I had already started to fit some rails as they would be inaccessible once other components were in place. The brass parts are etched on the folds so that they bend in exactly the right place. So far, so good as I scarcely needed to use the folding tool I normally employ. Unfortunately on the railings this also makes them very fragile and on one run of rails with multiple bends this resulted in it breaking in three places while being fitted and several single bar railings had already broken before being removed from the fret. The single bar railings are also extremely fragile and tricky to bend to curves without distorting. In some cases the multiple bends create a floppy run of rails which defy attempts to fit them to the deck edge. This is compounded by them also being the type of rails with individual stanchions instead of a continuous bottom rail – more accurate, but also trickier to fit. Having said all this, there is a tremendous variety of types of rails with different numbers of bar and heights which would be impossible to replicate any other way. The only other thing was that I had a brief panic when it came to fitting the rails along the main deck. It seemed that there were not enough rails for the whole length, but a quick look at the reference photos showed that there were no rails alongside the missile launchers – just the amount that appeared to be missing!
The central superstructure has as number of struts supporting various platforms and some planning is needed to make sure they can be fitted in place before subsequent items hide their locating points. I have to confess to being caught out with a couple of tiny right angled brackets under the platform surrounding the topmost dome, which are now impossible to fit. My only consolation is that they would have been difficult to see, but I know they are missing (oh - and so do you now!). I also gave up on the microscopic triangular brackets (parts 40) some of which were lost partly because I could not see them on the workbench once they were detached from the fret.
With the missile launchers, the gun and other details added and coat of matt varnish, the vessel was ready to fit to the base and declare the project finished. The model was actually finished some time ago, but I have only just got round to photographing the completed vessel.
This appears to have been planned as a 1/350 scale kit and then scaled down to 1/700, which would account for the minute components which are difficult to fit due to their tiny size. However, it is very well engineered and everything locates exactly. The instructions are well illustrated with several views where there is a complex assembly. This is a challenging build, but worthwhile as you end up with a very detailed representation of a most unusual vessel. As I said at the beginning I never thought I would see a Bora in kit form so congratulations to AJM for bringing to fruition a kit of a very complicated subject.
Hooray! The replacement decals have now arrived. It was a bit late to correct the lines on the after superstructure as there was now too much detail to enable replacements to be fitted, but the lines on the forecastle around the gun and the missile launchers are now in place and progress can be made. There is a tremendous amount of detail from both the photo-etch and the resin parts. Some of the resin details are very small indeed which means that both identification and fitting are tricky. I have nearly identified all the tiny parts, but one or two still elude me. However, it should eventually become apparent which they are by a process of elimination. Spraying with grey primer helps to show up the shapes more clearly so that they can be matched with the illustrations on the instructions.
I decided to basically follow the sequence of construction shown in the pictorial instructions, but leaving most of the railings until later as they are rather vulnerable to damage. To reduce potential damage and fingerprints, a piece of plastic angle has been screwed to the underside so that the model can be fixed into a small vice to avoid handling it.
There were times when I thought things were too small to be successfully fitted, but in nearly all cases they did go. One case in point is an etched platform (part 87) which goes around the aft director. At first it seemed that the opening was not big enough to fit over the projecting bits on the director, but a little careful wiggling got it in place. There are lots of miniscule rounded ventilators which were too small to be picked up even with my best pair of tweezers and in this case the solution was a dot of PVA glue on the model and picking up the components using a bit of saliva on the end of a sharpened cocktail stick to transfer them to the dot of glue – unhygienic but effective.
Much of the superstructure and some details have now been attached and I judged it time to check that all the joints were properly filled by spraying a coat of primer. When that was all sorted then deck and camouflage scheme needed to be painted otherwise some bits would become inaccessible as details are added. The camouflage pattern was drawn on with pencil and all the painting was done by hand. Akan paints were used for the green deck and red lower hull. Vallejo 108 Light Sea Grey was used as the base camouflage colour overlaid with Vallejo 158 Medium Sea Grey and Lifecolor Black. It also means that many of the decals can be added which will not be possible at a later stage. The decals are tiny and, as is usually the case, the white ones are very difficult to distinguish against the pale blue backing. The other thing is that the carrier film is continuous, so trimming the decals accurately is important. I found the best way was to cut the item larger than needed then wet the decals just prior to fitting which shows the white bits up more clearly, and quickly trim them with scissors while they are held in tweezers just before applying them.
