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May 24, 2012
THE Canberra-class LHD program's
latest milestone stands as a model pro-
ject thanks to a labour of love by a
Russ French, who retired from
the Navy in 2000 to set up Defence
Models and Graphics, delivered the
model LHD to Navy stakeholders on
time and on budget.
He invested more than 600 hours
constructing the first 1:100 scale
model of the Canberra-class for BAE
It was handed over to Commander
Australian Fleet RADM Tim Barrett
on May 15.
"The LHD project is the biggest
project I've been involved with and
I'm very pleased with how the model
has come out," Mr French said.
The painstaking and detailed con-
struction of the LHD spanned six
months following the receipt of plans
and other information on the new ship.
Mr French said the most challeng-
ing part of the construction work on
the 2.4m fibreglass model was the
interior of the ship, which features
a cut-away section to showcase the
heavy vehicle deck and the landing
"I had to build from scratch eight
MRH90s, eight Abrams, three Tiger
helicopters and an assortment of
ASLAVs and M113s because there
was nothing readily available off the
shelf," he said.
Building a model project
CHALLENGING CONSTRUCTION: Russ French
puts the finishing touches on the LHD model. Inset, a
close-up of the model's bridge.Photos courtesy of Russ French
'' - Russ French
I built my first model
when I was seven, so
you could say I have
been living a childhood
Mr French said he used many new
techniques in the construction of the
model, with many of the decks and
superstructure panels being drawn
from the plans and then laser cut.
He has developed a thriving busi-
ness building models for Defence
clients since he retired as the signals
yeoman on HMAS Kanimbla after 20
years of service.
"I've been busy building not just
ship models, but models of almost
every piece of military equipment used
by the ADF and coalition navies," he
"I built my first Air Fix model
when I was seven, so you could say I
have been living a childhood dream."
Mr French has recently completed
seven scale models of the AWD for the
consortium partners, with each 1:72
scale model taking 360 hours to com-
He has also built an array of ADF
assets including the Romeo mari-
time helicopter for other departments
including DMO and RAAF.
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