Federation Rescue/Hospital Cruiser (CCH)
U.S.S. Hope, NCC-H235

Conversion/Kitbash 1:3788 Scale Amarillo Design Bureau Gaming Miniatures

Copyright
2011 & 2012 Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Finishing materials and sequence can be found here on this page.
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With the release of the new, and larger, line of Starline 2500 Miniatures around a month or so away, I started rummaging through my spare parts box to see what I could use in the Starline 2400 line for fleshing out my gaming miniature collection. I wanted to avoid creating a "Frankenship", so I sought something that was plausible and used already existing components that would be found in a Star Fleet Shipyard. Again, turning to the Starship Schematic Database and John Payne Models provided much inspiration, and I set out to make my own version of a Federation Rescue/Hospital Cruiser - USS Hope. I used these two drawings for basing my gaming miniature in 1:3788 scale, with some minor changes. This is definitely a unique and distinctive subject for modeling to expand your gaming miniature fleet.

For my version, I set out to use the primary hull from the Dreadnought Cruiser and decided to keep the center warp nacelle in the same position. In the images opposite, the center warp nacelle's Bussard Collector is blocked by the primary hull and is subjected to exhaust from the impulse engines - kind of a violation of the "Rule" so to speak. To get past this, I retained the Dreadnought's high-mounted engine already in a clear line-of-sight. The same held true for the low slung remaining warp nacelles - which are mostly blocked by the secondary hull. I settled on a mid-hull mounting for the pylons to raise the nacelles just high enough to have a clear line-of-sight between them. I didn't chop the length of the pylons either, settling on a wide-splayed stance that creates a broader impression of size. I didn't think a Rescue/Hospital Ship needed to be as tactically warp dynamic as other combat vessels, requiring the warp nacelles tucked in closer to the hull. Positioning them out further away from the secondary hull creates a little sense of drama and impression of safety concern(s) being addressed.

I had some leftover Fleet Tug parts too, so using this concept I could put the Cargo Containers and the Skid to good use. However, instead of modeling a hard connection between the neck and the secondary hull like drawn, I used the Skid Plate. I envisioned this Rescue/Hospital Cruiser being capable of saucer separation and independent operation as a lifeboat with its own warp nacelle - the use of the Skid implying this function. In this event, the secondary hull would also be capable of independent operation with its own set of warp nacelles, Command Suite/Deflector Dish and Impulse Engines. And, finally, I retained the connector parts for the second Cargo Container so that I could model an additional Medical Container trained to USS Hope to further expand its rescue and medical capabilities in response to a major disaster on a Federation world or military action with hundreds of casualties. All of these ship components would have been readily available in Federation shipyards for mating.

The kitbash work goes quickly using the plastic Zocchi miniatures. Clean up is pretty easy with a Flex-File to better preserve the round profiles and Squadron Green Putty for filling the shallow ejector pin marks. I did have to slightly enlarge the locating slot on the Fleet Tug's Skid Plate to accommodate the Dreadnought Neck/Saucer combination, as well as sanding and changing the angle of how the neck would attach to the Medical Container. I built an expedient alignment jig on my workbench so that I could employ 60-second epoxy in joining the Saucer/Neck to the Cargo Container permanently. I used the same expedient jig idea to super glue the warp nacelles to the mid-hull position on the Cargo Container, using a tube cutter as my holder. Simply taping the warp nacelle to it with a strip of Tamiya Masking Tape, and then just dialing in the height I wanted to attach it with the turn screw was so easy it made me chuckle a little bit. Since I wanted a little convertibility with this miniature, I didn't glue the Impulse Engine bulkhead to the Cargo Containers - allowing me to insert the connector and second Container whenever I wanted to display the ship in an expanded-mission configuration. I wish I would have thought about that before I permanently mated the Cargo Container and Saucer - if I could have worked out the balance properly, it would have made a cool miniature to show the emergency saucer separation mode as well.

