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Gidday All, here is a model I finished about twelve months ago. HMS Welshman was of the Abdiel class, a fast mine layer, a sister ship to HMS Manxman. Besides her intended roll she was used as a blockade runner during the siege of Malta in 1942. Her first run was in May of that year, and neither the Admiralty or Churchill thought she would make it. She was disguised as a Vichy French destroyer, extra light AA guns added, jammed chock full with supplies and extra ammunition and let loose. Her speed prevented some of the enemy's attempts at interception, and speed, skillful ship handling and AA fire power saved her when they did. She completed three round trips to Malta in three months, and about six or seven in total. She was finally sunk off Tobruk by a U-boat in early 1943.


     The model is part of an Airfix 'Manxman/Suffolk' kit 04214 in 1/600 scale. I did a lot of modifications to the kit to depict the ship as she was on her arrival at Malta on 10th May 1942.

 

Firstly here is a model of HMS Manxman, to show what I started with. This model is almost OOB, other than to replace the prop shafts and 4-inch guns with rod, the quad .50s from another kit and the quad 2lb pompom with a scratchbuilt mounting. I also added breechblocks to the 4-inch guns. The kit guns were horrible.

 

HMS Manxman 1941 jm20

 

And here is HMS Welshman, as disguised as a Vichy French destroyer.

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm18

     To create the raised focsle effect (she was flush-decked) the crew attached painted canvas to the forward guardrails and painted the hull darker where appropriate. The funnels were painted to suggest raked funnels and the funnel caps were altered - no.1 funnel cap was deliberately shorter for some reason, plus extra stays added to the masts. I did the same alterations to the model's weapons as I did for Manxman except I scratchbuilt the quad .50s instead, plus five 20mm Oerlikons were added for extra AA firepower. These I scratchbuilt also. Other mods were moving the no.2 funnel slightly further forward, added the Carley floats and their stowage skids, replaced the HA director and added type 285 radar (scratchbuilt) to it, the bridge layout and windscreen and altered the breakwater around 'A' mounting.

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm17

 

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm16

 

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm4

 

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm24

 

HMS Welshman May 1942 jm25

 

My camera is not kind to me when I take close-ups. It shows my rough workmanship. Airfix has omitted the mine discharging doors at the stern of this kit, but I believe they were hidden as part of the disguise, so no problem there. A false bow was also fitted, but discarded at sea when it disrupted the streaming of their own paravanes. All these modifications I got from photos and the account of an RN Officer of the crew at the time.

     As I understand it, HMS Welshman was the first ship to get through the blockade of Malta, and I did the model almost as a tribute to the crews of these vessels. No doubt I've made some errors but I've tried to be as accurate as I could.

 

That's probably enough from me. Regards to all, Jeff.

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Excellent work Jeff! I had great fun building the Airfix Manxman a few years ago, and remember how it went together. You have done a cracking job, and she looks quite different in her disguise (as she should have done!).

 

All the best,

 

Ray

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Gidday All, thank you for your encouragement and support, I appreciate it. And yeah Ray, they're not bad kits except for the guns and a few other minor issues. Also fun to whiff. I have a couple left and might try to convert one to HMS Ariadne sometime in the future. Regards, Jeff.

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