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Well, I figured it was about time to start a building thread. So, some background on why TIRU. First of all I have always been captivated by the Fleet Boats and even more so by the postwar conversions/upgrades/testing platforms. My intention had always been to use the old Lionfish kit to model as many different forms as I could. Well, the Trumpeter 1/144 scale kit just kind of spoke to me for this build instead. TIRU came to my attention because there was a gentleman who worked on one of our upgrade/installation teams and he came to every planning meeting with a USS TIRU fleece on. I got to talking to him and he served onboard TIRU as a JO. That caused me to start researching her more. So, TIRU is a true "one-off" as the "prototype" for the GIII conversion. She got some upgrades but not all, had some equipment removed that wasn't removed on others, and she only had a 12.5 ft extension to her hull vice the final 15ft extension every other GIII had. She was commissioned after WWII and actually was completed as a GUPPY II and later extended and upgraded to GIII. She obviously saw no service in WWII, but did patrols during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The gentlemen and his former shipmates graciously provided me with a set of her plans and after scrounging through a ton of pictures, I made a plan for the 12.5ft extension and started with a bunch of chopping.

First the boat (from Navsource)


So I started with modeling old-school with nothing more than a knife and saw and sanding stick while I work in my BOQ room during command leadership school.

I struggled with my plan for how to stretch the hull by 12.5 scale feet...luckily, the Trumpeter kit has a long cylinder that runs down the middle. It is long enough that if I slide it forward some, it will stretch all the way across the extension with space t add multiple attachment points for the bow section that is moving forward. First I broke out the old contour gauge and started making some "ribs" for the inside of the hull with appropriate cutouts for the "pressure hull" cylinder to use it for alignment.


I ended up making six copies of the largest one to allow two on each side to provide internal structure to the extension and then one on each side at the after end of the bow section. These three stations are the same because the extension that was inserted was a continuous section piece that didn't blend into the form of the hull at all. The next station forward also has the cutout for the cylinder to control alignment. The two forward most stations are just to provide structure for the rest of the work that needs to be done on the bow.



I also have to fill the limber holes and redo ones appropriate to TIRU as a Guppy III. So, some plastic card was put in place (for backing of the eventual fill) as well as some internal stiffeners (spare sprue). The "stiffeners" are to maintain the shape when I cut out most of the deck and replace it with plastic card. Only about 30% of the kit deck will remain (maybe even less).


Here's a look at some of the work on the forward decking. I am trimming wider of the plans to leave space and material for eventual sanding of the curvature of the deck edge. I will also have to transplant a piece of the kit deck from the after section up to the rear ed of the forward section to get rid of some detail lost to an alignment part.


That is what you can get done in a BOQ room on TAD with no power tools or major equipment.



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So, next things got a bit more extreme. As a GUPPY, the whole bow and a fair chunk of the superstructure has to be redone for streamlining... so I puttied in the aft limber holes and used a coat of liquid cement to flood it into the holes. I had to run another thin layer over them to smooth it out and then sand to the desired angle. You can also see where I have cut a chunk out of the bow's upper structure. The red shows my original intentions for cuts, but I ultimately dropped down to a line just across the top of the forwardmost limber holes. I was gonna keep the cutouts for the bow planes, but I changed my mind and lopped them off too as you will see later. On the aft deck you might also be able to make out a new piece of decking from plastic sheet. Wider than the plans but narrower than the current section to account for sanding and shaping.


Here you can see a closer shot of the cut. See that I left the bottom and sides of the limber holes for structure. I'll sand the top of them to match the curve of the lower set of limber holes and sand them to the right shape. A square rod on top will provide the separation for the second set of limber holes which will be cut out of the plastic sheet that will form the rest of the superstructure sides.


And finally a look at the bow to show where I will cut out the area forward of the TT doors and I will also sand out the rest of the opening so that it is sharped edged and flat. For the forwardmost set of limber holes I will fill the first one and add an extra one at the rear.


The the ribs were placed into the bow section on the starboard side...


