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Ex-FAAWAFU

Sink the Bismarck! HMS Ark Royal, 26 May 1941

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Your insight is much appreciated. I understand why the Royal Navy loved their small boats but it is a little crazy with the additional of radar, AA guns, etc added to the topweight of the ships in WW2 that they wouldn't reduce their number. It seems like they would risk capsizing (or give up a turret in cruisers) than give up their beloved boats. This is my sixth RN ship (mainly Iron Shipwrights kits) so I have learned a lot over the years. I remember trying to figure out the mysteries of fittings like searchlight sights back in the day, now there are so much more aftermarket available. A nice time saver after having paid my dues. I enjoy reading about the history of WW2 RN (my ancestry is Scottish/English so it must be in the blood) and the effort to keep up with the demands imposed on the service. I recently read the book Gallant Quartet, I think that was the title, about the first four C Class light cruisers converted to AA ships. What an inspirational story. How over worked, exhausted men can function so bravely is hard to believe. I guess the resiliency of youth. To bring this back to topic, one of the ships operating out of Alexandria was trying to get repainted. The executive officer was getting very frustrated because every time they started painting the ship was ordered out to sea. I think the ship was sunk before it was finished. I wonder if this was the situation that would explain the controversy on modeling threads about the Ark Royal's paint scheme when she was sunk. Only partially repainted in port?

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26 minutes ago, dhogue said:

...one of the ships operating out of Alexandria was trying to get repainted. The executive officer was getting very frustrated because every time they started painting the ship was ordered out to sea. I think the ship was sunk before it was finished. I wonder if this was the situation that would explain the controversy on modeling threads about the Ark Royal's paint scheme when she was sunk. Only partially repainted in port?

I think that’s extremely likely.  Even if it doesn’t completely explain colours, the distribution of the less worn bits strongly suggests that the XO had his boys out painting whenever he could, but they could only do the bits that were relatively easy to reach.  Even as early as November 1940 her paint job under the round-down was getting very patchy, but low down on the hull relatively pristine / consistent.

Ark Royal round-down close-up, seen from HMS Kelvin, November 1940


By almost exactly a year later...

Ark Royal sinking, 13 November 1941 - seen from HMS Hermione


To repaint her properly would require staging and/or a dry dock - and above all a predictable operational programme, even if only for a week.  She was working so hard to resupply Malta, harrass the Italians (and occasionally nip out into the Atlantic to stop German battleships) that I suspect that moment never came, so they were no doubt doing what they could.  After all, she was due to sail to the US for a refit not long after she ran out of luck.  I imagine she’d have emerged from that refit with a camouflage scheme (as well as radar and other stuff).  Anyone fancy a What-If-U-81-Had-Missed build?

 

[Valiant Quartet, not Gallant.  Excellent book]

 

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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9 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

I think that’s extremely likely.  Even if it doesn’t completely explain colours, the distribution of the less worn bits strongly suggests that the XO had his boys out painting whenever he could, but they could only do the bits that were relatively easy to reach.  Even as early as November 1940 her paint job under the round-down was getting very patchy, but low down on the hull relatively pristine / consistent.

Ark Royal round-down close-up, seen from HMS Kelvin, November 1940


By almost exactly a year later...

Ark Royal sinking, 13 November 1941 - seen from HMS Hermione


To repaint her properly would require staging and/or a dry dock - and above all a predictable operational programme, even if only for a week.  She was working so hard to resupply Malta, harrass the Italians (and occasionally nip out into the Atlantic to stop German battleships) that I suspect that moment never came, so they were no doubt doing what they could.  After all, she was due to sail to the US for a refit not long after she ran out of luck.  I imagine she’d have emerged from that refit with a camouflage scheme (as well as radar and other stuff).  Anyone fancy a What-If-U-81-Had-Missed build?

 

[Valiant Quartet, not Gallant.  Excellent book]

 

I’ve got a 1/700 Ark Royal from Trumpter in the stash atm due to not having any 507c paints atm. If anybody out there has a rough idea on what the Ark Royal refit in the US  in tailed ie radar, AA guns, and the Camo scheme. I might have a crack at it as I have 4 RN builds on hold  atm due to having no 507c painting on hand, but I a few DKM build ready to go as I have the gear and paints.

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If anything concrete about what Ark would have received has ever been published, I’ve never seen it.  She’d have gained search/warning radar to bring her up to the same standard as the Illustrious class, and no doubt her HACS would have been upgraded with radar too (Merit provide PE Yagi aerials for the HACS, tho she never had them).  The remark about camouflage is 100% conjecture on my part, based on the fact that every other carrier was camouflaged from mid-war.  
 

On the one hand no-one could say you're wrong; on the other, you’d be completely guessing cos there’s no evidence.  Up to you.

