Building ships in bottles from scratch

May 4, 2016

Ship in Bottle 3 (part 1)

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I've begun work on the USS Lyman K Swenson as I mentioned in an earlier post, Researching Historic Ships for a Build. Now that I know what the hell I'm trying to achieve, it's been pretty enjoyable learning about the build details (mostly the dimensions and armament) but also the history of the ship. The WWII section from the Wikipedia article on the Lyman K Swenson lines up with my grandfather's stories really well. It's almost like hearing him tell the stories again, but with less humor. That's alright, I remember all the funny parts anyway.

So here's a reminder of what we're shooting for:

USS Lyman K Swenson in 1950

Since this isn't a sailing ship I don't really need to sketch out the entire ship ahead of time. Really all I care about right now is the general dimensions of the hull and deck. I'll worry about superstructure later. I started by sizing up my chosen bottle and doing some math to find a scale that would fit in the bottle pretty well. Working off the real ship dimensions (seen below, upper left) I shot for about 15 cm which came out to 1:750 scale.

math to scale a model ship
Scaling math

I wrote down the real dimensions (length overall, length at the water line, beam, draft, human). The width to length ratio is a little over 10 to 1. By scaling with a factor of 1/750 I get 15.3 cm in length overall which fits great into my bottle. The width (beam) is just over 1.5 cm which is a reasonable challenge through the neck of the bottle, but is indeed possible. So we're set!

Why did I write out a human size? I wanted to put my grandfather saluting on the bow, but was a little sad to find that at this scale he'd only be about 2.5 mm tall. I'm holding out hope I can work around that later, but we'll find out at the end of the project.

In pencil I sketched the outline of the deck from an aerial view to serve as a template. You can see this lightly on the bottom half of the picture above.

Alright so we've got it all planned out and we're ready to begin generating some sawdust. Amen. I'll be updating soon with the progress.

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