Kit Used: Revell-Germany 1/144
Model & Review by:
|History: The IX-529 Sea Shadow is a one of a kind technology demonstrator that was built for the U.S. Navy by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company. It was designed to explore a number of new technologies for surface ships, which included ship structures, automated control, sea keeping and signature reduction (i.e. stealth). It was built in the mid-1980s at Redwood City, CA, in the HMB-1 submersible barge that originally housed the "claw" used by the Hughes Glomar Explorer to pick up a sunken Soviet submarine as part of the CIA's Project Jennifer.|
|The Sea Shadow was revealed to the public in April 1993, when Lockheed began daylight
testing of the ship off the southern California coast. Prior to that, it had been towed out to sea in the
HMB-1 and operated only at night. In late 1994, the Sea Shadow was deactivated and stored at Naval
Station San Diego. In 1999, the vessel was re-activated and moved to the Naval Station at Alameda,
CA, where it was involved in performing systems tests related to the Navy's DD-21, 21st Century Land
Attack Destroyer project. It is still currently on active status with the U.S. Navy.
The IX-529 Sea Shadow is 160' long, and 70' wide, with a displacement of 560 tons. It is powered by two diesel engines located in the hull, which power electric drive motors in the twin torpedo shaped hulls. It has a top speed of 14 knots in rough seas. For steering, it uses fins, located on the insides of the twin hulls.
|The Kit: The kit is not an easy build despite the way it looks in the box. Although it is simple as far as the components go, the overall fit is poor. The build-up involves a floor and top deck with two transverse bulkheads that run down inside the side sections. Unfortunately, there is no good way to hold the seams together while gluing these major components, which leads to large gaps in the underside of the ship. These were filled with gap-filling super glue and sanded heavily, but the results made it clear that the model was going to be attached to a base were the undersides couldn't be seen.|
|I did very little modification on the model, as there really isn't too much to the real ship. In the process of two moves, I lost the hatches and made new ones out of sheet styrene, and detailed them out with little bits of stretched sprue and sheet stock. Sort of a "creative gizmology." I also added some cables on the forward and rear radar units with stretched sprue. Lastly, just to give the model a little scale, I added three 1/144 scale figures from the old Monogram Apollo-Saturn 5 kit, painted to represents an officer and two enlisted sailors with life jackets.|
One of the challenges is that the finish of the real ship is a dead flat black, much like the
F-117 Stealth Fighter. I started out by airbrushing the model overall with Tamiya Semi Gloss
Black. I then coated it with a couple coats of Future Floor Wax to give it a really good gloss,
because I knew there would be problems with the large decal of the calibration marks on the
starboard side of the vessel.
What I couldn't know was how bad the decals really were. Revell provides a number of decals for a fictional Sea Shadow, but in actuality, the only markings on the IX-529 are the calibration marks and the name on each side, up near the cockpit. When applying the calibration marks, the decals crackled like cellophane and shattered into many pieces. I used Solvaset to get the decals to snuggle down, but that had no effect. Even though the model's surface was highly glossed, the decals still silvered very badly. Although I was tempted ' o trash the model then and there, I tried putting a couple more coats of Future over the decals and that seemed to get rid of most of the silvering problems. The final overcoat was done with a heavy application of Testor's Dullcote to give the model the dead black appearance.
|Being as the Sea Shadow is an experimental vessel, there was really little to do with weathering. To break up the monotony of the all black finish, I drew in the panel lines using a .5 mm pencil with 2B soft lead. I also added a brownish-black streak of pastel on top to simulate exhaust stains from the ship's diesel engines.|
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol.120, No. 1 January, 1994
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol.121, No. 10, October, 1995
Although I didn't know it at the time I was building the model, there is an excellent web page with many photos at www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/sea_shadow.htm