Dive Test- Using Foamboard to Build Ships- 1:96 USS Dallas SSN-700

Crawford Bros. Aeroplanes

Legendary member
This is a project that I've wanted to tackle for a while- an RC submarine. I know this isn't a plane but here me out- this is Flitetest related I assure you. The issue with building a submarine was the difficulty of scratch building a hull coupled with the high cost of a reliable dive system- usually several thousand dollars.
To build a hull most modellers make a fiberglass plug out of insulation foam. This requires extensive sanding and many choose to use a lathe. After the plug is glassed it's melted away using acetone or gasoline, a rather messy process.
I decided to experiment with a new solution- foamboard. As it's a very easy and cheap medium to work with a convincing plug can be made rather easily. I finished mine in just a few hours build time. To glass it I'll cover the plug in wax paper before applying the fiberglass. This should make it easy to simply rip the foam out by hand- no chemicals required.
As for the expensive diving system I circumvented the problem by simply not using one. For the time being this ship will be a surface runner only, but one of the things I like most about submarines is their ominous profile on the surface. Plus the lakes and ponds I have at my disposal are pretty murky anyway and 2.4ghz doesn't tend to penetrate water very well.
The finished plug:


I used some extra black foam I had lying around because it wasn't exactly airworthy. Mixed with the white foam it's just about the ugliest thing I've ever seen, and the lack of dive planes makes it look naked I think. It's just a plug though, none of that matters. I'm a bit short on funds at the moment so this project will move rather slowly, I might just bite the bullet and get the fiberglass now though.
Most of the electronics going into it are parts I already had, 1 9g servo ($7), Storm receiver ($16), 2 sheets foamboard ($2), and some 1/8" (I think) balsa for the dive planes and rudder. The parts I don't have are the motor and ESC ($35) fiberglass and resin ($30), and the screw ($35). Small details will be made out of plexiglass, balsa, and other materials I already have.

The USS Dallas is an SSN-688 Los Angeles class submarine. It's hull number is SSN-700. The ship was featured prominently in Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October and the film based on it. In the book the Dallas is first to detect the Russian submarine Red October near Iceland and is first to witness operation of Red October's magnetohydrodynamic "caterpillar" drive when the Russian submarine simply disappears. Knowledge of Russian submarine tactics allows Dallas' Captain Bart Mancuso to reacquire the submarine after it has finished its routine run through Reykjanes Ridge south of Iceland. The Dallas tails the Red October and is instrumental in allowing the Red October to successfully defect to the United States.