Marine Art and Maritime Modelmaking

Welcome to my blog, it's primary intention is to keep my existing clients up to date with the progress of their commissions, but hopefully it will prove of interest to anyone with an interest in Marine art and modelmaking

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Model of Hms Fearless


Recently I was given an opportunity to make a model of Hms Fearless for a Marine who served  upon her in the eighties. 
I first made the Airfix 1:600 scale model over 30 years ago. I remember comparing the wonderful The Roy Cross Artwork on the box to my finished model and being left feeling somewhat disappointed; if only it had windows on the bridge, people, railings around the edges, and guns that looked like they were made of something harder than Plasticine.

Well this time I wanted to capture some of that box art animation and see just how good I could get this nearly 50 year old model to look. 300+ hours later, I have finally finished and I am quite happy with the result.
The old Airfix kits are still some of the only small scale options for many Royal Navy ships of the Falklands era, and can be polished up quite nicely if you have plenty of time, effort and put in the research.

I have just noticed that it seems L'Arsenal have released a 1:700 resin model of Hms Fearless as she was in 1982, retailing at 80 euros;
www.larsenal.com/Source/catalogue/larsenal/ac70015a.jpg

From what I could see on there website the model looks really nice, crisply cast and a vast improvement on the old Airfix kit.

If I make another Fearless I think I would choose this version despite 1:700 being a less impressive scale. It will open up some interesting diorama possibilities in the 1:700 scale; Dragon Hms Invincible, White Ensigns type 22's batch 1's or the Dragon type 42's, Orange Hobby's Hms Ocean.

Some initial observations of the L'Arsenal kit,  the LCVP's are wrong for the Falklands 1982: see Foxtrot 7 memorial at Portsmouth dockyard ;
  www.memorials.inportsmouth.co.uk/rm-museum/landing-craft.htm

Also some of the seacat directors appear to be missing? as are the life raft canisters unless they are flat etched brass?  I am not sure about the shape of a few things including the LCUs  but still looks like the best small scale version of Hms Fearless available.


 After this time consuming project I have promised myself the next build I will undertake will be something modern and straight out of the box with no conversion required, maybe the new resin Orange Hobby 1:700 Hms Ocean or the new Airfix 1:350 HMS Daring when it is released.

The brass etchings for Hms Fearless were supplied by White Ensign Models as were the resin Seacat launchers(which seem maybe a little too big?) and MkVII bofors guns.  Various bits and bobs were scavenged from other Airfix , Dragon, Skywave kits.





I was asked to make her as she appeared in the mid eighties on exercise in Scandinavian waters, the landing craft were painted in the black and white disruptive camouflage pattern that they used in the Falklands( I believe Intrepid's were green and black in the conflict). Was this pattern was ever used for Fearless LCU's after the Falklands? I don't know for sure, but it makes for a more interesting model even if strictly speaking it is a pastiche of how she looked between '82-'86.(in mid '86 Fearless was put into reserve until she undertook an extensive refit, not to return to active service until  late 1990).

To make the ship as she appeared between 1982-86 the superstructure needed considerable modification. The Airfix kit represents the ship as she appeared in the 1960's, in the photo's shown below you can to see where this modification was necessary,particularly in the ones taken before paint was applied.

 The rigging was made from Lycra ( again from White Ensign Models), and was based on various photos and although it is simplified adds greatly to the general feel of the model as shown below.

A good view of the scratch built Flyco and radar domes added to the main mast.
A one pound coin to show the size of this model,1:600 scale. I find Photos are a useful quality control  tool . Looking at the model larger than life enables you to hone your work; note the deck supports below the  life raft canisters and just to the rear and above the L10, the rear three ones were later changed to match the front three exactly, a difference of less than 0.5mm.


If the ship were to be portrayed as she was in the Falklands, serial numbers on hull and insignia on funnels would be painted out, the zebra striped Seaking would also be removed and replaced with another green "Jungly" Seaking or a Wessex helicopter. Also "ad hoc" GPM  positions would be added in sandbags on superstructure.


Close up from the sharp end, showing reworked davits having lowered or lowering LCVP's. Each of the port LCVP's are carrying about 30 marines.Figures are from Gold medal. Also notice the Seacat launchers complete with white missiles in place.

Two Squads of marines head towards the Seakings, flight crew with yellow/red /green jackets standby or lead the marines. The Seakings were scratch built, some 1:600 white metal helicopters are available but were deemed too "chunky" and out of scale for this model. Volvo BV206's in the LCU's were also scratch built.
The kit sunk in its MDF base board, various layouts of landing crafts were tried before the final configuration was settled upon

The white areas give a clear view of how much of  plasticard was required to bring this kit up to date, rebuilt flyco,cranes,davits,deck edges, porta cabins,etc.

 The bridge required almost a complete rebuild,decks around bofors guns extended,decks for life raft canisters replaced etc ,etc ,etc !

A  photo of a real Seacat launcher from HMS Cavalier at Chatham Dockyard, helped with the detailing 

And a photo of a real MK VII Bofors gun again from Hms Cavalier,Chatham.
Research was very time consuming on this project, but I must say a lot of fun. My one regret is I did not purchase one of the scale plans/drawings from Jecobin, might have saved me some time,even though the plans are of her as she appeared after the '86 refit.
 The internet  provided lots of photos but often they are not of sufficient resolution to be of much use. The two best books I found  for the modelmaker were"Fearless and Intrepid 1965-2002" by Neil McCart, lots of photos of good quality and "Hms Fearless The Mighty Lion" by Ewen Southby-Tailyour the photo's in this one are often quite grainy but still a useful resource.
 A close up of the bridge, clearly showing the MkVII bofors guns and the Seacat  missile launchers.
Also shows the ships badge,crew and rigging.

A good close up of the Davits and rear of the superstructure,crane,embarkation ladder etc

Again another close up of the front of the superstructure, the figures are just under 3mm tall, note the anti-flash gear on the Bofors gunners ! Also the rebuilt decks for the life raft canisters pinched from the 1:700 Dragon HMS Invincible

Above the Model in the bespoke built Oak case complete with name plate. The ship is 10.5" long, the case is just over 20" long. This small scale (1:600)  is ideally suited to dioramas with several ships, however single ships can work well when portrayed imaginatively.
 It is only when these models are finished to the extremely high level of detail, accuracy and quality as  illustrated here, do they become rare, sought after and collectible. 


Indeed  in my opinion they transcend being merely a model and become a work of Art that is both evocative,emotive and informative.

A close up of two LCU's cutting through the water, this photo shows clearly the additional detailing with brass etchings.Scorpion tank and a Bedford truck make up the cargo.
Another arty shot showing one of four LCU's about to dock, complete with a 3mm high crew man helping to guide the landing craft in .
Detail of the LCVP's showing the cargo of Royal Marines, note also the brass etched anchor chain, and the reworked anchor(the original is massively out of scale). Weathering was kept to a minimum but shows most clearly around the anchor area.

Details of the Flight/Vehicle Deck, shows clearly the Marines heading towards the Seakings, life Raft canisters where placed on brass etched canister holders from White Ensign models 1:700 Type 23 etching set, several sheets were required.
Radio masts were made of thin brass rod, water effect looks particularly good in this shot.

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