Fit check of the alignment of ribs and central cylinder before the ribs got sealed down for good...


Everything was good with the fit and alignment. Next was moving in to lay some sheet to build the outer hull that will be under the superstructure so there are no gaps when looking through the limber holes. There isn’t going to be any detailing done, this is just to put structure to build on. First, the sheet that will be wrapped to the ribs…


In the picture above you can also see the nubs of the limber holes edges that were left in place. You’ll see more with those in later updates.

Once the sheet was inserted, I wrapped each section into place and built an I-beam on the end to provide extra structure and shape…




Edited by parche
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Scooting on ahead on the bow of the TIRU. I got all of the .060 x .060 square rods in place and then sanded down the lip at the bottom of each limber hole. The pictures shows about half of the lower lips being sanded out.


The second pic just shows a comparison of the two sides of the bow. I have trimmed down the edge of the tube doors down and then I scribed the doors and cut out the forward section of each since they have to be corrected. I also put a lug in the forward most limber hole but I still have to cut out the after one. I also knocked off more detail from the tube doors and filled all the small holes in the tube doors and above them. Still need to sand all of that smooth.


I figured I would get the starboard side done and then do the port side so that I can match them up. This has been an entertaining build thus far because it has challenged my norm since I have been kind of flying by the seat of my pants from step to step as opposed to the normal detailed plan of attack. It has also been good to get back to "neanderthal" modelling that doesn't have any complicated tools or power equipment. Just an XACTO, saw and sanding sticks/files.

The next picture shows the second set of limber holes aft of the forward-most group on the bow. I made a jig to evenly space the guide rods and then I cut and sanded down the holes.


And finally, this picture shows the progress on both sides of the bow especially the fact that I have put a single .060x.060 square rod over second group of limber holes and then I added two .060x.060 square rods on top of the limber holes and first rod extending over the forward group of holes. It all looks very clunky now, but once I get everything ready on both sides of the bow then I can start getting crazy with the sanding implements.


And thus far in the thread is a summary of progress from January and May (I was deployed in the months between :)/> )



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So next I used a dremel to cut out all of the stern tube inserts from the kit since they are just essentially blanked off depressions in the kit...


Then I went about making some torpedo tube doors and tubes to show off. Here they are after initial build. Still some cleaning up to do...


How about some dry fitting to make sure stuff will display correctly...still plenty to do (i.e. trimming, clean up and fine alignment)


Gotta rebuild those areas that I cut out. Break out the plastic sheet and files and Mr. Putty and get going. Still early on, but you get the idea of where I am going...


I hemmed and hawed over whether I wanted to open tube 4. I started to prep all the insides, before I made the final choice cut the shutter door out.


I did it then continued to build up the insides...plenty left to do here... I also continued the work correcting the shutter doors on the starboard side...




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Some more progress pics...

Painted out the stern tube areas to check the sanding. Starboard side was good so it got the rub rails added in, port side got re-puttied...


Starboard side got all of it's shutter doors finished...


Port side got some paint thrown down in the open tube area to check the sanding and finishing. Sorry for the poor pic...


And I inserted the actual tube and started making the backing for the shutter area...


Next was the huge step of separating the bow sections from each side of the hull, no going back from this move...


After the big cut, I got around to inserting some 3/16 tube through the inner cylinder for use as mounting slots...




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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I got the two stern halves joined around the internal cylinder. Not the greatest fit, but it is tight together and I added a strip of plastic to the upper seam that will be below the superstructure just for some added strength. I have some detailing work on the stern that I think I will do next (just tweaking the flood holes that are between the tubes on each side) and then I'll probably move on to adding the bow section on and then building the inserted section's outer hull. Here's a few shots of the stern section and cylinder together with the port side of the bow taped into place...

Full shot from the side...


Close up showing the size of the extension...


Shot from above...


As I think about it, it makes the most sense to me to glue on the bow kit parts and then work on adding the extension hull in before moving on to doing more work on the bow... makes sense right? Seems the most obvious choice, but want to make sure I am not missing something... I added in the spacers top and bottom of the cylinder for the extension. I also added in strips to provide support at either edge of the extension. Not all that exciting, but here are the pics...




