by Tom Dougherty
1/350 USS Becuna, SS 319 (YMW/Mod)
This model is USS Becuna, SS 319, after conversion to GUPPY IA configuration. The early Cold War Guppy program modified existing WWII fleet submarines for increased speed, more advanced sonar and added a snorkel. Lessons from the advanced German Type XXI class were studied and adapted. This was a response to the Soviet Union’s postwar submarine building program (Project 613, NATO Whiskey class). The WWII Balao & Tench class conning towers were enclosed by a streamlined sail covering, having a bridge on the lower level and enclosing the various masts in the upper level. The bow was modified from the “bull nose” to a more rounded bow that handled better in rough waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. On Becuna, this is the Electric Boat “step sail” design. A somewhat different “step sail” design by Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard was also employed. Various streamlined coverings were placed over deck sonar equipment, and a BQR-2 “chin” sonar added later in the program. Configurations varied over time as new equipment was developed. Various modifications of these Guppy submarine “smoke boats” carried the deployment load until the mid to late 1960’s, when the growing numbers of nuclear powered SSNs could gradually assume these duties. Becuna is preserved as a museum boat, and can be visited at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, Pa..
This construction is a hybrid of the accurate Yankee Models resin Guppy hull combined with the more accurate Tom’s Modelworks resin Electric boat sail. The BQR-2 chin sonar was built up from Milliput and sanded to shape. Various domes were also employing Milliput sanded to shape. I sanded off the molded sail rails and added wire hand rails to the sail. The 5 bladed propeller employed on Guppy submarines was included in the Yankee Models kit. After painting by priming with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and airbrushing Badger acrylics, I outlined the deck safety rail with a fine tip silver pencil. Pastels were employed to make diesel exhaust smudges. I mount my models on home made oak bases with brass rods.