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Argentine Navy Corvette Type  MEKO 140 A16 A.R.A. Parker 

1/72 scale

by  Carlos Votta


The history of this ship is quite short. It begins in the Blohm and Voss shipyards, in Germany, a company from the Thyssen-Krupp group. In view of the great experience acquired during their long time as ship builders, they wanted to optimize the idea of building a ship with the capability of keeping her updated with the most current technology, as it arises.

When we speak of a modern warship, it means that the hull and the general structure must be built to outclass the life of its weapons and electronic systems. There comes the idea of building the whole vessel in independent "modules" for the guns, the machine guns, missiles, radar equipment, and so on, in order for the ship to be modified, from a basic configuration, with the addition on different modules, depending on the specific application given to it.

The design of the corvettes built for the Argentinean Republic, according to the specifications given by the Armada, were equipped with a 76mm Otto Melara automatic gun, and two 40mm Breda-Bofors double machine guns, using the above mentioned modular system; as well as electronic radar search technology for surface and air-surface navigation, and aim-and-shooting control, plus an active/passive sonar system for underwater searching. All that weaponry was complemented with the addition of two triple anti-sub torpedo launching systems.

The main attack system comprises four Aerospatiale Exocet MM38 missile launchers mounted at the stern of the ship.
The ships were built at the Astilleros Argentinos de Río Santiago (AFNE), under the supervision of German technicians. Currently, they are finishing another corvette and beginning the construction of the last ship in a series of six.

Besides the launchers, the ARA Parker has a telescopic hangar made in Canada installed in the top stern deck, in order to receive small helicopters of the Alouette 3, or Fenec type, used specifically for the antisubmarine fight.

The unit started its service in the Armada Argentina on April 1990, bearing the number 44. It has participated in practice operations with ships from other countries, and now is engaged in the patrolling of our territorial seas.


The Model
The Hull

I always wanted to build a large model of a ship, and the election came easily because, as an enthusiast of ships, specially war ships, I wanted to concrete a somewhat delayed project that I've had in mind: the building of an Argentinean warship. As a member of the Club Argentino de Modelismo Naval a Radiocontrol (CAMNE), I wanted to build a model of a modern ship with a well equipped deck, that no other modeler had built up to now. As we already have in our club two other models of the Marina de Guerra Argentina (Argentinean Navy), that made easy for me to chose the subject for my project. All the characteristics I was looking for are in the MEKO 140 type, and with the ARA Parker as the only one with a helicopter hangar, I decided to make a model of it. For the scale, I opted for the well known 1:72; besides, that way I added another unit to the "Fuerza Naval 72" (Navy Force 72), as we call it in our club.
Considering that there is not a kit in the market for that ship, I had to scratch build everything.


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The first step was to get the plans for the ship; after that, I started making the bulkheads out of 3/8" (10mm) plywood, and covered the structure with 3/16" balsa wood planking in order to make the hull.


I puttied and sanded the hull, preparing it for the painting, with several coats of clear epoxy varnish (thinned with isopropyl alcohol) as a base. Then, I put on the several coats of automotive gray lacquer primer; after that I applied the final coats. For that purpose I used Testor's FS35237 (medium gray), which resembles very much the naval gray color, for the hull, and Testor's N° 100 (oxide red) for the underwater line, which is very adequate too. These two colors were separated by a thin black colored line.


The superstructure and the decks were built using styrene or ABS plastic sheets, cut according to the plans. I used 3/32" (2mm) thickness for the main and first decks, and 1/32" (1mm) for the partitions, boxes, accessories, and the remaining decks.
I used aluminum and brass tubing for the barrels of the main gun, machine guns, torpedo launchers, and the main mast base, on the signals deck.


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All the work was done following the ship's diagrams, as well as the great amount of pictures I had the chance to take during several visits to the shipyard, on board, and in the docks, during the fleet exhibition periods. * (1)


I detailed the command bridge interior and the collapsible hangar, as well as all the accessories, lifeboats, and elements in the deck.

I used the "dry brush" technique with flat black in the smokestack zone, and brown, orange, and dark blue, to simulate rust and wear. For the above job, I used "Model Master" paints.


Most of the times these ships are kept in pristine conditions, so I was very careful not to overdo when weatherizing the "traffic" zones in the decks. I painted the main deck "anti skid" zones in a darker gray and used a "blending" technique, with very subtle oxide colors, in the anchor zone. For the handmade ventilation grills all over the ship, I used the basic gray tone and "weatherized" them with flat black, in order to increase the depth effect.


I've paid a lot of attention to the details. Because the model was conceived as a "working R/C model", I had to consider the transportation, conditioning, and "operational" features of the model, so I had to build the main details with materials capable of handling all this. For instance, I used transparent plastic tubing in order to simulate all the fully operational lighting on decks, interiors, and the helicopter hangar.


The radar antenna was built with bronze wire and ABS plastic. By the way, the antenna is operational through a R/C device. The missile containers are wood made while the central launching tube is made with brass tubing, and the covers and reinforcing parts made out of ABS plastic. In fact, you can "launch" the missiles by means of an electrical device; it has four "loads" specially made by me for this purpose.


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The main mast, with all the antennas, was made out of wire in different diameters. For the navigation lights and the towers for the cannon and the machine guns, I hand carved them in wood, then I made an epoxy mold in order to make all the parts exactly alike.


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The finished model has a total length of 1266mm (50"), and a width of 154mm (6"), with an approximate weight of 4kg (9'). The project itself was very interesting and I have been able to finish it after compiling a great deal of data and information. The final result is a great model… and it sails!


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Information sources
Blohm and Voss shipyards.
Bibliography on the Armada Argentina ships (general).
Internet site on the Armada Argentina.
Original plans and on board pictures, taken by the author.
Club Argentino de Modelismo Naval (CAMNE).
Museo Naval de la Nación (Tigre).

(1) In this MMS issue, we reproduce a part of this graphic material.


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