Progress has slowed since I have had to pull all the display models down to the work room in preparation for having the tile on main floor of my house be replaced with hardwood. I still have to move my hundreds of reference and history books as well...


On the very bottom of the pic is a Holland that I need to refurbish...and six finished revell lionfish that are hidden under the table.



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  • 2 months later...

Got around to doing some more work. I finished up the work on the torpedo tubes, but I haven't taken any more pictures of that. After some clean up of the inside of each bow section I went ahead and glued the ribs in place for the extension and added the bow sections...


That was followed by starting with the bottom layer of the skin. I did each side separately instead of trying to wrap it completely around the section...


After the first layer was done on each side I dryfitted the top layer I intended to use (a thicker sheet that could take more sanding) and then put some shim pieces in to even everything out...


A very thin layer of sheet was put in place and then covered with the thicker final layer. I grabbed my trusty pencil just to show where the weld lines would go in...


Some sanding is required to even everything slightly, and I obviously need to fill the keel strip, but once the weld seams are made, any remaining discontinuity should disappear since there will be a seam at the forward and aft ends of the insert.

Ok, finally a couple pics of the work on replacing the deck. From the first pic, you will understand why I put in the spacers underneath to provide support to the entire structure. It also shows how I am putting the plates in in sections instead of trying to make a huge insert at once. It also gives me a chance to realign stuff if needed. The second picture shows a couple more plates in place and it is conveniently sitting on a set of Mike Keating's sail templates sized to 1/144. More to come.





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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

So, I glued Mike Keating's North Atlantic Sail diagrams to a sheet of plastic and cut (with mini-Dremel and cutting wheel) out each of the parts. You can see the results in the first picture. I wasn't highly concerned about making them look pretty because the insides aren't going to be seen obviously and I am going to clean it up as I go. I held up the center piece to my drawings and realized I need to add a plastic piece to reshape the aft end of the sail. you can see the piece in the second picture...butt-join with some scrap reinforcements. I have permanently added the bottom two pieces with some cut tubes for stability and reinforcement. I have also decided to cut out the front section of the sail and rebuild to match the internal setup of the sail. The main problem right now is that the deadlights are going to fall near the one level piece. I also need to make sure the deck of the bridge is at the right height. So, there is some surgery to do. I also have to figure out how to do the deadlights, but I am currently thinking I might pour a clear resin mold in place and basically have a thick backside to them (throw out ideas if you have them). Anyone happen to have pictures of the bridge area on a NA sail? I have some looking down from Yorktown onto CLAMAGORE and I used to have some for REQUIN from the museum, but I can't seem to find those at the moment. So, if anyone can add clarity as I plan my detailing, I'd appreciate it.



I am trying to put some semblance of the bridge cockpit and lookout positions as well as the enclosed bridge area in, so I have needed to adjust Mike Keating's plans a little more. The fun part is that I am kind of working backwards. I set the original pieces together and now I am going back and cutting parts out and moving pieces to form different decks and rearranging where different stiffeners fall to form the shape. Inefficient, sure. But, it has been a little more fun I think...or I am just kidding myself. Unfortunately, good references are impossible for me in these areas, so I am using some best guesses on a few things that will be basically unnoticeable I think. Here are a couple pics... you can see the athwartships section I put in as the rear bulkhead of the internal and upper bridge areas...I would almost assume as I think about it that a healthy chunk of rear bulkhead would be missing to allow for free flood. I will probably trim a fair some away and maybe build up some scope shears...not sure. I may have to cut my tubing that I have as some extra structural support...whatever. This is the fun of modeling, right?



And the sail work continues...added some internals for the snorkel mast base and the exhaust plate base. You can also see the bridge deck is in place...


I cut a new sail top...adjusted the dimensions slightly and drew in general marks for all the antennas and openings... other than the bridge itself...


