut and file the two curves as per the printed marks.

There are two lockers that need to be made up, which combined with the front locking tongue secure the cabin to the hull. These two boxes locate on the inside faces of the rear sidewalls of the cabin each having a length of bent brass wire to make up the latches. The sequence of fitting the superstructure or cabin is clever and very simple. First lower the cabin onto the deck opening, the rearward pointing pins fitted to the deck locate into holes in the locker-boxes first, then by pushing the cabin forward once the pins are located, the front underside tongue engages into the front hull slot piece, P4. Simple and very effective and this slot piece can be seen in Photo 33.

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Dinghy

This vac-formed part requires cutting and trimming to shape as required, making sure that the top curve up to the point of the bow is the same both sides, Photos 18 and 19. The final position on the deck once it is painted, is upside down on two stands, cut and shaped as per the printed parts, a very simple job - nothing too difficult, just cut, trim and paint!

Tow Winch House

This is a small covered area at the stern from which would be controlled the tow winch and its cable connected to the target. It is constructed from two vac formings VF7 and VF8. The top half requires the window openings marking out as per the plan and removing with the use of a sharp knife, Photos 20 and 21. This part along with the hatch forms a one piece removable unit and has to be built up on the model for a perfect Ďdrop iní fit. The small camber is set by the printed end pieces, P14, Photo 22. With that in mind do not accidentally glue everything to the main hull deck as access is definitely required. The sliding hatch cover P20 sits on two thin lengths of styrene to simulate the sliding rails. On top of this hatch are the two dinghy stands from the printed parts sheet. They are different in size, so note the position of each one on the hatch and which one goes where, according to the plan, Photo 23.

Mast Construction

The main plan shows the mast construction very well in a clear step by step sequence. The suggested method of using a template from scrap wood or plastic with the required three 1.6mm diameter holes drilled as a building base is the best way. Three uprights have to be cut to size from the supplied tube, then by inserting and gluing with superglue three short lengths of 15 mm long x 1.5mm diameter wire protruding out by at least 3mm at the lower ends for mounting and stability, works very well, Photo 24. The tricky part is getting the plastic tube angles correct, so as to meet at the top, which takes a little trial and error including the three cross pieces. The top platform is made up from the printed parts supplied and glued in place as per the plan. The aerial going off at an angle can be just glued in position, although as it could easily break off, I have chosen to drill at an angle, two holes, one in the back single leg and one half hole in the front lower cross piece from the back, thus the aerial rod can then pass through the leg and sit in the lower hole in the cross piece. The completed mast assembly once painted is then placed on to the superstructure roof where I have already drilled out the same mounting holes spaced as per the build template with final gluing in position once painted.

Fittings

As always from The Model Slipway, the quality of their white metal fittings is superb with sharp, clear and crisp detail, requiring very little if any cleaning to be carried out with the use of a fine brass suede brush prior to painting. Assembly of parts like port and starboard lights is carried out with the use of superglue. There is only one handrail outside the side door that needs to be made up from rod, first by bending a length of rod into a U shape by following the side elevation plan, then adding a middle piece either by soldering, or just gluing . Mark the position on the deck, drill the holes slightly smaller diameter than the diameter of the rod, thus facilitating a push fit fixing with a little dab of superglue. Side wheelhouse grab or handrails are simply cut and bent to shape from the supplied rod. The two davits just require the two white metal turn handles glued on, Photos 25, 26 and 27.

Painting

Within the instructions, a full colour scheme is included, although some vessels did have minor differences here and there. My usual choice of using Halfords acrylic car sprays wherever possible, then picking out any detail using tinlet paints and a fine brush was continued with this model. Fittings along with other parts were mounted on scrap wood and all sprayed the required colour as a batch run. Before painting any model hull, I always rub down all over with very fine wet and dry abrasive paper to create a good key for the paint. I also wash or wipe down all the items with warm mild soapy water to remove any dust or finger marks whilst at the same time removing any static charge build up, shake the water off and allow to dry naturally out in the air. Once dry, Photo 28, itís ready for the first primer coat of paint. Once applied it is then left to harden for a day or so, then a further light sand down with 1000 grade wet and dry paper. The primer or first coat normally shows any problems like filler or scratches etc. that at this stage can be easily rectified, then a last light wash or wipe over and leave to dry ready for the topcoat main colour. I find 10mm wide Tamiya masking tape is the best to use for masking and especially waterlines, to achieve a sharp clean paint line. It is easy to apply, is fairly flexible for curves and a good gentle sticking ability giving no bleed effect. I only use the normal car type masking tape for the main paper covering. The superstructure firstly had an all over coat of grey primer, then was masked off for the roof white primer coat, Photo 29. Halfords colours used were: red oxide primer, satin black, grey primer and white primer. Humbrol tinlet colours used to pick out the detail and applied with a brush were: Matt Brown No.186 for deck, Matt Red/Scarlet No.60 for lifebelts and port navigation light and Green No.30 for the starboard light. For an all over finish protective coat I have applied with the use of my airbrush, three coats of Humbrol Satin cote, thinned to assist application. As indicated before, all fittings for painting I mount on scrap wood or some means of holding ready for painting, Photo 30.

