Thinking of building a 1/72 scale submarine from a model kit


So, I've finished my Portal gun, and I want to try something else. I'd like to make a large scale model as I want to try some miniature model for film. The easiest thing to do/film would be a plane or a submarine, so I'm going with a sub.

It needs to be large so that I can include more details for filming, thus the 1/72 scale.

Now, I've never done a model kit build before, but I never had made a prop when I started out on my Portal gun, so I'm confident that I can do this. I am wondering what I should read up on for tips on building something like this, along with what I should use to paint and detail the sub.

This is the model I'm considering. Revell 1:72 Us Gato Class Submarine: Toys & Games

EDIT: I'd probably also be adding lighting and possibly even attempt to get the propeller to rotate slowly for the filming part.
It's a somewhat different skill set to acquire, but if you want a large-ish relatively inexpensive and buildable sub kit you can't go past the Gato. (There are also various bigger scale fibreglass kits for RC models, but that's a whole nother level of expense and skills).

Are you going to shoot this in smoke, dry-for-wet?

You will find the instructions that come with the kit have reasonable information on paint colours but if accuracy is important you will get the best information from ship modeler's forums. Find a build thread by an experienced builder, read it and just copy everything he does. :lol For general plastic-modeling how-tos, well really they're everywhere, in every level of detailing. Just Google 'plastic modeling tutorials' and you'll end up with MOUNTAINS of info.

It will look nice on your mantelpiece when you're done, too. :)
TBH, unless you are going to do a lot of closeup 'beauty shots', weathering isn't your biggest issue. Lighting, lens, film speed and other camera variables will probably have a much bigger impact on how good your footage looks. Cameras hide an awful lot of sins, many film models are very rough when viewed up close.

That said, a truly ****ty model usually looks ****ty, of course. :)
@Nwerke - Right, I meant more detailed stuff that would show up further away, I don't know if I'd be able to do super close ups of the model anyway (although 1/72 is in the scale range used for Hollywood filming).

@PHArchivist - Thanks! I'll be sure to check in with him. I know of two other members that worked on the Abyss and Red October, so hopefully they'd be helpful for the filming aspect (both movies used dry-for-wet). I also know another guy who worked on Red October (not from here), but I lost his contact info.
The 1/72 Gato is over 51" long, mainly based on the Post War USS Cobia Museum boat although a few things are wrong and some things are missing.
The Flood holes on the bottom are missing being the biggest thing and the marker buoys on deck are the wrong shape (post war).

Keep in mind no 2 boats where the same and they where altered throughout the war and afterwords.
There are lot's of aftermarket items Although I would avoid Iron Bottom Sound, the product is inaccurate garbage and the the guy is a major A hole that likes to flame and threaten people, myself included.

The Seehund is a small 2 man sub and not much larger than the torpedo's they carried slung on the outside so it will be a small model.

If you can find one since they are now OOP the Revell 1/72 Type VII U-Boat is 36" long.

Large scale subs tend to be made of fiberglass and would just be a basic hull with most of the details having to be made from scratch.
@PHArchivist - Thanks! I'll be sure to check in with him. I know of two other members that worked on the Abyss and Red October, so hopefully they'd be helpful for the filming aspect (both movies used dry-for-wet). I also know another guy who worked on Red October (not from here), but I lost his contact info.

Did some calculations for fun, and the Red October Typhoon, in 1:72 scale, would be about nine feet long!
An IJN I-400 would be 5.56 feet in 1/72.

Largest sub built in WWII had 2 pressure hulls side by side like the typhoon but had a third one on top that held 3 Aichi M6A1 Seiran airplanes that it could launch at 15 minute intervals.

Intended use was to bomb the Panama canal so supply and war ships could not travel from the Atlantic.

2 of the 3 built where on their way to Panama when the war ended.
After capture and inspection they where sank off the coast of Hawaii so the Russians couldn't study them.
Acoustic tiles on modern sub come from study of these boats.
Much of the info on them is still classified.

Originally the US Seawolf class was to be a boomer and have 3 pressure hulls, 2 on top and one on the bottom.
I've just made a chart of the 72 scale sub models that are available in styrene (with one resin kit and my own in-progress scratchbuild.)


The USS Nautilus was the most requested 72 scale model in Fine-Scale Modelers latest Wish List Poll. The Lindberg IJN with Kaiten is a crappy kit. The bow is all wrong and the weld seams on the port side don't match up at all with the starboard.

- Leelan
Through extensive research I've found that when scaled to a human figure of average height {approx. 6ft}: the B-31" Goff/Nautilus works out to be much-closer to 1/77th scale. I've since purchased & verified this with a set of {English made} Dapol 1/76 scale HO/OO C8 Platform Figures = the fit is Perfect.

When the scale of Any model is in question or unidentified - I typically use scale figures in a sincere effort to determine the scale.

Here's a linc to the most complimentary figure set of the B-31' Nautilus:

I particularly like the officers style hats which sorta matched Nemo's & the 1st mate's hats.
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