And then I started adding pieces to the underside to form the aft cavity for the snorkel induction head, the recess for the two periscopes and the recess for the radar housing. Once the walls were in place, I Dremel'd out the tops and sanded the edges down as necessary. I have also done the cuts for the lookout stations. Plenty of cleanup and a few more holes to open up as well. I looked through a series of pictures and Tiru's plans to decide the most correct topside arrangement. From what I can tell, the arrangement of some masts shifted over time and this setup fits for Tiru in later life.



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Well, while I waited for some feedback from the Tiru guys to move ahead further with the sail, I moved back to the decking. With the length increase, the bow section that is planked moves forward, but that left me with a chunk that is the attachment for the forward end of the sail vice "planked". So, I cut that section out and shaped a scrap piece to fit. Here is it before being glued up.


I also continued doing the limber holes that run along the superstructure at the bottom of the plates. My process has been to glue pieces of .040 x .040 square rod in and then trim the inside and shape it to angle to fit the curve of the hull. Tedious. At every structure panel I put two pieces of rod side by side based on the plans I have. In this picture, you can see that all the doubles are in place on the top edge and most of the singles, with some trimmed and some not. The bottom edge only has the doubles. To the left (aft) you can see where I laid in some .015 strips to cut down the gap some to fit the plans. I will use .020 x .020 square rod there.


Side shot showing the further along side...


And the aft end where I had to fill the holes and make a capsule shaped hole (it still needs to be shaped some). I filled the holes with 3/64 rod.


I continued the work on the little pieces for the limber holes on the aft structure and I added the rest of the decking and extended the deck out...


Then I got squirrelly and decided the work on the bow section some more...


Some good old .060 x .040 square rod stacked and cut as necessary...


How about a shot of the stern of the superstructure as I bit the bullet and glued it all into place...


The side of the superstructure at the point where the 12.5 foot extension was added. A fair bit of sanding and wrangling to make everything look decent...




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I crafted an insert to go into the gap between the upper halves of each side of the bow (there is a small gap that I left) to allow for some build up of support to the deck while also guiding the shape of it all. There were some homemade L-beams added on the top edge for support while there were a couple notches for it to travel around preexisitng struture. I also put in some gaps to allow for some light to pass through although the effect will be minimal...



And then there is the continuing work on the forward deck area where I am reusing a bit of the kit deck. You can see where I am adding hatches and the safety track. There is also some putty visible where I am working to make some of the molded in detail (whaleboat covers and various hatches) a bit less visible. Should disappear when I get everything painted up...



Based on info from a TIRU JO, I filled in the radar mast well (you can see the part that will be the top of the sail in the pic above) since he informed me TIRU had a fixed radar and he provided a small handful of personal pics showing no well. He also clarified some other eccentricities of her sail so there is plenty left to fix and detail there.

Hope you enjoyed Christmas and this little Christmas update.



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WOW! I've got a bit of an interest in subs, so reading your article, off to the library I went. ALAS! The TIRU! Although your write up in the first post certainly gives more detail, and a better story. I admire your craftsmanship. Truly an interesting build. Thank you for sharing.


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WOW! I've got a bit of an interest in subs, so reading your article, off to the library I went. ALAS! The TIRU! Although your write up in the first post certainly gives more detail, and a better story. I admire your craftsmanship. Truly an interesting build. Thank you for sharing.


Well, if you like this one, wait until I get started on BAYA as an AGSS. Thanks for the compliments. I have fun tackling projects that I have some linkage to, and as a submariner, I obviously have a love of submarines. And, I just can't build a kit out of box (like my Foxbat build of 6 years).



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  • 3 months later...
  • 10 months later...

Ok, this is all from prior to deploying. Work was split between the bow and the sail. For the sail, I added a piece of decking to the bridge (scavenged from the main deck that was being discarded), and restructured some to account for various notes from former TIRU sailors. I also added the ladder trunk from the bridge to the nav plot area.




(and, yes, I do have a diet cherry soda problem)

On to the bow... Before I could add the pieces above the limber holes, I had to account for the depressions for the bow planes. Some pieces of scrap plastic, sanded and cut to shape fit the bill for basic structure.


