Scratchbuilding the USS Collett DD 730 circa 1966 in 1/311 scale by Phil Toy
Collett was a Sumner class DD built by Bath Iron Works launched and commissioned in 1944 and retired in 1970. She was sold to Argentina in 1974 for spare parts, but ended up serving as DD29 Piedra Buena until 1984 before being expended as an Exocet missile target in 1988. She was a veteran of three American wars and the Malvinas/Falklands War.

In 1960 she went into Long Beach Naval Shipyard to undergo the FRAM II conversion to update her configuration from a general purpose destroyer to a modern fast ASW escort. 

This model is intended to represent her in the summer of 1966 as a FRAM II DD. References for this build include Robert Sumrallís Book Sumner-Gearing Class Destroyers and Booklet USS Laffey, Norman Friedmanís Book U.S. Destroyers, and Websites for NavSource, Naval Historical Center, Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation, Veterans Organizations for USS Collett DD-730, USS Sumner DD-692, USS DeHaven DD-727, and USS Lyman K Swenson DD-729. The Sumner website provided copies of FRAM II DD-692 official plans.

Construction
Evergreen styrene sheet, rod, and tube of various thicknesses were used in the construction. Florist mesh was used for the catwalk around the forward stack and the screen abaft the VDS installation. Steel rod was used for the whip antennae and a pill bottle foil was used for the national ensign. No photo-etch products were used. Stretched sprue was used extensively for all vertical ladders, railing, radars, lifelines, rope antennae, flag ropes and other detailing.

Hull construction starting with a centerline sheet using the profile derived from the DD692 plans. Transverse bulkheads based on the plans were positioned at 1 inch intervals and attached to a flat bottom sheet taking care to ensure perpendicular alignment. Decks are affixed to the bulkheads with more decks at the ends to provide backing for the hull contours. Finally, a styrene sheet was added as the main deck and 15 thousands sheets were used to skin the hull. The superstructure outline was penciled on the main deck. The too squared stern was corrected later.

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The forward superstructure being built separately from the after superstructure. The plans show that the DASH flight/hanger deck is taller than amidship 01 deck because the FRAM conversion replaced the original steel superstructure with a prefabricated aluminum helo hanger and flight deck. Plastic strips where glued to the deck to provide positive alignment and internal bulkheads added to ensure the superstructure remains perpendicular to the main deck. DD 692 plans (shown) were used to cut the superstructure and forward and amidships 01 decks. Picture05
The superstructure erected after portholes were drilled out and watertight doors, vents and other structures were added. The undersides of decks were detailed before installation. Picture06
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The forward 01 deck installed. Additional superstructure details added and painted. A winch was constructed and added to the portside. Collett was one of a handful of Sumner FRAMs that stored its motor whale boat on the portside. The winch is installed on whatever side the boat is stored. The 5 inch mount positions are marked on the decks. Picture08
The amidships 01 torpedo deck was installed. 05 thousands strips were added delineating the expansion joints. The 02 deck was cut out with the forward portion raised by laminating two more 10 thousands styrene sheets. Notched portions were cut out of the middle layer for the port and starboard navigations lights. The pilot house outline was drawn on the 02 deck. Picture09
The 02 deck is installed. A styrene sheet is added representing a part of the bulkhead for the rear of the forward superstructure. Picture10
The 03 superstructure widened by using 060 thousands sheets as spacers. The pilot house structure was constructed corresponding to the DD692 plans. Sheet styrene bulkheads were installed for the front and rear of the 02/03 superstructure. Bridge windows were cut out and port and starboard portholes drilled out for the Desron COís stateroom. The 03 deck was cut per plans.
 
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Picture 12-shows the 03 deck is installed after details were added inside the pilot house and the interior painted. The aft superstructure was cut from sheet styrene and assembled after portholes are drilled out and watertight doors added. The hatches for the after underway replenishment kingpost, fueling station, stores strike down, and tie down holes were scribed into the helo deck. The mainmast of 1/8 Evergreen tube was mounted using the plans for placement and rake alignment. On the forward superstructure the 01 deck sponsons aft and bridge wing bulkheads were added.
 
