This is a 1/48th scale scratchbuilt model of the ship my dad served aboard as a Radarman 2nd class from 1944 to 1945. It was one of twelve ships of the â€˜Interim' LSM(R) class. The first eight ships (LSM(R)s 188 – 195) fired fin-stabilized 5-inch rockets from manually-loaded rail-type rocket launchers. The remaining four ships of the Interim LSM(R) class (LSM(R)s 196 - 199) fired spin-stabilized rockets from manually-loaded auto-feeding launchers. The Interim LSM(R)s had a very short service life. The ships began their transit to the Pacific Theatre in December 1944 but arrived too late to participate in the invasion of Iwo Jima. Initially, the ships provided support for the invasion of Okinawa but were later assigned to radar picket station duty. It was during the assignment to radar picket duty that Kamikaze attacks sank three of the Interim LSM(R)s and damaged three others, including the 192. Following Okinawa, the nine surviving Interim LSM(R)s were sent to Pearl Harbor for conversion into ammo carriers for the planned invasion of Japan. The Interim LSM(R) class was followed by the 'Ultimate' LSMR 401 and LSMR 501 class, which were starting to arrive in the Pacific just as the war ended. Some of those ships later served in the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
LSMRs all began life as standard LSM hulls with the tank well covered over. The area below the new main deck was used for rocket component stowage and assembly. The model started out as a 1/48th scale fiberglass LSM hull made by John Tombaugh, which was modified to present the correct silhouette for the Interim LSM(R) class. The stern anchor winch room was built up, the main deck was installed, and the hull was then detailed. Many of the major topside components, such as the superstructure, raised armored deck for the 5" 38, Mk 51 gun director tower, and 40mm gun tubs were built of styrene sheet. The 20mm gun tubs were made with .005 inch brass sheet.
About a half dozen fittings, such as the guns, the Mk 51 gun director, and the 5" 38 gun turret, were purchased from commercial outlets, but the remaining topside details including the rocket launchers were scratchbuilt. Since I needed multiples of some of the topside fittings, such as ventilators, chocks, and bitts, I would typically build a master of the part I needed, make a mold, and cast the required number of duplicates.
The most difficult part of building the model was constructing the launchers. On the main deck, the LSM(R)-192 had a total of 300 rocket rails. For the model, individual launcher rails were made of 3 strips of styrene cut to size, wafered together, and shaped to the proper profile. Each 4-rail launcher assembly was constructed in a jig to get proper alignment and then support structure was added. Attached to each launcher assembly was an exhaust deflector assembly. The exhaust assemblies were built in a jig as well, using .005 inch sheet styrene, styrene strips, styrene angle material, and homemade castings (of the horizontal grate on the top of the assembly and a curved deflector plate.) The launcher assemblies were then joined together with the exhaust deflector assemblies in the proper number needed for each bank of launchers.
I began building this model in the mid-1990's, but became stymied by the challenge presented by the launchers. I resumed earnest construction of the model in 2006, but the myriad of details are not yet complete. Among the items remaining are the Mark 30 rocket launchers that were mounted along the gunwales. While in the combat zone, most of these were removed because they proved to be very troublesome; they were frequently ripped off the hull while mooring or coming alongside other ships. Although the model has the Mark 30 launcher stanchions on the gunwales, I haven't completed the launcher assemblies for this feature on the model yet.
Reference material is about as scarce as hens' teeth for the Interim LSM(R) class, but I was fortunate to borrow some original general arrangement drawings for the LSM class and many unpublished photos that were provided by men who served aboard the ships.
My brother and I both belong to the USS LSM/LSMR Association and we frequently take the model to association reunions. Although our dad didn't live to see the completed model, we were recently very fortunate to meet up with a man who served with our dad on the 192. When he first saw the model he declared that it looked exactly the way he remembered the ship. No better compliment can be given; it is reactions such as those that make all the labor worthwhile.