With those in place, I was able to go ahead and add in the .020 sheet pieces for the long sides of the bow after the bow planes depressions...


Once it was time to move forward of the bow planes, I added some reinforcing pieces to strengthen the join for the bow pieces that I would have to glue and then bend and glue again...


Finally, the sides of the forward bow go on. Bottom glued and left to sit for two days and then bent and glued to the top of the bow.


So, there you go. I have added the basics of the anchor well on the bow and the next big part will be to putty and sand the transitions from the superstructure sides to the deck. Then I will shape up and smooth the rest of the bow and lop off the lower section and scratchbuild the bow sonar.



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Some more prior to deployment progress on the bow...putty, sand, inspect, repeat...oh, yeah... slowly getting there...



Sanding and shaping and addition of the remainder of the bilge keels. Rearranging the top of the sail based on more private collection pictures. I have also started the chin sonar fairing and I need to closeout the PUFFS master and make a mold and copies.




I did attach the chin sonar. Looking pretty good compared to drawings and pictures. I just added some putty to fill minor discontinuities, so I will need to sand that down, but it is pretty close to done.


I also knocked out an easy one and installed the Masker piping...pretty simple. Two runs down to the bilge keel, but I also need to add the wraps around the bottom...


...and Prairie piping...


And then there are the bumpers or guides for the mine clearance cables for the bow planes...




Edited by parche
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More pre-deployment work...how about a pic or two of the safety tracks... (I would actually find out after deployment that the actual tracks at the bow did not match the plans and I had to fix them. Pics of that to follow)



and the weld line detail on the extension... not sure how well you can see it...


and a shot of the PUFFs master, two resin copies and the third freshly poured into the mold...




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Not a sub guy but am interested so this build is especially interesting because of your details.

Always thought the guppies stem was totally modified, to vertical.

Never knew where the extension was or any of the other details (except PUFFs).

This is a good learning build!

The details of the add-ons look applicable to other subjects, that I want to go into this detail for.

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It took me a while to figure out the extension. Only Guppy IIIs had it and it was 12.5 feet for TIRU and 15 feet for the rest. I was a lucky find (and simplified the build) to determine that the extension was constant section and faired into the hull. I don't think I could have done the conversion correctly if it had been faired. Others have done it by inserting the extension in at the maximum section which is not correct (but a fair simplification if total accuracy is not desired). Glad you are getting something out of the build.



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Finally to post deployment work...fast forward six months... I hemmed and hawed and racked my brain during deployment about how to deal with the deadlights...well, I decided that all of my plans were overly complicated with minimal chance at positive results, so I decided just to cut them open and leave open holes, so that decision allowed me to move into wrapping the sail.

First had to make the TBT and pedestal...




Then, adding some support structure because I decided to wrap the front of the sail separately and just deal with a seam (that I though was going to be covered by Masker piping, but I decided to forgo that placement)...


And the front wrap...



Starting the deadlights...




And a full shot (PUFFs and Sail not permanently mounted yet, plenty of detail to go)




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Track fix... the old track placement (per yard plans) is the sanded down section, while the new piece is the big raised curved that needs to be knocked down a little...


And the little bumps and stuff on the Fwd PUFFS (there are some bumps on the side that still need to go on)(found out through a friend that these were the hydrophones for the DUUG-1 Active Intercept System)




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  • 3 weeks later...

Grab iron work...



Got the seam at the bottom of the sail cleaned up completely. Shot a rattle can of gray to check it out and verify some other clean up. Put the bottom part of the sail Masker piping in...


I also started work on the handrail that runs around the sail. First a bunch of .020 rod glued into some tiny holes. After they dried I trimmed them down and started the first section of rail.




I had to remove one of the sections of weld lines on each side and straighten them out a bit. The fix of one side of the weld lines...


The port side handrail...


One safety rail on the top of the sail in place...


And an overall shot with the aft PUFFs mounted...


Off to build propeller guards...

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