More Military Scale Models
USS Virginia SSN-774
Name: SSN-774 Virginia
Draft: 6-7" (still in trials)
Displacement: 18-20 lbs. (still in trials)
Power Plant: 9.6v electric motor w/reduction belt drive, powering 1 six-bladed ducted-propulsor-type propeller.
Max Speed: 3-4 mph (untested)
Test Depth: 1.5 feet
Maximum Depth: Unknown
Submergence Method: Dynamic
Armament: None (yet ... )
Builder: RapidNadion W&M Shipyards
Status: Shakedown complete, sea trials continuing
The second incarnation of our "sewer-pipe submarine" is this replica of SSN-774 Virginia, lead boat of the newest class of U.S. Navy fast-attack submarines.
Like our earlier (and ill-fated) Baton Rouge, this model was constructed from a (non-used) PVC sewage pipe. Originally intended to be a refit of the older boat, Virginia is now almost an entirely new vessel. The only components carried over from Baton Rouge were the mahogany nosecone and dorsal rudder.
Virginia was built in approximately one month, with most of that time spent by only one builder (Willie), nearly seven days a week. Her total cost (materials only) was in the $500 range. Wood was used for three major vessel components: the aforementioned mahogany sonar dome (nosecone), the walnut stern section, and the basswood sail. Most of Virginia's electronic components were purchased from Mike's Sub Works. The control surfaces (rudders, stern- and bowplanes, and anhedral stabilizers) were fashioned from plexiglass.
Her first saltwater immersion and shakedown cruise took place on 25 November 2011, on a beautiful, sunny, and warm day on the shores of the Peconic Bay. A dynamic-diver, she had to be hauled and re-ballasted twice to attain the proper weight for submergence on command. Due to hydrodynamic forces caused by the two anhedrals, as well as a smaller ventral rudder, the boat exhibited poor turning performance in her initial run, at least while surfaced. This will be remedied as the ship's design is refined. See the video above, and in the "More Video" section below for video footage of the event.
We chose to recreate Virginia not just because she's the lead ship in her class, but because it's a state where both of us spent pivotal periods of our lives - Willie in the Navy, Mike in college.
See the "Sewer Pipe to Submarine" video below for an in-depth look at how this boat was constructed!