Graf Spee Model Ship
This page outlines the creation of a scratch-built working model of
the WWII "pocket battleship" Graf Spee.
The model on this page is a 66cm long (1/275 scale) electric-powered
version of the German Cruiser "Admiral Graf Spee".
The model uses as its basis a card model kit, however, the hull is
constructed from an MDF base with dope-and-tissue covered balsa wood
sides and deck. This provides a very robust hull structure.
The superstructure is derived directly from the card model kit. This
means that it is relatively quick to build and comes pre-coloured, which
also saves time. A few of the components required additional balsa wood
reinforcement, but apart from that the model only needed varnishing
With the lightweight card superstructure and MDF base the centre of
gravity of the model is suitably low, giving it good sailing characteristics.
Once the footprint of the superstructure on the deck had been ascertained,
openings could be cut into the deck within these boundaries to allow
access to the battery and the Mabuchi electric motor. Physically the
motor is the same size as that used in Scalextric cars, although it
has a lower power output.
The motor was fixed to a mounting block using servo-tape and the motor-shaft
was connected to the propshaft using a push-fit flexible plastic tube.
A 4.8 volt 60mAh NiMH rechargeable battery pack provided the power source
for the model.
A switch was incorporated into the deck, just aft of the front turret,
to allow the motor to be switched on and off easily.
Power transmission was via a "Junior Propshaft Assembly"
manufactured by the model manufacturing company "Radio-Active".
The rudder was constructed from brass tube and plastic card.