1:228 U.S.S. SKIPJACK by Ken Hart

I absolutely love the dioramas that artist Kent Hart creates! This one of the USS SKIPJACK docked is beautiful! There is really nothing to comment on expect to state the obvious… that it is excellent!


View more photos below…

Here is what artist Ken Hart has to say…

Attached are photos of my 1/228 scale USS SKIPJACK SSN-585 Pierside Diorama display, submitted for your consideration.


I regret that these scanned images from the original 35mm slides are not as sharp and clear as the slides themselves were, but these are about all I have left after the publishers kept all the best shots. These were all done a couple decades ago.  Most were published in FineScale Modeler, Scale Ship Modeler, and other mags.


Below is an outline of the diorama, with captions for the photos.   I’ll send other diorama projects along soon.  Fair winds and following seas, my friend !


— Ken Hart —

USS SKIPJACK SSN-585 Pierside Diorama

The scene depicts SKIPJACK moored alongside at Pier 6 South at the lower base in Groton in New London, Connecticut, circa 1970s.

The subject model was a 1960s Aurora kit, No. 711,  SSN SKIPJACK, in 1/228 scale.

Once the model’s hull was cut to trim bouyancy waterline, it was corrected and built with proper detailings, and was finished with slight only weathering.  Maintenance on U.S. Navy submarines, inside and out, is an endless chore for its crew.

Preiser brand Z-scale model railroad figures were painted to represent sailors and visitors on the pier and on the sub’s fore and aft decks.  They’re slightly large for the scale of the sub, but they fit well enough to lend an authentic sense of busy life to the scene.

Stretched sprue made for excellent mooring lines.  In varyious thicknesses, stretched sprue is a perfect medium for so many effects – railing wires, antenna wires, radio whip antennae – ropes, cables, wires  –  even as weld lines for hull platings and such.

Soft lead solder, quite easily formed to fit any desire contours, was used for the heavy electrical cables festooned across the boom and down into the sub’s aft hatch.

Waterglass, from a stained glass shop, was painted on the smooth underside to create the reflective illusion of wetness and depth.

A thin length of clear fiber optic line was attached between the sub’s hull and the water, then coated with several applications of clear five-minute epoxy.  Letting it set up just to the point of tackiness, it was agitated with the tip of a toothpick to make it appear foamy and bubbly, yet it retains its reflective shine to make for a convincing aerated water flow.

With a toothpick, lines of five-minute epoxy were drawn around the splash as ripples spreading outward.

Balsa painted to represent concrete, with dowels for the pilings, were used to make the pier.  The various pierside effects set upon it were made from odds ‘n’ ends appropriated from a well-stocked junk box, the modeler’s treasure trove.

This diorama was built in the late 1980s, and was placed on display for a while in the Submarine Force Library & Museum, just outside the Sub base main gates.  It was first featured in FineScale Modeler magazine, February 1992 (Vol.11, No.2),  and then later on in  Scale Modeler magazine, May 1997 (Vol.32, No.3)

Attached photo captions:

1-228diorama1  –  A bow view of USS SKIPJACK SN-585 alongside at Pier 6 South on a warm, calm June morning, circa 1970s.

1-228diorama02  –  A stern starboard view of SKIPJACK moored to her pier.

1-228diorama13  –  The size of a dime compares the tiny scale of these Z-scale model railroad figures.

1-228diorama10  –  The ship’s captain stands out on the port side fairwater plane to address a group of guests come to visit on the pier.

1-228diorama14  –  A port side view of the pierside scene.

1-228diorama 24 –  A starboard side view of the sail and bow.

1-228diorama16  –  Stern view, with no one on the pier or the ship.

1-228diorama 23 –  Starboard close-up view of bow deck crew.

1-228diorama18  –  Pierside diorama under plexiglass dustcover.

Aurora 1961 No.711-98 1-228 scale SSN SKIPJACK plastic model kit.

1-228SKIPJACK2  –  Aurora SSN SKIPJACK model, corrected and detailed as pre-commissioned ship.

1-228SKIPJACK1  –  Aurora SSN SKIPJACK model, mounted on keel blocks upon walnut base.

1-228SKIPJACK5  –  Aurora SSN SKIPJACK model, depicted as commissioned in fleet service.

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