HMS Warspite was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy. During World War II Warspite gained the nickname "The Grand Old Lady" after a comment made by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham in 1943. Warspite and the other vessels in her class were advocated by Admiral Sir John 'Jackie' Fisher, and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. She served in both World War I and World War II, earning the most battle honours ever awarded to an individual ship in the Royal Navy, including the most awarded for actions in the Second World War. Upon her completion, Warspite displaced 33,410 tons. She was 639 ft 5 in (194.89 m), had a beam of 90 ft 6 in (27.58 m) and a draught of 30 ft 6 in (9.30 m). Her initial armament was 8 Mk I 15-inch/42 guns placed in four twin turrets, 14 single Mk XII 6-inch guns, two single 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and four single 3-pdr (47 mm) saluting guns. Along with that, she had 4 21-inch (530 mm) submerged torpedo tubes.
The battleship was refitted at Portsmouth between 1934 and 1937 at an estimated cost of more than £2 million (equivalent to £641 million in 2008, using a share of GDP with her internal components being extensively modernised. The project replaced her propulsion machinery and installed six individual boiler rooms, with Admiralty three-drum boilers, in place of 24 Yarrow boilers; geared Parsons turbines were fitted in four new engine rooms and gearing rooms. This increased fuel efficiency, reducing fuel consumption from 41 tons per hour to 27 at almost 24 knots, and gave the warship 80,000 shp. The weight saving on the lighter machinery was used in increasing protection and armament changes. Deck armour improvements were similar to those in Malaya except the 1,100 tons of armour added covered the boiler rooms as well. The 6 inch guns had their protection reduced - four guns were removed as well in widening the forecastle - and the conning tower (200 tons weight) was removed. Four twin 4 inch guns and four octuple 2 pdr pom-poms were added for her A/A defences. The turrets were removed and altered to increase elevation of the guns. This gave them a further 6,000 yards of range - a maximum of 32,000 yd (29 km) with a 6crh shell. Deck armour was increased to 5 inches over the magazines and 3.5 inches over the machinery. Her superstructure was radically altered, allowing an aircraft hangar to be fitted. The fire control was also modernized to include the HACS MkIII AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII for surface fire control of the main armament.
Throughout WWII Warspite served in most theatres of war, from Norway, to the Mediterranean, and in the Far East. She gained more battle honours of any ship in the Royal Navy and became a household name as “The Grand Old Lady”. Although there were proposals to retain her as a museum ship, the Admiralty approved Warspite's scrapping in July 1946. On 19 April 1947, Warspite departed Portsmouth for scrapping at Faslane, on the River Clyde. On the way, she encountered a severe storm and the hawser of the tug Bustler parted, whilst the other tug Melinda III slipped her tow. In storm force conditions Warspite dropped one of her huge anchors in Mount's Bay, which did not hold, and the storm drove her onto Mount Mopus Ledge near Cudden Point. Later refloating herself she went hard aground a few yards away in Prussia Cove. Her skeleton crew of seven was saved by the Penlee Lifeboat W. & S. There were several attempts to refloat her but the hull was badly damaged and Warspite was partially scrapped where she lay.
Arriving at BM towers this kit, the latest release from Trumpeter come in a similar sized box to their HMS Queen Elizabeth. The full colour artists representation on the box top shows the Warspite at sea being overflown by the ships Walrus aircraft. On lifting the lid there are the two hull halves, two deck pieces and seventeen sprues of grey styrene packed inside, along with a large black stand, a small etched brass fret, and a small sheet of decals. All the parts are very well moulded with no signs of flash and very few moulding pips on each sprue. The hull parts are full hull only with no option to waterline, although with any model where there is the will there is a way. The moulding is superb, but there appears to be something really kooky about the armoured bulges. Having checked in the Conway Anatomy of the Ship and both of R A Burts books on British Battleships there doesn’t appear to be any of the undercuts or ridges that are shown on the hull sides. The shape of the foreward bulge also appears to be wrong as do the anchor chain hawse pipes, bow and stern profiles, both of which appear too curved. The number of scuttles at the bow is also incorrect, there being too many on the two levels beneath the main deck.