I left this rendition of USS Hope with some weaponry for defense. I just don't buy the Klingons, Romulans and Kzinti adhering to the Terran Geneva Convention, let alone the rest of the baddies out there in the Galaxy. Plus, how is she going to defend herself from all the darned Monsters, Planet Killers and Juggernauts out there lurking in the dark reaches of space? I didn't add any additional weapons hard points, and nothing on the Medical Hull, however, as that would sway the ship towards a combatant. I could see a player being tempted to separate the ship into two fighting components a la Star Trek: The Next Generation's Enterprise-D, and I wanted to avoid that. I imagine the situation desperate enough to separate the components of the ship would compel the player commanding the Medical Hull to raise shields and then jump to maximum warp to escape the quadrant with injured personnel. Joined, I see the Rescue/Hospital Cruiser employing a lot of that warp power that would be otherwise dedicated to weaponry and maneuver, to seriously boosted shielding instead, making it a tough target to overwhelm. In a non-combat situation, the large amount of available warp power could be employed for transporter use in mass evacuation.

The completed miniature is larger than the Federation Dreadnought, to a degree where it looks more at home with a Battleship or Carrier - which is not a bad thing. It'll give you inspiration to build escorts for it, a Starbase for it to dock with, etc... I created 23 waterslide decals for this miniature, combined with 43 markings from Starfighter Decals sheets - the most I've put on a gaming mini to date. As with my Command Cruiser USS Hood, this isn't a official ADB gaming miniature design that I know of. It started out as a way to put a handful of spare parts into use, and then coupled with some fine artwork examples done by fans before me, it found a life of it's own.


The Hope-Class Rescue/Hospital Ship reminds me of a 1950's-era Hood Ornament in profile. It is an interesting ship, as well as an easy use of pre-existing components to bash a new ship for your fleet. It balances nicely on the single stand in this configuration.

Above and below, the mock-up for the extended-mission USS Hope posed with a Balson-Class Command Cruiser conversion that would become my finished USS Balson NCC-2105. The second Medical Container will have a single warp nacelle slung underneath like the drawing that inspired it from the Starship Schematic Database.

Midway through the painting and weathering process, there are still some details to pick out and complete before moving into the decaling stage. As a Rescue/Hospital Ship, I tried to keep the overall weathering lighter than the other capital ships in my fleet. The ship is painted with a Model Master Acryl Flat Black primer coat and Flat Gull Gray color coat.

Just before applying a Polly Scale Satin clear coat for decaling, I finished in the Bussard Collector Domes on the warp engines some more with a diluted wash of Tamiya X-27 Clear Red. Trying out a new idea for rendering a warp engine effect, I trimmed out a section of white decal sheet and applied it to the warp nacelle. Then, I overcoated the white decal with a 50% diluted wash of Tamiya X-23 Clear Blue.

When I created my decal markings, I wanted to make them slightly different than a traditional Star Fleet pattern - but not so much that they'd be alien in appearance. The Registry and font used is Federation Starfleet Hull 23rd, and in bolder print because I wanted Rescue and Hospital Cruisers to stand out a little more. I admit I was influenced by the motion picture Star Trek (2009), and the Romulan's ability once they detected USS Enterprise entering the battle above Vulcan to zoom in with optical sensors to read the registry on the primary hull. I would think a Rescue or Hospital Cruiser would definitely want to broadcast their intent and identity entering into a situation. I printed the lettering a hair larger than they would be on a standard Container for visibility.

Since USS Hope is equipped to routine detach from the Medical Container in the event of an emergency, it also would retain the ability to hook up with a different Container when necessary. To illustrate this, I carried the Medical Container's Registry on to the Warp Nacelles attached to it, and on the Warp Nacelle attached to USS Hope's saucer, I went with the traditional marking. If I ever do another Hope-Class CCH, I intend on redesigning the decals a bit. The flank set of decals on the Medical Container are made up of nine separate decals each side. Setting them into proper alignment was tedious.


All content Copyright 1998 - 2017 Jim Lewis, guntruck.com, guntruck.us, guntruck.org, guntruck.net and GunTruck Studios.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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