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My experience w 32nd parallel VIIC
Posted by: John ()
Date: August 05, 2000 11:54AM

About two years ago, I ordered and built the 32nd Parallel VII C kit. It was quite an experience.

Selection: Why the VIIC? The nuke models just didn't look like much on the water. Pointy bow, deck gun, conning tower bristling with rails and guns, now that's a submarine. I thought about the Gato kit, but at 10 feet long it woudn't fit in my truck. Besides, when one thinks about submarines, the Battle of the Atlantic and the VIIC tend to come to mind. And the more I researched the history of the VIIC, the more I was fascinated with the performance of the men who sailed it, still going out on suicide missions despite impossible odds and questionable leadership. (very questionable, as it later turned out)

Cost: I hate to think about this. The deluxe kit was around $1000, which included torpedo firing kit (more on that later) stuffing boxes, driveshafts, props, batteries, ballast pumps, motors, servo rod seals, hull detail items, and some other odds and ends. I probably put another $900 into it by the time all was said and done. From what I've heard, that's fairly typical for RC subs. They all consume about the same amount of mechanicals, regardless of scale, so why not go for the big one?

Delivery time: 32nd Parallel is not a large company, and they build hulls to order, so don't expect the kit to show up next week. I ordered it in late August, and got it in November. The quality of fiberglass work was excellent, I should hire these people to restore my old Corvette...

Size: 6'10" long, fully loaded weight is around 80 pounds. It barely fits in my Escort wagon. The batteries are standard 12 v gelcel RC starter models, cost around $25 each, and it takes two. One reasonably fit adult can carry this model, though the length makes it a bit unwieldy. Build a carrying cradle for your vehicle, the hull will roll like crazy in a car otherwise.

Building it: Well, I wanted an entertaining experience, and I got it. This is definitely not a snap together kit, it's for the serious modeler. The hull comes as one piece, with the top deck separate. Since the optimal setup is separation along the waterline, one must VERY CAREFULLY saw off the top 1/4 of the hull and glass it to the top deck. One slip with the dremel and cutting wheel, and you have a nasty repair job. You have to devise your own screw mounts for the upper hull to lower hull, I used brass rails glassed to the hulls. I glassed in the bulkheads and built a pressure hull, but it was a bitch to get it sealed tight. If I had it to do over again, I'd have built a pressure hull from brass. It seemed like miles of brass tubing disappeared into this model, building the water lines to and from the pumps and ballast tanks. Air vents are in the conning tower, and don't look too bad, though I'm planning on rebuilding the ballast system to vent water out the exhaust pipes, and include a backup refrigerant ballast to blow it to the surface in the event of leak or loss of signal. SubTech has the parts for this. Drilling out the vents in the deck took forever. Use a 1/16" drill bit on a dremel, drill four holes, turn the bit slightly sideways, and finish the hole. And do it over and over and over... 32nd Parallel recommends drilling out 1/4 of the deck holes, but I drilled out all of them, it looks better.

The torpedo kit: It's a complicated arrangement, with refrigerant storage tank inside the pressure hull. Push the servo one direction, and the valve opens and charges the two torpedos. Push the servo the other way, and doors open to release the torpedo. I never got it installed. I read about a more practical arrangement in a magazine, where the torps are charged prior to installation with a pin in the rear nozzle. A servo opens the doors and pulls out the pin. I started building this, but haven't finished yet. Rumor has it some people have built electric torpedos using beeper vibrator motors, though I can't imagine building the tiny reversing gear for contra rotating props.

I later ordered the 'custom conning tower' for this model, but the spray deflectors on that kit are really for a VII B (both turned up) though technically speaking some VII C's did come with this setup. Otherwise the kit was very good. I made my own spray deflectors with a template of plexiglass cut to fit the conning tower, and bondo smeared around the sides with a finger. Some sanding got the proper curvature. My wife painted on the red grinning fish for the 9th Flotilla (I modeled U96 in honor of the film). One helluva coincidence: My wife found a 1945 copy of the New York Times at a junk store, which details an air raid on Wilhelmshaven. It was the raid in which U96 was lost.

Seakeeping abilities: For a model this length, it's amazingly manuverable. As has been said elsewhere, the kit exhibits some of the handling characteristics of the real thing. It can do a 180 degree turn in about 12 feet of space, and that's without reversing one prop. It looks very good on the water, quite realistic. Put a camcorder down at water level, and you get some very neat shots. Without visual clues in the background to give scale away, it's fairly realistic. Depth changes are leisurly - you have a lot of bulk with all that water. It's fun to take this out to the local resivoir for early morning runs. I thought nothing would get the attention of the local fishermen who seem planted to the shore, but trust me, a VII C cruising by on the surface gets their attention. And it never fails, when I take it out of the water, some twit always asks: Is that a submarine? No, it's a blimp that sank!

Operational stuff: Make lots of initial runs in wading depth, you'll be retrieving it from under water more than once. I went with the slight positive buoyancy model, and that works fine, though it does require fine tuning of the ballast. My normal sailing locale is a creek behind my house with a rocky bottom - I've lost a few prop blades from hitting the bottom (easy to do) and it happens even with the prop protector in place. Hitting bottom also demolished the lower net cutter, but that happens. I've kept the net cutters on my model, it adds that sharklike sinister appearance to the model.

Overall, building this model was a real adventure. It stretches your mechanical creativity. Unlike my other RC hobby, helicopters, which stress weight, this kit stresses size and sealing. Even in a kit this size, things fit quite tight. When I built this kit, I did all soldering of brass with an electric soldering iron. Since that time, I've acquired a Smith Little Torch, a precision oxy/actylene micro torch for jewelers, (around $100, plus tanks) and I'd highly recommend it - it does a much better job.

--John


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Subject Written By Posted
Prospective buyer Matt 08/02/2000 04:27AM
RE: Prospective buyer Frank Ricucci 08/02/2000 03:07PM
RE: Prospective buyer Rainer Bruns 08/02/2000 05:14PM
RE: Prospective buyer Matt 08/03/2000 01:39AM
RE: Prospective buyer kevin 08/04/2000 03:35AM
RE: Prospective buyer Frank Ricucci 08/03/2000 07:23PM
DK Models 1/48 scale Type VIIC Dale Winfrey 08/05/2000 04:53AM
RE: Prospective buyer Pete Cruz 08/06/2000 04:10PM
RE: Prospective buyer Frank Ricucci 08/08/2000 02:43PM
My experience w 32nd parallel VIIC John 08/05/2000 11:54AM
Re: My experience w 32nd parallel VIIC Don clark 08/24/2011 01:12PM
Re: My experience w 32nd parallel VIIC Wayne Jevnager 02/03/2019 04:37PM
Re: 1:32 scale U-Boats Martin 08/14/2008 09:18PM
Re: 1:32 scale U-Boats Don Prince 09/05/2008 11:56PM


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