As with most ships the construction starts with the hull and the joining of the two halves. This is facilitated by the inclusion of eleven bulkheads and two joining beams which go towards making this a very strong and sturdy structure. Once the hull has set then the quarterdeck is fitted, as are the eight 6” casement guns, after which the main deck can be fitted, once the aft bulkheads either side of X turret barbette have been attached. Turning the hull over the four propeller shafts, A frames, propellers, two rudders and the stern anchor a glued into position. With the hull turned upright the quarterdeck details are added with the bitts, windlasses, vents, davits inclined ladders, ensign staff and the Admirals sternwalk decking, railings and roof.
The ships boats are then assembled; these consist of upper and lower hulls or thwarts depending on whether they are motor boats or cutters. The construction moves onto the rear superstructure, made up of three sides and roof, onto this the rear armoured rangefinder, observation tub, chimney, main mast and Type 282 radar. Moving forward the twin hangers are built up port, starboard, centre and rear bulwarks. There is some basic detail that could be enhanced should the hanger doors are to be modified into the open position. The hanger assembly is then attached to the superstructure deck, followed by the upper and lower bulwarks and eight 40mm ammunition lockers. Two deck houses are assembled, each of four pieces and attached to the hanger deck. Onto these the PomPom deck is fitted followed by the boat deck, ships boats, ten life rafts, PomPom splinter shields, inclined ladders and lastly the four eight barrelled PomPoms. The completed hanger assembly is then fitted to its position on the main deck, along with two wing structures. The four 4” twin turrets, made up of the guns, trunnion mounts, turret floor and splinter shields. The completed turrets are then fitted to their respective mounts.
The main bridge structure consists of B turret barbette and deck, under which the three bulkheads go to make up the lower superstructure. Onto this, the six piece Queen Anne Mansion style structure is constructed and fitted to barbette deck. Onto this the signal deck is attached, with the wireless office fitted to the bottom right hand corner of the deck. To the rear and sides of the deck the various signal lamps, flag lockers and binoculars are fitted. Onto the signal deck the lower bridge deck is attached followed by the bridge itself. The whole construction is completed with the fitting of the bridge wings, spotting binoculars, Type 282 radar, Type 284 towers and radars, foremast, with radar lantern, top mast yardarms, and the main fire control radar. The assembly is then fitted to the main deck, as is the aft superstructure assembly.
For each of the four turrets there is the option of either fixed barrels with blast bags or moveable, without the blast bags. These are then fitted to the turrets which are then fitted to the turret bases. A and Y turrets have just a small local control rangefinder, whilst B and X turrets are fitted out with wide rangefinders, 20mm Oerlikon tubs, Oerlikon cannon and ammunition lockers.
After the construction and fitting of the funnel and ships cranes, the rest of the ship build concentrates on the many smaller items, particularly the foredeck fittings, bitts windlasses etc, bow anchors, breakwaters, ventilators, cable reels, boat booms and davits. The completed turret assemblies can then be fitted to their respective positions.
There are two Walrus aircraft provided on a clear sprue. These consist of upper and lower wings, engine pod, propeller, single piece fuselage, horizontal tailplane, wing floats and extended main wheels. The interplane struts are solid and if anything is to be changed for etch it these items.
The small etched fret provides the Type 282 and 284 radars, funnel grille, Oerlikon splinter shields, catapult ramps, aircraft launching trolleys, and sternwalk railings.
The small decal sheet provides two type of Jack and White Ensign, (wavy and straight), and insignia for the two Walrus’ consisting of roundels for the fuselage, upper and lower wings, plus fin markings.
As is sometimes the case with Trumpeter, the promise is there but the reality is not always what one would have hoped. It may just be me, but the hull armour and armoured bulge do appear really odd, certainly not matching what I have in my references. Yes it could be made good with plenty of patience and filler, but that’s up to the individual modeller. The rest of the kit looks ok, although if could really do with an etched detail set to finish the model of properly. I haven’t been able to compare this release with that from Academy, but I would go for the Limited Edition kit from them if you can get one.
I can still recommend this kit, but with the reservations above, as she will still have the look of this great ship if you can live with the inaccuracies, or maybe put the extra effort in and waterline it.