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- Viribus Unitis -


SMS Viribus Unitis– Tyler (2020)

4.0 units, 28 seconds, Austro-Hungarian Dreadnaught style Battleship launched 1911


The Viribus Unitis (VU) is a pudgy little Dreadnaught with an impressive amount of fire power potential for it’s tiny size. In scale it is 41.58 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 18.15 lbs. There is a significant portion of the middle of the ship with casemated guns, making for very little target area amidships. It is slow at 28 seconds but given the small weight and short length when combined with twin rudders it should be very maneuverable. Another interesting aspect of this ship that I was drawn to is the fact that it has four separate primary turrets with three guns each, making for multiple possibilities for gun setup. I’ve been wanting to do a small well turning boat for a while since primarily I have built the 24 second battleships and battlecruisers. This will likely be the ship my son uses to learn sidemounts since it should be relatively forgiving in close quarters.



An advantage of fiberglass hulls vs wood hulls is that you can float them at what you think battling weight will be as the first step in building. This allows you to measure where the water line directly and thus the 1 inch below measurement where the windows will be cut out is fairly accurate and based on an actual measurement. This ship fits in a bathtub easily, some of the bigger ones don’t. 15lbs of weight + 2 lbs roughly of hull should be close. I purposely float it slightly light so the 1 inch below the water line is very slightly deeper than it would otherwise need to be in case the build ends up light. I expect this ship will be best off right at 18 lbs however.



Pencil will work even in water. The ship is shifted to show the lines better for the picture. Be aware of both front to back and side to side trim when doing this. Any little ripple in the water will mess you up so take the time to do it right, the rest of the build hinges on this step.



I drew out the major landmarks with pencil right on the side of the hull. “WL” is for the waterline, and you can see the1 inch below mark as well. Since I was already floating light I think I will probably move the 1 inch below cut to the actual 1 inch mark rather than 1 and 1/8 inch it is currently at. Ultimately 1/8 inch too deep isn’t a big concern and I might leave it as marked. The stringer is an 1/8 inch section where the casemate deck level sits. The “case” section is where the actual casemate guns will sit. The “CUT” section is actually going to be removed. After measuring the fiberglass hull against the fairly decent plans I have access to, the fiberglass hull is roughly 3/8 too tall all throughout, and the indentations for the casemate section is also slightly incorrect in length front to back. I will be able to deal with this fairly easily with a Dremel tool. The ram bow is also modeled incorrectly on this hull, I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to leave it or fix it. The bottom of the hull seems fairly close to the plan set I have. I will probably build the deck/subdeck assembly before I cut the hull out, this will allow me to line up the stringer section pretty accurately.



The deck/subdeck can be made from the fiberglass hull or from a set of plans. The higher level of the deck will actually have minimal contact with the fiber glass in this ship, so I elected to mark out the outline from a plan set. I generally would advise starting with the subdeck. This is ¼ inch 5 ply birch plywood. I started with a straight edge center line mark and drew half the outline, flipped it over and drew the other half as to maximize symmetry.



Here is the subdeck on top of the fiberglass hull. The mid-section casemate area will be made completely out of plastic. Only the far bow and stern will have contact with the hull.



The center of the sub deck needs to be cut out. I generally use a compass to get a uniform subdeck thickness. Additionally, any cross braces, support devices, and deck latching will need to be marked out to be left behind.  Depending on the ship, this is usually 3/4 to 1 inch wide in most of my ships.



I started cutting before I took the picture so here is right after I started in with the scroll saw. I marked all cross braces and deck latches. I also would suggest using a drill to take the corners out both as a point to more easily turn the scroll saw and insert the blade, but also to keep the corners strong via curvature and prevent over cutting.



All pieces are cut from the subdeck.



Subdeck is cut. You can see there are two cross braces on either side of the barbettes. I’m still contemplating gun setup so wanted to leave structural supports compatible with use of any of the turrets.



Since the casemates will take an absolute pounding, I’ve opted to make them completely out of ABS and slap them on to the side of the wood subdeck.



I cut out the area of the casemates that were not correct within the hull itself. Essentially this is at the corners where the deck steps back along the casemate level.



With the 1/4 inch subdeck as a stencil the 1/8 inch deck is relatively easy.



This is pretty redundant but I was trying to keep good records.



I love making planking on the deck with pencil lines and rulers (1/8 inch spacing) not because of the process, but because the end result is really cool looking. An epoxy layer over the top keeps it protected.



I use a compass to measure then cut the edge out of the 1/8 inch deck to glue permanently to the subdeck. It is about 1/4 inch thick on most of my ships.



This picture shows the subdeck and outer deck rim glued together. The deck is cut into 3 sections. The stern and bow most have the turrets, the middle section has the bulk of the superstructure. The stern and bow sections slide into place and lock with latches that are under the deck. The middle section will have magnets inset to the deck and subdeck. Hopefully the magnets will be strong enough to hold it together.



This will start to get confusing for the untrained eye. I am building the entire deck/subdeck/casemate assembly upside down. You can see the deck slide latching system in the bow and the stern. The gap between the casemate level and subdeck is 1/4 inch, so I just layed out 1/4 inch ply wood in areas that are allowed to be solid. The 1/8 inch thick casemate level has markings where everything will line up.



This is basically the previous picture flipped right side up. The barbettes will be made of ABS pipe but I like to put a 1/4 inch thick ply wood circle to hold it all together better.



The decks are removed, this is right side up. The casemate level is now glued in. I always label port and starboard as I go so I don’t get things flipped.



I generally use tape to mark out where the ribs and subdeck will go before cut. This usually takes a lot of planning and trying to get ribs to line up more densely in the bow.




I would recommend drilling the corners of the fiberglass as to help avoid over cutting with a Dremel. The fiberglass hull was built too tall.



I put the deck/subdeck assembly in with the hull partially cut. I did this to give the fiberglass more flexibility but not over cut the casemate area.



I love putting the parts that I have completed on the ship to give a sense of how far it has come and keep myself excited. The superstructure is made from ABS sheets per my usual method. Very strong and relatively easy to build.



After the deck/subdeck assembly was glued and epoxied in, I drilled the top edges of the “windows” and started cutting.



 Getting closer. The “windows” are cut out but I wanted to apply epoxy to the ship as it sits upside down to get everything to hold in place better before I attacked the rough edges and smoothed them out.



 The shafts and gear boxes for the motors being installed. I marked the center line of the ship as well as where I thought a water channel might go with pencil.



The bow water channeling, would later be covered with liquid plastic and microbaloons.



The stern water channeling is just a block of foam, I’m not sure how I want to do this for sure but eventually will probably pour some plastic around this as well.



The super structure was fairly simplistic on this ship. I built it out of ABS plastic. This is the gun setup I will start with. You can see the deck planking. Also you can see the casemate area of black plastic I’ve glued to the outside of the ship.



VU before her first battle 9/10/2022. I finished a lot of little things in a big hurry to get it on the water and will take pictures of internals later. She is very quick and hard to pin down as expected.



I always seem to struggle to get the turrets put on before the first battle.




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