Converting the 1/72nd scale Revel Flower Class Corvette to the Salvage Tug S.S. SUDBURY

by George Peat


After my last conversion (HMCS Agassiz), I found that I had an almost complete kit left and being a Scotsman and deciding not to waste anything. I did a bit of research on the Internet and found that one of the ex-Canadian Navy Flower class corvettes, HMCS Sudbury, was converted postwar to a rescue tug under the same name. Used by a firm called "Island Tug & Barge Company" of Vancouver British Columbia. I contacted both Seaspan (the current owners of the Island Tug & Barge Company) and The Maritime Museum of British Columbia in Vancouver for what assistance they could give me.

Builders drawings to 1/72nd scale were purchased from the Maritime museum of British Columbia along with photographs of the ship and the conversions started. This is the result.


Sudbury was a 60 meter salvage tug famous for its mid-ocean rescues. She began life as the RCN Corvette, HMCS Sudbury, built in Ontario in 1941. After WW2 ended she was converted to a towboat and Harold Elworthy, owner of Island Tug & Barge bought her in 1954. The Sudbury and her crew specialized in deep-sea salvage and completed many dramatic operations, but made their reputation in November/December 1955 when they pulled off the daring North Pacific rescue of the Greek freighter Makedonia.

The Sudbury towed the disabled vessel for 40 days through some of the roughest weather imaginable before arriving safely into Vancouver to a hero's welcome. The incident made headlines around the world and for the next decade the Sudbury and her 65-meter sister ship Sudbury II, purchased by Island Tug in 1958 were the most famous tugs on the Pacific coast.

The original Sudbury was damaged during repairs and was dismantled for scrap in 1966. Following the mergers that created Sea span International. The Sudbury II remained in service until 1979 when she was sold and converted into a fishing vessel by her new owners. In 1982 she sank in Hecate Strait

The Sudbury

The kit hull was put together as per the kit instructions then the excess keel moulding from bow to stern is removed as this is incorrect for the ships of the class. The excessive gaps in the joint plates of the hull were filled with P38 and sanded down to give a more realistic look to the hull. The bulwarks around the quarter deck were removed to the level of the freeing ports and deck level and the stern is squared off by using heat applied to the stern and placed against a flat surface, when the hull begins to soften a gentle pushing will shape it to the required shape.

New decking was cut using the kit decks as a guide and the quarterdeck area squared off that the stern, the access area is cut out after measuring the distance for the new engine room casing. This casing deck is modified from the kit by removing the 2pdr gun mount and filling the resulting hole, the engine room skylight hole is filled and the new enlarged skylight moved to the correct position further aft.

The actual engine room casing sides are shortened [from the forward end to allow for the camber on the deck] by 80mm .The funnel housing is fitted to the front of the casing to make it into a one-piece fitting.

The extra port holes [lower group forward and those below the quarter deck] in the hull were filled in and sanded. The new quarterdeck was fitted into place and secured, any gaps left being filled with P38 and sanded.

The replacement bulwarks were cut after making a template from card to ensure the correct shape and the outside built up using again P38 where required. New plates were cut to size and put in place to follow the hull-plating pattern. The capping rail was then added to continue the detail from the main hull. The rubbing strip round the quarterdeck was added and the completed hull sprayed matt black above the waterline and matt red below with a white boot topping marking the waterline.

The new fore deck was cut and fitted into place with an access hatch being cut and fitted to take the forward superstructure. Owing to this being a flat structure and the need for the superstructure to be secured , a ledge was stuck in place all round the hatch and the deck with the superstructure in place was fitted unto a bed of light grease [Vaseline to ensure a watertight seal]

New bulwarks were added round the fore deck as far back as the bridge superstructure and the required bulwark supports were put into place after painting light grey. These are also cut and put into place round the rear deck.

The superstructure was built as per the drawings. Glazing was added inside the windows as were the bridge interior details and since I intend to have operating lights they too were added before painting and final assembly of the separate levels. The radar mast was put into place and the drive for the radar extended to below the superstructure. The rails around the superstructure made from plastic covered wire and plastic angle. Various boxes were put in place on the bridge to make it look more lifelike. The forward hatch was made and put in place in front of the bridge structure.

The foremast support consisting of the crew and storage access doors with breakwater is made and painted before fitting into place.

The towing winch was made from scrap bits and pieces and fitted to the quarter deck at the rear of the engine room casing

The ships boats are carried covered and to simulate the canvas covering toilet paper was sprayed green and put into place on the boats

Deck rails were made from Billings 3 hole stanchions and white thread to make the actual guard rails. The masts are made from aluminium tubing of different sizes and to give the required taper they are sleeved inside each other for the required length 9.5 for the foremast & 9.25" for The main mast. Collars for the jibs are cut again from tubing and put into place. Using the same system as the masts by sleeving the different sizes until the required taper is produced makes the jibs themselves.

The fore mast is drilled 3" from the top, then at 4" & 5" for the mast lights which are then wired up together and inserted down the inside of the mast to emerge under the foredeck. And are connected to the interior and search lights, the main mast is also drilled for lights which again is wired to the other ships lights so that when the lights are switched on all lights come on at the same time

Life Boat davits of the Welin Lum type are made and put in place along with the falls and other rope works.

Various details such as small winches, storage boxes etc are put in place on the decks to give a busy look

The rigging is now fitted where required and where there are re-moveable areas of superstructure the rigging is also made removable by fixing it through small hooks that are not too visible to the on looker.

During the course of this conversion I used as many of the kit parts as possible either straight from the box or customised to suit their new purpose. Parts bought for the ship are at a minimum.