Title: Gallery Models USS Makin Island LHD-8

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USS Makin Island (LHD-8) Construction: Transom doors

Early on into this project, I decided I didn't want to have to choose whether to model MKI with the transom open or closed. The simple solution was to modify the doors so that they operate. The kit is designed such that the stock parts glue into the rear of these openings, giving the appearance that they protrude all the way through to the actuation mechanism within. The first step was to open up these pockets to permit a revised actuator to slide in and out.

Next, I modified the main transom door to accept hinges and revised actuator rods. The hinges were a challenge since they a) could not compromise the appearance of the door, and b) must be robust-enough so as not to fail after a few uses. Additionally, the hinge-point of the actuators, together with the shape of the modified openings in the hull had to permit the actuator rod to swing through the required arc as the door opens and closes.

Taking these requirements into account I wound up with the arrangement shown. On both port and starboard sides of the door, I slotted the inside surface just below the actuators to accept a 0.010" brass hinge plate. I then drilled from the outer edge of the door through this slot and deeper into the width of the door to accept a brass hinge pin. For the actuators, I used square styrene strip of the appropriate size, shaping one end as on the prototype and drilling it for a hinge pin. I created two hinge plates on the door side from styrene, drilled a corresponding hole in each, and affixed the actuators using brass pins.

Returning to the hull, I cut a slot beneath each actuator pocket to accept the brass hinge plate.

At this point I was ready to do a trial fit. I discovered that the hinge plate would bind on the door as it was opening. I remedied this by opening the outer surface of the door at the slot for the hinge plate. This violates my "don't compromise scale appearance" rule, but I figure once I'm ready for final finishing, I'll be able to trim the area such that it will be virtually unnoticeable.

After some minor tuning, I'm pretty satisfied with the overall fit and appearance.

Here's how things look from inside the hull in both the open and closed positions. The side walls of the well deck fit just inside the actuators, so the whole thing is hidden from view once installed. You can see the arc the actuators must make as the door opens and closes.

I'm toying with the idea of connecting an actual actuator(!) to these rods so as to be able to open/close the door remotely. Not sure how much value that would add, other than a semi-cool factor.

Another view of the main door in the open and closed positions, this time with the Well Deck installed for a fit-check. When closed you can see the hinge pin/plate, but once finished and painted I think they will be pretty unobstrusive. The payoff is that now the ship can be posed buttoned up or open for viewing of the well/vehicle decks.

What about the small upper door, you ask? After finishing the main door I was distracted by work on the well deck, so stay tuned.

Use the inner scrollbar at right as necessary!