 

My comment  about a What-If was meant to be tongue firmly in cheek, but fill your boots if you feel the insoiration@

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Given the time, and more importantly, the money, I would build a variety of what ifs.

Ark

Hood 5.25" or 4.5" secondaries i don't know which

Repulse [Renown(ish)]

and something along the lines of ArnoldAmbrose's HMS Benbow build.

All in 1/350 circa 1943

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In photos on the IWM website there is a wooden work platform with rope rigging parked on the starboard side of the flight deck aft of the pom-poms near the crane. It looks like it was always ready to be hoisted over the side for quick paint touch ups in port. In the photos taken in the Med it also looks like it was a convenient place for the flight deck crew to lounge and sun bathe while waiting to ordered around.

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The bloke in the foreground of this last picture looks like he has turned around a bit indignantly

"'ere, what's HE doing sitting here wiv us?"

 

Some great 'stuff' in this thread again, another thread that never stops giving

Insight and skills in fair measure as usual, I am loving those blooming pom-poms

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Those are Mk VIs, so I suppose these were later updated to the Mk VIA* (increased muzzle velocity).

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Posted (edited)

The wooden platform looks like a “cat” - something that travels around with the ship to be craned into the water between the ship’s side and a harbour wall; it probably kept any overhang far enough off the wall to avoid damage.  It was clearly a standard fit, because it’s even in the builders’ drawings and it was always there on deck (presumably very well secured).  [Edit:  I actually think there are two cats, one on top of the other]

 

[Edit again: I’ve just checked the builders’ drawings, which say “Catamaran fenders”, so I was right.  My era Ark had something similar, though in our case it was a so-called “Yokohama fender”, which is a giant inflatable sausage.  Same purpose, however; kept in the hangar, if I remember correctly]
 

Here it is again (I think this photo taken within a few seconds of the other one; same people in shot); note that even as late as April 1941 there were still some RAF people serving with the FAA. (Sorry, Bill - only just realised that was what you were on about!)

Watching recovery operations, Ark Royal, April 1941

Swordfish recovering to Ark Royal, 1941

 

It was / they were still there when she sank;

Ark Royal starboard quarter as she sinks


WEM’s PE set includes this cat.

 

Crisp

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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15 minutes ago, foeth said:

Those are Mk VIs, so I suppose these were later updated to the Mk VIA* (increased muzzle velocity).

What’s the visible difference?  The barrels?

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Is that an empty beer crate at bottom left?

I was halfway through typing something else but Ex-faawafu just clarified the pallet looking thingy.

Tom

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2 minutes ago, Modelholic said:

Is that an empty beer crate at bottom left?I

I think it’s a chock... but I see what you mean!

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39 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Watching recovery operations, Ark Royal, April 1941

 

Here is a close-up of the relevant area of the drawings:

Close-up of area behind island

 

The thing marked “Balsa raft” (which was configured more obviously as a catamaran as generally understood: 2 hulls) is more likely to have been used as the paint raft @dhogue mentions; unpowered, but stable, manoeuvrable and easy to get into narrow spaces between ship & harbour wall.  You can also see that in the picture above: between the camera and the large cats - Flight Sergeant Crab has his foot on it.  Happily, the WEM PE has this as well!

 

@foeth - looking away from paint cats, it looks as though the pom-poms were envisaged as Mk.VI from the outset; these are “as built” drawings.

 

C

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Posted (edited)

Z57377S.jpg

This image just shows the top of the main gun 'block' with a few bolts and such; that is one of the differences between the Mk V and Mk VI. The former has a small hatch.  These image again (note arrow, top Mk V, bottom Mk VI).

Mk V

 

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Mk VI

 

pompom_04.jpg

 

You'll also note that for the sighting there's 3 rods for the Mk V and 2 for the Mk VI, but the image with the crew in front of the gun (why do they always block the view?) is not very definitive... At least good to learn the drawings support the observations :)

There are also some differences in the floor plating, mainly wherethe vertical plate where there's a small step from the crew to the ammo bin area (different cutouts, to save weight I suppose). The ammo bin itself has minute differences as well. Normally you'd never notice those, but when you collect shots to help you do your own PE you suddenly start noticing...

 

 

Edited by foeth

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On 2/29/2020 at 11:37 PM, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Ark Royal sinking, 13 November 1941 - seen from HMS Hermione

Very emotive picture this one. I find it rather like an image of a dying elephant; you can see the inevitability of what will follow. As Bill says, thanks for the history lesson. Way better than the ones at school.

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Regarding potential 'what ifs' and the scheduled refit, would the extensive round down have been levelled out at that time?

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18 minutes ago, gunzo said:

Regarding potential 'what ifs' and the scheduled refit, would the extensive round down have been levelled out at that time?

