USNS Flyer (T-AG-178), was a C2-S-B1 cargo ship of the United States Navy, built under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1209) by the Moore Dry Dock Company of Oakland, California as SS Water Witch. The keel was laid on 30 October 1944, and the ship launched on 20 December 1944. The ship served under United States Lines as SS American Flyer before being returned to the Maritime Administration.
Type C2 ships were designed by the United States Maritime Commission in 1937–38. They were all-purpose cargo ships with five holds, and U.S. shipyards built 173 of them from 1939 to 1945. Compared to ships built before 1939, the C2s were remarkable for their speed and fuel economy. Their design speed was 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h), but some could make 19 knots (35 km/h) on occasion. The first C2s were 459 feet (140 m) long, 63 feet (19 m) broad, and 40 feet (12 m) deep, with a 25-foot (8 m) draft. Later ships varied somewhat in size, cargo hold arrangement and topside superstructure.
The basic specifications called for a five-hold steel cargo ship with raked stem and cruiser stern, complete shelter and second decks, and a third deck in Nos. 1–4 holds. Dimensions of the hatches were 20 ft (6 m) × 30 ft (9 m), except for No. 2, which was 20 ft (6 m) × 50 ft (15 m), allowing such cargo as locomotives, naval guns, long bars, etc. Ventilation to the holds was provided by hollow kingposts as well as a number of J-necked ventilators. Cargo handling gear consisted of up to fourteen 5-ton cargo booms, plus two 30-ton booms at Nos. 3 and 4 hatches. The Z-scale model shown has four 30-ft hatches and on 70-ft hatch in the No. 5 position, a variation shown in MARAD plans. It also has a canvas cover for the fantail.
Many of the ships were converted by the U.S. Navy for service during World War II. Beginning in late 1945, the commercial ships were sold to merchant shipping lines, with service until the early 1970s.
In N scale, this model is 34.42 inches long with a beam of 4.725 inches (874 mm x 120 mm). In Z scale it is 25 inches long with a beam of 3.43 inches (636 mm x 87 mm). It is built with an all-styrene hull, with 3 and 4 accessible (i.e., hatch covers removed if desired to show cargo). It has custom-made cast resin tapered kingposts, new ventilators, lifeboats and hatches, with photo-etched brass railings and stairways, and fourteen 3D printed winches.
These are the slightly smaller sisters to the C3 Beavercove/Maplecove, but are considerably simpler. Completed models (both N and Z) are $2500 plus shipping. The N scale kit is $395; the Z scale kit is $375. Shipping is additional. Z Scale model shown.