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Final Assembly

Once all the painting is complete, the model starts to come to life by gluing in position all the various fittings. For added strength I have also pinned some of the deck fittings down. As with all deck fittings etc., only apply just enough glue for the job as too much could mark the paint finish. Rub on self adhesive numbers have been supplied for the builder to choose his or her vessel markings, along with two RAF roundels. These are very easy to apply by peeling off the backing paper to reveal the decal sticky side. Offer up in the required position and press home, rub all over with the flat of your finger nail then gently peel back the semi see-through carrier film to reveal. This is much easier then decals and no protective waterproof varnish coat either, Photo 31. Last job is to cut and glue in position the window glazing. I use Evo Stick contact adhesive, making sure to remove the clear protective film first, Photo 32.

Radio

Only a basic two channel radio set is required, along with one standard servo for rudder control. A simple wiring diagram and r/c gear general layout is within the instructions and even has suggested suppliers. I have used a Futaba Two channel 27 MHz AM receiver model FP-R122JE with an internal BEC system. Channel One connects to the rudder servo and Channel Two connects to the electronic speed controller from Action electronics. The version used is a Condor 10/2 auto set P79 computer speed controller that is ideal for small models, due to its compact size and suitability for this type of motor. It is important during the wiring stage to have some form of wire colour code, especially for the battery power using red for +ve and black for -ve polarity, carefully followed to avoid any electrical disasters. The use of a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) receiver allows the receiver and connected devices to source its power from the main battery pack (wiring permitting), this being a 7.2volt 2300mAh buggy NiCad pack. All this can be seen in Photo 33. If the receiver or speed controller used does not have an inbuilt BEC circuit or system, then a separate receiver battery pack will be required. This will also impact on the boats overall weight and possible performance on the water. My system of running the receiver aerial wire around the underside of the main deck and holding in place with tape always works well. The control rod connecting the servo horn and the supplied tiller arm is shown in Photo 34. This has been bent from a small length of rigid wire and held in place behind the servo horn with a 1.5mm bore collar, available from any good model shops as used by aircraft modellers for holding wheels on etc., or you could use a cut down small electrical terminal block. I have also used the same type of collar to restrict the back and forwards movement of the propshaft. This is not necessary, but just me being cautious. Note before installing the connecting rod to make sure the servo is set to its middle point and the rudder is set to go in a straight line. The tiller should be 90 degrees to the rudder blade. At this point a full radio functionality test was carried out. The best way is to view the model looking towards the stern, with no transmitter stick movement and all trims set to the centre mark. The rudder should point straight down the middle in line with the propshaft. If it can be easily corrected with the trim control, then do so. By moving the right hand transmitter stick to the right the rudder should also move in the same direction and the opposite for the left turn. The speed controller you choose to use, might have some settings to adjust, such as where the centre dead band is and the maximum amount of speed required. However with Action equipment, that is automatically taken care of. Forward or ahead motion can be tested by feeling the draft created from the propeller in forward motion and do keep fingers well away from the propeller. The speed control was set via an internal link to the smooth acceleration mode. As always Action equipment is easy to setup, easy to use and well priced. www.action-electronics.co.uk or tel: 0115 9607951.

To the pond!

Ballasting the model is very simple, as the main battery pack forms the main ballast. If any trim is required to get it to the waterline, which mine did not, then that can be added by using small pieces of lead. Once placed on the water itís always best to move off slowly at first until you are aware of what the model will do under power. Once out and away more power was applied and a rapid response was had. She certainly moves with good overall control both forward and reverse which is not too bad, considering the flat transom. I had to make some adjustments for better steering, changing the control rod to tiller arm hole placement, after which excellent control was had within the confines of my small pond and same should be for my local larger boat pond, which due to our recent very wet summer is too choppy at present. The power from the drive battery pack seems to last and last, with only the rain stopping play after 35 minutes.

Conclusion

The Model Slipway once again have put hours of thought into giving us a kit that is near scale in looks with a performance to match, just like the real boat coupled with a little nostalgia as well. The physical size along with an easy build process backed up with excellent instructions and drawings has made for a thoroughly enjoyable build, ideal for the beginner to even the experienced. Quality of parts supplied, along with value for money cannot be faulted and you only need the most basic of tools to assist in the construction. No workshop required, just a work top, workmate or small table. Storage presents no big problem, a small box or a shelf - what more could you ask for! If the builder so wishes, super detailing can be achieved by planking or drawing out a wood deck on thin ply, boat hooks added, stern railings, screens, dinghy detail to even figures - now there is a thought! Kit price is £45 plus P+P. Tel 01226 770008 or logon to www.modelslipway.com for more info.