Barnstormer Boats 1:72 scale LA Class kit review. - RC Groups
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Nov 01, 2005, 04:50 PM
Crazy bubble-head!
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Barnstormer Boats 1:72 scale LA Class kit review.

The following is a preliminary review of Barnstormer Boats' ( 1:72 scale US Los Angeles Class attack sub hull kit.

At the time of this writing, full information can be found on the manufacturer's website here: Barnstormer Boats LA Class Page.
The model measures approximately 60" in length and 5" in beam. Overall height of the model at the highest point is approximately 9".

Purchase and Delivery:

I bought this model off of Ebay, paying $250US for the kit and a beautiful 7-bladed scimitar prop. Tim, the owner of Barnstormer, contacted me that night to confirm my order and promised that it would be out within a few days.

The model did not end up showing up, however, for over two months. Several excuses were given, but the feedback on Ebay's forums show that long delivery times are pretty standard for this vendor. Tim would return email inquiries in a decent amount of time, when queried.

Unpacking and overview:

The hull came in a long box with very little to no packing material inside protecting it. I was quite fortunate that the package arrived in a good state of repair, with no dings or tears in the cardboard. The hull was, therefore, in good shape when it was pulled free. The polyester fibreglass hull is layed up with black gelcoat, a nice touch that should help conceal dings and scrapes during her operational career. The layup is, however, on the light side, and there is significant flex in the hull without stiffeners. This should be easily rectified once hull formers are put into place.

The control surfaces were well-packaged and arrived intact. They, too, are poured in a black urethane plastic finish. The 3" brass prop that my kit arrived with arrived in the standard packaging and was in an excellent state, though the pitch is reversed from what my plans show (LH vs. RH pitches). The conning tower is layed up in polyester glass as well, and there is a significant and ugly seam that runs down the center. A bit of grinding and sanding should make short work of it, however.

Fit and finish:

The overall finish on the hull is good. The hull is smooth, with evidence of light sanding. The hull division is arrow-straight and both sides of the hull match up nicely, even without stiffeners in place to hold the hull's shape. Control surfaces are a bit rough, but sanding should take care of the majority of those issues.

There are a few minor details that have been crudely scribed into the hull, and they will need to be filled and sanded in order to make a clean hull. There are no other details scribed into the hull. All markings will need to be scribed by the modeller himself.


I have a set of Greg Sharpe's (Deep Sea Designs - 1:72 scale blueprints. I was initially very worried about the model, as I was hoping for more detail in the hull, and a more substantial hull as well. I was, however, pleasantly surprised (astounded, actually) to see how well the hull matched up to Greg's plans. The hull and the blueprints are bang-on. They match up exactly, and I would venture a guess that whomever did up the master model used the Deep Sea Designs plans as a basis for it. The hull form and fitting all match up exactly to the blueprints. This model, therefore, is a decent candidate to create a very scale model of the LA class boat.

Final comments:

A nice, basic hull for a decent price, though I'd consider it a bit overpriced for what you get. If you're not in a panic to get it, it's definitely a viable option for the basis for a great scale model. The kit is NOT for the basic builder, as much scratchbuilding will be needed in order to reinforce the hull properly, and a lot of scribing will be needed in order to detail the hull.

To sum it up... a decent hull for a decent price. There's better out there, but there could definitely be worse.

Would I recommend it? Probably not. The amount of work needed to accurize the hull means that anyone with the necessary skills to do so would save a lot of money and time just building their own hull. The LA class is easy enough to model in this regard.

I would welcome any questions about the hull that anyone might have. I can be emailed at A write-up of the building of this kit will be featured on my website at in the near future.

Bob Martin
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Nov 01, 2005, 06:12 PM
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Thanks Bob for giving us an idea about these kits. A lot of us have been wondering who is this guy, why are his boats so big and yet so cheap.

Mike or silent runner ordered the type 2 awhile ago. I was able to see his correspondence with the owner. Lot's of excuses and he sure takes his time but your right about email response time. Jim is a little worried whether he would ever see the boat but it just looks like this is this man's style. He will eventually get the boat and that's good to hear.

Thanks again Bob and have fun with it. You have a place to build now? I hope I hope?

Last edited by U812; Nov 01, 2005 at 07:29 PM.
Nov 02, 2005, 11:18 AM
Crazy bubble-head!
Nemo's Avatar
Nope... Move in date is still around the beginning to middle of January. They're just sheeting the roof right now, so there's a ways to go yet. The only thing that keeps me going is the thoughts of my new dedicated shop area!!!
Nov 02, 2005, 11:55 AM
Man from Atlantis
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Two months sounds really quick to me. Gee, I've been waiting over 7 years for a boat that was supposed to take a month!

Nov 02, 2005, 01:16 PM
CaptDH's Avatar
let me guess who that is.......Did you send full payment?
Nov 02, 2005, 01:38 PM
Man from Atlantis
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Unfortunately, yes.

It's like anything you purchase- never on a COD basis, is it.

Nov 03, 2005, 12:48 PM
CaptDH's Avatar
May I ask who the manufacturer is? and what kit?

Mar 15, 2007, 08:54 AM
Registered User
Bumping this thread up. I'm considering a purchase from Barnstormer Boats site and am wondering if anyone has good or bad experiences with them.

The long waiting time has me concerned, as does the fact that i am buying the hull without a deck but the owner promises to send the deck 'when it is finished in a few weeks' but i have the feeling he has been saying that for a couple of years.
Mar 21, 2007, 08:51 AM
Registered User
Well, i've done some digging on my own about Barnstormer Boats and haven't been to happy with what i've found.

Tim, the owner was very quick with the responses (usually within a few minutes) when i was enquiring about making a purchase but then i did some research, as stated above and emailed him again telling him what i'd found and that under the circumstances i would only purchase a hull COD (he had already offered to deliver it in person).

It's been a while and i have never had a response to my last to me that says something.

Here is a couple of samples of what i found when i was checking Barnstormer out:

Ebay feedback (he's no longer a registered user):

a comment/warning from a buyer:

The deck he is supposedly working on for the Type II (and was willing to send for free to anyone that purchased a hull) has been under construction for about 2 years now and its status has been "will be finished in a few weeks" all that time. I really don't think it's going to happen...

So, if anyone is considering a purchase from his site, i would recommend extreme caution. At this point i'm only willing to buy COD, as i mentioned above.

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