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  1. INTREPID was the second of the two FEARLESS class Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) ordered by the Royal Navy to provide a heavy lift amphibious capability in the 1960s. Designed to carry a Royal Marine Commando and all of its equipment and then land it anywhere in the world using her four embarked Landing Craft Utility (LCU) and four Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) together with helicopter support (the helicopters coming from another ship in the Task Group as the LPD's had no hangerage), she and her sister ship offered the RN a unique capability. A victim of the ill-conceived 1981 Nott Review which threatened to turn the Royal Navy into little more than a coastal defence force, INTREPID was paid off into reserve in November 1981 and was put up for sale or disposal. Fortunately for both INTREPID and the Royal Navy, a certain gentleman called Leopoldo Galtieri came to power in Argentina and in April 1982 instructed his armed forces to take the Falklands Islands by force. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Terrence Lewin, the Chief of the Defence Staff, persuaded Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that not only could we retake the islands but more importantly we must do to save our standing in the world and the rest they say is history. INTREPID was needed; she was quickly returned to full fighting capability and joined FEARLESS as the spearhead of the amphibious landings in San Carlos Water. My own association with INTREPID was a year earlier when as a young Midshipman, I joined her in Portsmouth on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon in her role as the Dartmouth Training Ship. On Monday 6th January 1981, we sailed for the Caribbean. Some six weeks later, after visiting a number of West Indian ports, we anchored off the island of Bequia and the LCUs/LCVPs put the 150 Officers Under Training (OUTs) ashore for a beach banyan. A perfect scenario for a model. The FEARLESS kit was first released by Airfix in 1964 and represents an above average model of the period. There was some flash and a fair amount of injector moulding pins to remove but overall the basic shape was about right for FEARLESS as she was built. Unfortunately, ships change in various refits and it is true to say that no two ships of the same class will ever be identical. Indeed, even FEARLESS and INTREPID were very different at build. So there were lots of changes required to bring the kit up to 1981 INTREPID standard. These included extending 03 deck, extending the bridge rear screen, scratch building the OUTs’ navigation cabin aft of the bridge and correct shape LCVP davits, updating fore and main masts to reflect the correct height and platform configuration to name but a few. The first task though was to take the kit down to waterline condition as the only time that one sees a ship’s bottom is either in dry dock or through a periscope if one is a submariner trying to find out what the latest Russian’s sonar dome looks like! So the basic hull and upperdeck were put together then it was out with the trusty Dremel, remembering that of course with the stern ramp flooded, she would ride about 4 degrees bow up. Then there were the bits which were provided which even for FEARLESS were inaccurate. Like the Seacat launchers, the shape of which bore no resemblance whatsoever to the system, or for that matter any other Royal Navy missile launcher! The two single 40mm Bofors were little more than blobs with a plastic twig on the end, although fortunately, since White Ensign Models no longer stock the resin replacements, both these and the Seacat would have had had their sea covers on while at anchor, so these could be fashioned with plastic offcuts and tissue paper impregnated with dilute plastic/acetone mix. I also had an issue with the thickness of the various screens, bulkheads and decks such as for example the bridge wings. Scaled up from 1/600, these 1mm thick structures were close on 2 foot thick and whilst I am sure that the sailors who faced the Argentine Skyhawks would have welcomed armour plate of that thickness in San Carlos, it would have been so heavy that the ship would turn turtle! So these were all cut off and replaced with either 10thou plasticard or 100gsm paper. The kit life rafts represent the early 1960s floats rather than the 1980s 25man inflatables that were standard by the early 1980s. The best 1/600 representations of these come in the Airfix AMAZON kit and so taking one of these, I tried to mould some replacements using a plasticine mould. INTREPID carried over 40 of these and although the half moulds didn’t look too bad, trying to stick them together was impossible and so in the end I cheated and used 1mm plastic rod cut to the right length. It’s slightly overscale but not by much. Then it was time to turn to WEM who though they may not make the Seacat launchers anymore, they do provide some excellent photoetch guardrails, cranes and other bits and pieces. I hate doing PE guardrails & ladders but it’s what shows off a warship to my mind so is worth doing. Again though, the WEM kit is designed for FEARLESS as built not INTREPID nearly 20 years later so there was much scratch building and modification. A good example of this was the 845 Sqn Wessex 5 on the flight deck. We carried one aircraft which was lashed down on the flight deck at all times when not in use because the LPDs did not have a hangar. The basic shape of the kit Wessex fuselage was reasonable once the injection holes had been filled and the straight bar that represented the undercarriage cut off. The tail pylon was cut so that it could be folded and the tail rotor added from the WEM PE. Similarly, undercarriage came from WEM PE and the main rotor blades were appropriately folded, but the cradle to support the blades was scratch built from 0.1mm Albion Alloys nickel rod. Aircraft decals, like most of the ship’s decals were hand printed. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that the flight deck markings were limited; that’s because I had to bastardise the ship decals for this as I don’t have an ALPS printer! The seascape was almost the easiest yet as it was a millpond off Bequia. So all it took was a simple plywood base, a thin coating of Plaster of Paris suitably spiked up to represent the wakes of the LCUs and then airbrushed azure blue using a series of thin coats of different shades, dark to light. Light blue and white was drybrushed around the hull and white was used to highlight the wakes. And then a couple of coats of matt varnish on the ship with multiple coast of gloss varnish on the sea and it was complete. It's twice been awarded first prize from different local model clubs' competitions.
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