Possibly, but I rather doubt it.  As I’ve already said, as far as I am aware no firm information about what was planned for Ark has ever been published, other than vague references to fitting radar.  It would probably have been as much a refurbishment as anything; she might have been only 3 years old when she was sunk, but she’d been worked really hard in that time, including several near misses with bombs, plus a Swordfish that went over the side carrying depth charges which promptly went off, buckling some of the plating near her bow.  There are also several references to her steering gear in the logs towards the end, so that must have been giving her engineers the run-around. (Exactly the sort of thing that gets damaged by underwater shock).

 

If she’d survived another 3 years, say, they might have changed her round down (as they did the Illustrious class) and her accelerators (what we call a catapult - for them, catapults were explosive things in cruisers and battleships, but carriers had hydraulic ‘accelerators’), in both cases to allow her to operate heavier aircraft like the Barracuda, Firefly and US designs.  But I doubt they’d have done so as early as late-41/early-42 - not least because that would have meant a longer refit, and they needed every carrier they could get at that point, with Illustrious having been refitting in the US for much of 1941, and Formidable also being repaired from July - Dec 41 after being dive-bombed off Crete.

 

I suspect Ark would have been relatively limited in the extent of likely reconfiguration, because of the way her funnel uptakes (which eventually killed her) constrained the hangar, and because she didn’t have an armoured flight deck.  
 

But that is all conjecture.  It’s possible that detailed plans for the refit (even if only in outline) are somewhere in the National Archive, but given her fame and the amount that was written about her even during the war, if it exists I’d have thought someone would have found it by now.

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Just ordered Valiant Quartet from Amazon.

Less than £8.00 inc postage (albeit second hand)

Tom

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OT perhaps and a bit silly.

If you chained 2 or 3 destroyers to 'tow' the Ark to port (sideways, 90 degrees from island) D'you think it could have lifted the funnel uptakes clear of the water and allowed some extra time for some slap dash repairs?

Tom

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42 minutes ago, Modelholic said:

Just ordered Valiant Quartet from Amazon.

Less than £8.00 inc postage (albeit second hand)

Tom

Not only a great story with dramatic twists but very well written. Thanks for the clarification about the cats l like the posts with the builder’s plans. If you have a chance could you post the plan of the front of the island? I really appreciated the one of the back of the island.

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Probably scanned from "British Warships of the Second World War: Detailed in the Original Builders' Plans" by John Roberts; a volume worth having. :)

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Posted (edited)

Yes, the plans are indeed from that source, which is why I only ever put up little snapshots - I don’t want to deprive them of revenue.  For that reason I won’t put up the other end of the island, if you don’t mind, @dhogue

 

@Modelholic, in short... not a chance!  The stress on the fabric was already huge - at least partly caused (they now think) by the length of time she had way on her (including under tow) with a huge hole in her starboard side.  When they found the wreck they discovered that a long section of the side had been peeled back by her forward motion.  
 

It wasn’t that the funnel uptakes were under water, anyway; the issue was that the design of the boiler rooms was flawed, so once the water reached a certain level it was free to move right across the ship.  The later Illustrious class were modified in build as a direct result.  Another fundamental problem was that Ark’s pumps were inadequate - too dependent on having steam and/or electrical power, and for a good while she had neither. 
 

Besides, in the (extremely) unlikely event that your theoretical Destroyers had enough power, they’d simply have ripped whatever their hawsers were secured to on board Ark clean out of the deck.  That much water weighs thousands of tons.  Once the water reached that level, she was toast.  It’s possible that she was doomed from the moment she was hit - though there was controversy in the board of enquiry on that point. 

 

 

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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2 hours ago, foeth said:

Probably scanned from "British Warships of the Second World War: Detailed in the Original Builders' Plans" by John Roberts; a volume worth having. :)

I’m always happy to support Mr Roberts and will order it. Although I need another book like I need a hole in the head. My house is going to capsize from the weight

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Posted (edited)

Tonight’s session spent working on another of Ark’s weapons, namely the Quad Vickers 0.5” machine gun [I’m trying to do one of each sort of weapon, to learn how best to do them].  For once Tetra lose this battle; I also have some NorthStar Models Vickers guns and, though the North Star PE is remarkably frail & delicate to work with, the fact that it’s based on a resin core makes the whole thing more stable - Tetra’s has an inter locking brass piece in the middle, and if you don’t get that exacly aligned, everything else is a struggle.  Here you can see Tetra’s (unfinished, and skewed) on the right and NorthStar on the left.

49611255821_b459f0fba4_b.jpg


NorthStar seen from behind:

49611511097_2e58332a76_b.jpg


Tomorrow I’ll probably have a go at one of the 4.5” turrets.

 

Til then

 

Crisp

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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