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Picture 13-show the DASH hanger detailed prior to painting the interior and sealing it up. In the forward face of the aft superstructure the raised position of the forward DASH hanger access door compared to the adjacent starboard side torpedo magazine door indicate how much higher the DASH deck is compared to the amidships 01 deck.
Armament
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This picture shows the ASW weapon outfit. Hedgehog launchers were scratch built from rod and sheet styrene with the early painting of the projectiles olive drab and the underside of the launcher blast shield light ghost gray because of the difficulty of doing so later. Single 21 inch torpedo launchers and Mk 32 triple tube torpedo launchers were constructed from evergreen rods stretch sprue and bits of plastic sheet. DASH aircraft are in the background. Picture14
Close up shots of QH-50C tailed DASH machines made from styrene tube, rod, sheet, and stretched sprue. The right DASH is intended to be the hanger queen so is equipped with wheels and rotor blade crutches. The DASH was painted with flat black transmission, light gray rotor blades, aluminum engine, gunship gray after fuselage, yellow upper twin tailfins, with the lower half starboard tailfin, fuel tank, and landing skid flat green and the port counterparts flat red.  The national insignia came from the decal sheet for 1/700 scale Trumpeter aircraft kit. The Gyrodyne website provided drawings and dimensions. Picture15
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The scratch built Main Battery. The Mk37 director was constructed from sheet styrene, stretched sprue and styrene rod. The Mk 25 radar dish was a piece of 60 thousands styrene sheet hollowed out with a Dremel Tool. Each twin 5 inch mount was unique. Constructed from sheet styrene pieces, mount 51 and 52 were reinforced on the forward face and starboard side. Mount 51ís roof sported a blast hood for the mount captainís hatch and a short tripod antenna. Mount 52ís roof had the base for a tall whip antenna and stored a short Unrep kingpost tripod. Mount 53 aft featured the least additions with only the stretch sprue hand holds and foot holds. The gun barrels were made from stretched Evergreen tube. Picture17
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Continued construction that added the foremast tripod legs, and platforms plus a signalmanís shelter. The flag bags were added (Collett was one of the few ships with curved bottom flag bags). The basic stack assemblies were temporarily placed on the 01 amidships deck. After the inside of the DASH hanger was painted and after the DASH hanger queen was glued in place, the hanger roof was attached and the hanger door opening temporarily sealed. The large vents were added the hanger deckhouse. The main battery foundations were positioned and assembled. Fueling trunks and Hedgehog magazines were added under the bridge wings. Picture19
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The forward and aft stacks detailed with stretched sprue for cable runs, ladders, and the water wash-down plumbing. The aft stack featured a platform for the radio transmitter and the lattice framework for the amidship Unrep kingposts and torpedo loading boom. Picture21
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The beginning of adding details to superstructure; water wash-down plumbing, drain pipes, ladders, pipe vents, fire mains, etc. A lattice mast with ESM domes was placed atop the ECM shack and the secondary conn station was placed atop the DASH hanger. Support pylons were added under the 01 deck overhangs. The stacks were painted light ghost gray and glued in place. A catwalk was constructed of a floristís mesh glued to a frame cut in sheet styrene and glued behind the forward stack. The foretop mast and yardarm was added to the foremast. A motor whale boat was constructed from sheet styrene using the bread and butter technique. The whale boat cradle structure was constructed from sheet styrene and fixed to the port side. The stern was rounded to a more correct configuration. Equipment, bulkheads, and deck under all overhanging 01 decks were painted. The DASH flight deck was expanded outboard and aft to overhang the aft superstructure to match reference photos. Picture23
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The ASQ-10 VDS hoist broken down into numerous subassemblies with some being painted before gluing in place. Photos from the NHC provided the best references. The Laffey booklet also provided a useful photo of the fish streamed. A large diameter piece of sprue was shaped into the VDS fish. Stretched sprue wrapped around a section of Evergreen 11/32 styrene tube provided the basis of the VDS cable storage drum. Sheet styrene and stretched sprue was extensively used. The VDS hoist control booth was added at the stern. Picture25
Portside whaleboat cradle and boat davits in close up. The life raft racks were constructed from thin sheet styrene strips. Inclined ladders were constructed from sheet styrene with stretched sprue handrails. Picture26
Installed anchors and deck fittings. Hull was partially primed to check seams and look for any areas that need correcting. Bulwarks were added and painted. Picture27
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Weapons temporarily in place just to see how it would look.  Picture29
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Construction of search radar antennae from stretch sprue and the scratch built 5 inch gun practice loading machine. Picture31
Close up of radars installed on foremast. Whip antennae were attached as were stretched sprue railings. Final detailing has started in sequence from top to bottom and inboard to outboard.
 
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Completed Model
Overall views of the painted and finished waterline model. Brown butcher paper was used for the background complicating getting the color balance correct. Testors Model Master light ghost gray was used as haze gray for vertical surfaces. Neutral gray was used for the decks with strips cut from the Microscale TF11 decal sheet used for the darker walkways. Model Master gunship gray is a good match for this shade and was used for the other darker areas. Flat black was used on the upper works, gloss black for the boot topping. Sand was for the flag hoist lines and steel was used for the wire antennae. The Desron Nine insignia was hand painted on a white decal.  Picture34
The helo deck number came from Gold Medal Models Naval Ship decals 1/192-1/200. The hull numbers came from the white numbers from Microscale decal sheet 72-26 overlaid on the black numbers from Microscale decal sheet 72-25. The stern shipís name letters were cut out of Microscale Decal sheet 32-32. 
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The campaign ribbons under the bridge were created using a photoshop program. A listing of the shipís awards was found on the Collett website. A separate website was found showing actual ribbons. Some of the older WWII awards had to be googled separately. All the ribbons listed were printed and cut out. Using a precedence chart and some crew photos on the Collett website, the ribbons were pasted in order. The set was then photographed at various distances to reduce the size and printed on a color inkjet. A flat varnish was sprayed over the picture and the ribbon set was cut out and carefully superglued under the bridge sides. 
Chalk pastels were used to provide minimal weathering. The entire model was airbrushed with Windsor and Newton Galeria Matt Varnish. Bits of 10 thousands clear styrene sheet were cut for the windows for the bridge and signalmanís shelter. Micro Kristal Klear was used for the portholes and signal lamps. Clear stretch sprue was used for the masthead navigation lights, port and starboard under the bridge wings, and stern lights.
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Start to finish required just under 23 months. Pictures below show the model in a seascape.
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More of Phil Toy's work.
Updated 1/22/2019

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