Monday, September 17, 2012
Bathyscaphe Trieste II
This model has to be one of the worst kits I've ever had the pleasure of building.
I originally purchased this kit back in the mid 90's as it was a neat subject and I love submarines.
When I got the kit home I was depressed to discover that half the parts were missing from the kit.
So as a result I took it back to the hobby shop where I purchased it from. The owner luckily (or so I thought) had another kit, so we decided to have a look only to discover that the same parts were missing from that kit as well. Oh well I thought that's the way things go sometimes and got my refund and thought no more of it.
Little did I know that over the next 15 years the owner of the hobby shop had been trying to get his money back from Viking Models to no avail. He would phone them periodically. The phone would ring but no one would answer.
15 years later I walk into the hobby shop and the owner presents me with 2 Trieste II model kits. Tells me about the failed attempts at trying to contact Viking models and says that if I can build for him I can have the other one. Being the friend he is I agreed.
Well upon inspecting the kit I discovered that Viking Models had an email address. So I decided to take a picture of the 2 kits and wrote out a list of the missing parts and emailed them to Viking Models asking where I might be able to procure the missing parts hoping beyond hope that may have said parts still available even after all these years but I got no response from them, nothing. The email went through but no reply. So for the next 8 months I kept emailing them the same email over and over again but no response. If Viking Models no longer exists then why does their phone ring and their email address still work? However one can only beat a dead horse for so long before one realizes that it's dead.
The only option left remaining for me was to scratch build the missing parts and to take other needed parts from the other kit to complete one kit, which is what I did. So I scratched out the fins, legs, conning tower, blade shrouds,etc.
The main problem with garage kits prior to the 2000's is that they look like garage kits and they build like garage kits. Poorly molded parts and materials being the main culprit (maybe that's why Viking Models refuses to respond). eg: The main hull was molded off center. One does a lot of work to yield only an acceptable result. So here it is for what it's worth the 1/72scale Bathyscaphe Trieste II deep submergence vehicle.
As for what's left of the other kit, I think I'm going to create a fantasy ship of some sort (I have some ideas). It will certainly be a lot more fun than this kit was.
Trieste II (DSV-1) was the successor to Trieste — the United States Navy's first bathyscaphe purchased from its Swiss designers. The original Trieste design was heavily modified by the Naval Electronics Laboratory in San Diego, California and built at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Trieste II incorporated the original Terni, Italian-built sphere used in Trieste, after it was made redundant by the new high-pressure sphere cast by the German Krupp Steelworks. The Trieste sphere was suspended from an entirely new float, more seaworthy and streamlined than the original but operating on identical principles. Completed in early 1964, Trieste II was placed on board USNS Francis X. McGraw (T-AK241) and shipped, via the Panama Canal, to Boston.
Commanded by Lt Comdr. John B. Mooney, Jr., with co-pilot Lt. John H. Howland and Capt. Frank Andrews, Trieste II conducted dives in the vicinity of the loss site of Thresher — operations commenced by the first Trieste the year before. She recovered bits of wreckage, positively fixing the remains as that of the lost Thresher, in September 1964.
Between September 1965 and May 1966, Trieste II again underwent extensive modification and conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, but there is no clear record that she was ever operated in that new configuration, i.e., the addition of skegs or outriggers on both sides of the sphere.
During that same time period work was under way on a third configuration of the bathyscaphe. This work resulted in yet a new appearance for the Trieste II, and included the installation of a new pressure sphere, designed for operation to 20,000 feet (6,100 m).
As the bathyscaphe continued her operations as test vehicle for the deep submergence program, she qualified four officers as "hydronauts" — the beginning of a burgeoning oceanographic operation. Trieste II's valuable experience in deep submergence operations has helped in the design and construction of other deep-diving submersibles which could be used in rescuing crews and recovering objects from submarines in distress below levels reachable by conventional methods.
This unique craft was listed only as "equipment" in the Navy inventory until the autumn of 1969. On 1 September 1969, Trieste II was placed in service, with the hull number X-1. Reclassified as a deep submergence vehicle (DSV) on 1 June 1971, Trieste II (DSV-1) continued her active service in the Pacific Fleet into 1980.
The Trieste class DSV were replaced by the Alvin class DSV, as exemplified by the famous Alvin (DSV-2). The Alvins are more capable, more maneuverable, less fragile, but also can not dive as deep, reaching only a maximum of 20,000 feet (for the Sea Cliff (DSV-4)).
Trieste II is now preserved as a museum ship at the Naval Undersea Museum, Keyport, Washington.