Iron Duke Build

When your aging back needs a BB more portable than a Vanguard!

HMS Empress of India

(an Iron Duke class dreadnought)

Well, the boys have gotten a lot more independent at battles so I decide I want to move back up to a battleship (and the wife 'strongly frowned' on my going back to the 40lb back-stressing HMS Vanguard. Still liking the British ships (and the new Iron Duke from Battler's Connection looked so nice) I decided that might be a good choice to build (and I had never before captained one of these mid-sized ships - previously going all-out for small,fast or big, cumbersome).


So I ordered all my parts from Battler's Connection and wouldn't you know it: As soon as I decide to build a new battleship my 12-year-old son (captain of the battle-cruiser HMS Lion) decides he wants to upgrade to a battleship as well and a friend of mine gives him a German SMS Bayern hull. While is is very determined to build this himself, I know it will still require time from me 'over-his-shoulder'. So I was not sure I would have time to build my own ship...This hobby has such great people!

A good friend in the hobby, David Ranier, found out how busy I was and how I wanted to do a new ship, so he intercepted the hull from BC before I got it and this is how my ship looked when it arrived at my place in the mail! - Ribs already cut out (except case mate areas) - Sub-deck and deck installed - Stuffing tubes installed - Gear boxes mounted - Rudder mounts installed

Heaven! With that much done for me at start, I could try to have my own ship ready for the Spring battle season, so I started sheeting her right away so I could test the balance of her layout and start building and wiring.


Normally it is a good idea to take all the ship internal components and try laying them inside the hull to find several configurations that fit, and then floating the hull in a tub or pool to see which are balanced (or close) well. Since this ship had the panels cut out for me already I had to sheet the ship to make her water-tight for float testing.

I took thin 1/32" balsa sheets, cut pieces of fine '000' silk span cut slightly larger than the balsa sheet, sprayed the balsa with 3M 77 Adhesive Spray, and then carefully lay the silkspan onto the sheet, sliding it smoothly from one end the other so-as not to stick wrinkles into it.

I then carefully cut sections of the balsa into panels so that edges would run right down the middle of ribs on the hull

Using Weldwood contact cement I glued the panels down to the ribs of the hull.

At left you can see a picture of the balsa glued down to the bow of the ship. This photo was just after I covered the outside of the glued-down balsa with more silkspan and then sealed it in place by brushing Sig Nitrate Dope over the surface with a small acid brush. (I will trim off the excess silkspan later and save it for small patches) Below you can see the balsa from the inside and also what a great job David did on cutting the ribs. The fit was so nice that when I floated the ship later to try several arrangements of internal componenets and check for balance, only one corner of one window leaked a few drops - and a small squirt of CA glue stopped even that).


I decided to use the old water-proof servo's outside my box (so I could directly take the box out of Vanguard with firing cards and receiver inside), but I decided to make a servo-microswitch mounting harness that would be completely modular and easy to change. I came up with the idea shown at left to make a wooden mount that has pins in the sides aligned with the holes found in standard microswitches. The block of wood joining the two sides is exactly the right height to mount a servo to so that the servo-horn will push the lever on the microswitches held by the pins, and also serves to lock the microswitches onto the pins so there is no room for them to slide off without first removing the servo. (as shown below)

Quick Change?

In the event one of the micro-switches goes out and needs replacing:

I think I could swap it and still be on the water in under a minute (at least, that is the plan).


The hardest part now is trying to predict all unforseen problems that could occur and try to make a plan on where to fit everything without too mny headaches. It is good idea to draw the superstructure onto the deck, especially the turret barbettes, to plan a layout. I like to have most my mass in the center of the ship (just slightly stern heavy), keep the wiring as short as possible, and if possible make all the items that are changed regularly (CO2 and batteries) easy to access from the same deck panel. The plan I came up with (shown at left) has the batteries AND carbon dioxide (black bottle at left) all visible through the middle deck panel.While it looks like one battery is turned and on one side of the ship, it is apparently balanced by the CO2 bottle (the ship was level when I test-floated her in a pool) In these two photos you can see how I mounted the microswitch-servo pin mount for the throttle. It should be easily accessible if I need to change a part. It looks like it would be in the way of a turret, but it is actually just rear of the stern-most turret. [note: the funny pieces of cloth are gun-cleaning patches I soaked in epoxy and stuck over the joints to make strong bonds. I used to have parts come loose when I just used epoxy alone, before I started glassing parts down like this]. The throttle mount was so firmly attached I decided to cut a block to hold the rudder servo and glue it down to the throttle mount as well.      


The last thing I needed to do was to install a similar microswitch-servo mount (but skinnier, with only 1 switch) for the pump switch and find a central place for the main power bus. Turns out I was able to do both at the same time... I screwed the pump-switch mount to the subdeck (see the small screw at top right corner of mount). The mount is actually not in the way of the barbette above as the side-mount in that turret will be shooting off of that side (starboard) so the uptube and magazine will come down and be mainly on the port side across from the switch. I use the push-on electrical strips for power bus-bars (labled "+" and "-"), sealed with SkotchKote and glued directly to the side of the pump servo mount (glued upside-down to force wires down out of the way of canons that will be there later and also to make it harder for water to run inside them). 


Below is a picture from her test-run around the pool