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1/400 HMS Indomitable, I/400 HMS Illustrious


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In 2003/4 (!) I started two Heller 1/400 Illustrious kits: one as Illustrious in January 1941, and another as an Indomitable 1942 during Operation Pedestal. I finished neither - partly because I'm a slow builder, partly because I lacked 1/400 Sea Hurricanes for Indomitable and partly because, as time progressed, I fully expected a 1/350 scale new tool kit. I still can't source 1/400 Hurricanes and a 1/350 new tool Illustrious has not materialised (1/200 would be even better), but both unfinished kits continue to wink at me in their cases on my shelf of doom, so 16 years after I started them, and 10 years since I last touched them, I thought I'd try and finish Indomitable at least. It is unlikely that a new tool 1/350 or larger Indomitable will be produced (I'm still hopeful for an Illustrious/Victorious), and the conversion was quite demanding, so I'm not sure I would do it again even if a new tool Illustrious materialised. In the intervening decade, I've discovered more information about both ships and there has been significant revision to Royal Navy WW2 colours. My Illustrious is sitting resplendent in old WEM  medium grey 507B and light grey 507C finish and Indomitable in a MS2, grey B5 and MS4A finish.  Both will need repainting with new NARN Colourcoats in more likely camouflage colours. Originally, the progress of my Indomitable build was documented on the Model Warships, but this seems to have disappeared years ago, so I thought that I'd recap here before continuing.

 

The main changes to the Heller Illustrious hull, for the Indomitable conversion were:

 

 

1. Added scale 6ft above the upper deck, to create an extra galley deck as in Implacables. This involved re-arranging the position of the boat decks aft.

2. Altered the deck and hull contours aft to increase the useable flight-deck length and reduce the round-down. The shape was altered too to produce a narrower and more squared-off round-down, compared with as built Illustrious/Formidable/Victorious. Indomitable as fitted had an extra 50ft of usable flight-deck as per the modifications to Illustrious, Victorious and Formidable when re-fitted in the US.

3. Reduced the depth of the rear gun sponsons. This is a unique distinguishing feature of indomitable. On Illustrious/Formidable/Victorious, the gun sponsons were all the same depth. Indomitable was the reverse of Indefatigable/Implacable, which had shallow forward gun sponsons and deep rear sponsons.  

4. Increased the length of the quarter-deck and  (eventually) provide eight openings. This is another unique feature of Indomitable, until the quarter-deck length was shortened later in service (1944 US refit/repair)

5. Flight-deck modifications: moved the forward lift scale 16ft aft and increase forward lift width to scale 33ft wide (from 22ft), moved the aft lift a scale 24ft forward. The work in this area is made more difficult by some accuracy problems with the Heller kit. Neither lift is the right size – even for Illustrious, Victorious or Formidable. The forward lift is too narrow (which the conversion to Indomitable takes care of), but the rear lift is too wide.  The flight deck shape forward needs to be modified and the catapult and reinforcement plates to port added.

6.The sponsons for the rear HACS at galley deck level were lowered, and their shape modified. The HACS directors were Mk V, rather than the Mk IV fitted to Illustrious/ Formidable/ Victorious.

7. The oversized cut outs in flight deck were reduced and shape modified and the overhang of the crane/boat deck altered

8. The solid sponson for the bow search-light platform was modified as it had an open structure.

 

Here are photos of the basic conversion (with some comparison photos of Illustrious - itself heavily modified from the Heller original) :

 

 

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Edited by iang
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Also watching with great interest! I'll be building Lusty next year. 

 

Regarding 1/400 Hurricanes - you might ask this chap at Shapeways if he can re-scale:

 

https://www.shapeways.com/product/TFK4LDQWH/hurricane-w-gear-x4-fud?optionId=66660098&li=marketplace

 

He does them in 1/350 and 1/500, so might be willing to tweak the CAD files. 

Edited by Paul Bradley
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Another carrier build to watch, excellent. I agree with @Paul Bradley re contacting the Shapeways guy, should be an easy tweak. One of my son's did a lot of 3D work using Shapeways a couple of years back and he could re-scale quite easily.

 

Terry

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Got my attention, definitely!  

 

[I wish I shared your optimism about a 1/350 Lusty - or a 1/200 RN carrier of any description!]

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I'll follow up the Shapeways suggestion.

 

Here is Indomitable's island. The Heller island is dreadful. I used the WEM bridge face and funnel set, which I modified:

 

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And Illustrious' for comparison, modified to represent the island during her first commission:

 

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The biggest problem that I did not address is the flare of the island at flight-deck level. Heller ignore this feature completely.

 

 

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I bought the Heller kit and WEM Island and PE some time ago and would love to attempt an Indomitable conversion as my Dad served on her post war. Are you basing your conversion on photographs and known modifications Ian as I doubt any plans are available?

 

Mike

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22 hours ago, mick b said:

I bought the Heller kit and WEM Island and PE some time ago and would love to attempt an Indomitable conversion as my Dad served on her post war. Are you basing your conversion on photographs and known modifications Ian as I doubt any plans are available?

 

Mike

I used enlargements of the plans in Friedman's  British Carrier Aviation,  Alan Raven's plans of Indomitable on Steel Navy 

 

http://steelnavy.com/IndomitablePlanARaven.htm,

 

and  the builder's model of Indomitable at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, which I have photographed extensively, plus numerous period photographs. If I were to do this again in a bigger scale, I'd buy plans from the National Maritime Museum.

 

 

Having built the basic structure, I slapped a first coat of camouflage on it before I started detailing:

 

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And in the same construction stage as Illustrious:

 

 

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Edited by iang
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3 hours ago, mick b said:

Great Ian thanks for the link and of course I forgot the model at Yeovilton which is a masterpiece , cheers 

 

Mike

Mike, excuse my ignorance, but what is the model at Yeovilton, you are referring to?

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6 hours ago, RussellE said:

Mike, excuse my ignorance, but what is the model at Yeovilton, you are referring to?

I believe it's 1/48th scale? It's a magnificent model. I have a complete photographic walk around.

 

 

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Edited by iang
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The last time I went it was by the Albacore but as that has since been moved to be with the increasing number of FAA aircraft kept in Cobham Hall, for which you have to pay extra to see on the odd weekday, to make way for other types within the museum then not sure if the model was moved also?

 

Mike

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6 hours ago, Paul Bradley said:

Any chance you could submit those to Julian for the walkaround section? 

 

I've no objection, but I'll need to check with Lee Howard, as he filled in one or two parts of the ship that I missed and sent me the photos.

 

I used the builder's model to help detail the model:

 

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15 hours ago, iang said:

I believe it's 1/48th scale? It's a magnificent model. I have a complete photographic walk around.

 

 

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This is the builder's model of Illustrious? Ah I've been hunting for that for a while. Being an Antipodean dweller, it's a been a challenge. One time I dragged my wife all the way to NMM in Greenwich just to see the 1/48 scale builder's model of HMS KGV! LOL!

9 hours ago, Paul Bradley said:

Any chance you could submit those to Julian for the walkaround section? 

I'd second that!

2 hours ago, iang said:

 

I've no objection, but I'll need to check with Lee Howard, as he filled in one or two parts of the ship that I missed and sent me the photos.

 

I used the builder's model to help detail the model:

 

resized_61bcd407-35c3-4764-9ca1-45f308b9

 

 

resized_a419e3ba-60a4-4aa2-a518-38faded9

 

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Fantastic work Ian. Great to see these two rendered nicely at this larger scale.

 

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