The markings on the deck around the gun mount should consist of white lettering between very narrow white lines. The decal sheet only has the lettering block, but not the lines. I thought of using some generic white stripes to remedy the situation, but could not find anything narrow enough, so I decided that as they are so thin they would not show very much at 1/700 and I would do without them. Interestingly, when I checked the 1/350 sheet, the lines are included. Then I heard that AJM are having a corrected sheet printed, so I decided to wait for that, which means that the build is on hold until the corrections become available.
The pictures show shiny patches where different types of paint have been used (a mixture of Akan and Vallejo) and Klear has been used to settle the decals, but hopefully this will be cured later on with a coat of matt varnish.
The time has come to prepare the base while the model is still fairly robust and before any delicate details are added. The waterline was marked on the model as a first move. Normally I would cut out the waterline shape out from a piece of water colour paper at this stage for the already water-lined hull to sit in. However as this model is full hull, and a catamaran, I decided to leave the hulls complete and provide a deeper location to get the “sit” of the model right. The plan is to show her leaving harbour in a flat calm on the Black Sea with the propeller brackets at the stern raised out of the water.
The hull shape was cut out of a piece of MDF, and then watercolour paper was used for the calm water. The hole in the base was filled with Milliput and the hull (wrapped in cling film) was pressed into it down to the marked waterline while the Milliput was still soft.
At this stage it was apparent that both the hull sides were slightly bowed and so after marking the positions of the underside components it was time to straighten the hulls in boiling water. With the hull parts straightened, assembly began. The fit of the deck was now much better, but there was a slight gap at each side of the stern which was bridged using 15 thou plastic card. Some filler was also needed on the hull to deck join. At the front the fit of hull to deck was good at both sides although the etched part 28 which should fit across the front of the hull turned out to be too short, but was easily re-made in 10 thou styrene.
Attaching the spray strips on the hull chines came next. I was dreading this particular job as the resin strips looked incredibly fragile and I was certain that breakages would result. However, I plan for this to be a waterline model and although very little of the hulls is immersed in the water due to the hovercraft configuration only a small part of the spray strip is just visible at the bow underway and the bow wave partially obscures it. Actually careful work with a new scalpel blade meant that detaching the strips was not as traumatic as I feared, although they did break. Phew!
After washing the parts in soapy water, the first job was to try and identify the various components from the pictures on the instructions, then write their numbers on with pencil and attempt to establish what they represent and whereabouts they would fit.
The next task was to deal with those pouring blocks which needed a lot of vigorous, but careful, work with a razor saw to remove them , then a session with a craft knife to get rid of most of the remainder before rubbing down flat on abrasive paper.
Once the parts were cleaned up it took quite a while to work out how everything on the hull would fit together as there is little on the castings to indicate what locates where. The drawings on the instructions are clear, but they needed careful study and several dry fits before I understood how it all goes together.
One of the CAD drawings from the AJM website was also a help in understanding the layout of the stern as well as pictures of the real thing found on the internet. The class even has its own website in English and Russian with loads of pictures, including many detail shots, of Bora and her sister ship Samum at http://www.bora-class.info/eng/ . Another good reference (if you can get hold of it) is the Russian language magazine Morskaya Kollectsia No.4 2016.
This is a subject I never thought I would see in kit form so I was delighted when AJM first announced it as a project and then in 1/700 and 1/350, and consequently I got both versions. I have a growing collection of 1/700 Russian vessels, but I also liked the subject and thought it deserved to be made in the larger scale as well to show a little more detail, and for the greater visual impact.
It has a very complex hull form – basically a sidewall hovercraft but with a huge amount of very fine detail, therefore the construction is not for the novice. On opening the box the first thing that struck me was the delicacy of the casting and the fact that the decals and photo-etch mean that there is nothing further to buy to complete the model.
I decided to start on the 1/700 kit and the first thing to deal with is the enormous pouring blocks on the hull components.